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Guide to Organizing Your Garage

We’ve got a few eye-opening statistics about garages. A U.S. Department of Energy survey found that 1 out of 4 of people with 2-car garages couldn’t park their car in it because it’s used to store other things. Another survey by the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) found that 1 out of 2 homeowners named their garage as the most disorganized area of their house. Furthermore, more than half of homeowners plan to get their garage organized within the next two years. Does this sound familiar? Reclaiming your garage is a major project. Use our step-by-step guide to organizing your garage and park your car inside (yahoo!).

1. Set aside a large block of time for this project—garages typically take 12 hours for general clutter.

Plan for 3 or 4 time blocks of 3-4 hours each; most likely, it will be multiple weekends. Don’t wait until winter, when days are shorter and the garage will be freezing cold. If you can, pick at least the first weekend with no rain—you’ll need to take most items out of the garage.

2. Enlist helpers and make a task list.

Family or friends can certainly help; be sure they understand what they’ve signed up for and won’t become distractions. If you’ve got young kids, hire sitters or plan a weekend at the grandparents. Make a task list and give your helpers specific assignments with a time deadline. For instance, your teen can go through all the sports equipment and toys, while your spouse tackles the shelves full of tools and paint cans. We typically send two organizers out together for garages and work in 4-hour time chunks hands-on with clients. Clients are tired at the end of the session!

3. Move everything out of the garage.

Park your car(s) elsewhere so the driveway can be a staging area. Take the contents out of your garage and place in the driveway. If something is immediately trash or donation—non-working, broken, or outgrown items—set it in these separate piles.

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An Organized Playroom

photo by @daen_2chinda on unsplash

Does your home have a designated playroom for the kiddos? Is it actually functioning as a room the kids can play in, or is it so full and cluttered that it’s more of a toy storage room? If your playroom fills you with dread, it’s time to get it organized and decluttered. With these tips and tricks, this room can be transformed into a space both you and the kids actually enjoy!

Clear the Room

This may be the most tedious part of your playroom revamp, but it will start your space with a clean slate. Go through all the toys, games, books, art supplies, and furniture. Donate items no longer used or that have been outgrown; toss or recycle broken, unsafe, or incomplete items. If your kids are loathe to say goodbye to any of their things, it would be best to do the first pass when they’re asleep or out of the house. Enlist the kids to help with the second pass. Be mindful of not accidentally getting rid of something beloved.

Group Items Together

If you have small or big piles of items—such as doll clothes, building sets, Zoobles, Hot Wheels, Polly Pockets—group them together so you can see how much space you’ll need to store them. Boxed items such as games and puzzles can be stacked on shelves. If your kiddo is super into something and they’ve got a lot of those items, like Barbies or LEGOs, consider setting up a corner for that particular interest. For instance, the Barbie house or LEGO table would be in the corner, along with small labeled bins to store related items.

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Organize Your Home Office and Boost Productivity

As the dog days of summer roll past and fall is just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking of settling into newer, seasonal routines. Crisp fall leaves changing colors, shorter days, and cooler temperatures can teach us a lot about letting things go—including choosing to be more organized. From launching an effort to declutter overall to deep cleaning and possibly even hiring an organizer, read on for some tips to ease into the fall season with an organized home office zen. A decluttered office space will help boost your productivity and lower your stress.

Operation declutter

Before you can take on decluttering your office and work space, you have to shift to a decluttering mentality. Take a quick glance at your workplace. What leaps out at you from that cursory glance of what needs to be pared down? Make a list of those things and realistically plan for when you can start to organize things, whether it’s all in one day on a slow work day or little by little in the evening at the conclusion of the work day.

Get rid of old papers

Have stacks of paper and mail collecting everywhere? Not only can lots of old papers get in the way of being able to see your desk and be productive in your office space, they can also attract layers of dust and bugs. Create a filing system and set a goal to put away all pertinent paperwork at the end of the day. If you get a lot of mail, designate a basket for all mail and go through it regularly at the end of each day or week. For whatever else isn’t needed, run it through a paper shredder and or recycle.

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How to Get Your Partner On Board for Professional Organizing

We often hear “How do I get my spouse to buy into hiring a professional organizer?” They have a variety of concerns, such as the time it will take, or the cost, or having to get rid of their stuff. They could be embarrassed to have someone see their cluttered home. It’s possible they consider asking for help a weakness. They don’t understand that it is an investment that will lower their stress levels or give them more free time. He or she may also ask, “Why can’t we just do this ourselves?”

What Are the Health Benefits of an Organized Home?

A home that is free of clutter and has organized spaces is beneficial to one’s mental and physical health. The Mayo Clinic details how an organized home brings down stress levels and helps you focus, among other benefits. It’s also easier to maintain: the average American home contains 300,000 items! Consider being able to actually park your car in the garage. Or looking for something in your kitchen and finding it in five seconds instead of 30 minutes, or never. Imagine coming home and feeling calm and content in your environment, instead of anxious and stressed out about the clutter lining the hallways or all over the living room.

Have You Hired Experts Before?

