10 Hardworking Organization Tools You Already Have


By: Laura Gaskill

In our quest for fresh, beginning-of-a-new-year, organized perfection, it’s easy to get a bit carried away in the organizing or office supply store. While specialized sorters and doodads surely have their purpose, more often than not they just add more clutter to our homes. Commit to getting it right this year (and saving a bit of cash in the process) by sticking with these 10 hardworking but often overlooked helpers that are probably sitting in your home right now.


1. One mobile calendar. It doesn’t really matter whether you prefer a paper or digital version; the important thing is that you stick with one calendar system, preferably for everyone in the house. Google Calendar is a great, flexible, mobile option you can access from home or on the road.

Washi Masking Tape by mt, 5 pieces
2. Washi tape. Never before has such a humble item (tape!) inspired quite the same level of obsession as this colorful Japanese paper tape. It is easy to tear, removes cleanly from most surfaces, and comes in the most gorgeous hues. Use it to label everything from glasses at a party to files, pantry jars, storage bins and more. And when you are done labeling, use it to wrap a gift, tape photos to your inspiration board or make your own wall art.


3. A magnetic knife strip. A wall-mounted knife rack can do so much more than keep your knives neat and out of the way (though it’s great for that, too). Use it to organize spices in the kitchen, tools in the garage, keys by the front door and scissors and other necessities near your desk or crafts area.

Instax Mini 7s and Mini 25 Instant Cameras
4. Your camera. Snap photos of the contents of storage boxes and kids’ toy bins and tape them to the fronts as visual labels. Photos are also ideal for documenting oversize art projects, so you can let go of the original in good conscience.


5. Tote bags. The humble tote bag can work just as hard as a basket or storage box, but with the added advantage of being portable and lightweight. Use totes to sort things you store temporarily, like library books, work materials and workout clothes.


6. Binder clips. Using these tiny workhorses only for their intended use would be missing out — you can also hang art, corral cables, keep packaged goods fresh in the kitchen and keep rolls of ribbon and wrapping paper from unfurling. For extra credit, upgrade your binder clips with small lengths of washi tape (see number 2) and label away.

7. Zip-top bags. One of the most versatile (and cheap!) organizing tools around, baggies can be used to store hardware pieces all together, sort items in your junk drawer, keep toiletries neat in your suitcase, freeze soup flat or even pipe frosting.

Bright Stockholm Binder
8. Basic binders. Paperwork gets lost easily when piled up in baskets or stacks. Use three-ring or portfolio-style binders (with plastic sleeve inserts) instead to file away instruction manuals, magazine clippings and more.


9. A smaller filing cabinet. Have a giant filing system? You are probably saving too many papers. Make things easier on yourself by going paperless whenever you can and making sure that you really need to save each paper item that you file. Most of us can get away with one or two well-tended drawers.

10. A donations bin. It’s one thing to get organized — staying organized is another matter altogether. One tool that has the potential to keep your home neat and clutter free is a permanent bin dedicated to giveaways. Keep it in a central spot where you can toss things in whenever you think of it. When the bin is full, empty it at your favorite charity shop; repeat.

Related Links:
Label the Bathroom Cabinets for Optimal Organization
Dedicate a Hamper as a Donations Bin
More Ways to Organize the Living Room

11 Tips for Organizing Your Kitchen


By: Hannah Young
 
Give your kitchen a detox and declutter with some ideas that can be implemented annually, as well as habits that will help you out every day.
 

1. Clear your surfaces. Move everything off of your countertops and give them a thorough clean — then step back and enjoy the result. With this in mind, clean each item you’ve removed and think carefully about whether it deserves a place on display. Ideally, you will put back only items that are used on a daily basis.
 

2. Banish the paper. Do you struggle to find your bar counter when it’s time for before-dinner drinks? The mail, newspapers and magazines often land on the nearest flat surface and clutter up the space. A good solution is to hang magazine racks on a wall or to install a small basket nearby to keep everything contained. Try to book a weekly date in your calendar to sort, discard and respond.
 
