Best Organizing DIY Projects | Apartment Therapy

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Whether you live in a small studio apartment or a large two-story house, keeping your space free of clutter is a challenge. Coats or shoes are likely to pile up near the door, incoming mail will presumably get stacked on a table or counter, and remote controls will undoubtedly end up getting lost between the sofa cushions. That is, unless you take matters into your own hands and strategize storage solutions to keep these kinds of clutter-forming items from accumulating in the first place.

It’s a well-known fact that the key to good organization is to designate a place to put everything. I talked to several DIYers who not only embraced this wisdom, but also implemented it in their own homes by building clever storage spaces that addressed their specific clutter pain points. In addition to their projects being fully functional, they also happen to be incredibly stylish to boot. Here are their five recommended upgrades you can add to your home that will help kick clutter to the curb.

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Sarah Symonds of Grace in My Space was in need of an organizational solution to keep coats, bags, and shoes off of the floor in her mudroom, which is a space that’s used quite heavily in her Michigan home. “Our mudroom is very small, and traditional lockers took up all the floor space, making them extremely inefficient,” Symonds says. “I needed a solution that allowed us to walk into the room.” It made sense to utilize the walls for vertical hanging storage, so she got to work building shaker peg rails around the entire perimeter of the room. 

It only took her one morning to build the peg rails, and she is happy to report they have held up perfectly for two years now, even withstanding heavy coats and backpacks. Even better, they have helped keep her entire family organized. “What once was hidden and perpetually lost at the bottom of a locker is now visible and easily accessible at all times, “ Symonds says. “Now I know where everything is, so I’m not searching endlessly or buying new items that are lost.”

Shiplapped Media Built-Ins

Once her kids outgrew their toys and became more interested in video games, Erin Broege of The Heart and Haven decided it was time to convert the old play room space into a TV room. “I wanted to reclaim this room to feel like it was aesthetically more in line with the rest of the house, while also being able to store and hide video game consoles, controllers, and TV remotes,” says Broege. Her solution? Create shiplapped media built-ins that could hide all of the electronics but also display some decorative items too. “Something for mom, and something for kids,” she says.

While Broege took all the measurements and came up with the design plan herself, she hired a contractor to build it, which took about five days to complete. At the center of the built-ins is an IKEA BESTA unit with Semihandmade doors and push-to-open hinges. Discreetly tucked inside are separate bins for various remotes and gaming controllers. “Now there is a dedicated place for certain things, so they are not just left out on the coffee table or sofa,” Broege says.

Under-the-Bed Shoe Organizers

Coming up with creative storage solutions is something that Anika Gandhi of Anika’s DIY Life knows a thing or two about. “Living in a relatively small home with limited storage makes it important to utilize every single square inch,” Gandhi says. Once she realized that the floor area of her closet was not the most efficient place to store her lesser-used shoes, she came up with a better plan: build an under-the-bed shoe organizer that’s on wheels for easy access. 

Gandhi says the project only took about a day to build, and she found the construction process to be relatively easy and straightforward. The organizer, which features a clear plexiglass cover, can store up to ten pairs of shoes (or other small items), and it completely took care of the pile of shoes cluttering up the bottom of her closet. “The shoes are not only organized and easy to see, they are also well protected from dust,” she says.

There’s no denying the convenience of having a microwave, toaster, or pressure cooker in the kitchen. However, these kinds of smaller appliances can contribute to a significant amount of countertop clutter. That’s just the kind of issue Angela of Angela Marie Made was trying to solve. “I wanted to hide them in a functional and appealing way,” Angela says. She decided to build an appliance garage into her cabinetry, which features a special type of hinge that allows the door to open up and down, much like an actual garage door. It took a few weeks to custom build the cabinet that houses the appliance garage, but less than a day to install the hinges and door. Angela couldn’t be more pleased with the result. “It keeps clutter off of our main kitchen counters and all contained within one cabinet,” she says.

When Callie Plemel of Home on Harbor first moved into her home, she discovered the previous owners had left behind some IKEA Billy shelves in the office. “As-is, they made the room feel claustrophobic and dated,” Callie says. But when she was trouble-shooting what to do with the awkward hallway space that connected her primary bedroom to the bathroom, she realized the shelves could be hacked into a built-in hallway dresser.

Plemel’s husband handled the construction part of the project, which involved securing three shelves to the wall, and adding drawers, doors, and trim to them. Then the couple spruced it up with paint, brass hardware, and floral wallpaper. Now, they have a pretty place to store and display her favorite accessories. “What was a totally underutilized space in our home became a beautiful, functional dresser,” Plemel says.



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