Category Archives: Living Room

Dedicating Space for Household Management

homeoffice

Do you find your household paperwork doesn’t have a home? Is your bedroom getting used for stashing unmanaged mail? Do you have papers and mail all over the house? Are you frustrated that your home never looks tidy? Many people use a large portion of their kitchen counter to manage notes and mail…and it spills over from there. But the kitchen counter space often doesn’t provide enough room for a tidy work space.

All these scenarios point to the importance of dedicating a space for a household management center.

Location

The ideal location for a household management center is close to where this work usually gets done. Kitchen, dining room, living room are very common areas. Look where your paper is accumulating and see if you can dedicate a bit of space to make it an “official” work area. Active projects need to be out and accessible where you will really work on them. Where does the work actually get done?

If you have a more remote home office but don’t find yourself staging the mail and active projects there, you might find paper clutter creeping into the living space. It would be appropriate to create an active work station more centrally and store overflow and permanent files in the office. For example, if you find yourself most often sitting on your couch paying bills online, can you create a space there to catch incoming bills?

The Critical Bits:

  • Active projects: to-do’s and bills to pay
  • Active reference: family schedules and phone lists
  • Basic office supplies (stamps, envelopes, paperclips, post its)
  • Dedicated containers to get the recycling and shredding out of the way and off the countertop

Nice to Have Nearby:

  • Printer – can be hidden or made wireless so it can be stored in a back room or closet
  • Main household filing system – including past years taxes and permanent records
  • Overstock office supplies
  • Kids’ art portfolios

Instead of berating yourself for being messy, embrace the idea that household management needs dedicated space. And give yourself the gift of organization.

 

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Filed under Decluttering, home organizing, homework, Kitchen, Living Room, Office, organizing, Paper, paper organizing, Perspective, Storage, Work

Say Bye-Bye to Toy Clutter!

bye bye

Parting is such sweet sorrow!

We love learning from our clients! On a recent appointment with a client, Dana noticed a mid-sized bag on the floor of the kitchen pantry. She asked what it contained and the client said “Oh, that’s the Bye-Bye Bag!”

This is a great technique for holding her kids accountable for cleaning up their play space. Here how the “Bye-Bye Bag” technique works:

  • When it’s time to pickup the playroom give the kids a set time to get the job done.
  • If they refuse or the time is coming to a close, remind the kids that any toys they choose not to put away will go into the “Bye-Bye Bag.”
  • The Bye-Bye Bag holds toys for 1 week. At any point during the week they can go into it and choose to put a toy away but at the end of the week anything left in the bag gets donated.

Here are 5 keys to making it actually work:

Make cleanup easy (and possible!). Have accessible, simple homes for toys to be put away. It’s hard for kids to cleanup if shelves and bins are stuffed and jumbled.

Make A Routine. Setting a regular time in the day linked to an event that always happens (teeth brushing?) helps create an expectation for children. For example, have toy pickup always be 15 minutes before teeth brushing time.

Be Consistent! You don’t have to break out the bag 100% of the time for cleanups but address the reluctant behavior consistently so kids understand that it’s part of the routine.

Be Firm but Kind. The point of the exercise is to teach responsibility and accountability. Putting away toys is their choice, but there are consequences to the choices they make. This is a very important life lesson! Using the Bye-Bye bag doesn’t have to be threatening or mean, just a simple consequence for their choice.

Follow Through. The power of this technique only stays effective if toys actually do go “bye-bye.” If they aren’t retrieved from the bag in a week’s time, out they go! To ensure prompt follow-through keep the bag somewhere you’ll remember.

Have a question about how to apply this in your home? Or do you have a variation that has worked well for you? Share it here!

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Filed under children, Decluttering, General Organizing, home organizing, Kids, Living Room

5 Tips for Designing an IKEA Armoire

Here's one kind of "closet" that can be made using the PAX system from IKEA.

