Sunday, September 27, 2015

Home Organization Ideas

The kitchen table is covered with binders, and I currently have a pair of field hockey shin guards hanging from the knobs of my kitchen cabinets to dry.  But the cool weather is perking me up a bit, and has me thinking about de-cluttering as well as working on little systems in our home to make things a little less chaotic, especially in the kitchen, which is at the front of the house and is the way we enter and exit.

As I've done a few times before, I thought I'd share a few of the easy things we do in our house to stay organized, and I hope YOU WILL SHARE YOURS WITH ME.

P.S. As we are still contemplating a kitchen renovation, any awesome ideas that have helped you in your kitchen are especially welcome.

Here are a few things that work for us:


A clipboard inside a cabinet with the grocery list on it. Anyone can add items when they realize we are running low. If someone says, "Could you buy gummies?" Always answer with, "Is it on the THE LIST?"

Where you enter from the garage, two Command hooks hang inside a kitchen cabinet, one for my husband's keys, one for mine.

When the kids were little, we kept a basket of socks in the kitchen, all white, and unisex. Because the kids put on their shoes downstairs before leaving the house, I never bothered storing socks in their bedrooms.

We have one drawer where all non-refrigerated snacks are kept, so there's no reason to go rummaging through spaghetti sauce or canned goods to get a snack.

 I keep a "current" folder in the kitchen with info about this season's sports teams,  class schedules, etc. I've had limited success with this system because it gets messy and disorganized as the papers pile up. Gah.

On the fridge we keep a magnetized pad of paper with the weekly dinner menu on it.


The kids'  artwork is on display from floor to ceiling in the laundry room, along with family photos, so I can see something cheery while I do laundry.

We have three beds in the house, and each has white sheets. It's annoying trying to guess which ones are queen and which king, so I took a black sharpie and wrote a big Q or a K on the tag to help me know which ones I'm folding. Also, I keep the K sheets in our bedroom, not the linen closet, so they don't get mixed up with the queens when I'm changing sheets.

I buy smaller bottles of detergent that fit inside my cabinets in my laundry room rather than one giant one that sits on the counter and gets drippy.


A lazy susan is my favorite way to corral beauty products on a small counter.

I like to keep a travel toiletry bag stocked with necessities including toothbrush and razor so all I have to do is add makeup before going on a trip.

Leave extra grocery bags at the bottom of your trash can so you'll be ready with a new one when you empty the trash.


If there is space, add an extra shelf above your closet shelf for out of season clothes or keepsakes.

Keep a bag on the floor of your closet to put donations in as soon as your realize a garment isn't working for you anymore.

Around the House:

Window seat: Under our kitchen window we have a window seat with a hinged lid. This is excellent built-in seating and makes great storage for our dog food, canned drinks, cleaning products, and potatoes! Except for when we forget about the potatoes and let them rot...

There are a lot of junk drawers in the house, and things do not always end up back where they should. However, several key items have definite homes: the metal tape measure, scissors, nail clippers, and the thermometer (which sits in a plastic basket labeled THERMOMETER) because when you are looking all over the house for these items, it can get a little...stressful. If you have ever seen your husband have an apparent toenail emergency, you know what I'm talking about.

Hooks everywhere help us deal with towels, purses, backpacks, bathrobes, and coats.


If storage is tight in the house, consider having cabinets hung or buying a utility cabinet to store party supplies, platters, vases, and small appliances that don't fit in the kitchen.

The garage is also where we store our mops, brooms, and aprons using hooks and a special broom  hanger. I can just lean out the door and grab them.

We bought this little guy at Ikea more than 10 years ago for $1. Do they still have them? Perfect for keeping grocery bags in the garage for dog poop cleanup!


Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons stay in the car.

Returns stay in the car.

As soon as I have a bag full of donations, it goes into the car.

I also try to leave a snack for myself as well as a book or magazine in the car for waiting in school pickup lines.

Change it up. 

If a system isn't working, get rid of it. I've shared some ideas with you on the blog that have turned out to be bombs. Cute vintage traveling cases on the stairs so the kids would carry their own things up? Fail. Dish tubs with their names on them for the same purpose? Fail. We are back to stuff piling up directly on the stairs until I can't take it anymore.

The cute bar cart I rescued from the trash heap? Well, it didn't take me long to realize I wasn't Don Draper and didn't really need a bar cart. Now it's in the corner of the dining room with my daughter's school supplies on it.

Hmmm....maybe that could be a home for the binders?

What tips do YOU have to share? Help!


Gigi said...

