Seven Things That Make Our Life Easier At Home

I’ve often heard the phrase “things are as easy or as hard as you make them” and if you stop and think about it, it really makes sense. So as I go about my day I often think “am I making this harder than it needs to be?” or “is there anything I can do to make this easier/faster/more automatic/less annoying?” Thinking like this over time has actually helped us to develop a few systems and habits that help our house feel a bit more like it’s working for us. As most people know, I’m sort of a freak about organization, but I just find that it’s often the key to being efficient, knowing where everything is on a moment’s notice, and having a place for everything (when you know where to put things, it really makes cleaning an auto-pilot job). Sure it might seem like more work up front to create the systems and practices that help your house run like a well oiled machine, but it’s really something that pays off almost immediately. And after about a week you’ll wonder how you ever lived without ’em! So without further ado, seven things that make our lives easier:

1. We have a woven tray near the back door in the sunroom where we stash our shoes before coming into the house. It’s super easy and it looks a lot better than a pile of shoes on the floor, even though it’s just a pile of shoes in a basket. It also keeps the house cleaner since we’re not tracking in any bottom-of-the-shoe dirt or leaves (and really helps during allergy season).


2. We have a bowl on our rolling laundry caddy just beyond the back door where John drops his keys and his wallet. Actually it’s a white planter from Ikea, but it was $1 and it serves the same purpose as a key bowl. My keys and wallet are always in my purse which I hang in our mini-mudroom, but John used to have those “where the heck are my keys” moments, so we implemented the bowl technique and have never looked back. This quick “drop spot” really gets us out the door faster and keeps me from having to complain when I find John’s little pile of pocket-stuff on my desk or on the kitchen counter.


3. We whipped up a little in-cabinet cork board (here’s how) for easy recipe storage. It’s great to have a place for all the cooking ideas that I tear out of magazines (which would otherwise pile up on the counter or get lost before I get a chance to beg John to make ’em for me). And I can even pin up my shopping list and add to it throughout the week. Oh yeah and it was less than $5 to make.


4. Matching wooden hangers are the best. Your closet instantly feels more boutique-y and organized. And they’re much kinder to clothing than those sad mismatched wire ones (no more weird shoulder bumps). Oh and if you’ve missed our how-to-add-two-extra-closets-to-your-tiny-bedroom tutorial, check that out here.


5. Being a list maker, I used to tear off sheets from a pad and leave them all over the house with things to do and items to get and people to call. Now I have one notebook (which I affectionately call the Holy Grail) that I just flip open and write in. Putting the date on the top of the page and jotting down all the things I want to do, people I have to call, and other important details is second nature to me now. And it means there’s no more missing list, no more forgetting where I stashed someone’s phone number, and no more missing appointments. There’s peace of mind knowing that everything’s all in one place, and there’s something so cathartic about turning a new page and starting fresh every day or two (and dropping it into my purse for on-the-go access).


6. Of course I used to have piles and piles of torn out pages from glossy shelter magazines sitting around waiting to be filed or flipped through. But a few years ago I grabbed a 3-inch binder and some clear sleeves and literally created “the ultimate magazine” by adding all of my favorite inspiration pictures. It’s super easy to flip through (a lot less cumbersome than a folder of loose tear-sheets), and I even organized it by category (interior inspiration, curb appeal ideas, etc). Life changing, I tell ya.


7. And although this is a system that my lovely cable provider offers, I can’t end without saying how much we love our DVR. Talk about making our lives easier! We’re no longer a slave to the clock (so we’re free to get more done and we have more fun too). Of course if we ever need to tighten our belts it’s certainly an “extra” that we would forgo, but it just feels so decadent to fast-forward through the commercials and watch everything that we want, when we want. Talk about time management!


So there you have it. Our roundup of a few of the things that make life easier here at Casa Petersik. There seems to be this stigma about organized people that suggests that all they do is spend time alphabetizing their spices and folding their underwear (I do neither of those things by the way), but my theory is that the organized people spend way less time trying to keep their home tidy and find things that they need because they have drop zones and folders and baskets for everything (so it’s easy to put stuff where it actually goes and go about your day).What about you guys? Do you have any organizational ideas or habits that make things go smoother around your house? Do tell.

In the mood for more organization ideas? Check out how we made jewelry storage and even cereal storage super easy.


  1. Carolyne O says

    I store my extra grocery bags in a empty tissue box under the kitchen sink. It’s an old trick, but I am always surprised at how many people don’t do it.

  2. says

    I am soooo looking forward to hearing everybody’s responses here! I was thinking right this morning (after I wrote my willpower post) of how I wish I was more organized.

  3. Allison says

    Sherry, your timing is impeccable. My fiance and I just moved into our new home last night and organization is the first thing in my mind. Your 7 tricks to an easier life are things I was doing before and I can’t wait to get them set up in my new home!

