10 Clever Real-Life Organizing Ideas You’ll Wish You Started Using Earlier


PHOTO: Minette Hand

There’s a difference between performative arranging, and problem-centric organizing solutions. The former is what you’d call “Pinterest bait” or “org porn.” It’s a pantry (maybe owned by a celebrity and maybe made over by a professional organizer for a Netflix show) where every breathably-spaced vial of nuts has its own hand-calligraphed label drawn on with a metallic sheen. It’s absolutely beautiful, because it was designed to be beautiful. And beautiful spaces like an impeccably chic pantry can absolutely put the kind of pep in your step that turns an early morning reach for a handful of almonds into genuine joy and a positive mood that will set up each day to be nutritious for your mind and body in more ways than one.

But sometimes, in some small apartments, you just need to cram five pounds of stuff onto a two-inch bathroom shelf in a way that won’t make you perpetually 25 minutes late for everything, forever, until the end of time. Those kinds of solutions aren’t always worthy of a magazine spread. You’re not likely to experience them until somebody invites you into their home. Only then you’ll notice that, wow, it makes a ton of sense to put your million cords into a closet organizer and hang them in the closet rather than let them tangle up your junk drawer. Brilliant. I’m going to steal that.

PHOTO: Lauren Kolyn

So yeah, I think the best organizing ideas come from visiting your friends and seeing how smartly they’ve arranged their spaces. And the second best organizing ideas come from scouring real-life house tours like the ones we publish here. It’s a different way to invite someone in, but the solutions are smart just the same.

And just in case you missed it, here are some of my favorite organizing ideas that I’ve spotted in tours recently:

PHOTO: Lauren Kolyn

A closet organizer makes a great cord and charger station

Hang it up somewhere out of the way and get your junk drawer back. This idea was spotted in Vaishali Sahni‘s extremely tidy Toronto apartment.

PHOTO: Minette Hand

A pegboard turns “stuff” into “art”

The new IKEA pegboard line is really damn good looking, and can double your kitchen space, if you let it. This one was spotted in Seth Thomas and Adrianne Hawthorne‘s Chicago loft.

PHOTO: Lauren Kolyn

Under-bed boxes work under a sofa, too

If you find or recover bins so they’re the same color as your sofa, it’s like an entire storage unit that disappears. This was also spotted in Vaishali Sahni‘s Toronto apartment.

PHOTO: Lauren Kolyn

Clothespins let you pack a ton of stuff into your freezer without forgetting about it

It’s like a filing system, but it costs zero dollars. It’s another great idea from Vaishali Sahni‘s Toronto apartment tour.

PHOTO: Lauren Kolyn

Command hooks can step in as a pot lid organizer

Gonna be honest: I saw this and instantly regretted the $80 I spent on a fancy organizer for these. Oh yeah, and it’s yet another great idea from Vaishali Sahni‘s Toronto apartment tour.

PHOTO: Minette Hand

The only thing better than a basket on a shelf is a basket hanging from a shelf

It’s like getting an entire extra shelf for free. This idea is also from Seth Thomas and Adrianne Hawthorne‘s Chicago loft.

PHOTO: Minette Hand

This over the door thing is great but look at the vaccum attachment inside the closet

They’ve attached a couple of broom clips on the wall and made the narrowest of spaces work for them. Every inch of Whitney Thayne‘s 225-square-foot studio is used wisely.

PHOTO: Minette Hand

Cable boxes are great for cord organization, and extra great when you wall-mount them

I have the same Bluelounge CableBox in my home office, but it looks so clean mounted against the wall, right underneath this TV storage situation here in Whitney Thayne‘s 225-square-foot studio.

PHOTO: Minette Hand

Add a narrow divider for cutlery above the stove

Seriously, why waste a drawer on flatware? Another smart idea from Whitney Thayne‘s 225-square-foot studio.

PHOTO: Lauren Kolyn

Store your plastic bins… sideways

Okay this might be the simplest idea of all, but it also seems the most genius to me. Bins so naturally want to be stacked, but leaning and filing them vertically like this makes better use of the space and allows you to grab the bin you need without toppling the stack or having to lug several bins down at once. Yes, it’s another great idea from Vaishali Sahni‘s Toronto apartment tour.


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