Interesting way to hide powercords

Power cords are a necessary evil that ruin the aesthetic of almost any room in your home. Finding ways to hide them and get them into a manageable arrangement is always a struggle. One option is to use the “J” shaped cable organizer but they are only available in white or black which doesn’t always go with the décor. Nail-in cable clips are easy to install and can neatly hold cables against the wall but again, who wants to see that bright orange extension cord?

This rather unique and interesting way to hide your wire clutter I found over at the Boiler design site:

The Picket Fence adapts to older homes and cleanly manages the electrical necessities of the occupants. The baseboards have a certain thickness to them, typically much thicker than an electrical cord. By sticking these pickets onto the baseboard, a space is created between the wall and the picket points. This space serves as a track for routing all of the wires cleanly around the room. They can go wherever they like and double back as much as they need to, all concealed behind a picket fence. Because of the gaps between the individual pickets, a plug can jump out wherever it is needed.

Obviously this design isn’t for everyone, but I think it is creative and lends itself to different interpretations.

 

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2007.

Perfect time to organize your garage

Autumn is my favorite time of year. The temperature is just right for me, the leaves are beautiful, and Halloween and Thanksgiving are always fun. Fall also reminds me of the time of year when my mother would predictably ask her three sons to clean the garage. Cleaning out the garage consisted of moving everything in the garage into the driveway and then sweeping and hosing off the garage floor. After we let the floor dry we moved everything back into the garage. It was always a dreaded task that wasted perfect backyard football weather.

The silly thing about the chore was that we hardly ever threw anything away or donated stuff to charity. I can still remember wheeling the wagon filled with old baseball equipment out to the yard and then right back into the garage again. Figuring out what needs to be trashed or donated is the first step to organizing your garage. With the car taking up so much real estate, you need to be organized with the space you do have at your disposal.

Using the walls for storage is key. You could easily go for the quick and cheap project with some strategically placed heavy duty hooks or you could go the storage system route. It probably depends on how much stuff you have or how much you actually use your garage.

A guest post by Lauren Halagarda has some excellent tips that should help you out immensely. The garage is one of the most common areas for clutter to accumulate and it needs to be kept under control before the car no longer fits into its spot.

 

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

The Puj Tub

I was a bit weary of giving my daughter her bath when she was just a little one, but I eventually got used to bath time. We had your run-of-the-mill plastic baby bathtub at the time, and we also had a dedicated bathroom for giving our daughter her baths. We lived in a larger house then, and the baby bathtub wasn’t much of a nuisance since she had a dedicated bathroom.

Since we no longer need the baby tub, we don’t have a storage issue now that we are in a smaller home. However, I am intrigued by the Puj Tub as a solution to small-space baby bathing. It fits any standard sink, and lays or hangs flat for easy storage when not in use. There is no need to worry about where to store the large unforgiving plastic baby tub with the Puj Tub. The sink is a perfect place to bathe an infant, especially for a new mom who may have difficulty leaning over a large bathtub or lifting a plastic baby bathtub that is full of water.

We would love to hear from readers who have tried the Puj Tub. Leave us a comment and share your experiences.

 

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

The highchair is in the way, again

In our recent move to a smaller home, we have noticed that our daughter’s highchair is constantly in the way. It doesn’t fold up, it doesn’t fit nicely against the table, and it is getting old. We have started to introduce our two year old to the “big girl chair” (a.k.a normal chair), but she needs to grow a bit before it’s a full-time solution. Since she easily took to her “big girl bed,” we figure it will eventually be a relatively easy transition.

I think if we had it to do over again, we would probably settle on a booster type seat. It saves space and it can easily be used on an existing chair. It won’t get in the way when not in use and it can be removed from a chair and set in a closet when needed. The highchair we have cannot easily be stored away. This folding high chair (pictured) when folded is only eight inches wide. It is also an option we would have likely considered, but hindsight is 20/20.

 

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

How much of your mortgage is going toward clutter storage?

If there is a room in your home that is off limits because of clutter in that space, you are not only wasting space but also wasting money. An article from 2008 explores the findings of a study by IKEA on the costs associated with cluttered rooms. From the article:

In a survey of UK homes, Ikea found 77% of us have a big problem with clutter, which contributes to wasting a whole room.

Squandering that space but paying for it over the years on our mortgages costs us on average an eye-watering £38,246 [about $50,000 USD] in Middlesbrough.

