How I wish I'd been born with the tidy gene. Most of the time my organizing M.O. involves sleight-of-hand tricks that create the illusion of order. As in, clear all surfaces of anything unnecessary. Strategically place a few well-chosen accessories. Use clutter-control tools that are so stylish they look like part of the decor. Check out my best tactics here.
By Judy Prouty
My recipe for success in the kitchen: Make sure all your stuff has a home, and keep like items together—wooden spoons in a container by the stove, skillets in one cupboard, mixing bowls in another. Return things to their designated place when done. And, hello, get the entire family on board.
I can't live without an eye-catching catchall in the entryway for keys, pocket change, and other bitsy things.
I've gotten pretty good about entering new phone numbers and addresses into my smartphone. But it still makes me happy to stick notes and photos from friends on a jazzy memo board where I can see them.
Trays are my go-to storage solution for every room in the house. I'll top an ottoman with a tray to store remote controls and magazines. There's a square version on the bookshelf to catch mail, and one on the bedroom side table for catalogs and notepads.
For years I've been on the lookout for a cool coatrack. Finally, my search is over. It's a splurge, but this version is both a work of art and a place to hang almost anything—coats, scarves, sweaters, you name it.
Decorative boxes hide a multitude of sins and I simply can't do without them. Build a collection in pretty patterns and colors that you'll want to display on shelves.
I'm an avid recycler, but bills and documents containing personal info tended to pile up when I was too busy (or lazy) to drag the shredder out of the closet. This little gem comes in white or black and is small enough to live within arm's reach atop the desk.
—Drowning in mail? Prevent paper pileup in just five minutes a day—flip through, then sort into one of three baskets labeled To Do, File and Recycle/Shred.
—On the bathroom counter I store essentials like makeup brushes, cotton balls and lipsticks in clear vases of different sizes and shapes. This system lets me grab what I want fast. And empty glass votive candle holders are the perfect size for cotton swabs and hair bands.
—Being organized isn't just about getting rid of stuff, though of course that helps. It's also about finding pretty ways to display what you use often. Different hats hung on hooks by the door or colorful scarves in a basket on the dresser look like a collection, not clutter.
—If I'm not careful, my bedside table easily turns into a sorry mess. What merits real estate are those things I use nightly, like a lamp, clock radio and hand lotion. The one "extra" is a chic china dish to hold rings and reading glasses. Aspirin bottles, trinkets and photos only contribute to clutter, so they're banned.
—There's no end to what you can corral into a sturdy canvas tote bag (parrottcanvas.net, from $18). I stash cleaning supplies in one in the laundry room and keep a couple in the hall closet for baseball caps and sports gear.
Originally published in the June 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.