Category Archives: Home
Blog posts having to do with the upkeep and organization of the home and those who live in it.
Is your mudroom, hallway, foyer or entry way making you mad?
Do you constantly trip over everything on the floor?
Is there no space to put anything?
You may just spend minutes coming or going but this brief time can definitely set the tone for the start or end of your working day.
Nothing says welcome like entering into a space where you feel comfortable and can easily store your coat, shoes and outerwear items. Think about your home’s entry and incorporate these ideas to help keep it in top shape and keep you sane:
1. Give each family member a space: limit the amount each person can keep there (number of shoes, bags, etc.). Locker-like cubbies, milk crates or laundry baskets are great and can work well depending on the space. Allow only items that are used frequently and for that season in this area. Have adjustable shelves and hooks to grow with your child. Think about what is reachable for your child when deciding where to hang hooks and put baskets. Square cubbies are great for kids’ extra-curricular supplies and equipment; even shallow cubbies are helpful for stashing things away.
2. Have a place to sit to put on shoes. A bench with storage under the seat is a great multi-purpose item. A chest or toy box can make a great bench/storage option, too. Or tuck bins under a bench or chairs. This is a great place to keep sports equipment. Be diligent about keeping this seat clutter-free so you will always have a spot to quickly sit to lace up your shoes.
3.Provide enough hooks. Make sure that there is at least one hook per family member (an easy alternative to nagging kids to hang up coats). Strong hooks are also great to get book bags off the floor. Use big hooks for heavy coats and small ones for umbrellas and hats. Don’t forget the family dog! Have a hook for his leash. Hooks can also be placed on the back of doors. Hooks are a great way to tap into unused storage space- the walls and doors. Make sure the kids’ hooks are at their level and the adults can use the upper space.
4. Create a specific area for your pets. In one spot store leashes, waste bags, outside toys, treats, a cloth to wipe paws and winter paw protector or booties. Think about opting for bag holders that attach to the leash, collapsible water bowls and treat or ball bags that clip on your belt to save your pockets from an overflow of plastic bags and ‘cookie’ crumbs. Have reflective bands for you and your dog for nighttime outings—especially important in fall and winter as the days become shorter. You may also wish to consider a place to stash indoor toys on your way out.
5.Think up, way up. Build a custom cabinet up to the ceiling to maximize storage of out of season items higher up. If you are working with the closet you have, use labeled bins and boxes for seldom used or out of season items and store higher up. Consider adding an extra shelf above the existing ones. Could you double rod the closet – adults coats on the top – children’s below. If you do not have a front closet, you must be particularly selective about what you keep in your entrance. Think seasonal – what do I really need right now? Keep things for this time of year and store the rest elsewhere in your house.
6. Watch out for wet items. Allow each family member to have only one pair of shoes out at a time on a boot rack. Once a pair is dry it should be put away. Wet mittens and hats can be hung by clothes pins on a line that runs vertically or horizontally–thread line through pins’ spring, spacing them along the line, or use a pretty piece of 1 inch ribbon that they will easily clip to. Hang this mini clothesline close to a heat vent or heater. Again, once dry, these items should be stashed away.
7. Make a message centre. A bulletin board nearby, will help keep your family on schedule. Pin forms, invitations, practice schedules, and a calendar. This will help you remember to grab these items on the way out.
8. Check yourself out – add a mirror. Not only does it help make the space appear larger, it is convenient for you to give yourself a once-over before rushing out the door. It will help you catch turned up collars, food in teeth and hat-head. Get a mirror that has a small ledge for lipstick and a comb.
9. Give some careful thought to every item in the mudroom. Use waterproof paint and tile floors to deal with the moisture that will be coming in. Allow lots of natural light in and install ceiling light for nighttime entrances. If there is something there that doesn’t serve a purpose, remove it. Space is at a premium in the mudroom, so make sure you have a rationale for all your choices.
It may be a little space, but a little time and thought can rid you of the aggravation and madness of your mudroom.