Research by another company, junk clearance business Any Junk?, confirmed the “wasted room” evidence and put it at only a slightly lower cost. It estimated on average householders waste around £32,000 [about $42,000 USD] worth of space – in Middlesbrough the figure is about £14,870 [$19,500 USD].

In the past 10 years, these costs have only increased. It can be important to take stock of what you own. If your possessions are filling up a room in your home, then it is probably a good time to clear it out and purge the items that are wasting an entire room. Downsizing or finding a more utilitarian way to use the space may help you out financially over the long term.

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

It came from your clutter: Elephant tusks

This “It came from your clutter” feature is a pretty good one — and a little creepy, scary, too. It comes from a reader who found himself dealing with an illegal item that his uncle had packed away for years. The contraband in question was a pair of elephant tusks. The ivory trade ban started in 1989, so I’m assuming the reader’s uncle was in receipt of the tusks prior to 1989. From the reader’s email:

I live in the US but have an uncle in Canada; he was recently moved into a nursing home and I had to clean out his apartment. Among his things were two elephant tusks. In doing my research, I discovered that I could neither bring them back with me into the US or sell them in Canada. What to do?? I ended up calling the Natural History division of the Royal Ontario Museum, and they will be acquiring the tusks for their collection. Now my uncle is happy they will not be carved up for cheap trinkets.

Calling the museum was definitely a great idea. Let’s hope that the uncle’s tusks will find a home for a long time in the Royal Ontario Museum.

For those of you who come across a rather odd item while clearing out a basement, attic, or garage, drop us an email. Also, try and take a photo or two if possible.

 

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

An impartial participant can help get rid of clutter

Little League BaseballSentimental clutter can be the most difficult clutter to clear from your spaces. “Oh, I remember this!” is the exclamation that inevitably gets tossed around while trying to clean out a closet, basement, or attic. Until you went to organize the space, you probably had no idea that you were holding onto these items. You’re then struck with the pang of nostalgia and you flirt with the idea of keeping everything you’ve rediscovered.

If you are going to take the time to clear your home of clutter, it can be a good idea to get someone impartial to help handle your sentimental clutter. Whether you hire a professional organizer or you get a friend or spouse to help you, their impartiality may help you get rid of sentimental clutter.

Trying to get rid of things that you think you’ll miss or one day need is a problem for most of us (I struggle with it). This article in the San Diego Reader is entertaining and shows how the process of getting rid of clutter can be helped by having an impartial participant. From the article:

David sat on the floor and began unloading a large box; I stood beside him and sifted through a crate. Every few seconds, I would hold up an item and say, “You don’t need this. Trash?” I’d wait for him to nod before placing it in the big white plastic bag. David grumbled here and there, but an hour in, I’d filled three large bags and broken down four boxes.

If you’re struggling with clearing sentimental clutter, you may want to read the full article for some inspiration.

 

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

Junk drawer wars

Admit it. You have at least one junk drawer in your home. My family has one in our kitchen. It holds batteries, scissors, a flashlight, glue, and quite a bit of miscellany.

For some people, the junk drawer grows and grows until it eventually becomes a catch-all for everything in its vicinity. Before too long, one junk drawer overflows into another, and then you find yourself going from drawer to drawer looking for a postage stamp.

Apartment Therapy had a helpful post that motivated me to organize our junk drawer. The post suggests easy steps for getting this drawer into tip-top condition. I particularly liked the first three suggestions:

Sort: First, you have to know what’s in it. Find a space to dump it out and sort it. There’s stuff that should go in there (in ours: extra batteries, spare keys, friend’s keys, parking permits, a small accordion file for museum membership cards and takeout menus) and stuff that shouldn’t (screws, tools).

Return: stuff that should go elsewhere should go elsewhere. Put the screws and tools back in the toolbox, the working pens in their place, the broken pencils in the garbage, donate the old eyeglasses.

Rethink: for items that should go elsewhere, make sure there’s a place for them so similar items don’t end up here a few months hence. For example, have a place to put items you need to keep for your taxes so old movie ticket stubs don’t end up here again.

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

Survey your home for clutter accumulation areas

A quick walk around my house and it is pretty easy to figure out where the clutter accumulates. Problem areas include my desk, the kitchen counter, and a landing strip that borders our kitchen and dining area. The clutter seems to collect like dust and it seems like an unwinnable war.

Take a stroll around your home and identify your perpetually cluttered zones.

