You know how clutter works. First it's a sock or two, a T-shirt that didn't make it in the drawer. And then, before you know it, you're stepping over clothing left and right just to walk across your bedroom. What a mess! To avoid this situation, don't just clean up - get organized with custom closets, bathroom storage units, and other tools.

Have you ever heard the phrase "band aid for a bullet wound"? That's basically what cleaning is: a stopgap. You're picking up your items, folding them, putting them into drawers, but without closet organizer systems to keep you in check, you're eventually going to wind up with the same old mess on your hands. Getting organized allows you to break the cycle.

For example, let's suppose you pull clothes out of your hamper to separate the lights from the darks. You only have room for one load of laundry at the time, leaving a pile of darks (or lights) all over the floor. And then something good comes on TV, and your best friend calls you on the phone, and suddenly that second load doesn't seem so important. It just stays on the floor. For days.

Sound familiar?

Fortunately, laundry problems are very simple to fix - all you need is a wicker laundry hamper with sorting capabilities. A laundry sorter hamper will have separate compartments for lights and darks, allowing you to organize as you go instead of every once in a while when you decide to do laundry. Some of these wicker laundry hamper products even come with three or four compartments for other categories of clothing, like delicates.

Speaking of clothes, let's talk about closets. The phrase "custom closets" might sound expensive, but this is only describing customization that you can do yourself using closet organizer systems. You can buy a system with various configurations of shelves, drawers, and hangers, then move the different components around to perfectly fit your space. Whether you have a walk in closet or a teensy enclosure, you'll be able to find something that fits, since closet organizer systems come in all shapes and sizes.

To compliment your closet organizer systems, consider investing in some new closet hangers as well. You probably have a hodgepodge of cheap plastic hangers from clothing stores and bargain bins, but it's possible to upgrade to closet hangers that will help keep your clothes wrinkle free — they might even help you fit more in your closet!

There's one important room we can't forget, and that's the bathroom. Like closet organizer systems, bathroom storage units can help prevent clutter by assigning a place for all of your items. Some bathroom storage units are designed to hold your shampoo and body wash in the shower, while others can keep your hair dryer or curling iron in a safe, dry place. Alternatively, people looking for a major storage upgrade should check out larger bathroom storage units like cabinets and shelves.

Where do you keep your shoes? In a heap under the kitchen table? In a pile by the front door? Perhaps it's time you explored the fascinating world of shoe closets. That's right - a closets for your shoes. And shopping for the right one is almost as much fun as shopping for the shoes that go in them.

Unlike closet organizers, a shoe closet is more than just a bunch of boxes glued together to make a shoe cubby. I have nothing against shoe cubbies, mind you. They can be a practical, inexpensive and functional addition for closet or bedroom. But nothing beats a nice piece of furniture. I'm not talking custom cabinets, here - that can be a very expensive proposition. However, there are alternatives that can stills be attractive amenities to your home.

Shoe closets are available in a plethora of styles, types, and finishes. There's sure to be one that appeals to you and that coordinates with your existing decor.

The bench types are functional and attractively upholstered with a shoe cubby in the base. They come in a variety of cushion patterns and colors, and materials including leather. I love their versatility. Because they come in a range of widths, they can easily be incorporated at the foot of just about any bed without taking up precious wall space. They're just as functional in a walk-in closet as they are in an entryway. Some even have sock drawers located just below the bench cushion.

There are also bench styles with drawers that pivot forward, just like the freestanding types with the same style drawer. (Those come in single to triple high units in various furniture styles and finishes. Most are "assembly required", so have a handyman ready if you're not good at following directions or handling a screwdriver.)

If you can't deal with neatly placing matching pairs of shoes on a shelf that folds into the bench, perhaps a basket type unit would suit you better. Multiple baskets that slide in and out of the base under the cushion(s) seem to work well for reforming slobs and training children, (ie. husbands and kids - sometimes indistinguishable from one another.) Each one gets their own basket and all they have to do is toss in their shoes. It may take a bit longer to find a pair, and you can't be picky about the bottoms of shoes touching the tops of others, but it's better than tripping over them as you walk through the front door.

For those with extra wall space, the double door type cabinets with built-in shoe cubby are a beautiful addition to your bedroom ensemble. You can get these in single door widths, too, but obviously, those don't hold as many shoes. Both widths are available with sock drawers above the shoe cabinet. For an organization junky, this is the coup de'tat: shoes and socks in the same place!

Of the myriad of choices in shoe closets, there is sure to be one that will turn out to be the best buy you've made since those purple Prada's were on sale at Neiman Marcus. Okay, so you get your shoes at Payless - you'll still wonder how you ever got along without this awesomely practical and totally cool looking piece of furniture.

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