Taming Mom’s Hot Spots | The Command Center

I’ve been working on organizing my life with the help of a professional organizer, and I’m finally ready to share our progress! This will actually be a 3-part series on how we’re organizing the most challenging areas of the home — the kitchen island/countertops, and the passthrough mudroom/laundry area where STUFF seems to gather.

As a member of the Target® Inner Circle, I was provided with a gift card to help facilitate the project, which was awesome because they have such a great selection of organizational products for the home.

First I want to talk a little bit about what it’s like to work with a professional organizer.

Organizing Mom’s Hot Spots: The Process

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with how to create organizational systems that work for my life. We’re busy people, and we’re not very tidy. We tend to let stuff pile up and then go through it once it becomes overwhelming. As a result, I am often living among piles and clutter, and things tend to get lost and overlooked. Just yesterday, I found a form that I was supposed to fill out so my daughter could participate in an art camp, and it’s too late now. FAIL! I’ve tried many systems, but none seem to stick. I finally decided it was time to call in the calvary! Or, you know, a professional.

My friend Darla is a certified professional organizer, decorator, speaker, and owner of Heartwork Organizing. Her mission as stated on her site is to help people achieve a sense of peace and purpose so naturally I turned to her when I decided I needed professional help.

The first thing I learned from working with her is no one system works for everyone. If an organizer tells you that you must do things one certain way, run for the hills! A qualified organizer will take into account your lifestyle, your habits, your personality and your space and then help you create systems that you will actually use for more than a week.

I love how Darla questioned my kids about their habits and how they use the {failed} organizational systems throughout our home. When we were setting up our command center, we started to explain to my son how he was to put his papers in a folder in a 3-ring binder. He immediately responded that he didn’t want to mess with that. He would prefer to have a bin to toss things in. Darla immediately switched gears and pulled out a magazine box that he can use to toss his papers and stuff in. He was thrilled! (And he’s USING it!)

I also love how she came armed with a ton of different products for us to use — or not. She will charge me for those we used and she will return (or keep in her stash for a future client) those things we didn’t have need for. This is SO much easier than having to go shop for everything myself. She knows what works and what doesn’t and what products are the best, so she won’t only recommend them, she will shop for them and bring them to you. I mean!!!

The first time she visited, we went through the house and assessed everything. She asked a lot of questions about how we live and how we use our spaces. Then we honed in on three areas we wanted to work on. The pantry, the laundry room/mudroom, and a command center to contain all of our papers and clutter that tends to accumulate on my kitchen island.

Today I’ll show you how we set up a “command center” in my kitchen.

The Command Center

We discussed using my office, or a computer armoire in our family room, but ultimately we decided that the kitchen is where the clutter tends to accumulate, so that is the best place for us to create a command center. We have an open spot beside our refrigerator. I have always wanted to extend our kitchen cabinets into that space, but when we looked into that a few years ago, we discovered the company that made our cabinets went out of business and they are not easily matched. So I just stuck a small end table there and put our phone on it and called it a day.

Darla found this bookcase at Target that fits perfectly into that spot and maximizes the space to its fullest potential. Now instead of holding just a phone, that spot houses notebooks and magazine boxes that contain our papers and assorted clutter, our dogfood and treats, a charging station for our devices so they aren’t sitting all over the house, and a box for envelopes and stamps. Sweet!!

How to Create a Command Center

Let’s break it down!

I love having open shelves on top and doors on the bottom. The open shelving makes everything easier to access, and the doors hide rest.



Darla started by creating 3-ring binders to house our important papers. She originally suggested having one for each child, but with everything going digital, we ended up just using one. There is a second one that is empty in case I do find that I have enough paperwork to expand, but for now I just have need for one. Each child has a clear folder inside where I stash their class lists, sports and instrument rental paperwork, classroom policies, schedules, etc. The binders are for me, not them. This is so I have all the info I need for their classes and activities in one spot.