Once you figure out which areas of your home are the problem areas, the next step is to do something to remedy the accumulation process. First you have to identify what is in all that mess and where it belongs. Do some of the items belong in the trash? Do they simply not make it back where they officially live? Is some kind of storage solution needed?

Laying out everything that makes up a clutter problem area is a good way to determine where things need to go and whether or not you need to create a new storage solution. If most of the items are simply there for no other reason than they haven’t made it back to their proper places (or to the trash/recycle bins), then you probably should make a conscious effort to not let things form a pile. Either that, or evaluate if its home is really the best and most convenient place for that object.

My desk has been a problem area for quite some time. I accumulate items on my desk that have no business being there. I have become much better in the past year, but as I type this I can see a three-hole punch that I never use sitting behind my display screen. It’s time for me to put the hole punch back where it belongs and ramp up my commitment to keeping my desk organized.

After you take care of the problem areas, keep a watch over them the next few weeks. See if you can identify how and when things accumulate and work on stopping those clutter-prone habits.

 

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

Storage can be a clutter safety net

The house in which I currently reside has a ton of storage space. The basement alone is about 900 square feet (83m2). You would assume that a lot of storage space is a great thing, right? Well, it is a good selling point for would-be buyers, but a lot of storage space provides you with an easy way to keep stuff that you should not be keeping.

We realized this when we cleared out our basement and closets in preparation for a yard sale. The amount of stuff that we accumulated was staggering and we still didn’t even come close to using all of the storage space that we have. The clutter safety net is what I like to call the storage in our home. If we never had an easy way of storing all of this stuff, then it would have been gone long ago.

Some people don’t have the “luxury” of a lot of storage space on their premises so they opt for the local self storage business. Again, make sure you actually need the stuff that you are paying extra to store. Do not let the self-storage industry convince you that you need a clutter safety net! People tend to get rid of things because they don’t have the room for them anymore. Available storage space should not be the only factor when deciding whether or not you get rid of something. Storage space is always be available either in your own home or at a self-storage facility but you should not justify keeping something just because the space is available.

 

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2007.

Hangers, hangers, hangers!

Having an organized closet can improve the life of your clothing, and quality hangers can help keep your clothes in their best shape. Many closets have mismatched hangers that have been collected over the years: A wire hanger there, a thick plastic one here, and wooden one there. Having the same hangers keeps any closet that much more uniform, which appeals to many people, but having the best type of hanger for your needs can be important, too. So, what type of hanger does one choose? If you are to overhaul your closet, and your out-of-control hanger collection, which hanger is the best?

I’m sure our readers have many differing opinions on what the best hanger is, but I’ll highlight a few of my favorite options:

Ultra Slim Velvet Hangers: These thin hangers claim to save up to 50% of your closet space.

Vertical Hangers: If you want to keep your hangers, you can go this route and store five garments in the space for one.

Classic Plastic: My closet is currently filled with these fat things. They don’t stretch out my clothing, but I’m not too thrilled about them because they don’t always hold very heavy clothing such as winter coats.

Wooden: These are probably more useful for a coat closet or suit storage.

When it comes to those wire hangers, round them up and drop them off at your dry cleaner’s the next time you’re running errands. Dry cleaners almost always accept used wire hangers. However, you may want to keep one in case you need to unfold it to fish the Lego out of the furnace vent.

 

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

Make your yard easier to maintain

070806-flowers.jpgYard maintenance isn’t my most favorite thing in the world. Luckily, my yard is pretty small and the maintenance is minimal. If you have a larger yard with more landscaping and plants to look after, you may want to try some of these tips to cut your maintenance down as much as possible.

Go native: Ask your local garden center what the easiest native plants are in your area. Make these native plants the foundation for your yard’s landscaping.

Watering: Try and go for drought resistant plants, but you may also want to invest in an automatic watering system that can save you from watering your plants.

Take an hour: For an hour a week, go through your yard and keep the weeds to a minimum. Also, make sure the plants are thriving and in good health.

Mulch: Mulching around your bushes and plants reduces weeds and helps nourish your plants. Mulch also holds in moisture so you don’t have to water your plants as much.

Plant perennials: Plant more perennials and fewer annuals. This will save you time and money every spring.

Hire someone: If you absolutely are not interested in, or unable to do yard work, consider hiring someone to do all these tasks for you. If it is cost-effective, of course.

 

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2007.