As seen on Huffington Post
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.
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.
As featured in Huffington Post
With the holidays a few weeks away the yearly “what am I going to do with all those gifts” anxiety is settling in. Being an interfaith/inter-tradition family we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. To my kids’ delight and to my dismay that means double the gifts. As a Professional Organizer and semi-minimalist you can see why this stirs up anxiety.
Don’t get me wrong, I love giving and receiving presents but I also firmly believe that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing and that children tend to play more creatively and better when there are less toys around them. I see it over and over again with my clients and in my own home, after we have cut down the number of toys kids play more productively with what they have left.
The same tends to be true with adults. Less stuff = less clutter = less upkeep = more time to live your life and focus on what matters. Now, I’m not advocating everyone to get a green suit and be all Grinch-like for Christmas this year, but I do think we can shift our focus. So, here are some of my tips for a clutter-free (or at least a reduced clutter) holiday season.
Secret Santa: An oldie but a goodie. This is not just for your office gift exchange anymore! We are a large family (10 adults & 6 children with another on the way) and we started this a few years ago for the adults, with great success. It cuts down on the crap, excuse me, gifts you receive and if you add a wish list to your exchange you may actually get something that you want. There are tons of on-line programs and apps out there but we have been using DrawNames.com for a few years. It’s free, allows for restrictions (so couples don’t get each other) and you can post your wish list so that it’s visible for the group.
Experiences: This one works for adults and kids alike. I much prefer to get something I can do than something I can use. A gift certificate for a favorite restaurant means a future date night for me & the husband. You can have a group chip in for tickets to an upcoming event (sports, a concert, a play, etc). The same theory applies to kids; I love giving and receiving movie theater gift certificates. Kids love going to see movies on the big screen (at least mine do!) and it’s wonderful to have that time out with them. The same goes for gift cards for a local indoor play area (especially great when it’s too cold to play outside), a kid-friendly museum, a local zoo, etc
Donations: The answer to what do you get for the person that has everything. A donation to their favorite charity and a beautiful handwritten note to go with it. This can be especially helpful if you send gifts to relatives that don’t live near you. Save on shipping a heavy gift and do some good. Double bonus! I have a friend who asks for donations for a local animal charity in lieu of gifts for the children at their birthday party. It’s a hit every year!
Time: A good one if your budget is a bit stretched this year too. Offer to babysit their kids, take your mom out for lunch just the two of you, prepare and deliver a delicious meal to the busy family, take your BFF to get her nails done, treat your brother-in-law to a round of golf with you. Try to use your skills or common interests to spend time together.
Consumables: This one works for people who like to eat (and really, are there those out there that don’t?!?!?) A box of their favorite candy or chocolates that are too decadent to buy for yourself but are great to receive as a gift. A make-your-own kit: all the fixings for delicious hot chocolate, fancy cones and toppings for ice cream sundaes, take a few minutes to search on Pinterest. . . there are sooo many great ideas out there! For non-food items you can get some yummy smelling hand soap, favorite beauty products, membership to a shaving club or an e-book.
If these ideas aren’t for you and you would rather dip your toe into clutter-free holidays instead of doing a cannon-ball try talking to your family and friends about limiting the number of gifts that are given. I know this can be tough when it comes to kids. Grandparents, aunts and uncles all love to buy gift after gift for the children in the family. But having a conversation with them about how you want your children to focus on appreciating what they have instead of how much they are given can go a long way. The advice I give to a lot of my clients is to blame it on me. Just tell them that “my Professional Organizer has asked me to limit the number of new things that come into my home”. Blame comes off of you and onto me, another win-win!
Happy Organizing & Happy Holidays!
Do you have an organizing dilemma or question you want answered? Comment below and I may feature it in a future post!