We all know the drill. From the time we’re toddlers, we’re taught to put our toys (clothes, shoes, books, etc.) in their proper places. As adults most of us fall short of the ideal. Even if you’re in the obsessive/compulsive category, you probably think you can do more.

Some people are waking up to the fact that they aren’t ever going to form the kind of habits they think they should. This realization has triggered the creative juices to flow. Alternative ways of keeping things tidy are emerging. You can design your home around your habits instead of the other way around.

It’s not too complicated to make it so you don’t have to go right up to your room if you want to kick off your shoes when you come home. There are lots of different hallway treatments that will accommodate that. They even have ones that have hooks for your coat if you don’t like to take the time and trouble of getting a hanger out of the closet.

These hallway units are quite versatile. Many of them have drawers, shoe racks, the aforementioned hooks, and cubbyholes. They’re great for keeping handy lots of things you want to stow by the door. Your pet’s leash can hang there, as well as your umbrellas, and extra tote bags. In the cubby holes, you can put containers for gloves, hats, and scarves. Have some easily cleaned mats or bins for muddy boots and such. 

Any room in the house can be arranged so that you can have a “squared away” look without taking a lot of time. The main trick to a neat home is to keep after the clutter. Carol Eisen once wrote a book called “Nobody Said You Had to Eat Off the Floor: The Psychiatrist’s Wife’s Guide to Housekeeping.” It was a practical, but entertainingly humorous book filled with ways of keeping your house neat without going crazy. I don’t think it’s in print anymore, but if you ever run across it at a used book sale, grab it!

If your mail is piling up, you can address that, too. You can have a place for mail right inside your door. When you do get around to looking at it, have a wastebasket handy, so you can toss junk mail right away. Then, for the important stuff, you can have your desk arranged with containers (they can be as plain or as decorative as you like) for incoming, outgoing, and pending mail.

 

If you have kids, you can teach them to, yes, put their toys away, but with some fun thrown in. Of course, it’s best to make them put one toy or game away before playing with another. Any parent can tell you, though, that vigilance in this matter is difficult when you’re on a long distance call with your long lost brother, or when you’re making dinner for the boss, or even when you just don’t feel well. Large colorful bins within easy access can be a tremendous help in this matter. It’s a lot easier to toss the blocks, or marbles, or what have you into a plastic or cloth bin, than to try to fit them back into a small cardboard box with a torn lid. Reclosable plastic bags work well for things like jigsaw puzzles. You can cut the picture out of the box and keep it in the bag.

During the winter, a lot of people like to keep lap robes and small blankets handy, but they don’t like the look of them draped over the furniture. Not to worry. They can be stowed in large wicker baskets with lids. There are also ottomans and coffee tables that have places in them to store things out of sight.

The kitchen is rife with items that can get out of hand. Some people just have one junk drawer. Others need a whole cabinet for junk, or more. If you’re a gourmet cook, the gadgets alone can fill several drawers. Then again, many cooks don’t want to have to go looking in a drawer every time they need their citrus zester. That’s the beauty of making your space fit your lifestyle. You can have places to hang your most frequently used pots and pans, and you can have stand-up holders for your gadgets, spoons and spaghetti servers.

There are whole catalogs that are filled with fun, innovative storage and keeping-things-handy-but-neat ideas. Take an impromptu walk through your house, and just observe the places where you toss or put things because it’s a handy spot. Now, imagine those things in attractive containers, where they’re still handy, but not cluttering the room. Finally, consult the catalogs!

If you are preparing to sell or buy a house, the Casey O’Neal Team can help you with any aspect of the real estate process.