Uncluttered holiday decorations

If you decorate your home with holiday decorations, you probably have everything up already. But, if the decorating bug hasn’t yet hit, and you’d like to try and decorate without cluttering up your home, try to choose decorations that do not have to be stored away for eleven months of the year. Here are a few things to consider:

Buy real: Instead of buying an artificial wreath, tree, or garland, go for the real thing. When the holidays are over you can dispose of them instead of using up storage space. Conifers can be easily added to your compost pile.

Poinsettias: This traditional holiday plant can brighten up any room and needs zero storage space after the holidays.

Go easy on the knick-knacks: Don’t make the holidays an excuse to litter your home with dancing snowmen or an elf on every shelf. The holidays do not make it alright to clutter every inch of clear space. Instead, play holiday music when guests come into your home to set the mood.

Handmade: If you have children, take time to create some homemade edibles. Spending time with you children and creating something together is a good idea any time of year.

To achieve a comfortable balance during the holidays, try and keep your decorating to a minimum. If you do decorate to the fullest extent, you may spend most of your holiday season worrying about your decorations and how you will store them the rest of the year, and not enough time celebrating with loved ones.

Organize that messy locker

Locker OrganizerBack in my school days, my locker was a complete disaster. Lockers just don’t lend themselves to becoming organized. There is just too much space that doesn’t get used and the pile at the bottom of the locker grows with each passing week. (At least that’s what happened with my locker.)

So what does a student do these days to organize his locker? Well, there are many options to remedy the messy locker and here a few that may do the trick:

Bulk food buying may lead to a more cluttered lifestyle

I enjoy taking advantage of my parent’s membership at their local bulk food store every now and again. Some of the items I see in these warehouses, however, make no sense to me for personal use.

Obviously, bulk warehouses like Costco and Sam’s Club cater to small business owners. You need to be careful not to let the prices entice you into purchasing a gallon of Frank’s Red Hot when you will never use all of that hot sauce by the expiration date. The giant condiment aisle should be bypassed unless you are the owner of a restaurant or on the planning committee for the next extended family reunion or school barbecue. There is no rhyme or reason for an individual to buy a tub of mayo. Your family can make due with the regular size condiments at your local grocery store. Don’t clutter your cupboards with drums of mustard, mayo, or whatever else you can purchase at the bulk food stores. Realize that you are getting a great deal per unit price, but the deal is not always worth it for the storage space you have to sacrifice.

Another thing to consider when buying food in bulk is the temptation that all of that food presents when it sits in your home. The more food you have, the more food you eat. If you have a huge supply of snacks cluttering up your cupboards, chances are your family will be more inclined to polish them off simply because they are there. If you are going to buy snacks and treats do so in moderation and don’t buy junk food in bulk. Cluttered arteries are worse than cluttered cupboards.

Bulk buying has its positives and negatives. You can definitely take advantage of prices by buying bulk, but don’t let the deals lead you to buy things that you otherwise would not purchase, cannot physically consume before the expiration date, or have to sacrifice unreasonable amounts of space to store.

 

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

Rent large tools, don’t buy them

If you have a big job to do at your home and you’d like to do it yourself, you don’t have to run out and purchase the tools you’ll need to finish the job. There are plenty of rental companies where you can secure the needed tools to complete the work.

For example, maybe you need to pressure wash your deck or patio. Rather than running out to purchase a pressure washer, rent one and you won’t have to worry about storing it at your premises. If you find yourself renting a device multiple times per year, then you may want to consider buying one. But always keep renting as the first option. You will find that often renting is cheaper, easier, and more convenient.

Most likely there are plenty of independent rental proprietors in your area, but here are some national rental companies:

 

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

Collapsible measuring cups

I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to close the utensil drawer in our kitchen when a measuring cup gets caught up in the drawer. The process of fishing the measuring cup out of the partially closed door is maddening.

