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How to Organize Your House {Rethink how you use your space}

by | Jul 20, 2010 | Decorating Inspiration, Offices, Organization, small houses

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How to Organize Your House {Rethink how you use your space}

Southern Living

How to Organize Your House

W hen you have a lot to do, you need to be organized to manage it all.  But how? I am not always the most organized person, but I try. So far in this new house, we have not yet set up a “command central” area like I have had in other houses. I am a visual person so the more “in my face” the calendar and organizing space is, the better! If I can’t see it, it is completely out of sight out of mind. Sad, but true.

I think this just might be one of the problems I am having with feeling not on top of things. Not only do I literally have “too much to do” but I am not doing the most basic first step in organization by establishing our command central. I need a place where all of my “things to do” come together in an organized fashion. I think the reason I haven’t done it yet (beside being, well, too busy) is I have felt limited by the way our home is laid out, I just haven’t found the perfect place for a “command central” yet. **UPDATE: I have since added a command center to a small hallway in my home! You can see a photo of mine here, along with more command center inspiration.

How to Organize Your House {Rethink how you use your space} Can you imagine having this space all to yourself?
{My Home Ideas}

I have a desk in our bedroom, but I just don’t spend much time upstairs so it isn’t the best place for me. And I really do not want to see our family calendar and to do lists on the wall of my bedroom. Ahhhh, I’d never get any sleep! I’d be have nightmares about my to do list all the time.

Poor poor me. My house is too small. Boo hoo.

But wait? Is my house really too small?

We actually have an office right on the main floor down the hall from the kitchen. Hello??!!!! Perfect for command central! But, right now it is actually known as “the junk storage room.” When we moved in, my husband was going to use it for his office so we put all of his dark manly furniture and bookcases in there. Over the time we have lived here, it has become clear he doesn’t use it as a place to actually work,  but more of a place for me to set things. All he really needs for an office is a laptop and a Starbucks and he is fine. So I took it over for myself, but I have yet to really make it pretty and function the way I want it to.

How to Organize Your House {Rethink how you use your space}

I would love this for my command central. Thank you.
{My Home Ideas}

Today I’ve been pondering how to organize our house and why it doesn’t always seem to work for us exactly the way I want it to. Is it really because it is “too small?” Do I need a new house? Do I need to move somewhere so I can get my mudroom, office, craft room and exercise room? Nah. I just need to better use the space we have. And I need to downsize and declutter even more of our stuff, including furniture. Eek! Downsizing to a house half the size of our old house seems to be an ongoing process of “letting go.”

So, I have decided I am going to take that “storage office” and claim it my own command central with things that inspire me.

Instead of dreaming of moving to a bigger better house or adding on more rooms, I’m rethinking how we use the space we have!

When you start to think about how to organize your house, the first thing to consider is if you are making the best use of your space.

Knowing how to better use my space gets me excited about finally feeling more organized (and who am I kidding, it is always fun to dream about decorating your own office space!).

Do you have areas in your house that would be better used in a different way? What keeps you from making that change?

Related Post:

**UPDATE: I have since added a command center to a small hallway in my home! You can see a photo of mine here, along with more command center inspiration.

How to Get Organized in a Small House


  1. Liz

    I’m currently on a mission in our tiny house of re-evaluating the space and how we use it. So far I’ve realised we have at least one too many pieces of furniture in each room! So this is a great post to focus me on what can be done. Thanks Melissa x
    .-= [email protected]´s last blog ..The Rummagy Barn =-.

  2. Rene

    I would like to put a request in for the last command center photo. Love the colors. I really need to get organized before school starts again.

    .-= Rene´s last blog ..Giveaway with Depuis =-.

  3. Nancy

    Hi Melissa,

    We are in our seventh home together and much of our furniture was purchased for other homes. I am coming to realize that I need to let go of furniture if I am ever going to have an organized home. We downsized, as well, from 4,000 to 2,000 sq. feet. I finally made an appointment for the Habitat Restore to come and pick up some furniture. The house feels better already!

    I love the command-central. I need one of those, too!

  4. Jess

    I have been obsessed with that last pic of yours for awhile now! Oh to have a floor length corkboard! I think you bring up an excellent point – most of the time there is space for what we need we may just need to take back the areas of our house that the clutter has overtaken!
    .-= Jess @ Frugal with a Flourish´s last blog ..Six Ways to Transform a Yard Sale Mirror =-.

  5. nanci

    I am in love with that last picture space!! Ok Melissa…just do what the Fly Lady suggests….set your timer for 15 minutes and go in that room and do what you can and then shut the door on it. Do this everyday and before you know it, that space will be ready for you to claim and decorate. Go girl!!

