Somewhere around the top of your New Year's resolution list probably was a vow to get more organized.
But the thought of shopping for unattractive storage trays, plastic bins and, even worse, bulky filing cabinets may have -- oops! -- let it slip onto next year's to-do list. Plus, you may have told yourself, aren't we supposed to be eliminating clutter rather than adding to it?
Enter Melinda Massie, former event planner and organizer extraordinaire, who owns Organizing With a Side of Fabulous, a local business that specializes in simplifying spaces, downsizing and systemizing. A firecracker of a redhead with a no-fuss mentality, Massie says when it comes to de-cluttering a home, sometimes folks simply need permission to make a change.
"The very first step to creating a beautiful and organized home is to let go of what is no longer serving you," Massie says. "Clutter is anything that is standing in the way between you and the home that you want. If you don't love it, need it or absolutely adore it, get it out of the house.
"Then from what is remaining, create a system and make it work for you. So you can find what you need, when you need it, and then put it away when you're done."
To help get us started, we asked Massie to make recommendations on practical uses for beautiful pieces, some of which we may already have or have been eyeing in local retail windows. From using intricate baskets and boxes as landing stations for keys and remotes to creating a mini office out of a chest, Massie provides pretty finds and tips to make getting organized easier.
Wooden keepsake box
This antique-finished hinged box is divided, making it easy to create compartments for specific uses. Massie recommends designating this type of piece as a landing station for keys, wallets and sunglasses and placing it by the front or back door, whichever you enter through most, on top of a side table or entry table.
"Landing stations are fabulous. You come in, you drop your stuff down, and then you go on about your day. Whenever you're leaving, all of your stuff you usually need to take with you is there next to the door," she says. "But it's really important to give a landing station a specific category and keep it to that. Don't throw the mail in it if you've assigned it to stationery. If it doesn't work for your first category, find it a new category. Don't make it a junk drawer."
$1,460, dh Collection
This cubby-filled chest doubles as a sturdy side table and, in Massie's eyes, a mini office, where bills, postage and paperwork can be housed. Hide a laptop away in it for the night or when company arrives.
"Many of my clients work outside of the home and don't have a need for a home office," she says. "Or maybe your place is too small for a full desk. I just love it because you've got drawers and nice little cubbies, so you can give each section its category of what lives in that spot."
If you already have an office, consider this piece for a pet station, Massie added, where medicines, paperwork, and even toys and treats can be stored.
Ceramic coral bowl
$63, Domain XCIV
Use this artistic yet hefty ceramic bowl as a mail basket. Massie says it's large enough to hold magazines but small enough that it won't overpower a space.
"It's a pretty way to contain something that's really unattractive, like mail," she says. "A lot of times my clients have a hard time figuring out what to do with the mail. You want your mail station to be a size that's big enough to hold a week's mail, but not so much that it can hold three months' mail. If you go too big, stuff gets lost in there forever."
$500-$1,500 (contact for pricing), Suitable for Framing
Sadly, many of our most sentimental items that we hang onto because of strong emotional attachments wind up tucked away in closets or, worse, in the garage, where they can be ruined by humidity, insects or even flooding. Massie recommends honoring our keepsakes and the memories they provide by creating a custom display, which can serve as unique works of art and conversation starters.
"With a custom display, you can utilize your keepsakes and collections and actually enjoy them," she says. "Whenever people come over, you have a wonderful personal story that can become a lovely anecdote at parties. If you love it, use it. Otherwise, you're not honoring your loved one's memory."
$1,265, Wright at Home
For Massie, this multidrawer vintage sideboard screams "craft station!" -- a place where threads, yarns, patterns, fabrics, needles and more can live comfortably, easily sorted and labeled.
"Everything you need can be separated out into categories," she says. "First, pull out all your craft supplies from wherever you've got everything stashed. For most people, it's probably all over the place. Separate everything out into individual categories. Anything you use more often, put at the top, like your tools. For surplus items, move those farther down. Don't forget to save a drawer for current projects."
Most important for this piece and, frankly, any piece, Massie stresses, "Don't feel the need to fill every drawer. And if you don't have enough things to go into all of the drawers, do not feel the need to go purchase stuff to fill the drawers. Embrace the space."