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Color-Code Your Home

Source: Martha Stewart Living, May 2008


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.


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