10 life hacks to make sure your apartment is always organized (or looks organized)
If your life is hectic, join the club: Between kids, homework, housework, and ever-demanding jobs, nobody has time to organize on the go, and everyone knows how easy it is to let the mail pile up, the laundry get out of control, and the dishwasher remain perpetually full. The pie-in-the-sky dream of most homeowners is to focus on the eventual purge and redo of their homes—that “one day” you’ll get to that overflowing laundry room, or that “one day” you’ll get the kids to make their own beds. While many people feel as if a clean and organized home is only the result of a weekly cleaning crew and a personal organizer, do yourself a favor and design the smart way, adopting these ten clever keep-tidy tricks so you never have to spend hard-earned weekend hours cleaning and organizing. Once your rooms are working harder (and your habits fall in line), your life will be tidier than you ever imagined.
1. Keep Clothes Off the Floor
Looking to manage a tiny bathroom shared by multiple members of the family? One large, easily accessibly hamper tempts those who typically step out of their clothes—and never look back—to chuck them where they belong. A sizable hamper such as this one, fashioned in a nubby natural material (a nod to the room’s bamboo roman shade and countertop wicker basket), serves a utilitarian purpose while also adding visual interest and texture to the room.
2. Keep beds Made and Nightstands Clear
The secret to a neat home (and a future good night’s sleep) is a freshly made bed and an organized nightstand. If you can’t imagine yourself fully making the bed each and every morning, at least make an effort to pull up your sheets and comforter daily, when you get out of bed. Once you get used to that habit, you may find that it takes only a little extra effort to finish the process. For your nightstand, focus on keeping only must-haves close at hand: a lamp, paper and pen, and your nighttime read. Utilize bedside drawers to store away everything else.
3. Make Your Mudroom Multitask
Designed to stand up to dirty shoes, this mudroom is a go-to place for dropping bags, boxes, and coats during the rush of a busy day. In a high-traffic area, it’s important not only to spruce up the look, but also to make it less prone to disarray. Baskets store out-of-season accessories, such as winter accessories in the summer and swimming supplies in the winter, while a long bench creates an easy spot for taking off and putting on shoes (reminding adults and kids alike to discard muddy shoes near the door). Well-placed hooks keep coats and backpacks off the floor.
4. Limit Your Laundry
Believe it or not, sometimes the lack of a sprawling laundry room can be a blessing in disguise. Housing a front-loading washer and dryer in a wide closet—where louvered doors can close at any time to conceal the dirty work—creates an efficient, hard-working space with limited junk zones. A compact space like this demands good clutter management; this means that forgotten dirty clothes can’t pile up, and a deep-set hanging rack—while perfect for drying delicate clothing—is small enough to avoid becoming overflow closet space for the house. To minimize clutter, take advantage of vertical space (as shown here with lots of open shelving), and put laundry supplies in pretty glass jars so that you’ll always know when you’re running low. The green pail is a handy catchall for dryer sheets and wayward socks, while a painted wooden countertop can be used for folding and sorting.
5. Make Your Entryway More Efficient
Arguably one of the most visible (and visited) areas in a home, the front entryway is crucial to an organized home—it’s a go-to spot where guests and family members corral hats, umbrellas, keys, and important mail. Many homes today don’t have a formal entry, but it’s easy to create the feel of one with a scaled-down vignette in a front hall or an area beside the door. It’s important for every item in a small entry to have a purpose: Here, a hand-carved wooden box holds car and house keys, a table lamp illuminates the hallway at night, and a bamboo tray serves as a catchall for mail and other belongings. With its curvy edges, this neutral table bears plenty of surface space but also stays comfortably out of the way. Also consider adding pieces that are pretty and practical: This bamboo hat rack provides ample hanging space, and the umbrella stand—though seemingly a thing of the past—adds much-needed storage.
6. Create a Command Center
To tame clutter and tackle your family’s endless to-do lists, consider incorporating a command center—including a work space, a spot for notes, and organized storage—along previously unused space, such as a long empty wall, an awkward kitchen corner, or a hallway nook. Here, this home’s command center includes a built-in desk and storage, but the same function could easily be achieved with a freestanding desk and cabinet combo. A coat of simple magnetic chalkboard paint above the desk provides a spot for notes, grocery lists, and weeknight recipe ideas.
7. Keep Linen Storage Tidy
Usually the scene of strewed-about sheets and castaway pillows, the linen closet is often the soft and fluffy version of a junk drawer. Employ a closet or armoire with tall shelves to make putting up laundry a breeze. The height keeps bedding in plain view, helping prevent blind ransacking of sheets. Assign a shelf for each room so that all members of the family can grab their own linens. To keep things looking crisp, also consider using all-white bath and hand towels. Tip: Tired of folding fitted sheets? Wrap each one inside its coordinating fat sheet for crisp, finished stacks.
8. Declutter Your Closet
One way to tackle everyday clutter, especially in a small space, is to demand that your closets work harder. In a shallow closet such as this one, consider moving little-used long formal dresses and coats to a separate location and installing shelves in the bottom half for holding shoes and handbags. Above the shelves, hang tops only. When everything is in plain sight—meaning no more shoving things in the back—it’s harder to lose track of your belongings. At least once a year, make an effort to purge your closet of any clothes, shoes, and accessories you haven’t touched in the past 12 months.
9. Utilize Every Inch
Kitchens are often pressed for space—particularly for growing families—so keep little-used items (like cake platters, pitchers, vases, and large holiday serving pieces) out of your usual cabinet storage spots. Here, utilizing built-in storage in a traditionally unused space above the refrigerator means that you’ll free up spots in your easier-to-reach cabinets for food, dishes, and everyday service ware. Just like your personal closet space, go through kitchen cabinets at least once a year to remove worn-out, broken, or no longer used items, either giving them away, storing them elsewhere for future use (think outgrown baby bottles or kids’ cutlery), or tossing them altogether.
10. Tame the Tech
Thanks to wires, cable boxes, game stations, and numerous remote controls, an entertainment center can quickly become cluttered and disorganized. But, if you arrange it in an intentional and stylish way, it can become a part of the aesthetic of your home. Lighten up an old wood armoire by painting the inside a soft color in a flat finish (to limit reflection), and mount a TV at eye level with cords routed through a hole in the back of the cabinet. To make the space feel less tech focused, colorful books are stacked in orderly groupings. Unsightly items, such as remote controls, are hidden away in decorative boxes. The best part: You can always close up the cabinet to hide its contents during a last-minute cleanup.
This article originally appeared in Southern Living by Caitlin Murphee Miller.