If your medicine cabinet looks like someone shook it, and your silverware drawer’s even scarier, please accept this organization intervention. Kyle Schuneman, our resident authority on small spaces, says these four household storage spots can hold a lot more than you think — if you organize them right.
1. Medicine Cabinet
First thing you should do is decide what really belongs in this slim wall unit, the best of which have adjustable shelves. Toothpaste? Of course. Face cleanser? Definitely. That bottle of hydrogen peroxide you bought in 2006 and used once? Chuck it. (You get the idea.) After paring down your toiletries to those you use every day and sorting by height, move the shelves to best fit your specific items.
Because you don’t need to shelf all 4,000 cotton swabs in their original bulky packaging, put some in a small clear jar in the cabinet instead; do the same with dental picks, cotton balls and other personal-care items you buy in large quantities. Hang toothbrushes in flat-backed self-adhesive cups installed on the inside of the cabinet door.
2. Linen Closet
If you’re afraid to open your linen closet because the avalanche of sheets and toilet-paper rolls might finally clobber you for good, there’s a simple solution: “Storage boxes and baskets work wonders,” Schuneman says, since they’re a neat and tidy way to store towels, sheets and other essentials (and are almost guaranteed to prevent an avalanche). Stack boxes with lids to make the most of the vertical space. Schuneman suggests labeling everything — sheet sets, blankets, hand towels, toilet paper, whatever — to easily find what you need.
3. Spice Rack
Where do small jars of dried oregano, cinnamon, garlic powder and thyme go to hang out? Your kitchen wall, of course! It’s a smart use of space that doesn’t involve a countertop or a cabinet. Uniformly sized spice jars keep the shelves looking neat, but be sure each unit is clearly labeled so you don’t mistake the ground cloves for cinnamon. And ditch any spices you don’t use regularly; most ground spices keep for three years, while many ground herbs keep for only a year or two. If you’ve got extra spaces in the rack, store other small bottles, such as vanilla and food colorings.
4. Flatware Drawer
Like a pack of unruly children, it’s best to separate the forks, knives and spoons, and the most efficient way to do so is with a cutlery tray — it’ll keep everything streamlined. “If it’s smaller than the drawer, store boxes of plastic wrap and storage bags around it to use up every inch of space and prevent the tray from shifting around,” Schuneman says. Still have a little extra room? Use a smaller drawer organizer to give specialized tools, such as an ice cream scoop and a cake knife, a home.