A little effort can go a long way in improving the livability of your home. Follow these ideas to get started.
Cleaning up your entryway
Manage mail • Keep only what needs immediate attention here, with stamps, pens and checkbook nearby. File or toss the rest.
Sort and stow • A table or bench with separate bins lets you stash recycling, shoes and more right by the door. Or, give each family member his or her own basket.
Corral gear • End those frantic last-minute searches. Put sports equipment, and anything else the kids need to grab on their way out, into a big wire basket.
Clear it out • Sort magazines and catalogs on a handled tray that you can take to another room for reading. Be sure it's on the small side to avoid a major pileup.
Contain it • Opt for a bench with storage beneath. This extra storage space will allow you to have a place to put on shoes, as well as stash sneakers.
Think outside the hall table • An inexpensive, low bookcase or sideboard will provide much more functional storage.
Living room rehab
You've spent most of the winter cozied up inside, and it shows. But there are easy fixes for common household problems. Here's how to fix furniture scratches, remove carpet stains and more with a minimum of time, effort and money.
Scratched wood • For quick camouflage, dab on Gaurdsman Touch-Up Markers, a Good Housekeeping Research Institute-tested fave; the set of three shades can be blended for a close match to any wood finish. Follow up with a coat of furniture polish.
Carpet stains • Use a rug cleaner, such as Bissell's OxyPro Stain Remover for carpet, or mix 1 teaspoon dish liquid in 1 cup warm water. Dab (don't rub) the stain with a damp cloth, working from the outer edges in; repeat with clear water.
Small holes in the wall • Fill nail holes or small dings with lightweight spackling, such as Patch-N-Paint; apply with a putty knife to cover the spot, wiping away excess. Let dry for a half-hour before touching up with leftover paint.
Peeling wallpaper • Put it (back) in place with Red Devil's Wallpaper Seam Repair. In GHRI tests, it held up even in high humidity. Use the thin applicator to get beneath raised seams, press down gently for a minute and wipe off any excess.
Products to try
Here are our picks for products that will help organize your home:
A trim fit • Pottery Barn's 7.5-inch-deep multitasking organizer works in the tightest of hallways ($59).
Hang 'em up • Ballard Design's sleek strip of rounded hooks handles a horde of jackets ($89).
Good sport • Land of Nod's colorful bin scores points for its roomy size and sturdy steel construction ($39).
Totally wired • See Jane Work's metal basket holds bills and more ($12).
Shoe in • Practical and pretty, Ballard Designs' rubber tray for shoes will stop muddy footprints in their tracks ($26).
Storage to spare • With six hand-woven baskets, Pier 1's storage cabinet tidies you up ($400).