Home Organizing

7 Easy Habits to Keep Your Home (Almost) Germ-Free

While most of us have never dealt with a global pandemic before, we are all widely experienced at cleaning our own homes. It’s not just about using disinfecting cleaners—though it is definitely important to use these regularly to sanitize surfaces. We’re talking about simple things you can do to keep germs from entering and proliferating in your home. If you get your family to make a habit of following these steps, you’ll keep those nasty germs at the minimum (c’mon, you know no one can achieve 100% germ-free status!), for now and for the future.

1. Leave Your Shoes at the Door

According to a new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shoes may potentially function as carriers for the COVID-19 virus. Think of all the places you go with your shoes (your neighborhood sidewalks, the grocery store, the doctor’s office, etc.). Our shoes are capable of tracking in and spreading germs around our homes. Keep a storage shelf and a bench in your entryway or in the garage, and get everyone in the habit of removing their shoes and then washing their hands. Have comfy slippers or house shoes nearby for an easy transition.

2. Sanitize Your Cleaning Tools

Sponges, mops, dish cloths, dust rags, cleaning cloths—these could all be major breeding grounds for germs. Sponges and dish brushes are easy: pop it into the dishwasher every time you run a load, and regularly replace sponges every few weeks. The other cleaning cloths should be sanitized in between uses with a Hot washer + High dryer cycle, or a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water. Tools with handles, such as brooms, scrubbers, and buckets, can be sanitized by wiping the handles and exteriors down with disinfectant.

3. Put Down The Toilet Lid

The term “toilet plume” is actually as bad as it sounds. It is the undetectable spray your toilet releases upward of 15 feet each time you flush the toilet, dispersing microscopic bacteria that can linger in the air for up to six hours and settling down on any surfaces (including towels) in your bathroom. The no-brainer, easy solution is to put down the lid before you flush. One second of “work” for a pretty big payoff.

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Quick and Easy House Projects To Do During Quarantine

With the current “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order extended to May 4 in Washington State, professional organizing services (along with many other services) have been temporarily halted. While we can’t come to your home and help you organize right now, we can still give you some quick and simple tips on cleaning, decluttering, and organizing! Think of these mini projects as the precursor to your spring cleaning, as most can be done in less than a day. Do you have kids at home doing remote learning? Let them take a recess and give you a hand; it may earn them some extra screen time or the chance to pick this weekend’s takeout dinner!

Remember the “forgotten” places.

Under your bed, your baseboards, under the sofas and armchairs, the fan vents in your bathrooms, the top of your fridge and kitchen cupboards—these are just a few of the areas in your home that most likely don’t get a regular cleaning. Say goodbye to the dust bunnies! Move any furniture that’s in the way, get a good, damp microfiber cloth and the hose attachment for your vacuum, and have a go at these dusty spots.

Put winter away.

Is your entryway or mudroom still looking like it’s February? It’s April…it’s time to let all that winter gear hibernate till next year. Gather up boots, heavy coats, hats, scarves and gloves; clean or wash them before putting them away. If you’ve got a rug or boot tray, give it a good shake outside or a good vacuuming. Same goes for your winter sports gear—skis, poles, ski clothes, helmets, sleds—clean what needs it, and then store them away for next season. Now you’ve got room for your spring stuff!

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How to Work From Home Efficiently (And Not Drive Your Partner Crazy!)

The Greater Seattle area is currently dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak, and many companies are requiring or requesting that their employees work from home for the foreseeable future. This is new territory for many households. Can one be productive Working From Home (WFH)? Can one or two people be WFH and not drive each other crazy? Can they still do fun couples’ stuff in the evenings and on weekends? Yes, yes, and yes! We’ve got two points-of-view here, and we think they both have insights and experience to help make WFH be a positive experience for all involved.

POV 1: The Newly Working-from-Home Partner

Define your working space

Even if your WFH situation is temporary, take an hour to set up your environment as a real workspace. If it’s just the corner of a study or spare bedroom, make it your own: put up a couple pictures, have a cup with pens, and make everything in your sightline look like an office you would be happy to work in. If you don’t have a functional desk, buy one—you should be able to find something decent for under $100 (Note: There are currently over 1,500 desks listed on Craigslist.). Trying to work from a round kitchen table will feel foreign and difficult as far as forearm placement. And if you are on frequent video calls, look behind you to be sure the background doesn’t give off an America’s Most Wanted vibe.

