7 Design Decisions That Can Make Your House Harder to Organize

published Nov 5, 2020
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Now that you’re spending more time than ever hunkered down at home, interior
design may be rising to the top of your priority list. Creating a cohesive space that
reflects your design preferences can be a major game-changer when you’re both
living and working at home. But good design isn’t just about how your space looks—it’s also about functionality. Decor, furniture, and even storage choices can interfere with your ability to efficiently live in a space, ultimately leading to more frustration than relaxation.

Fortunately, you can prevent that frustrating experience by avoiding the following mistakes while making design decisions in your own home:

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Pedestal sinks in the bathroom

Pedestal sinks lend a sleek look to the bathroom and save a ton of space. But
without a proper vanity, you’ll probably be prone to visible clutter. If you’re short on
room in the bathroom, a narrower vanity with drawers and a cabinet offers a lot
more organization possibilities than a standalone sink.

But what if you love the look of the pedestal sink? Consider how baskets, a custom shower niche, or an additional linen closet could be incorporated into your bathroom, says Sarah Gaffney, design and development director at Next Stage Design. You can also try installing a recessed medicine cabinet and mirror combo above for extra storage room.

Credit: Lula Poggi

Narrow console tables

Narrow tables or credenzas with no drawers are great for displaying decor and artwork, but not so great for storage—especially in spaces like entryways, which can also function as
mudrooms, says Tina Huffman, designer at Greenhouse Studio.

Instead, swap this type of furniture out for a cabinet that’s enclosed from top to bottom, so you can still display items on top and tidily store shoes, keys, and winter accessories to grab before heading outside. Then, add a simple tray on top as a catchall for keys and masks.

If you do opt for a console, try putting three large baskets beneath it for hiding shoes, umbrellas, and other unruly items.

Glass doors on cabinets

Those clear glass doors may look beautiful, but they can put a lot of pressure on
you to keep things looking display-worthy at all times. Plus, they get dirty quickly
and require extra cleaning, thanks to fingerprints, dust, and cooking oils that float off the stove and around the kitchen.

Try obscured glass as an alternative, says Huffman. It provides a light, airy feel without the pressure of maintaining perfect rows of matched glassware or dishes. “You can see a suggestion of what’s behind them without revealing the reality of the motley collection of mismatched coffee mugs,” she says.

Open shelves

Open shelving can be useful from a decorative perspective, but Gaffney says
functionally, it doesn’t bring much to the equation. “It can complement a
traditionally designed decision if you’ve got art or antiques to display, but if you’re
looking for it to lighten the load in terms of clutter, it’s best to look elsewhere,” she

If open-concept shelving is your style, Hoffman suggests adding a few open shelves
below enclosed cabinets for special dishes or display items. This way, the potential mess isn’t right at eye level.

Open concept living spaces

An open concept lends a bright, spacious feeling to a home. But having far fewer walls and
divisions also typically means less wall space for closets and storage pieces, says Natasha Nicolaou, owner and head designer at NatNico Designs.

Make up for this by finding furniture that does double-duty: Look for ottomans or benches that provide storage for extra blankets and toys or enclosed cabinets with ample shelving and display space.

Too many windows

Everybody wants dreamy light in their homes, but with too many windows, you’ll
run out of suitable places to put your furniture. If you struggle with this, compensating for it with your furniture, says Nicolaou. For example, in the bedroom, you can opt for a low platform bed that fits comfortably under your window or put your bed under the window and use drapes to create the look of a headboard.

Credit: Minette Hand

Free-standing tubs

Free-standing tubs lend a classic, spa-like vibe to the bathroom, no doubt. But without the
built-in shelving of a shower, where will all your toiletries go? To solve any organizational problems, pair free-standing tubs without a deck or storage surface with a tub caddy or adjacent side table, says Bre Hance, founder of Inhance Interiors. This way, you can kill two birds with one stone: “Stow away your bath accessories, while adding a pop of color or elegance to your bathroom.”