What’s the most useful thing you didn’t realize you needed? A stylish place to put all those odds and ends.

When you arrive home with your hands full, having a dedicated place to drop your keys, mail and phone can be a big help. But if they’re just dumped on top of a console or a bench, they can look messy. That’s where a catchall — a small tray, bowl or basket — comes in handy.

“It not only adds an extra layer to a room as a decorative accessory, but also helps keep the space organized,” said Paloma Contreras, an interior designer in Houston.

And not only in the entry hall, Ms. Contreras noted. A catchall is also useful in the bedroom, where “they’re great on night stands,” she said, for holding jewelry or reading glasses. Or in a home office, where they can hold paper clips, pens and other small supplies.

When you’re shopping for a catchall, Ms. Contreras said, look for appealing shapes, materials and patterns. And don’t forget to expand your search beyond items marketed as catchalls. Distinctive bowls, for example, work just as well.



How big should it be? That depends on your requirements, but “typically under 12 inches long,” Ms. Contreras said. “Between five and eight inches is usually good.”

What’s the best material? “I like natural fibers and leather,” she said, as they aren’t easily damaged by dropped keys. “There are also really great printed-paper catchalls.”

Should catchalls on night stands match? “I like mixing it up,” Ms. Contreras said. “It’s a lot more interesting to have things that are unique to each individual.”

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