Smart advice from pros and GH editors to help you finally get your house organized this year
Living Room Rules: Keep the space guest-ready with these genius ideas
1. Dare to Be Spare
With too much furniture, even the most spacious living room can look like an episode of Hoarders. Ease congestion by sticking to the basics — a sofa, a bookshelf, a comfy chair, an end table, and a coffee table—and arrange so there’s clear, unimpeded traffic flow. — Meryl Starr, owner of Let’s Get Organized
2. Prune the Pileup
Be ruthless: Save only the last two issues of magazines. Tear out articles and keep in a binder you’ll refer to later. — Justin Klonsky, Organizational expert for OCD Experience (Organize and Create Discipline)
3. Keep it Clean
A stay-neat stat to memorize: The top of the coffee table should be 75% clear (yes, seriously). Styles with drawers or shelves below the surface will get you there fast. — Stephanie Hanes, prop stylist
4. Easy Come, Easy Go
Corral smaller items — vases, candles — on a handled tray that’s a cinch to relocate in a company’s-coming pinch. — Justin Klonsky
5. Control Remotes
Got multiples? Group them all together in a lidded box or a chic decorative bowl. — Stephanie Hanes
6. Pare Down Pillows
A trio in complementary colors and patterns — one a solid — is your best bet for most sofas (a mega-couch can handle five, two of them solids). — Melissa Picheny, founder of declutter+design
7. Double Up
Maximize storage and get extra seating with a hide-stuff-inside ottoman. — Alejandra Costello, professional organizer
8. Floor Show
Having too many area rugs can visually chop up a room. Instead, layer a statement rug over carpeting or bare floors. — Alejandra Costello
Shelf Life: Even ardent book keepers can learn to declutter with these streamlining strategies
9. Rule of Three
Restrict non-book items to a maximum of three per shelf. Their sizes and shapes can vary, but relate the pieces by color or theme — say, ceramic vases in shades of cream. — Melissa Picheny
10. Lighten your Library
Be selective: You don’t want to hang on to every tome you’ve ever read, just those that have had an impact on your life. Shelves still too crowded? Do a side-by-side comparison, asking yourself: If I could keep only one of these two volumes, which would it be? (Remember, you can keep many favorites on an e-reader.) The goal is to leave at least 10% of each shelf bare and book free. — Justin Klonsky
For a cohesive look, display groups of photos in similar frames — match the hues or the materials.
12. Toy Story
To encourage neatness, keep kids’ playthings in light-weight bins on a low shelf — and point out to tykes how easy it is to tuck them away without any aid from adults. — Olescia Hanson, Container Store spokesperson
Kitchen Wisdom: Boost efficiency and access in the same square footage
13. Show ’em Off
Bulky pots and pans can quickly gobble up valuable cabinet space. Be like Julia Child and put them on display — just hang from S-hooks on a pegboard or from a suspended pot rack. — Alison Victoria, host of HGTV’s Kitchen Crashers
14. Put a Lid on It
Get a handle on pots’ lids: Mount a rack on the back of a cabinet or pantry door. Or, try a roll-out rack installed in a lower cupboard (minimal DIY skills needed). — Alejandra Costello
15. Gather Round
Get cooking faster: Store utensils in a canister by the stove.
16. Purge the Plastic
Avoid an overflow of storage containers: Keep just a few of each size — and top out at 12. — Alejandra Costello
17. De-Junk Drawers
Stash only those items used daily, and move the rest to a more out-of-the-way spot.
18. Sneak Storage
Hire a contractor to turn the empty space behind kick plates into drawers (for trays, etc.). Genius! — Alison Victoria
Make an Entrance: A function-first foyer tames chaos
19. Paper Purge
Subject every piece of paper that comes into your house to the “two F’s” test: If you can’t file it (bills, bank statements) or frame it (kids’ artwork), out it goes. — Cheryl Eisen, home stager and president of the Interior Marketing Group
20. Jettison the Junk
That’s what 90% of mail is — so toss it immediately. Set the other 10% in a very visible basket so you’ll be motivated to deal with it.
21. Cut the Catalogs
Visit catalogchoice.org to cancel unsolicited ones; download the free Catalog Spree app (iOS) for digital versions of those you actually do want.
22. Flexible Filing
With a portable file box — rails inside hold hanging folders — you can transport your home office to any room in the house. One of our favorites from Ballard Designs doubles as an ottoman.
23. Outsource Shredding
Stop wasting time with a s-l-o-w desktop paper shredder. GHRI’s top pick: Staples SPL-TXC 122A ($130, staples.com).
24. Keys to Remember
Place keys in a front-and-center bowl — no more frantic “Where are they?!” searches. — Alejandra Costello
25. Ready to Recycle
Position matching bins for recycling and shredding right in the foyer.
Reclaim the Bathroom, No Renovation Required: With these low cost storage solutions, your bath will work harder and smarter
26. Shelf Help
Add vertical risers ($7, oxo.com), and the capacity of a teensy medicine cabinet will almost double. Toiletries in tumblers and mint julep cups look sleek and tidy. — Matt Muenster, licensed contractor on DIY network’s Bath Crashers
27. Reroute Meds
A steamy bathroom is probably the worst place to keep medications. Move these humidity-sensitive products to cooler locations — and gain much-needed extra space.
28. Banish Bottles
If the edge of your tub is an unsightly jumble of shampoos and body washes, switch to the GHRI-approved spa-style dispenser ($70, simplehuman.com).
29. Sink Storage
Maximize your vanity: Use stackable plastic drawers in the dead space on either side of the bathroom sink’s plumbing. — Barbara Reich, professional organizer, author of Secrets of an Organized Mom
30. Manage Makeup
Contain cosmetics and be travel-ready in a flash with a roll-up organizer with removable pouches ($35, hsn.com) — its construction and convenience earned it the GH Seal.
31. Too Hot to Handle
Melt-proof kitchen canisters can safely hold all those still-hot hair appliances — and their tangling cords. — Matt Muenster
Bonus Week! Have more time? We have more tips for any space.
32. A Novel Idea
Have too many books and not enough shelf space? Start stacking! Get creative by stacking a couple on a table to make a pedestal for a keepsake or picture frame. — Melissa Picheny
33. Check Mate
Go for bookshelves that are divided up into smaller cubbies — it helps provide a framework for what can go inside. Fill one shelf with books, and on the next one display a small vase or favorite tchotchke. Think of it like a checkerboard that’ll keep you from overfilling your shelves. — Cheryl Eisen
34. In a Bind
With a million appliances, toys, and i-things come a million warranties, instructions, and manuals. Protect them! Staple the receipt to the warranty or manual, then corral all booklets in a binder with poly-envelopes sorted by category. — Alejandra Costello
35. Pencil it In
Make an appointment with yourself once a week to go through papers, and mail that have piled up. Set a time and stick to it. If you do it every week, it won’t take more than 15 minutes. You should also schedule a more thorough once-a-month file clean-out, and you’ll never need to deal with a huge paper pileup. — Meryl Starr
36. Counter Intuitive
When your bathroom lacks storage, everything you use tends to end up on the counter. Try this to trick: tuck everything away out of sight, then see what builds up over the next two to three days. Those items can stay. Pack away those that didn’t make the cut. — Matt Muenster