Category Archives: Tips

4 Essential Tips for Livening Up the Laundry Room

Blue-Laundry-Room-Organization-SystemIn our last blog, we gave one quintessential Pro Tip for the garage, the laundry room, and the pantry. It was one of our favorite posts yet, and so we’re going to expend on each room in a follow-up post starting right now, with the laundry. If you didn’t catch the last blog, here’s the laundry room tip you missed:

Laundry rooms are usually smaller spaces that have to contain some of the largest machinery in the home besides the refrigerator. If you haven’t bought your washer and dryer yet, or if you have a stackable pair that’s stacked. Consider side-loaders arranged side-by-side to maximize surface space along the top. To spruce it up, lay a counter top down across them and/or install shelves.

To spruce up even further, put up a color besides laundry-room white, or tile a portion of the wall and in between shelves…

Now we’re really going to take care of our own with 4 more Pro Tips for the laundry room:

laundry-room-with-counter-and-window-treatments1. Lose a Few Cabinet Doors

As we said, the laundry room is already burdened with some massive pieces of heavy machinery, and many laundry rooms are small enough spaces as they are. If you’ve got cabinets, then to open up the room a little bit, and add some needed flare and variation, take off some of the doors and effectively convert them into cubby holes. You might improve storage capacity or ease of access with this tip too, but you’ll definitely liven up the space, especially if you’re feeling a bit cramped.

2. Flare out the Forgotten Spaces

We mentioned above and in our last post that mixing up the laundry-room white is essential but often overlooked. You don’t have to do every wall, you can accent paint, or tile portions. The same goes for the inside of cabinets, cubby holes, and in between shelves. Decoupage even. Like it or not, you’re going to have to spend some considerable time in the laundry room. We promise that spiffing up the scenery will make a big difference, and this is an easy step you can implement incrementally on Saturdays and free moments to make a little go a long way.

Smart-fold-out-laundry-room--ironing-board

3. Roll Out

Multitasking, portable elements like rolling laundry butlers and racks that fold out can be a smaller laundry room’s best friend. They work overtime everywhere you need a surface, a basket, or a rack and they hide away when not in use. If it’s a small area, you’ll have to be strategic, and a rolling butler or smart ironing board can be just the ally you need.

4. It’s a Place for Laundry, But it’s Still a Room

The laundry room is a utilitarian space, but a space nonetheless. And that means using a little bit of that essential part of interior design we call accessories. Hang some art, or a mirror, treat the windows. If you’re living in the U.S., chances are you’re doing anywhere from two hundred to seven hundred loads of laundry a year. That’s a sizable amount of time spent in the laundry room, even if you do your folding elsewhere. So make it a place that’s comfortable to be. Incorporate design elements you enjoy throughout the house into the laundry room.

Organization Pro Tips

Laundry RoomToday we’re going to crack open the organization playbook to the pro tips section and hit you with some of the best ideas you probably never of heard before for organizing your garage, pantry, and laundry room.

Garage

The biggest issue contributing to garage clutter is storing things that have no place anywhere else. Well, the truth is, these things may not belong in your garage anymore either. It might be time to get rid of some of the things that have settled here over the years. Here’s the rule of thumb:

The Three Year Rule

It you haven’t used it in three years, get rid of it. It’s time.

What do you do with all the things you’re getting rid of? Donate them, there’s a charity for almost everything. Check out our comprehensive list of charities that specialize in donations of almost any household item here.

Pantry

Get rid of store packaging that only makes sense in stores. Cereal comes in a box not so that you can easily store them efficiently within the precious space in your organized pantry, but because a cardboard box allows the marketing department to compete on the shelf among other brands, and sell the cereal. We don’t need this in the pantry.

Using glass jars is not only a more sightly way to store things like cereals and pastas, it keeps foods fresher longer, shows you exactly how much you have so you know when to by more, and saves a lot of space.

Super Pro Tip – make sure the glass jar is dry and room temperature before storing anything.

Laundry Room

Laundry rooms are usually smaller spaces that have to contain some of the largest machinery in the home besides the refrigerator. If you haven’t bought your washer and dryer yet, or if you have a stackable pair that’s stacked. Consider side-loaders arranged side-by-side to maximize surface space along the top. To spruce it up, lay a counter top down across them and/or install shelves.

