Ideas for stylish storage, easy organization

In my fantasy world, I have acres and acres of storage in my home. Nothing is cram-packed into too-small spaces, and I have scads of open drawers and cabinets in which to effortlessly organize my essentials.

If you live in a home like I do, where there is not a lot of dedicated storage space, the secret to fitting in all your stuff is to select furnishings that not only bump up the style of your rooms, but also have the horsepower to double as storage containers. Here are my favorites.

Creative cubbies

Designers are creating furniture that makes our daily lives easier by giving us fabulous tools. Cubbies are an awesome addition to just about any room in the house:

By the back door. We all need a good organization tool by the door we go out and in every day. Fill the cubes with all the stuff you need during the day: kids' backpacks, your purse, books to go back to the library, outgoing mail …

In the kitchen. This is a great way to not only store but display pretty pots, pans, serving pieces, stacks of dishes, cookbooks …

The nursery, child's room or playroom. First, anchor the chest to the wall to make it safe. Then fill it with stuff like diapers, books, clothing, toys.

Laundry room. This is one of the hardest working rooms in the house, and you probably need a spot to stash soap, the iron, folded clean cloths.

Large chests

Just about every room, whether it’s small or large, can use the drama of a large bookcase or hutch or sideboard. These bold pieces anchor a room, give it lots of character AND offer tons and tons of storage.

Bookcases are one of my favorite organizational tools. I like to mix a variety of items on the shelves, not just books. Fill a shelf about half full, then create a display in the open area using items you need to store, like pretty serving dishes. Tuck in an attractive basket full of items you need to store, like photos and papers or extra table linens.

I like to liberate chests of drawers from the bedroom and use them in more public rooms, treating them as storage containers.

Sideboards or buffets are a natural in your dining room, where they can hold spare dishes, silver and linens. But they also are a great pick for other rooms where you need storage. Put one in your family room to hold the TV, filling the cabinet below with DVDs or video games.

Built-ins

If your home has built-in bookcases and drawers, fabulous! Fill ‘em full. If not, consider adding them. When Dan and I renovated our little lake house, we knew we needed to build in lots and lots of shelves to hold Dan’s zillions of books.

Since many of my kitchen cabinet doors are glass, I have become a master at packing them full of dishes, but arranging them so they are visually appealing.