by Susan L. Comer

Get more out of your space

Organization means more than color-coded files and clever containers. It clears the path to your true priorities, says Vicki Norris, president and founder of Restoring Order, a professional organizing firm. And, by creating an environment that serves you and your family, you’ll not only optimize your space—you’ll love being home!

Order Up 

As the center of activity in most households, the kitchen is a perpetual drop zone—backpacks, dog leashes, mail. So adapt to life’s natural flow and establish a household hub, or mini-business center, here. If your kitchen has no built-in desk, relegate a slice of counter space and a drawer or cabinet for processing mail and corralling coupons, take-out menus, and family calendars. Keep a recycle bin and shredder nearby along with a message board, phone, and office supplies. A household hub not only de-clutters kitchen counters, says Norris, but it also limits the spread of paper throughout the house.

Family Customs 

What activities define your family room? Do you watch TV, play games (video or traditional), read, listen to music? Since your family room furniture and storage solutions should match your habits and lifestyle, Norris suggests customized built-in systems that address multiple entertainment needs. “That’s the ultimate way to maximize your space and to get a unified look and feel,” she says. Whether you buy a bookcase, media center, or even a coffee table with hidden storage, the rules are the same. First measure the available space, then determine the size and quantity of items to be housed, and anticipate growth.

Premium Space 

Have a formal dining room or living room collecting dust? Maybe you host only one large holiday dinner a year, but you dream of an art studio. Perhaps your living room is a showplace with no audience, but you need a home office or a kids’ playroom. If so, reclaim that valuable real estate with what Norris calls a room conversion. “Your home begins to purr and really suit you,” she says, “when you make it serve your needs rather than you living according to its floor plan.”

Space Mission 

Most of us don’t need more space. We just need to customize the space we have. Norris offers these helpful tips:

  • Purpose your space. Determine how you will use each room in your home, right down to individual areas. Establish “go-elsewhere” baskets in hot spots, like the bottom of the stairs, where nomadic items accumulate. 
  • View untapped space with fresh eyes. Station a kids’ play area or reading nook in a wide hallway or underneath stairs. Create a closet-like effect using wall hooks. Mount high shelving around a room’s perimeter. 
  • Work with your natural habits. 
(Learn more about how to Reclaim Your Life & Get Organized for Good by reading Vicki’s book!)

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