Organize Souvenirs in a Jar

Young kids love to collect rocks, sand, and shells while on vacation. When you return home, put those special objects in a jar. (Bonus tip: always tuck a few plastic bags into your suitcase when on vacation; the bags are helpful in many ways, and give you a place to stash those rocks and shells!)

I kept a few jars of shells and rocks on my daughter’s bookshelf. Now a teenager, she had the idea of using those jars as bookends. They are mementos and functional.

 

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Snowed in? Get Organized!

Home with a snow day today? Once the French toast is done, and the movies get old, try an organizing project to clear the clutter and make you feel better. 

Here are some of my favorite ideas to get you started:

 

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How to Clear the Corner Clutter?

Corners are magnets for clutter! Things seem to end up in the corners of our rooms, often in piles, bags, or boxes. If you really want to clear the clutter, take a look at what's hiding out in the corners.

Here’s how to get started:

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  1. Pick one corner to tackle. Set a timer for 30 minutes.
  2. Pull everything out. Toss and recycle what you can.
  3. Put items in categories, and put away what you can.
  4. Consider each item and why it ended up in the corner. Does it not have a place to go? Or is the place it goes over stuffed? Does the item require an action? Is it in transition to go somewhere else (to be donated, to a friend, to a family member)?
  5. Deal with each of the items. If they have to go into a space that is overstuffed, put it in the area and then schedule another time to declutter that space. You can also schedule time to follow up and make decisions or add the action items to your To Do list. If items are going out, put them near your door or in your car and resolve to pass them on within a week. 

Once you’ve been able to clear the clutter in your corners, enjoy your space! The room will feel more open and peaceful.

Secret Storage for an Organized Bedroom

Is your bedroom peaceful, calm and organized? If not, consider furniture with secret storage. 

  • Many beds come with storage drawers underneath. This is great for kids - and adults! The deep drawers are perfect for tucking away linens, or bulky clothing like sweaters and sweatshirts.
  • Want a clear dresser surface? This cool dresser (see photo) has a top that lifts up to reveal shallow storage perfect for jewelry.
  • Don't forget about ottomans with storage. They not only provide a place to sit, but do double-duty providing a space for blankets or clothing. 
 Hidden jewelry storage

Hidden jewelry storage

Stylish Storage for Stuffed Animals: 4 new Options

I’m excited to see Target has a new line for kids’ rooms called Pillowfort, with super stylish bedding, furniture, and my favorite—storage.

Check out these awesome options for storing stuffed animals (or dolls, blankets, balls). The bins come in many different colors and shapes (tall, round, square).

And if you are ready to pare down and donate some stuffed animals, read this post from my blog series, “How Do I Get Rid of…”

Sentimental About Stuffed Animals? Try This!

After reading my post, How Do I Get Rid of Stuffed Animals, a friend shared her creative idea for what to do with stuffed animals when you aren’t ready to let them go. She said she was too sentimental to part with any stuffed animals yet, but she also didn’t want them taking over her kids’ rooms.

Her solution was to purchase a bean bag cover (cover only, no filling), and then load up the inside with the entire stuffed animal collection! The bean bag sits near the books in the room, and if her boys really want one of the animals, it can come out. What a fun idea!

For a similar idea, Boon makes an Animal Bag, a cover specifically for stuffed animals, but with a window, so you can see what’s inside. Once it’s filled it makes a cozy seat.

There are also stuffed animal hammocks, but I really love the bean bag chair cover idea.

What are your ideas for keeping control of a stuffed animal collection?

New Year, New Closet – Part 2

Last week my elfa closet system was installed and I couldn’t be happier!

After my husband worked so hard on getting the ancient plaster walls repaired in the closet, we decided to have an elfa installer put in the system. My installer was amazing: he was used to working in old homes and was able to use every inch of space.

It’s amazing what a difference it makes when your clothing hangs from the rod facing you, instead of an angle as it used to be (see “before” photo below). I can see everything, and I also noticed how many pairs of pants I have that I haven’t been wearing!

