Getting organized is a task that is never really finished. No matter how many trips to the Container Store you take, there are always organization systems that need to be updated as they longer fit your lifestyle or are too time-consuming to maintain.
That's why we tend to think of being organized as a verb, not an adjective. It takes a continual evolution of practices: a growing library of tips, tricks, hacks, and some old-fashioned good habits to actually achieve an organized way of living. This is why we're always adding to our lexicon of organized living.
Whether your junk drawer is in need of its annual overhaul, or you're looking for new tactics to get your pantry in tip-top shape for the season ahead, we rounded up some of our favorite organizing ideas so your pursuit of a tidy and put-together home can continue to evolve right alongside your style.
Meet the Expert
- Jamie and Fillip Hord of Horderly are a husband-and-wife team with some serious organizational power and have tidiness down to a science. The duo's organizational education has helped homeowners from coast to coast get a handle on clutter and live more orderly lives.
- Kris Arabia is an organizational industry insider and mDesign’s resident Trendcaster and head of Design and Product. Her finds have helped inspire amazing products for names such as Pottery Barn, Bath & Body Works, Walt Disney Company, and JOANN Stores.
Hook Up With Better Hangers
Closets are, ostensibly, a space designed specifically for storage, so why is it that they seem to be some of our messiest home zones? More often than not, it's the age-old problem of not using space to its best advantage.
According to Jamie and Fillip Hord, good hangers can actually be the key to a more organized closet. "Streamlining your hangers can instantly transform your space," they say. "Whether it’s a coat closet or your primary closet, utilizing matching hangers will not only make your space look beautiful, but the slim design will allow you to fit more on each hanging rod without feeling cluttered."
The benefits only compound from there, since a less crowded closet will make you more likely to put things back in their place and maintain the orderly system.
Embrace the Not-So-Lazy Susan
They may be called "lazy Susans," but they're actually some of the most hardworking organizational tools you can have in your home.
"In the kitchen, we love using lazy Susans to sort spices, oils, and vinegar," the Hords say. "Lazy Susans allow for easy access, and the rotating turntable makes it super easy to find a specific spice or liquid while cooking."
You can also use them for cold storage for a Pinterest-worthy fridge setup, according to the Hords. The duo uses them inside the fridge for any items they buy multiples of, as the couple's chilled lazy Susans are often stocked with breakfast shakes.
Don't limit your lazy Susan usage to spices and condiments—they're also a brilliant asset elsewhere in the home. Deeper, segmented lazy Susans are ideal for organizing small accessories in the closet or on a dressing table.
Be Smart About Bins
When most people think organizing, they probably think bins—but the types of bins you use can have a huge impact on how successful your storage is.
"Bins are the ultimate product that can be used anywhere in the home—we love using bins on shelving to operate as makeshift drawers," the Hords explain. But, not all bins are created equal. In the pantry, clear bins are king because they allow you to know exactly what you have and how much at a glance.
In spaces where creating a calm, organized environment is key like the linen closet, it can seriously pay off to opt for non-transparent bins instead. Grouping bedding or towels together is the name of the game in those spaces, and the less you see when you open the closet door, the better. Let labels do the work, and make use of opaque bins like those made of natural fibers to create a clean, cohesive look.
Don't Forget the Door
Doors are some of the most underutilized elements of any organizational strategy. When working on a closet, make use of over-the-door systems to maximize space and give every single item a dedicated space.
Not working with a full-sized closet? You can still squeeze some extra storage power out of your cabinet doors by using adhesive bins. "Adhesive bins are the ultimate space-saving hack in your kitchen or bathroom," the Hords note. "Stick these inside the cabinets under the sink to store kitchen cleaning supplies, or stash beauty supplies and toiletries in the bathroom."
For pesky-to-store items like hairdryers and curling irons, those little peel-and-stick adhesive pouches are a surprise savior.
Create a Cubby System
Some things in life just weren't designed to live in cabinets, and that's okay. Take a trip back to the trademark storage solution of kindergarten—cubbies.
We love that this laundry room is fitted with small cubbies that perfectly nestle woven baskets, for those odds and ends that don't sit well on a shelf, think: dryer balls. Another genius addition to this laundry setup: a short hanging bar over the sink, for drip-drying delicates.
Be an Open and Closed Case
Any well-organized home has a balance of closed and open storage solutions, and achieving that balance is key. While the impulse to show off your favorite collections may be strong, no amount of open shelving will create a calming and cohesive vibe if you don't also have someplace to stash the less aesthetic things.
This living room strikes the perfect mix: a closed built-in media cabinet conceals, while small open shelves flanking the TV reveal favorite objects. The true brilliance of these shelves, however, is their small size: by limiting how many items can be displayed, they side-step the classic pitfall of those artfully arranged shelves ever becoming overrun with additions.
Make Your Walls Work Harder
"We are living in our home offices these days," Arabia says, and since the home is no longer just the home, but the office, gym, cocktail bar, and more, it's more important than ever to make every inch count.
Wall-mounted storage options are a great option since they take up a much smaller footprint in your floor plan than traditional storage options. Take a cue from your local nail salon or coffee counter and see where you can use wall-mounted storage to take some of the weight off your home.
"Walls are a great use of space to create more storage options," Arabia explains.
