These three key steps will get you on your way to making order in your home using basic everyday items.
Enough storage space is, of course, the Holy Grail of any household. But solutions to the problem are probably littering your closets and cupboards right now. Use monochromatic boxes, wooden crates, berry baskets, and empty jars to stash anything from mementos to old files, paper clips to dried spices.
Transform stray containers or collectibles into a decorative tableau by clustering like objects. Consistency produces a neater look than a random assembly does―and while one or two may look arbitrary, a group looks like art.
Although your lidless sugar bowl and your wobbly chair no longer serve their original purposes, they're far from useless. You can eke a second life out of idle treasures by assigning them new functions―and, in so doing, add style to the surfaces they grace.
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Contain Photos and Letters in Shoe Boxes
You don't need to buy fancy fabric-covered storage boxes. Raid your closet for an attractive array of shoe boxes, which can hold photos, stationery, or old letters, then stack them on your bookshelves. Combine them with hat, shirt, or gift boxes in other sizes. Affix labels noting the contents; create consistency by using the same labels and ink color.
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Contain Towels and T-Shirts in Wooden Crates
Take crates that once teemed with clementines or old flea-market finds originally used for wine bottles and convert them into storage for towels in the bathroom or T-shirts in the bedroom. (Don't worry―they won't look like the plastic milk crates that held your record collection in college.)
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Contain Cotton Balls in Berry Baskets
To display things like cotton balls and extra soap in the guest bathroom, you could spend $30 on baskets made to look as if they had once held fresh raspberries―or you could just use baskets that actually did. Spray them with a mild disinfecting cleaner, such as Lysol, to ward off mold and critters.
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Contain Office Supplies in Glass Jars
For a clean, fresh look, use clear jars (and glasses) of various heights and shapes to hold office or sewing supplies.
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Repeat Vases for a Sculptural Effect
A tight grouping of several small vases hides individual imperfections while creating a sculptural effect.
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Repeat Jelly Jars as Candleholders
You're not going to use all those empty jars for bacon grease, but sometimes they're just too pretty to throw out. Try placing white tea lights or votive candles in at least five small jars and grouping them together on a coffee table.
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Repeat Beach Rocks as Windowsill Decor
A row of smooth stones on a shelf or a windowsill is a pleasant reminder of beach walks and creates a spot of Zenlike calm in a room.
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Repeat Milk Bottles as Vases
Maybe you're lucky enough to have milk delivered to your door each morning in these simple, old-fashioned beauties. Or maybe you're addicted to "gourmet" beverages that come in attractively shaped bottles. Whatever the case, remove the labels and they look surprisingly antique. Group bottles of different heights on a kitchen table or a shelf for a light-catching display.
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Repurpose Chairs as Bedside Tables
Seating too rickety to sustain an adult's weight works well as a bedside table, providing a useful yet unobtrusive surface in a small room. The back of the chair can serve as a place to hang a light robe.
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Repurpose Sugar Bowls as Vases
A topless sugar bowl is just the right size to use as a vase for a single cluster of hydrangeas or a half-dozen sweetheart roses. Set it on a bookshelf or a small side table.
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Repurpose Saucers as Soap Dishes
Use the lone remaining saucer from your starter set of dishes to hold hand soap in the powder room.
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Repurpose Bread Plates as Plant Holders
A seldom-used bread plate from your grandmother's formal china set, placed under a small houseplant, will dress it up while serving the practical purpose of catching excess water.
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Repurpose Mugs as Utensil Holders
Coffee mugs make an earthy, less generic-looking alternative to those divided plastic utensil holders for buffet tables and kitchen cupboards. The handles make them easy to transport.