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The Organized Home

Looking to de-stress your family? Start by getting your house in order with our five easy steps.

Lenora Gim

Home organization has become a big business -- indeed, something of a national obsession -- with a flood of products that promise to eliminate clutter. At a time when parents feel a lack of control in so many areas of life, there's something comforting about the thought of getting your home in spic-and-span shape. Of course, once you have kids, time for home maintenance shrinks as the volume of toys, papers, and paraphernalia increases. The key, say a pair of moms naturally gifted at organization, is to establish easy-to-maintain storage systems that help family life run smoothly.

"Having everything in its place saves a lot of time when you're getting kids out the door in the morning," says Amy Frumkes of Chappaqua, NY, a self-described "organization freak" and mother of Max, 9, Sam, 7, and Jack, 5. When Amy and her husband, Robert, built their home four years ago, she indulged her passion for order by making sure the plans included an array of closets, drawers, and cabinets for clothing, outerwear, toys, crafts, and even cleaning supplies and snacks (a narrow pantry that her sons' friends refer to as "the treat room").

Amy got expert design help from Lyn Peterson, the president of Motif Designs in New Rochelle, NY, and a mother of four who views home organization in practical terms. "The process becomes more palatable in bite-size portions," she says. "Instead of saying, 'I'm going to reorganize the playroom today,' tackle a single aspect such as putting all the Legos in a big bin."

On a visit to the Frumkes home, Child took note of Amy's smart storage strategies and collected extra tips for space-challenged families from Lyn.