How to Quickly Organize Your Home’s Messiest Spots

Now, everything has a home in our, well, home.

March 23, 2022
Photo by Rocky Luten

When my husband and I moved into a house in the ‘burbs, we were astounded at just how much space we suddenly had…until we filled it up with enough cleaning products and power tools to start our own general store, and had no idea how to organize them. It doesn’t help that as a market editor, my job involves a lot of hands-on testing and learning about new-to-me brands—which means a revolving door of products at my literal door.

Home52’s senior content lead, Arati Menon, has a different kind of problem: not enough storage space. While living in an apartment in New York hasn’t (yet) taught her to be a minimalist, it has turned her into a bit of an expert at finding storage where there is none. Still, there remain quirks (and messes!) in her space that need additional wrangling.

Our spaces and organizing principles (or lack thereof, for me) couldn’t be more different, so we challenged ourselves to use the same Neat Method Grid Storage and Rattan baskets to redo our most-used—and least-organized—spaces. For Arati, it was her bathroom, bedside area, and linen closet; for me, my laundry room; and for both of us: the ever-tricky pantry shelves.

The results? Well, you’ve gotta see them for yourself.

The Pantry

Photo by Jada Wong
Photo by Jada Wong

Jada: When it comes to my pantry, I don’t have any organizing principles, so almond butter and canned goods are mixed in with sweets and baking supplies. The first step was to pare things down, so I repurposed deli containers, low vases, and even a trifle bowl for loose snacks and candy, and composted items that were well past their prime. I then paired like with like, so condiments and larger boxes of sweets got their own sturdy wire basket (much like a grocery store display); while the lightweight rattan baskets were better suited for bags of granola and baking supplies. While my pantry drawers were wide enough to accommodate two large baskets side by side, I decided to switch up the orientation to create an extra corridor for items I reach for on a daily basis: Immi instant ramen and almond butter.

I started out with five shelves of chaos and ended with four organized drawers—and no, that’s not bad math. The top-most drawer is now completely free; and while I have no doubt that it’ll get filled up quickly, at least I’ve got a method to the madness.

Photo by Arati Menon
Photo by Arati Menon

Arati: I don’t have a traditional pantry (did I mention my New York-size dwelling?) Instead, my kitchen is packed with drawers, which wouldn't be a bad thing if they weren't both too tall and too deep. Yep, you guessed it: they’ve become magnets for mess. This particular drawer is where I’d dump every unopened and half-full bag of staples willy-nilly (the “before” image speaks for itself). Enter the Grid Storage Basket, which I got in a beautiful spruce green—spruce, sprucing up...get it? I used a couple of them in the drawer—two mediums that fit perfectly, side-by-side—into which I stacked my baking goods and pastas and grains respectively. The transformation is truly spectacular; I no longer cringe when I reach for the bag of flour.

The Mudroom

Photo by Jada Wong
Photo by Jada Wong

Jada: Our mudroom pulls triple duty as our laundry room and side entrance, so it needed to be functional and welcoming. I moved a bunch of kitchen and bathroom cleaning products to their respective rooms so they’d be easier to grab, and kept the extras in the mudroom. Larger bulk bottles of soap and hand sanitizer were relegated to a cavernous area underneath the last shelf that’s thankfully hidden by a shoe bench.

I used a mix of wire and rattan baskets to corral everything else that was left—and there was a lot. I placed laundry products and cleaning liquids in a large wire basket, and stored lighter essentials like microfiber cloths in the handmade rattan ones. This freed up a shelf for hats, sunglasses, and even mail—all the things that we grab on the way out of the house, and need to dump on our way in.

The Bedside Table

Photo by Arati Menon
Photo by Arati Menon

Arati: The thing about good-looking baskets is that you start to find spaces for them in areas that you never thought of as having organization potential! Like my bedside table, which was the very antithesis of the beautifully curated, alarmingly spare nightstands you see on your social feeds.