I have just spent the ENTIRE weekend trying to get this house in order. While I think I have it tamed for now, the husband - who is notorious for not putting things back where they belong - comes home tomorrow and I have a feeling it will all be for naught.

I do the box in the closet for donations and the grocery bags in the bottom of the trash cans - so far those are the only things that seem to stick.

Hoping some of the response will yield some magic trick that works.

A Speckled Trout said...

I cleaned out every single cabinet in the kitchen and was sickened by the amount of food I threw out. I rearranged some things so it makes more sense but the most important thing I need to remember is to buy less. And sprinkles for cookies and cupcakes? Never again.

Danielle said...

Use IKEA for the kitchen!!! I'm not even kidding. Once a year they do a sale for 20% off 4500+ or 10% off 3500. We got brand new cabinets, hardware, sink, faucet, and all of our appliances for $4300 shipped when it was all said and done. I think the sale is every April. They have an online kitchen planner tool which is awesome. We got the lowest grade cabinets and they were shockingly high quality. We also installed ourselves but I believe if you are close to an IKEA (we aren't) they can install for you. So worth it and you can't beat the prices. This is what it looked like when it was done:

Christine said...

The BEST thing we can do is embrace and learn to love our mess and craziness while our house is filled with people. The time will zip by and before you know it there will be no papers on the kitchen counter and shoes piled high by the front door.

In the meantime, I make sure at least one day a week we eat the food we already have in our cabinets and freezer for dinner. It's usually not a fancy meal, and sometimes we're all eating something different, but it's a great way to make sure you're eating the food you already paid for:)

Rachel said...

My kitchen tip is to switch some of the paper into a white board. We have a good-sized bit of wall between our kitchen and the door to the mudroom. I have a big cork board on that, and I use the cork board for permission slips, reminders about concerts, etc. One part of the cork board is a white board. I use that for a list of menus for the week & a grocery list. I have it segmented out for CVS, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and regular grocery. I'll usually put in a BJs list, too, if needed. I also have my kitchen/baking to do list on it. This is all in an 8x11 white board. I use the extra fine markers, but bigger would be good.

The big reason for the cork board & white board is that stainless steel fridges aren't magnetic. The sides are, but if your fridge is in a cupboard, you have limited magnet real estate. Also, my husband is strongly anti holes-in-walls. So he wouldn't want a clipboard in the cupboard. (insert eye roll here).

I LOVE the sock idea! I'm going to start doing that with my kids. My youngest forgets socks, then has to run upstairs to get them, almost making us late regularly. I also love the idea of pictures in the laundry area. Thanks for the tips!

Chimmy said...

I love decorative storage, especially baskets. I have baskets in almost every room of the house and of all types of designs and sizes. I use three on my refrigerator for snacks and bread; some in the living room for blankets, cables, magazines; a small one in the bathroom for matches for the candles; and of course the bedroom for laundry. I got a great set from Serena and Lily for laundry that keeps my laundry separated and off the floor! Baskets in the kitchen are great for potlucks and picnics. Just grab a basket, pack it up and go!

I've also been trying to keep grocery bags both in the car and on hooks in the entryway, but judging from the collection of grocery bags...I keep forgetting them and buying more reusable bags than any person could possibly need.

I still need to organize my spice cabinet and pantry. They both get unruly very quickly.

Anonymous said...

I have what I call our "command center binder". The idea came from the Fly Lady. The one inch binder has several tabs, Soccer, CCD (religious class), Phone Lists, Passwords, 11th Grade, and one or two others. All information that comes into our house related to one of these items goes into the binder. Soccer schedules or information, in the binder. All phone and address lists, go in the binder. Password section has pre-printed form off the net that we just fill in when we change any passwords (saved our bacon lots of times). All school information that I think we should keep for our daughter goes under the current 11th grade tab which gets changed out at the start of the new school year. It sounds like a hassle to those that don't have something like this, but when you use a system that works you see the value in it and you take the minute or two to punch the holes in the piece of paper and put it in the binder. Knowing you won't remember the password, you take a minute to write it in the binder.

Kathleen said...

Love your laundry room with the art from your children. That would be a happy place to do your laundry. Our laundry room is in the garage...not so happy. ;)

julie gardner said...

I wish I could contribute to your organizational suggestions but you are SO FAR AHEAD OF ME I can't think of a thing to add.
Just picture me nodding in gratitude with a "Why didn't I think of that?" look on my face.

P.S. Thanks for sharing and for including your fails, too. Life would be easier if we all did this more freely.

Meredith W. said...

