Experiments in home decorating, DIYing, and vintage furniture collecting.

A professional organizer's top five tricks for maximizing your space

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October 19, 2015

This post could have also been titled "How to not freak out about moving in to a little house of limited closet space with your big wardrobe and all of your soon-to-be husband's stuff that he can clearly live without but won't let go (see light-up beer signs and other bachelor pad horrors)."

When my husband and I were getting married, I desperately need help with this topic and sought some expertise from a professional organizer. Kim Clark, an expert at whipping cluttered messes into crisp, calm homes, helped me prepare for some of the biggest challenges to organizing our new place by suggesting some strategies and product recommendations to keep the soon-to-be Chateau Bordeaux organized.

Here are her top five tricks, in no particular order:

#1 What are strategies for adding storage space to a small bathroom with just a pedestal sink and small medicine cabinet?

The best small bathroom solution is an etagere! Google etageres and you'll find a bunch that are visually stunning and bathroom friendly. Corner hanging curios, leaning ladder bookshelves, wall shelving, wall cabinets, shelf towers and shower caddies work great too.

#2 How should kitchen cabinets be organized? 

The counter space of a kitchen should be clear and open. Never have more than 3 or 4 items on any display shelf and cabinet inside your home. Have minimal kitchen appliances on display. Pots and pans need to live in the closest cabinet to the stove and oven. If you have the height, a hanging iron bakers rack is always swanky.

The top of kitchen cabinets should be tall decor items that pull together themes in your home. Kitchens often have blind cabinet space which makes it hard to find items and put them away efficiently. Installing shelf lighting will change the way you prep and cook! Keep all cooking tools in categorized sections: Tupperware, spices, pantry (snacks, grains, sauces, canned goods, starches, junk food, baking staples), pots, pans, oven mitts, utensils.

Also, buying matching dishware makes life a lot easier; a dozen mugs in different shapes, color and sizes is a visual nightmare.

#4 What are some of the best pieces of furniture to maximize a small space?

Load up on organization friendly pieces like hutches, armoires, curio cabinets, buffet tables, dressers, bookcases, chests and trunks.

5. Do you have some creative suggestions about how to store an (enormous) shoe collection?

My shoe collection is in  antique built-in china cabinets (totally funky and easy to see it all.) I highly suggest purging a few pairs of shoes or reselling heels you've neglected. I hate cheap shoe organizational tools that are visual eyesores (think shoe trees, under the bed space savers, storage bins, over the door pouches and plastic shoe racks).

If you have many flats, sandals and flip-flops, try a space saving idea: find a sturdy box and store shoes vertically and paired. Throw away all cardboard shoe boxes - they are space hogs and collect dust. The weirdest shoe storage I designed for a client was hanging stilettos on an iron old jail door from the 1800s (she found it for $40 at an estate sale)! We leaned the jail door up against her walk-in closet wall.

We used all of Kim's suggestions in our every house we've lived in as a married couple, and these are all great space-savers. You can check out Kim's work and services at vanchic.com.

 Pottery Barn Baker's Rack, $80; Home Styles Etagere, $254; Overstock armoire, $325; China cabinet photo via Apartment Therapy

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