  6. Mary Joy

    This post came at the PERFECT time. My personal goal for today is to get my craft area/closet unpacked, organized and to set up my command central in the corner of what is officially our dining room but we use for so much more. I LOVE the cork board calendar in the first picture you shared. Oh my gosh!!! How awesome is that?!!! You are inspiring me, AGAIN.

    I found two metal shelving units on the curb yesterday after someone’s yard sale ended and they were tossing out what was left. Today I am cleaning them up and putting them to good use organizing the stuff waiting to be unpacked…sigh…I understand feeling tired when you look at a space that needs to be redone…that’s me and my craft/storage closet. I’ll be praying for you as you begin your re-organizing/re-purposing of space project.
    .-= Mary Joy @ Snapshots from my Heart & Home´s last blog ..Opening the Precious Gift of Monday =-.

  7. Carol

    Great post! I think it’s good to reassess your house from time to time as your life situation change. I’m retired now and I’m very busy but a different kind of busy than years ago when the children were growing up,so I had to rethink my command central. Yes, I still have one! Start your new project just a little “chunk” at a time so its not so overwhelming and keep us posted!!
    Carol in GA
    .-= Carol´s last blog ..One lump or two =-.

    • Melissa

      Yes, thanks for that advice I really do need to just get started. That is always the hardest part!

  8. Astrid

    Great post! I’m constantly re-evaluating our space and trying to figure out better ways to utilize it. It’s also meant moving a lot of furniture (with or without help). Which means eating a bunch of ibuprofen!
    .-= Astrid´s last blog ..Say hello to Tampere- Finland! =-.

  9. Dana

    When we decided to adopt (we already have 3 kids at home), I had a decorator look at my 1700 s.f. house and asked, “Can we really fit one more child here?” Her suggestion was to totally rework how we were using the space. We had outgrown the little breakfast nook in the kitchen, so she suggested we turn it into an office. The other areas have been so much easier to “whip into shape.” I’m overwhelmed by the piles of stuff sitting in the end of my kitchen. But I’m excited to have my homeschool supplies, computer, bill paying and mail supplies, even my cookbooks neatly stored in one area – Command Central describes it well. Thanks for the inspiration.
    .-= Dana @ Adoption Journey´s last blog ..Family Time =-.

  10. Imperfect

    In our small, two bedroom apartment there isn’t too much wasted space. But I definitely understand needing some sort of command central. Our was in our guest bedroom for a while, but we so rarely went in there. So I had to move it to our kitchen – I just put up a dry erase/bulletin board and made some room for a mail holder for bills and to-do/to-buy lists. Even though it takes up space in an already small room, I’m glad I did it. I feel much more organized and caught up on life now!
    .-= Imperfect´s last blog ..The Apple Tree =-.

  11. Heather

    We have a closed-in porch at the front entrance to our home – it’s part entry hall, part sitting room, part library with a small bookcase housing my gardening books. It just doesn’t work the way it is – we don’t use it enough – what a waste of space. Your article has inspired me to start thinking about how we can better use the space. I’ll keep you posted.
    .-= Heather @ what’s happening this week´s last blog ..Since Youve Been Gone =-.

    • Melissa

      Yes, let’s revisit this again and share the progress!!

  12. Susan

    I am in desperate need of my own command center. Right now it’s various baskets spread throughout the house… totally useless! Weighing out my limited options as I speak (write).

  13. Luxurious Life

    I dream of adding an office onto our home for me!! I already have it planned out. Right now, I am using our dining room as my office, I would like to organize it better and get a new desk. That is my mission, think of it often, but other things get in the way of my mission daily!!
    .-= Luxurious Life´s last blog ..A Very Simple Sunday Supper say that 5 times fast!! =-.

  14. Lynda

    Sounds like my house – I don’t think we are using the spaces we have to their best and I also have a lot I have to get rid of. My biggest obstacle is that I get sidetracked! Can’t wait to see your new office space!

  15. Julie

    Great post! And timely for me too. We live in a large house with lots of rooms that were “supposed” to be for one thing or another. Then along came my business and I was relegated to the basement (or “finished lower level”) while the loft area was designed for the kids to study, use the computer, etc. For 4 yrs the kids studied – but they did it on the couch, in their bedroom, even on the trampoline outside. :-) So, earlier this year, I staked my claim to the loft and moved my studio up there. I …. abolutely….love …! {you can see it here: } And my husband loves that the space is actually being used and not just “sitting pretty.”

    • Melissa

      That is wonderful!! I agree, we need our homes to be more about working for us than just sitting pretty! That is inspiring, thanks for the link!