BEFORE    READY AND WAITING

ELFA INSTALLED  A NEW CLOSET

While my closet may look full, I have so much room in between clothes hanging on the rods; items aren’t stuffed in as they were before. I nearly doubled my hanging space. And I love the new pull out shoe shelves. All the components are adjustable, which is a huge plus in a closet.

Do you have a closet system that works for you? What’s your secret to an organized closet?

I have not received any compensation for this post; I am just very happy with how my elfa closet system turned out.

New Year, New Closet – Part I

This year I’m getting a new clothing closet, and I couldn’t be more excited!

I’m fortunate that my 1890s home actually has two closets in the master bedroom, so I have one all to myself. It’s a decent sized closet, but the space was definitely not utilized to its fullest. And like so many closets around here it had one single shelf across the top, and two rods perpendicular to each side – not even straight across!

My fabulous husband is repairing the cracked plaster walls of the closet (see him on Ask This Old House) and then we are going to install an elfa closet system from The Container Store.

The Container Store offers all kinds of adjustable elfa components for “reach-in” closets and I’m in the process of designing one with my local store. Many of my clients rave about elfa so I am looking forward to having a system that utilizes all the space in my closet.

Here are photos of everything that I took out of the closet, and what the empty closet looks like “before.”  Stay tuned for after photos.

De-Clutter & Donate: Anton’s Cleaners Coats for Kids

It’s that time again – time to go into the back of your closet and see what coats you can donate to Anton’s Cleaners Coats for Kids program. I know my daughter outgrew her winter coat last year, so I’m ready to pass it on.

This year Coats for Kids will be collecting coats from October 14th through January 11th. Coats will be cleaned and then partner organizations will distribute them to families in need throughout the Greater Boston area.

Favorite Container #9: Closet with Adjustable Shelving

A closet is one of my favorite containers for organizing the home. Whether it holds food, clothes, toys, games, party supplies, or winter coats, the closet is an important tool for keeping chaos at bay.

And I don’t mean because you can stuff things in and simply shut the door! A closet can provide a ton of storage. I’ve found that one of key elements to a functional closet is having shelving, and preferably, adjustable shelving.

I like adjustable shelving because it gives you the flexibility to move the shelves based on what you are storing. While fixed shelving (often in bedrooms) is better than no shelves at all, installing shelves that can move helps the closet adjust to whatever you decide to keep inside.

For example, the closet in my family room is filled with arts and crafts, photo albums, sewing items, and gift wrapping supplies. I was able to cut and install the shelving to fit perfectly around my Rubbermaid Wrap n’ Craft storage container.  But if I end up storing games or something else in here, I can lower the shelf height and use a longer shelf piece.

One of my favorite projects was converting our barely-useful hall closet into an awesome storage space. Originally this closet had the typical clothing bar and one high shelf, with a huge open space underneath. Suitcases, bags, the vacuum and my husbands work clothes ended up there, but there was a ton of unused space.

After installing adjustable shelves, this closet not only holds clothes, but also all our travel items, the beach towels and bags, and extra bedding. We picked the shelf height based on what we were going to store inside.

As soon as the cracked walls in my bedroom closet are fixed, I can’t wait to try out elfa shelving from The Container Store. Stay tuned for more on that project.

The bottom line: If you are creating a closet from scratch or re-doing an old closet, install adjustable shelving.

Kids Clothing Organizer

It’s back to school time! While I’m excited for the return to a more regular routine, it also means back to overseeing homework, packing lunches, and making sure the favorite shirt is clean.

One way to avoid arguments in the morning about what your child is wearing to school is to use an outfit sorter. It hangs from the rod in the closet and provides a slot for each day of the week. Your child chooses their outfits for the week ahead of time, maybe on Sunday (or the night before) and puts everything into the slot. Then in the morning it is so easy to grab the clothes and get dressed!

