Kitchen cupboards

Do you stack pots and baking sheets in a jumble? Here’s your new strategy: For items like bulky platters, trays, cookie sheets and pot lids, use tray dividers (or short adjustable tension rods, like you’d use to hang cafe curtains) to store trays and cookie sheets lined up vertically. Then stack away with your mixing bowls, pots and pans and china. Tip: When storing your good china, place a sheet of paper towel between each piece; this will help prevent chips or breakage caused by friction.

Medicine cabinet

First, move out medications and first-aid items; these common bathroom items aren’t suited to the steamy atmosphere. Organise separate bins or boxes for them by malady: cold and flu, tummy troubles, pain relief, et cetera and store them in a linen closet or other cool, dry place. Then group your bathroom essentials divided by purpose (hair, makeup, et cetera) in baskets or bins under your sink. Reserve the medicine cabinet for things you use multiple times a day, like toothbrushes, contact solution and face wash. Keep just a few rolls of toilet tissue in the bathroom itself; the rest can go in the linen closet to save valuable bathroom real estate.

Linen closet

To avoid sorting through individual bed sheets, store sheet sets in bundles. Make a bundle by folding both sheets and all but one pillowcase together and then tucking the folded linens inside the remaining pillowcase to make a tidy packet.

Keep everyday towels, sheets and other linens front and centre, but store infrequently-used items like beach towels, holiday tablecloths and out-of-season blankets on harder-to-reach shelves.

Clothes closet

Maximise your hanging space with double rods; the lower one hangs about three feet below a regular closet rod and is perfect for hanging shirts or shorter items. You don’t even need to install hardware – just look for the type which hooks on to your existing rod. Shelf dividers will prevent towers of sweaters from collapsing and are great for organising purses. Stuff purses first with tissue paper or paper towels to help them keep their shape. Finally, a good shoe system will help keep everything off the floor, whether you prefer clear shoe boxes, an over-the-door rack or traditional floor organisers. There’s no need to spring for fancy boot trees; a few empty paper towel tubes will work perfectly as boot shapers.

Computer desk

Whether it’s in a dedicated home office or occupying space in your kitchen or bedroom, your computer desk needs to have a clear work surface. Keep frequently-used office products close at hand, but store extra printer paper, rarely-used reference materials and toner cartridges in bins in drawers. Only keep your printer within easy reach if you use it at least weekly. Keep cords, wires and cables from taking over by using a cable organiser, available at office supply stores. When your desk is clear, create a box for incoming projects and papers and an out-box for items that need to be mailed, sent to school or returned.

Kids’ room

When it comes to taming child chaos, your goal is to make things even easier to put away than to get out. For example, instead of storing books on traditional bookcases, stand them upright in a shallow bin or storage basket. A child can easily flip through and pull out her favourites, but more importantly, it’s a lot easier for little fingers to replace books in a bin than back on a shelf. Store toys and stuffed animals in their own baskets and bins, but remember: the deeper the storage container, the harder it is to find something and the easier it is for the mess to start up again.


Basements are ideal for extra household goods, like kitchen items, cases of water or bulk toilet paper or paper towels. Stack tightly-sealed clear plastic bins on heavy-duty metal shelving so that nothing is on the floor in case of flooding. Alternatively, place storage containers on wooden or plastic pallets to keep things high and dry.


Who wants to park in a catch-all? There should be areas dedicated to specific tasks and themes, like tools, sports equipment and lawn care. For the best garage layout, map it so frequently used items are accessible: the recycling bins should be near the entrance to the home; sleds and beach chairs can be placed in a seasonal storage area that’s harder to reach. Maximise vertical space on the garage walls with mounted pegboards for tools or sturdy shelving systems for larger items.


Put once-a-year, seasonal items like holiday decorations in the attic or use it for longer-term storage. (Remember, though, that temperature fluctuations in attics are destructive to books, videos and photographs, so keep those items in a cool, dry place.) Wrap delicate ornaments in paper towels or tissue paper before boxing them up and use a marker and masking tape to label lights or garlands so you’ll know where to hang them next year. For a snarl-free string of lights, take an empty coffee can, cut a slit in the plastic lid and put the plug end of the light cord through it; then wrap the string around the can and secure with masking tape. Protect against pests and roof leaks by using plastic containers for everything.

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