Thursday, October 29, 2009

More Hints from Heloise

In my last blog I promised to give you the other half of Heloise’s article from the September 2004 Good Housekeeping called “Take Control of Clutter.” Here it is and you can also check out some of her other de-cluttering tips on how to store specific items like art, china and glassware. Links to these topics can be found at:

Last time I gave you her things to do if you only have 5 minutes; here are some suggestions if you have a little more time.

If you have one hour...
When serious decluttering is in store, try the ABC method. Select a cabinet or closet that's been bugging you. Take everything out and arrange items into three piles:

A: always used
B: used during the holidays and special occasions, or seasonally
C: not seen or used in a year or so

Then do a final sort:
Step 1: Toss or give away C items unless they are valuable or have sentimental worth.
Step 2: Return B items to the back of the storage area.
Step 3: Place the A team in the front of the space so those items will be handy for immediate use.

Develop an organizing system — and stick with it. Try these approaches:

Oh, give me a home!
Always put things back in the same place: Children's papers belong in a basket in a central location. Bicycles and sports gear go in the designated rack or spot in the garage. Coats belong on a coat tree or in the front-hall closet. Toys should be placed in a chest or bin every night; teach kids this bedtime ritual.

Keep stuff in plain sight.
Don't let milk, eggs, and other foods with a short shelf life get pushed to the back of the fridge. Put these items up front, where you can monitor expiration dates. Place the tools you use often (say, a screwdriver or a hammer) at arm's reach on a pegboard; other tools belong higher up. Hang the clothes you wear to work front and center. To save more time: Pick your outfits for the week on Sunday and place each one on a single hanger.

Let no box go unmarked.
Use masking tape, a label maker, or permanent-ink pens. I like to tape an index card to the outside of a container. Or, take snapshots of what's inside.My favorite cheap storage helpers are plastic or metal garbage cans with lids, see-through plastic bins, wire baskets and utility shelving, and pegboard and metal racks.

Here's what to use in your...

•Attach narrow racks inside cabinet doors for lightweight items — pot lids, paper rolls, plastic bags, etc.
•Store veggies and fruits in hanging three-tier wire baskets. Keep leftovers in see-through containers (I love glass mayonnaise and spaghetti sauce jars). Label the container with the date on top.

...Living Room
•Use large baskets to corral magazines, books, or TV and stereo remotes. Put skirts on side tables so you can store things underneath and out of sight.
•Place a big, handsome trunk in front of the couch or along the wall. It can serve as both a table and a storage bin.

•Keep linens or off-season clothes inside plastic containers with wheels, rolled under the bed.
•Assign one bowl to hold everything that comes out of a purse or pocket. Use an over-the-door shoe rack for organizing small purses and accessories. Put a pretty box or covered basket on your bedside table as a home for your nail file, scissors, hand lotion, ear plugs, etc.

•Place a lazy Susan in your under-the-sink cabinet to organize bathroom items like nail polish or small bottles, etc.
•If space is tight, hang sturdy shelves above toilet to hold towels or bath accessories.

...Laundry Room
•Keep at least two hampers — one for whites, the other for darks. Station clothing trees, a basket for clean laundry, and garment racks near the ironing board.
•Store supplies in a large plastic shelf basket to contain spills.
•Set up a counter for sorting and folding clothes.

•Use utility racks geared specifically for storing sports equipment or bikes. Store rakes and other gardening tools inside plastic garbage cans with wheels.
•Install pegboard on walls to hang and organize small items.

•Create specific storage zones — holiday, vacation, clothing, school. Mark the floor with tape or paint to remind you which area is which.

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