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Back in 2009, best-selling writer Jane Green and her husband, Ian Warburg, were poking around for a place to buy in Westport, Connecticut. "We both love history and charm," says Jane, "but our choices on the market were limited. So we decided to build." Having grown up in a rambling Victorian in London, she wanted to re-create the charm of an old home in their new one—lots of nooks and crannies, big cushy furniture and tables piled with books. "For me, decorating perfection means eclectic styles and collections of beautiful things like pottery, pillboxes and match strikers," she says. "In other words, a little bit of everything." With a full house—the couple has six children between them plus two dogs and five cats—keeping clutter under control called for storage solutions everywhere possible. So she put cabinets in the hallway outside the kids' bedrooms and floor-to-ceiling cupboards in the pantry. The mudroom hosts multiple hideaways as well. "As long as stuff is hidden, I feel somewhat in control," says Jane. "Just don't ask me to find anything."
Jane's Decorating Playbook
- "I love inexpensive white china because nothing has to match," Jane says. "As dishes chip and break, you don't have to worry about replacing patterns."
- Baskets make the best catchalls—for firewood, dog leashes, magazines and books.
- Different textures and patterns give rooms personality. "I layer linen and canvas upholstery in checks and graphic prints, sea grass rugs on floors and grass cloth on walls."
- For maximum impact, keep accessories grouped together instead of scattered about.
- Look beyond the flaws in vintage pieces, like a hand-me-down table with a few nicks. "There's character in imperfection."
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Video: How to Organize the Hall Closet
How To Organize the Hall Closet
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A pair of oversize sofas, slipcovered in canvas and piled high with pillows, helps make the family room a cozy haven. Jane arranges her collection of blue-and-white Chinese ginger jars on the mantel and side table along with favorite photos. She picked Benjamin Moore Pale Oak for the walls and painted the reclaimed-wood coffered ceiling a complementary driftwood shade. "Neutrals are the most calming and help pull a room together." The mirror above the fireplace hides a flatscreen TV.
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Video: How to Declutter the Kitchen Counter
How To Declutter The Kitchen
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Recipe for Success
The kitchen island features open shelving for plates, bowls and platters plus a fridge drawer to hold kids' drinks. "When we entertain, often for 30 at a time, we set up a buffet on the counter," Jane says. She displays her silver serving pieces in glass-front cupboards in the pantry, where they're easy to grab.
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Video: How to Add Storage to the Bathroom
How to Add Bathroom Storage
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The kids stash their backpacks, jackets and sports gear in four assigned cubbies lining the wall of the mudroom. "Cabinets help hide a multitude of messes," says Jane, "although there's never enough room for everything, like Harry's guitar."
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With its many built-ins, Tabitha's bedroom is all about maximizing storage in a compact space. She stows books in a drawer under the window seat and tapes her photos to the inside of cupboard doors.
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Cabinets in the hallway keep the kids' towels and bed linens neatly out of sight.
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Storage with Style: Basket
Woven Storage Bins, birchlane.com, $25 to $45 each
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Storage with Style: Basket
Nautical Rope Basket in Soft Sand, llbean.com, medium, $39, and extra-large, $69.
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Storage with Style: Jar
Apothecary Jar Set, birchlane.com, $35/set of 3.