Thursday, September 13, 2012

Junk Drawer - If You Must

Full disclosure: I do not have a junk drawer. I don't believe in them. Everything should have a place. Batteries do not belong with sharpie markers. Rubber bands do not belong with matches. There should not be loose change in a drawer. 

However, most people disagree. Even great organizers have junk drawers. So, if you must have a junk drawer, the best way to do it is:
  • Keep it small. Don't have the largest drawer in the house be the junk drawer. Use a small one so it'll force you to actually put away the item in its proper spot. 
  • Use a utensil holder to organize things in junk drawer. There are all sizes and shapes of utensil holders these days. Buy one that fits your drawer, then you at least have compartments to use so things are easier to see and find. 
  • Consider having multiple. I know, I know. I just said don't have any. Now I tell you to have more than one. Here's what I mean. Have a "kitchen junk drawer" and maybe an "office junk drawer". No matches, toothpicks, or wine opener in the office drawer. No batteries, stamps, paper clips or sewing kits in the kitchen drawer. 
  • Maintain it. Like I've said many times before on this blog, 80% of organization is maintenance. So go through your junk drawer once in a while and toss what you don't need, put away things that have another spot, etc.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Great Tip From a Reader: Kids Clothes!

Believe it or not, it's almost that change over clothes from summer to fall/winter. Here's a great reader suggestion if you have kids and they are the same sex kids and are close in age:

My two youngest girls, ages 8 and 6, share a room.  And though they are 27 months apart, they are the same size and share almost all of their clothes.  The system of two dressers, one for each child, was not working.  Each would often go through both dressers looking for a certain shirt or pajamas, leaving an untidy drawer behind, which made more work for me.  And even though they had different items in each drawer, it was either half full or overflowing.  So I changed my thinking.  Instead of one dresser per child, I used both dressers and labeled all drawers by item of clothing.  It is working much better and I had enough drawers for extra things like sweatshirts and swimsuits.  And the girls only have to look in one place for a certain article of clothing!

 Thanks Amy C. for this great tip! 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Guest Post: Getting Creative with Storage

Getting creative with storage

You’ve reached the breaking point. All your storage space is full, and you’ve already culled out everything you don’t need. Don’t panic and start planning for a new room in your home just yet! Getting creative with storage is a great way to add some extra space with a decorative flair. Use these tips to start making more storage today:

Display it

There’s a good chance at least some of your stuff can be put on display instead of taking up all the extra room in your closet. You would be surprised at how great unusual items look on your walls. Are you a shoe person? If they’re a fashion statement on your feet then they’ll look great on a shelf on the wall! The same
strategy will work for your kids’ toys. Pick the most visually appealing items to display and it won’t look out of place, especially if you keep it in the bedrooms. Finally, if you’re storing a collection of any kind then you should get it out in the open where everyone can see it!

Look high

Is easy to miss all the extra storage space you have up high, mainly because it’s hard to see. Think about the tops of all your furniture that are out of sight. How much square footage do you have empty up there? You don’t have to pack the top of your tall furniture to overflowing, but you can put a few items up there. If you scoot them toward the back you won’t even know they’re up there without a ladder. Be cautious when climbing up to store your items, and make sure you choose the things you won’t need on a regular basis.

Use the floor space

We’re not talking about piling stuff up on the floors here. Instead, think of how you can use the extra space in your rooms. You probably have tons of space, especially around the edges of your rooms where the furniture and bookcases are. Consider turning one of these areas into a makeshift closet. All you need is a shower rod and some fabric that matches your d├ęcor. Put the rod between your furniture or bookcase and the wall and, viola, you have a closet! If you want to get a bit more advanced you can use tubing and some “L” brackets to make a freestanding closet off the wall as well. If you pick the right fabric and location in the room it will have all kinds of decorative value to go along with the storage space.

Getting creative with storage is a great way to free up some of your much needed space. The more creative you can be, the more space you’ll have!

Author’s bio: Lisa is a writer at Self Storage Deals who blogs about organizing all kinds of spaces, including storage units. She is currently organizing storage units in Colorado Springs and storage units in McCallen. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Command Station

No, this post isn't about a space movie with the command central station. It's about having a place designated for order. A place for your keys, mail, to do lists, grocery lists, etc.

Here are some options:

  • Kitchen. This works great if you have a large kitchen or one of those great built-in desks in the kitchen. If you have a large kitchen and are not using all of the counters, I kinda don't like you. Just because I'm jealous. Lucky for you though - designate some of that counter space to a command station where you drop your keys and mail. 

