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.

Lay it all out

I’ve been putting off getting rid of a bunch of my clothes for quite some time and I finally did something about it. My clothes used to reside in two different places in my home, a dresser in the laundry room and a closet in a completely different room. There was no need for two different storage spaces so I decided to lay out all of my clothes and take stock.

Once my clothes were all laid out I was amazed at how much clothing I actually had. I didn’t think I had that much, but to my surprise I had a lot of items I never wear anymore. I ended up cutting my clothing inventory by half right off the bat. Then, when I started to put all of my clothes back into the one closet I made a second pile of rejects. Overall, I think I cut my clothing inventory by about 60%.

Laying out all of your clothes is a great way to put things in perspective. Once everything is laid out you realize how much stuff you actually have. This obviously doesn’t have to be limited to your clothing. It also can be used for anything else you want to scale down. Try it with a closet that is in desperate need of cleaning or a junk drawer that no longer closes. You also may want to edit your collection of books, DVDs, CDs, or shoes. Laying them all out may enlighten you to the fact that you have much more junk than you first thought.

 

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

All-in-one washer/dryer

LG may have created the ultimate space saving laundry solution in the All-In-One Washer and Dryer. From LG’s site:

The ideal solution when you are short on space, LG’s washer dryer combinations offer a powerful yet compact and space-saving alternative to a traditional side-by-side washer and dryer. Washer dryer combos from LG are designed to make your life easier.

Since it doesn’t need to be vented outside and it washes and dries your clothes, it appears to be a great small-space appliance. Both LG and Kenmore have units available on Amazon and there are a few similar options from other companies. The load capacities seem ridiculously small by North American standards, and I’m curious about its drying capabilities. Has anyone had the chance to do a load of laundry in one of these units? I’m interested in finding out how well it works.

 

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

Get more use out of a convertible crib

Our daughter used her crib for less than two years. It started to lose its usefulness when she began to climb out of it. We also decided to move her into a “big girl’s bed” when we moved into our new home. If we had gone with a convertible crib, we could have easily doubled the time she used her crib. Convertible cribs, for those who don’t know, are cribs that convert into smaller beds. This makes the transition to a regular bed a bit easier for some children, and definitely easier for parents.

The crib pictured is the Davinci Emily Convertible Crib. The large rail on the back of the crib can eventually be used for a headboard for a full-size bed, as shown. The day bed conversion rail kit, full size headboard and footboard are included with this and most convertible cribs. There are many different makes and models of convertible cribs, so make sure you shop around. Looking for cribs on craigslist or garage sales can save you a lot of money but be sure that the crib meets today’s safety standards.

 

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

Yard sale preparation

My wife and I have decided to put our house on the market. Our current home is too large and we would like to downsize. To get our home into order we have decided to have a yard sale. You don’t realize how much stuff you accumulate until you take an inventory. It is a bit overwhelming.

We are having the yard sale at my parent’s house because our home in the city isn’t conducive to a yard sale, so we are going to transport all of our items there. This is definitely a step I would skip if at all possible. Here are the things we have done in the last few days in preparation:

  • Browsing: Go through every room of your home and browse for things that you don’t use or don’t need.
  • Sorting: After doing the first walk through of your home separate everything into logical categories; kitchen, bathroom, baby clothes, baby toys, back to school college items, and then box them up for easy transport.
  • Trashing: You will inevitably come across some items that no one would ever buy. Don’t waste your time by including them in your sale, so get the trash bags ready.
  • Pricing: It is a yard sale, so price everything very reasonably. Nothing we priced is more than $5. Some furniture items will most likely be priced higher, but we marked those as “make an offer.”
  • Consultation: Try and get some pointers from a yard sale veteran in your neighborhood. We have the expertise of my mother-in-law who has had many garage/yard sales under her belt. She also frequents the yard sale circuit and is familiar with what people want and how things are priced.

Here are some additional tips from our experienced consultant:

  1. Start an hour earlier than other yard/garage sales. Since most start at 8am, start yours at 7am.
  2. Put an ad in the classified section of your local paper, Facebook Marketplace, and other online classified ad services such as Craigslist, to run the day before the sale.
  3. Be sure to mention key items in your ads, such as collectibles, antiques, maternity, furniture, baby clothes, electronics, etc. Those are the most looked after items.
  4. Directly after the your sale, make arrangements with a friend or family member with a truck to pick up the unsold items to take directly to a donation center.

We’re looking forward to this uncluttering opportunity and the extra money will come in handy too.