It happens to the best of us, you open your closet and it’s bursting at the seams or you run out of storage space in your garage. Spring is here and now is the perfect time to purge the extra items you’ve acquired over years that no longer add meaning to your life. .
Organize Anything has seven fantastic ideas and tips to help you develop your perfect pitching skills.
1. Donate the duplicates. Have several sets of flatware or the same shirt in six colours? Pick the set you like the best and donate the rest to a charity or give to someone who’s starting out on their own for the first time. Multiples of the same article of clothing? Donate the ones you never wear.
2. Check the hangers. When you switch your closet over at the beginning of a new season, put all your clothes hangers facing the same way. After you wear something once, turn the hanger so it’s facing the other direction. When the season is over, purge any clothes on hangers that haven’t been turned because you haven’t worn them once.
3. Keep a donation bag handy. If you always have a donation bag on the go, it will be top of mind. Instead of throwing out clothing or household items that are in good repair, donate them instead. Remember, don’t donate anything you wouldn’t want to receive yourself.
4. End of season, end of use. Free up storage space in your shed or garage by purging the tools and toys you don’t use at the end of the season. Be it shovels, rakes, crazy carpets or beach toys, they take up valuable space in your home. Donate or put them curb side to reclaim your space.
5. Make it a party. Have friends with similar clutter problems? Band together and tackle your garage/basement/attic purges together. You help them with theirs, they help you with yours. Many hands make quick work, and turning a chore into a social activity is a great way to bond with friends and get work done quickly.
6. Be realistic. Purging your possessions can be an emotionally difficult process, especially if you have an connection to an item. It’s important to think critically about what you own and if you really need to hold on to it. Do you still have it because it’s something you use frequently or is it taking up space because of an emotional connection?
7. Sort it out. Set up four boxes labelled “Put Away,” “Give Away,” “Store,” and “Throw Away.” Take them room-to-room and go through everything in the room, sorting as you go. Items that end up in “Put Away” and “Store” can be put back in their proper places or remain in the clearly labelled box and be put in storage. The “Give Away” box goes to charity and the “Throw Away” box goes to the curb on the next trash collection day.
Purging your possessions to create more space in your home and more clarity in your life doesn’t have to happen in a weekend. Tackle one room at a time, working efficiently and critically. You’ll be surprised at how much stuff you’re holding onto that you don’t need.
Here’s a different sort of spring thaw and one you can do yourself. Get prepared to clean out your fridge and freezer. This process is a hot idea with refrigerator rules that will save you money and time.
1. Start now by making a commitment to buy fewer grocery items and eat as much as possible of what is already in your fridge and freezer. Schedule a date as the day you will clean your refrigerator and try not to purchase too much before then. Look at your calendar and find a day and time that you have nothing else planned, preferably the day before garbage pick-up day. Make sure you allow enough time on the day you have picked, to complete your project.
2. Be prepared. Have plenty of extra large, heavy-duty trash bags on hand and have your recycling and composting containers nearby.
3. Let things go. When you start to clean out the refrigerator you may be left with food that is too old to eat or that you haven’t chosen to eat. Maybe it’s just time to let it go. If your poultry is petrified, your sauces are science projects, or if you can’t remember when you bought it—toss it. Check the expiration dates. Pay attention to foods and condiments that weren’t eaten, and consider this when grocery shopping for these items in the future.
4. Take everything out for a good cleaning and use a cooler to store while you clean. It’s spring and you will need to get those coolers out anyway.
5. Get rid of the old ice in the ice trays and give the trays a good washing.
6. Put like things together. Create sections for different types of foods — beverages, veggies, fruit, cheese and deli meats, dairy, other meats.
7. Think proper storage. Meat and poultry should be stored in the center back where it stays the coolest. Condiments are fine in the door where temperature fluctuates. Vegetables are best in the crisper with higher levels of humidity. Use clear containers for leftovers, or repackaged items, and label with the date so you know what it is and when it was put there. Square containers are better than round, as they waste less space.
