Hidden in plain sight

Story and photos
by Donna Benton

In a perfect world, the kids would have a special chamber, much like the docking bay of a spaceship, in which they gear up for a school day and unload and decompress when they get home. In reality, most of us end up with mounds of books, backpacks, basketballs and laptops piled about the living room and on the kitchen table.

If you don’t have the luxury of a dedicated mudroom to stash school and sports gear, that doesn’t mean that you have to resign to live among the clutter. With a little creative thinking, you can incorporate some great storage spaces right where you live.

Successful organization can be as simple as a basket and a hook for each of the kids, and there are hundreds of ways to arrange this in a way that will complement your decor. Choose a dedicated space near your entryway and outfit it with inexpensive hanging shelves, baskets and hooks for coats and backpacks.

If you are one that can’t bear the idea of having school stuff hanging about, create a custom enclosed storage space to stash that gear. Shop flea markets and antique stores for that great storage piece, baskets and containers. Old bookshelves, industrial cabinets or lockers make great compartmentalized storage. Hunt for the perfect piece with an open mind and use your imagination.

You may already have a piece of furniture in your home that can be converted to school gear storage. We all had entertainment centers that became obsolete when we got a flat screen TV. With a little customization, these outdated pieces can have a new life while solving one of the greatest clutter issues of modern time.

If your entertainment center is already gone, shop flea markets to find them cheap. You can convert any piece of furniture with doors, drawers and shelves into a school gear storage center and keep the clutter hidden in plain sight.


Donna Benton is a maker of customr home furnishings and specializes in classic painted finishes for antique and vintage furniture. You can see her work at WaterHouseMarket.com