Then I explained that I needed a spot to put papers for Paul. When I get the mail, I am pretty good at going through it right away and tossing the trash. And I always take care of my checks and bills right away. But Paul handles most of the household bills, car maintenance, insurance and all that. I will usually leave his mail out for him, and it gets shuffled around the house for the next week or until he takes care of it. Often he would spread his papers and things out on the dining room table, which drives me CRAZY!

And then I usually have a stack of papers I need to tend to and magazines I want to read that clutter up the kitchen island and tabletop.

So Darla gave us each a magazine box labeled with our names where we can toss this sort of thing. And when my son balked at keeping his drum music filed in a binder, we gave him a magazine box too. The binders and magazine boxes go on the bottom shelf where they’re easy to access.

bottom shelf

On the second shelf, we put our phone, and I picked up this handy charging station so we don’t have tablets and phones laying around the house. This keeps the cords contained and holds 2 or 3 devices at a time.

charging station

Then on the stop shelf I stuck a box of tissues (we are all allergic to everything that grows, so we have to have tissues in every room of the house) and a basket to catch odds and ends such as cords, sunglasses, chargers, headphones, etc. And I picked up this black desktop organizer to hold my envelopes and stamps and a notepad for writing notes to the school. I am always running to my office for these supplies when I need them on a busy school morning, so now they will be within arms reach when I’m helping the kids get their breakfasts and lunches packed.


And now my kitchen is free of clutter! At least until the kids get home from school . . .


I also picked up a pair of stools to go at our island. Now that it is clear of all the paper clutter, they can sit there and chat with me while I’m preparing dinner, or even do their homework.

So far everything is working beautifully! I can’t believe it took me this long to set this up. It’s amazing what a difference it makes to have a workable system.

Everything I used is available at Target, either in stores or online:

As a member of the Target® Inner Circle, I was provided a gift card to purchase some of the items used in this series but I also contributed my own resources and time. I can’t wait to share my laundry room and pantry. Stay tuned!!

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11 thoughts on “Taming Mom’s Hot Spots | The Command Center

  1. Looks wonderful! Sounds workable too.

    I’m not great at organizing and my husband is worse (although that’s not what he would say). You should see the mountain of papers he has in my kitchen. I limited him to one corner, but it’s terrible. The rest of the kitchen can be nice and clean and his stash messes up the whole calm. You know?

    I need professional help. Admitting it is the first step, right?
    Hope everything continues to work for you! Can’t wait to see what else you’ve done.

  2. Looks great! I’ve tried different things. My problem is out of sight, out of mind. So I need to get in the habit of checking a file or box or whatever every day! Your organizer was so smart to talk to the kids to see what would work for them. I make a lot of crafts and clothes for my daughter’s American Girl Dolls for my blog. I tried several times to organize items in bins and smaller, labeled containers. These were not easy for her to clean up herself. Finally I discovered she just needs open bins to throw everything into easily. Can’t wait to see the follow up posts. BTW, I think we have the same kitchen (not the cabinets, but the general shape). Do you own a Toll Brother’s home? Cheers!

    1. It’s not Toll Brothers, but it is a newer home so probably similar layouts! I found the same with my girls. I just get big bins – one for barbies, one for AG stuff, one for little pet shop. They couldn’t handle more organization than that. 🙂

  3. Wow, I’m sure it’s not a new concept, but organizing hotspots makes complete sense! We need some organization in our house for sure with a 1 and 3 year old and two full time working parents! The dining room table and kitchen island are our “hotspots”. Must put it on my to do list to figure out what to do with those areas in our house!

  4. Great post. One thing I do is I take a picture of everything. Posters at school, permission slips, class lists really everything. That way no matter where I am I have access. And also whe I save the papers it seems like a huge chore to go through and weed out what I don’t need. Where on my phone there is tons of space and also it is easy to delete when something is done.

    I love that threshold brand!

  5. Looks great! We don’t have room for an extra cabinet in our kitchen and the counter beside the fridge (that’s hidden unless you actually walk into that area) is my “hotspot”. Ugh! I need to keep on it or it will get out of hand quickly! Thanks for the ideas, I’m sure I can utilize some of them.

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