8. Know what you actually eat and when. We may not notice it but we often eat seasonally. So, just like switching over our closet, we need to change over our refrigerator contents as well. Our spring and summer eating styles tends to change to more fresh produce and barbecue items and there may also be some adjustments when the kids get out of school.
9. Take out the trash. Immediately put that trash bag outside for the collection.
This spring thaw will give you a clean refrigerator with foods that can be easily found, last longer through proper storage techniques, and create more room for easy access.
Artfully Arranging Your Books
Bookshelves – we’ve all got them, but have you ever put some thought into how your books/DVDs/albums/collectables are displayed? Some people just cram everything on the shelf, some organize by genre, author, date published etc. and the more visually inclined among us organize by colour or height.
Organize Anything has 10 tips for creating a visually interesting and organized bookshelves. Tackle your shelves as your next rainy day project.
1) Clutter free. When re-arranging your bookshelves, leave some “empty” spaces
between groupings here and there, to give one’s eyes a rest between the groupings. Don’t over-do it with lots of clutter. As always, less is better.
2) Zigzag it. To create a balanced look, use a ‘zigzag’ pattern when placing the items. Place larger items such as book groupings, sculptures, or plants in the corners of the zigzag. Use the reverse pattern on the opposite (flanking) shelves. Fill in the gaps with alternations of accessories and books.
3) Show your depth. Painting the backs of shelving in bright, deep or contrasting colours will draw the eye into the shelving and help make objects stand out.
4) Creatively fill the space. If you don’t have a lot of books, arrange some on their sides, others standing up. On some of your stacked books, you can top them with a vase or collectible item. Also keep in mind that vases or pots do not always have to hold flower arrangements. Sometimes, just the color or shape of the vase will add just the right touch of interest to your display.
5) Meaningful knickknacks. Gather items from around your house that have meaning and are pleasing to look at. Antiques, framed art and photographs, plants, plates and tasteful travel souvenirs or musical instruments complement books well and provide great conversation starters.
6) Too many books. If you are overloaded with books, stacking some here and there on the shelves will take up less space. Also, try stacking several of your favorite books on a coffee, side or entry table, with a pair of reading glasses, decorative magnifying glass or other object sitting on top.
7) Be a little off centre. The arrangement on your bookshelves should never be symmetrically balanced. Organize things, whether books or art objects, asymmetrically. This will create a sense of movement, interest and creativity to your room.
8) Size it out. Most books range in size from eight to ten inches. So avoid shelving that is taller. This will alleviate a large gap between the top of the books and the shelf above. Don’t be afraid to add more shelving! Unique heights are visually interesting.
9) Alternative stacking. Use books in your decorating scheme to add a functional piece to your room. Place a stack near a chair and use as a side table with a small tray on top. If you have read the books and are just using certain ones to decorate with, you can hot glue them together to make the stack more stable. This is a great use for those out-dated encyclopedia sets that you are not sure what to do with.
10) Light it up. Do you have a reading nook next to your bookshelf? Add a small lamp or some hidden lights will provide light for cuddling up with a great book. It’s also an interesting alternative to lamps in the room.
If a book shelf that’s filled with pictures and vases isn’t your style, experiment to find what works for you. Do you want your books sorted by the Dewy Decimal system? Find a way that works for you! Stack and organize in a pleasing way that is functional for what you need.
Take a Vacation in the Comfort of Your Own Home
A staycation is a holiday vacation where you don’t actually leave home. There are many reasons why you might want to have a staycation instead of a vacation. Small children, a lack of funds, and environmental concerns are all popular reasons
for enjoying the simplicity of a staycation.
1) Set a date and time. If you don’t book off your specific time for your staycation and put it on the calendar, you run the risk of just treating it like an extra long weekend. Get excited about your time off just like you’re going on an around the world adventure!
