Organization Part 3 – Good ideas are meant to be shared – By: Carly Pray

This week’s post is the icing on the cake. You have thought through all the mental and emotional challenges of what to keep and what to part with. You are familiar with the basic laws of organizing your stuff and have given everything a home. You have an accurate view of where you fall on the personality spectrum when it comes to what you and your family need in terms of organization. Now I assume you just need some fresh and practical ideas for things that you keep.

More or less I will just be walking you through my house and showing you my favorite products and systems that have helped me to stay organized. There will be a lot of photos and some links. Although I have plenty of thoughts on how to decorate your home in beautiful and personal ways (hmm… maybe another blog opportunity if you all want an encore), this post is not dedicated to beauty; it is only aiming for organizational points.


Tips & Tricks

-You can reset your car just like you reset your house (see Part 1 of this post series). When you pull up to a gas station or when you pull into your driveway, have everyone scan their areas and grab any trash. Remember, be specific with your kiddos and have them do their part. Point out specific things to pick up and tell them specifically where to put those things.

-Don’t do the work for them and do not let them leave stuff that belongs in the house or in the trash in your car. Hold yourself to this too.

-I keep a couple gallon ziploc or disposable grocery bags under the shotgun seat so that I can use them as trash bags as needed.

Fave products

Thirty-One Large Utility Tote


I love this bag so much that I have two. This is my old one and it lives permanently in the van. It holds a blanket for each kid, a picnic blanket for sports days & park visits, bug spray for baseball season, and a little box of stuff to do if the kids get bored. I also keep any other small car accessories in the bottom of this under the blankets (baby wipes, dash wipes, car seat accessories, etc). With all of this essential stuff corralled into a bag I can easily move it when needed (i.e. the car wash, loading the back area). I use my other utility tote as my swim bag. It’s sturdy and big and cute too!


Ha. I don’t actually have these rooms, but I dream of them from the garage where these things happen for me. It’s the home of our current sports equipment and where we put laundry. There are nails in the wall for hanging gear bags and a place for umbrellas & outside boots.

Tips & Tricks

-Only kids who have current season sports use the hooks. Off-season stuff is put away in another area away from the door.

-Big 5-gallon buckets work really well for umbrellas & baseball bats

-When kids get home from practice they take off their gear and put everything back in the bag before they even enter the house. That way it’s all there and ready to grab when you walk out the door next time, and nothing gets lost.

Fave products

-Laundry basket caddy. My handy husband made this for me, and you can find the plans here: (I never got around to painting it a solid color, which of course I regret now that I am posting it for the whole internet to see… Organizational points, not beauty, right?)


-Rubbermaid storage bins for the garage. They hold everything from seasonal decor to car wash supplies to snow clothes. Walmart has a killer deal on these. You can even go the extra mile and label them with fancy painter’s tape like us (jk). They keep anything you can’t keep in the house stored in a way that’s easy to find, easy to access, stackable and safe from dust.



This is what I call the area where everything lives that you need to grab as you walk out the door. Backpacks for kids, your purse, shoes, etc. This could also be in the mud room if you have that luxury. I chose to work with the little corner spot right by the door to our garage.


Tips & Tricks

-Each person gets a hook. I hang my gym bag and my reusable market bags here too, so I get extra hooks. I’m the mom and I will hog the hooks if I have to 😉

-When the kids get home they hang their backpacks and put their lunch boxes away before doing anything else.

-When kids finish their homework, its gets put all the way away which means in the backpack.

-If I need to take something with me the next time I leave (library books, mail, stuff for work) I set it on this counter by my purse so that I don’t forget it.

-Cheap wood and pretty knobs make life better. This is a cheap painted piece of wood (Home Depot for the wood + $1 cheap acrylic craft paint) with pretty knobs (Target) attached before screwing the wood into a stud in the wall.

Fave Products

Ikea Shoe Compartments. There are several styles to check out in this link. They hold shoes and they are shallow to the wall so they don’t gobble up too much space. My friend bought the standing white ones and put a stained piece of wood on top for an instant classy upgrade. I chose this deeper style because it fit more shoes. In our family each person gets a compartment. No smelly shoes stinking up their closets! No overfull shoe basket that takes forever to dig through. Love.



Organized people put everything into categories. Everything. Their stuff, their lists, and even their time. Like-things should be together. So organized kitchens have categories. I should be able to tell when I see a cupboard/drawer/shelf which category I am looking at (i.e. all the serving bowls, all the cups, all the canned goods, all the baking goods, all the lunchbox items, all the pitchers). The amount of items on a shelf should not be overwhelming; the items should have space around them unless they are stackable/nesting sets. If you have to crowd the shelves and I can’t see clearly see what my options are in a cupboard, you have too much stuff in that cupboard.

