Archives for September 2007
I was recently at a friend’s home and he had a new HDTV. It was entirely too big for the room where he was viewing it and the closer I sat to the large screen the worse the picture appeared.
People can incorrectly assume that “bigger is better,” but that isn’t necessarily true for an HDTV. When investing in an HDTV you definitely want to figure out the distance from which you will be viewing the television. Here is a chart via CNET that is pretty straight forward:
Generally, 30-inch and smaller sets are great for bedrooms or guest rooms but too small for the main living room. Sets with bigger screens are large enough for the whole family to enjoy and will probably be too much for most small bedrooms. Remember that tube TVs are also fairly deep and get bulkier as the screen size increases. You’ll want to pick out a deep-enough spot for the TV so that it doesn’t protrude awkwardly into the room.
Now, go forth and purchase a set that is right for your den and don’t let the large-size screens entice you into something you don’t need.
This week’s Workspace of the Week is Powkang’s student studio in NYC. She lives in her workspace, so it’s pretty impressive. Check out both sides of her apartment studio, which she’s annotated. What I really love is her inspirational view of Manhattan.
It’s very cool that she keeps that view uncluttered.
Want to have your own workspace featured in Workspace of the Week? Submit a picture to the Unclutterer flickr pool. Check it out because we have a nice little community brewing there. Also, don’t forget that workspaces aren’t just desks. If you’re a cook, it’s a kitchen; if you’re a carpenter, it’s your workbench.
Reader J. Todd sent us the following suggestion:
Here’s a great uncluttering tip for the kitchen. When my wife and I moved into our first house together, we had a plastic hand soap dispenser and a bottle of dish soap sitting next to our kitchen sink’s faucet. It was a messy and unattractive solution. I noticed that there was a covered cutout to the right of the faucet for a spray hose or a soap dispenser. I removed the cover and installed a basic chrome soap dispenser that mounts in the hole (similar to this one) We keep it filled with concentrated, hand-friendly dish soap. Now, whenever we need to hand-wash dishes, we pump soap directly into the sink. Whenever we need to wash out hands, we just use a tiny amount (since it’s concentrated). No mess and no clutter.
Thank you for such a terrific suggestion, J. Todd! We do the exact same thing in our kitchen (as you can see in the photo accompanying this article), and it works extremely well because our faucet doubles as a spray hose.
My wife and I upgraded our cell phones in the spring, and the old models still sit in drawer in the kitchen. We gave one of them to our daughter, which she played with it for quite some time, but there are definitely better things you can do with your old cell phone. Here are a few suggestions:
Cell Phones for Soldiers: Cell Phones for Soldiers hopes to turn old cell phones into more than 12 million minutes of prepaid calling cards for U.S. troops stationed overseas in 2007. To do so, Cell Phones for Soldiers expects to collect 15,000 cell phones each month through a network of more than 3,000 collection sites across the country.
ReCellular: Wireless Recycling: An increasing number of Americans are using cell phones, discarding them frequently, and creating tons of solid waste even though most of the used cellular phones are still functional. ReCellular saw the opportunity to start a new industry and help protect the environment. ReCellular, Inc., was founded to refurbish, reuse and responsibly recycle discarded cell phones.
American Cell Phone Drive: Donate or recycle your used cell phones through AmericanCellPhoneDrive.org, the largest, most comprehensive, cell phone drive in the world. Over 4,000 organizations are part of AmericanCellPhoneDrive.org. Choose the organization you would like to donate or recycle your used cell phones through in your local community by going to AmericanCellPhoneDrive.org.
Get rid of your old cell phone clutter and do something charitable in the process!
When a reader suggested that we review a store in New York City that caters to space-saving customers, we gave a Manhattan writer a call to see if she could help us. Everyone welcome Ayn-Monique Tetreault-Rooney to the Unclutterer review crew!
Don’t live in a McMansion? Check out Tiny Living for ideas and products to maximize your minimal space. This appropriately small New York store (it’s only about 10′ wide and 20′ deep) carries all sorts of things to keep your home and office neat and tidy.
The well-chosen selection includes objects that are either smaller than usual or multifunctional. Saving space in the kitchen? Opt for a combo coffee-maker and toaster oven. Getting your finances in order? A mini-calculator magnetic clip will keep your bills in view (and make splitting shared statements a breeze). Bestsellers include salt and pepper mills with grinders shaped like bunny ears and hanging purse racks in on-trend patterns and colors.
Don’t worry if you can’t get to the Big Apple to shop–this two-year-old store has a large inventory on its website and is adding things by the week. It even offers a few things online, like modern desks and clean-lined loveseats, that just don’t fit into the brick-and-morter outlet. Tiny Living is worth a visit if you’re in need of outfitting your home or office with space-saving items.
You can visit Tiny Living at 125 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009 or online at www.tinyliving.com. Here is a peek into their showroom:
Eating chicken wings can be a messy business, but it doesn’t have to be. The SnacDaddy wing tray is the innovative new tray specially engineered to hold chicken wings and hide the leftover bones.
