Overwhelmed by Organizing? Here’s Help
This reach-in closet offers adequate storage in a two-toned modular system combining hanging clothes, drawers and shelving. A boat oar provides a unique rod for the curtain to conceal all when needed.
There's no shortage of advice on getting organized, but getting things in order may seem overwhelming. When it seems like every room in your house is full of piles of stuff, where do you begin? The kitchen? The garage? The stacks of bills and other papers on the table or desk that never goes away?
"Most people don't even start the organizing process because they are overwhelmed by where to start," says Amy Trager, CPO, a Chicago-based professional organizer and member of the National Association of Professional Organizers. "Once they begin, most don't realize a realistic amount of time the project will take to complete. They've allocated far less time than is needed, most likely, and stop before they've gotten very far, out of frustration."
A makeshift mudroom is kept clutter free with a few wall-mounted paint cans. They not only give the space a cool industrial look, but they also provide quick storage for accessories, keys and mail. A basket beneath the bench is a great place for kids' coats or winter gear. Photo courtesy of Kirsten Grove
In a kitchen with open shelving, proper organization is key. Here, color-coordinated stacked plates, bowls and even teacups are nicely arranged. And the best part is, stacking allows all the dishes to be stored in the same place.
A Place for Everything
Disorganization in a home office is a recipe for disaster. Keep your desk looking sharp by taking advantage of vertical space. Here, books and magazines are kept to the right of the desk in what would ordinarily be unused space, and a cute wire basket for notes keeps "his" and "hers" separate.
For small spaces, multipurpose furniture is the key to a clutter-free home. As seen in HGTV Magazine, Sabrina Soto's coffee table is also a shelf, so she can keep books and magazines out of the way but still within arm's reach.
A Clever Kitchen
In this gorgeous kitchen, designer Brian Patrick Flynn installed a wall-mounted, bar-height table. The vibrant metal stools can be neatly stacked under the table when not in use, and a hanging pot rack frees up cabinet space.
An unrealistic view of how long a project will take, combined with a perfectionist streak, can cause a would-be organized person to freeze in their tracks. "They often feel that if they can't complete the project in a particular way, they might as well not start," Trager says. Combine these fears with a life change such a divorce, an empty nest or a move to a new house, and it's easy to see why many people become stuck.
"There's always some kind of upheaval with life transitions: things moving into your space from an inheritance or birth or marriage; things moving out of your space from a move, divorce or child moving out of the house," Trager says. "Most important is to deal with the stuff that accompanies these events when you're ready. If you tackle the space too soon, you might not have the wherewithal to pick out a few treasured items and let go of the rest."
"It's also okay to get emotional. Organizing brings up a lot of feelings — loss, joy, anger — everything those items remind you of. Acknowledge it, but don't dwell on it."
The best way to overcome fears about getting organized is to be realistic about your expectations and take your time, Trager says. "For example, if you're overwhelmed with an entire room, start by tackling the bookshelf in there," she says. "Breaking tasks down into steps makes the project as a whole a lot more manageable. Pay attention to how long tasks are taking, and schedule accordingly. Also, keep in mind how long it took your space to look as it does. It's not going to change overnight."
Once your space is organized, you may find yourself slipping back into old habits. Trager says she sometimes hears from clients she's worked with who are concerned about backsliding, and she works with them to get back on track before they get discouraged and give up.
This gorgeously outfitted mudroom by Frederick & Frederick Architects blends seamlessly into the home's traditional decor. Boots and shoes are tucked unobtrusively beneath the window seat, flanked by storage cabinets that have the look of freestanding furniture. Antique heart pine floors, countertops and transoms lend a sense of age and patina, and hold up to wear and tear. Antique window glass in the transoms, plus reclaimed siding on the walls, completes the look.
Functional Focal Point
In this mudroom from Tanya Collins Design, an antique pine armoire, painted teal, boosts storage and creates a focal point that enlivens the otherwise neutral scheme. The built-in cabinets near the door, big enough to house bulky items, are painted the same shade as the walls so that they blend into the background. A framed chalkboard-paint wall serves as a central spot for memos and messages.
Although most mudrooms are linear, this one by Anthony James Construction makes great use of an odd corner near the entrances to the home's garage and backyard. A wraparound bench seat features ample storage underneath, while hooks stand ready for purses, jackets, backpacks and more. The 1970s Dutch door adds a nostalgic top note.
Thanks to LDa Architecture & Interiors’ stylish surfaces and clever design, this mudroom doesn’t look like a mudroom at all. Blond wood veneer covers the storage cabinets and bench; the flooring and kilim rug keep the look from feeling too stark.
Clean and Classic
The Lakeshore Designs team gave this mudroom a crisp, tailored feel while still making it ultra-functional. Baskets inside high cubbies conceal loose items such as gloves, while drawers keep footwear and other gear hidden away. Even coats and bags hanging from the hooks won't look untidy, thanks to the clean backdrop. Throw pillows and a cheery rug make the space feel polished.
Handy Kitchen Niche
This simple mudroom area, also from Lakeshore Designs, takes advantage of an awkward kitchen niche and draws the eye to what otherwise would have been dead space. Itâs small, but thereâs plenty of room to sit and tug off boots or transfer items between purses. As a bonus, it can double as a place for guests to perch and chat with the cook.
If you can afford to give up a closet, take a cue from Röm Architecture and transform it into a mini mudroom. Divided cubbies are sized for different footwear types so that they don't end up in a heap. There's even room for school notebooks or library books that need to be toted in and out of the house.
Add two simple reclaimed-wood slabs, and presto! This recessed niche, just inside the backyard door, becomes a mudroom. Barker Freeman Design Office architects needed little more than the shelving and a few hooks to create an ideal setup for removing shoes and stashing flotsam. Keeping the wall color the same as in the rest of the room allows for continuity, but the paler hue on the surrounding wall helps to define the space.
Indeed, getting and staying organized is a long-term process. Much like adapting a healthy eating and exercise lifestyle, permanent success doesn't happen overnight. But by consistently taking one step at a time and having a plan for maintenance, you can keep your spaces manageable.