The Problem: Bulky appliances, lunch boxes, coupons, and cookbooks quickly cover up wide-open counter space.
The Solution: Start by purging your kitchen of items you no longer use. If you can't remember the last time you plugged in the quesadilla maker or opened a cookbook, it's time to go. If there are countertop items you use only a few times a year, give them a permanent home in the basement or at the back of the pantry. Corral everyday clutter -- like coupons and grocery ads -- in a hanging organizer or small bin.
The Problem: Too many personal items stuffed in a small space make it difficult to find what you're looking for in the morning.
The Solution: If you and a spouse share a medicine cabinet, start by divvying up the shelves. Take everything out and group items into categories: his, hers, and shared. Toss anything that's expired or that you haven't used in the past month. Arrange small items -- like bobby pins and hair ties -- in small jars. Group brushes and combs in containers to make use of vertical space. Finally, keep only a small stash of daily essentials like cotton swabs and makeup pads in the cabinet. Make restocking part of your weekly bathroom cleaning routine.
The Problem: You come home, take off your shoes, and put down your purse. Then you do it again. And again. Pretty soon, what was once a tidy entryway is now a breeding ground for shoes, wallets, keys, and other everyday items.
The Solution: Store smarter. You still need a place to put your essentials, but the key is to give everything a home and store it out of sight as much as possible. Start by going through everything you keep in your entryway. Do all of those items need to be right by the door? If not, stash them in a hall closet. Then invest in some sturdy but stylish storage -- think baskets, bins, and small cubbies. Depending on your entryway arrangement, consider adding hooks or a coat rack.
The Problem: You're midrecipe and have no idea where to find the cinnamon because pantry shelves are stocked to the brim and unorganized.
The Solution: Start by pulling everything out of the pantry. Go through the items and ask yourself, "Am I ever going to use this?" Donate items to which you said "no," making sure to toss any expired goods. Next, sort through the items and arrange by type -- baking items, spices, canned goods, snacks, etc. Restock the pantry, putting commonly used items on the middle shelves. To keep things tidy, stick to a list at the grocery store and avoid impulse buys or super sales.
The Problem: You store so much on your nightstand that slumber becomes stressful.
The Solution: There are few things that need to be within an arm's reach of your bed. Stick with the basics -- like an alarm clock, phone charger, and lamp. Then store the other items in the table's drawer or cubby spaces.
The Problem: Too many items stuffed into a closet make it difficult to pull together an outfit.
The Solution: Take everything out of your closet and arrange by clothing type. Place items into three piles: toss, donate, and keep. Toss anything with stains, rips, or damage. Donate any items that don't fit, that you don't like anymore, or that you haven't worn in more than a year. If you have multiples of the same item, choose one and donate the rest. Next, arrange the items you've chosen to keep by season. Store out-of-season items in the basement, under your bed, or in a hall closet. Hang or fold clothes by color, and store shoes in labeled bins. Use hooks to hang purses and other accessories on the wall.
The Problem: Technology has taken over your desk, making it difficult to be productive.
The Solution: Go back to the basics. Replace a giant computer, modem, mouse, keyboard, and speaker set with a streamlined, all-in-one laptop. Then either move or eliminate any extras you don't constantly use -- like a landline phone or printer. Keep a simple lamp and essential office supplies close at hand. Add a punch of brightness with some fresh flowers.
The Problem: Tools get used but never find their way back to where they belong.
The Solution: A clean garage is not only pleasant to look at, but it also reduces the risk of misplaced tools damaging cars or injuring children. A wall of paneling with heavy-duty hooks holds yard essentials and frees up floor space. Just make sure to put tools back once you're done using them.
The Problem: All those little knickknacks that don't have a designated home end up in one drawer.
The Solution: Dump out the drawer's contents and only hold onto the items you use. It's called a junk drawer for a reason: You'll probably end up tossing at least half. Next, use drawer dividers and small containers to round up pens, stamps, paper clips, and more.
The Problem: It started with just one book, but pretty soon everyone in the family is leaving reading material, technology, and toys on the coffee table.
The Solution: Make this part of the living room a "no-clutter zone," meaning that no personal items can live on the table. Instead, keep the table company-ready with current magazines, fresh flowers, and timeless decor, such as family photographs.