Tips & Tricks

-Slim your plastic/kid dishes way down. Use your organizational math here: you really only need one plastic plate/bowl/cup per kid and a couple extras for when friends come over. Same goes with plastic water bottles. 

-Have your kid stuff in a low cupboard that is easy for the kids to access.  This way kids can get their own stuff without needing your help. We have one set of plastic bowls, a bin of plastic plates, and a basket of plastic cups. I also have a basket of mom-approved kid snacks there that the kids know they can choose from. The rest of my dishes are grown-up (aka made of nicer glass and ceramic materials).


-I have one water cup per kid (I bought these on amazon: and have a different colored straw for each kid). These cups always stay on the counter by the fridge and they are for water only. They do not need a new cup every time they want water, and no one has time for that many dishes.

Fave products

A cute charging station. Organized cords for electronic devices, a home for a few other essentials like my blue tooth speaker (I love me some happy jams in kitchen) and that little drawer has stamps and gift cards and little things like that. I found this one years ago on Amazon.



The priority for your hallway closets should be useful stuff. Of course if you have extra empty closets you can use those for {organized} storage of things you use less often. If you have only a few closets, they should be categorical (like the kitchen cupboards) and I recommend extra storage items be kept in the garage in Rubbermaid bins. One thing I love in my house is the use of small bins for the top shelf of the coat closet. I can reach the bins to pull them down and put them away, so I don’t have to climb on a stool and sort through loose items. All the items inside the bins stay dust-free when they’re not loosely on the shelf. My categories of “useful stuff” here are Cleaning Supplies, Touch Up Paint, Batteries and Hardware, and back up Rags & Scrubbers for cleaning.


Tips & Tricks

-Keep a mason jar full of each room’s paint. Then you can toss the giant can and you have easy access to the touch up paint when you need it. I have lived in my house for 5 years and haven’t even gone through a third of a mason jar of touch up paint. You only need to hang on to a little.

Favorite Products

-Giant Ziploc bags. I store off-season comforters in these. It makes them easier & smaller to stack on the shelves.


The only things you truly need on a bathroom counter are hand soap, a towel for drying hands, and tissues. Everything else can be put away.

Tips & Tricks

-Because this is a classic place where there a bunch of tiny things to keep, I use bins inside of my drawers to corral the little things.


-Don’t forget vertical space where you can store stuff! I store my yoga headbands on the inside of the vanity cupboard doors with command hooks. I  have 2 pretty hooks on the back of the bathroom door for 2 guest towels. I have a hanging rack behind my bedroom door for all my sandals. There are vertical spaces in your rooms that you may not realize you can utilize.



The biggest problem I see in bedrooms was already addressed in Part 1 of this series: You need to put your stuff all the way away. Avoid the temptation to just leave things thrown on the bed or dresser. But there are a few ways to help make putting things away easier, and most of your organization here happens in the closet.

Tips & Tricks

-Fold less, hang more. It’s easier to hang up your clothes than to fold them neatly and keep your piles neat in your drawers.

-Felt hangers not only feel classy, but they are thinner than the plastic ones and you can fit more clothing if you have a tiny closet.

-Bins on the top shelf of the closet (instead of loose piles) are easier to access.

-For kids, consider having big bins instead of folded dresser drawers. My son does not have a dresser. He could never seem to care enough to fold anything or maintain folded piles. So under his hanging clothes and under his loft bed we use cube shelving (Kallax line @ Ikea In one cube he has a bin with socks & undies. In bin 2 he has all his hats. Open cube 3 has his slippers. Open cube 4 has his shorts & pants. In another cube under his loft bed he has all his PJs thrown into a big bin. This way it’s easy for him to find his things and it’s easy for him to put away his laundry. The categories are simple and obvious and the bins are large enough to hold his things with room to spare.


-Sports clothes are in separate bags. Above his cube unit in the closet, my son has one bag with his karate stuff in it. All the karate clothes live in there: the gi, the belt, and even his soccer sandals that he wears for off the mat. When he gets home from karate he puts everything back in that bag. That way when it’s time to go he can just grab the bag and we don’t waste time running around looking for stuff. He also has his baseball clothing in another bag. All of it: pants, belt, cup undies, cup, and socks. If I’m in a hurry I grab that bag and his gear bag and I know I have everything he needs.