2) Tell your friends, family and work that you’re unavailable. You wouldn’t invite all of your friends along on your vacation, so why treat your staycation any differently? Let your friends know that you’re unavailable, take in the welcome mat and enjoy taking a break from your responsibilities and commitments. If you are really brave you can even disconnect from TV, phone, internet and social media. Enjoy some “non-stimulation” time and recharge naturally.
3) Make a plan. Just like a regular vacation, you should plan your staycation. Pretend you’ve never been to your home city before and explore it through the eyes of a tourist. Visit the local museums, plan a night out on the town, see a show, find a
new favourite pub or restaurant – your options are limitless! Ask yourself what is it that the tourists do?
4) Chronicle your staycation.
Take pictures just like you would on a regular vacation. You’ll get a kick out re-living your grand stay-at-home adventure in years to come. Get pictures with your pizza delivery guy, on your downtown adventure, standing in front of local tourist attractions – anything that you can tell a story about later.
5) Upgrade. Use the money you would have spent on a pricey vacation and spend it on something new for the house – indoors or out. It might be the big screen TV, new furniture or a deck. Now is the time to really get to enjoy that new purchase.
6) Relax. The point of most vacations is to actually relax and rejuvenate. Your staycation is no different. Have an at-home
spa day, read the book you’ve had on your nightstand for months or catch up on your favourite television shows you’ve been saving. Never underestimate the healing powers of doing absolutely nothing!
7) Reduce your carbon footprint. Not only does your let you save some money, it saves the environment! By choosing to stay home, you’re saving car and airplane fuel. You’re also reducing the amount of energy, water and resources that would be used to support your family at an all-inclusive resort.
So next time you’re thinking about taking a vacation, consider a staycation instead. You eliminate the travel stress and time, you cut the budget considerably and you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home.
Do you have a launch pad? You may not be Cape Canaveral but your home and office should not be without one.
How many items are lying around your office that belong elsewhere and often take weeks and months to get back where they belong? There is a coffee cup that needs to go to the staff kitchen. A stack of photos from your vacation you brought in to show your colleagues. A gift you were given that you plan to take home. All these items create clutter in your office.
Find a shelf in your office or an area near the door that you can use for your launch pad. Move all those items that need to be returned to others or those items you want to remember to take home. It will lessen the clutter in your office and keep you from forgetting things you planned to bring home or return. Remember to take a peak at the launch pad when leaving the office to see what can be taken with you.
In your home you can create several launch pads. Perhaps you already have your own launch pad and don’t realize it. Often the bottom steps of your staircase are already serving this purpose. Place items that need to go upstairs in the corner of the step so you take them up every time you go. Make sure it is not a hazard for those coming down the stairs.
You can also create a launch pad for yourself and your family near the main entrance. Place a small table or shelving unit near the entrance to collect items that need to be returned like library books or videos or errands that need to be run. Don’t forget to include things that are going to be picked up.
Your launch pad will help trigger your memory to things that need to go out of your home and office. It will cut down the clutter and help you to save some steps and manage tasks more efficiently. Unlike NASA’s, your launch pad won’t take you to space, but it will help you make better use of your space.
Most of us do at least a few things to make our home more presentable when guests come to visit. Showing your home for sale is very similar. Think of preparing your home as if you were having not one but hopefully several special guests that will be seeing every aspect of your home. The following are some tips to help you properly prepare for your house buying guests.
Clean. Nothing smells better than clean, unadulterated clean. Open a window to let fresh air in before potential house buyers arrive. Be careful with scented candles and fresheners that may cause allergic reactions in a larger and larger percentage of our population and therefore some of your guests. No one will want to buy a home that they are allergic to.
Create easy access at entrances and make sure there is lots of room for coats and footwear. Make it is easy for a group of people to enter your home at once and that there is lots of space for them to store their outerwear while they visit. Feeling crammed and uncomfortable to start is not a good first impression.
Tidy and reduce clutter. Put away personal belongings. Remember that these special guests will be looking at every inch of your house. There is no just hiding things in a closet or room and closing the door here! Make your house look great and moving day easier by donating, selling, or trashing unused and useless items in your home.
