The other day I was at a friend's house looking for a cotton ball. In the linen closet, she shouted. I was about to ask where when I opened the door. The insides of her closet were a Martha Stewart Living photograph waiting to happen — the cotton balls easy to find in one of a set of matching jars. There were orderly stacks of snowy white toilet paper, piles of sheet sets tucked into matching pillowcases, hair accessories in a pretty bowl. Not only was it breathtaking, it was easy to find things and to see at a glance what you might be running low on. Here are some ideas for beautifying your own tiny spaces.
In the medicine cabinet
- Unless you use it frequently (every few days), store it someplace else.
- Use small glasses, jars or tumblers to corral toothbrushes or miscellaneous items like tweezers, cuticle scissors and razors.
- I know you think I'm crazy but I like to arrange our medicine chest in the order in which we use the items in it.
- Magnetic paint inside your medicine cabinet's door can hold items like hair clips and bobby pins.
- Decant shampoos and conditioners into pretty pump dispensers. Label the bottles (using a P-Touch or other label maker) to identify the contents.
Inside drawers and closets
- Tie taper candles, pens or pencils together with a pretty ribbon or fat, brightly colored rubberband.
- Put miscellaneous keys, matches and rubber bands in shallow baskets, small bowls, boxes or organizing trays (I like these bamboo inserts from The Container Store).
- Buy items like Q-Tips, cotton balls, tampons on sale, discard their packaging and store them in pretty and generous sized jars. I like these from IKEA because the lids come off easily or use the jars from a food (like spaghetti sauce) that you use frequently.
- Chalkboard, whiteboard or magnetic boards inside a cabinet that you open frequently can hold to do lists, dry cleaning slips, printed tickets.
Inside clothing closets
- Merchandising, arranging clothing by type and then by color, is a trick used in stores to make the stuff look better. Use it in your own closet to make getting out the door faster. (It may also save you money when you realize that you don't need to buy another pair of black pants because you already own eight pair!)
- Similar hangers make your closet look organized and less chaotic.
- I use these clear drawers from The Container Store to hold my shoes. Shoe boxes stacked neatly are more efficient if you cut one end so that it flips down and lets your shoes slide out. Photos on the outside of the boxes help you remember what's inside.
For every space
- Group like items together
- Remove and recycle ugly packaging.
- If you use boxes, organizing by activity (beach items, over the counter medications, hair products, prescriptions, eye junk, are some of the boxes in our linen cabinet) makes things easier to find later.
- Don't be afraid to decorate the inside of a space the way you might a bookshelf. A piece of art, a small ceramic figurine, a tiny childhood toy can bring a smile to your day when you come across it in an unexpected place.
- Use scraps of wallpaper, the dregs of a can of paint or paint samples that were too bright to use elsewhere inside your closet or drawer. (You can even color code, painting a shelf red, for example, to alert children that this space is off limits.)