    I put my recipes in clear sheets in a binder and they’re organized by category too (appetizers, main dish, salads, desserts, cookies, etc). Personally putting recipes on index cards is just too small for me. This way I can flip through recipes without getting them messy!

  4. says

    This is fantastic information!! I’m definitely putting the in-cabinet cork board on my project list – it will make my life so much easier! Speaking of lists, I have a gazillion of them scattered about – the house, my car, and in my purse and LOVE your idea how having one “go to” spiral bound notebook. Seriously, why didn’t I think of this before? Thank you so much for sharing!!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Jena,

      There’s actually a link to the tutorial in the post above, just click the words “here’s how” for the info!


  5. Priscilla says

    when my then-boyfriend, now-husband and i moved in together he would always leave his socks around the house. so i solved this dilemma by purchasing a small woven basket and placed it by the shoes. i specifically trained him to “take shoes off here, put socks there.” it took him awhile, but he eventually got used to it. i was so proud the first time he remembered what to do. =P so now at the end of the week, i just take the basket and throw it in the wash. no more socks laying around the house, no more “missing sock” mystery either. =)

  6. says

    Are you me?!? I do the same things with minor tweaks. I have a small woven basket for my keys/sunglasses next to my entry door, I use a basket for collecting shoes at the door like yours – it makes it easier to put the shoes away since you just pick up the basket and carry it to the hall closet to empty out, I have cork in my cabinets like yours, I use all flocked hangers vs. wooden ones since my clothes stay on them better and they take up less space, I have a notebook that I toss in my purse that contains lists of things to do/get and I also have a binder with design inspiration (as well as one with recipes).

    It was eerie reading this list since I’ve been doing these things forever. Great minds think alike I guess!

  7. says

    Great post! I implemented your cabinet corkboard system a few months ago, and I love it! I no longer have loosey-goosey photos, recipes, reminders, etc. cluttering the side of my fridge.

    My biggest organizational life-saver has been my pegboard in the garage. After arranging my tools and materials (jars of nails, screws, anchors) in a logical manner, I outlined each of them in black marker. Now I know where each one goes and, if for some reason it wasn’t put back, I don’t spend time scanning the board looking for it. And it’s so nice to have everything off of my workbench!

  8. Elizabeth says

    Love this! I am putting in fun cork boards this weekend (yay Michael’s coupon). Slowly working on the hangers – I try and buy some everytime I’m at Ikea!

  9. Val says

    Sweet! I’ve been trying out something new in the past few months and dying to tell someone about it. The first of the year this year I bought a (large!)desk calender, tore off January and taped it to the side of my refrigerator. Now, every time I get an appointment card, I tape it on the appropriate date. I take all my bill reminders and paper clip them to the end of the week. I use Sundays to make my grocery list for the week. I write in special occasions, times that we will be out of town, and the occasional date night. :)

    I love it! All I have to do now is look to the other side of the fridge and I can see my entire week planned out!

  10. says

    Wow, it’s like your in my head! You say exacty what I grunt and moan about and in a articulate, easy to understand manner! I have been CRAVING a system our our small 2/2. If I can’t get a system down now, what about when we move in to a larger home, so your tips are super helpful! Since I’m totally OBSESSED with your blog and thought to ask you about MAIL. Where do you put it? Do you file it immediately? How do you make it look beauitful? Any tips would be sooo helpful!
    Thanks for all your constant inspiration!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Venessa M.,

      Our mail system is less about making it beautiful and organized, and more about taking care of it right away and getting rid of it. Whoever gets the mail separates the stuff by sender, usually taking care of their own and leaving the other person’s mail on their ottoman in our den (we always sit on the same sides of the couch, so we’ve each claimed an ottoman as our own). By putting it where we rest our feet, it forces us to take care of it before we can relax for the night. So it means we pretty much immediately open and pay bills, read letters, put junk in the recycle and file magazines away for later reading. It does create some temporary junk (like if Sherry gets the mail while I’m at work, my mail will sit out in the open ’til I get home) but really forces us not to forget about it and just let it sit around for days.

      Hope that helps!


  11. Kim says

    First time reading your blog, and I’m so glad to find it–the cork board idea alone was genius! Can’t believe I’ve never seen that before, it makes so much sense

  12. says

    Hi, Sherry and John. My husband and I found your site last week when we Googled “painted fireplace.” We are in the midst of a major home renovation, and your site has become such an inspiration!

    Today’s post is especially wonderful, and I particularly love the idea of the shoe basket. We will be adding new carpet soon, and we definitely MUST start removing our shoes at the back door now so we can get in the habit.

    Keep up the great work! I’m officially addicted to your site! :)

  13. says

    I am definitely going to implement some of these tips! I especially love the binder with magazine pages. I have those torn out and stashed in some many places now. My daughter recently organized all my recipes into one-inch binders, with one binder for each category. I love it! Going to check out the corkboard project now. Thanks!

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