To spruce up even further, put up a color besides laundry-room white, or tile a portion of the wall and in between shelves, like the photo above.

Quick Fixes For The Shallow Closet in Your Old Home

16Many of us live in older homes that don’t seem to fit the new standard sizes of things. The shallow closet is where this is easily evident. Depending on the age of your home, you may not even have a closet deep enough to fit standard hangers properly. If this is the case we have a few suggestions to get the most out of this shallow space.

  • Hooks. Many old closets within older homes had hooks, rather than closet rods because hangers weren’t invented until the early 1900s and weren’t in homes until much later. Some may still have hooks installed, or have evidence that there were hooks. If hooks are something you don’t mind, and you want to keep the home close to original, this is a great option. Installing hooks will keep everything in arms reach, off the floor and clearly visible.
  • Install shelves. If you can, this is a great option and it will give you the much needed room for your clothing and shoes. Or use an old dresser if it will fit easily within the closet, instead.
  • Downsize the hangers. If your shallow closet is too narrow for standard hangers, purchase smaller hangers (like children’s hangers), or put your hangers diagonally on the closet rod. Another option is the tiered hanger solution. This way the clothes can be easily pushed away from the door so it can close.
  • Combine closet rods and shelving. Shallow closets usually continue a foot or more passed the door. So if this is the case install a short closet rod, from the back wall to the front wall next to the door, on each side. This will work perfectly for those items that need to be hung. Then, install shelves directly in front of the closet door for the clothes that can be folded neatly.

Get creative with your shallow closest. Combine two or all of the suggestions to get the most out of your closet space.

 

 

Tapping the Attic’s Potential

atticAttics are amazing storage units that you don’t have to pay for. If your attic hasn’t been turned into a secret bedroom hideaway, then take advantage of the space and start storing!

Keep in mind though, that unfinished attics generally aren’t heated or cooled. Meaning, whatever the temperature is outside is the temperature your attic will be, so be sure that what you want to store won’t be affected by the temperature change.

Check it Out & Clean it Out

Check out your attic, if you haven’t been up there. Look around and see how much space you have to work with, as well as check for any unwanted pests. You may even want a floor system installed if your attic doesn’t have a floor. Also be sure that your attic is properly ventilated, so that the air doesn’t become stagnant and damage what you will be storing.

Once you’re pest free and well ventilated, clean it out. Years of dust and grime should be vacuumed up, so it doesn’t put wear and tear on your items.

Store & Stow

Now that your attic is cleaned out the storing can begin. Here are a few suggestions of what to store in your new space:

  • Seasonal Clothing you don’t have room for
  • Baby Items
  • Kids’ Toys
  • Old Furniture you can’t part with
  • Holiday Decorations
  • Bedding

Anything you want can be stored in the attic. Remember, easy to stack and label, boxes and bins will keep your items dry and dust free. Everything should be covered, or boxed up.

Finally, organizing where you place everything will help you find what you need easily. We suggest putting items that you’ll need more often closer to the attic entrance, like clothing and holiday decorations, and things like old furniture you’re saving should be placed farther back.

So take advantage of that attic and get that clutter out of your living spaces.

3 Simple Steps for Thinning Down Your Closet

Beautiful-Walk-in-closet

Yes, your closet can look “fat”. A fat closet happens when your clothes, shoes, and other items look as though they are about to explode. Basically, your closet will be silently screaming for help, that’s when our tips and tricks will come in handy.

Step 1: Lay It Out

Take everything out of your closet: purses, clothing, shoes, jackets, everything. Lay it all out according to what it is. Then go through each category and decide what to keep and what to trash or donate. If you decide to donate, here is our helpful list of places that can take almost anything, and give it to someone in need.

If you never wear that old sweater, donate it! If that T-shirt is too small, donate it! If Grandma bought you an ugly pair of bell bottoms, trash it, no one should have bell bottoms.

