Tuesday, April 24, 2012

You be the professional organizer: our front hallway

Those of us who seem to enjoy decluttering also seem to like to help others. So I figure it might be fun to give y'all a look inside our condo and tell me what you think we could do to get ourselves better organized.

(And by 'fun' I mean "a great way for me to have to do no work and everyone else to come up with brilliant ideas for me.") Just kidding. I've read a lot of great comments to my posts and I'm really curious what you all might think we could do to get and stay better organized. 

This is our entryway. 

The main features are

The hall closet: There's a hall closet a bit to the left, which you can't see. That's where our coats are supposed to go, though they don't always end up there. 

The little bookcase: We have the small bookcase for shoes, handbags, and general junk. Mostly the shoes and bags end up piled on the floor next to the bookcase. The bags don't seem to get emptied until the next day, if at all.

The wall hooks: for coats and/or handbags. Sometimes for a lot of handbags. 

The charging station: for cell phones, sunglasses, wallet. Sometimes these things actually end up here. 

The mail rack on the wall: Home for his mail, her mail, and mail to go out. They never seem to get empty!  Also there's room for keys. Mine make it up there about half the time. 

We have places for stuff, we just don't seem good at using them. What are your thoughts on how we could improve?


  1. I think if it were me I'd try to keep the shoes in the closet instead of in the bookcase. It's easier for me, at least, to remember to take off everything and put it in the right spot if the right spot is the SAME spot for everything. So I take off my coat and kick my shoes into the closet at the same time. Of course, the shoes are a mess at the bottom, but at least it's not a visible mess!

    Then you could remove the bookcase and add some kind of storage that would be more handy for storing bags. I'm not a great organizer myself so I'm not sure what that would be.

    My last suggestion would be to get a dish or bowl of some kind to keep keys in, since it's sometimes easier to train yourself to throw things in a certain place instead of hanging them up.

    As you can see, a lot of my "organizing" philosophy is that it's better to have a system that you'll use than a system that looks perfect in theory but only gets 50% implementation.

    1. You may be on to something about keeping the shoes in the closet, since we'd be going in there anyways. We already have a shoe organizer in there, we just seem to use it for other things but that can be easily fixed. Thanks for the idea!

  2. I agree with Mary about getting rid of the bookcase. I say get something for where things actually do end up. I've been getting rid of surfaces to FORCE me to actually put shit away because, although we have little, I'm SUPER lazy. I say the less you have near the door, the more you are forced to put stuff away. At least that's the theory I'm trying to sell myself on ;)

    1. We've been getting rid of surfaces too (no more coffee tables or end tables in the living room) so that's probably why the bookcase is turning into such a mess! You seem better at keeping stuff off the floor than I am. When there's no surface, I dump stuff on the floor! Maybe a bench or something, with some plants on it, then I couldn't put anything down. Like you said, that would force me to stop dumping things even if I'm totally exhausted.

  3. Ooooh. If I had a hallway, and we if were the type of home who removed their shoes each entry, I would put a bench below those hooks with cubbies for shoes underneath.

    They have a home, they're out of sight, and when you come in you sit, remove shoes, put shoes away. When you leave there your shoes are, ready to go.

    Best of luck!

    1. Hm, you've definitely got me thinking about that. I think the bookcase has to go. Thanks for the suggestion!

  4. Initial thoughts....

    1) Personally, I'd leave the bookcase where it is unless you legitimately have no good use for the shelves. The wall configuration in the hallway lends itself to its inclusion, and it's not obstructing anything (since there's no way you can run into it when you're walking into the house).

    2) Shoes in closets, in my experience, get buried. I have no idea what climate you live in, but where I live there are plenty of times when I'm not grabbing a jacket - I'm just putting on shoes. I'd line the most commonly worn shoes up nicely in a straight line along the wall, right next to the bookshelf.

    3) Speaking of jackets, if you added a few hooks there'd be room for a single lightweight jacket for each family member. If you added them in a nice pattern (criss-cross style, say) they'd look nice when they were empty and they'd provide plenty of storage along the wall.

    4) The bench idea is a good one, but there are two reasons I wouldn't do it. First, any bench that was actually useful would extend significantly into the main hallway. I wouldn't do that just because I don't like narrowing hallways any more than they already are. Second, if your reason for getting rid of the bookcase is because it accumulates clutter, the bench just creates a different surface for the same thing.

    5) Regarding the vertical piece you're using for keys and mail, I might consider moving that entire thing further inside (i.e. out of the hallway). If the main times you're confronting your mail is when you're leaving or when you're coming in, that leaves you in a position where you're never set up to process it when you're staring at it. And if your keys aren't making it onto the hook much of the time, that may be because the place you've chosen to put them just isn't practical for the way you operate. There's nothing wrong with finding a place that works better!

    What I'm seeing here is that you have a *natural tendency* to pile stuff in the hallway. That's where you instinctively *want* to put stuff.

    This means that, absent a minor miracle, you're likely to have stuff winding up there anyway. To the extent possible, why not embrace that? You have a huge area of wall there that you can use for commonly-accessed things; I'd do exactly that.

    I'd make choices to relocate things based on your realized utility rather than a perception of "needing to be organized".

    If your options are changing the configuration of a space to support your life, or changing the configuration of your life to support a space, I pick changing the space all day, every day.

    Of course this is all just my opinion, such as it is. But you asked. :D

    1. you're right about the bench. We decided against it because we do realize that we'll just dump stuff on it. You're absolutely right about not fighting the natural urge to put things in a particular spot. Our inclination is to empty our bags and pockets in this area so we're trying to at least make sure everything gets on the bookshelves. We may want the space next to the bookcase for a stroller in a year or two. In the meantime I may put a shade plant on the floor. It will look pretty, clean the air, and keep us from dumping stuff on the ground.

  5. I would do shoes in the closet and a small storage bench that you can chuck the bags in (serves as a bench and a place to keep stuff out of sight!). Maybe a small dish on top of the bench for hucking the keys/cell phones in and then that's it.

    1. we definitely liked the dish for keys for Josh and it's really working for him. I have a hook for mine, and it seems to be working...mostly. Half the battle is having a place for everything. The other half seems to be remembering to put the thing in its place!

  6. How do you want the space to work, and how do you want it to look? Do you want systems for storing the items that currently end up in your entry, or do you want the space clearer, or both? I ask because I don't want to see day-to-day stuff in our entry, so a tidy row of shoes, for example, wouldn't be a solution for me. You may have different aesthetics/priorities.

    Do you have space in your hall closet for the bookcase, or something similar? We have a small hall closet, so we keep a couple of current season jackets there, with the rest in bedroom closets. At one end of the closet, we put a tall, narrow bookcase (11" deep x 15" wide) that's the right size for bags... so everything that we carry on a daily basis goes in the closet. My keys go in whatever handbag I'm carrying. We have to reorganize some as the seasons change, but we know where to find everything, AND it's out of sight.

    Your hallway is pretty narrow, so I wouldn't put a bench in it. What I might get is a tall bookcase (with doors, if you want) so that you have room for all the bags and other stuff (and shoes if they're not going in the closet) in one place.

    I'd second Robert on finding a different landing spot for real mail, close to where you'll process it.

    1. I think you're right about the bench. We may want the space later for a stroller and I don't want to have to declutter the bench itself in two years! I do really like the idea of putting the bookcase in the closet. Alternatively maybe some of those floating shelves would work too and we could get rid of the bookcase.


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