5 design pros (and moms) share their organizing tips for every room
1. Hang a chalkboard
Melissa Michaels, author of popular home decorating blog, The Inspired Room, has streamlined her kitchen with several savvy organizing ideas. Because magnets are not an option for her stainless-steel fridge, "We attached a small, framed chalkboard with sturdy but removable Command Strips. It's the perfect place to jot down a quick note for the kids, or even a list of leftovers they can eat."
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2. Label, label, label
Say goodbye to guessing how long something's been in the fridge. "We keep small removable labels in a kitchen drawer that we use to designate leftover containers and the date we opened certain foods," Michaels says.
3. Set up a packing station
To make lunch prep a breeze, Michaels set up an organized area where everything's within easy reach. "We keep a basket in our pantry filled with healthy snacks to make it easy to pack a lunch in a hurry."
1. Think minimalist
When designer Robin Wilson began organizing her eco-friendly nursery last year in preparation for her first child, she quickly realized less is more. "All you really need is the changing table, the crib, a small cabinet for nursing supplies, and maybe a bookcase," she says. "The rest of the room should be open floor space for you and the baby to play and bond."
2. Consider carpet tiles
Wilson is a big fan of eco-friendly, FLOR modular carpet tiles because they're soft enough for playtime. They're also convenient: "You can easily switch them around if you decide to reconfigure the nursery as your child grows," she says, "Plus, you can take them with you if you move!"
3. Pick a crib with care
"Many people don't think about this," Wilson says, "but when your baby begins teething, they gnaw on the side of the crib. You want to make sure you're using a crib that uses nontoxic materials — we have a great one that's formaldehyde-free and low VOC from Argington."
The home office
1. Manage artwork
The founder of the modern office supply company seejanework.com, Holly Bohn-Weiss, devised a few clever solutions to deal with the paper clutter chaos that comes from raising three kids. "At the beginning of the school year, I set up two document boxes for each child: one temporary and one permanent. At the end of each term, we go through the box together and pick two special things to keep. The rest goes in the recycle bin.” Office Depot's See Jane Document Box.
Related: 15 Stylish Home Offices
2. Reclaim the kitchen table
Bohn-Weiss’s children used to do their homework at the kitchen table at the same time she was trying to prep dinner, so she got a writing desk with a small footprint for them in the living room instead. “It looks like a sofa table, but it can serve as a homework table,” she says.
3. Organize children's books
"My three-year-old's books are hard to organize because they're so small. I keep them in magazine files on the bookshelf and sort them by subject. It looks much neater, and you can even label the files with an image instead of a word so your child pick the book they want to read.”
1. Maximize prime real estate
In a family bathroom, the sink and shower are prime real estate. Organizing expert Julie Morgensterm advises removing anything you don't use every day from the medicine cabinet and the storage area below the sink. "You don't need your whole medicine chest in the bathroom," she says. "Instead, use it for cosmetics or skincare.”
2. Waste not
Look for a shower organizer with adjustable shelves. Morgensterm loves Quirky's modular shower station because you can customize it for your particular space and products. "Most organizers are hard to get your different size bottles in and out of," she says. "This one has four different adjustable shelves so there's no wasted space."
3. Take a cue from dorm living
To keep the tub's surface uncluttered, Morgenstern is a big fan of shower caddies. "Each kid can have their own portable caddy containing their own personal grooming stuff. It's just like college — bring it in, take it out."
The living area
1. Try outdoor fabrics indoors
Textile designer, decorator, and mother of three boys, Kathryn Ireland, knows family-friendly fabrics. Though her sons are now young adults, "They still lounge around and watch football. It's no different, really — they're just bigger!" For high-traffic areas, Ireland advises choosing synthetic, water-resistant fabrics that you can easily clean with a sponge. "Outdoor fabrics can be great for this," she says. There's no reason you can't use them indoors, too.
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2. Don't disregard slipcovers
Slipcovers are great for young children and they really can be attractive if you select the right fabric. Ireland suggests having one made with 10 percent more fabric than your couch or chair measurements call for. Before sending it to your upholsterer, pre-wash the fabric in a commercial washer so it won't shrink.
3. Mind your colors
To keep fabrics looking fresh, avoid choosing ones with light background colors. Dark shades won't show wear as quickly.