Step 2: Clean Out Those Skeletons

Now that your closet is empty, it’s time to thoroughly clean it! Vacuum up those cob webs, Lysol those dusty shelves and toss out those skeletons you’ve been hiding. Make your closet sparkle and shine before you place anything back inside it.

Step 3: Coordinating your Clothes

Decide which items need to be hung in the closet and which can be neatly folded into drawers or onto shelves. For example, your “Snoopy and Woodstock” pajamas don’t need to be hung. However, your dresses or suits should be. This alone will cut down on what is in your closet.

The clothes that are left to be placed back into your closet can be organized further. Coordinate your clothing by color, season, and/or use. In other words keep pants, shirts, dresses, suits, and skirts separate.

To organize your shoes look to one of our previous blog posts: What to do With All Those Shoes, and organize them whichever way you see fit.

If purses or bags are stored in your closet, go through all of them and be sure you have trashed or donated as much as you can. Invest in purse hangers if you want to have them hang, or place them on a shelf, in a neat row, if your closet is equipped.

If you follow these steps your closet will thank you. A thinned down closet, is a happy closet and we are happy to help you and your closet find that happy place.

Great Tips for Getting Rid of the Kitchen Clutter!

Closet-Pantry

If you are guilty of disorganized kitchen cabinets and pantries, then you spend countless minutes searching for the spices and ingredients you need to make delicious meals. Here are a few tips and suggestions to help you no longer have to worry about opening the doors of the pantry and cabinets and having everything pour out toward you.

3 Steps to Organizing your Pantry

If you already have a pantry, here are a few steps to organizing one of your kitchen’s key storage spaces.

Pantry-Drawer1)      Take everything out of your pantry. Lay it all out according to what you use most, expiration dates, and like items, such as: spices and herbs, cereals, snacks and chips, soups, etc.

2)      Once you have it all laid out you can easily reorganize your shelving space. Most used items should be placed at eye level and in front. Things that are rarely used should go towards the back of your pantry, or on top shelves. If need be, invest in an over-the-door organizer to store your herbs, spices, and other smaller, often used items.

3)      If you find you just have way too many boxes and packages, invest in large, clear jars to easily store cereal, sugar, flour, pretzels and any other foods you see fit. Also, put erasable labels on the jars so everyone can find what they need.

No Pantry, No Problem

If you aren’t blessed with a pantry, don’t worry, we have you covered.

If you use cabinet space to store your pantry goodies, then similar steps can be taken.

Pantry-Rack

1)      Organize everything placing most used and similar items at eye level. Thing that aren’t used as often can be place on higher shelves or farther back on the shelves.

2)      Use clear jars or other containers to store cereal, sugar, flour, etc.

3)      Experiment with storage systems and organizers such as pull-out racks. Can a moving part the extends or rotates help you access more of your precious cabinet space?

Use your Drawers!

Pantry-Drawers

1)     Invest in drawer organizers if your cabinets are filled to capacity. Have a space between your fridge and cabinets? Get a thin, sliding shelf storage unit to put in that small space.

The Pantry Closet

1)    If you use a closet as your pantry, get creative! Get a decorative door for the closet, or put a chalkboard on the door to write a grocery list of things in the pantry you need.

Whatever you use for pantry storage, use these tips to stay organized.

5 Best Tips for Organizing a Bath for Space and Efficiency

bathroom-from-aboveOrganization can optimize any area in the home, from the closets to the baths. This week, let’s take a peak into the 5 best strategies, tips, and steps to maximizing space in your full bath – no matter how small it is, or how many people need to use it.

1. Organize the Tub and Shower

It may be true that while Dad needs a dandruff shampoo and Mom likes a specific conditioner with her very specific shampoo, a daughter might still prefer her 3-in-1 while a son wants the popular stuff with the scents that waft off all the “cool kids”. Baby might require three rubber duckies and a plastic diver to boot, and now we’re talking about quite a lot of items for the ledges and soap dish alone. But before each washing becomes a symphony of different bottles sliding off the edges and hitting the shower floor, let’s talk storage solutions.

