About Harriet

Organizing expert Harriet Schechter is considered a pioneer in the field of professional organizing and has authored three books, including Let Go of Clutter (McGraw-Hill) and Conquering Chaos at Work (Simon & Schuster). She's answered thousands of questions about organizing, clutter control and storage solutions, and she's happy to answer yours!

Bathroom Storage Solutions

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bathroom storage solutions
Seems like bathrooms never have enough storage space. But that’s not surprising when you consider how many different types of supplies we need or want to keep in what’s usually the smallest room.

Think about it: the word “bathroom” barely hints at all the stuff it’s often expected to hold.  Aside from actual bath products, there are cleaning supplies, dental care items, first aid supplies, haircare tools, makeup, personal products, toilet paper, towels…No wonder our bathroom storage is rarely adequate.

Fortunately there are several simple ways to maximize your bathroom storage space. Here are three solutions that can help you make the most of even the tiniest room:

  • The Hinge Mounted Mirrored Cabinet is essentially a framed full-length mirrorMirrored Cabinet - Hinge Mounted Image (70 inches tall, 16 inches wide) with interior storage, designed to fit on any standard door hinge.  It features eight adjustable shelves and four fixed shelves, all within a 4-inch-deep cabinet. For storing extra-tall items, the adjustable shelves are removable; retention rods keep bottles and other tall items safely secured. The unit can be installed within minutes with no extra tools or skills required.  (Note: It does require at least 3-1/2 inches from the center of your hinge pin to the side wall when installing to a corner and at least three hinges on the designated door for proper installation.)
  • The super-slim Toilet Paper Storage Cabinet (6.25 inches wide) is designed to fit in the narrow space alongside the commode.  In addition to being able to hold up to 12 toilet tissue rolls, it has a top drawer and a flip-top compartment for stashing small personal items.
  • The tall Bathroom Linen Cabinet has a small footprint (a mere 12.25 inches wide by 11.5 inches deep) but its 71-inch height lets you utilize vertical space for maximum storage. It consists of two separate cabinets, each with an adjustable shelf, plus two open compartments. 

More bathroom storage solutions can be found in several of my earlier posts.

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Kitchen sink organization ideas

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kitchen sink organizers

Do you have “everything but the kitchen sink” around your kitchen sink? I’m talking about dish wands, bottle brushes, sponges, scrubbers, dish soap, hand soap and lotion…all those necessities that unfortunately tend to make the sink area look cluttered.

Whatever is in regular use at the kitchen sink deserves its own home.  But it can be challenging to find a storage solution that fits in such a limited space. Luckily there are several well-designed caddies that make it easy to keep your sink looking tidy. Here are three outstanding and affordable kitchen sink organization helpers:

  • Alongside the sink–the Kitchen Sink Organizer ($7.99) has an exceptionally thoughtful space-saving design.  The main storage compartment provides ample space for holding a dishwand, a dish soap dispenser and a scrubbie, with a ventilated base and removable drip tray underneath; a pullout sponge-holder hangs over the sink to allow mess-free drainage.  Plus there are two hooks (one on each side of the main compartment) for holding your rings safely, minimizing the risk of losing your jewelry down the drain. A nonslip base keeps the organizer safely in place.
  • Over the sink–the Bamboo Over the Sink Shelf ($17.99) lets you utilize the vertical space above the faucet area, keeping all your dish washing supplies handy yet out of the way.
  • Inside the sink–the Clear Blumz Divided Sink Organizer ($8.99) is a type of organizer known as a “sink saddle”; it’s designed to straddle the center of a divided kitchen sink, with two self-draining clear plastic holders for sponges and scrubbies.  If you don’t have a double sink, the Adjustable Dish Brush and Sponge Holder ($5.99) features an adjustable strap that fits neatly around most kitchen sink faucets; hanging from the strap are two self-draining compartments sized to hold a dish wand and scrubber or sponge.

For more kitchen sink organization ideas, see my post on kitchen sink organizers.

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Organizing Entryway Closets

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entryway

Entryway closets, aka coat closets, hall closets or front closets, are famous for being cluttered. (Cue Fibber McGee & Molly.) Traditionally they’ve tended to function as a sort of dumping ground for whatever doesn’t fit elsewhere–vacuum cleaners, luggage, pet supplies, sporting gear, etc.  All of that, of course, is in addition to storing outerwear such as coats, hats, shoes and umbrellas.

But organizing your entryway closet–and keeping it organized–is achievable with the right tools.  A modular closet system is one of the best ways to put together efficient and organized closets. Here are the ABC’s of modular organizers that work well for organizing all types of entryway closets:

  • Adjustable. Freedomrail’s Long Hang Starter Closet is ideal for organizing all types of closets but is especially good for coat closets. With sections for both long and short hanging garments and shelves for hats and other accessories, it’s easily adjustable so you can stray from the original design and create a closet system exactly suited for your space.
  • Bins. Stackable bins are useful in entryway closets for corraling everything from caps to dog toys. Plastic Storage Bins are an economical and effective example.
  • Cubes. Cube storage modules make it easy to create customized storage solutions inside or outside a closet.  Cubes with shelves are particularly handy for keeping shoes in order. The Quad Cube with Sliding Shelf features a sliding front shelf that moves from side to side to reveal (or hide) additional storage space in back.

