Keep sports gear without the clutter


By MELISSA RAYWORTH

For The Associated Press

It starts with a lacrosse stick and cleats by the front door. Then comes the batting helmet and glove on the bedroom floor, and the baseball hat on the kitchen table. Karate uniforms pile up in the laundry room next to team jerseys, and errant tennis balls roll down the hall.

Can we get through the spring and summer sports seasons without our homes ending up in total disarray?

Interior designer Betsy Burnham, founder of Burnham Design in Los Angeles, says nearly every home remodeling project she works on these days includes a mudroom with one priority: storing and organizing sports equipment.

Here, she and interior design experts Brian Patrick Flynn of decordemon.com and Kyle Schuneman of Live Well Designs offer tips on handling all this gear without sacrificing style, even when you don’t have a mudroom.

BEGIN WITH

WORKFLOW

Your system for handling sports clothing, says Schuneman, can be as simple as “two color-coded baskets by the back door or the laundry room: one for dirty, one for clean.

Make it a habit to immediately put your uniforms in the dirty basket after the game,” he says. “Once it’s out of the wash, you fold it and put it in the clean basket,” rather than putting it away with other clothing in a bedroom.

For a dose of style, use colorful woven baskets rather than typical plastic hampers or laundry bins. Just make sure the youngest kids can easily reach their items.

“Once you train yourself to this habit, it will be a natural,” Schuneman says, and the stress of searching for a team jersey before a game will be history. The key is sticking to the system and putting things in their place.

CHOOSE ONE

LOCATION

You don’t need a huge space for sports gear, and it doesn’t have to be in or near a child’s bedroom. “Often people are challenged for space,” Burnham says.

Any spot works: “It can be a little area under the stairs or one area of your entryway,” as long as it’s dedicated to sports stuff.

One option is revamping part of your garage, Burnham says. Rather than using plastic storage bins and old boxes, outfit this space with vintage metal containers refurbished with fresh paint, or large baskets with lids. The summer sports season “can be a great reason to give your garage a facelift,” Burnham says, using storage that is sturdy but attractive.

Or spend a Saturday cleaning out an entryway closet, then add hooks and baskets for sports items. You may have more space available than you think.