Here’s one kind of “closet” that can be made using the PAX system from IKEA. The final product had sliding glass doors. In 2016, this unit cost about $1,700

An armoire is a free-standing closet. If you have minimal closet space or just need more closed storage, an armoire can be a lifesaver. IKEA’s PAX product line is one of the most customizable; it allows you to design the exact kind of storage that you need. Here are 5 useful tips for designing an IKEA PAX armoire:

TIP: Before starting to plan, take an accurate inventory of your clothes. How much hanging space do you need? Are most of your clothes short-hanging (less than 40”) or do you have long robes, gowns or slacks hanging with clips? What kind of folded clothes do you have? Socks, underwear, jammies? Are you going to store shoes in the system or not? At this point you don’t need to know HOW you’re storing everything but you need to know exactly WHAT you’re trying to store.

TIP: Be mindful of prime real estate. When designing your system, know that the prime area of storage is the zone from forehead to hip height. Plan to stow most-used items in this zone.

TIP: You can design the closet yourself using the online planning tool. This tool enables you to drag and drop all the components and features. Is it user friendly? Hmm…you have to be fairly computer-savvy to use it. You can also get help from an IKEA staff person in the store. Some of the staff actually have knowledge of how to build your system.

TIP: These are modular units, but the very first decision you make is what kind of doors you want to use; sliding doors or doors that open out. This is because the basic frame is different for these different door styles. Also, you need to choose the best height for your PAX system. It comes in 2 different heights. Generally, you want to maximize your vertical storage (the taller option) if your room can accommodate it.

TIP: You can save money by going full DIY including pulling all the pieces from the warehouse and assembling yourself (2 people required) or you can get IKEA to help as much as you want. With your design, the IKEA staff can gather the components, deliver it to your house and install it.

* Note: If you are going to purchase their installation, it is important to know that you are responsible for removing the baseboards in the area you want the armoire installed so the IKEA installers can attach it to the wall.

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Filed under Bedroom, children, Closets, Decluttering, General Organizing, Living Room, organizing, Products, Storage

Marie Kondo’s Organizing Inspires Lasting Changes

Marie Kondo's book on "The Japanese Art of Tidying Up" offers fresh strategies based on spiritual principles

Marie Kondo’s book on “The Japanese Art of Tidying Up” offers fresh strategies based on spiritual principles

There’s been a lot of press recently about Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Considering the existing volume of self-help organizing books already out there we were curious why this book has captured people’s interest so powerfully.

The media is abuzz over it, our clients are talking about it, and after exploring it more thoroughly, we are inspired by it.

We live in a culture of consumption that really values volume. Coming from a totally different culture, Marie Kondo awakens us to a Japanese way of looking at our things. At the heart of her de-cluttering approach is the Shinto belief of animism – that objects have energy and a life force that should be acknowledged and honored.

The object of any de-cluttering method is getting rid of stuff. Kondo’s approach changes the focus of purging. Instead of analyzing objects for their functionality in our lives, she trains us to sense the energy within our possessions …and only keep those that inspire or create joy. Kondo’s technique is very spiritual and holistic – gets you out of your head and logic and into your heart and emotion. She’s asking what you want to carry forward with you in your lives.

The end result of the process is an uncluttered home and a clearer relationship with the things you own.

Key points:

  • Sort by category and order matters, start with clothes and end with memorabilia
  • Do it quickly
  • Find if the item sparks joy by holding it and sensing your body’s reaction
  • Give yourself a time limit for the entire purging process- 1 week, 3 months, 1 year…decide first how long you will take for this project
  • Do it now, don’t delay

Are you feeling inspired to try a new approach? Practice by holding an object and sense how it makes you feel. If it doesn’t spark joy, can you let it go? This exercise will get you in tune with the relationships you have with your stuff and move you towards a home you love.

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Filed under Bedroom, Closets, Decluttering, General Organizing, Kids, Kitchen, Laundry, Living Room, Memorabilia, Office, Paper, Perspective, Strategies

The Hidden Costs of Clutter for Women

Decluttering is good for your health!

Decluttering is good for your health!

You’re probably familiar with the notion that clutter is expensive – costing you money in buying things you already have and costing you time from inefficiency. Turns out clutter can cost you your health as well.

A recent study by researchers at UCLA’s Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families (CELF) shows a link between women’s stress hormone, cortisol, and the amount of clutter in their home. According to the study:

“Mothers who use key words in their self-narrated home tours indicating that the home is messy or cluttered actually experience a higher rate of depressed mood toward evening, based on cortisol measures over a number of days.” Life At Home In The Twenty-First Century, Arnold, et. al.

