13 Organizing Solutions for Conquering Clutter
Real Simple asked you to ID the small, irksome items that block your path to organizational bliss. (“Take my whisk—please!”) Herewith, strategies for containing the uncontainable.
Oddly Shaped Kitchen Utensils
Keeping these awkward pieces in a drawer is more sanitary than storing them in crocks on the counter, says Portland, Oregon, organizer MaryJo Monroe (respacedpdx.com). But how to avoid that all-too-familiar drawer jam? She recommends a genius kit called Drawer Decor. It’s a trim-to-fit silicone mat that’s tacky to the touch, with small grips that cling to the mat to secure each tool. There’s no adhesive involved, so you can reconfigure whenever you want to fit new utensils. (Drawer Decor, $25 for a 14-by-20-inch mat and 15 grips; extra grips, from $3 for five: drawerdecor.com.)
Small Toy Parts
Clear snap-shut cases typically used for hardware or beads (13-compartment box, $10, containerstore.com) are perfect for tiny dolls and their fashion accessories, says Diane N. Quintana, an organizer in Atlanta (dnqsolutions.com). Make a game out of cleanup: Have your kids search the room for pieces to fill one grid, then move on to the next. For little toys your kids take on playdates, use a tackle box with a carry handle that has compartments deep enough for chunkier collections, like Pokémon and Beyblades. (Plano Two-Level Magnum Satchel, $13.50, walmart.com.)
For more ideas, see How to Organize Kids’ Toys.
For more ideas, see How to Organize Kids’ Toys.
Keep bulbs in see-through shoe box–size covered bins on a closet shelf. Label the bins by wattage—40 to 60 watts, 100 watts, and so on, says Amy Brady, an organizer in Austin, Texas (theclutterconsultants.com). Use one bin to contain specialty bulbs, like night-lights, high hats, and halogens. (Set of two medium clip boxes, $10, stacksandstacks.com for info.) Closets already stuffed? Stash bulb bins on a shelf in the garage.
Designate a low drawer or cupboard in the kitchen and store toys in clear plastic bins next to your pet’s food and treats. If you would rather keep toys accessible, repurpose a container that matches your aesthetic. Country cottage? Use a lined rattan hamper or basket. (Household Essentials round laundry basket, $58, homedepot.com.) Then you can wash the liner when you need to. Modern? Try a glossy enamel tub meant for drinks, says Danielle Wurth, an organizer in Scottsdale, Arizona (wurthorganizing.com). It will be easy to wipe clean. (White beverage tub, $20, target.com.) If your home has more than one level, Brady suggests keeping a container on each floor.
Fill a binder with roomy, durable plastic sleeves—the heavy-duty type that holds 50 sheets. (Office Depot EasyOpen ClearVue five-inch ring binder, $17, and C-Line High-Capacity sheet protectors, $7 for 25: officedepot.com.) Then slide the art right inside. “The sleeves are sturdy enough to handle things like birthday cards and projects with glitter or macaroni,” says Wurth. Tuck in everything your kids are proud of. At the end of the school year, sort through the binder (in private) and winnow the collection to one sleeve per child. Stash in an archival box big enough to serve this plan for years to come. (Drop-front box No. 01-531, $15, archivalmethods.com.)
Jewelry and Accessories
Dedicate an armoire or a corner of a linen closet to your finishing touches, says New York City–based Erica Domesek, the founder of the style blog psimadethis.com. Screw hooks into the bottom of the upper shelf to hang delicate necklaces. Protect sunglasses in an organizer with drawers. (Acrylic case for glasses, $29.50; case with drawers, $25.50, muji.us.) For bangles, there’s nothing as efficient as those velvety T-shaped stands you see in store displays. (Triple-tier jewelry organizer, $20, containerstore.com.)
Hair Gear & Perfume
Says Brady, “A cleaning caddy—new and unused, of course—is my favorite solution for brushes and styling products.” (Rectangular cleaning caddy, $6, containerstore.com.) You can stash a hair dryer in the caddy, too, or mount a “holster” to the wall near an outlet. (Stainless-steel hair-dryer holder, $15, bedbathandbeyond.com for info.) Toss hair bands on a ring holder or in a decorative box. If you’re a perfume collector, store pretty bottles in a wall-mounted spice rack. (Grundtal spice rack, $20, ikea.com for stores.)
“Ditch the covers and slip all your discs into a sleek hard-case DVD organizer,” says Monroe. Smaller than a bread box, a product like the Browser 50g holds 50 discs and has a pull-out list for tracking and numbering inventory ($45, discgear.com). If you can’t bear to part with the cases, Quintana suggests a storage ottoman, where you can also hide remotes, video games, and controllers. (Raleigh upholstered storage cube with nailhead, $199, potterybarn.com.)
“Label those small plastic bags with a permanent marker and store them in your sewing basket or in a ‘button box’ with needles and thread,” says New York City organizer Dana S. Lehrman (roomsforimprovement.net).
Brady swears by the Boon Stuffed Animal Storage Bag ($50, booninc.com), a dual-function beanbag that unzips to house plush toys. It protects against dust and has a mesh center that allows you to see inside. “Since it holds only so many playthings, it helps cut down on stuffed-animal clutter,” she says.
Coupons and Receipts
“You don’t use coupons in the house, so don’t keep them there,” says Ellen Madere, an organizer in Old Lyme, Connecticut (ellengetsitdone.com). Store coupons in your car’s glove compartment in a heavy-duty zippered pouch. (We like Coupons Receiptables, $12, knockknockstuff.com.) When you’re getting gas and waiting for the pump to finish, flip through the stack to refresh your memory and clear out any coupons that have expired. Hard-core coupon users need the Couponizer ($20, couponizer.com), says Quintana: It’s a book with pockets categorized to match the aisles of a grocery store. As for receipts, trash them, except the ones for big-ticket items and potential returns. Put those in a lightweight mini file that lives in your purse.
“It’s best to get medicine out of the bathroom, because humidity fluctuation isn’t good for pills,” says Monroe. Store in a kitchen cabinet, away from heat and moisture, and up high so children can’t reach. Try a lazy Susan or a shelf organizer with “steps.” (Extra credit if you categorize by ailment.) For meds that you need to take every day, find a location you always hit, like right by the coffee cups. (Linus organizer, $11, organize.com.)
“I’ve seen so many shoe cabinets in clients’ homes with shoes sitting next to them instead of inside them, because they’re just not easy to use,” says Brady, who also says shoe storage for frequently worn pairs needs to be open. She recommends putting uncovered rectangular bins (Strapping Storage Cube Bins, $11 each, landofnod.com) under an entry bench or on shelves near the front door, with spots marked for each family member. “Be strict about how many pairs each person can keep there,” she says. Her mandate? “Three pairs for adults, four for kids.”