No Thanks
Keep In Touch With

Sign up and we'll send inspiration straight to you.

Martha Stewart takes your privacy seriously. To learn more, please read our Privacy Policy.


Color-Code Your Home




If a picture is worth a thousand words, a single color is worth a choice few. Just as red, yellow, and green rule the roadway, a home color-coding system can bring order to your living space wordlessly, providing information at a glance without a miscellany of labels. Put hues to work, whether you are organizing papers, preparing food, or outfitting your entryway. With these bright additions, your living space will be far from drab -- and far easier to manage.

Welcome Center

Keeping clutter at bay starts the moment you walk through the door. A coordinated sorting station, with one color assigned to each family member, anchors household activities and the entryway's decor. Squares of Homasote fiberboard become vibrant pin boards when covered with linen fabric, which is secured with staples at the back. Personalized bins, made with linen-wrapped fiberboard that is slipped inside acrylic magazine files, help organize mail and paperwork.

Spice Labels

Categorize the array of seasonings in your cupboard into two groups with these stickers. Spices typically used for sweet recipes, such as cinnamon, are indicated by orange tags; savory flavorings, such as cayenne, are dressed in yellow. Download our templates and print onto self-adhesive paper. Attach to matching tins or jars.

Cutting Boards

Minimize the risk of cross-contaminating kitchen work surfaces by designating a plastic cutting board in a specific color to a particular type of food: blue for seafood, green for vegetables and fruit, yellow for poultry, and red for other meats.

Wine Tags

Handmade labels let you survey your wine collection at a glance, quickly finding just the right bottle. Choose an organizing system, such as the type of wine or the country of origin, and assign a color to each category. Use a tag-shaped craft punch to create the label and a circle punch to cut a hole in its center, or download our template. Snip a few small slits around the circle. Write the proper vintage, vineyard, and varietal on the tag. Spare labels can double as gift tags.

Recipe Cards

An overstuffed recipe box, brimming with generations of family favorites as well as recent additions from friends, can be made far more navigable with stickers affixed to a corner of each card. (This also works on newspaper and magazine clippings.) Select a color to represent a type of dish or a course, perhaps green for vegetable sides and yellow for dessert.


To minimize fumbling at the front door, paint the tops of frequently confused keys with distinctive shades of nail polish. Apply a different color to each key, letting it dry before flipping it to coat the other side. A single layer should suffice -- no topcoat required.

File Folders

Exchange your manila folders for colored ones, assigning a hue to each category such as red for medical information and light blue for mortgages -- and the next time you're hunting for a document, all you'll have to do is scan for the appropriate shade.

Recycling Bins

Think beyond green: Coordinated plastic buckets take the hassle out of sorting recyclables. Give each material -- plastic, newsprint, glass, and any others your community accepts -- a colored destination, and keep it consistent from week to week.

Holiday Storage

Whether your bins of decorations are stacked high in the basement or hidden behind bicycles and boxes in the garage, you'll be able to locate them in seconds with the help of bands of colored duct tape (and, perhaps, a flashlight). Wrap each container in shades that match the festive decorations stored inside: red and green for Christmas, black and orange for Halloween.


Corner Labels, No.2, from See Jane Work, 877-400-5263; duct tape in orange, black, red, and Green, Duck Brand Duct Tape, 800-321-0253; Colorful Tubtrugs, Gardener's Supply, 800-955-3370.


  1. Step 1

Martha Stewart Living, May 2008



Reviews (32)

  • CaiaMDQ 1 Dec, 2013

    I wonder why it says 'Steps' down below if I can only see 'Step One' and not another word or image or anything. I tried with all y browsers and it's always the same. No steps.

  • m_in_carolina 15 Aug, 2012

    Most business/school supply stores and big box stores like Target and Walmart have a selection of adhesive labels in all shapes and sizes. Avery brand even includes instructions to download a simple template program that lets you customize your labels on your computer then print them off on your printer. Scrapbook supplies can help you achieve a custom look with such a variety of papers and adhesives to use. Printing all the labels gives you a very professional look and can save a lot of time.

  • Imagraphicx 29 Apr, 2010

    LOVERIOT: If you have a PDF editor, you can use it to add TEXT (FoxIt, Adobe Pro, CutePDF, etc.) to type on the blank templates.

  • LoveRiot 26 Apr, 2010

    How do you type in other names of spices on it?

  • LoveRiot 26 Apr, 2010

    How do you type in other names of spices on it?

  • rebekahrn 19 Apr, 2010

    Costco has the tins, at least they look identical. I was there today and they are clearancing them out. They are 19.99 for 12 tins and they are magnetic, a nice feature.

  • rebekahrn 19 Apr, 2010

    Costco has the tins, at least they look identical. I was there today and they are clearancing them out. They are 19.99 for 12 tins and they are magnetic, a nice feature.

