20 Great Storage Ideas for your Home

The perfect use of dead space!

The perfect use of dead space!

I love hearing fresh ideas about home storage solutions. There are so many great ideas out there if you are willing to have an open mind. These 20 ideas came from the Home Improvement Pages website in Australia. See which ones work for you!

In many homes, it can seem like there’s never enough room to store all of your items.  But there’s no need to put up with clutter.  Check out our top 20 storage ideas to get your home looking organized.

  1. Build some window seats for extra storage space.  By padding the lid, you’ll also create extra seating and you’ll have the perfect spot to curl up with a book.
  2. Fill any wasted space near the fridge with a built-in wine rack.
  3. Install hooks or a hanging rack at the front and back doors – these can hold coats, umbrellas, keys, or bags.
  4. Use the dead space underneath the hanging racks in your wardrobe.  Install permanent or temporary drawers, trolleys, crates or boxes.
  5. Use the space underneath the bed to store items that can fit in plastic containers with wheels.  These are ideal for storing out of season clothing or bedding.
  6. Free up floor space by mounting your television to the wall.
  7. A simple wooden ladder in the bathroom (bathroom) is an excellent way to gain more hanging space for towels.
  8. Fit a shelving system over the toilet to hold small items.
  9. Use a lazy susan in kitchen or bathroom cupboards to help you access items more easily.
  10. If you have a staircase, install shelves or cupboards underneath for instant extra storage room.
  11. Any items that you will not need to use for a while can be stored within your home’s roof space.
  12. Small boxes are useful for all kinds of odds and ends and can be placed anywhere.
  13. In the living areas, ottomans or footstools with storage space inside can be used to hold cushions and also brighten up the space.
  14. Use coffee tables that have storage space underneath to hold magazines or consider a funky magazine rack.

Read the full story here.

7 ways to move through your clutter from the inside out

Woman in painWhen it comes to clutter, many people think it is just being messy. You can hear them while watching an episode of Hoarders: ” why can’t they just tidy up and throw things out?”

In many cases it is a lot more complicated than this and it has to do with the mental and emotional road blocks which the person in question is facing, resulting in the clutter being a by-product rather than the underlying problem.

A recent article on the website Houzz gave some great tips to move through some of these road blocks:

Our relationship with our home, and the things in it, is charged with emotion — it’s not so easy to let go of things when something as simple as a rusted tackle box or a worn photograph can bring memories flooding back.

Below, find eight ways to move through your own mental and emotional roadblocks to work through your clutter, from the inside out.

 1. Come to terms with whether you’re naturally organized or not. Glossy magazine spreads featuring perfectly organized spaces with nary a stray paper or lone shoe out of place may be fun to look at, but they are not right for everyone. The fact is, some folks are more inclined to be neat and orderly, while others feel more comfortable with a lot of stuff around. Instead of fighting against your nature, learn from it and work with it.

2. Face your fears. This is what stands between you and the refreshingly clean and neat home you wish you had: fear of making a bad choice, fear of tossing out something and regretting it later or fear that a family member will make you feel guilty for getting rid of something. We are all experts at coming up with excuses for keeping things we really don’t want anymore. Confront your fears, and you may find it easier to let go of possessions that have become a burden to you.

3. Tackle your top problem area. What’s the one thing in your home you find it hard to even consider decluttering? Think about starting there. For some it may be books; for others, china or clothes. Find the one thing that would make the biggest impact if you could streamline it, and start your work there. Use tip number three (face your fears) and dig in.

4. Get and stay motivated. Find your motivation by imagining what a clutter-free home would feel like. What would it allow you to do? Why do you want this? Keep your answers in mind as you start decluttering. Once you have gotten the ball rolling, stop yourself from backsliding by developing a few key habits: for every new item you purchase, get rid of a similar item, and when you see something that needs to be cleaned, put away or returned, just do it.