Not only does this pre-planning help alleviate some of the morning stress, it also teaches your child to be more independent.  It also helps you both find out if the favorite shirt is in the wash, avoiding last minute frustration.

Here are a few examples of clothing organizers:

For more on organizing your child’s room, check out my video from This Mom Needs Help!

Favorite Container #7: Eagle Creek™ Pack-It™ Cubes

This month kicks off my summer travel and I’m very excited to report on my new favorite container for travel: the Eagle Creek™ Pack-It™ Specter Cubes.

When my husband and I travel together we often share a suitcase. Everything inside starts out nice and neatly folded, but after day 1, his stacks of clothes start to topple over into my clothes. After a few days it’s chaos and neither of us can easily find what we need.

The Eagle Creek™ Pack-It™ Specter Cubes solved this problem! My husband and I tested out the cubes on our eight-day trip to South Dakota, where we would be packing and re-packing often.

We bought two sets of small, medium and large. While the small size was pretty small to hold much, the large size worked great to hold stacks of shirts or shorts.

The cubes are super light and fit perfectly into a carry-on or full size suitcase. Best of all, they kept my clothes separate from my husband’s. My husband also loved that the cubes make it very easy to re-pack items after several days away.

This specific product helped us solve a nagging issue. Sometimes a specialized container is the way to go.

That’s Neat! Organizing did not receive any compensation for this review. I just love the product!

Travel Tip: Stack, Fold & Roll

Travel Tip from a client: Stack all your shirts together, fold in the arms, and then roll them up. The client did this last year for a trip to Europe and said it really worked – it even kept out the wrinkles.

I tried this on our recent summer trip and found that it worked better for synthetic or blend shirts, rather than all cotton ones. My all cotton T-shirts were still pretty wrinkled.

I also tried stacking and rolling all my shorts and skirts together; they didn’t have too many wrinkles and it definitely saved space.

Do you roll your clothes when you pack? What's your packing secret?

Favorite Container #4: Clear Boxes for the Closet

It’s that time of year in New England when a beautiful, sunny 65 degree day is then followed by a cold, raw and rainy day. While the weather is unpredictable, warmer temps are on the horizon—and by this point I am feeling done with Winter gear no matter what! 

While getting our closets and the mudroom ready for the change of seasons, I realized how much I rely on clear boxes and canvas bins. So this month for My Favorite Container Series I’ll share how I use clear, plastic boxes for a simple, easy system.

No surprise here: I like clear, plastic boxes because they make what is inside visible, and they are durable. (I’ve written before about how The Container Store clear boxes are my favorite.) 

But the boxes also are integral to how I maintain my closet, and help my daughter with hers. 

  • My husband and I store our off-season clothes in fairly large clear, plastic bins. When it’s time to get the summer things out, I can bring down the bins from the attic. Take the warm weather clothes out, and load in the winter things. The bins are Sterilite (115 quart size) and are bigger than I’d like, but it is very easy to just have one bin to look for and deal with!
  • In our closets we also store our winter (wool, cashmere) sweaters in clear sweater boxes. When sweater season is over I add some new cedar blocks and snap the lid shut.
  • I also use a clear box without a lid to hold my handbags on the top shelf of my closet.
  • All my work and dressy shoes are stored in clear boxes.
  • My daughteris growing so fast, so I keep a clear bin on the top shelf of her closet. This is a typical old closet with one fairly high shelf at the top—it’s the perfect place for the “Clothes to Grow Into” bin.

The clear bins make it easy to 1) change out my clothes at the change of the seasons; 2) organize  and see my sweaters, shoes, and handbags; and 3) contain my daughter’s clothes that she’ll grow into.

Important Bonus Tip:  If you are doing a seasonal change of clothes in your closet, now is the time to do a quick purge of items you 1) didn’t wear at all in the last 6 months and 2) really don’t love anymore.

And if you need help with setting up a closet system that works for you, please let me know!