3. Investigate the depths. Do you know what’s in your fridge and freezer, and how long it has been there? How about making this the year you use up all that extra food? Get into the habit of checking what you already have before you put together a meal plan for the week. Then, when you go shopping, you’ll know exactly what you need and be less likely to buy on impulse.
 
4. Give it away. Let’s be honest: Most of us have received a gift or two that we don’t really want. If it’s a seasonal item of food or drink, avoid letting it hang around and go stale, and instead give it to someone who will appreciate it more. Don’t be shy about regifting, as long as you make sure it’s into a different circle of friends!
 
5. Do the dishes daily. The humble dishwasher can make or break your day. Get into the habit of fully loading it in the evening and running it overnight. In the morning, you’ll be ready to go, as clean bowls and spoons can be put right on the table for breakfast.
 
Allocate cabinets near the dishwasher for dishes and glasses so that it’s easy to put everything away quickly. By clearing the dishwasher in the morning, you’ll have an empty area in which to put everything as you use it, ready for the next evening cycle.
 

 6. Plan a place for everything. This kitchen is pretty extreme in its stark lack of clutter, but there’s a lot to be said for precise planning when thinking about new cabinets. If you have a home for everything in a drawer or pullout, then there’s really no reason to leave much on the counter. Flat fronts and no handles also make this kitchen pretty quick to clean.

7. Make use of glass. Open shelves look great in a kitchen — it’s nice both aesthetically and practically to be able to see what you have. However, many people are put off by the dust and grease floating around. So why not consider installing cabinets with glass doors to give you the best of both worlds? This may even inspire you to declutter so that you can display the mugs and plates you love in a pleasing way, rather than cramming everything in.
 

8. Let it go. How many mugs do you have? If, like most of us, you have more than you’ll use at any one time, give yourself permission to get rid of some. It’s easy to fall into the trap of hanging on to an item too long just because it has become part of the kitchen.
 
Try to be objective as you look through your collections and send those you don’t need, don’t like or think are unsuitable to your local thrift shop. If you’re having trouble doing it on your own, enlist the help of a friend or find a professional.
 

9. Dig out the gadgets. Now is a great time to inspect those kitchen appliances lurking at the back of your cabinets and drawers. If you don’t think you’re going to use one, send it to a thrift shop or sell it on websites like eBay and Craigslist.
 
Gadgets you want to keep should be easy to access, so find a place for them on the counter or consider some nifty storage solutions. An appliance garage with outlets will keep things neatly behind closed doors and ready to go when needed.

10. Organize your cabinets. A top organizing tip for any space is to keep similar items in the same place. Arrange your pantry cabinets so that you have savory items (canned goods, pasta, grains) in one and sweet items (baking ingredients, cookies) in another. Maximize storage by outfitting cabinets with small shelves for items such as spices, and using shallow drawers or containers that can be pulled out from the back of deep cabinets.
 
11. Store items next to their point of use. Keep things where you use them. Think about all the items you require for a task. If you’re making a cup of tea, for example, how far do you move around your kitchen to gather together a mug, teabag, kettle, milk and teaspoon?
 
Try to think of your kitchen layout in terms of “stations” where you complete different tasks, then store the relevant items near each one. You’re more likely to put things away — and less likely to drop them — if they’re nearby.
 
 
Related Links:
Get Your Countertops Sparkling Clean
Bring a Small Mailbox Indoors to Organize Your Papers
Start Organizing Your Kitchen Cabinets Today

Top 10 Tips for Staging Your Home and Selling it Fast


By: Susan C. Kim
 
A real estate slump is a real drag, especially if you’re trying to sell your abode. So stage your pad to beat out the competition and draw in more prospective buyers. Most buyers have a hard time looking past pink walls and green shag carpet, so do the legwork for them and present their “new home” on a silver platter. If done smartly, the money spent staging will be made up tenfold in the house sale — and you keep all the hot accessories for yourself afterwards (or unload them on Craigslist).
 
Here are some tips I used when staging my San Francisco condo. This unit sold within a month and a half for just below asking price. The exact same (un-staged) unit, located one floor down, never even got an offer. So there you have it.
 

