Conquering Clutter

You've bought the baskets, the boxes, and the bins. Now what? Try these simple tricks for minimizing the mess in every room.
Sara Anderson, Rebecca G. Warren

Need Better Kitchen Storage?

Sometimes getting rid of a mess-prone zone in your kitchen is easy: Just hide it. These homeowners thought their pantry's open shelving (shown at right) looked disorganized, so they covered it with a pair of antique doors. On shelves above, salvaged apothecary drawers hold kitchen utensils and knickknacks. Next time you're scouring a flea market, look for fun ways to store stuff. Vintage wicker bicycle baskets can be hung on a wall and filled with fruits and vegetables. An antique pitcher works perfectly for keeping spoons and spatulas at the ready.

Keys to a Well-Organized Kitchen
 

  • Pare down your plate collection and free up cupboard space. Pack away special-occasion-only dishes inside hatboxes with paper plates between each one for safe cushioning.
  • Line the insides of cabinet doors with cork tiles, and tack up recipes, grocery lists, and coupons. This will put an end to annoying paper trails on your countertops; plus, the front of your fridge won't look like the bottom of a trash can.
  • A helpful trick for de-cluttering your countertops: Mount your microwave and other small appliances, such as radios and can openers, underneath the cabinets. Home-organizing stores can help you with equipment and how-tos.


Stop Clutter at the Door
 

  • Keep a small wastebasket near your entryway so you can immediately toss junk mail.
  • Tired of sending out search-and-rescue parties for your keys? Designate a decorative bowl near your front or back door as the drop zone for all car and house keys.
  • Assign each family member a basket for bags, purses, organizers, etc. Place them on a shelf or table by the most high-traffic entrance.
  • Pegs can be your new best friends when it comes to keeping kids' gear in order. In a mudroom, hang pegs about 3 feet high so little ones can hang up coats and backpacks as soon as they step inside.
  • Keep all sports gear in a deep plastic bin in the garage or near your family entrance to keep mud, dirt, and grass out of the house.


Take Control of Your Closets

  • In your coat closet, hang a shoe organizer on the back of the door. The pockets are perfect for storing hats, scarves, and gloves.
  • Linen closet overloaded? Use pant hangers to hang tablecloths from a rod instead of folding them. Bonus: They'll stay practically wrinkle-free, so you won't have to iron like crazy when company comes.
  • Listen up, ladies: If you haven't worn something in your wardrobe for two years, you probably never will again. Toss items in a bag, and drive directly to a local charity.

 
Streamline the Small Stuff

  • Constantly unraveling ribbon can irk you to no end. Try threading ribbon rolls on paper towel holders.
  • Make a habit of inspecting your bathroom cabinets every six months to weed out expired medication and old makeup.
  • De-jumble your junk drawer by placing ice cube trays or a muffin tin inside the drawer. Fill each compartment with a different item, such as stamps, batteries, paper clips, and pushpins.