  16. Thirkellgirl

    I have been thinking about this very thing for so long! We have an odd, small house, and our “living room” is really more of an alcove between a long family/dining space and the bedrooms/bath. I have my office in the basement, and have long struggled with how I could rearrange the room off the front porch as a study, and still include a couple chairs for tv watching. I’ve concluded that painting it a neutral color will help me see it differently, and I’m long past ready to surrender inherited furniture if it will make it work better!

  17. Janell Beals

    Yes, I currently have all my papers, etc., in two locations. Kind of divided between work and personal, but as they are so intertwined, not the best solution. I’ll be working on it, eventually. Love the images, I added the turquoise accented office to an houzz Ideabook I’m working on yesterday! Isn’t it fabulous?! Janell

  18. Anita

    I hear ya! Down sizing is not an easy thing. I love those rooms. I like the pop of green on the one cabinet door. Not sure what the room is but I love it!

    I need to figure out something for out guest room. Since we don’t have guests constantly I would like it to be my sewing room also. I have two twin bed in there now but would like one day bed with a trundle. Just haven’t seen any pop up on CL!
    .-= Anita @ GoingALittleCoastal´s last blog ..Decorating The Front Porch =-.

  19. Kara Fleck

    Terrific timing! Just recently I re-arranged our home to make it suit us better. I turned our office into a dining room (the room’s original purpose, according to the floor plan), moved my desk/office to the loft upstairs, and took the table out of our eat-in kitchen and replaced it with a coffee table and small chairs – that space is now the kids’ crafting area. I find I don’t worry about watercolor painting/play dough as much in there because I can just mop up the floor afterward :-)

    Love to see people being unconventional and making their spaces really about THEM! Now I’m wondering what other spaces in our home are “wasted” and could be put to better use for use by using them for a purpose we need/want rather than what they are intended for ….
    .-= Kara Fleck´s last blog ..Truthful Tuesday- Rhythm What Rhythm =-.

  20. Imeda

    We also downsized and I, too, am a visual person. Right now my office is in a corner in my room and it’s not working. There is an area in the family room that might just work. Thanks for the inspiration.

  21. Lesley

    I am dying for a command center. It is truly a missing piece in our home. I do feel it is a space issue for us. It’s that our house is too small (although it is very small), it’s that there is no obvious spot.

    The best place would be in our basement office but I need it to be a place that we see as we are getting reading for work or for bed. I tried to establish the calendar, etc. in our dining room, but it didn’t look good at all.

    I still think the dining room is the answer. But I need to create something that looks great.
    .-= Lesley @ TheDesignFile´s last blog ..Upscale furnishings made of cardboard! =-.

  22. Karen


    This is such ‘food for thought’. I think this must be a universal problem no matter what size the house. I know you’ll make that “junk” room incredible and I look forward to being inspired by whatever ideas you implement. Sometimes it is very hard for me to pare down.

    Keep us posted, no pun intended. :-)
    .-= Karen´s last blog ..A new world of amazing ideas…free =-.

    • Melissa

      :-) I will keep ya posted!!

  23. Fiona

    YES! I have a studio (sunporch) that I use for photography. But I am considering changing it up a bit. The cool thing is I bought some wonderful white wicker furniture for props, that doubles as a nice kick back place for ME!

    Unfortunately certain memebers of my family think that it’s a dumping/storage place for them. And I have had to put my foot down. I need to be able to do photographs at a moments notice.

    But it DOES need some work. I put it on the list of things that are bugging me. LOL

    Hugs to you Melissa!
    .-= Fiona´s last blog ..Grammy’s Rose Flower Globe =-.

  24. Sheila

    Oh Honey, do I ever understand! I did just recently finish cleaning up my work space, but now need to decorate to make it mine. Clearing the clutter after so long felt soooooooooo good.

    Best of Luck and Pretty spaces to you!

    Sheila of Halo Hill
    .-= Sheila´s last blog ..Woo Hoo!! -or- Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder! =-.

  25. Erin

    That last image is incredible, exactly what I’d love my office to look like. Thanks for the inspiration!

    I hear you though, down-sizing and de-cluttering has always been difficult for me…I hate “letting go”. I’m excited for you and your new space though! It will be great to have your own command center!
    .-= Erin´s last blog ..Romantic Cottage Bathroom =-.

  26. Sue

    This defines my life right now. We have a tiny family room that we use constantly. And a bigger living room that we don’t. And I have no command central either which is becoming a bigger and bigger problem with each passing year. Solution? Move the TV and comfy furniture into the living room and make the tiny family room an office, right? Except when we entertain, we use both spaces. But we never entertain because the house is always a disaster because of the lack of an office.

