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"My kids dump everything on the kitchen table when they walk in the door—bike helmets, phone chargers, hair bands, homework, the dog leash. Ugh!" —TheLearningCommunity
Right inside the door, in a spot that sees the most traffic, create a designated drop-off area. Assign each family member—and each pet!—a couple of pegs or hooks. Look for inexpensive, stackable bins or a console shelf or bench that has storage baskets. If the entryway seems like a smart place to stow phones and MP3 players, set up a tabletop charging station. Store keys in a small bowl alongside it. Strictly enforce the new system until it becomes routine for your kids.
"We have a basement and crawl space, but somehow everything ends up in a jumbled heap in my hallway closet—luggage, games, puzzles, a fireproof safe, the ironing board." —mommiffer
Things should be kept where they're needed, says Platt. With this one principle in mind, determine what deserves real estate here based on proximity, and relocate everything else. Put what you rarely use—the luggage and the safe—in the basement or crawl space. Find a spot in the kids' or family room for puzzles and games. Put the sports equipment in the garage. And instead of hauling around a cumbersome freestanding ironing board, hang a fold-down board on the inside of a door in the laundry room or wherever you do your ironing. Clear a portion of the closet for a vertical storage unit to hold those items that truly belong in it. Designate bins, baskets and boxes for everything else.
Jumbo stacking baskets, $14 each, organize.com