This collapsible measuring cup set is a great solution to that problem. The silicone cups collapse and nest into each other for a space saving solution that will surely remedy my drawer closing problem. We featured a collapsible colander here a while ago. Why can’t everything in the kitchen be collapsible?

 

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

Garage storage

Most garages are cluttered near the walls with just enough room to park the cars and let the passengers maneuver through a tiny path to and from the car. There just isn’t enough space to store what you need to store when you take into consideration the space the vehicles occupy. The garage is one of the most common areas for clutter. So take stock of your garage situation and be sure to remove anything that doesn’t serve a purpose in your home.

Here are some garage storage solutions for you to consider:

HyLoft 45-by-45-Inch Overhead Storage System (pictured): The unit attaches to the ceiling of your garage and adds much more storage for things that you use on a limited basis. Our first home had a very small garage that could have definitely used one of these storage systems. Of course, this storage solution shouldn’t be used to store clutter that you need to get rid of in the first place.

Hanging items on the wall is key to keeping your garage uncluttered. The Rubbermaid FastTrack System helps keep your wall in order. Installing a few of these rails with ball racks, baskets, and shelves around your garage will keep your high traffic areas clear of tools, extension cords, and step ladders.

If you have quite a few long handled tools in your garage you may want keep them all in one organized rack. The Suncast Portable Long Handle Tool Rack is equipped with wheels so it can be moved more easily if need be. Or if you just have a few long handled tools this may be right for you.

The most organized garages seem to always be equipped with peg board and a series of hooks for storage of larger tools. If you’d like to mount some peg board to your garage wall you should probably head to your local hardware store. Although, this galvanized pegboard may be more sturdy.

If you have a bike or bikes to stow away check this post out for some bike storage solutions.

 

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

Hide your ironing board

Where do you put your ironing board when it is not in use? If you have a designated spot where you do all of your ironing you may want to check out the Wall Mount Ironing Board. You can hide your ironing board in plain sight and no longer keep it under your bed, in the closet, or in the middle of your laundry room. Other clutter-free storage options for your ironing board include wall-mounted holders, like what you might find in a hotel closet, and over-the-door holders, with or without accessory storage.

All of these options are better than the one that my wife and I currently have — ours just sits on the floor in the middle of our laundry room. I’m eager to give one of these alternatives a try.

 

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

Porch and patio storage

If you have an outdoor area where you spend a fair amount of time, there are sure to be items that permanently reside outside. Our back patio has a table and chairs. The chairs have cushions and we prefer to store them when not in use. The Suncast Deck Box is an easy solution that can handle quite a bit of storage. The cushions from our chairs take up quite a bit of space in our larger unit, but we still have room for our modest garden tool and barbecue utensil sets. If you don’t have seat cushions to store, you can select the smaller option.

In the event that you have more people than available seating this garden bench deck box gives you the option of extra seating plus a generous amount of storage space.

The Storage Table/Serving Cart would be a very useful addition to any patio or deck. It can serve as a prep station for your barbecue or become an outdoor wine bar (or soft drink bar — depending on the age of your dinner guests). It has wheels, lockable storage, and even a paper towel roll holder!

When you’re having a fancy outdoor party the last thing you want to be looking at are unsightly trash bins. Investing in a small storage shed will hide the bins from view as well as keep them protected from unwanted pests such as raccoons, possums, squirrels, etc.

With these convenient storage solutions, you’ll be able to enjoy your time outside with family and friends.

 

 

This post was originally published in August 2007.

Organizing your dorm room

College dorm life can be rather trying. Here is some advice to share on how to handle life in these tight living quarters.