Hate to Get Dressed? Great Tips to Love your Wardrobe Again

When you open your closet in the morning, do you love getting dressed…or do you want to run away and hide? Or maybe you don’t even open your closet, but instead shift through the clothes piled on the chair or dresser.

Here’s some inspiration to refresh and re-organize your wardrobe:

First, watch how experts help a local mom with her questions about her wardrobe in the latest videos on This Mom Needs Help:

  • Get Dressed With Style (with the amazing image consultant Ginger Burr) will help you weed through the closet clutter and find the clothes you truly love.
  • Get Local Fashion (with the fabulous Laura Pierce) shows you how to shop boutiques locally for wardrobe basics – and those “wow” pieces that add flair to your regular routine.

Next, use my top tips for closet organization and give your closet a makeover – even 15 minutes of purging can make a big difference!

  • Do a sort and purge each spring and fall. Donate any items that you don’t fit or that you don’t love to wear. Be ruthless in getting rid of things you haven’t worn in over a year.
  • Get the stuff that doesn’t belong out of the closet; maybe you can relocate the vacuum, towels or boxes of papers.
  • Don’t overstuff your closet! You need room to easily take items out, and put them away.

And finally, here’s a fun article about how closet space in NYC apartments affect the real estate value. It may make you feel better about the space you have!

If you need help making your closet a wonderful space for you, contact me at elizabeth@thatsneatorganizing.com or 617-905-7762 today!

Getting Teens to Clean–New York Times Article

Good article in the New York Times about parents dealing with their teenager’s bedrooms. I’m taking notes for when my daughter enters this stage in a few years!

What are your tips for getting your kids to clean?

Here are some ideas from me that appeared in the Boston Parents Paper April 2012.

Transitioning Kids Clothes

Today at a client’s house I saw her clever way to manage clothes that didn’t fit her 4-year old son: she had two bags hanging from his closet rod. One was marked “too small” and the other was “too big.”

When the “too small” bag was full, she’d move the clothes to a container to save for her 2-year old to grow into.  The “too big” bag gave her a place to put things she was given or bought ahead of time, but that her son would soon be able to wear.

I always tell clients to keep only what fits their child in the dresser and closet, and this bag system was a great way to transition clothes in and out of the closet.

Summer Guests

Do you have friends or family coming to visit this summer? Here are some tips to help get you organized.

Put the visits on your calendar, so you know who is coming when! I love to use Google calendar that is shared with my husband.

Create a quick “cheat sheet” for your home with key information for guests: how to get on the wireless network, how to work the TV, and any quirks about how to lock the house or where you keep the extra keys.

If you are short on space or don’t have a dedicated guest room, you can still create an inviting space for guests:

  • Have your inflatable mattress or bed ready to go, or sleeping bags for kids.
  • Be sure to have some extra linens and towels on hand, and have them out and ready, so your guests don’t have to go searching through your linen closet to find what they need.
  • Create a guest supply station in a cabinet or closet shelf. (For more tips on creating this station, see the tips for June in my 12 Months of Organizing Calendar…on sale for 50% off!)

Dorm Space Savers 101

Recently I had one of my most fun organizing sessions ever: helping my niece set up her dorm room at Harvard! She may have been the only freshman with her own personal organizer, but her mom (my sister) had everything well prepared…including coming with a ton of organizing products.

Although my daughter won’t be heading off to college for quite a while, I was taking notes on what products really worked. Here are my three favorites: 

  1. Slimline hangers by Real Simple – I love slimline hangers, and these have a great improvement: small hooks which allow the hangers to hang from each other, saving space. Using these hangers meant my niece could get twice as many clothes into her closet.
  2. Clear drawers – These drawers were perfect for organizing shoes, boots, and linens under the bed. We were able to stack two on top of each other gaining even more space.
  3. 3M Command products – The Command products are perfect for hanging up, not marking up, dorm rooms. We used them to hang everything from magnet boards, to pictures, to scarf holders in the closet.

My niece was excited to have her dorm room set up, decorated, and get all her clothes in the closet.