 

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

The tried and true Swiss Army Knife

We often discuss unitaskers but today I want to talk about multi-taskers. The classic Victorinox Swiss Army Ranger Pocket Knife measures in at 3.5 inches and weighs a minuscule 4.8 ounces as it packs a whopping 20 different tools including:

  • Large and small knife blade
  • Corkscrew
  • Can opener
  • Bottle opener
  • Cap lifter
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire stripper
  • Reamer, punch
  • Multi-purpose hook
  • Nail file
  • Nail cleaner
  • Scissors
  • Metal file
  • Fine screwdriver
  • Wood saw
  • Toothpick
  • Tweezers
  • Key ring (ok, so this isn’t really a tool)

You can’t take it on an airplane, but around your house it has endless possibilities. This is the gold standard of multi-taskers. You can get a left-handed version here. A Leatherman Multitool is the only multi-tasker that plays in the same league. Go get your MacGyver on!

 

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

Depression-era mindset and clutter

My grandmother passed away in 2002. She was old enough to remember being a child in Pittsburgh during the Great Depression. She used to tell stories about her childhood to let us know how lucky we were to have all of the things that we were undoubtedly taking for granted. She remembered sharing what little clothing she had with her two sisters and squeezing her feet into shoes that no longer fit. One year, her Christmas gift consisted of crayons which she received as a joint gift with her sisters. I’m sure those crayons were used in the most judicious manner.

Flash forward to the years when my grandmother used to shove sugar and ketchup packets in her purse when we went to a restaurant and you could understand why she did such things. The abundance with which we are so accustomed is easily taken for granted because we really don’t have a frame of reference for the really tough times. My grandmother was also a “pack rat” (i.e. highly cluttered) which we didn’t fully realize until we had to empty her house.

She lived in her last home for over forty years, twenty six of those years she lived by herself. The clearing out of all of the stuff from her home was quite a chore. She kept everything that might one day be useful — for example, she had more than five non-working vacuums.

I understand why she behaved the way she did, and why others like her do the same. But the reality is that in today’s more prosperous economy it can actually cost a person more to hang on to broken things and store sugar packets. Real estate is expensive, and energy use to properly heat and cool a home in such a way as to keep mold and mildew off of belongings is pricey. If you’re keeping items in an off-site rented storage unit, you’re probably spending more in rent over time than you would if you had to repurchase what you’re storing. Our post on sunk costs also addresses an aspect of this issue.

Keep in mind the real expense of holding onto clutter and fight the urge to keep something just because you think one day it might be useful. In many cases, the expense of storage is greater than any cost you may at some point incur.

 

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

Keep your gardening tools together

Since we moved to our new home, there are still things that aren’t organized the way I want them. I’m not a huge gardener, but I do have a handful of tools that I use to keep my yard in order. Those tools are scattered throughout a few locations and tracking them down is rather annoying. I then remembered seeing a couple of gardening tool organizers that would probably solve this problem.

As a very novice gardener I don’t need anything too extensive so this Bucket Caddy is probably the right thing for me. It is a simple solution that will keep all of my tools in one place for easy access.

For those of you who have a larger garden or spend more time gardening, check out the Sunnydaze Rolling Cart. It has a lovely seat so you don’t have to kneel all the time, two spaces for tool storage, and it is easy to move around due to the wheels.

I will most likely go with the Bucket Caddy. It will take up less space when not in use and I can hang it on a hook or place it on a shelf. Although, if I were a gardening enthusiast, it would be nice to have a seat on the Sunnydaze Rolling Cart.

 

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

Guest room clothing storage

If you have a small guest bedroom in which you host friends and family, storage for your guests’ clothing may be an issue if they are staying for an extended period of time. Rather than have a dresser that takes up so much space and hardly ever gets used, hang a 6-Shelf Canvas Sweater Organizer in the closet.

The shelves have ample storage space for the shirts, sweaters, and trousers a guest might bring with them. Consider adding a couple of matching drawers to the hanging organizer. It will help keep your guests’ smaller items (i.e. socks and underwear) tidy.

The bonus part of this system is that when it is not being used it collapses down into a fraction of its size for easy storage.

 

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

The Tupperware is everywhere!

One of my pet peeves in my kitchen has been the Tupperware drawer. Most food storage containers aren’t that easy to stow away in an organized manner. In my kitchen, we had a plastic tub that barely contained the clutter of all the bowls and lids. They just didn’t fit together nicely and the overflow began to make me see red every time I reached for a container.

Our solution was fairly simple. We purchased a set of Tupperware FlatOut containers and happily dumped our old set into the recycle bin. The FlatOut containers are collapsible and flatten down to a half an inch which makes storage so much easier. Now when I reach for Tupperware, my blood pressure doesn’t rise and the clutter in that drawer is completely gone. I highly recommend these containers, which are dishwasher safe and also very durable.

Since the original publication of this post in 2007, Tupperware has ceased manufacturing FlatOut containers. However, Thin Bins are an ideal alternative. These containers are made from food-grade silicone. The lids have an airtight seal plus a vent so that steam can escape during microwave heating. They are microwave and dishwasher-safe.

 

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