UP THE ORGANIZATION
January finds almost everyone buoyed with New Year's resolutions -- and, often, a big one is (finally) getting things in order. From the linen closet to the bathroom vanity and from the playroom to the basement, each is a job in itself. Cost-effective products can make tackling these organization tasks a little easier -- and more stylish -- without breaking any New Year's spending resolutions.
Related: 11 KonMari-Inspired Storage Ideas to Simplify Your Life
STEP RIGHT UP
Many gals -- and some stylish guys -- have more shoes than they know what to do with. Some lucky ones have walk-in closets with designated slots; the rest of us struggle with pair after pair spilling out of the closet and onto the floor. Avoid all that with a 36-pair over-the-door shoe rack ($30 at JCPenney), which offers 12 rows of organizational bliss.
When the bedroom chair is so full of clothes you can no longer sit down, it's time to stop the laziness. Buy some quality hangers and pledge to hang up your things every night. (Did you hear those words in your mom's voice?) Joy Mangano Huggable Hangers from Bed Bath & Beyond ($9 for 10), are ultra-thin, which helps save closet space.
SOCK IT TO US
For sock drawers that look like the cat just finished playing in them, opt for the Real Simple honeycomb drawer organizer ($10 at Bed Bath & Beyond). Eight snap-together pieces create up to 32 compartments and can be cut to customize the shape to fit most any drawer. You'll never have to wear mismatched socks again.
Yes, digital photography rules these days, but many families have shoeboxes full of old snaps. It's fun to pull out those photos every so often, so be sure they stay in good condition by transferring them to archival-quality storage. The Pioneer Photo Albums photo storage box ($5 from B&H) holds more than 1,000 4-by-7-inch photos, has a metal plate for labeling and divider index cards, and, best of all, it is made of acid-free materials.
Many women find themselves shut out of the family bathroom in the morning and resort to applying makeup in the bedroom. Use a pretty tray such as Woodland Imports' gold-colored version ($34.47 at Wild Orchid) to corral go-to products on top of a dresser or vanity and feel like a Hollywood film legend on a budget.
For those who have dozens of earrings strewn across the dresser top or tangled in a decorative dish, there is hope. The stylish Mele & Co. Elaine jewelry box ($30 from Hayneedle) has a modern look that works well at home or when traveling. This faux-leather case with a clear lid features a snap closure and 24 sections to keep earrings (and more) in lovely order.
A thrifty solution for stacks of towels that continually fall over in the linen closet: Lynk shelf dividers ($8.86 per pair at Wayfair.com). These heavy-gauge steel dividers slip over the shelf and help create cubby-like spaces for neat piles of towels, sheets, and more.
If each craft project starts with a search for supplies, know there is a better way. While there are plenty of fancy and expensive solutions, you can create a craft station with a Sterilite three-drawer cart ($15 at Walmart). It's mobile and sturdy and holds scissors, glue, paper, and all the other necessities in one organized space.
Desktop (or top drawer) messes, be gone. But don't splash out for a coordinated set of desk accessories from a department store -- the ones meant to find a home in the executive suite. Instead, be creative and fill the adjustable compartments of a utility box -- a staple for fishermen that has a thrifty use on dry land -- sold in sets of four ($8 to $15) at Cabela's.
BILLS, BILLS, BILLS
The new year, for many, is marked by holiday bills coming due. You may not want to pay them immediately, but you also don't want to toss them to the side and forget to return to them in a timely fashion. A Smead file organizer ($9.89 at Target.com) features an indexed pocket for each day of the month, so you can file bills away and keep on top of those finances once and for all.
While many people opt for a quick text or email to send birthday greetings, congratulations, or invitations, there's something charming about a handwritten missive. When the urge hits to take pen to paper, have all the supplies at the ready. Gather cards, paper, stamps, and some pens in Ikea's Pallra mini-chest with three drawers ($15).
If you have coupons in your wallet, coupons in the bottom of your purse, and coupons stuck to the fridge with a magnet, it's time to gather all those little money-savers into one organized space. The zippy little C-Line 13-pocket expanding file ($7 from Staples) does it with flair. This cute plaid wallet could pay for itself in no time with savings from the coupons.