Shower caddies are one great solution and come in a variety of sizes and shapes to attach and accommodate all types of showers and baths. Here’s our tip. Don’t go with suction cups as your preferred form of adhesion. We’re trying to get away for the shower symphony of falling objects, remember? While suctions might be a great solution in your car for you GPS or radar detector, the dampness, humidity and other unique environmental factors present in your shower or bath make them less than ideal.

If you want to give a DIY solution a shot, try adding an old shower curtain to the back wall with hooks for loofahs and caddies. As always, it’s just a matter of getting creative, tweaking, and starting over when things don’t work.

2. The Super Simple Solutions for More Space in the Shower

This one is a two-parter and it’s about having more space to bath, and so having more comfort.

First, understand that light colors always open up a space, and that goes for shower curtains as well. If it’s a dark color and you feel like you’re showering in a small, enclosed space, switch to white and see if your morning doesn’t start out bright and airy – that’s a pretty good change for not a lot of effort.

Second, give a curved shower curtain a shot. It may give you that extra space you were looking for so you can really spread your elbows during those dramatic shampoos that are usually only seen on TV.

3. Bathroom Closets, Vanity Storage and Out-of-the-Way Places

It’s time to get rid of the non-essentials including perhaps 10,000 sample-sized guest shampoos reclaimed from hotel rooms that nobody uses, ancient bath toys the teenagers used a decade ago, cleaning products that are nearly empty, expired, or taking up space, etc. Like all the spaces, the bathroom needs that organizing care. Once you’ve successfully pared down to the bare essentials, considering storage containers, storage bins, closet organizers or, at the very least, a carefully thought-out strategy for keeping everything both neat and accessible.

4. Shelves, Shelving, and Hooks – Organization System 101

We’ve only got so much surface area in any room to work with, right? Wrong. Shelves come in so many varieties, shapes, and sizes to fit the different demands of your life and home that you don’t even have to pull that old bookshelf in from the garage.

Consider the function when you’re considering the form. Is a shelf going to hold smaller, lighter items like toiletries and perfumes for her. Then why not install a small decorative shelf? Is a shelf going to be where the teens slam down their toothbrushes on the way to jumping a wide arch into their beds. Then here we would recommend something a little more sturdy, and maybe even lower for access by younger bathroom users.

Hooks can and should be incorporated for needs just like shelves. Brushes should either go in a drawer or on a hook. The sink and countertop is not the place for things that don’t seem to fit anywhere else, because if you’re not making designated spaces for things anywhere else, your counter-top is going to fill up very quickly.

5. Put on Your Inspiration Goggles

Remember, it’s exceedingly rare that the wheel has to be reinvented. People have been dealing with bathrooms that they wish were larger for generations. And they succeed in this task all the time. Be vigilant and attentive in friends’ bathrooms and see how their space is organized, ask yourself what works and what doesn’t, what things you would change, and what things you might incorporate.

Hotels and restaurants are pros at working effectively with different space and size requirements, take notes of the things that the professional decorators are doing with those bathrooms. Maybe go wash-up even if you don’t need to, just to look around. Eventually, you’ll gain a sense of best practices and your own likes, wants, and needs. Then it’s going to be easy and fun.

Photo Source

What to Do with All Those Shoes

shoe-storage-ideas-2

Shoes, we all have a growing pile of them on our closet floor. Then we complain about spending what feels like hours trying to find a matching pair, which turns the whole bedroom into a shoe explosion. Here are a few ideas for organizing the shoe clutter that haunts you.

Using the Space You Already Have

shoe-storage-closet-ideas-1If your closet has loads of shelving, reorganize it! Reorganize the shelves to clear up some space and line up your shoes in neat rows. If you have deep shelves put a few rows of shoes on one shelf. Organize them by height, color, or season, whichever you choose. Now they’re easy to find, and within easy reach!

If you don’t have shelves and you’re not a shoe hoarder, we suggest even lining them against the back wall of your closet. Once again organizing them the way you prefer; by color, height, or season. Now you can easily spot the pair you want with ease.

Hang It Up

The shoe hanger, we all know someone that uses it. They may not be the most attractive thing to see in a closet, but they get the job done. There are many types of shoe hangers: clear pouches or solid colored, long or short, and of course the door hanging version, or the two-sided version that hangs from your closet rod. Choose the one that fits your closet best and hang up that shoe clutter.

