5 Things To Think About When Organizing Your Entryway

I don’t know about you but if my entryway isn’t tidy and free of clutter it doesn't matter how clean the rest of the house is, it just feels messy.  Call it what you want, the vestibule, mudroom, foyer, it’s the first impression you have of a home and if you don’t have a good organizational system setup that works for you and your family you will constantly be fighting a losing battle.  

Much like any other room that needs organizing there are many factors that come into play that will help determine what is going to work for you.

Who are you organizing for?

Do you have an adult only home? A few small children? A very wide age-range of people living with you? Do you have visitors over often?  Really stop and think about the needs of the room and the people that pass through there.

Think Vertical

Using the vertical space in a given room is a great way to increase your storage space.  This is especially true in the entryway.  A row of hooks on the wall for extra jacket storage, a shelf to store baskets; both can really help you get the most out of your space.  Just be sure that your are factoring in the height of the people who live there.  Hooks at the right level for children can really help encourage them to hang up their coats on their own and  easily get them before leaving the house.  If you don’t have a lot of wall space, think about the vertical space you do have.  Look at the inside walls of the front closet. You may be able to put some hooks there.  You can also try using a closet doubler (basically a rod that hangs from your existing closet rod)  for increased coat storage.

Accessibility Based on Frequency of Use

You really want to try to make items that are used frequently as accessible as possible.  In the winter this means your hats, scarves, gloves.  In the warmer months those items will switch over to the sunhats, sunglasses and sunscreen.  You can store these items out of the way while not being used. While they are in high demand you can try open basketa or bins or even cute bags on wall hooks.

Have Defined Spaces

Try to think of defined spaces for your things in the same way that directions help us to get from point A to point B.  When a path is clear it is easy to follow.  This can be as simple as having a mat for shoes and boots, or labeling the storage containers.  It is hard to blame the members of your house for leaving stuff all over the floor when they come in if it isn’t clear where to put it.  For your older kids, whose school bags end up all over the house, having hooks with their names or open-concept lockers may do the trick.  Pinterest is my go-to website for inspiration. You can find all kinds of ideas depending on your decor and budget.

Don’t Forget Your Guests

When organizing your space don’t forget to have a bit of storage wiggle room for friends and family.  This can be as simple as extra hangers (and enough space for what you will be hanging) in your front closet. I’m a “no shoes in the house” person.  I blame it on my microbiology background and knowing how easily gross outdoor bacteria can get tracked inside and then directly into my children’s mouths as they drop their food on the floor and then eat it.  For that reason I keep a basket of slippers in the front closet in varying sizes for guests.  That way I have something to offer them when I kindly ask them to remove their shoes before coming in.

 

When it comes down to it, this high-traffic area is just like any other space in your home.  You want to try and think through how you are using it and what specific organizational issues you are having.  Try not to go against your natural tendencies.  Instead, find a way to work within them.  If junk mail ends up in a pile near the door, then perhaps that would be a good place for a wastepaper basket.  If your kids take off their socks as soon as they walk in, then consider having a small laundry bin handy.  Organizing is personal and unique to each space and family.  You just need to find what works for you and it will be nearly effortless to maintain.

Happy Organizing!

How A Professional Organizer Tidies Up Under The Sink

As seen in Huffington Post

organizer sink

My last post tackled starting small with your organizing as a way to motivate you onto the bigger projects.  I focused on steps you can use to tackle the often forgotten about space under the sink, but really you can apply those steps to other spaces that need a bit of love.  Since one of the biggest questions I get is “How do you keep your home organized” I thought you might appreciate a look into my home. Particularly under my sink and how I deal with it when it is no longer working.

The space wasn’t a disaster but definitely needed an update.  It’s always a good plan to identify what your problem is before going in to fix it.  My two biggest issues were that: 1. We use a lot of washcloths to wipe kid’s face and hands and the dirty ones kept congregating on the counter until I got fed up enough to bring them to the laundry room.  2. The stackable bins I was using wouldn’t stay stacked and what I had in them wasn’t accessible enough for me.

The third issue was that no one other than me was really maintaining my system.  What was intuitive to me wasn’t as straightforward to my husband and my kids couldn’t grab a washcloth or hand towel with turning everything upside down.

