Tips for Organizing Your Home

Here are some organizing tips for different rooms in your home. If you live in a small place you must think of arranging your things up more than spreading them around. In a small place look for a way to store things from the floor to the ceiling in a pleasant way. Look for small inventive places to store things within each room. If you live in a larger home, you can easily fill it up with items that are more than you can handle. Keep your items simple and easy to get at. Only keep what is important; pass the rest on to someone who can use it more than you are. A large or small place is much more pleasant to live in if it is not filled to the brim.

A. KITCHEN - If your top cupboards do not go to the top of the ceiling, use large containers like flower pots or decorated cans to store extra things that you do not use all the time. I like to use washable brass colored containers so that they can be cleaned easily when needed. Keep appliances on the counter down to a minimum. Store other appliances that you don't use very often in a separate pantry or storage area. Evaluate what you put in cupboards and drawers. How often do you use items? If items are not used at least monthly, think about donating them or storing them away from the main areas of the kitchen work space. Label your cupboards and drawers on the inside with a label maker. This makes it easier for other family members and visitors to see where things go and it is easier for them to help you clean up after a big meal. It is a great conversation point also. Look at any open spaces in cupboards or drawers. If you have plates on one shelf in your cupboard and there is half open space between the dishes and the top of the next shelf, look for some wire shelves with legs that you can put in to add more dishes. You can double stack glasses with wire shelves so that you can eliminate open spaces. Stack bowls and pans of like size and shape together and store lids close by. Make sure to put spices and seasonings in a cupboard near the stove. Instruments like pancake turners, potato masher, soup spoons and ladles, wooden spoons should go in a drawer next to the stove along with potholders in another drawer near the stove. These things should be easy to get to while cooking. If you have a dishwasher, store the dishes, glasses, and cutlery near the dishwasher. This will save time when putting dishes away after they are washed. If you do not have slides in your bottom cupboards, purchase plastic bins that fit inside the cupboard on a plastic track. It is so much easier to get to supplies by pulling out a container. It is better than to dig everything out of the cupboard. Store basic cleaning supplies under the sink and clean them out regularly. Store cookbooks in a cupboard or buy a small bookshelf that might fit in the dining area. Keep the basic cookbooks near or in the kitchen and store less popular cookbooks in maybe the basement or garage. Set up a notebook with all of the kitchen appliance information. You can use a three-hole punch on many of the manuals and put them in the notebook. Whenever there are repairs or maintenance needs, you will have the instructions at your fingertips. Write the model and serial numbers on the manual cover for each appliance. Make a note where the information was found on the appliance. Put the names of repair companies and places where the products were purchased in case you have to call them inside the notebook. Label the outside of the notebook "kitchen appliances." If you don't have a desk in your kitchen, you can designate the "junk drawer" as a place to keep some pens and pencils and some 3x5 cards for taking quick notes when needed. Another idea for a place for papers is to purchase a small single paper tray and place it in a cupboard for papers that are current. Along with the paper tray, have a stapler, tape dispenser, note cards and a few pens. This should all fit on one shelf. Measure the shelf first to see if these items will fit before you buy them. Important papers like invitations to a party or driver's license renewals can be taped to the inside of the cupboard doors for quick retrieval when they are needed. Consider adding a paper shredder to your counter top that can be easily emptied and is safe for pets and children when turned on. Shred junk mail as you bring it into the house and empty the bin into the paper basket in the kitchen when full. I like to store canned goods and dry goods in a cabinet that looks like a bookcase that has doors if your house does not have a pantry. You can find economical versions in many stores. Store things by categories like soups, canned meats, baking goods, etc. so that you can quickly see what you have and what you might need when going shopping or putting together a meal.

