One Step at a TimeIt's never been easier to reclaim your home. Here are 40 fresh ideas to keep it organized, room by room, all year long
It starts in hidden spaces like drawers and closets. Before long, it spills out and takes over horizontal surfaces and even entire rooms. It's household clutter, and it breeds to the point of chaos.
Clutter can seem overwhelming, but it's simply an accumulation of things to be dealt with one item or corner at a time. Here are 40 fresh ideas for reclaiming your living space and restoring order. Whether you take baby steps or go the distance with comprehensive spring-cleaning, you can achieve a sense of calm where chaos once prevailed.
1. To create an airy, inviting space and a positive first impression, have a landing pad for things like keys and mail. "Trays are my all-time favorite home accessory. Even the most utilitarian items can look purposeful and tidy when they're collected on a tray," says Oma Blaise Ford, a senior deputy editor at Better Homes and Gardens.
2. Inside the coat closet, "Those over-the-door shoe organizers with all the pockets are genius, especially the clear ones, for stowing items that leave the house with you like hats, gloves, dog leashes, travel chargers and sunglasses," Ford adds.
3. Buy a bench with under-the-seat storage and a high back with hooks for hanging outerwear.
4. Pegboard above the bench provides added storage space for sports equipment, ball caps and backpacks.
5. Hang a towel by the door so you can wipe the dog's muddy paws.
6. Keep a box on hand for items you plan to donate. Put it in your car when full and drop it off on your next outing or when your errands take you by the thrift store.
7. Visit spicecheckchallenge.com to use the "fresh tester" and pitch any spice that's past its prime.
8. To create more usable counter space, take your knives out of the wooden block and put them in a drawer or on a wall-mounted magnetic knife holder.
9. Use square or rectangular food storage containers in your fridge and pantry. They fit into the corners and optimize space better than round ones.
10. Purchase space-saving, interlocking plastic storage containers and collapsible kitchen gadgets like colanders, funnels and measuring cups, says Dana Korey, founder of Away With Clutter in San Diego.
11. Store extra trash bags in the bottom of a wastebasket so when you take out the garbage, there's a new bag waiting to line the can.
12. Start using a "penalty box" for toys or belongings that kids leave out. Items that end up there are then off-limits for a specified period or can be earned back by doing an extra chore, suggests Donna Smallin, author of "A to Z Storage Solutions" (Storey Publishing, 2008).
13. Don't let magazines pile up because you intend to read one or two articles out of each. Clip the articles instead and put them in a "grab and go" reading file. "Next time you have to go to the doctor or are waiting to pick up your kids, bring the file with you and read while you wait," Korey says.
14. While it's not necessary to rearrange your home library according to the Dewey decimal system, do designate a shelf for unread books and for those you refer to often.
15. Put labels or pictures on drawers or cabinets to teach young ones where to put things back.
16. Have a designated drawer for uniforms and activity attire so there's no last-minute scramble to find team jerseys and coordinating socks, Korey suggests.
17. Use over-the-door or under-the-bed shoe storage containers with clear windows or pockets to store small toys, such as Barbie dolls and their accessories.
18. In the nursery, a crib trundle provides for tucked-away storage space.
19. A lot of us share our beds not with family members or pets but with reading material and clothing. The solution: Make the bed every morning. "It forces you to clear off and put away any clothes that you may have tossed there," Korey says.
20. Bed risers, sold at most big-box stores, elevate your bed to create more storage space underneath.
21. Store only frequently used items in the medicine cabinet, and put the rest under the sink or in a drawer.
22. Place a rectangular container in the medicine cabinet so you can stand tubes up and gain shelf space.
23. Hang necklaces on the inside of the medicine cabinet door using damage-free adhesive hooks by Command, recommends professional organizer Diane Albright, All Bright Ideas, Emmaus, Pa.
24. Kitchen flatware trays are handy for keeping makeup supplies organized.
25. If you rotate purses and also tend to accumulate hand lotion from hotels, take a few minutes to put a bottle in each handbag. Do the same for lip balms and pens.
26. After an initial purge, hang all the "keepers" and "maybes" the opposite way over the closet rod. Once you wear and launder a garment, switch its hanger back to normal. Put a note in your calendar to purge again in six months to a year, and get rid of all the items that are still reversed.
27. UDesign is a free, downloadable closet-design tool at closetmaid.com that enables you to click and arrange components to your satisfaction, and then print out your plans and parts list.
28. Keep a small box with a Sharpie marker on a shelf to store all the extra buttons that come with new clothes. Use the marker to write a brief garment description on each button enclosure, Albright suggests.
29. Relocate sheet sets to the bedrooms where they belong. Tuck them in a drawer or on a closet shelf, or between the mattress and box spring (in a single layer, not stacked), Albright suggests.
30. Keep shared laundry hampers at the bottom of the closet - one each for whites, lights, darks and possibly reds - and either remove hampers from bedrooms altogether or have family members pitch in on laundry day by consolidating and presorting the dirty clothes from their rooms.
31. Hang scissors near the washer and dryer to snip loose threads.
32. Keep a container for buttons and items found in pockets prior to laundering.
33. Use the walls, not the floor, for storage.
34. Use a clean garbage can to contain sports balls.
35. Keep potentially hazardous chemicals together in a locked compartment.
36. When buying storage cabinets, make sure the doors will open when your car is parked inside.
37. Clean garden tools thoroughly for winter storage. Remove rust with steel wool and coat metal parts with a protective spray lubricant.
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