Controlling the chaos: Tips to a clutter-free home

Smart tricks and easy tips to conquer the mess and create a clutter-free home.

The front hall

front hall organization

Photo: Corbis

With everyone coming and going in a rush, your front hall can get messy in minutes. Avoid coming home to a headache by using smart storage for what only truly belongs here.

Read more: Organization: 10 helpful tips to transform your home>

Photo: Eric Putz | Prop styling: Rayna Schwartz

Photos: Bouclair and Urban Outfitters

Basket case
Give each family member their own basket for essential accessories. Label them or choose a unique colour for each person.

Storage basket, $8,

Get hooked
Two levels of hooks provide easy access for both kids and grown-ups to hang coats. Be sure to stagger the hooks so little ones can reach their allotted spots, without having to duck under Daddy’s jacket.

Hooks, $6 each,

Photo: Eric Putz | Prop styling: Rayna Schwartz

Photos: Crate and Barrel and Ikea

Bench warmers
If you’ve got the room, a bench by the front door creates a comfy spot for taking off shoes. Even better? Find a bench that doubles as a storage unit.

Bench, $631,

Top shelf
Challenged by a narrow entryway? Store your shoe collection in a shallow, wall-mounted shelf. The top shelf doubles as a spot for keys, wallets, hats and mittens.

Trones shoe storage, $60 (3-pack),

Read more: Confessions of a disorganized mom>

The bathroom

Bathroom organization

Photo: Bruce Damonte

For smoother mornings, a few simple organizational strategies can ease traffic congestion in this shared space. (Especially if the bathroom rush begins before your first cup of coffee!)

Tip: Only essential items that you use every day, like toothbrushes and hand soap, get to live on the countertop.

bathroom organization

Photo: Andrew McCaul

Cabinet purge
Edit expired makeup and bath products every three months. Humidity affects pharmaceuticals, so kick them out of the bathroom and store them in a dark, dry space—safely out of a child’s reach—elsewhere in your home.

Read more: Makeup tutorial: Spring pastels>

Creative containers
Use containers to store little things like cotton swabs. A mini-Lazy Susan under the sink will keep all your essentials just a quick spin away.

Read more: 30 days to an organized home>

Shelf life
Install adjustable shelving around pipes to maximize space under the sink.

Bathroom organization

Photos: Bed Bath and Beyond, Kitchen Stuff Plus, 3 Sprouts

Shampoo solution
Eliminate the messy jumble of shampoo and bath gel containers by putting a wall-mounted dispenser in your shower.

Triple soap dispenser, $90,

Boxed in
Take the pressure off toiletry storage by giving everyone their own caddy to store in their bedroom closets.

Basket, $16,

Toy trouble
Keep rubber ducky and other bath toys handy by storing them in a mesh bag attached to the tub wall with suction cups.

Bath toy storage, $26,

The kitchen

Kitchen organization

Photo: Donna Griffith

This may be the heart of the home, but with all the cooking, eating and homework happening here, it often becomes a dumping ground for everyone’s stuff.

Read more: The do’s and don’ts of homework time>

Ban the junk drawer
Turn your junk drawer into a home-utility drawer in five easy steps:
1. Empty it.
2. Sort like with like.
3. Add a drawer or cutlery organizer with compartments.
4. Put necessary items back in, giving each category its own space.
5. Get rid of the rest!

Tip: Create an easy art gallery for your kids’ masterpieces with just a piece of string and clothespins.

Kitchen organization

Photos: Ikea and Erik Putz, prop styling by Rayna Schwartz

Step it up
Use shelf risers in cupboards and pantries to double storage capacity for your dishes.

Variera shelf, $8,

Paper zone
Use binders to create your own reference books, with recipes, takeout menus, info on kids’ activities and more.

Martha Stewart Home Office binders, $13 each,


Kitchen organization

Photo: Erik Putz | Prop styling: Rayna Schwartz

Special bulletin
Reserve the bulletin board for time-sensitive items, like event tickets, birthday invitations and that form you need to fill out for pizza day.

Martha Stewart Home Office message board, $14,

Kitchen organization

Photo: WallCandy Arts

Fridge central
The front of the fridge is the perfect place to put your message board, calendar or chore chart.

Fridge chalkboard decal, $36,

The play zone

Play room organization

Photo: David Prince

Anyone who has ever stepped on a piece of Lego knows that toys had better be easy for kids to clean up or it’s never going to happen. Create kid-friendly shelving and containers that keeps storage at their fingertips.

Read more: Kids’ rooms: Cute ideas for every age>

Cull the collection
With every holiday and birthday, kids seem to acquire more loot. Take some time every three months to edit out what they’ve outgrown or lost interest in.

Tip: Take photos or have your kids draw pictures of what needs to go in each bin.

play room organization

Photos: Pottery Barn Kids, Ikea, Walmart

Hanging out
Mount a hanging organizer on the back of a door or directly on the wall—stuffed animals in particular look adorable peeking out of the pockets.

Over-door storage, $55,

Right-size your container
Keep things with small pieces in separate containers from large ones to avoid the ultimate mess-maker—the toy bin dump!

Trofast storage combination, $99,

Seats as storage
Organize with double-duty furniture like storage ottomans. Easy for little fingers to open, they’re ideal for stashing away everything from blocks and Barbies to dinky cars and dinosaurs.

Storage ottoman, $28,

A version of this article appeared in our March 2014 issue with the headline “Chaos controlled,” pp. 57-62.

 Read more: 
In the zone: Organized home storage solutions
How to organize your life
Home office: 8 professional organization tips 

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