**Content produced and provided by Professional Organizers in Canada**
Keep Your Cool during the Summer Sizzle
Are your kids talking about the summer yet? Are they getting excited? Chances are they don’t know how much more work it is for parents during the summer than it is during the rest of the year. To keep the kids busy with little effort, consider putting advance planning in place so that the rest of the summer can be more spontaneously enjoyed. Here are some ideas you can use to improve the summer months:
Create an activity list or an “I’m Bored Jar”
Get a large jar for the whole family to add ideas when one strikes. Have all family members write their ideas on notes and put them in the jar. Need some inspiration for summer activities? Organize a picnic dinner, swimming at a local pool, or camping in the backyard. If your kids are acting like wild animals, you might even plan a visit to the zoo.
Install a wall calendar and put the activity ideas on it.
Use some sticky notes and a marker and start by indicating the important dates, such as the first day of school or camp, or time that will be spent away on a vacation. Colour code the sticky notes by category which could make the board look more kid-friendly. Potential categories can include theme days, playdates, planned outings, and activities done at home.
Stick to a normal routine as much as possible.
To make life easier for yourself, make sure you write out sticky notes for your own well-being and apply them to the wall calendar. Write down your date nights, dinner menu plans and babysitter arrangements.
Pre-sort supplies for Grab and Go Bags
Pre-pack backpacks before an activity day. This will help you avoid the hour of preparation time before being able to leave the house. Some ideas for Grab and Go Bags are:
- Theme park bags
- Walking/hiking bags
- Playdate bags, picnic bags
- Library bags
- Pool days
If you’re going to the pool, have water excursion supplies pre-packed in a tote bag. Pack swimsuits and towels, as well as sun safety essentials including sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses. Don’t forget to bring a plastic bag for wet bathing suits!
- Road trip essentials
Be sure to pack items that will keep you and your family comfortable and entertained while away from home. Include essentials such as diapers, water bottles, snacks, and sunscreen. To avoid the inevitable cries of “Are we there yet?” don’t forget books, colouring books or clipboards with blank paper, and zippered pouches of crayons for each child along with the electronic device preloaded with learning games and movies.
There is nothing wrong with kids getting bored from time to time, as some ingenious and unique activities can result from that. Keep art supplies within reach in the craft cabinet, a few outdoor toys in the backyard, and fruit and sugar-free drinks in the fridge.
I love sharing guest posts from the Professional Organizers of Canada! Great content from my colleagues across the country. Here’s an article full of timely tips on organizing your garage.
‘Trouble finding the gardening tools?
The snow is gone, the air is mild, the buds are starting to appear – all signs of spring being here! Aren’t you excited? Or maybe you will have a tough time getting into your garage to find your gardening tools and patio furniture?
During the cold Canadian winters, who wants to work in an unheated garage? As a result, the garage becomes a dumping zone which has to be dealt with in the warmer months.
Think twice about what’s being stored there
A garage may not be an ideal location for certain types of storage. They often have solid concrete floors and despite the age of the garage, concrete can absorb and hold moisture and create a damp environment. Moisture eventually finds its way into your possessions and can create mould and rust.
When storing, items should be containerized so there’s no chance of anything falling on to you, your possessions or your car. (if a car is indeed occupying the garage). It is also important to protect your belongings from pests and moisture as these can be severely damaging. Be mindful of important keepsakes or antiques and wrap them securely.
Store them within easy reach and systematically according to seasons for easy and safe retrieval. Get as much as possible off the floor. Utilize the wall hanging panels and hooks. (pictured below)
Be realistic about the time involved to get it organized
Depending on the volume of clutter, you may need more than one day to get organized. Many garages require a minimum of 6 hours and can sometimes exceed 24 hours depending on the size of the garage and the sheer volume of items. Remember, it’s not just tidying up; it’s creating a system of organization so that you will never have to do it again.
Don’t forget to label the bins and locations.
Once everything is up and out of your way, leave your garage in a clean, tidy and labelled manner. Consider labelling the locations of things as well, so that all family members know where to put things back.
Once you’ve invested in a system of organization for your garage, it’ll be easy to maintain for the seasons that follow.
When selling your home, keep it bright. Dimly lit rooms tend to look smaller and dingy. Turn on many, if not all lights, even when you are showing your home during day hours.
Create lighting that sets a warm inviting mood. This occurs with multiple lights and not just overhead lights. If there is a small or darker room in your home, put a floor lamp in the room to bounce light off the ceiling and use table lamps to make the remaining space light up.
If the walls seem dreary, repaint them in a nice neutral shade to catch the light. By creating a lighter feeling in the room, it will appear more relaxed which will allow buyers to visualize themselves in the space. Make it more welcoming with drapes and blinds open to let in natural light. Wash the windows in each room on the inside and outside. Hire a professional window washer if necessary.