I had a few minutes one day and decided to deal with this space.  So out everything came and the inside got a thorough wipe down.  Once all the products came out and they were sorted I took inventory of what I really needed to keep there.  I have to admit, since I had already pared down what was stored there some time ago the list wasn’t very long.  My biggest challenges was really getting everything back under the sink in a way that A. made sense for how I used it and B. was going to be maintained by others.

With a husband, a 5 year old and 3 year old this was no small feat.  Clearly what I was doing before wasn’t working so I decided to keep it simple.  Very simple.  The most used items needed to be right in front and it needed to be SUPER clear where things went.

The recycling bin was a non-movable.  It’s the most convenient and out of sight spot for us to have it.  Unfortunately that means I lose about half my space.  Saving the earth takes sacrifice!  I picked up a small plastic shelf from the dollar store and grabbed some bins that both fit what I needed to store and could go in the space the shelf allowed for.

organized kitchen sink

My under the sink essentials are washcloths, kitchen towels, dish sponges, clothes to clean the counter and dishwasher detergent (because we seriously run that thing once a day!) I also needed a convenient spot to put all the dirty cloths and towels so they wouldn’t end up on the counter.  Since my kids can’t read yet, I realized that not only did I have to label them but they needed to be in different containers so I could identify them to my children.  Oh, you need a washcloth? That’s in the clear bin.  You took my hand towel to clean the water you spilled all over the floor because your toys need a bath? No problem, just throw it in the green bucket.

So back everything went into it’s clearly designated space.  I also store a few items that only I really use behind the shelf.  Special cleaner for the stovetop, white vinegar and the cleaning concentrate I use to make up the spray I use on the counters.  You’ll notice I don’t really store cleaning products under the sink.  Over the years I have really pared down what I use in the kitchen.  I only use dish soap and a spray for the counters and they both stay up top in a tray next to the sink.   The amount of times my children literally lick food off the table has made me very careful about what I use to clean.

life hack organized

The last part of this space is the inside of the doors.  I didn’t change anything around this time but I do use them to hang rubber gloves (which I wear only if my nails are done which unfortunately is very infrequently, they usually get nabbed by my three year old when she plays dress-up) and a place for the plastic bags that we accumulate.

I did this under the sink update a little over two months ago and haven’t had an issue since.  Yes the occasional washcloth or dirty towel still finds it’s way to the counter but that’s just life.  It really is the small changes that make a big difference. When you see how much positive can come out of a few small changes it can be very motivating to tackle some slightly bigger projects.

Happy Organizing!  If you want to send me a peek under your kitchen sink get in touch here.


The Organized Pantry

As featured in The Suburban

organized pantry

There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a recipe and having to spend 15 minutes searching through your pantry for the baking soda. Or buying a third box of cornstarch when you know you already have two open ones that you can’t seem to find.   Welcome to the black hole that most people refer to as their pantry.  Many of the homes I organize have deep kitchen pantries, which theoretically offer more space, but ultimately cause you to lose items in the back of the pantry.

Enter the “Zone Pantry”.  Although it’s a bit cliché for a Professional Organizer to use bins and baskets to make a space work, it’s cliché because it works.  Every client I have set up with this system has loved it and has maintained it.  Depending on the height and depth of your shelves you may want to go with tall, clear bins, or lower open baskets.  Ultimately it comes down to what works for you and your home.

The first step is to take all the food out of the pantry and group it together. The most common groupings are: oils & vinegars, baking, syrups & sweeteners, sauces, sweets, chips & crackers, pasta & rice. It ultimately depends on your style of cooking but try to put “like with like”.  This way of organizing really cuts down on the time spent looking for items as well as allowing you to take stock of what you need at a glance.

Cans and spices can also be difficult to organize.  If you don’t have a wall mounted spice rack that works for you, try storing your spices on a Lazy Susan.  It offers easy access for your most common spices without having to move things around to find them.  For cans, one of my favorite products is a can holder or can rack.  These allow for easy visual access to your cans and can usually be adjusted based on the sizes of cans you have.

Happy Organizing!