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Organizing/clutter reducing tips and ideas

Home Office

A bookshelf with built-in cubbyholes not only looks neat, it begets neatness. Each cubby can have a theme-magazines, books, photography gear, art supplies-so it’ll be easy to put things back. The unit can serve as a visual and functional focal point.

For those with kids, their stuff can be stored low. For example, one kid-height cubby can be for library books, one can be for art supplies, while another can hold toys or games.

Stick-on tiles can be applied to the top half of a blank wall to create an oversize pinboard.

Got any leftover gift boxes? For those of you with kids, use them as storage bins for their papers. Label the sides, one box for each child.

Always consider going “up” for more space (like small ladder rungs, wall hooks or curtain rods).

A glass cabinet with shelves is great for storing items you need to see but want to protect from dust.

Everything doesn’t have to be lined up against a wall; a dining table (regular size or scaled-down) makes an ideal work island.

Throughout the House

Here’s three tips from organizing expert Donna Smallin:

Create workstations by gathering in one spot the tools for tasks such as paying bills, doing laundry or sewing. Designate a bin for library books and videos that need to be returned.

Use an easy-to-customize closet system to make the most of available space.

Put things away in their proper place, in the first place! It’ll soon become second nature to you-and a time-saver.

A bed skirt allows you to hide a ton, including that extra table leaf and roller bins full of coats, shoes and seasonal clothes.”-Jean Stephane Beauchamp, designer

If you don’t have any built-in cabinets in your laundry area, use a table or a deep shelving unit to store laundry baskets, two up top and two on the floor or bottom shelf.

Consider dual-purpose furniture like a storage ottoman (like the Mani Terracotta ottoman; retail price, $249); the lid can be taken off to stow throws or other items and then put back on for a seat. For more info, log on to

Avoid zigzag organizing. Scattering your efforts over multiple rooms prevents you from seeing progress. For visible, dramatic results, work one room at a time, one section at a time, completing each piece before you move on to the next.”-Julie Morgenstern, author of Organizing from the Inside Out

Sources: “Kids, Incorporated” by Berit Thorkelson, “Better Family-Midterm Cleanup” by Kathy Barnes and “orange Zest“ by Sarah Egge-Better Homes and Gardens, Jan. 2013 , “Tucked Away” by Kit Selzer and “Clean Scene“ by Jan Soults Walker-Better Homes and Gardens, Jan. 2012, “Repeating Pattern” by Kathy Barnes-Better Homes and Gardens, Jan. 2014 and “25 ways to declutter for the new year” by Berit Thorkelson-Better Homes and Gardens, Jan. 2011

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