Define and protect your working hours

The possibilities for distraction at home are endless. Most information-age jobs can look to family members a whole lot like you are just sitting around. But after even a quick distraction from a mental task, it takes the human brain about 10 minutes to restore focus. Establish your office hours and tell everyone in your household when you are available and when you are not.

Once you establish focused working hours, enjoy the flexibility. The lack of commuting time may buy you an extra hour or two per day. As you schedule your time, work in lunches with your spouse or friends, go to your kids’ games, even take a quick nap. I have found that the flexibility to segment my own time and work rhythms has made me far more productive.

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Creating Your Very Own Real World She Shed

She shed sea shells by the seashore. That’s what she shed. Wait…what?! The whole “she shed” concept came about several years ago as the woman’s equivalent of the man cave: a personal sanctuary to recharge, relax, and de-stress. Doesn’t that sound divine? Search Pinterest for “she shed,” however, and the photos can overwhelm one with their full-blown cottages replete with high-end decor, skylights, a mini fridge, porch swing…you name it. While the concept of a private retreat is a major plus for self-care, creating a she shed shouldn’t become yet another burdensome house project or expense. And honestly, most people don’t have an old garden shed, gazebo, or cottage on their property to transform into an English garden- or fairy tale-inspired she shed. We’ve got ideas on how to bring the she shed idea back to a realistic and manageable level so that every woman can create one without stressing out or spending a lot.

Find Your Space

If you do happen to have a structure on your property you want to convert into a fabulous she shed, that’s awesome—more power to you! If you don’t, you’ll need to get a little creative. Think of “she shed” as a concept, and not necessarily a building. Is your kiddo off to college? Consider transforming their bedroom into your she shed, and having them bunk with a sibling when they’re home for a spell. Does your garage have an extra bay? Do you have a screened-in porch? A sitting area in your bedroom? A never-used “formal” dining room? A really big walk-in closet? See where I’m going with this? Find even a corner that you can make your personal oasis; then cordon it off with a room divider or screen for more privacy.

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Easy Tips to Keep Your Entryway Dry and Tidy During This Wet Winter

Your entry need not look like a post-deluge mess! These quick and easy tips will keep your entryway dry and tidy:

  • Mats on both sides of the door to help floors stay dry and mud-free
  • Boot trays to keep those galoshes from cluttering up and dirtying the entry
  • Small racks or hooks for keys, umbrellas, and hats
  • Heavy-duty racks or hooks for wet coats and backpacks
  • Cubbies, bins, or baskets for books, lunch bags, sports equipment, mail
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Ideas for Decorating A Small Master Bedroom

the spruce
May 2019

There is no reason at all that a small bedroom—even a really tiny bedroom—can’t be every bit as gorgeous, relaxing, and just plain full of personality as a much larger space. The trick to creating a lovely bedroom when square footage is limited is to make smart use of the space you do have, keep furnishings scaled to the room, and most of all, not be afraid to show off your decorating chops. Read the entire article at the spruce.

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Why You Aren’t In Love With Your Bedroom…And How To Fix It

If you think of your bedroom as the room you merely sleep in, we’d like to change your philosophy on this. Your bedroom is definitely your shut-eye space, but it could be so much more—your personal sanctuary, romantic hideaway, self-care she-shed, or zen retreat. It should be a place you can feel calm, peaceful, and safe in. We’ve come up with several possibilities of why you aren’t in love with your bedroom, and how to fix this.

Don’t Let Chaos Reign

There is no way you can feel relaxed in your bedroom if clutter is covering every piece of furniture and floor space. Spend a weekend cleaning your room (pretend you’re a grounded teen!): sort clean and dirty laundry, put everything back in its place, remove items that should be in other rooms, and get rid of donations or rubbish. An organized, decluttered bedroom will help you sleep better, then wake up to a smoother, calmer start to your day. It also improves air quality when you don’t have a bunch of stuff collecting dust. Your bedside tables should have minimal items on them: a lamp, the book you are currently reading, maybe hand lotion or a candle. Don’t forget to make your bed and put your folded PJs under your pillow each morning!