    So I remain paralyzed by indecision. Sigh.
    .-= Sue @ Laundry for Six´s last blog ..who ME =-.

  27. Carrie

    We have a smallish house (1680 sq ft). The house is divided up into a lot of small little rooms. Over the years I have changed how we use various rooms. A tiny 9×13 family room is now an office. We use the larger (what is supposed to be the “formal”) living room to watch TV in. The breakfast area of the kitchen is tiny, we so we eat in the dining room. We now use the breakfast area for extra kitchen storage.
    .-= Carrie´s last blog ..Exciting Day For Me! =-.

  28. ALVN of WhisperWood Cottage & Junkologie

    This is an ongoing process at my house…in every room, every closet, etc. I am currently planning the reworking of my home office as well. I have the initial inspiration and am working on how I want to lay things out, etc. I look forward to seeing the before and after photos of your space

  29. Jules

    My husband showed me a video the other day of a man living in a self-designed 87 square foot home. It became so popular that he started designing other <100 sf homes and now it is his business. It was really inspiring to see how little space we actually need. The home was so well thought out that it seemed much larger. It made me realize how much space I actually have…and don't use efficiently.

  30. Mona Kay at Home

    So timely, as I have been eyeballing my own office/workspace…it is very “space-inefficient”!! I know I can do better! Like you, it makes me tired just thinking about it, but after seeing your gorgeous pics, I’m inspired to roll up my sleeves!!
    .-= Mona Kay at Home´s last blog ..How to Refinish a Sofa Table =-.

  31. Stacy

    I can really relate to this post…I have always dreamed and ripped out pages that show all of the lovely command central/office/craft/mudrooms in magazines. We have moved alot and are currently renting so I am always trying to figure out ways to best use my space. I usually find that you have to live in a space for awhile and then it’s easier to determine how it should be used. I would also love to take over my husband’s office space, he’s not in there very much either…Can’t wait to see what you do!

  32. Bette

    I’ve given myself a deadline to get super organized by mid August before school starts for my 3 kids. I need to have a comand central for sure!
    .-= Bette @ Frugalmomx3´s last blog ..Awesome Goodwill Finds! =-.

  33. Mary Jean

    I first tried an upstairs walk in cedar closet as my Office. The kids could play upstairs and I had an area to trash I mean work in. It did not fit the bill as a hub for the house. My dining room is small and does not get used much. I only have 4 chairs for it anyway. So, I am currently changing it into my downstairs office. I’m still looking for a wall to make my command wall though. Another option is a wall in the laundry room. I must control the influx and organize what to keep and purge imemdiately before it starts to stack up! Basically I need major help!
    .-= Mary Jean´s last blog ..Does Your Husband Read Your Blog =-.

  34. Kelly

    You just described my situation EXACTLY! We moved in January, and that “office” is full of all the junk we haven’t used for decorating the other rooms! I’ve come up with a decorating plan for “command central”, but will have to do it slowly as I spent all my decorating money on the other rooms! But, the process is fun!

  35. Kim

    Would you believe we’ve just bought a new house and now that we’re leaving the old one it’s screaming potential at me? I still think we’ve made the right decision, but I wish we’d made more of this house while we were here.

  36. Violet

    My laundry room is sort of my command center, but it’s become way too cluttered. The uncluttering is always the hardest to start on!
    Just starting is the key. Sometimes I have to trick myself into doing something for “just 15 minutes” or so… promising myself I can stop then. But usually once I get started I want to keep going : )

    I love the colors in that last photo, the greenish blue and white.
    And that large framed ‘message board’ is wonderful!

    I’m having a give-away tomorrow, please stop by : )
    ~ Violet
    .-= [email protected]´s last blog ..A Fairy of Pods and Petals =-.

  37. Adrienne

    Wonderful post – and so in tune with my life right now. I’ve been making BIG changes in my life and my home. I am starting to redo my office/sewing room and what a mess it will be until everything is back in place. But I’m looking forward to it. I’m in the process of sorting, cleaning, tossing, recycling and donating as I go – nothing in my house, garage, attic and TWO storage sheds (mostly garden and hubby’s stuff) is exempt. It feels so good to finally do this after years and years of talking about it. Only problem now is that I want it to go faster – and it can’t. Slow and steady wins the race! Please keep us posted on your ‘new’ space. Thanks for the inspiration and the ideas.
    .-= Adrienne´s last blog ..Housekeeping =-.

