Lynae Hanson
Lynae's daughter, Madelyn, displays artwork from kindergarten through high school on the metal wall in her bedroom.

Custom shoe shelving, a full-length mirror and a tranquil paint scheme transformed the garage entrance into an organized and comfortable "dressing room."
My husband and I are like most couples -- we have our differences and need to compromise to get through a day, a week and a marriage. I'm a bit of a saver and can live with a little clutter, while my husband is a thrower and a minimalist. So to make our marriage work, we've had to come up with smart storage solutions to keep the clutter organized.

Wall art
Many years ago we discovered both our son and daughter also inherited the "saver" gene. Both are creative people who like to surround themselves with art, photos, posters and "memories." All through school, they would each bring home creative art projects regularly and ask, "Where are we going to hang it?" There's only so much room on a refrigerator, so we'd rave about each piece, tell each child how proud we were and eventually the artwork would get tucked away in a storage bin under a bed. Anything on display over a week on the fridge would make my husband fidgety, and I have to admit that I would occasionally wait until the kids weren't looking to throw some projects away. After all, who has room for an art project a week over 12 years of school between two children?

To solve the art clutter crisis, my husband and I decided to cover a whole wall of our son's bedroom in metal so he could hang his favorite pieces using magnets. We walked through a local hardware store searching for anything metal and came across a roll of steel roofing. It took three of us to get it installed, but once it was hung, it became an instant art display and décor favorite with many of our guests. Now, both kids have used it. When my son moved out, my daughter moved into his room and filled the wall to the brim with her art projects.

Shoe madness
Another source of frustration has been shoes. Between my husband, daughter and I, we own 75 pair. They used to be scattered in closets or by every entrance, because my husband insists we remove our shoes at the door to minimize dirt in the house. When I would dress in the morning, I'd have to run downstairs to find my shoes and haul them upstairs to try on in front of a full-length mirror. And about once a week, I'd haul them all up to our closet and put them away again. It was a neverending, frustrating cycle.

As we prepped for our daughter's graduation party to be held in our garage, the idea for a custom shoe storage system was born. I suggested we turn the garage entrance into a "dressing room" where we could try on shoes and check ourselves in the mirror before heading out for the day. Of course, it had to be stylish and comfortable, too. I wasn't sure how that would go over with my husband, considering the garage was his domain.

Well, it just so happens my husband and I make great partners when it comes to projects around the house. He says I am the brains and he is the muscle, and we both know that I like to start things and he has to finish them. I have high expectations for items to be straight, level and attractive, and he knows there's no sense arguing with me.

So when I suggested we create a dressing room in the garage, he cocked his head and raised his eyebrows but quietly went along with it. We asked a metal artist friend to weld a garage-worthy full-length mirror, purchased an outdoor-quality rug and planned our paint scheme of teal, brown and cream.

With the addition of a small stool and a perfectly placed shoehorn, our garage "dressing room" has really simplified our lives. No more hauling shoes up and down. No more stepping over a pile of shoes scattered by the door. Every pair has its place.

Additional benefits include removing the shoe odor, dirt and dust from our bedroom closet while freeing up more space for things like sheets, pillows and blankets. And our organized closet inspired me to start hanging all my clothes in color order, making it easy to find that perfect shirt or skirt.

I'm starting to think my husband knew all along that my metal art wall and garage dressing room ideas would lead to a cleaner, more organized home, and he's actually the brains of this marriage. He figured out how to get all of us to be more organized without saying a word.

Now that's smart.

Lynae Hanson is an artist with a passion for graphic design, marketing, lively interiors, furniture construction, updating the outdated and transforming found objects. She is a wife, the mother of two grown children and two furry dogs, as well as a gardener and assistant executive director for the North Dakota Safety Council.