By lightening up your home it will help to sell it faster, for more money and that will brighten any seller’s day.
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!
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX!
Space Saving Holiday Gift Ideas
Gift giving, even when done with the very best intentions, is often done out of obligation and can cause problems for the recipient unintentionally. It is something to keep in mind – give something that adds value to the recipient’s life but is also respectful of their time and their space.
Consumable gifts, such as food and beverage items sidestep the dilemma of what to give the person who has everything;
- Cook a meal with a guest’s favorite food
- Take a friend to a restaurant or give them a restaurant gift card
- Give trays of baked goodies and/or fruit
- Gift cards to a quaint coffee or tea shop that they love
- A grocery gift card
- Drop-off a meal to friends who are always on the go
- Have a meal catered for a special event
This kind of gift can be customized to the recipient’s interests;
- Concert tickets, movie tickets, live theatre, comedy clubs.
- Swimming passes
- A round of golf
- A personalized tour
- A sporting event
- Massage or spa gift certificates
The Gift of Time
There are endless ways we can give our time that would be most appreciated even later in the year.
- Help with yard work, painting a room, or a household project that is on their agenda
- Provide childcare so the recipient can enjoy some free time
- Bring coffee and cake for a leisurely visit
- Go for a long walk in a beautiful location
Flowers and Memories
- A long lasting plant like an Orchid or Azalea can brighten up the long winter months
- A gift certificate to a florist could be used later in the year
- Arrange for a seasonal bouquet to be sent 4 times a year
- Make a photo or digital album of the two of you together over the years
Creative Gift Wrapping
Often the presentation of the gift card, certificate or vouchers can be just as memorable as the item itself. There are many ways to “wrap” the gift to make the experience tangible. Create a booklet, a card, or wrap the item in something else to double the pleasure.
People aren’t buying houses, they are buying homes. Most potential home buyers want to see where they can fit in that home. Without being able to see furniture in the rooms, it just looks like a big empty space and potential buyers will find it hard to visualize themselves in the space.
Here are some reasons why you should never try to sell your home empty:
It is hard to tell the size of a room when there is no reference point. Furniture will allow the buyer to see the scale of the room and sometimes even make it look larger then if it were empty. A small empty bedroom can leave one wondering if a bed even fits. Most potential buyers do not have a sense of size from reading numbers on a promotional sheet. They need some sort of reference point to make the connection to their own stuff.
Potential buyers will focus on negatives in the home rather then looking at the overall picture. Maybe there is a scratch in the flooring, a light switch in an inconvenient spot or a bar missing from the closet. All of these negatives are easier to spot in an empty room. Instead of looking at the overall flow, the buyer is concentrating on what needs to be fixed or critiquing furnishings like light fixtures, woodwork, countertops.
Empty rooms can distract buyers from the home. They may be focusing more on why the home is empty rather then deciding if it is the right home for them. Did they get a divorce? Have they moved away? Are they trying to sell fast because there are too many problems? These are questions they may be asking because the home is so empty and nothing is catching their eye. They may even be asking themselves maybe they are desperate and I can make a low offer?
So be sure to stage each room with items to help the potential buyers see the purpose and potential layout of the room. Even if the house is not fully furnished it is important to at least paint the picture of what could go on in each particular room for potential buyers. A vacant house is depressing, show the cheerful side of your house.
You can be outdoors but remain shaded at the same time!
The garage and storage areas are typically dumping grounds for the whole family. While it might seem like this no man’s land usually gets to a point of no return, there is hope for returning it to its original state of glory.
Here are some tips on how to transform your garage into an organized and – most importantly – functional space. Perhaps a space in which you could even fit your car? Imagine that…
Join Forces. Blast the music and ask your partner, kids or consider a work exchange with a neighbour or friend.
Collect Supplies. Gather trash bags, gloves, tape, containers, cleaners, paper towels, rags, labeller, vacuum, broom and dustpan. Lay them out and have them at the ready before you start, so that you don’t lose momentum.
Collate Items. Tackle one section at a time and organize like with like.
Purge. Decide and divide items into further categories: what needs to be kept, donated, sold, trashed, returned, repaired or recycled. If you need a dumpster, get one or share one with a neighbour.
Create Zones. Form general areas: sports, garden, tools, seasonal, travel, home, electronics, etc. Create a flow in your garage, keeping the most commonly used items easily accessible.
Make a Path. Always ensure there is a safe and clear path to get what you need. This rule applies to any organizing project. Consider marking out ‘clear’ zones with painter’s tape on the floor.
Get Vertical. Your walls are a great way to store your items so that they’re easy to see and take up less space. Use pegboards, good quality shelving and aim to keep things off the floor to make sweeping a breeze.
