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Clever Tips for Finding More Space at Home

Whether you’ve got a large home or a small apartment, it may always seem like you’re searching for more storage space. Too bad you can’t just magically expand your home’s existing areas with a wiggle of your nose! Check out these clever tips for finding and creating storage spaces in your home.

 

Go behind closed doors.

Over-the-door hooks have 4 to 6 hooks for hanging lightweight, non-bulky items such as belts, scarves, and hats. In the bathroom they are super for hanging towels and bathrobes. Use that extra space behind your doors for storage space, and it may give some things a better “home” than the floor: in my kids’ rooms they’re for hanging PJs! Just don’t use them for hanging heavy items such as school backpacks, or items so bulky, like a puffy coat, that the door can’t stay open. For behind the laundry room, pantry, or bathroom door, this white mesh shelf rack is wonderful—helps clear off your counter space!

Check under the bed…

…and you may see more than just dust bunnies. It’s an excellent space for storing your seasonal clothing and accessories! There are so many styles and types of under-bed storage to choose from. We like the ones with wheels and handles to make pulling them out easier. Pop in a dryer sheet before you put the lid on and keep it fresh-smelling.

Not everything needs to be bought in bulk.

If you’re a big Costco shopper, you know you can really save by buying in bulk. But do you really need to get everything in large amounts? Take stock of the items you buy in bulk and decide if you’re better off buying regular sizes. For instance, if you use very little oil when cooking, does it really make sense to buy a gallon of cooking oil? Or will it go rancid before you get to the “Use by” date? If you have a couple of large dogs, though, buying their food in bulk will definitely save you money. Check your pantry and freezer, as well as the extra freezer and shelves in the garage. Check your other storage areas, too. List the items you buy in bulk—toilet paper, detergent, canned goods, butter, rice, etc.—and make those determinations based on your usage and this detailed food storage chart.

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Goodwill Doesn’t Want Your Broken Toaster

from NPR.org
May 6, 2021
by Todd Bookman

Cars begin lining up outside the Goodwill donation center in Seabrook, N.H., around 10 a.m. most mornings.

Well-intended patrons are here with truckloads full of treasures.

“We hope everyone brings great things that help our programs, but we know some people make some questionable judgments about what is good to donate,” explains Heather Steeves, spokesperson for the 30 Goodwill locations in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.

She holds up “a lampshade, which is stained and disgusting and literally falling apart.”

There’s a small table missing a leg, cracked purple food-storage containers and a used sponge. They’re just a representative sample of the useless stuff dropped off the day before.

Along with simply being gross, these items cost Goodwill money.

“All this trash adds up to more than $1 million a year in a trash bill, and it’s been growing every year for the past five years,” says Steeves. And that’s just for the 30 stores she oversees.

Read the rest on NPR.org.

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An Invitation to Weary Moms

Moms, we see you. We see you carrying the load of house manager, businesswoman, cook, cleaner, parent, motivator, and teacher. We see and feel the fatigue and toll this last 13 months of COVID has taken. We also feel the ray of hope that the vaccine has created. (Woohoo, the Simplify Experts team is now fully vaccinated!)

We want to honor Moms by gifting two hours of professional organizing for Mom’s Day. We have never offered anything like this before…and it won’t last long—so don’t delay!

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Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for Every Mom

If you have a mom or mom-figure in your life, celebrate her on this day (and really, any day) with something unique and different. Flowers and chocolates are always a hit, but this year is a good one to take it up a notch. Moms have been quarantining, social-distancing, working from home, schooling from home, cooking umpteen meals, and basically…momming more than usual. Show her how special she is and gift her with something that gives her something fun to try out, elevates her chillaxation time, and won’t add clutter.

1. For the Mom who can’t get a good night’s sleep

Weighted blankets are a thing now—and for good reason. That extra heft is therapeutic and calming, and has been shown to help people sleep through the night by relieving both stress and anxiety. Cnet rates the Layla Blanket highly, and we like the price tag and 120-night money-back guarantee.

2. For the Mom who’s really into puzzles and mysteries

These murder mystery jigsaw puzzles are the bomb! “Each puzzle includes a short mystery, and all a puzzler has to do is READ the story, ASSEMBLE the puzzle, and then SOLVE the mystery. Each 1,000 piece puzzle creates a 23” x 29” clue-filled image—that does not match the image on the box!” We’re totally sold.

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Why Hire A Professional Organizer to Help With a Move or Remodel?

We are truly proud that Simplify Experts has helped thousands of clients across the Puget Sound with their home decluttering and organizing needs over the past 14 years. Many don’t realize, however, the large number of clients we have also helped with their moving and remodeling needs. It’s true! Professional organizers can help make this major life event less stressful, more streamlined, and yes, more cost-effective! A recent survey showed moving as the top stressor in life events, with 43% saying they’d never do it again. Still not sure why you should hire a professional organizer with your move or remodel? Read on, and you may have a change of tune.

Declutter and downsize before you pack…and save money.

Moving companies generally charge by weight. They give a cost estimate using formulas to calculate the total volume of your furnishings and household items, including everything in your closets, shelves, and cabinets. If you pack it all up, have the movers take it, and then unpack, declutter, and downsize at your new home, you will have paid the movers to move things you ended up getting rid of. With one client, our organizers took about 40 black garbage bags and a dozen large boxes to the donation center, and left a good-sized mountain of random junk on the porch for a hauler to take away. Imagine if they had had the movers take all that to their new home!

We help you get rid of the big things, too.

We help you declutter and downsize much more than just books, clothing, kids’ stuff, and household items. If you are moving to a bigger or smaller home, chances are your furniture and decor needs will be changing, too. That old disassembled antique crib in the garage? Your Chippendale mahogany dining set that doesn’t go with your new, modern condo? Several pieces from your original art collection that need a new home? We can help you consign or donate these items so you have several less things to worry about.