Apparently, using two dinner plates (one for the uneaten wings and one for the leftover bones) is not a good serving idea because the plates aren’t “engineered to hold chicken wings” the way SnacDaddy is. See, with the SnacDaddy, you pick up a wing, dip it in the sauce, eat the wing, move the sauce, put the bone in the sauce hole, and then replace the sauce. It’s so easy! This device also has the capacity to hold 15 wings at a time! My dinner plates can handle 25 to 30, which must be way too many at a time for a hungry crowd.
How did we get along without the SnacDaddy before now?
On a pseudo serious note, I can actually see how the SnacDaddy would be a good product for use in a sports bar or restaurant that regularly serves chicken wings. As a former food service worker, I could see how the hidden bones would make clearing a table a more pleasant experience. However, with its 13″ diameter and 4″ depth, Ann and John are correct in suggesting that it’s serious overkill and clutter for your home.
** Unitasker Wednesday posts humorously poke fun at the single-use items that seem to find their way into our homes.
I’ve read in numerous organization books the suggestion of covering an end table with a table skirt so that you can hide things under the table (your child’s toys, active knitting projects, etc.). Table skirts don’t really mesh with my design style, but I can see that this suggestion would work for people whose style it complements.
Table cloths for use on dining room tables are a completely different monster, however. Most people don’t hide objects under their dining room tables because that is where human legs belong, so a table cloth isn’t being used to hide clutter. If you’re worried about your table getting damaged by heavy objects, a flimsy layer of cotton isn’t going to protect the wood. It makes more sense to have a piece of glass or clear plexiglas cut to fit your tabletop to better protect its surface. Plus, a piece of glass or clear plexiglas will let you see your table instead of hiding what you likely spent hundreds (maybe thousands) of dollars to purchase.
Table cloths have to be stored when not in use, need to be washed after a single meal, and often have to be ironed to look their best. All of these steps and necessary storage space can be eliminated by not having them at all.
If you like the look of a decorated table, buy Chilewich table mats that have a sophisticated appearance and wipe clean with a sponge. They don’t require ironing or a spin through the washer and dryer after each use. Plus, a stack of 20 table mats takes up the same amount of storage space as a single table cloth. Combine the table mats with a glass or clear plexiglas covering, and you’re on your way to an uncluttered and easily maintained dining room table!
via Apartment Therapy:
The Kitty Washroom from Sky Mall is certainly an uncluttered kitty potty solution:
With $100 price tag, I imagine that a homemade version would be kinder on the pocketbook. Plus, the Litter Robot that I use wouldn’t fit inside this cabinet. It is, however, wonderful inspiration for those of us with cats!
When you move you usually spend a bunch of time tracking down boxes to transport all of your stuff. My wife and I have hit up grocery stores and other local retailers for boxes that they would otherwise crush and throw away.
U-Haul offers a box exchange resource for prospective movers. It is a simple forum that is split up geographically to help you trade new or used boxes. So rather than running around to retailers you can check the forums for your area and see if there are any boxes available in your vicinity.
After you move, rather than throwing away your boxes, you can post a message to the board and give them to someone who can use them again. If you can’t find boxes via the U-Haul forums, you can also try FreeCycle, an Unclutterer favorite.
Cords and chargers for electronic devices are a constant discussion point at the Unclutterer offices, in the reader comments, and through our contact page. I think it’s safe to say that cords are a frustrating source of clutter for all of us.
Recently, we’ve had a slew of suggestions for containing cord clutter from our readers. After combing through them and doing some additional information gathering, I think the following suggestions are downright brilliant. And, as far as we can tell, these readers don’t work for the companies that make, distribute, or promote these products.
Reader Rob suggests: The CORDhog as a great way to hold up slack and adjust the length of cords. (The CORDhog is pictured on the right.)
Reader Aegir suggests: The CableYoYo as another attractive cable spool system.
Reader Beaman suggests: The KangaRooM Charging Station as a sleek way to hide the cords and docking stations for your cell phone, iPod, and other personal electronic devices.
Reader Ian suggests: The PocketDock AV as a simple, clutter-free, multiple connector kit that allows you to link your iPod to numerous AV output devices (like televisions, stereos, and projectors) without having to carry a slew of cables with you.
Do you have suggestions for containing cord clutter? Feel welcome to drop them into the comments section! Like I mentioned above, we’re always on the lookout for good ways to control cord and charger clutter.
Here’s a quick Unclutterer video tip to help you tackle cable clutter under a media center. All it takes is a simple multi-hook rack and a little imagination.
A study from researchers at Boston University and Smith College asked potential subjects to pick the photo that most accurately portrays their living space:
The researchers have found that subjects are quite accurate in their self assessments and that anyone who chooses picture #4 or above may be eligible for hoarding studies and/or treatment.
Which brings me to the story of a 90 year old man who was rescued from his mountain of clutter in Norton, MA. Local residents were very aware of all the junk in his yard, but had no idea how bad it was inside the elderly man’s home.
