I started the year off with 5 habits to maintain a clutter-free home, and today I’m back with more ideas to kick off the New Year on the right foot. Speaking of, if you have any suggestions or tips, feel free to join in the fun on social media with the hashtag #happynewyearhappyhome. I’d love to see your suggestions!
Today’s suggestions ended up taking on a major theme: bookcases. I think having proper storage is ESSENTIAL to being able to keep your home organized and your surfaces clear. Bookcases and other built-in storage are functional, attractive, and more do-able than you might think.
Here are five functional suggestions to having an organized home:
1. Try building up rather than out.
We often worry about having enough space to properly organize things, but we often forget going up rather than out. One tall, skinny bookcase, like this free one I made over, can be a perfect way to store more in an organized manner. Plus, if you have little kids like me, it offers a natural rotation for their toys, giving toys that “new” feel when you rotate the boxes down from the top shelf.
2. Use bins or boxes with chalkboard labels.
Even if you don’t have kids, I think chalkboard labels (click here for easy instructions to make you own) are such a fun way to store things. You can always use them for books, blankets, magazines, dog toys, ribbon, shoes, or whatever you have that tends to come in groups. 😉 You can change out the purpose, as needed, and the bins stay organized and stylish. Plus, they help with the “1 in, 1 out” method (see habits to sustain a clutter-free home for details) because they give you a measurable limit for particular items. And if you do have kids, it allows even the non-readers to help clean up.
3. Have a decor dumping ground.
Ok, I realize that this may sound TOTALLY counter-intuitive when it comes to being clutter free. And, for the record, like most things, it will help some people and hurt others. But this is what works for me… I love to decorate. I love pretty things. I love things that have meaning and history. And that could lead to an over-stuffed, over-decorated home where every surface is covered with stuff. So how do I keep lots of beautiful things without covering every surface in my home? I have my pretty bookcase. The “rotating door” of decor, if you will. I never even decorate this bookcase. I basically spread out our old books when we moved in, and the rest is just a dumping ground for decorative items that aren’t currently being used elsewhere. It’s easy to add and take away candles, statues, picture frames, and more. It keeps the beautiful things in my home without covering every functional surface.
4. Build more bookshelves.
As you can see, we love books. I was an English teacher. Mr. Pax is just a nerd. 😉 But whatever our excuses, we love books. To keep it reasonable and organized, bookcases are a must. These DIY built-in bookcases that Mr. Pax built have been an incredible addition to his study. Simple ones like this can go on one wall of almost any room: dining, living, even bedrooms. And if you don’t feel up to building your own from scratch, you can always use a Billy bookcase from Ikea (like we did in our master closet) and make it look like a built in. Bookcases keep clutter off work surfaces and store your books in an organized (and pretty!) fashion.
5. Build functional storage.
Every home is different, but almost every home has opportunity for something amazing and clever and useful. For us, it was a bookcase railing for our attic stairs. We used reclaimed wood from the attic, and in an afternoon created this fabulous additional storage. Consider those unused places. Do you have a nook under the stairs that could hold shelves? Or a wall dividing two living spaces (like the living and dining) that could be open bookshelves instead? Get creative, and consider where you could put some functional storage. And remember, if you use bins with adorable chalkboard labels, you can store much more than decorative items and still look pretty doing it.
I know there are a million more ideas out there, many more detailed and activity-driven than these. But I do feel that having structures in place to provide the storage and organization you need is essential if you are going to maintain clear work surfaces and a clutter-free home.
What is your favorite functional storage space in your home?