Set up stations to organize a utility room

  • By Martha Stewart
  • Wednesday, January 4, 2012 8:33am
  • Life

When I first bought my farm in Bedford, N.Y., a decade ago, one very charming structure, dating from the late 19th century, was a two-story stable-garage-goat-shed that had stamped-concrete floors, mahogany-stained horizontal wainscoting and a peaked roof.

We redesigned the building and created a two-car garage, a bright central room, a storage room and one of my dream rooms: a “homekeeping room.”

The room’s been organized into “stations” by the most common tasks that we face as homemakers. Here’s how:

Cleaning station

Cleaning becomes more pleasant when you have supplies at the ready. Keep everything in a central location, and then take what you need from room to room as you clean. Adding labels helps keep it all organized. My station gives me a place to post a schedule with tasks to be done weekly, monthly and seasonally, as well as list products that need replacing.

• Organizing solutions:

Open-front bins: Plastic bins keep everything neat. Group similar items together and add labels.

Swing hooks: Maximize your space by hanging things up. On the side of the cleaning station, I installed foldable stainless steel swinging hooks for whisk brooms, a dustpan and a cleaning brush. The hooks fold flat when not in use.

Shallow drawer: Many items are best stored lying flat, such as window-washing squeegees and sleeves, and bottle and scrub brushes.

Divided drawers: Cleaning cloths (flannel, chamois, microfiber and cotton) are folded and placed in short stacks, more manageable than an easy-to-topple tower. Group other items, such as surface protectors, nonskid shelf liner and dusters, in divided drawers (plastic bins could do the job instead).

Hardware and repair stations

When you need to rewire a lamp, change a lightbulb, or hang a picture, you want to do the job with a minimum of fuss. You’ll be able to if you have all the tools set up at one station.

To get organized, first take an inventory of what you already have, and plan how many bins you’ll need. It’s worth the investment to set up properly; do this once and enjoy the system for years.

• Organizing solutions

Magnetic strip: Repurpose a magnetic knife strip meant for kitchen knives and use it to keep tools handy. This is also a great way to hang paintbrushes to dry.

Specialized kits: Group similar items and the things you need for specific tasks in bins: batteries or electrical supplies, for example. Keep them in stacking bins in different sizes so you can grab one to take wherever you need it.

Magazine holders: Use sturdy holders for magazines you want to keep as well as catalogs, instruction manuals for appliances, repair records and receipts, and other household documents. Add labels to keep track of them all.

Packing station

Whether you’re packing a gift to mail or a box to store away, you’ll be glad to have the materials in one spot. A setup like this saves time on trips to the office-supply store and post office.

• Organizing solutions

Dowels: Unwieldy, heavy rolls of butcher and kraft paper are easy to handle on dowels, which also keep spools of string and twine from tangling. Pull off only what’s necessary for a job and everything stays neat.

Small supply drawer: Stock padded envelopes in the sizes you use the most. Keep office-supply basics — pens, glue sticks, rubber bands — tidy by separating them in small acrylic containers.

Hooks for hanging: Adding a double-pronged hook on the side of the hutch provides a sturdy spot for shopping bags. A magnetic strip on the other side holds scissors and a tape gun.

&Copy; 2012 Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.

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