B. BATHROOM - Store the toilet paper, feminine products, waste basket, toilet brush, and plunger near the toilet for quick access. You can get creative with their storage so that you won't readily see them when you enter the bathroom. Store the paper products away from the floor or enclosed in something that will protect them from water damage like a shelf or a drawer. Use dividers and cupboard slides in drawers and cupboards. If you do not have a cabinet in your bathroom, look into storage shelves for bathrooms. Get creative and decorative. If you store cleaning supplies in a bathroom, make sure you store them in a place where children and pets will not have easy access to them. Towels and wash cloths can be easily stored in a linen closet or on a rack or shelf that is hung on the wall. Hair brushes, combs, hair dryers, curling irons, etc. can be stored in a decorative container. Store shampoos and soaps in or near the shower or bathtub.

C. BEDROOM - Linens should be stored in a linen closet. We do not have a linen closet in our home, so I store the linens in plastic containers with lids and stack them in the clothes closet or put containers under the bed. Shoes and purses are stored in see-through containers with lids to keep them clean but still be able to readily see what is in each container. I add labels to the containers to make it doubly easy to see what each box contains. Pants, shirts, skirts, dress, nightclothes are hung according to category and then according to color. Belts are hung on hooks. Underwear is folded and sorted according to category in drawers. Jewelry is put into plastic clear containers with partitions. These can be bought at craft stores for storing crafts. Sort earrings, rings, necklaces, bracelets, watches, etc. into separate containers. Have one container set aside for pieces that need repair. Stack the boxes on a shelf or in a drawer. If you wear a few pieces of jewelry often, have a few hooks put up on your wall in the closet and hang your favorite necklace or ring on the hook for easy access. I find that craft projects that I may be working on store nicely under the bed also.

D. LIVINGROOM - This is a good room for media storage and book storage. I like to have a notebook designated for Audio/Video equipment. Once again the three-hole punch comes in handy. It is nice to have the directions for remote controls, TV, VCR, DVD player, cameras, sound equipment, etc. all in one notebook. This is also a good idea for computer information in the office if it is part of your living area. End tables and coffee tables are a great place for things like telephone books, note cards, pens and pencils, books, reading glasses, etc. I also have some metal plant stands with glass tops placed near recliners for places to put drinks and food. I use decorative pots slid under the stands to hold magazines and books. Extra blankets and pillows are stored behind the couch, which sits at an angle to the wall for anyone who wants to sleep over. Plastic drawer sets are used to store audio/video media like DVDs and CDs and video games and controllers. They are sorted according to genera like drama, comedy, action, family, etc. and then placed in drawers.

E. SEASONAL STORAGE - I try to keep seasonal things like Christmas decorations limited to four or five boxes. One small box is used for Christmas cards purchased at discount prices for the next season along with the current Christmas card list from the previous Christmas. The list includes names, addresses, children's names, emails, and telephone numbers.

F. GARAGE STORAGE - If you have a garage, high shelves around the perimeter of the garage is helpful. I like to hang the shelves high so that they won't interfere with the vehicles. This is a great place to store Christmas things, garden equipment, building supplies like flooring, etc. I also like to store archived files in this area in plastic containers with plastic lids. I like to store shovels, hoes, brooms, etc. along the wall of the garage. A small workbench area can organize tools along with a pegboard to hang things like screwdrivers and hammers.

G. BASEMENT STORAGE - I like to store things high and off the floor in a basement in case of flooding. Pegboards and shelving attached to the wall of an unfinished basement are some of my favorite methods. In a finished basement you can become a little more fancy with storage units, cupboards, etc.

As a general rule I like to store things in clear plastic boxes of various sizes. I use a label maker to label what is in the box. Being able to see what is in the box and also read what is in it from a label saves a lot of time shuffling through containers looking for things. The plastic boxes keep items dry and if you have pets, prevent them from chewing and tearing at the boxes. This also makes it easier if you have to move because many things are already packed and ready to go.

Being organized gives you more time to do what you like best, like maybe writing. You can easily find things for a project or a task that needs attending to. It also gives you the opportunity to be creative. Have fun with it. Look through magazines, supply catalogs, web sites, etc. for ideas.

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