AT THE (HOME) CAR WASH
Create a car-wash bin in the corner of your garage to make at-home washes a breeze. Gather sponges, soap, wax, and cloths into a bucket (the ol' practical Quickie Household bucket sells for $3.69 at Home Depot), and you just might be tempted to wash (or have the kids wash) your car at home more often.
JUST DO IT
Could a designated basket for exercise gear help keep a New Year's exercise resolution on track? Put freshly laundered T-shirts, yoga pants, socks, headbands, etc., in an attractive bin such as Cost Plus World Market's Madras rectangular baskets (starting at $25) to make the "I have nothing to wear" excuse a thing of the past.
MEDICINE CHEST REVAMP
Spend a few minutes (or more) cleaning out the medicine chest top to bottom. Check all expiration dates and keep only what you really use. When putting everything back in, use a few small bath accessories, such as an acrylic cotton swab dispenser ($5 at Boscov's), to keep things neat from now on.
Is the playroom such a mess that you just want to scream? There is an easy, bright, and affordable solution: a Delta toy organizer with bins ($35 at Walmart). It might even encourage the kids to pick up after themselves. (We can dream.)
Instead of buying a clichéd basket or vertical file, why not contain magazines in a simple crate? The ArtMinds wood-crate carryall ($13 at Michaels) is a study in simplicity, although the unfinished pine can be painted or embellished to match any decor.
COFFEE TABLE DE-CLUTTER
When a coffee table is strewn with a remote control, books, and candles, it can make the room feel cluttered. Create a focal point with a statement-making tray, gathering all the objects into a stylish vignette. The Simone tray from Pottery Barn (on sale for $20) sets a chic, sophisticated tone.
A CUP O' JOE
Coffee bags with rolled-up tops just take something away from an otherwise sleek kitchen. Keep beans fresh and out of sight with the Typhoon Summer House coffee canister ($15 at Bed Bath & Beyond). It not only does the job but looks good doing it.
Who hasn't had the lights go out and had to fumble for a flashlight? Unpredictable winter weather can cause power outages and more. Keep your family prepared with a designated box filled with emergency essentials such as flashlights, batteries, candles and matches, and a transistor radio. The Sterilite Footlocker (in plastic, a wise choice for preventing water damage) sells for just under $20 at Walmart.
When it's time for old-school movie night -- DVDs, not Netflix -- you don't want to have to rifle through the back of the closet to find "Pretty in Pink." A Nestable tower ($20 at Toys R Us) holds 52 DVDs or Blu-rays. With a neutral gunmetal finish, it's a sleek alternative to having a movie collection scattered throughout the house.
PAPERS OF PRIME IMPORTANCE
Could you quickly find your birth certificate, passport, car title, or Social Security card if asked? Unfortunately, not everyone can say yes, and it's best not to risk the headache of replacing such important documents. Avoid that scenario by placing them in a Steelmaster fire-retardant, steel security box ($18.58 on Amazon). It comes with two keys, in case one gets lost.
Many people have designated containers for Christmas decorations, but what about the rest of the holidays? Easter table accents, Fourth of July flags, and a Thanksgiving cornucopia are around ... somewhere. The ClosetMaid Pantry Cabinet ($62 at Target) can store centerpieces, holiday linens, and more in a corner of the laundry room, basement, or attic.
If you have a lot of garden tools but no garage or full-size shed, consider a Rubbermaid outdoor storage shed ($50 at Lowe's). The compact but roomy unit is made of maintenance-free resin and offers 18 cubic feet of storage space for garden tools (or pool supplies).
WHEN IT RAINS ...
When the sky has opened up and you're already late for work, the last thing you need to do is spend another 10 minutes searching for an umbrella. Solve that problem with a most retro touch: an umbrella stand placed by the door or in the closet. While thriftier models are available, practicality meets high style in a Quickway Imports handmade wooden umbrella holder ($56 from Wayfair Supply).
Keep all your chargers in one basket -- literally -- and be ever ready to juice up your phone, iPad, camera, and other electronic devices. There's no need to overspend. Simply pick up a scooped, oval willow basket for $7 at Cost Plus World Market.