“A place for everything, and everything in its place.” Benjamin Franklin often is credited with this quote, with the idea that everything should have a designated storage spot and be kept there when not in use. A wise sentiment, but the organization on this level isn’t easy to achieve or maintain. Design experts note that there are some keys to getting and staying organized, which require a little creativity and due diligence.

Less is More

Best-selling self-help organization books like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo, and The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, by Margareta Magnusson, have taken de-cluttering to a whole new level. At the root of both books is the elimination of stuff, with the authors recommending that you only keep those items that you really use or that bring you joy.

Kondo, in particular, recommends throwing and stowing—in that order. She says it’s important to discard or donate items you can live without before storing those you can’t. She also recommends that you redecorate from time to time and reduce clutter as you go.  With a remodel or new color scheme, for example, you might find that some of your furnishings no longer “fit” and should be eliminated. You’ll also confirm the items you want to keep.

Whimsical Storage Bins


Shelving and storage bins are a must for good organization, but they don’t have to be boring. You can add fun to a shelving unit by painting each shelving section in a different color. This colorful treatment works especially well in a children’s bedroom or toy room. For added whimsy, install wallpaper at the back of the shelves in a pattern your child enjoys, such as licensed characters from a favorite cartoon, book or movie. Fill the shelves with colorful bins to hold books, toys and other “treasures” and label them accordingly.

Shutter-Keepers

Some items get misplaced no matter how organized you are! To solve this problem, try installing shutters on the walls of rooms where smaller items often go missing—such as the laundry room, home office or craft room. Before hanging the shutters, paint them in a high gloss coating, which is less likely to scratch than a lower-gloss coating, and in a color that works with your room’s decor. Once the shutters have dried, add S hooks to the louvers to hold lint rollers, small bags, scissors, tape, paper punches, and similar items.

Ladder Storage

You’ve probably seen ladders used in living room and dens as creative shelving. This treatment works particularly well in bathrooms when leaned on a spare wall or over the commode. And it’s so inexpensive! Simply take an old wooden ladder and sand it until smooth. Then paint or stain the ladder in your desired finish and lean it in your desired spot. To make the ladder easy to wipe clean, coat it with a scrubbable paint or high-gloss stain. Voila! Your storage unit is complete and ready to fill with towels, soaps, and rolls of toilet paper. (If you intend to lean the ladder over the commode, you may need to take out a bottom couple of steps.)

Under-Bed Storage


Before you discard an old dresser or bureau, remove the drawers. Install wheel casters to the corners of each drawer and then use them for under-the-bed storage to hold scarves, socks, shoes and so on. If desired, sand the sides and front of the drawers and then paint or stain them to coordinate with the rest of the room.

Painted Reminders

With school back in session, you and your family may struggle to remember everything that needs to be done in a given day. Chalkboard paint is an ideal solution to this problem, allowing you to post and update weekly schedules, to-do lists, meal plans and other important details in a fun, colorful and highly visible way. Many paint manufacturers offer chalkboard paint, which is easy to apply. Try painting a framed section, like a chalkboard, or an entire wall of the kitchen, laundry room, mudroom or anywhere else that is easily accessible.

Pared-Down Appearance

According to Kondo, it’s important not only to declutter your spaces but to tone down their “noise,” too. One way to do this is with sleek treatments that organize your home’s appearance without sacrificing good design. Here are some suggestions.

  1. Repaint a cookie-cutter color palette with a carefully selected scheme that flows from one room to the next. For guidance, see if your local paint store has a color expert or decorator who can help.
  2. If you have a mish-mash of area rugs, decrease their number to a couple of well-selected pieces or replace them entirely with a large rug that ties the room together.
  3. Reduce furnishings in a crowded room by eliminating occasional tables, plant stands, and other non-functional pieces. Keep only those furnishings that add to the comfort of the space.
  4. If you have layers of draperies at your windows, consider replacing them with shutters, blinds or shades. For the ultimate in sleek design, choose motorized shades that can be opened and closed at the touch of a button.