If you don’t have an entryway closet, you can easily create an alternative with the rolling Pipe Style Wardrobe Rack–its thoughtful design includes a rod for hanging clothes plus shelves for holding purses, hats and shoes.  A similar option is the Rolling Honey Can Do Wardrobe Rack.

For more entryway organizing ideas, read my other posts on this topic.

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Answer: Deep drawer organizers

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Q. I have a drawer in my vanity that is 11 inches tall and 9 3/4 inches wide.  I need a drawer doubler that will fit in the top of the drawer so I can utilize the empty space.  I have not been able to find a drawer doubler that will fit. Do you have any suggestions?

A. You’re right–they don’t seem to make drawer doublers for drawers narrower than 10 3/4 inches wide.  I think your best bet would be to organize by layering several drawer organizers, using a combination of stackable bins and stackable trays.  It all depends on the type and size of the items you want to keep in your vanity drawer, and how often you need to access them.

If you’d like to store haircare tools in the front of the drawer, the Blow Away Vanity Organizer would fit perfectly.

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Back-to-school organizers

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Ask Back to SchoolI wish Organization Skills 101 was part of the standard school curriculum. Learning how to organize school papers, books, schedules and supplies has a lifelong positive impact.

Luckily there are several types of back-to-school organizers that can help your kids stay organized throughout the school year.  Here are three good choices:

  • For homework–the Homework Organizer is designed to hang on a door (it’s 28 inches wide by 36 inches high, to fit a standard door frame) or wall with two removable adhesive hooks. It featuresHomework Organizer Image four legal-size pockets with insertable labels for organizing papers and schoolbooks; two clear pockets for small supplies such as pens, pencils, glue sticks,etc.; a dry-erase calendar so you and your child can note after-school activities and assignment due dates; a small pocket for housing the included dry ease marker; a large clear pocket for displaying a lunch menu or sports schedule; and two Velcro straps at the bottom for poster board project storage. It’s available in three color combinations.
  • For backpacks–the Smead Backpack Organizer has three tabbed pockets (each designed to hold up to 50 pages) for keeping papers organized, and a tuck flap to secure documents when you’re on the move. The backpack-friendly vertical orientation makes it easy to access papers. There’s also a seven-pocket version. And to keep backpacks off the floor, there’s the Backpack Rack that
    attaches to doors with a stretch strap; it includes eight hooks that are fully adjustable up or down.
  • For lockers–the Adjustable Double Locker Shelf features two shelves that can be installed at various heights and a pull-out drawer for school supplies and personal items.  It fits in locker spaces measuring 9 inches to 12 inches wide and stands approximately 24 inches high, so it’s best used in taller locker spaces.

More types of locker organizers can be found here and in my post about locker organizers.

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Sock Storage Solutions

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sock storage solutionsWhen it comes to sock storage, opinions are divided.  That is, some people prefer to store their socks with dividers between pairs, while others (probably most people) don’t.

Another way that people are divided about sock storage is whether to store socks balled up and stuffed inside each other (a big no-no according to us organizing experts) or neatly folded and “filed” on end.  Whichever way you choose, I doubt that the sock police will come knocking on your door.

Now that I have your possibly undivided attention, I’m going to share three types of undivided sock storage solutions.  (And in case you’re firmly in the camp of dividers, my post on sock drawer organizers offers several outstanding options.)

  • Sock boxes such as the Bamboo Sock Box and the Clear Dresser Organizer (pictured) are slender containers specifically sizedClear Dresser Organizer - 12 x 3 x 4 Image for multiple pairs of socks.  They work well inside drawers but can also be used on closet shelves. The Closet Bin is a wider version which has removable dividers (so you can go either way).
  • If you want to think outside the drawer and utilize vertical space, various hanging systems can be utilized for storing socks.  For example, the dual-sided 28-pocket Hanging Jewelry Organizer is designed to hang on a closet rod; the clear pockets make it easy to see and access whatever you store in them.  Another type of vertical sock storage solution is the Sockitumi, a clear plastic dispenser that can be hung on a wall or door (you can also use it horizontally inside a drawer).
  • If you’d prefer to have a designated sock drawer but have no dresser drawers Three-Drawer Organizer Imageto spare, don’t despair–storage drawers are available in a variety of sizes and styles. This Three-Drawer Organizer, sized well for a moderate sock wardrobe, can sit atop a dresser, side table or closet shelf.  Larger sock collections may require a more extensive set of drawers, such as the colorful 10-Drawer Storage Cart which gives you an easy way to color-code your sock storage system.

 

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Laundry Organizers

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laundry-organizers
Laundry organizers can do more than just keep your laundry room tidy.  Also known as laundry sorters, the best of these wheeled wonders–which typically offer two, three or four laundry compartments–are designed to save you time, with helpful features such as ironing boards, clothes hanging rods, storage shelves and surfaces for folding.