 
1. Clear it all out. Move every single thing out of your place. That goes for your beloved troll doll collection, leopard skin rug, and the couch your mom claims you were born on. As sentimental as these things might seem to you, buyers want to be able to imagine themselves in your space; seeing clothes in the closet, family photos, and random tchotchkes prevents them from doing so. Then place back in only necessary furniture, keeping in mind that you want the space to look big, clean, spacious, and uncluttered. This isn’t supposed to be a functional room. Nope. As I did in this living area, you can lose the TV, stereo, side tables, and ottomans if it creates more room.
 

 
2. Freshen up the style. You may be a diehard Shabby Chic follower, but even Rachel Ashwell would agree that not everyone is. Aim for a style that most buyers would like, even if it’s not your cup of tea. Furnishings that seem homey and comforting — yet fresh and contemporary — give an aura that your home is updated and well cared for. Neutrals work best; just add colorful touches here and there. For this home office, I used a bright rug to punch in some color and pattern to an otherwise boxy white room. The clear console stands in for a desk (if buyers saw my real desk stacked with papers and dirty coffee mugs, they’d run for the hills). Curtains hide the closet doors and soften the hard walls. Stick-on mirrors from IKEA reflect light and space.

 


 
3. Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who’s the fairest one of all? Your room, that’s who. Use mirrors liberally to make your area look bigger, lighter, brighter, and encourage sunlight to bounce all over the walls. In this small dining area, the mirror even adds color by reflecting the painting that’s hanging in the living area. How’s that for working double duty?
 
4. Don’t forget the details. Set the table. It’s easy to do and makes a big impact. Buyers walk in and instantly feel welcome, like as if they’re coming over for dinner. Light clean- or non-scented candles, place plush towels and fancy soap in the bathrooms, a breakfast tray on the bed, and a pretty book on the coffee table. If all goes as planned, they’ll want to stay over forever.
 

 
5. Play with texture. Wallpaper, pillows, rugs, blankets, baskets, and other tactile accessories can play up texture in a room. It’s an easy way for anyone, even my colorblind husband, to add warmth to a blah room. Try grass cloth wallpaper on plain walls that need a little oomph, such as in this master bedroom, where buyers expect to see a little more luxury and style.
 

 
6. Smart accessories. I cleared this kitchen counter of appliances, spice racks, towels, and cooking utensils and left only a few things: a couple of cookbooks and a shiny tea kettle. Random? Not at all. The gourmet cookbooks give the impression that this kitchen is built for serious cooking. It’s called “branding” — and it’s what advertisers bombard you with every day. You’re advertising your home, so buyers need not know that your cooking skills are actually a fire hazard to your own kitchen. The cookbooks here say culinary creations might have been whipped up here.
 

 
7. Small furniture, big space. It’s the trick of the trade: downsize your furnishings to upsize the room. Here, I got rid of the king-size bed, two nightstands, a dresser, and a bookcase; can you imagine what this room looked like with all that stuff crammed in there? I replaced it with a queen-size bed, a mirror, and two tiny lamps placed on footstools. That’s it. The one thing I regret is not ironing those sheets very well; it would have looked so much neater.
 
8. Create vignettes. Set up little scenes that help buyers visualize their potential life in this home. For the nursery, I wanted the buyer to walk in and say, “How lovely, I could totally see my future baby sitting in that chair nicely reading a book.” Now, if I can just get my own baby to do that….
 

 
9. Don’t forget the outdoor areas. Those spaces add as much interest for the buyer as the interior rooms. For this unsightly roof deck, I added inexpensive bamboo sheeting to the rail, an outdoor rug, small table and bistro chairs, and a few plants. Now the buyers will see this formerly blank space as an additional living area. Bonus.
 

 
10. White is nice. When in doubt, use white in the bathroom. It spells clean, and that’s what buyers want in a bathroom. Plus, it matches the toilet. (Note the absence of bath rugs, toothbrushes, and fuzzy toilet covers).

