Photography: Mario Melillo
Have an organizing challenge? No problem! These expert designers share their top tips for sorting, styling, corralling and curating so you feel serene in a home that’s as functional as it is fabulous.
Problem: Cluttered Closets
Image Courtesy of IKEA
A closet can hold a large volume of clothes if you organize it correctly and integrate shelves and baskets. Designer Jean Stéphane Beauchamp says he gained at least 25 per cent more space simply by folding his clothes the Marie Kondo way. Sometimes all you need is a bit of organizational zhuzhing: invest in tall doors, proper lighting, mirrors and a versatile storage system to maximize space.
Problem: Your Home is One Room Short
If your budget allows, consider finishing the basement or even adding a floor or an extension to your house, recommends designer Maryse Leduc. If your budget is a little tight, expand from the inside by opting for a bunk bed, mezzanine bed, or by giving a room a dual purpose. Consider making one space into two by dividing a room with a fixed or mobile partition (try curtains, bookcases, decorative screen or even doors of frosted glass or sliding barn doors).
Problem: Items are Piling Up Everywhere
Image Courtesy of IKEA
According to designer Gabriela Sube Avalos, old habits are hard to break; more often than not they have a way of overriding our good intentions. Whether it’s papers piling up, mail on the counter, or lunch boxes strewn here and there, Gabriela recommends optimizing storage in places where things naturally tend to accumulate. “Do your kids just toss their coat to the side when they come through the door? Let’s be real, they probably don’t take the time to place it on a hanger and store it in the closet,” says Gabriela. “Installing a few wall hooks could be the solution.”
Problem: You're Running Out of Book Space
Marie-Claude Parenteau-Leboeuf, designer, suggests periodical literary triage. “Books collect dust and become allergens,” she says. “We often keep ones we’ll never crack again, so give them away.” Next, categorize remaining books by theme and by room. So all those kitchen and recipe books should go in... the kitchen! More storage options: a floor-to-ceiling bookcase in the dining room; a long, mid-height bookcase in the hallway; piles of coffee table books arranged on a console alongside stylish decorative items. Avoid confining books to the living room and overstocking your shelves. Reserve a third of your shelf space for decorative items and plants, or avoid clutter by adding nothing but empty shelf space. The result? Room to breathe.
Problem: Disorganized Hallway
Photography: Drew Hadley
Maximize your vertical space by installing hooks, shelves and wall storage for shoes and boots, says Jean Stéphane. “Free your floor up,” he says. “It’ll make any cramped space appear bigger.” Insider tip: stores sell hardware for hanging strollers, bikes and other bulky items – all are ideal for anyone living in an apartment or condo.
Problem: You're Upsizing
When you purchase your first home, it’s tempting to run out and buy furniture to fill up every space, even if that means making budget-related compromises. It’s a common mistake, says Jean Stéphane. “It’s better to live in your new space for a while before investing in new furniture,” he advises. Textiles, such as carpets and curtains, help create cozy vibes and absorb the echo of temporarily emptier rooms. Once you’ve lived in your space for a while, start making smart purchases to round it out. The most challenging rooms to furnish are often open-concept dining and living rooms. To fill these spaces without overfilling them, the designer suggests pulling the furniture away from the walls; creating activity zones; and finishing with light fixtures, plants, paintings and photographs.
Problem: The House is Filled with Toys
Photography: Living Media
Having to share the living room with your children’s toys doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a more “adult” space once the kids have gone to bed. To avoid having toys strewn everywhere and to regain control of your living room, sort through and rotate. Maryse advises using a cabinet, toy chest, bin on wheels, or under-bed drawers. Says Maryse: “Teaching kids good tidying up habits starts with explain- ing that there is a place for everything and everything in its place. Label bins. Set rules.” A large bin in which to toss stray toys before sitting down to watch TV is a great idea.
Problem: You're Downsizing
A smaller apartment has its advantages: less cleaning, a more intimate feel, and often lower costs. It’s also an opportunity to curate your belongings. To make the most of a small space, tailor the size and number of your furniture and possessions to your new space. Before the move, sort your belongings into three separate piles: keep, recycle and donate. The fewer things you own, the less time it will take to pack and the more money you’ll save on moving day – plus you’ll take only what you need and love. Using a scaled floor plan, check whether your current furniture will fit in your new space. If it doesn’t, shop around for compact, multi-functional furniture and appliances.
Problem: A Crowded Kitchen
Photography: Drew Hadley
Whether the kitchen’s too small or you’ve simply overstocked it, your first line of attack is to divide and conquer. Drawer dividers, sliding shelves behind the pantry door for quick access to ingredients, a garbage drawer with separate compartments for recycling and compost...a well-designed and organized kitchen will make your life easier. “Try freeing up extra space with the storage you already have,” says Jean Stéphane. “And cut back on possessions. Get rid of anything you haven’t used in over two years.”
Problem: The Bathroom Lacks Storage
Photography: Gap Interiors
Start by assessing whether you have any unused space or corner where you can slip in an additional shelving unit to help organize your morning clutter, recommends Gabriela. “Sometimes you just have to think outside the box to come up with creative solutions!” she says. Gabriela’s top picks: a shelf on the shower door; a wall-mounted pharmacy mirror; and storage in the vanity’s toe kick, over the toilet, and behind the door. Keep in mind that sometimes custom solutions are worth the extra expense.