Ask Martha

Organizing magazines, arranging flowers

Transform magazines into a tidy collection by storing issues in files and articles in binders.
Suzanne DeChillo/NYT Syndicate
Transform magazines into a tidy collection by storing issues in files and articles in binders.

Q. My husband keeps a lot of magazines in his home office. Do you have any suggestions for how to organize them?

A. With the help of some basic tools, you can turn your husband’s collection into a working reference library. For starters, you’ll want to invest in some magazine files and three-ring binders. Files are great for storing magazines encyclopedia-style so that they can be referenced easily. You can group the issues by date, topic, season, or however else he wishes to categorize them. Many files have a label holder, so they can be easily marked. You can also place them on shelves or desktops so that the label side is forward, or turned around so the spines of the magazines are showing.

If he’s holding onto a magazine for only one article, it makes sense to remove it, store it in a binder and recycle the rest of the magazine. Linen-covered or patterned binders come in a variety of styles that will complement his office’s color scheme and aesthetic. To cut an article out neatly, drag a craft knife along the page close to the spine. Then place the article in a sheet protector, so it can be filed later. Next, figure out an appropriate way to organize the binders; they can be grouped by subject, date, or however he’d like. Whatever way you choose to display them, the magazine collection will be neat, contained, and easily accessible.


Here are our picks for magazine files and binders to suit any style:


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Made of untreated wood, Ikea’s Knuff magazine file ($10 for a set of two, can be personalized with paint.

With their colored linen spines, Russell+Hazel Signature three-ring binders ($24, look neat on shelves.


Stockholm magazine files ($10-$11, www.container come in classic colors or retro designs (think graphic blooms and geometric shapes).

The nature-inspired designs of Greenroom recycled binders (from $6, at Target stores) are great for mixing and matching.


Q. I love professional floral arrangements with large green leaves on the inside of a glass vase. How can I do this myself?

A. Achieving this look is surprisingly simple. Start with a glass vase; choose whichever shape you like, but a round one would be easiest to work with since you won’t need to fit the leaves into any corners. You can use a small or large vase; just make sure you have enough leaves to cover the inside of the vase completely. Long variegated ginger, ti, or aspidistra leaves are ideal for this project. Tropical leaves are the best choice because they are less prone to rotting in water. Most florists will have them in stock. You’ll also need a florist’s knife, good scissors, or a similar tool.

New York City florist Banchet Jaigla shared her DIY approach: First, cut off the end of the leaf’s stem. Using a florist’s knife, trim the edges of the foliage and smooth them out. Shave the seam that runs down the center of the leaf so it’s flat. Wrap the leaf around your hand to form a tube, with the shaved seam facing in, and insert it into the vase. If you need more coverage, repeat the steps above with additional leaves.

Once submerged in water, the leaves should last a week or more, and they won’t need any special treatment. Just change the water as often as needed for the arrangement to thrive. Any bouquet will look lovely surrounded by these luxuriant green leaves.

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living.