 

For more tips on organizing or selling your home, check out these other Houzz articles:

The Real Scents That Will Help Sell Your House


* Written by Neila Deen, Houzz

 

If you’re getting ready to sell your home, you’ve probably made a list of items to tackle around the house. Declutter your rooms, paint the walls, fix any broken or worn items. Certainly, maximizing the visual appeal of your home is essential when staging to sell. But there’s one very important task to add to your list: making sure your home has a scent that will please the masses.
What exactly is a crowd-pleasing scent? That may seem a matter of debate, since an aroma’s appeal can be quite subjective. But there are definite strategies to follow. Read on for five guidelines for creating a pleasant home scent for prospective buyers.

 

1. Start with a deep clean.
Cleaning your home when prepping it for sale means scrubbing the nooks and crannies of all hard surfaces until they shine, as well as washing or vacuuming all fabric items, such as bedding and drapes. This heavy-duty cleaning approach should eliminate minor unwanted odors and introduce a clean, refreshing scent throughout each room.
Try using unscented or subtly scented cleaning products — those that are plant-based or eco-friendly and natural can be good choices. If you do use ammonia- or bleach-based cleansers, look for ones infused with fresh scents like lemon to help negate the harsh chemical smell.
For carpets and rugs, a good vacuuming or steam cleaning should do the trick. Unless you’re on a mission to remove heavy pet odors, try not to use perfumed rug shampoos, since the heavy detergent odors tend to linger.
2. Eliminate food and pet odors.
Whether you’re a cat lover or a gourmand, you may no longer notice the odors from pets or cooked food in your home. But for a potential buyer, these smells are at the very least distracting, and in some cases may even be offensive. Remember, buyers are there to view your home and — hopefully — to imagine themselves living in it. You don’t want them focusing on any unwanted odors. To gauge whether such odors are noticeable in your home, ask a friend whom you can trust to tell you the truth.

In the case of food, it typically takes a couple of days for the smell to disappear after you’ve cooked something that has a pungent aroma. As a rule of thumb, try not to cook with pungent ingredients for four days prior to a showing. But if you regularly cook with such foods — again, rely on that trusted friend to let you know if any smells are lingering — more drastic measures may be needed. Options include having a professional steam-clean your upholstery and carpets and deep cleaning the kitchen with a fresh lemon cleanser. Another great way to remove food odors is to simmer coffee beans in a pot on the stove. Also, be sure to keep your spices in sealed containers. If possible, air out the home by keeping the windows open for several hours a day.
Eliminating pet smells might require a bit more than a deep cleaning. These odors often live in carpet, rugs and upholstered furniture. Popular carpet or upholstery cleansers might just mask the smell instead of eliminating it.
For heavy pet smells, I recommend having your carpets and upholstered items professionally steam-cleaned well in advance of your first showing. This will give any lingering detergent smells time to fade. If steam cleaning doesn’t get rid of the odors, replacing a still-smelly item with a non-upholstered version will go a long way toward making your home more appealing to a buyer.
One more tip: Be sure to remove your dog bed or litter box before a showing
3. Keep it fresh and simple.

When it comes to choosing a scent to permeate your home, refrain from breaking out the potpourri — and forget the conventional wisdom about freshly baked cookies. Instead, take the advice of professionals like Eric Spangenberg, dean of the University of California, Irvine Paul Merage School of Business. He cautions against using complex or mingled scents, because his research suggests that people can be distracted by a mixture of smells — they subconsciously spend a portion of their cognitive energy trying to identify the scent.
Spangenberg advises sticking with one simple scent, and according to the Wall Street Journal, the following are some of his top choices for open houses: orange, lemon, basil, tea, cedar, pine, vanilla and cinnamon.

 

 

Whether you choose to introduce a scent via reed diffuser, candle or fresh ingredients, make sure no other scent is mixed with it. Lemon should not be mixed with orange, for example. This will allow your potential home buyer to stay focused on the task at hand.
4. Less is more.

Introducing a simple scent to your home-staging efforts doesn’t necessarily mean you can drench the home in that one smell. Remember, less is more: You want potential buyers to appreciate the home, not be bowled over by an overwhelming smell of lemons.

 

One way to achieve a subtle scent is to use just one reed in a diffuser. Alternatively, if you select a scented candle, burn it briefly before the open house starts. Look to organic scented products — as opposed to synthetic alternatives — as they tend to be more muted and give off less of a chemical smell.
5. Let the scent reflect the space.