The groundbreaking 4-year study looked at the living habits of 32 families with school age children in the Los Angeles area. The objective was to get a real picture of how middle-class families live.

An article and video from KCET highlights a few interesting facts from the study:

  • The United States has 3.1% of the world’s children and purchases 40% of the world’s toys
  • Our society has the most material possessions per household in global history
  • 75 percent of Angelenos are parking their cars in the streets or in the driveways and they’re using their garages as storage units
  • Family photos on display: an average of 85. Home offices: typically, over 2,000 non-paper items. Garages: 50 to 700 objects. Refrigerator doors hold an average of 52 doodads.

So what’s our take away? REDUCE THE VOLUME! Any effort you make to reduce the volume of stuff in your home will boost your mood and lower your stress level.

Meet the challenge! Grab a donation bag, see if you can fill it and drop it off this week.

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Filed under Bedroom, Closets, Decluttering, Garage, General Organizing, Kids, Kitchen, Living Room, Memorabilia, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

Using Pinterest for Organizing Ideas

Looking for inspiration? Come join this visual feast!

Looking for inspiration? Come join this visual feast!

Of all the social media tools out there now, Pinterest is one of the best for getting creative and imaginative organizing ideas. Pinterest is a visual discovery tool where people create “interest boards” and then “pin” pictures and videos on any topic.

It’s a great way to harness the power of the collective! Let’s say you’re struggling with how to manage those pesky charging cables …simply type, “cable organizing” into the search field and see hundreds of examples of how other folks have handled the problem.

Ever wonder how to wrangle your cable clutter?

A low-tech way to wrangle your cable clutter

Do you ever wonder how you’re going to manage your rings and necklaces, bracelets and earrings so that you can see what you have and easily put them away when you’re done with them?

There are all sorts of creative ideas for displaying your jewelry on Pinterest

Here’s a solution for displaying your necklaces. There are 1,000’s more on Pinterest!

People post photos of their favorite products and many times they post creative DIY solutions. Browsing the images is a great way to spark your own ideas and creativity, and come up with solutions you may never have even thought of.

You don’t have to create a “board” in order to partake of the images that abound on Pinterest.  You can just “window shop.” But be careful, it can be addicting! …especially since it’s also available as an app for your phone or tablet.

What great ideas have you found on Pinterest?  Share them here!

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Filed under Bedroom, Closets, Decluttering, Garage, General Organizing, Holidays, Kids, Kitchen, Laundry, Living Room, Memorabilia, Office, Paper, Perspective, School, Storage, Strategies

Too Many Books!

Rule: Keep only as many books as will fit on your shelves

Rule: Keep only as many books as will fit on your shelves

If you have more books than can fit on your shelves. It’s time to take a hard look at your attachments and figure out how to let some go.

Unless it’s a collectable or has deep sentimental value, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I feel like I paid a lot of money for this book and won’t be able to recoup my losses?
  • Does having these books make me feel like an expert?
  • Do I long for the days when I read with my children?
  • Will I ever really have the time to catch upon the amount of reading I have stored here?
  • Could I easily get this book at the library if I really needed it in the future?

As with many of the items in our home, we hang onto more than we need because of emotional attachments. Being aware of this pull can help you loosen your grip and reduce your clutter.

You have 3 basic options for books you don’t need:

1.) Give your books a new life. Donate to your local Friends of the Public Library, thrift stores, or recycling center. Sometimes, you can even get a library volunteer to come pick them up for you.

2.) Resell the books yourself. Shop them at your local used bookstore, on Craigslist, on eBay or even on Amazon. Though the ratio of books to cash can be quite low, it you have the time and energy, you can get something for them.

3.) Find someone to sell books for you. You can locate an eBay reseller or your local estate liquidator may have contacts for local book dealers.

While you are looking to make some money from your collection, don’t lose sight of the value of your own time when you take on a book-selling project.

Part of letting go of information is trusting that the resources will be available to you when you need them.  And, who knows? You might even make a new friend while searching the library bookshelves for Moby Dick.

What has helped you declutter your bookshelves?  Let us know!

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Filed under Bedroom, General Organizing, Living Room, Office, Perspective, Strategies