Have you hired pros to install an in-ground sprinkler system, do your taxes, tutor your children, or design your website? This wouldn’t be any different. Hiring a professional organizer means you’ve hired an expert to declutter and organize your home, to help you set up systems to manage and maintain your organized home, and to mentor you on these skills. This expert will work with you in your home, and the service is completely customized to your needs, your lifestyle, and your goals. Also consider that a professional organizer can accomplish in three hours what would take you 9-12 hours.

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Packing Tips for a Well-Organized Suitcase

Travel these days has a lot of potential pitfalls, whether it’s a delayed flight, a long security line, or an issue with your reservations. You have no control over some of these situations; you’ll just have to hope for the best and adapt a Zen travel mantra. However, one of the things you can control is how organized and well-packed your suitcase is! Last-minute packing, over-packing, missing several necessities, having stuff leak, difficulty finding things in your suitcase? We’ve got these and many other issues covered with this list of packing tips to keep your suitcase well-organized.

Before You Pack

  • Make a packing list. Consider your destination and purpose—are you spending a week on a beach in Hawaii, two weeks biking in Europe, or five days at a work conference?
  • To streamline your wardrobe, use the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 packing rule. Assume there is a place to do laundry or have it serviced. If visualization is helpful to you, lay out everything you want to bring on your bed—then cut it down by half. Put together outfits on the bed; even better if pieces go with more than one outfit.

Clothing and Shoes

  • Plan to wear your heaviest items on the plane. Items like boots, a heavy coat, or a bulky sweater—these take up a lot of precious real estate (and weight!) in your suitcase.
  • Rock ‘n’ roll, baby. The roll method makes the most of your suitcase space and minimizes creases. Lay your shirt face-down, fold in and flatten the sleeves, then roll from the bottom up. Lay your pants with legs together and roll from the waist down. If you really want to save space, use these amazing compression bags. Certain items—blazers, starched dress shirts, a cocktail dress—should be folded carefully or placed separately in a garment bag.
  • Roll your underwear as well; use these to fill in any gaps between clothing. Bras with underwire or molded cups should be stacked and laid flat together.
  • Fill your shoe cavities with socks, tights, or folded stockings (in a Ziploc), then put the shoes heel to toe (even high heels). Place them in a plastic bag to keep your clothes from getting dirty.

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When Your College Kid Is Home for the Summer

The stacks of boxes and bins, bags of clothes and bedding, and random loose items like lamps and rolled-up posters can mean only one thing: your college kid just got home for summer break! While parents (and maybe the siblings) are thrilled to have all their chicks back in the nest for three months, there is a new family dynamic that will definitely take some getting used to. Your “child” has now experienced nine months of independent living, and any expectations that this summer will be like their high school summers may be quickly dashed.

It’s a new normal in your parent-child relationship—and it is definitely on the positive side. Your student is a young adult now, even if they still have “-teen” as part of their age. They’ve experienced huge personal growth and will likely not be the same person they were last September. Their sense of independence is high right now, and you need to respect that. That being said, they will be living in your home, and they need to respect that. Here are our tips on finding a balance and making this transition smoother for everyone.

Give Them 48 Hours to Decompress

Empathize with them about finals being exhausting, packing and cleaning their place being a pain, and not seeing their college friends all summer being a bummer. Let them sleep in till noon, raid the kitchen, and not unpack or do laundry. For 48 hours. Then give them a good, strong nudge to put away all their stuff and ease themselves into the rhythms of home.

Talk About Expectations

Don’t expect that they’ll be home for dinner every night, or that they’ll be up early having breakfast with you. Assuming they are working, volunteering, or interning during the summer, they will be setting their own schedules. College kids don’t necessarily adhere to a daily routine that you may think makes sense, but if it works for them, let them do it. Clarify that it’s not your job to wake them up to go to work. If they stayed up till 3am bingeing Netflix and slept through their alarm, their being late for work is not your emergency. It’s tough love, but if they expect to be given freedoms then they should be accountable for their schedules.

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15 Summer Essentials to Keep in Your Car

Summer is the best season for spontaneous good times in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. The greater Seattle area has a wealth of unique and amazing places to discover, whether you’ve got a detailed day planned out, or you’re going to meander through a park or neighborhood. Keep those spur-of-the-moment trips carefree (and less stressful) by keeping these essentials in your car. More time for sun and fun, and less time running to the store or looking for things.