Finally, select a scent that is appropriate for the general environment and aesthetic of the home. For example, if you have a lot of wooden beams and walls, cedar might enhance the ambience.
If there’s no noteworthy natural feature nearby, don’t worry. For your clean and sparkling-white kitchen, a crisp lemon scent would certainly convey an uplifting feeling to a buyer. In other words, choose a scent that speaks to the general feeling of the home and underscores its positive attributes.
To read more tips on staging your home, check out these other Houzz articles:

See More Perfectly Staged Kitchens

Learn More Clever Strategies From Home Staging Professionals
9 Smells You Actually Want in Your Home

The 21 Dirtiest Places You Should Be Cleaning


21 germiest

Are you a bit of a clean freak? Need that piece of mind that everything is deep cleaned at least once this year? We found a great article that contains a list of the 21 germiest places in your home that you should be cleaning. Some are more obvious than others, some you might not ever think to clean. The article makes a great argument for why these things need to be cleaned and just how to get them that way! Here are some of the highlights…

KITCHEN

Sponges: It’s easy for bacteria and food particles to get trapped in the crevasses of sponges, creating ideal conditions for bacteria to breed [1]. Moist, dark — what else could bacteria ask for?!

What to do: Try antibacterial sponges and dish soaps to limit the lesser of bacteria evils — but neither are very effective at controlling the spread of big name baddies like E. Coli and Salmonella [2]. Be extra safe by disinfecting sponges at least once a week by soaking in a bleach solution for 5 minutes, or microwaving on high for two minutes. (The microwave method has even been shown to kill 99 percent of bacteria [3]!)

Drip Coffee Maker: Even though coffee itself has some antimicrobial properties, coffee makers still need to be cleaned [4] [5]. Most home coffee makers don’t get hot enough to kill anything growing in the wet, dark environment of the water reservoir or the machine’s internal piping.

What to do: Running a 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar through the machine once a month may help inhibit the growth of mold and some bacteria. Let half the mixture run through the machine, then switch it off for an hour before finishing the cycle. And don’t forget to deep-clean the carafe!

BEDROOM

Pillows: Pillows aren’t just packed with feathers — turns out they can also be home to several types of allergy-inflaming fungi [7]. (Ick.) And all those hours spent sweating, shedding skin, and drooling like a sheepdog also create ideal conditions for dust mites, another potential allergy trigger.

What to do: In addition to regularly laundering bedding (specific instructions below), anti-allergen covers can help protect pillows from outside germs getting in and keep the sneezy stuff (down, anyone?) inside [8].

BATHROOM

Makeup and Makeup Brushes: People shouldn’t get diseases from getting dolled up, but cosmetics have been known to do just that [10]! Eye makeup seems to be the greatest cause for concern; one study found that within just three months of use, 40 percent of tested mascara tubes had some creepy crawlies growing in them [11] [12].

What to do: A good rule of thumb is to replace eye makeup every season; toss lotions and liquid foundation every six months; and get fresh power-based products, lipstick, and nail polish every two years.

ON-THE-GO

KeysAnyone who drives — or just plans on returning home at the end of the day — probably has a set in their pocket, but who thinks about keeping keys clean?

What to do: The fact that many keys are made of brass, a copper alloy, offers some protection because it’s naturally antibacterial [22] [23] [24]. But occasionally scrubbing keys with plain ol’ soap or using a disinfectant probably won’t hurt, and at the very least shining them up offers some aesthetic benefits.

Phone: Studies have repeatedly cited mobile phones as risk factors for infection, and we largely have our own unwashed hands to blame [25] [26] [27]. (One study found fecal bacteria on 1 in 6 phones!)

What to do: The clean up is simple: Power down the device once per week (more during cold and flu season) and wipe with a disinfectant cloth.

LIVING ROOM

TV Remote: A hospital hygiene study found that the remote controls were three times dirtier than anything else in the room, while another study found that nearly half of the remotes tested positive for antibiotic-resistant staph [35].

What to do: Wipe down remote controls with any hard surface disinfectant or a handy dandy antibacterial wipe regularly — and especially if it’s been used by a sick person recently!

 

Read the full article here.