If the shoe hanger is something you want to avoid here’s another alternative. Have those thin metal hangers lying around? Cut the bottom of the hanger and bend each end to create hooks. Now you can hang up your sandals, heels and other shoes.

If wall or door space isn’t an issue, hang up a coat rack! Yes, a coat rack and hang your sneakers or strappy sandals and heels. Hang up a few coat racks if you can and create rows of decorative, stylish shoe storage.

If heels are causing most of your clutter, and wall or door space isn’t a problem, use towel racks! Create a few rows for your heels and hang those heels up for easy access and keep the clutter off of the floor.

Getting Creative with Shelving

shoe-storage-closet-ideas-3Narrow closet? No problem. Use extra spring rods! Put the back spring rod higher than the other for easy heel and stiletto storage. Have two spring rods level with each other for easy sneaker and other flat shoe storage. Make levels, and store shoes underneath. Spring rods can create great makeshift shelves for your shoes!

As mentioned in last week’s upcycling post, create shelving using an old cardboard wine box. Stack up a few wine boxes and decorate them with wrapping paper to create the perfect shelving unit for your closet space.

Give an old dresser new life! Remove the drawers and use the spacing like shelves. If there is no extra wood between the drawers, saw off the front of the drawer to create shoe shelves that slide out! Now there’s a unique spin on shoe storage!

So get creative and reorganize that monstrous pile of shoes in any way you choose.

And if you liked any of the pictures of our closet system solutions for shoe storage, check out the rest of the eShowroom here.

5 Fun Upcycling Ideas

UpcyclingInstead of throwing away an old item, turning it into something useful and creative reduces your carbon footprint and helps you become part of a wider, growing movement called upcycling.

Upcycling is growing in popularity so much so that not only do large, established retail brands incorporate refurbished and repurposed materials into their designs, there is even starting to be a popular design aesthetic using the refurbished theme as a motif.

Since upcycling is such a broad and growing category, let’s just focus on creative storage and closet related ideas. Here’s five to get you started.

1. New Life for Grandma’s Old Sweater

upcycled-skirtWe all know grandma bought that sweater out of love, but let’s be honest, it’s hideous! Well now you can turn that nasty sweater into something beautiful, through upcycling. Combine sections of shirts and sweaters to create a unique, one of a kind dress, skirt, shirt or sweater. Don’t restrict yourself to just shirts. You can upcycle jackets, skirts, dresses, gloves, scarves, any type of clothing really. Just be sure colors and patterns go well together.

Also be sure your end product will fit you, so you can start filling your closet with all sorts of interesting things and one of a kind pieces.. just don’t let grandma see what you’ve turned her reindeer sweater into.

2. So Many Things, So Little Space

Now that you’re filling your closet with upcycled clothing, where are you going to put it all? Well, if we helped you out, then you’re all set.

If not, try supplementing and creating your own unique storage systems with upcycling ideas. Use a sturdy tree branch to create a unique clothing rack. Either hang it from your ceiling using a small chain, rope or cable, or install J-Hooks, decorative curtain rod hooks or holders to hold it up from your wall.

wine-box-into-shoe-rackHave any old wooden crates lying around? Put them on their sides and nail them together to create shelves. Use them to store books, clothes, games or other knick-knacks you may have. Put it anywhere you need extra storage.

Reuse large cleaned-out coffee or sauce cans, and be sure to vary the sizes for a unique look and dynamic storage capabilities. They can also be turned upside down, threaded with a light and used as lamp covers.

Hanging shoe organizers can be a multipurpose space saver. Don’t just use it for your shoes. Use it to store kitchen or bathroom supplies, mittens, scarves, toys, crafts, and anything else you can think of.

Above is an old wine boxed turned into a new shoe box.

TIP: Spray painted jugs and bottles make great vases. Just be sure to clean them thoroughly first!