We agree that it is difficult to keep the small dorm rooms organized and in an uncluttered state. Here are some tips and products to help achieve the nearly impossible task:

  • One of the worst things about dorm life is taking a shower. You have to gather up all of your things and take the walk down the hall to the shower facility. Make sure you have all your products in a basket that you can carry with you. You don’t want to forget anything and have to make that walk again.
  • Next on the list is doing your laundry. Again, you must walk somewhere to do your laundry and you have to make sure you have everything you need to clean your clothes. A tall, plastic laundry basket will hold all your dirty clothes without taking up much floor space and you can easily disinfect it between loads with sanitizing wipes. Use a small basket to carry your laundry soap, fabric softener and the sanitizing wipes.
  • Closet space is at a premium and you can’t really install anything into your space, so go for the hanging organizer that adds six shelves to your tiny closet. Also, try and put normally unused space to use. An overdoor shoe rack with hanging hooks can do the trick behind your door.
  • Under bed storage bags can come in handy. Put them to use by storing out-of-season clothing, extra blankets, and school supplies.
  • Dairy crates are great for storing and stacking books, media, and whatever else you can think of. They also come in handy when you are moving to and from school.
  • Try and pack the bare minimum when you first move into your dorm room. The less you have the better. If you find that you need something, go ahead and have the parents bring it when they come and visit or pick them up when you’re home for a break.

I hope these tips help out. Now let’s just hope your roommate lives an uncluttered lifestyle. Good luck on that one.

 

This post was originally published in July 2007.

Bike storage solutions

When you aren’t riding your bike where do you store it? There are many storage solutions available that will keep your bike out of the way when it isn’t in use. Here are some of the the options:

Racor Ceiling Mounted Bike Lift (pictured): Easily lift your bike up and out of the way with this pulley system. The down side is that it only fits one bike so you would have to purchase more than one to accommodate your needs.

Racor Pro Double Folding Bike Rack: This fits two bikes and folds up against the wall when not in use. It also includes a shelf for bike accessory storage.

Dual Bike Storage Rack: It assembles in minutes and requires no mounting or tools and holds two bikes. The pole system adjusts to the height of your ceiling.

Free Standing Four Bike Rack: This rack fits up to four bikes and can be assembled without any tools. The bikes are not quite out of the way with this one, but it does get the bikes in one compact spot.

Monster Bike Hook Set: The cheapest and easiest way to get your bike out of the way is to install hooks into the ceiling. No need for racks or pulley systems.

 

This post was originally published in July 2007.

Attack your junk drawer

We all have at least one drawer in our house that has turned into what can be called a junk drawer. It has no real purpose other than being a hodge-podge of items that don’t have any where else to go. The best way to attack a junk drawer is by following these easy steps:

  1. Dump it. The junk drawer is in constant disarray so you have to start with a drastic measure. Simply dump the drawer out onto a flat surface and start going through the miscellaneous debris.
  2. Pitch it. There is bound to be a ton of stuff in there that serves no purpose for you. Go ahead and trash it.
  3. Sort it. Start to separate everything into categories. Office supplies, tools, batteries, pens and pencils, old bills, and old receipts (most likely these need to be thrown away too.)
  4. Divide it. Buy or build your own drawer organizer and keep each pile of stuff separated into its own section.

Now make sure to keep the drawer in a orderly fashion and don’t just throw random items into it.

 

This post was originally published in July 2007.

Rid your shower of bottle clutter

Your shower should be a serene place where you can escape the outside world for a short time each day. You shouldn’t be distracted by a multitude of containers all over the walls and/or floor of your shower. The Better Living Dispenser Classic IV eliminates the need for the bottles that get in your way.

Let’s face it, those bottles are designed to fall over easily and scare the heck out of your loved ones in the next room. The bottles I recently knocked over are nearly empty, so they need to be perfectly balanced on their heads to get the last of the liquid out. (We are frugal and the need to use every last drop of shampoo is a must.) This dispenser eliminates the bottles, the balancing act, and the false alarm of a shower disaster. If you need more storage space, The Better Living Ulti-Mate Dispenser includes a soap tray, mirror, and hooks to store your razor.

 

This post was originally published in June 2007.