5. A special note for parents. Having kids in the house, as any parent will tell you, can ramp up the chaos in even the most (formerly) orderly homes. Luckily, as parents, we do have control over a great deal of the stuff that enters our homes, including toys. For starters, rethink how many toys and games your child needs — an overabundance of playthings is less appreciated, harder to clean up and more likely to get broken or wasted. To get a crazy-cluttered family home back in shape takes some work; there is no doubt about that. But the habits you form to manage the kid chaos will pay off in sanity at home, and you will be passing those good habits along to your children.

6. Get help if you need it. If you are still feeling overwhelmed or if the job seems too big to take on alone, you can get help! Call a really organized friend and bribe him or her with free food in exchange for decluttering advice or physical help. Or call in a pro. Professional organizers have seen it all, can help you sort out even the most cluttered space, and can teach you systems that will help prevent your overstuffing your home in the future.

7. Take it to the next level: Simplify your life. Once you have been working on paring down for some time and are feeling good about the progress you have made, consider taking things a step further. Downsize to a smaller, easier-to-maintain space, go paperless or challenge yourself to get rid of things you don’t use.

Read the entire article here.

Image courtesy of: scentsandmoods.wordpress.com

Organize your house for back to school

All lined up in a row...

All lined up in a row…

Wherever you are in the world, there is one time of year parents dread: Back to school time. Here in the US summer is nearly over so it’s time to hit the shops to buy uniforms, sports equipment, stationary and text books. And its time to shake the sand out of their shoes and get the whole family organized and ready for the new school year.

Kathryn Weber from Red Lotus Letter recently wrote an article for LA Times that highlighted some great organizing ideas to keep the family in line:

 Paper shuffle

Without question, paper is one of the biggest sources of clutter around the house once school starts. Finding a way to tame the storm will keep the house looking neater and help keep your kids be better prepared. The first step is to determine which pieces of paper need to be available and at your disposal. This includes lunch menus, announcements and the school calendar. Those can be posted on the fridge or a bulletin board for easy access.

For other papers, create a storage file and an active file for each child. The file can be a simple folder where you keep important papers such as sign-up instructions for after school activities, or even artwork you want to save for a scrapbook or framing later. Stash the folder(s) in a file box or file drawer in a desk.

Next, set up a file holder that stays on a counter or at the desk. Label individual folders for each child for papers you need to look at or, sign, or that they need to work on.

Corral the kids

Designate a place to stash all those extra shoes, jackets and sporting equipment. If your kids need somewhere for balls, bats, gloves and helmets, why not take a cue from school and keep these items in a locker? Companies like ULine (uline.com) have closed and ventilated lockers perfect for athletic equipment and supplies. Place lockers in the laundry room or garage, and keep the odors out there, too.

Indoors, find a spot for backpacks, jackets, scarves and hats so they don’t end up scattered throughout the house. This also helps keep kids find their items quickly in the morning. An entryway organizer, such as a shelf with hooks or pegs, is the perfect answer for backpacks and jackets. Don’t have room? A simple hall tree saves space.

 Organize the desk

Now that parents are more involved with their children’s homework, it helps to create a work center spot where students have access a computer and can seek help from Mom and Dad. Parents can also easily check to see if their young scholars are studying or surfing the web, texting, talking on the phone, etc. Create an address book to store online passwords and make logging into online assignments easier.

Read the entire article from LA Times here and for more information, contact Kathryn Weber through her Web site Red Lotus Letter.

Image courtesy of CraftySouthernMama.blogspot.com

How to declutter your life

It's time to start...

It’s time to start…

When it comes to decluttering your home and your life, there are many excuses not to start and many road blocks that hamper you along the way. If we let the overwhelm consume us, it is a lost cause before we have even begun! But it doesn’t have to be that way. Zen Habits had a great blog recently that shared many of my favourite tips. So take a read and see if they help you in your organizing endeavours:

Declutter Your Life

There was a time, about 8 years ago, when my life was cluttered. I had too much stuff, and it kept coming in all the time. I had too much to do, and didn’t know how to simplify my schedule. I was in need of some decluttering, and I knew it.

The question became, how to go about it? How do you start when you’re facing a mountain of clutter, and another mountain of commitments, and piles of files and mail and email and other digital information?