  38. Lynn from For Love or Funny

    I need to repurpose our kitchen. Right now, it is utilitarian and uncomfortable. No wonder we don’t linger and chat after dinner! I can’t wait to see how you repurpose your room! :)

  39. Stephanie

    I would love to fix up the basement, that’s hopefully our next big project were gonna tackle by the end of this year.
    I would say the reason we haven’t finished it yet is lack of time and money.

  40. Talysa

    Love what Darcy did with the place! She is superwoman I tell ya. :-)

  41. Ann

    I have just moved into an interesting situation. I lived alone in a fully furnished home with plenty of room for all my stuff. I recently married a man with four kids (and two dogs) and a fully furnished home of his own. I have rented out my home and moved a few choice things to his house (2000 miles away) to try and integrate myself into that home. I am trying to find MY space in an already crowded household. A command central makes so much sense to help these kids get back on track – but where? There isn’t an underused office space lurking about and every nook and cranny already seem bursting at the seam. If you have any idea’s for a streamlined command center, I’d be grateful. I do need to look at the way things are being used and get rid of stuff that is no longer needed. But I also have to be a little careful not to look like I am just there to get rid of their junk. I’m not keen on the whole evil-step-mother image.

  42. Linda

    We arranged and rearranged over the years, learning to know the old place., new home. Never satisfied with our middle room, I wanted to move our dining room. Like you Melissa, love Sarah’s House. The dining room episode convinced them. We moved it and love it! Check it out under “A New Oasis” Now for the craft room. I am inspired!

  43. Amy Lynne

    We are in the process of changing our unused formal dining and living room into a sewing/craft room and reading area. We’ve been using it that way for a couple of weeks and I LOVE IT! One more piece of furniture to finish painting and it will be finished. It’s so much better to use a space than to let it sit unused because of what you thought the space was suppose to be.

  44. ragamuffin girl

    My BEDROOM! Actually I just need to utilize it better because now it’s my walk-in closet, study room, entertainment area and yes, my bedroom.

  45. Kelly

    OK. This really resonated with me. I am a fairly organized person. Have constantly assessed my command central needs and updated accordingly. However- I constantly think to myself “This house is too small”. It is depressing to constantly want something that you just can not have right now! Thanks for the reminder that I am not alone, and that perhaps I need to let go of some things.

  46. Sharon

    I have been wanting to set up a command center in our office but that will soon be turning into a nursery room and we will be relocating the office. So this is a great post to get me thinking where should we relocate our office and command center next. Do you think they have to be in the same location? The office will most likely end up in the basement while most of the action takes place upstairs. Lots to think about! Thanks for the inspiration!

  47. Kathy Perrins

    If you want more help in getting rid of stuff, read Affluena, by John H Graaf, David Wann and Thomas H Naylorza. Thought provoking and makes you glad you have a small house.

  48. Ella

    I know this is an older post, but I just had to reply.

    I too have lived far too long without a well functioning command central. 7+ yrs… though for a tad bit of time in there I did start to organize & utilize the beginnings of one, but then remodeling efforts took over the kitchen/laundry/mudroom areas of our home & it all got shoved to the back burner. I have since attempted on several occasions a digitized version, but I’m much too visual for that to ever be completely effective. I’ve finally found the right spot and have just started into figuring out how to make it tick for our family. Glad to know I’m not alone in the process!

  49. Robin

    I know this is an old post, but I wanted to comment on a change we made to re-purpose our space. I realized that we only used our dining room for homework, and the on the rare occasions we ate in there it wasn’t big enough for our family of 7, never mind our frequent dinner guests. I re-imagined the room as a den with comfy chairs and a love seat, a desk and a combination of bookshelf-topped cabinets. The only furniture that stayed was the piano! Each child has a space to store textbooks and ongoing projects, and I built gallery-style picture rails for our rotating displays. I made the change a year ago and haven’t missed the formal dining room at all. (Well, maybe a tiny bit at Christmas, but it’s still overall a positive change).

  50. Tabitha

    I love the idea of “command central.” WE are in charge of ALL of our schedules, eh??? I have a craft room now–sharing an office with my hubby–but I’m not using it for that. Next house? Craft room WITH a command hub! My oldest starts kinder in the fall so I KNOW I have to be organized! I’m a visual person, too–so it’s gotta be “out there” and visible–and attractive!!
    By the way, we have offers in on two homes. Both have a space in the front I get for myself, one that’s an enclosed garage, the other a “dining room.” I cannot WAIT to decorate and get it organized and beautified!! Thanks again for the inspiration!!!

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  1. Baby Steps to Organization:: Step One, Assess the Needs - [...] This organizational overhaul is hopefully going to end in organizing a new office space for myself as well, once…

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