A disorganized home does not lend itself to a good learning environment, nor does it lend itself to a thrifty home. If school books and equipment can't be located, then education is put hold while the search ensues. If a book is lost under the bed amid the dust bunnies, then the checkbook suffers when you have to replace said book.
A perfect example is my now-10-year-old son Joe, who is all male and therefore does not possess the homing gene that we moms carry. Joe lost his phonics book a few years ago. It was nowhere to be found in our home. Wondering if perhaps he had "lost" it on purpose to keep from having to do his work for the day, I told him that if I had to buy a new Explode the Code book, then he would have to start all over from the beginning. He wasn't too pleased at the thought of having to start all over on a workbook that was already nearly complete. Yet, the old workbook never showed up and after a few days of fruitless search we set off for the homeschool store to buy a new workbook.
After a few weeks, and after Joe was nearly complete with the new workbook, the old workbook showed up on a dusty old bookshelf. I realized that for this child, I needed to reorganize. Instead of designating separate shelves for separate subjects, I needed to designate a separate area for each child. Joe needed one space for everything. A simple concept, but one that I had not put into place before this incident. I found a nice little clear plastic magazine holder on sale at the office supply store and all of Joe's first grade workbooks fit in perfectly.
This system has worked beautifully over the past year. For the older children, magazine holders are not large enough for all of their books so they have metal bins (also picked up on clearance at the office supply store).
My friend Becky does something similar for all of her homeschooled children, from grade school to high school. She took cardboard boxes, decorated them with contact paper, and labeled them with each child's name. As school books are used they are pulled from the boxes and then returned before a new book is pulled.
My friend Terri uses wicker baskets in a similar fashion. The baskets line up along the window seat in her dining room. They are not only functional, but attractive.