What’s also great about these multi-function laundry organizers is how compact they are.  Here are three efficient examples to help you make the most of your laundry room space:

  • The Triple Sorter Rolling Laundry Hamper performs triple duty–in addition to three cotton canvas laundry bags for simple sorting, Rolling Laundry Hamper - Triple Sorter Imageit has a clothing rod for hanging pressed garments or air-drying delicate articles of clothing, and a top shelf for holding laundry accessories.  A wire shelf below the hanging bags provides support for when the bags are filled.
  • Another triple-function laundry organizer is the Laundry Sorter with Ironing Board, which lets you easily sort, iron and fold clothing in one convenient location.  The built-in ironing board features a thick foam pad and heat-resistant cotton cover to provide a smooth ironing surface. The board lifts up to reveal a laundry sorter with three removable laundry bags that hang securely on the frame with metal handles for easy carrying. The bags have side mesh panels for adequate ventilation and the interior is coated to provide resistance to odors and mildew.
  • The dual-function Laundry Folding Table and Double Sorter consists of a stationary table for folding, with a slide-out two-bag laundry Laundry Folding Table - Double Sorter Imagesorter underneath. A bottom bar on the rolling sorter helps support full bags of laundry, and the bags can easily be removed for transport.

For more ideas on laundry room organization, read my earlier posts on laundry room organizers and laundry storage solutions; also space-saving laundry drying racks and laundry baskets.

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Lap desks with storage

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A lap desk may be the smallest type of desk, but it’s also the most versatile.  Lap desks can function like compact portable work surfaces, allowing you to work away from your regular desk or table.  Some are designed with a cushioned underside to keep the unit comfortably settled in your lap (like a pet!), while others have foldaway “legs” that also permit use on other surfaces.

The best lap desks include storage options so you can keep small yet essential supplies close at hand, such as electronic devices (cell phone, tablet or notebook), notepads and writing implements. Here are three examples of well-designed lap desks with storage:

  • The Wooden Lap Desk with Storage has a beanbag-style underside (stuffed with styrofoam beads) covered with soft fabric. Wooden Lap Desk with Storage ImageThe desk itself is designed to look like an old-fashioned school desk, with a hinged lid that lifts up to reveal a plush-lined storage compartment divided into two sections.  The main section is sized for storing up to a 17-inch notebook computer or binder; the slim section works well for smaller items like pens, calculators, bookmarks, Post-its and cell phones.
  • Also made of wood, the Foldable Walnut Lap Desk features a side drawer and a book ledge on the adjustable flip top (the surface can be adjusted to four different angles).  The legs fold away for storage and a magnetic latch keeps the top safely closed for transport.
  • If you prefer something less desk-like (or at least not made of wood), the Kid’s Storage Lap Desk also works well for adults and is constructed of heavy-duty high-impact plastic. It has Kids Storage Lap Desk - Blue Imagefolding legs and a smooth top surface that flips open to access a spacious storage compartment divided into three sections (one large and two small).

Other types of lap desks (without storage) can be found here.

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Answer: Vertical storage

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Q. My husband had a stroke that affected his swallow mechanism, so it takes him a long time to eat and therefore a meal can take two hours. Because he is at the table so long, a lot of items he needs stay on the table for a long time.  I have tried baskets and trays, but the result is the same – a spread out mess on the table.  The table is next to a wall, so I know there must be some way to use that wall for vertical storage, but I don’t have time to shop.  Your suggestions will be much appreciated.

A. To create vertical storage on your dining table, I recommend a stand-alone, three-level tiered shelf organizer, designed to sit on a flat surface so you don’t need to attach it to the wall.  Also known as stair-step risers, they’re available in a variety of sizes and styles.

You might also consider using a three-tiered rolling cart next to or under the table that can be easily rolled away after mealtime.

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Outdoor Organizing Options

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outdoor organizing options
Ah, summertime–the time that calls for outdoor entertaining…and outdoor organizing.

Enjoying the company of family and friends is often easier in an outdoor setting. Unless, of course, your back yard or patio is festooned with a tangle of hoses and a mishmash of folding chairs, lounges, toys, games and sports clutter.

But don’t despair–you can keep almost any outdoor space looking tidier with the help of these effective outdoor organizing options:

  • Deck boxes are useful for both storage and seating, with hidden space for storing seat cushions, Outdoor Storage Seat Imagepatio furniture covers, pool supplies, toys and sporting gear. The Deck Box with Wheels is also easy to move around.  For smaller spaces, the Outdoor Storage Seat is a more compact version of a deck box, designed to look more like a chair.
  • Storage steps are designed for getting in and out of a hot tub but can also be used alongside a retaining wall or other structure where steps are needed.  The top step flips open to reveal a removable storage compartment.
  • Hose holders help prevent both hose clutter and accidents (a tangled garden hose hidden in a lawn can be as lethal as a snake in the grass).  Some hose holders are also designed to be decorative, such as the Perrault Wall-Mounted Hose Holder (pictured).

Read my post about other types of hose organizers here.

 

 

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