The answer became clear, as I got started: start simply. Keep it simple as you go. Simple, each step of the way.

That said, I found complications that made things harder at every turn. I’d like to help you with some of those here, briefly, in hopes that you’ll be inspired to start decluttering.

Start Decluttering

How do you get started? As simply as possible:

  • Take just 10 minutes today to sort though a pile, or declutter a shelf or table or countertop.
  • Put everything into one pile, and start with the first thing you pick up (no putting things back in the pile).
  • Ask yourself: do you really need this? Do you use it regularly? Do you love it? If the answer to any of these is no, then recycle, donate, or give it to someone who might want it. Put it in a box for these purposes.
  • Put things back that you need/use/love, with space between things. This is their “home” and you should always put them back there.
  • Stop after 10 minutes, continue tomorrow for another 10 minutes, and so on, one small spot in your home at a time.
  • If you want to do more than 10 minutes, go ahead, but be careful not to overdo it in the beginning or you’ll think it’s difficult and not want to continue.

Keep Going

Once you’ve gotten the ball rolling, here’s how to keep going:

  • Keep decluttering in small bits. Pick an area to focus on each week.
  • Don’t worry about perfection. Just get it simpler. You can always declutter it more later.
  • Put your box of donation/recycling/giving away in your trunk, to get rid of next time you’re out. Email friends/family to ask if they want things — often you can find a good home for perfectly good things you don’t really use (that workout equipment).
  • If you’re on the fence, use a Maybe Box (put things that you think youmight need in a box, mark it with today’s date, put a reminder on your calendar 6 months from now to check on the Maybe Box. If you haven’t used it in 6 months, you probably don’t need it and can get rid of it.
  • Get help. Sometimes you just can’t bear to part with yourself, but if you can get an outside person to make the decision (friend or family member), they are usually much more dispassionate and ruthless.
  • Enjoy the space. Once you’ve decluttered an area, really focus on how much you love the simplified space. Once you’re hooked on this simplicity, you’re more likely to keep going.

Read the entire article from Zen Habits here.

Image courtesy of http://www.getorganized-stayorganized.com/

New uses for the humble laundry basket!

What can I be today?

What can I be today?

I love it when people come up with novel ways to use everyday items. Take the laundry basket. The organizing magazine Real Simple came up with four ways that it can become a multi-tasker during the summer months.

  1. Have a beach picnic. Tote items to the shore in the basket, then flip it over and use it as a table. Hose the basket off when you get home and its ready to go back to wash day duty.
  2. Serve drinks al fresco. Line the basket with a trash bag and fill with ice to make a cooler for impromptu parties.
  3. Tame the sprinkler. Store a coiled garden hose in a basket; stash sprinklers, nozzles, and other attachments in the middle of the coil.
  4. Protect plants. Place a laundry basket upside down over delicate plants during a heavy rain or hail storm (or a unexpected frost!)

See more great ideas from Real Simple. 

Timeless Travel Uses for Ziploc Bags

IMG_1100zip-loc

A Ziploc for every occasion!

As a frequent traveller, I cannot go anywhere without my Ziploc bags. They are perfect for so many uses, they are waterproof, see-through and you can write on them. And they hardly cost a cent!

Travel Bloggers.ca wrote a great article  on them which will certainly give you a few ideas before you pack your bags:

