Think back to the day you moved into your current home. Before the furniture arrived, the rooms seemed huge, an empty canvas stood in front of you. But now, life happened. It’s easier than you think to organize your home, and you don’t need an expensive trip to a specialty store or a visit from a pricey consultant. Think unconventionally, and you’ll discover that many inexpensive items you may already own can be repurposed in other ways.
This may not work for renters, but if you’re able to paint, consider giving one wall a smart coat of chalkboard paint. It’s unobtrusive when blank and gives you a fun place to write calendar reminders, sketch out shopping lists or just let the family doodle away. You can paint over it when you’re ready to move and are working through all the things you can do to improve the resale value of your home.
Creating art with children is something every parent should do in their lifetime. You can’t save every precious, smeared handprint turkey, but who can bear to toss Little Picasso’s creations? Save a few, but use your phone’s camera and snap photos of the rest. You can text the images to grandma, store them in a digital album for yourself and be more sustainable by recycling the paper versions.
It’s tough to get by without a suitcase or two, but there’s no denying they’re awkward to store. Why waste all the empty space inside them? Make a Russian doll of sorts out of your suitcases by zipping small suitcases inside large ones. Also, if you own anything like a travel pillow or slim blanket you only use on trips, throw those in the smallest suitcase now so they’re there when you next start packing. You’ll be well on your way to finally being an efficient packer.
Snail mail probably isn’t going anywhere any time soon, so make a rule: Don’t put down your paper mail once you pick it up. Force yourself to open it, sort it and deal with it the day it arrives. Especially those RSVPs, it’s an old etiquette rule to reply in a day.
And speaking of snail mail, when you’re going through those bills, look for any options to change to auto-pay or email billing. Not only will you save trees and clutter, but auto-pay helps you avoid those nasty late fees when you misplace or forget about a paper bill. Just make sure you keep your digital life organized, too.
One way life changes when you have children? Toys, everywhere. Even just a few stuffed animals can turn a neat bedroom into a regular zoo. Any old laundry hamper, preferably soft-sided, can turn into an easy-to-access home for your child’s menagerie.
Here’s an easy cheat: After you wash a set of extra bed linens, use one of the pillowcases as a handy storage sack, and stash the sheets and other cases inside. They’ll be conveniently together the next time you need to remake the bed. While you’re at it, here is how often you should really be washing those home essentials.
Did you forget how best to clean your favorite coffee maker? Instruction booklets sometimes come in handy, but who wants to keep thick paper manuals around for the one time in three years you need to check a certain fact? Good news: Many modern appliance manuals and instructions are now available online, so recycle as many of the paper versions as you can and bring down your carbon footprint.
Underneath the kitchen sink is a pretty good spot to store the products you use to clean the dirtiest places in your home. But who wants to get down on the floor and dig for that one pad of steel wool or bottle of pet-stain remover for when you’re potty-training your puppy? Inexpensive rotating trays let you spin your way through a variety of different items to save time and sanity.
The bigger your family, the more tangled and busy home schedules get. Keep track of who has soccer, doctor appointments and pep rallies by keeping a large and legible home calendar, then assigning each family member’s events a different color. Yes, online calendars are great, too, but this lets you see who’s busy when in an easy and obvious way.
Does your bedroom floor boast a stack of books that could rival that of the most beautiful libraries? Bedside tables can be clunky and small, but a classic, multi-level bar cart may offer a stylish solution. Try books on one level, magazines on another and digital devices and chargers on a third, giving all new meaning to curating a bar cart.
You don’t need a floor-to-ceiling linen closet that can accommodate stacks and stacks of bath towels. Try rolling up your towels and washcloths and storing them in your bathroom in any handy crate, small hamper or shelving unit. They look snazzy and are easy to find and grab, especially when you have guests over.
If you just toss your spices into a drawer, spice up your cooking with this tip. Pick up a magnetic spice rack set — it’s simply a big piece of metal you hang in your kitchen and small magnetic containers that snap right to it. You can even attach the tins to a metal fridge or appliance if that’s easier. Your most-used spices will be at hand, and you’ve freed up a drawer or shelf. Or even better, keep some and toss some.
When you’re emptying the trash, who wants to have to run to the pantry or reach under the sink to hunt for a new garbage bag? Slip a few unused bags in the bottom of the can and then set up the new bag on top of them as you normally would. The next time you pull out the full bag, you’ll have a new one at the ready. It’s an especially handy hack when hosting a party.
What about the rest of the trash bags? They usually come in gigantic rolls crammed in unwieldy boxes, and those boxes rip and tear and are less than ideally accessible. Flatten and recycle the boxes, perch the roll of bags on a paper-towel holder under your sink or in a closet, and you’ll always have them at hand.
Those stylin’ knee-high boots may look great, but try to store them on a shoe rack and they flop. Give your boots a boost by inserting cut-down pool noodles to make the boots stand up straight so that you don’t end up defying fashion rules with wrinkly boots.
You expertly gifted all your holiday presents and grabbed some extra gift wrap during the holiday clearance sales, but now what? An inexpensive but tall trash bin can corral all the wrapping paper rolls while still keeping the different patterns visible, and you can even toss bows and gift tags in the can as well.
Bathroom-accessory drawers can end up messy very quickly. Pick up an inexpensive cutlery organizer, meant to separate forks, spoons and knives, and use it in a bathroom drawer to arrange makeup, brushes and combs, hair ties and more. And remember that most of these items should never be shared with others.
Paper-towel holders are simple — wooden or plastic dowels mounted on a base. But like cutlery organizers, they don’t need to be confined to kitchen use. Plop one on your bathroom counter or windowsill to stack your stylish bracelets for easy access.
Why isn’t cereal sold inside zip-top bags to seal in the freshness? Protect your morning munchables by sealing opened cereal bags with those small chip clips meant for potato and tortilla chips. Now you just sit and wait for your favorite discontinued cereals to come back.
Ever admired those crisp stacks of shirts you see in the mall, with not a sleeve out of place? You, too, can fold shirts like a Gap employee. Simple plastic shirt-folders not only clean up the looks of your shelves, but they create more room in your closet and make clothing items easier to find. It’s a win-win-win.
Some sort their closets by color, some by style, some just shove it all in there and hope for the best. If you like to sort, you can pick up simple hanging tags to separate dresses from blouses from skirts and so on. You’ll save so much time that you’ll be able to fit in that low-impact workout in the morning.
Plastic bags are on their way out at the best grocery stores in America, but sometimes you just need some around for various uses. You can try cramming them inside each other, but an easier storage solution is to grab an old tissue box and squish them inside. They’ll pop out when you reach for one, but stay safely inside until needed.
Tiered hanging baskets meant to keep fruit and vegetables off your kitchen counters can be repurposed to store winter accessories for near-the-door grab-and-go time. This hack can be used for keys or sunglasses in places where it’s summer all the time.
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