The goal: To create an organizing system even the kids can maintain.
The solution: If the kids use the mudroom to get ready for school, transform the area into a way station. Real Simple organizers turned Expedit shelving units ($60 each, ikea.com) on their sides, then slid labeled Nostalgisk boxes ($15 for two, ikea.com for stores) onto the shelves. Each child has a column of storage, and extra columns contain miscellaneous items. Lockers roll out for easy access to kids' shoes.
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Kitchen a Dumping Ground?
The goal: To create a more functional work area and free up the countertops and other work surfaces for cooking.
The solution:Real Simple turned a makeshift office into command central with an array of wall-mounted tools: a magnet board ($25, umbra.com), a magnetic calendar, a magazine pocket, a mail bin, and a multislot organizer. A rolling file cabinet (it slides into the adjacent pantry when not in use) keeps paperwork in order. With the surfaces clear, the island and the counter to the left of the stove can be used for food prep.
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Home Office Not Working?
The goal: To minimize the mess and make the office a more orderly environment.
The solution: Start shredding documents to whittle down the mountain of papers. Sort remaining papers into a file cabinet or boxes. A wall of Elfa shelving (from $130, containerstore.com) replaces a traditional desk. The extra-long bottom shelf serves as a work space that can accommodate more than one person.
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Laundry Room a Wash?
The goal: To spruce up the space so that it's a pleasant place to wash clothes, exercise, craft, or anything else you might use this multitasking room for.
The solution: Consign rarely used gear to the garage. Hang a painted drop-leaf folding table ($30, ikea.com) on the wall to conserve space. A cart on wheels holds crafts, and stackable boxes with labels keep stuff off the floor. Since this area served as an exercise room, too, the Real Simple crew moved the bulky treadmill to the back wall (it folds up when not in use, allowing space for ironing or folding clothes).
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Dining Room Serving as the Home Office, Too?
The goal: To make the space more functional as an office while reclaiming its role as a place to eat and entertain.
The solution:Real Simple organized office materials into files, binders, and boxes. The addition of a desk and a bookcase hold it all. The desk ($1,100, potterybarn.com) is equipped with doors that conceal work gear, such as the printer. The bookcase stores magazines, photographs, and the kids’ papers and artwork.
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Kid's Room a Disaster?
The goal: To get rid of old, broken, and unused items and organize the rest in containers that your child can access effortlessly.
The solution: First, part with the playthings she's outgrown. A roomy desk ($250, stacksandstacks.com) has shelves to keep craft supplies tidy. High shelves on one wall store infrequently used objects. Pull-out bins under the bed sort and hide, while labeled see-through tubs of toys ($12 to $18, containerstore.com) tuck behind cute curtains.