  1. Underwear: It makes it a lot easier when if the customs people decide to open your suitcase and rummage through it – no tell-tale underwear dropping out for all to see! Also great for keeping socks together.
  2. When I’m on a trip I use one to hold all the travel-related ‘stuff’ I pick up like brochures from hotels and attractions.
  3. Souvenir Protector: Pack fragile souvenirs in your suitcase, surrounded by two or three Ziplocs filled with air – or you can use the ones with socks/underwear to help protect the souvenirs too.
  4. Waterproof Billfold: Keep your passport, money, and other precious documents dry by storing them neatly in a sandwich-sized Ziploc. Ever get stuck in a rainstorm with your passport in your pocket? This will keep everything nice and dry.
  5. Jewellery Keeper: Put earrings or other small items into a sandwich-sized Ziploc and slip it into your bathroom bag. It’ll save your more precious items from getting lost.
  6. Electronics: Store all of your electronics, wires, chargers, MP3 players, etc. in a large Ziploc. You can see what’s in it while it’s closed, and it’ll keep your things together in one place so they don’t get lost in the nooks and crannies of your suitcase/bag.
  7. Swimsuit Bag: Put wet swimsuits into a large Ziploc until you get home or back to the hotel – works great for other wet clothes too.
  8. Inspection Bag: We put all of our liquids for our carry-on into one for quick inspection at the airport counter.
  9. Make Up & Liquids: Double-bagging all makeup and liquids such as hair spray, shampoo and conditioner means if there’s ever an explosion or leak it won’t ruin clothes.
  10. Camera Bag: Store your camera in a Ziploc to keep it safe and dry – especially if you’re going to be anywhere near water such as kayaking, boating etc.  It’s easy to remove, take some pictures and return it to safety. If the kayak or boat tips, your camera will be fine if it ends up in the water.
  11. Ice Pack: We travel with a small collapsible cooler for storing bottled water on our trips and just fill a Ziploc with ice every day to keep our drinks cold.
  12. Foreign Currency: Use a Ziploc bag to hold your home currency while travelling, and for storing foreign currency at home between trips.
  13. Wet Wipes: Wet washcloths and add some soapy water to have your own wet wipes on the go. The bag holds the water effortlessly and you can be use the cloth to wipe sticky fingers and lips or clean up a spill.

Read the entire article from Travel Bloggers here.

Timely Travel Tips…

One small bag for man - one giant leap for avoiding airport crowds!

One small bag for man – one giant leap for avoiding airport crowds!

Since we are literally heading out the door to do a road trip for July 4th weekend, this post from Unclutterer.com was very timely! I love being able to take off at the drop of a hat and having your bags packed and ready to go is an essential step:

“I absolutely love getting away, be it a day trip or an overseas adventure. As an avid traveler, I’ve picked up a few tricks to eliminate the stress of getting out the door and onto the road in a timely manner. One of my favorites is to keep items in luggage that I never unpack. It’s always ready and saves me a lot of time. Plus, it keeps me from having to store my travel items in other locations when they’re not in use — the luggage is a great place to store my travel gear. The following are items I keep bagged, even when I’m at home.

I keep a travel toiletries bag packed and ready at all times (very important!)

A small bag for on the plane

If you’ll be flying or traveling by bus or train, it’s helpful to pre-pack a small bag of things you might want to keep under the seat in front of you. It might include extra chargers for your electronic devices (many bus and train seats have outlets), copies of prescriptions for active medicines, a little cash (you may want to buy on-board food), and your own empty water bottle.

I recommend buying an extra charger for your phone and keeping it stashed in this bag. Yes, it’s an additional cost but forgetting it at home or worse, at your destination, is a major hassle. Put it in your bag and forget about it.

Also consider bringing your own earphones if you want to watch TV without using airline freebies, a neck pillow and something light to throw over yourself in case it is chilly. Finally, don’t forget ear plugs, gum or an eye mask/sunglasses for sleeping. Again, these can be purchased and packed well ahead of time.

Read the entire article here.

Feng Shui’s No. 1 enemy: clutter!

My Chi is definitely choked!

My Chi is definitely choked!

You know that feeling what you arrive home and it just feels stuffy, heavy or depressing and you don’t know why? It could be your home’s Chi! Chi (the Feng Shui term for energy) needs to be fresh and flowing, not stale and stagnant. The number one reason for this could be staring you in the face – your clutter!

Clutter is the No.1 enemy of Feng Shui as the Chi can’t flow easily around your stuff and so it becomes stagnant – and hence why you too will feel this way, like you are stuck and can’t move on.

Kathryn Weber from Red Lotus Feng Shui has a great blog post on this topic that I think you will enjoy:

Having an uncluttered, organized home will repay you in time and money — and will return your peace of mind — and in just a few short weeks. Besides being a serious re-charge to your life and vitality, decluttering is good feng shui.