Look up. Use the ceiling to store ladders, skis or bikes.
Label Like Crazy. The secret to staying organized is to label—especially if you expect others to put things back.
Make It Easy. For those who seem to ignore labels, clear containers are your friend. They help folks find what they need quickly and put it away easily. Spend a little extra on quality, stackable containers. Add adequate lighting or sensor lighting.
Move It out. Complete the job and get rid of everything that needs to be removed.
Make a Profit. If you’ve got a lot of useable items left over, set up a yard sale so you can make some cash fromyour old goods! Consider Craigslist, Kijiji, eBay or Etsy to reap a little reward for your efforts from saleable items. Set a deadline for selling, after which you’ll donate any unsold items.
Avoid Hijacking. Set up an area for donations, so you can practice the one in, one out rule to prevent a garage hijack from occurring again. Post and communicate house rules to keep it organized.
People don’t always spend a generous amount of time in their basement and therefore, it often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. This often carries through when the home is for sale. Research shows us that kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms are main areas of interest to buyers, so when we are selling we focus on making these rooms look great. But, let’s not forget that a simple basement makeover can also help you earn top dollar for your home. It adds that extra living space that home buyers are looking for and gives a feeling that the home is complete. Here are some ways to achieve a more livable and sellable basement.
Before you do anything else, you must clear out your basement. Basements often become a dumping ground for Christmas ornaments, old furniture and out grown toys. It is common for many homes to have a second fridge in the basement—frequently mostly empty. These fridges are huge energy wasters and do not add to the feel of room. If you have a bar area, consider a mini-fridge instead.
It’s time to get rid of these unused items and store those that are used neatly. Today’s buyer is looking for space. If you are showing a home with a basement that is crowded to the rafters with stuff, potential buyers question whether or not there is enough room for their belongings. An attractive and functional storage area allows the buyer to see the potential for storage and makes it easier for them to see the real value in the space.
Maybe you have too much furniture upstairs and you would like to clear some of it out for a cleaner, neater look. Why not find pieces to put in the basement. You can do the same with choice pieces of artwork, as well. Sometimes you can create a great room just by rearranging and repurposing pieces that you already own.
Touching up old furniture can be an affordable way to add to your basement as well. A new coat of paint on that old table may be just what it needs to look new and modern.
Paint is always an inexpensive, easy way to make a room look updated. Use neutral colors when painting furniture or walls. You want the potential buyer’s to focus on the features of the room, not the furniture in it. They may have a different style than you, and you want them to be able to imagine their things in your house. Tear down that old paneling and paint a nice neutral color or add a fresh coat of paint to wainscoting. You won’t believe the difference!
Basements tend to have lighting issues so be sure that any windows are unobstructed. Clean these windows inside and out and use minimal window treatments to allow as much light in as possible. Don’t let there be a single shadowy corner. Bring in table lamps and floor lamps to light these areas. Install fixtures if your basement is lit by bare light bulbs. Make sure light switch plates are clean and in good repair. Any lights that have pull cords should have a clean, neat looking cord even in unfinished parts of the basement such as the furnace room.
Air it out
Don’t let the stigma of a basement being a musty place hold true in your house! Remove carpeting that is worn. Check for mold and water damage and take care for your own health in fixing these problems. Use a dehumidifier or air purifier to clear the air. If the furniture that has been down there retains that musty and dusty smell, get it cleaned or let it go. To make the basement feel like part of your home, make sure it is well heated and not drafty. Keep in mind that if you don’t use your heater often, it will have a dusty smell when you turn it on. So, be sure to turn on the heat on well in advance of potential buyers coming to see the house.
An inviting and functional basement can add a lot of value to your home. So, make sure you are using the space to its full selling potential. Don’t let it be “just a basement”, turn it into another room in your home, full of potential for the future home owners.
When selling your home, less means more. Buyers want to picture themselves with their belongings in your home, which they can’t do if it is cluttered or filled with personal items. Remove extra furniture and any collections, family photos, religious or seasonal artifacts. Neutral paint and decor will help increase the appeal of your home, creating a blank slate for buyers to imagine how they will use it. You should also clear clutter and personal items from closets, storage spaces and medicine cabinets. In short, keep only those items you need on a daily basis, and donate or pack the rest.
Dirt, dust, fingerprints and cobwebs all detract from the appeal of your house. Be sure to clean thoroughly in every nook and cranny, and empty all wastebaskets, for enhanced appeal. You should also consider updating the look of your house by removing dated items.
Replace these with a few well-chosen accessories, fresh flowers or lighter drapes that brighten up your house. By simply changing the hardware on kitchen and bathroom cabinets this cost-effective upgrade will take years off the look of dated cabinets.