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Step-by-Step Guide to Organizing Your Photos

Remember when we used film in our cameras? (Kids now: “How retro!”) We had a finite number of photos to take: 24 or 36. There was work to be done before you could see those pictures. A trip to the Fotomat or Pay & Save, then later, Costco, to drop off the film. Days later, you’d go again to pick up the photos and the negatives. I recall being so excited to see the pictures from a family vacation, or birthday party, or holiday! Out of that 24- or 36-roll, you’d get a handful of really good ones (or at least, good enough for the photo album). The rest went back in the envelope and got put in the shoebox with the other photo envelopes.

With digital cameras and smartphones having bigger and bigger storage capacities, the infinite nature of photographing anything is now standard for most people. A child’s birthday party could have a few hundred photos; a long trip abroad could have over a thousand! The advantage is you can re-take photos several times to get it just right; the disadvantage is you end up with an enormous amount to cull through later. How to begin organizing your thousands of printed and digital photos? Use these five steps to help ease this task.

1. What Are Your Goals?

Before you begin, decide on what your photo goals are. A few examples:

  • Organize my old printed photos and create photo albums.
  • Combine all my digital photos into one storage drive.
  • Scan my printed photos and combine them with the digital ones.
  • Label my photo storage system so I can find what I need quickly.
  • Cull my digital photos and create a storage file system plus a backup.

When you have decided what it is you’re looking to achieve, it will be easier to work on your photos with these goals in mind. 

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Organize Your Financial Documents

Even though we are in the Digital Age, paper remains a constant in our lives. While junk emails have replaced junk snail mail (trees happy, inboxes…not so much), one of the major paper generators of all is personal finances. Last summer my husband and I sold and then bought a home—the amount of paper those two transactions took was mind-boggling. We all have bank records, loans, credit cards, and utilities…and that is just the beginning. So much of our money-related information enters our homes as paper! Organizing paperwork can definitely be overwhelming. Let these guidelines help you get your financial documents in order.

Review what documents you have.

Before you can organize your documents, go through them and see what you have. Organize them into categories, such as To File, To Shred, To Read, To Pay, and Needs Action. You may discover unpaid bills, receipts for tax deductions, and all sorts of other paperwork you didn’t realize was in that big stack. If you’re uncertain about what to keep and what to shred, refer to our thorough guide on paper retention.

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How to Practice

from The New Yorker
March 1, 2021
by Ann Patchett
I wanted to get rid of my possessions, because possessions stood between me and death.

I started thinking about getting our house in order when Tavia’s father died. Tavia, my friend from early childhood (and youth, and middle age, and these years on the downhill slalom), grew up in unit 24-S of the Georgetown condominiums in Nashville. Her father, Kent, had moved there in the seventies, after his divorce, and stayed. Over the years, we had borne witness to every phase of his personal style: Kent as sea captain (navy peacoat, beard, pipe), Kent as the lost child of Studio 54 (purple), Kent as Gordon Gekko (Armani suits, cufflinks, tie bar), Kent as Jane Fonda (tracksuits, matching trainers), Kent as urban cowboy (fifteen pairs of boots, custom-made), and finally, his last iteration, which had, in fact, underlain all previous iterations, Kent as cosmic monk (loose cotton shirts, cotton drawstring pants—he’d put on weight).

Read the rest on The New Yorker.

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My nest is empty, but the stuff remains. Why is decluttering so emotionally fraught?

From The Washington Post
March 4, 2021

 

Last March, when most people were wringing their hands about the shutdown, I felt positively giddy at the prospect of finally getting organized. Time — the rarest of commodities — was now being served up on a silver platter.

So how can it be that, almost a year since the pandemic began, the basement, attic and garage remain as overstuffed as ever? Why can’t I empty my empty nest? I have to confront an uncomfortable truth: It’s not about time; it’s about me.

Although the story about how younger generations have no use for their boomer parents’ stuffhas been well-documented, my lack of progress has nothing to do with dining room tables with seating for 12 or display cabinets. It’s the photo albums, the well-loved baby blankets and the shoe boxes full of letters that have left me paralyzed.

Follow me into my cobwebbed basement, and you’ll find a museum of memorabilia still untouched, despite a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. The bedroom set is a lot easier to shed than the 17-by-20-inch wedding portrait of my mother, who has been gone for 10 years now. It’s too massive and shrine-like to put anywhere else, and yet, how can I just cavalierly toss her in the trash?

Read the rest on The Washington Post.

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Organizing Your Devices

When Bill Gates said in the 80’s that his goal was “a computer on every desk and in every home” he may not have realized how prescient that would be. Fast forward to 2020, when the average U.S. home had approximately 10 connected devices. Think about that—computers, smartphones, tablets, e-readers, smart TVs, digital cameras, game consoles, smart watches, smart home hubs, etc. The list is endless when you add in the potential for smart light switches, garage door openers, speakers, virtual reality devices, GoPros, and wearable technology. Most of us love gadgets–technology has definitely made some parts of life so much easier. But don’t let your tech become your clutter problem. Here are some tips and tricks to keeping your devices organized and accounted for.

Pare Down What You’ve Got

Set aside an hour or two, and have everyone in your household bring out all their tech, plus all related manuals, chargers, cords, etc. Go through your cabinets and “junk” drawers, desk drawers, car consoles, and any other storage places where you’ve kept electronics items. Don’t forget old flash drives and SD cards. Bring it all out! Set aside the items you truly use, along with its chargers/cords/manuals. The rest, put in a discard pile. Anything that no longer works or is missing chargers or plugs? Discard pile.

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