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Creative Storage Ideas for the Home

Style plus smart storage add up to a family home that really makes the grade.

By Judy Prouty

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Sue De Chiara
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Sue De Chiara and her husband, Adam, have loved their neocolonial in Pound Ridge, New York, since they first spotted it 13 years ago. There's plenty of space for the couple's three children, ages 7 to 13, and the generously proportioned living areas are party-ready for adults and kids alike. "My husband is the youngest of five, so we wanted a place big enough for holiday entertaining," says Sue. She created a casually sophisticated look with a range of textures and styles, and even came up with some clever tactics—snack centers, study stations—for bringing order to her home's busiest areas. "It doesn't always work," says Sue. "But most days I'm just happy to not have cleats in the kitchen."

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Comfort Zone

In the living room a pair of plush sofas flank the fireplace, complemented by a tufted bench on casters that can be moved around as needed for guests. Working with Lauren Muse of Muse Interiors, Sue selected a muted palette of taupe, off-white and pale blue. "Neutrals are the most calming," she says. Sue mixed in affordable pieces from West Elm and CB2 as well as eclectic accessories like the gold ashtray, opposite page, from her own online design store, zhush.com. She found the painting by a New Orleans artist at amandatalley.com.

Get the look: Benjamin Moore Morning Sky Blue mixed 50/50 with White (ceiling) and Benjamin Moore Cape Hatteras Sand (back wall)

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Dream Job

When Olivia wanted to update her little-girl pastel bedroom, mom and daughter hit the Internet for decorating inspiration. Together the two came up with a crisp all-white scheme.

Room Details

  • Pretty accessories in lime and aqua amp things up color wise.
  • Decorative molding applied to plain walls and a starburst mirror add a finishing touch.
  • The padded bench at the foot of the bed does double duty as a bookshelf.

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Passing the Test

What was once a raw space above the garage is now what Sue calls the homework room.

Room Details

  • Built-in bookcases and workstations contain the kids' school supplies. Pull-out baskets under the window seats offer additional storage for toys and games.
  • "I love to reuse furniture," says Sue, who slipcovered an old sofa from a previous home and scored a hand-me-down Eames rocking chair (in front of bookcase) from her mom.
  • A vintage train table painted high-gloss blue is just the right height for working on science fair and art projects.

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Stow Aways

"I like to keep the kids' snacks and breakfast cereals at arm's reach in baskets on lower shelves of the pantry so they can help themselves," Sue says.

Room Details

  • Monogrammed canvas totes filled with a personal cache of craft supplies, games and books hang from hooks.
  • Smaller items like crayons, markers and toys get stashed in bins.
  • Children post their artwork and photos on a bulletin board.

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Exit Strategy

"Our mudroom solves early-morning and after-school clutter chaos," says Sue. "It pretty much keeps everybody's stuff in one spot."

Room Details

  • Sports equipment, backpacks and hoodies go in assigned cubbies on hooks along with a lineup of boots and sneakers.
  • Shallow drawers below the bench seat keep myriad shoes and sandals from going AWOL.
  • Bulky parkas and other out-of-season gear are stored in the window seat when not in use.
  • Sue chose a blown-glass light fixture and a hand-painted compass design for the floor to punch up the room's personality.

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Cool Idea

A refrigerated drawer in the kitchen's large built-in hutch holds juice boxes, club soda and bottled water for grab-and-go convenience.

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Ideas to Steal

Eye-catching ceramic bowls keep jewelry, keys and coins in order.

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Ideas to Steal

Silver (like this wishbone), brass and gold accents infuse sparkle and vintage flair.

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Ideas to Steal

Lend an air of the exotic with a touch of faux animal print.

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Ideas to Steal

A tray on a table can artfully corral a group of objects—candles, flowers, bowls.

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Sue's Style Strategies

Kids' Drawings: Frame your favorites, labeling the back of each piece with names and dates. Current projects can be pinned up on a bulletin board.

Their Own Space: Let your children research decorating ideas on websites and in magazines. Encourage them to choose bright, happy colors and sturdy furniture.

Storage Solutions: Baskets make the best catchalls: for firewood in the living room and for magazines and books everywhere else in the house.

Ultimate Accessory: Pile a stack of big colorful books on the coffee table or on a side table to prop up a choice object or plant.

Finishing Touch: Buy art because you love it, not because it matches your decor. Pull out one or two colors from the drawing or painting to use in accent pieces, like a pillow or a throw.

Originally published in the September 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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