A piece of uncommon advice: the floor is not your friend. While it's oh-so-tempting to look toward open floor space for storage real estate, the simple truth is that a clear floor is the foundation to organized bliss. Not only can you more easily vacuum or sweep when the floor is 100% clear, but it's much easier to resist stashing "just one more thing" in the corner when it's a blank slate.
These floating shelves provide ample clearance in this clean and collected space—and serve as a reminder that, if it needs to go on the floor, it's probably no longer suited for the pantry.
To make the most of every inch of organizational space, you need to think vertically—not just horizontally across shelves. Arabia suggests creating tiers to squeeze more space out of your storage.
"Creating tiers within your cabinets will help increase visibility and maximize the space on each shelf," she says. This means implementing items like risers, for spices and other small items, but also looking for storage solutions that stack.
Bins with lids are particularly helpful for transforming items that love to avalanche off of shelves, such as soft packets, into something sturdy that can stack to make even more space.
Become a Basket Person
We simply can't say enough good things about baskets—they're truly the refuge of every wannabe-organized homeowner. And while it may seem, at first glance, that any large receptacle is just an invitation to give way to your worst habits and stash items to create the effect of a clean sweep, we find that a few well-placed baskets actually do the opposite.
Having a dedicated basket in the mudroom for outdoor needs like hats, sunscreen, and bug spray by the door helps you stay prepared. Another basket at the foot of the stairs can serve as a dedicated place for things that need to make the trip upstairs. In short, let the basket be your home savior. We're certainly converts.
We get it—sometimes square footage is at a premium, and no amount of drawer dividers can solve your space woes. In that case, we love the idea of adding a lofted area in part of the home.
This stylish one draws inspo from historic wood ceiling beams for a Pacific Northwest-appropriate feel. It's the ideal space to stash luggage, holiday décor—in nice boxes, of course—or anything else that doesn't get much daily use.
Introduce Some Drawers
Adding a console table or other landing pad surface to your entryway is nothing new—in fact, it's one of our most tried-and-tested strategies for stopping clutter in its tracks. But, most console tables have one or two slim drawers at best, so instead, we're keen on the idea of using a dresser for the task.
Not only do the deep drawers provide plenty of opportunities for stashing your essentials out of sight, but their segments will help you stay organized, too.
Get the Hang Of It
Hanging rails in the kitchen are a trend that's gaining serious steam—and not just because their patinated metal finishes are the perfect mix of modern farmhouse and rustic chic. These handy bars are simple to install and use, and they keep the tools in your heavy rotation up off the counter and accessible at a glance. Pretty much a win-win.
Not every kitchen has the luxury of cabinets that soar straight to the ceiling. For those with storage that stops short, a library-style ladder can be a gorgeous and practical way to add some much-needed real estate.
Seasonal items and décor pieces alike can mingle atop the cabinets until they're needed down below.
Give Shelving The VIP (Window) Treatment
Kitchen design is often a balancing act between windows and storage. Too many cabinets and the space becomes cave-like from lack of light. Too many windows and you end up suffering from a dearth of storage. But, this cool compromise is something we haven't seen too often: open shelving suspended over windows.
Sure, it comes with some caveats. You don't want to overcrowd the shelves or place anything there that will be diminished from too much direct sunlight. But, it's a smart way to make the most of your space—and did we mention it's so Instagrammable?
Float Your Dryer
Pro-tip: those stackable dryers? There's no rule you have to "stack" them with the matching washer. Instead, levitate your dryer in its own special cubby to take advantage of the space beneath. Tucking a rolling canvas laundry cart underneath is a low-effort way to unload your freshly fluffed towels.
Add Some Rec Room
Take a cue from your high school team's locker room or your local batting cages. A mudroom designed with personalized "lockers" for each family member can help keep everyone's stuff right in reach, while the semi-sheer mesh doors keep the space from looking messy.
Befriend Hanging Baskets
Those hanging fruit baskets you've seen at the store? They have a secret superpower: organizing small objects just about anywhere.
Here, this boho-style woven option is tailor-made for the kitchen's coffee corner, corralling K-cups, sugar packets, and the like.
We can also picture these coming in handy in the home office.
Make Your Dog's Dinner "Disappear"
The simple truth is that Spots doesn't need his bowl 24/7. If your pet is happy to scarf down dinner within a few minutes of being served, then it's time to adapt your cabinets to do a little disappearing act.
A low drawer can be fitted with inset spaces for food and water dishes, so you can simply slide them away when they're not in use. Presto: fewer things to trip over and a cleaner look for your kitchen floor.
Turn Dead Space Into a Drinking Den
The awkward area under the stairs can be quite a conundrum. For too long, it's been relegated to closet space or dark and dingy storage. It's time for a remix—emphasis on the "mix."
Adding some shelving and a bit of surface space can transform this once-overlooked corner of the home into the hub of cocktail hour. We love how the shelving chosen here mimics the look of the stair treads for maximum aesthetic punch. Mmm, punch.
Make for a More Productive Fluff and Fold
The days of doing your Chemistry homework in the laundry room may be long behind you, but that doesn't mean we're over the idea of maximizing our multi-tasking. If you're blessed with enough space in your laundry room, adding a desk as seen here can be a great way to make the most of those "rinse, repeat" hours.
Pull Out All the Stops
A stunning mudroom like this one is total eye-candy for us, and we're surprised we haven't seen more designers picking up on the idea of adding a chest of drawers to their entryway setup. This one makes use of a sliver of space that would otherwise go to waste, and offers the ultimate spot for sunglasses and spare keys alike.