Move the Stressful Stuff Elsewhere

Do you sit in bed and work on your laptop? Do you have an exercise machine in the bedroom? This is a tough one, but seriously consider moving these activities and their accompanying physical pieces to another room altogether. Work and exercise are excellent and necessary, but so is a bedroom devoid of stressful, demanding things. Waking up and seeing your laptop or elliptical first thing is not conducive to a relaxing start to your day. If you really want to take it up a notch, stop taking your phone to bed with you. The screen’s blue light mimics daylight, which messes with your circadian rhythm, decreases your REM sleep, and hinders you from falling asleep.

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Top 5 Things to Do in January

Take care of these tasks this month and stay more organized for 2020!

  1. Make all the regular medical and dental appointments for you and your family for the rest of the year. You’ll have your choice of days/times if you do it this early, and you’ll be less likely to juggle last-minute calendar changes.
  2. While you’re working on your calendar, also add in dates for home and family upkeep: changing the furnace filters, changing the brush heads on your electric toothbrush, oil changes for your car, etc.—anything you do once or more annually.
  3. Buy cards! Hit up your favorite card store and buy birthday cards for your special people for the whole year. Also replenish your Thank You card stash, and get holiday cards while they’re on sale this month.
  4. Clean out your recipe sources. Whether you use cookbooks, index cards, a sectioned folder, or a binder, January is a great time to cull these down. Sit down and go through your recipes; recycle anything you didn’t cook last year, and will likely not cook this year.
  5. Do you have donation boxes that filled up after your holiday haul? Don’t wait; get these in your car and drop them off at your donation center of choice.
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How to Host A Guest When You Don’t Have a Guest Room

In my college days and early 20’s, “hosting a guest” basically meant having someone crash on my couch. Now that we are all “adulting” (that word still cracks me up), hosting a friend or relative means a whole lot more. We want to make guests feel welcome and comfortable, keep them entertained, respect their privacy, and hope they’ll visit again. This is definitely easier to do when you’ve got a guest room. But if your home or apartment doesn’t have the luxury of dedicated extra space for a visitor, it doesn’t mean you can’t host one. You just need to get a little more creative. We’ve got some helpful tips and tricks on hosting a guest when you don’t have a guest room.

A Clean Welcome

Now is a great time to give your place a good deep-clean, and while you’re at it, add in some decluttering and organizing. If you haven’t seen your visitors in a few years, nothing says “Welcome” like beckoning them into your clean, calm place that they can feel at home in, whether it’s for two nights or a week. Clear out your entryway, get everything off your dining table, fold and put away the laundry on the sofa, and scrub down the bathroom. It will give your guests a great impression as well as make you feel house-proud! If you need extra help, a professional organizer can support your efforts to getting your home guest-ready.

Create A Space

Your guests will appreciate a little bit of privacy, and without a guest room you’ll need to find an area of your home that you can temporarily set up as their personal space. It may be a corner of the living room, part of the playroom, or half of your home office. Consider getting a temporary room divider; they aren’t too expensive and can be easily put away for future use. You could even use it as a decorative element during the rest of the year. Move some furniture around to create this space; you may need to move some items into another room or the hall to do so.

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Say Goodbye to Your Storage Unit

Are you one of the 9.4% of U.S. households that own a storage unit? Be honest and think about the last time you needed to get something stored in your unit. Has it been three months, six months, or even a year? Chances are you could get rid of that storage unit and most of its contents, saving you an average of $89 a month. If you rented the unit as a temporary storage solution, consider the “temporary” part and recall why you had to rent the unit in the first place. Was it to store overflow items before or after a move? Did you rent it after you downsized your home or an aging parent’s? Were you using it to store items for a future estate sale? Whatever the reason, it’s probably time to clean out and say goodbye to your storage unit.

Step 1: Prepare yourself

It’s a big project that could take more than a day. Work in 4-hour time chunks if you can (it may take multiple sessions!). Do a last-minute pit stop at the location bathroom, and have a water bottle and a protein bar on hand. This is physical work and you’ll hit decision fatigue by the 4-hour limit. If you haven’t been to your storage unit in a long while, you likely won’t remember every item in there. Bring in extra hands, not just for heavy lifting and sorting, but for emotional support. You may come across items you have not seen in ages, such as your departed grandmother’s favorite dishes. It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed and sentimental about things you have dear memories of, but know you need to part with.

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