Everything you are surrounded by exerts an influence on your life.

If you’re surrounded by clutter and disorganization, it’s a serious energetic drain on your mind, your emotions and your physical body.  Too much stuff quickly turns a home “yin” and that makes energy turn negative. Once that happens, the circumstances of life start changing, too. You could say that clutter becomes the sticks and mortar that dam your life and stop the opportunities that flow to you.

Let’s get started with the basics.

What is clutter?

Clutter is anything that you don’t regularly use, things that you don’t like or enjoy or that are broken, or items kept out of guilt and obligation. Clutter includes items like old clothing, unused toys, mismatched dishes, or stacks of magazines. One of the worst sources of clutter is paper. Newspapers, mail, magazines, old greeting cards, and various paper items all clutter up our coffee tables, desks, and refrigerator.

What clutter isn’t

Clutter isn’t anything you truly love or use regularly. Clutter also isn’t a valuable collectible. Some things shouldn’t go in a landfill or in a garage sale. Your grandmother’s Fostoria crystal isn’t junk and shouldn’t be treated that way.

Ebay, local antiques or consignment stores are resources to help sell your collectible items. One woman made $15,000 off her clutter. Every week, she sat at her computer with five to 10 items she wanted to sell and in six months, she had made an extra $15,000 by selling her clutter on Ebay. Too much trouble to sell? Give special items away as gifts to someone who’ll appreciate them.

Clutter sources

There are a number of reasons for our over-accumulation. One is that we’ve moved from a disposable society to everything’s-a-collectible society and if everything is valuable, then you can’t throw anything away then, can you? We’ve also moved from a buy-it-as-you-need-it outlook to a buy-it-in-bulk mindset – and if we buy in bulk, we have to live in bulk.

Lastly, recreational shopping creates an overload of unused, unwanted household items. Hitting the mall every weekend just packs your house and empties your wallet.

Staying present. The difficulty with clutter is both past and future.

Too often people are tied to items because of the past (it was a wedding gift, it was Uncle Frank’s) and the future (what if I need a shoe buttoner again?). Yet clutter causes you problems in the present because you can’t find what you’re looking for or you have things you don’t really need or want. Other problems from the past include items we’ve inherited.

Many people feel like they have to keep everything passed down from their loved ones. It’s a tremendous burden of guilt. Remember that things are not people and it’s okay to let things go. To feel like you have to hold on to the possessions of your loved ones who are no longer around is to have to build your own life and hang on to their lives, too. It makes for a crowded house. Keep just a few items that you especially love or that you’ll use on a regular basis. My favorite item from my grandmother? Her cast iron skillet that stays on my stove to this day and gets almost daily use.

Go ahead, be wasteful

Have you ever heard the Depression era stories about being so poor that coffee grounds were dried in the sun and re-used? Well, it’s not the Depression anymore. It’s okay to throw things away. You have my permission and encouragement to get rid of stuff. There will be enough and you can always get more if you need it.

People hang on to so many things because they don’t want to be wasteful; like holding on to a shirt with a stain that won’t come out. The stain won’t come out the longer it hangs there, so why reach for it and then put it back on the rack? Throw it away once and for all.

Your role: The first step to getting control over clutter is recognizing your role in creating it.

Do you overshop? Do you keep things out of guilt (it’s Aunt Mary’s!)? Do you have to buy in bulk? Are you afraid to throw things away? Taking a hard look at how and why your house has gotten cluttered helps you get it under control and from becoming cluttered in the future. So recycle when you can, and throw away, donate, or sell the rest — and at every opportunity.

The physical symptoms of clutter

Clutter stops the flow of energy. When energy stops flowing, there is a negative impact to our bodies, spirits, and energetic life flow in the form of money, opportunities, love, and enjoyment. Clutter manifests as excess weight, constipation, inability to think, feeling stuck in life, low vitality, and poor personal growth and movement.

Once you begin decluttering, you may find yourself unburdened by heavy emotions and will begin to feel lighter, more at ease and have a greater sense of happiness and personal well-being. Clutter holds us back, like a giant weight, and creates blockages in our lives and spirits. Feel yourself feel unencumbered by lifting  the burden of clutter and watch the increased flow of your life to start again.