Let guests know where things are. Potential buyers need to know. Imagine these were overnight guests. Show them where light switches, thermostats, and amenities are and how to operate household features. It needs to be obvious what a room is used for and where they can find or put things.
Have the laundry done and put out fresh linens. Make sure the linen closet contents are stacked neatly and there are fresh linens on beds and in bathrooms. Crumpled up towels and dirty socks on the floor will make guests feel unwelcome.
Limit your pets’ presence. You love your pets, but not everyone feels the same way. Put your pet out in the yard, in their kennel or with friends while visitors are seeing your home. Make sure they don’t leave behind any “presents”. No guest is pleased with souvenir dog or cat fur on their clothes.
Treat your potential buyers like special guests and they will want to stay in your home longer, not just as a guest, but as the new owner.
Tax Prep is Nothing to Fear!
One of the chief reasons we delay filing our taxes relates to being disorganized. We don’t know where the papers are located; and we don’t know what we need. We dread the search and process, and putting it off is a common reaction.
Collecting and organizing documents for taxes is really not that difficult, it just requires a designated system be in place every year. Otherwise the volume of this paper clutter gets out of control, we become overwhelmed.
Separate your documents into three major categories:
- Income, Expenses and Taxes
- Only keep the documents of the current year and the previous year close to where you work. Reduce clutter by putting archival and aging documentation elsewhere in your home, labeled appropriately.
- Have a clear understanding of what needs to be saved and for how long. If in doubt, ask your accountant, lawyer or other advisor for a retention policy to follow.
- Schedule a block of quiet time to undertake this work – arrange for child care if necessary and keep your concentration instead of doing it piecemeal over a period of time.
- Teenagers can help you with the work. It’s a great experience as they enter the working world. Have them match receipts to statements or enter gas bills into a spreadsheet. They’ll be managing their own finances in a few years.
Small Business Owner?
- You must keep receipts for 7 years (scan or photograph them with your smart phone). Jot notes on them if you’re going to deduct them as business expenses.
- Use debit and credit cards – no cash – to better track your expenses and then combine statements with receipts.
- Keep zippered plastic bags and a pen in your car, briefcase or handbag. Each month, label a fresh bag with the date, then collect and transfer any appropriate receipts. It will be easier to sort through 30 or 40 receipts at a time than 500 at the end of the year.
- Use software programs like QuickBooks or Quicken (non-business); that way you can look up payments by name, date, amount, or number; balance your cheque book without doing any math; never forget to enter a purchase in your manual bookkeeping system, and have automatic tax reports generated at the end of the year.
- There is plenty of help out there, and it’s definitely worth the investment. A reliable bookkeeper or accountant can help you find ways to save money.
Are you ready to downsize? Know someone who is? A well organized move can make the difference between chaos or a peaceful transition.
There are ways to plan for a stress-free move. Follow our Downsizing Checklist to start on the right path:
1. Start the discussion early: For some, the decision to move may not be a welcome idea. Plant the seed early to start discussing the benefits of downsizing.
2. Determine what isn’t moving:Next is the time to do some space planning and decide what you don’t want to move. Decisions can be made to sort into the following categories:
- Pass to family/friends
3. Contact a Realtor: Ask for referrals, find someone you enjoy working with!
4. Declutter and stage: Time to get the house ready for sale. Consider decluttering and staging if your home needs an update.
5. Book moving company:Make plans for truck rental, moving assistance, or hire a moving company.
6. Packing:Purchase packing supplies, enlist the help of family and friends, or hire a Professional Organizer to get the job done quickly.
7. Update address:Be sure to notify utility companies, services and personal contacts.
8. Moving day:Assign one person to be in charge of all questions of what is going where.
9. Unpacking: Make the transition as smooth as possible by unpacking right away.
If you are stuck or require assistance anywhere along the way, call a Professional Organizer – we are here to help!