I employed one of these lightweight, handmade rattan baskets—which ended up being the perfect size for its shelf—to corral my books, essential oils, e-reader, headphones, and various other bits and bobs. In turn, it adds a wonderful touch of handmade texture to the area. To double the fun (and because I’m a fan of symmetry), I’m now going to do the same with my husband’s side of the bed.

The Bathroom

Photo by Arati Menon

Arati: We recently updated parts of our bathroom, though didn't undertake structural changes. But while we gained in looks, we didn’t quite gain in storage. There’s a wall ledge and a windowsill that I’ve put to use (and there’s always room for a tray on top of the toilet), but I hadn’t anticipated the precious space I would uncover under my wall-mounted vanity. Turns out the large rattan basket was perfectly sized for slipping under it, just right for housing extra toilet rolls, hand towels, bulk soap, a bath mat, and some cleaning supplies (yes, all that!). While the basket tucks away neatly, I honestly quite enjoy leaving it to peek out a little—see what I mean about a beautiful storage solution?

The Linen Closet

Photo by Arati Menon

Arati: I am fortunate enough to have a large linen closet, a rare treat in city apartments. However, I had spent little time organizing it. I used both kinds of baskets (rattan and wire) and to change that, employing them to house my bulk cleaning and laundry supplies, as well as toilet rolls and spare bulbs, plus all the random electronics that my husband seems to amass with no intention of ever using them. Well, as it turns out, all those tangled wires have never looked so good! I also used the opportunity to organize the big empty space below, tucking in my cleaning caddy and organizing things like my paints, hardware supplies, and unused decor items.

What are your most-used, least-organized spaces? Let us know below!

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Jada Wong

Written by: Jada Wong

Jada is the market editor at Food52 with a decade of experience writing and editing for online publications such as Refinery29, Cosmopolitan, and Insider.


Sharon June 21, 2022
Thanks for the inspiration! I have a linen closet and craft/everything closet that needs some major organization. I also recommend heading to your local HomeGoods for baskets and containers, they have a huge selection at reasonable prices.
JAC March 29, 2022
Help! My most unmanageable closet is my craft closet.
Tenizmom March 28, 2022
The absolute worst containers are those with angled sides as they waste space. Why are they made for organizing? The rattan baskets look fragile, but are pretty. Don’t understand how “experts” are recommending these. How much are they paying the site for this ad?
Martha K. March 26, 2022
Trifle bowl for the win! I've been using mine to house self-serve snacks for years - I like that the glass allows you to see what's in there.
Anna D. March 26, 2022
Those rattan baskets are really beautiful! Are they sturdy enough for rolled towels on a shelf or best used for light weight items?
Arati M. March 26, 2022
Hi Anna! They’re definitely sturdy enough for rolled towels. Mine are in there now :)
Anna D. March 28, 2022
Thanks for your answer, Arati, your bathroom reno looks great!
Cosmic L. March 26, 2022
The email I received this morning has a gif which shows a wire basket being pushed under a cabinet. Does Food52 sell the southwestern rug in that gif? Where can I purchase that rug? It’s stunning!
Arati M. March 26, 2022
Hi there! That gif is taken in my bathroom. Sadly we don’t sell the rug, but happy to share the source: it’s Rejuvenation :)
Cosmic L. March 26, 2022
Thank you! I really appreciate you sharing that information with me. You have great taste!
angie March 26, 2022
I love the rattan basket by the nightstand. It's nice looking
and would also be nice under a coffee table. Thank you!
Arati M. March 26, 2022
Thank you for your kind words! You’re so right about the coffee table—great tip!
Jackie March 24, 2022
Wow, they bought baskets -- whoop dee do!
Cosmic L. March 26, 2022
Drink your coffee, Jackie
JAC March 29, 2022
What do your cabinets look like? This article did give me ideas but I’m sure there are more mess-management ideas out there.