3. Not a Bookshelf, but a Book Shelf

books-as-shelvesWe’re not talking about a shelf for books, we’re talking about a shelf that actually is a book. That’s all you need. Just firmly affix two right angle hooks to the wall with a slightly narrower width between them than a hardcover book, and place the book on top. On top of that goes the things you’d like to place on your new shelf. The look achieved is fun and creative.

4. Very Specific Storage Problems and their Upcycling Solutions

toilet paper cord holderUsing old paper towel rolls and toilet paper rolls once all the paper is gone can mean a lot more than just throwing out less trash. It can help you organize all the wires that will inevitably tangle up together if left anywhere in the vicinity of one another.

 

TIP: If you’re using the wire, a pen spring might keep it from fraying where it meets the jack.

pen-spring-cord-protector

5. Share Your Ideas

The online upcycling community is abuzz and growing day by day. There is so much to find because so many creative, new ideas are being posted and shared every single day. Follow great upcycling blogs like Upcycle That and be sure to submit your own new ideas to contribute and give back.

The possibilities are endless…

upcycled card catalogue wine case

Photos courtesy of denisebrain on Etsy, more clothing available, Twisted Sifter, more tips available, and Life Hacker.

5 Essential Tips for Organizing the Garage

Garage Organization System

Have you been putting off the task of organizing your garage? Well you aren’t alone. Luckily, there are five easy steps you can take to make your garage accessible and well organized this year.

1. Lay it all Out

Go through everything you have in your garage. Separate everything: gardening and lawn tools and supplies, toys and sports gear, holiday decorations, household tools, automotive tools and supplies, paints and other combustibles, and of course a pile of things you want to trash, donate or sell.

It is a tedious task, but this will help you clean out the garage as well as make it easier to organize later.

Remember: keep a broom handy so that you can sweep out the years of dust and leaves.

Garage Cabinet Organization System2. Shelves and Cabinets: The Garages Best Friend!

Shelves and cabinets are great storage and organizing tools. They keep your items in plain sight and off the floor. There are many types of shelving, from freestanding to wall mounted, and ones with wheels to ones without, so choose the kind that fits your family best. Cabinets also range from short to tall, wheels or none, and come in all colors, so choose what will work best for your organizational needs. If you’re in need of a workbench, short cabinets can double as storage as well as a place for all your workbench needs. However, don’t go too big in size, because you’ll still want to park your car.

At this stage also, it can only help the process to schedule a free consultation with a garage organization professional.

3. Bins, Bins Everywhere!

Bins are great for easy storage. Whether they’re for nuts and bolts, or the kids’ little green army men, bins are a great organizing tool. Easily labeled and stacked, bins will keep everything tucked away and organized on, in, or under your shelves and cabinets. Coming in all shapes, sizes, colors, and with or without lids, bins will keep everything dry and organized.

4. Hooks of Every Size and Shape

Hooks are also great organization tools. Hooks keep all your tools and anything else that will be used regularly, separated, in plain sight, and easy to reach. What you want to hang on your garage wall will determine what hooks to get. All these hooks can be found at your local hardware store or integrated into your overall storage system by a professional.

Garage Drawer Organization SystemFor coats, hats and sports clothing, a decorative coat rack will do great. For the rakes, shovels, and other long handled items, hardware hooks such as L-Hooks or J-Hooks will keep your large tools uncluttered, and easy to reach.

For the smaller tools (wrenches, screwdrivers, saws, etc.), try eye hooks. They work great for screwdrivers, keeping them separated and easy to find. For wrenches, saws and other small tools, smaller L-Hooks and J-Hooks will work, keeping everything visible and organized.

For Bikes: keep them off the floor and out of the way with bike hangers or bike hooks. Now you won’t have to worry about driving into them after a long day at work!

Remember to measure the space you have to work with, and use as much of the vertical space available to you as possible. This will ensure that you will have enough room to park the car, and give you space to move around.

Garage Cabinet and Hooks Organization System

5. The Full Garage Makeover

If you’re ready for a larger overhaul to really optimize the storage capacity and usable space in your garage, it might be time to call in the professionals. The consultation from a company like Contemporary Closets is free, and allows you to bounce ideas off of, and hear ideas you might not have thought of from a professional designer who works with garages, pantries, laundries and closets every day.