A Room-by-Room Guide to Making Functional Beautiful


Our homes have never been more important to us than they are right now. The spaces we live in have enormous influence over our daily lives, and their function and beauty have a significant impact on our health and wellbeing. Here at AKD, we believe that finding functional solutions that are also beautiful is the path to finding harmony at home, and it’s the goal of every AKD project. 

Today’s blog post centers around making the workhorse spaces in our homes shine. Before you know it, the endless stockpile of toys and hard-to-handle pantry shelves will be under control — and no, it won’t require dated plastic bins.

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Amy Kartheiser Design_Entry Way Decor.jpg


The entryway, a pass-through zone, often lacks the attention it deserves. Here, a little bit of elevated organization can go a long way. To corral the dozens of pairs of shoes that always wind up right by the front door, I tuck them into large woven baskets, which you can then keep organized in entryway closets; or utilize lidded baskets and style them as statement pieces within your entryway. Smaller baskets are the perfect catch-all for keys and mail and can be a great added element on your entryway table. Adding these elements of texture creates warmth within the first steps of your home, all while keeping your clutter contained and limiting visual distraction.

Storage benches are another wonderful way to make practical yet striking use of your entryway. Inviting benches are often an element in luxury hotel and restaurant entryways, which need to be both exciting and welcoming yet purposeful and high-traffic. That combination of hospitable and visually arresting elements is something that informs our entryway designs, taking typical mudroom coat racks and benches up a level by adding luxury and comfort, without sacrificing an ounce of functionality.


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Living Room 

Another perfect spot for woven baskets: the living room. Baskets are a theme that often emerges when I think about organization, simply because they are endlessly useful and can take almost any form, from crisp rectangles of modern metal to soft rounds of intricately patterned woven wicker. Many of the baskets in my own home are from travels around the world, which adds a personal touch and helps these serviceable objects tell a design story. From throw blankets to magazines to small toys, baskets are the perfect catch-all for keeping the living room orderly while also adding striking design. 

Living rooms are also a great place for another design stalwart: the built-in bookcase. To help organize books, accessories, and mementos, ground your room with a shelving unit that creates a visual statement while also providing organizational attributes. For AKD style tips on designing bookshelves, head here for my guide to layering and elevating your bookshelf decor.


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Kitchens offer endless opportunities to transform functional elements into beautiful design statements, but because of the traditional elements of kitchen designs — large appliances and built-in cabinets — it’s important to dedicate creative thinking towards how you utilize the space.

Choosing shelving as an alternative to upper cabinets can offer a sense of openness and give a room without much design real estate a place to display your most beautiful and useful items such as glassware, dishes, and vases. To make the most of these eye-catching shelves, pay attention to decorative details such as striking brackets.

If your kitchen has open wall space yet lacks storage, consider creating useful yet beautiful display pieces. I like to mount architecturally detailed utensil racks that keep the handiest cooking tools within reach while creating a unique, sculptural statement. 

When considering your kitchen organization, remember that your island can offer more storage than you may be getting from it. Don’t be afraid to nix the barstools — an island can be simply storage, with ample space inside and beautiful hardware, detailing and countertop to provide design impact.


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Pantries are the place that proves organization can be beautiful. The secret is in creating a uniform look and carrying your design vision into this “hidden” part of the home. Toss out old, mis-matched containers and invest in glassware or baskets that complement your home’s design and can create order on your shelves. I love to utilize clear containers for pantry staples such as rice and pasta, so I can easily see what I have on hand; lined baskets hold snacks and packaged goods.

While pantries are small, they have an outsize impact on how your home functions. If it fits within your budget, I highly recommend hiring a professional closet company to install a custom pantry. It is often one of my first recommendations to clients, as I believe it’s one of the best investments you can make in your home, since it will set you up for success from the beginning, by establishing a system that works for you from day one. Everything will have its own designated place, which gets rid of the need for additional storage pieces. And you can sleep a little easier at night knowing everything is organized. Bonus recommendation: have other closet spaces professionally installed, too — this life-changer works in every room.

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The last place you need clutter? Next to your bed, where you spend the last minutes of the day looking for rest and relaxation. Rid yourself of stressful bedside clutter by keeping your nightstand orderly. Invest in a nightstand that has a drawer so you can tuck away your nighttime read and glasses before your head hits the pillow, or add a basket underneath your table (yes, the organizational workhorse is back once again) to hold essentials. A trunk or a bench at the end of the bed is great for storing pillows and extra throw blankets. 

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Amy Kartheiser Design_Bathroom Organization.jpg


Restorative moments can also happen in the bath, and incorporating luxe organization into bathrooms is key for a calming, spa-like aesthetic. Glass apothecary jars perfectly contain your cotton balls and swabs, while creating a serene look. Store essentials like toilet paper or extra towels in woven bins for organization and beauty.

Don’t dismiss what gets tucked away, since opening a disordered drawer can mean a stressful search for what you need: keep your drawers or cabinets tidy by adding clear organizers so everything is visible and in place. I also love lazy susans under the sink — bottles of lotion or shampoo will never go missing again. 

Lastly, your shower and bath should be just as organized as the rest of your bathroom. Adding a tiled niche is a chic, custom touch that gives you just enough practical space for your shampoo, conditioner and soap. 

An organized house reduces stress, saves you time and makes your home work smarter for your family. Rather than tidy up with boring bins, invest in storage that inspires you, adds a touch of design, and instantly elevates your home. I promise, it will be worth it.


2 thoughts on “A Room-by-Room Guide to Making Functional Beautiful”

  1. Amy,
    Always helpful and inspiring. Do you have a photo of a well organized pantry that doesn’t use plastic bins? I’m a visual person so it helps when I Re-organize my pantry. Thanks!!

    1. Amy Kartheiser

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Karen! I completely get that. Here is a nice image of an open and airy pantry, and while it does use plastic, it looks much more elevated — while still organized. https://pin.it/3VbCV64

      Working with a closet company is also a wonderful solution for creating beautiful organization plans, and they can work hand-in-hand with you to create a plastic-less pantry design.

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