  1. Sunglasses: Keeping a couple of pairs doesn’t hurt, because someone will always forget theirs.
  2. Sun hat: Keep cool. Sunstroke and a sunburned forehead are not fun.
  3. Sunblock: Protect your skin. Beware of the expiration date and note that sunscreen may degrade faster if kept in a hot car for a long time.
  4. A beach towel: Always handy to wipe off dirty children (or pets), or to be used as a makeshift blanket.
  5. A sweatshirt: Weather can be unpredictable and the nights cool off quickly!
  6. An outdoor blanket: Can be used for picnics, the beach, and to keep warm after the sun goes down.
  7. Reusable shopping bags: They are not just for the grocery store or a stop at a farmer’s market. You can use reusable shopping totes to haul beach toys (anything really) in a pinch. Include an insulated bag for even more versatility.
  8. A BPA-free water bottle and a non-melting snack: Disposable water bottles shouldn’t be stored in a hot car as they can release dangerous chemicals into the water. Granola bars, nuts, or crackers are examples of healthy non-melting snacks.
  9. The Discover Pass: The $35 annual pass allows you access to state parks for two vehicles.
  10. An extra pair of shoes and socks: A hike with children may turn into a dip in a river…
  11. A small first aid kit: Always have some adhesive bandages, anti-bacterial ointment, and pain reliever. An instant ice pack is really handy for bumps and bruises.
  12. An activity book: A coloring book or Sudoku can help pass the time in the car. We also like to have playing cards.
  13. Toilet paper or flushable wipes: Love the hike, don’t love the facilities. Best be prepared. Also stops bloody noses.
  14. Hand sanitizer: See above.
  15. Feminine products: Just in case someone is caught off guard.
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8 Easy Fixes for Common Home Maintenance Problems

Maintaining a house can often feel like a very complicated task. Depending on how old and how well-built the house is, you can find yourself constantly chasing after small problems. Fortunately, there are several tasks on that big to-do list that are actually a lot easier than you’d imagine, with simple DIY repairs that anyone can manage.

Loose Drawer Handle

You pull the handle on the drawer and it wobbles, and one day you are going to end up yanking it off for good. Assuming you’ve tried screwing the thing back in, your problem is probably that the wood is stripped. Thankfully, this is simple to solve.

Easy Fix: Use some wood glue and toothpicks to fill the hole, cut off the protruding toothpicks, and then screw the handle back in.

Broken AC

There’s nothing worse than realizing you have a broken air conditioner during a sweltering summer’s day. Several things could be wrong with your system, but it could be something very simple, such as a frozen coil caused by a dirty filter.

Easy Fix: Replace your AC filter and see if that works. If it doesn’t, you will probably have to call an AC repair professional. Use this nationwide search tool by Home Advisor to find companies in your area who can get your system back in working order.

Drywall Holes

Drywall is a delicate thing, and holes and cracks are annoyingly common. In particular, holes from doorknobs slamming into the wall are a classic issue.

Easy Fix: Fixing drywall is easy, but there are different techniques for each type of hole you’ll encounter. For a doorknob hole, a patch kit is the easiest option. This guide by Lowe’s has instructions for every drywall repair situation.

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Summer Home Maintenance Projects

summer home maintenance

Summer is THE season for grilling, outdoor activities, icy cold drinks, and…home maintenance. Wait, what? You read that correctly! Take advantage of the long, warm days to do home projects that aren’t viable during the cold, wet months. Besides beautifying your home and adding value and curb appeal, you’ll want to ensure your home’s integrity through the rest of the year. For instance, if you ignore that small leak in your roof or that overflowing gutter, by winter it could become a much bigger—and way more expensive—issue to repair. Summer is also a great time to add a cool and fun new feature to your home (fire pit, anyone?). We’ve got a super list of possible projects—some you can do yourself, while some are best left to professionals.

Outdoors

Roof Repair or Replacement

If you’ve got a leaky roof or missing shingles, or a roof past its lifespan, don’t wait for next summer to repair or replace it. It’s literally the roof over your head! The average lifespan of a roof is 20 to 30 years, although slate, copper, and tile roofs can last more than 50 years. Make the decision to repair or replace, and hire a well-recommended roofing company to do the job.

Power Wash

Your walkways, driveway, and home exterior could likely use a high-power cleaning. Rent a power washer and DIY; be sure to get professional tips on how to do this without causing damage. If you’re not sure, hire a pro.

Replace Siding

How do you know it’s time to replace your home’s siding? When paint is flaking and peeling after only a few years, when there are loose or missing boards, or when any mildew, mold, or rot are clearly visible. Angie’s List has an even more detailed list of telltale signs. This is definitely a big budget project, but it’s not something you want to neglect.

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How to Live Big in a Small Family Home

Living Large in a Small Space

Fitting a whole family into a small home can be a tough challenge, but not as much if you think ahead. Careful planning is the key to organizing and using free space efficiently. But where should you start? First, think about the needs and necessities of each family member. You (and maybe your partner) need a working area. Your kids need a space to study and play (think of pets here, too). Once you’ve made a list of all the space everyone needs to live comfortably, it’s time to think of some maneuvers to make this plan a reality. Here is a list of useful tips and tricks for your family to live bigger in a smaller home.

Go for the stars

One of the most important rules of efficient space usage is to think vertically. Use the space you have from the floor all the way up to the ceiling. If you look up in a room and see open space, keep that idea in mind and go for it. This is especially useful for rooms that are overcrowded with furniture. Organizing a home office or a living room in such a manner is easy—use plenty of shelves and hanging elements for all the books, souvenirs, and other décor accents you have. As for the kids’ rooms, you need to consider that they can’t reach very high shelves on their own. For their safety, you don’t want them climbing high shelves either. Provide them with a stool or a ladder. You could also use the higher shelves to store items they rarely use (or something that you can’t store anywhere else in the house).

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