By Madoline Markham
Photos by Kathryn Bell
How do you keep your home organized in the midst of the chaos of life? Tara Bremer’s mantra is to focus on keeping the things you are using and loving. To find out what exactly she means by that, she walked us around her own home in Helena, which she shares with her husband and three kids, and showed us practical tips she uses with simple supplies. Tara notes that these concepts can be applied to anyone—and that she styled these spaces for photos with real life in mind too
For any closet, I use three “ingredients” to organize it:
- Matching hangers
- Containers for the shelves, like a basket or bin, with labels
- Something to put shoes on or in
Girl’s Room Drawer
I like to label categories of clothes for children so that it’s very clear we don’t just dump things in. Everything has a place so we know what we have and can easily find it.
Because this is such a creative space, we need a lot of storage. The tools we use all the time go on the pegboard, including my scissor collection, vintage ribbon and quilting templates. Underneath we have plastic containers in cabinets for more supplies, all with labels to remind us what goes where.
Items my kids leave downstairs that need to go upstairs get put in the stair basket. Once a week we do something I call the “stair blessing, “and they have to go through and find their things and take them upstairs—and that blesses the stairs.
Kitchen Pantry Elements
- Clear Containers: I think the most helpful concept in a pantry is clear containers. Not every item needs to be in one, but it’s helpful for things that will fall over like chips or oatmeal packets. Since they are clear, you know what the inventory is inside of them. If you keep food items in the box they came in, you might not realize you only have one left and then all of a sudden you are out. I want people to have a visual sense of their own inventory.
- Canisters: I love canisters for baking items to keep things clean. A brown sugar bag is just a blob on a shelf, but here you can see how much there is. I am trying to avoid a chaos of food.
- Stadium Seating: Use canned good risers so you can see what you have. I sometimes call them stadium seating for cans.
Kitchen Utensil Drawer
Most people put too many utensils in a drawer, so these are the ones that are constantly in rotation. I have a bin of ones I use once a week or once a month or once a year in a cabinet.
Tips for Longevity
After you organize, how do you sustain it?
- Give Things Away Regularly: Stuff will always keep coming into the house whether it’s kids’ art or a freebie from a conference. It’s important to keep things coming out. I keep a bag in my pantry for items to take to the thrift store to remind me.
- Label: Labeling is huge. It might feel silly, but it can provide clarity to the whole family—the spouse, kids, sitters, grandparents, or you might forget too.
- Channel Your Frustration: Use your frustration at your chaos to be the energy to propel you to organize and keep things organized.
About the Organizer
Tara Bremer, pictured at the top of this article in the middle with her team members Ashley Bryant and Penny Thomas, holds degrees in psychology and counseling, so she brings knowledge of the human condition, behavioral psychologies and habit formations to her home organization business, House Peace. She also puts her experience to the test every day with her three kids. Learn more about her team’s in-person and online offerings at housepeace.net.