Read the entire article here.

© K Weber Communications LLC 2002-2010

Kathryn Weber is the publisher of the Red Lotus Letter Feng Shui E-zine and certified feng shui consultant in classical Chinese feng shui. Kathryn helps her readers improve their lives and generate more wealth with feng shui. For more information and to receive her FREE Ebook “Easy Money – 3 Steps to Building Massive Wealth with Feng Shui” visit http://www.redlotusletter.com and learn the fast and fun way how feng shui can make your life more prosperous and abundant!

Copyright Kathryn Weber. All rights reserved

Top Tips to Downsize your Wardrobe

All your shirts in a row...

All your shirts in a row…

Downsizing your wardrobe can be one of the most dreaded tasks – you can try and put if off for as long as you can, but reality hits you every morning when you can’t find anything to wear. But it needn’t be!

A recent blog post by Small Notebook highlighted some handy tips for tackling this task:

…I get the general idea that if you haven’t worn a garment within a certain amount of time, you most likely never will, and it’s just taking up space. What’s more important to me is not how long it’s been since I’ve worn it, but why I haven’t worn it.

So if something has remained on the hanger, I start questioning it: Is it the right color? Is it too long or too short? Does it make me look frumpy? Is it worn out? Or do I just have too many clothes?

Understanding why I’m not wearing something helps me make better choices on future shopping trips, and I think that’s smarter than simply tossing clothes just to replace them with more later.

Tips on keeping clothes in other sizes:

• Keep only the clothes that you’ll be happy to see again. Keep the best stuff, not everything.

• Don’t save any clothes that are worn out. The maternity pants that you wore every day during those last weeks because they were the only pair that still fit (and therefore have drops of chocolate ice cream stains on them, not that I’m speaking from experience or anything) can be thrown away.

• You want to keep them in a box in your storage space, not in useful closet space with your current size.

• Go through them every year or so to see if you can size down your collection. Even classic styles can change every five or seven years. (Think how different denim looks now from a few years ago.)

• If you think it’s not likely you will wear them again, don’t save them, but don’t be afraid to set clothes aside in case you can wear them in the future. That’s kind of the whole point of storage space: using it for good, not for clutter.

To read the entire article click here. 

The 5 benefits of a “docking station” in the home.

The perfect docking station

The perfect docking station

This is one of my favourite pieces of advice to give clients – make yourself a docking station! What do I mean by this? A docking station is a place where things land that come in the house – whether it is the mail, your hand bag, the kids school notes etc – to be dealt with so they don’t end up all over the house causing clutter.  It is a sorting place, a communications centre, the hub of the home basically. Unclutter.com wrote a post on the 5 benefits of what they call a “destination station” which sums it up quite nicely:

Here are five benefits of creating one for yourself:

  1. Stay in the know.  A destination station can be a place to stay in contact with family members and housemates even when you’re not all present. For example, you can post a calendar to keep track of joint appointments, parent-teacher meetings, vacation schedules, etc. You can also mount a chalkboard to leave important notes and messages.
  2. Find things quickly and easily in one central location. Skip the scavenger hunt for bills that need to be paid or items that you need to mail or return to the store. Instead, keep those items in the command center so you can quickly put your hands on them when you need to, and use baskets and containers to collect specific items in an organized way. By having them in one central spot, you won’t have to search your entire home to find what you’re looking for when you need it.
  3. Keep track of frequently used items. The command center can also be a place to keep things you use often. This can be a great spot for your keys, daily bag, mobile phone and charger, tablet, sunglasses, or any other items you need before heading out the door. You might even install a hook for your favorite jacket. Again, since the items are kept in one location, you’ll always find your things quickly and easily.
  4. Stop clutter from creeping into various spaces. When the things in your home don’t have permanent storage places, they can often bounce about various rooms and create clutter. It can be tricky to know where to put things that won’t be staying in your house, and the destination station will give you a location to organize and store your stuff until it’s time for the items to leave.

Read the entire article here.