After someone called authorities Friday concerned that Halko had not been seen for a couple of days, an ambulance responded.
It took paramedics more than 10 minutes to locate him amid the piles of furniture, boxes, magazines, appliances, and trash that he’d accumulated over several decades.
Be aware that hoarding usually takes a hold of an individual when they reach middle age and progressively gets worse. By the time a person reaches their golden years hoarding may consume their whole life and my become a danger to themselves and others. The researchers from the Boston University/Smith College study estimate that 1 to 2 percent of adults suffer from a hoarding disorder.
I haven’t linked to any of his pieces before because The New York Times has had pay-to-access archives and columns that made links pointless. (Hey! Pay $5 to look at this column! Just kidding!) The announcement on Tuesday that the paper will no longer charge to access any part of its website changed that frustrating situation. Now, we can link to Bittman’s and other writers’ columns knowing that all of our readers will be able to see the text. Hooray!
The article I’ve been longing to link to since July 18 is Bittman’s “101 Summer Express: Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes of Less.” Uncluttered, simple cooking is my kind of cooking.
Once I pulled up Bittman’s article, I couldn’t stop myself from perusing the whole of their archives for other clutter-free columns and articles. Here are some gems that I found during my search:
- May 15, 1988: “After the Tag Sale, the Garbage“
- June 16, 1988: “Home Improvement“
- April 23, 1992: “Surrounded by Stuff? Call a Clutter Buddy!“
- July 25, 1993: “Your Home: Salability; A Slovenly House is a Turn-Off“
- December 18, 1994: “Orderly House, Orderly Mind“
- November 9, 1995: “Clutter Counseling: Just Say Throw“
- September 13, 1998: “Pitching the Kitsch“
- October 4, 1998: “Out of Space? Get Rid of Clutter“
- June 8, 2000: “Grand Gestures in Tiny Spaces“
- June 20, 2001: “Waiting for the Organizing Fairy To Wave Away the Office Clutter“
- April 11, 2002: “Unloading His Books, But Not His Conscience“
- April 19, 2002: “A Weekend Fling With Clutter“
- January 1, 2004: “Clutter Combat: Containing the Enemy“
- October 24, 2006: “This is a Job for ‘Senior Move’ Managers“
- May 6, 2007: “A Drastic Cure for Procrastination“
- July 12, 2007: “Room to Improve“
- September 20, 2007: “Refeathering the Empty Nest“
Enjoy the links. Additionally, this might be another opportunity for me to offer up the advice to cancel your daily print newspaper subscription to our New York City readers. Also, let us know in the comments if you find other uncluttering articles in the archives that we may have missed!
This week’s Workspace of the Week is a twofer. A study in contrasts, if you will. First is PlasmicSteve‘s memorabilia museum, which gives me the hives just looking at it.
Is that little desk functional? And all that stuff on the walls would drive me to distraction, literally. Say what I will, however, it’s organized! He’s taking care of the items he treasures (even if I think it’s one too many).
Now, withoutform‘s desk is more my speed.
Obviously taking a cue from Japanese simplicity, there’s nothing on the work surface to distract from the task at hand, and just a bit of soothing inspiration on the wall. Almost qualifies for Extreme Minimalism Mondays.
Want to have your own workspace featured in Workspace of the Week? Submit a pic to the Unclutterer flickr pool. Check it out because we have a nice little community brewing there. Also, don’t forget that workspaces aren’t just desks. If you’re a cook, it’s a kitchen; if you’re a carpenter, it’s your workbench.
As fall nears and the weather cools, I start looking forward to a good bowl of chili while watching my favorite football team play on a Sunday afternoon. My thoughts of chili then progress into musings of stews and soups and all the wonderful things that can be made in my slow cooker.
I like using a slow cooker because it means that I dirty it and no other pots or pans during meal preparation. There are a few exceptions when an additional pan is needed to brown or sear meat, but these instances are rare. After the meal has been served, cleanup is as simple as moving the empty crock from the slow cooker to the dishwasher. The slow cooker is definitely an uncluttered kitchen solution.
If you don’t currently own a slow cooker, there are really only two features that I see as essential components. The first necessary feature is a separate, removable inner crock. The second feature is a temperature indicator that has at least three settings: Off, Low, and High. I have never found use for any of the other slow cooker features currently on the market. A crock pot with these two features also has the benefit of usually costing less than $30 and will last you many years.
The majority of the recipes I make in my slow cooker are in my head. However, I took a trip recently to my local bookstore and saw that there are now dozens of slow cooker recipe books in publication for people seeking printed recipes. Also, a Google search for “slow cooker recipe” yielded thousands of recipes from online sources. If you’re looking for inspiration, here are some of the slow cooker cookbooks on the market:
- Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes
- The Healthy Slow Cooker: More than 100 Dishes for Health and Wellness
- Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook
- Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes for Two: For the Small Slow Cooker
- The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Simple and Sophisticated Meals from Around the World
- 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes
- Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook: Feasting with Your Slow Cooker
Enjoy your uncluttered cooking experience!