  • The foyer. If you have the space, have an entry way table where you can drop you keys and mail. Have a basket, plate, bowl or something like that to contain your items. This is the option I use (pictured above). My foyer has a shoe bench and this table where the keys, sunglasses, mail, etc go.  Personally, if I don't drop my keys off when I first come in, I can't find them when I need them.

  • If your front door opens right up to the living room (doesn't have an entry hall), designate a corner or wall spot in the living room for the entry items (keys, phone, mail, etc). Again, have it on a table with baskets, bowls, plates, to keep the items organized.

  • Garage. If you always come into your house through a garage, set up your command station right in the garage. Be aware of heat and cold though. You don't want your key chain to melt in the summer.

Wherever you set up your command station, be sure it works for you. If you find yourself never remembering to drop your keys where you set it up, perhaps that space isn't the best place. If you always put your mail on the dining room table, but then have to move it for every's not working for you. Move the mail somewhere else. The key to good organizing is to:

1. Analyze the problem
2. Think about a solution that works
3. Implement the solution
4. Make sure that's the right solution. Just because it's a solution, doesn't mean it's the right solution. Check back to make sure the problem is actually solved. If not, find a different solution. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Wonderful Change and Welcome!

I want to introduce you to the newest addition to Simplify Your Life! This is Chris Vaughn. She has many talents and gifts - organizing is but one of them. She will be the main organizer for Simplify Your Life and I am so thankful to have her! Here's a little more about her:

I'm Chris Vaughn, wife to Jim and mother of four.  Like every other mother, my life is busy and staying organized helps me save time for what's really important.  I believe it is easier to keep a house organized than to "get it" organized.  But human, I am!  I have a dedicated "junk drawer" in several rooms of my house - keeps me grounded.  :)

Welcome Chris! Be sure to visit the services page and contact Chris if you need any organizational help!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Guest Post: Why Minimize?

(Guest Post: Ryan Franklin)

The Benefits of Minimizing What You Own

Minimizing what you own doesn’t necessarily mean getting rid of everything. It just means getting rid of excess stuff, making smarter purchasing decisions, and embracing a lifestyle of increased simplicity. If you’ve decided to become more of a minimalist when it comes to acquiring and holding onto things for your home, you’ve made a wise decision. Here are some of the many benefits of making this lifestyle change:

1. You’ll have to clean less often – The fewer things you own, the less time you’ll have to spend organizing those things. Since a large part of the cleaning most people do involves organizing things and putting those things in a proper place, this is a huge advantage. Only owning what’s essential also cuts down on the amount of time you’ll need to spend dusting things.

2.  You’ll spend less money – Taking a minimalist approach means that you buy things less frivolously. You only buy what you need, so you end up saving all the money you would have spent buying excess, non-essential things.

3. You’ll have more space – When you minimize what you own, you have more space in your home for living. Getting rid of that old loveseat and sticking to one sofa in your living room will give the kids some extra space to sit on the floor and play. Clearing everything off your kitchen counters will give you some extra space to cook. Getting rid of all the extra pillows on your bed will give you some extra space to sleep. Having more space in your home will help you feel liberated to do what you like.

4. You’ll have more time – Going out to the store regularly to pick out new things for your home takes time. Spring cleaning each year and getting rid of all the things you bought but don’t really use also takes time. You can spend the time you don’t spend shopping, organizing, and de-cluttering doing things you enjoy and enriching your life.

5. You’ll have peace of mind – Ask anyone who’s embraced a more minimalistic lifestyle, and they’ll tell you that they have a better outlook on life. The less you own, the fewer distractions there will be in your life. So, you can focus less on taking care of things and focus more on taking care of yourself and your loved ones.

Author’s Bio: Ryan Franklin is a home organizer and guest blogger who writes about minimalism, organization, simplifying before relocation, and when to hire cross country movers.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"We Do Live Here"

Balance and moderation: two of my favorite words. I need to continue to be reminded of these just about every day. Most days I complain to my husband, "Why can't this house stay clean?" Or "Every time I get the kids closets organized, they mess it up". His response is one I love and need to hear:

"We DO live here, ya know."

Take these bookcases. They are in an open area just off the kitchen. Boy, would I love the contents to be beautiful. Lovely decorative vases, beautiful containers, coffee table books. However, that's not what would simplify my life. A practical space would. It's our home school space. And while it's not beautiful, it's practical...because "We DO live here, ya know."

Yes, strive for beauty. But, keep moderation and practicality in mind as well.