It has taken me decades of living with A.D.D. (medicated, but it doesn't help much) to learn that the first thing when I come in the door, my keys go into the key bowl on the counter. ALWAYS. I am not organized to begin with, so I thank God that my husband balances me out for the most part.

He does most of the grocery shopping and has a spiral notebook in which he makes each week's list. We use a whiteboard for items from Sam's Club. We have envelopes for sorting coupons, which I used to do regularly but now seem to forget.

I type a list into a "document" that I try to leave open on my desktop computer. Eventually it gets closed (not finished, mind you, and probably not deleted) and disappears into the other "saved to desktop" items. I recently combined two or three of these, finding notes from months ago with things still needing to be done. Thankfully, none of them involved perishable food.

I write lists on legal pads while watching TV at night. Occasionally, I remember to look for them the next day and might even go so far as to rip off the page and stick it in my purse. Once they're with me, I sometimes even look at them.

There is a wood organizer on top of the big cabinet in the dining room, and it has two slots for bills, based on my husband getting paid twice a month. That has helped immensely, although the rest of the "organizer," not to mention the top of the cabinet, has become a repository for everything from small things my husband uses daily to our rarely touched Complete Calvin and Hobbes collection. (The boxed set - turned out to be a very awkward form for easy reading.)

The more I think about this, the more I wonder how much it would cost to have someone come figure this all out for me. :-\

Donna said...

Try replacing your paper grocery list with an app, like OurGroceries. You can install it multiple smart phones, all synced to the same list, so that you can add items as you think of them and they will appear on the list on everyone's phone immediately. That way, whoever does the shopping always has an up to date list right on the phone. We use the free version and it's great.

Anonymous said...

We love our corner cabinet pull out shelves! See picture on,,20526078_21050820,00.html

Anonymous said...

Sandie Brown said...
Well I moved the socks downstairs today, it made sense. I also have pics in the laundry room but was too conservative, about to load up the walls with art work. My boys share a room and they have a rather spacious closet. Since they are 2 and 4 I put bins on either side of the walk in. one bin is shirts, one is pants, and they can pick out and put away their own clothes easily. It aint pottery barn, but sure is a time saver.
I have bulletin boards in my pantry. each side for vearious school stuff and it's visual and in front of my face. I only put the current calendar, newletter, etc, the rest of the papers are filed in a big drawer that I go through periodically.
Last tip I did more as a teacher but now as a mom....when flyers, papers, etc come in, I read and mark them up, I add dates to my calendar and then toss the paper. I used to do that to stay on top of the influx of papers that ran across my desk. Then it helps cut down on the paper that takes over all work spaces! said...

Yow! This is a pretty comprehensive list. Hooks! Love em. I am inspired. Time to get organized. Cheers!

AmyGFreck said...

We also have a basket in the kitchen full of socks! Besides 'night time' socks no need to keep them upstairs! Great tips!

Annabelle said...

As Margaret gets older, you may want to switch the command hooks to a "Key Basket". I got a small wall hanging basket that hung just inside the door at our old house. It now it sits on a table in the front hall. When drivers walk in the door, their keys go in the basket. No lost keys and if the driveway needs to be rearranged - we have 5 drivers and another on the way in 5 months! - anyone can grab the keys and move a car without searching or screaming "Move Your Car!"

Grocery lists on an app is brilliant! A friend put me onto Color Note - check list for the stores; regular "stickies" for mental notes.

Zazujoon said...

I have a small container of clothespins upstairs that are used to clip over a stain on clothes before they go into the laundry basket. That way I'm not checking each child's clothes for stains, and I don't miss any before they get thrown in the wash. There's another identical container in the laundry room to put the clothespins into when I take them out to spray the stain. And then every few weeks the containers get switched when we run out of clothespins upstairs (with two toddlers, we have a lot of stains!!)

SouthLakesMom said...

I teach different subjects in different locations. I also ride a lot of bike events so I have lots of bike string bags that I've received as 'gimmes'. Now each different subject has its own bag with all the contents necessary for that bag. The bags hang on hooks in our mudroom. So if I'm heading out to teach ESL, I grab the green bag. Teaching bike safety? Grab the purple bag.

And, take heart all of you, when your children launch, you can reclaim the pockets on the seats and doors of your car. They will no longer be the depository for junk, but you can pre-position maps (yes, some of us still use them), umbrellas, basic tools, etc.

In the end, most of us have too much stuff, and the easiest way to organize is quit bringing it into the house.

Anonymous said...

For your kitchen remodel, I recommend cabinet drawers, not doors with shelves. I LOVE mine - they're deep and you can reach everything. I'm shocked by how much better they are than shelves. I also have corner drawer units, which are super cool.