-If you want to hear the ultimate organized wardrobe system, look no further than my husband’s closet. My husband is not into style/fashion, and he got sick of trying to remember what he wore on previous days so that he didn’t accidentally repeat outfits often. So he created this system: He has all of his work shirts in a row in his closet. Every morning he chooses the shirt that is first in the line. When he rehangs that shirt he puts it at the back of the line. If a shirt just got washed it has a it’s hanger facing the wall. After he wears it once he rehangs it with the hanger facing the room. After the shirt is worn twice he puts it in the laundry. This way his clothes wear out evenly, he knows he’s wearing all his clothes, and he knows he is not at risk of repeating an outfit too often. On a funny note, I asked him if he has favorite shirts and ever breaks the system to wear a favorite. His response: “I don’t break the system. But I do get excited when I see my favorites coming down the line to the front.” I don’t do this system because I have style moods, but it truly is the epitome of clothes organization.


-Again, don’t forget your vertical space. Jon has 2 hanging rods and vertical shoe storage to maximize his space. His belts hang on nails on the inside wall of his closet. Nails or command hooks for hanging hats on an inside wall work well too.

-Speaking of vertical space, we LOVE loft beds. Two of my three kids have loft beds. They keep stuffed animals out of sight (for the love, stuffies look just like clutter but my kids adore them), they free up floor space underneath, and kids think they are cool and “teenager-ish”. For my older girl this gave her her own space in a shared room. For my son this afforded him a cozy reading area and play space.


-I made a simple cinder blocks + cheap wood shelving unit for my son’s Lego display area (see photo above). Style points: You can paint the front of the cinder blocks to make them look cooler. (Haven’t done that on this set shown, but I have on his other shelving unit and I love it).

Favorite Products

-Ikea Kallax unit & bins: This line has larger cubes & bins than other stores’ versions.

-Ikea wire drawers. Jon I both have these in our closet under our hanging clothes. They are cheap and work well.


Kids naturally end up with more stuff to organize than adults do because they grow and change interests all the time. This is why teaching your kids to part with things they no longer love or no longer use is so useful (See Part 2 of this post series). There are more ideas than I have written here (hint: Pinterest), but here are the ones I use and love most. 

Tips & Tricks

-Organize your morning routine. This little tiny sign I made 4 years ago has been the simplest solution to our morning routine. This is the list of everything my kids MUST DO to be all the way ready for school in the morning. It’s on the counter in their bathroom. After I wake them up in the morning they have to do all of these things before they do anything else. No playing with toys, no electronics or TV (even for me – it was just too distracting), no reading. They don’t have to do these tasks in a rush, but they may not do anything else until these things are done. Once they are all the way ready, they can do whatever they please. If I see them playing I say “Hey, are you all the way ready?” and they go check the list or I verbally ask them each point on the list. (Here “check your backpack” means check for HW, library book, and pack your lunch/snack). I don’t get mad. I explained to them before I started this that I don’t want to yell at them and I want a peaceful morning (which they wanted too), and that if we agree to simply do the list before we do anything else I think its attainable. I has worked and we are all happier for it.


-Kid art can be a clutter struggle. A simple way to display it is to only hang one art item at a time. That way they can feel special about something and you don’t end up feeling cluttered. To do this you need a way to change out art easily. I have these clipboards hanging on the wall in the hallway. I also love this openable art frame sold at Target for the ease of changing it up: If the kids make something awesome I tell them to go put it on the art wall on their clipboard. Every couple months I take off everything on the clipboard and keep my favorites in a file area.


-DVDs can be stored in CD a wallet case. We have a separate case for grown-up movies, one for animated movies, and one for live-action kid movies. It’s compact, makes movies easy enough to find, and the cases are portable for road trips.

-Kid toys and books can be stashed away in your everyday adult space. I have a bunch of kid Legos in the pretty baskets under my coffee table. Our current library books are in a pretty basket on my shelving unit. The play food & kitchen toys live in a handsome vintage suitcase under the other coffee table. After successful purging I had empty drawers in my kitchen, so I use those for kid craft & art supplies that are often used at the kitchen island. You don’t always need special large storage units just for kid items because you can give those items a home in your existing areas. As long as you make sure to put things away from your first activity before you start the next activity, you will not become overwhelmed by your kid stuff.


These posts are aiming at the end goal of increased sanity, pleasure, and peace in your home. If you are happy with the way you run your home and keep your things, then you are in a good place and don’t need my help. If your possessions are bringing you stress and/or becoming a burden, it’s time to reconsider the ways that you have things organized and try a new system. Hopefully this last post sparked some new ideas. If you feel stuck, one of the best things to do is to get fresh eyes on the area. Ask a friend to come over to look at the area that’s bothering you and see if they have any ideas for how to change it up. Don’t expect anyone to do it for you (unless you want to pay them of course). Remember: you control your possessions, you are in charge, you are capable. I truly hope that these posts were helpful to you. Happy organizing!

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