As summer approaches, do you find yourself faced with this looming question: Where will I put all this stuff? The experts are here to help.
Professional organizer Jennifer Pape says it’s important to consider ahead of time what you want to see on a shelf, versus what should be stashed behind a closed door. She cautions, “Even organized items, products and support tools can look cluttered if not arranged correctly.”
- Beautiful bins. The right baskets and bins can move a space from disorganized to tidy in minutes. Achieve a stylish look by coordinating baskets with “a room’s color palette and aesthetic,” says decorator Ann Cane. “I like to place a pair or trio of the same basket underneath the open space of a foyer or hall table. One can be used for mail and the other for shoes.”
- Practical pullouts. This innovation incorporates rollers or gliders for effortless accessibility. Pullouts can be incorporated into cabinetry, under stairs—even behind a bathtub or bed. Sizes range from skinny spice racks to full size wardrobes. Similar tilt-out features are available for toy storage, laundry hampers and refuse containers.
- Creative corners. With the right design and fixtures, any “dead space” can be reconfigured into useful storage. Meet the challenge with corner shelving or a rotating system. Floor-to-ceiling revolving units make the most of corners in kitchens, closets or rooms. For bathrooms, try a full-length swivel mirror with shelves and hooks on the reverse side.
- Divine divisions. Divide and conquer space with organizers for drawers, cabinets and desks. Keeping like objects together makes it easy to find what’s needed. Pape says, “When organizing, it’s best to keep all items visible inside drawers and cabinets. This allows our brains to see everything we have at once instead of rifling…to find the one item we need.”
- Unwasted space. Oddly-shaped and out-of-reach spaces can suit a variety of storage needs. The area under a staircase is often perfect for shelving, a closet or drawers. (In fact, the stairs themselves can be made into drawers!) Cane suggests placing a wide decorative basket on top of the fridge to hold packaged food. “Simple, I know,” she says. “But otherwise, it’s a space that either doesn’t get used or looks messy.” A heavy-duty rack installed on a garage ceiling can hold camping equipment, holiday décor and anything else that’s used seasonally.
- Systematic stacks. When storage containers are to be stacked, buy compatible brands and sizes that fit together well. A random mix of boxes results in wasted space. Labeling and/or color coding is essential when containers are opaque and eliminates frustration when retrieving items that haven’t been used for a while.
- “Off label” uses. Many organizing products are marketed with a specific purpose in mind. By thinking outside the box, you’ll find extraordinary ways to use ordinary items. An over-the-door shoe holder can store makeup or art supplies. An upright desk organizer can house bread boards and cookie sheets. A magnetic knife strip keeps keys handy.
“Often a messy, unorganized home creates stress and chaos for everyone living there,” says Pape. “Having an organized space benefits us in every single area of our lives. Our homes should be our sanctuaries.”
Ashley Talmadge is a freelance writer and mother of two boys.