  • emilysophie 19 Apr, 2010

    The tins make this, would love to know where to get them.

  • addyjane 19 Apr, 2010

    where do you buy the tins?

  • lizzielowe 24 Feb, 2010

    I wish the templates were sized for the tins in the Martha Stewart spice rack. I have had this for years and it needs a neat update.

  • photophil 3 Jan, 2009

    My grandmother got me started marking my tools. I use red nail polish to mark my tools, so if I loan them out, everyone knows they are mine. Sometimes I am at a friends house and I see a hammer or something with a red dot on it and I say "hey, that's where my hammer went. Gran also marked her bowls and dishes she took to church potlucks.

  • WainesWonderMom 2 Jan, 2009

    It's the only way in my home. As a foster parent soon as someone arrives, they are assigned a colour. Towels, toobrushes, hairbrushes, hangers, and their clothes are all marked with that colour. Our fridge calendar becomes a work of art with appts, events, etc. We have teenage girls and sharing happens depending on moods so... identification of who has what is easy. Even my husband can sort laundry into their colour coded baskets! Nancy

  • IzzieB 2 Jan, 2009

    I use a similar system for towels,facecloths and bedlinen. Each person has a colour that matches back to their room. My eldest has bright pink, Miss 7 has eggshell blue, my husband has coffee colour and I have my own colour. Makes it easy to tell WHO has left their towel on the floor or which sheets to grab out of the linen cupboard when making up beds.

  • Tanzie 2 Jan, 2009

    I L-O-V-E to color coordinate everything and anything I can!! I am looking forward to the entryway idea for mail and papers, the recipe card idea, and the spices. I had already planned to redo my spice cabinet anyways.

  • elladams 2 Jan, 2009

    I remember doing this in high school -- green notebook/folder for science, red for English, etc. I've gotten away from this and my lack of organization skills are apparent now. Thank you for the reminders!

  • christmascorgi 2 Jan, 2009

    I love this idea! Happy New Year everyone!

  • mattkennedy 2 Jan, 2009

    Martha you really are so helpful in organizing things. My wife is at me all the time to find places for things and I wont be looking all over the place all the time. Find a permanent home for things like car keys, cell phone, cell phone charger, keep spices for desserts separate from ones used for cooking dinner. You really have given me some great ideas. Matt Kennedy

  • Mommycel 20 Oct, 2008

    this is a great idea. i am already using a similar system and it works!

  • CdnAquarian 20 Oct, 2008

    reply to KCEPEK
    I use a colour associated with that category: yellow for Easter (spring's sunshine) or brown if your thinking chocolate, red for Valentine... Also for the coloured folders : pink for my daughter's ballet info (pink tutu), blue for her swimming (water), yellow for her figure skating (gold medal she's aiming for), the recycled grey-brown folder for piano lessons (grandma's heirloom piano) ... Everything in my house is colour-coded ! SP

  • joanndee 20 Oct, 2008

    These are great ideas!! And, I can tell at a glance, without my glasses, just what I am looking for. Can hardly wait to get started. If you need a reminder for what each color is designated for, keep 3 x 5 cards with sample colors and content description handy to each area.

  • kcepek 19 Oct, 2008

    But how do you keep track of which color stands for what ?!?! :)

  • kcepek 19 Oct, 2008

    But how do you keep track of which color stands for what ?!?! :)

  • kcepek 19 Oct, 2008

    But how do you keep track of which color stands for what ?!?! :)

  • kcepek 19 Oct, 2008

    But how do you keep track of which color stands for what ?!?! :)

  • kcepek 19 Oct, 2008

    But how do you keep track of which color stands for what ?!?! :)

  • Marthafan76 19 Oct, 2008

    How bout coupon organizing???

  • zatorskijoan 19 Oct, 2008

    Color-coded holiday storage containers is a great idea: simple, easy, and adaptable. I'm going to use it to color code storage bins

  • zatorskijoan 19 Oct, 2008

    How I wish I had had a color-coded Welcome Board when I was raising my four boys! It would have been SO valuable! However, I'm still going to adapt this idea

  • Crystalsea 19 Oct, 2008

    Print it once and then trace the pattern on another piece of paper as many times as it will fit. This could be your template for making lots at one time for either a large wine collection (one sheet takes care of mine) or for gifts.

  • ette 19 Oct, 2008

    excuse my typing on my previous comment-- i meant to write "however when i opened the template i was disappointed to see..." sorry- thanks- i got distracted!!!

  • ette 19 Oct, 2008

    i love the wine tag idea- however when i was disappointed to see only one template on the page-- why not fill up the page (maybe 4 or 6 will fit on it??) it seems wasted paper.... thanks!

  • ausrjxc 16 Jun, 2008

    How do you secure the pin board to the wall?