Help Me Organize My House
Organizing Your Home
In the midst of work, family and other activities, we must also find the time to keep our homes running as efficiently and clutter-free as possible. That in itself is no easy feat, unless you have nothing to do all day except clean.
I have written about decluttering the bedroom, now it is time for the rest of the home. Keep in mind not everyone has the rooms listed, so apply your strategy accordingly.
The kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in the home; even busier when the occupants enjoy cooking and baking.
The first step to having an organized kitchen is to have adequate storage space. In many older homes this is a difficult feat to accomplish and may require the addition of extra storage units, such as a free standing pantry and a microwave cabinet with storage capability.
When we moved into our current home there was a rodent problem, so I refused to store any food items in the lower cabinets. I bought a free standing pantry and ensured the doors closed properly, just in case we had any unwelcome visitors again. Small appliances and cookware are stored in the lower cabinets, while dishes and canned goods are stored in the upper cabinets. It makes it better for us, as cookware can be bleached in any event the little monsters get inside.
The trick in organizing your storage space is to keep most frequently used items within easy reach. This eliminates the need for standing on stools or chairs to get what you need on a regular basis. Climbing up and down is good exercise, but it also increases the risk of falls. If there are any concerns of safety, then climbing should not be attempted.
In reference to the picture on the right, the top two shelves are filled with items I use most. It does need a quick cleaning again, but for the most part it is fairly functional. The picture does not show the bottom shelf, but it is filled with things like flour, sugar, crackers (because someone wasn't paying attention to how many boxes were already there) and pickles.
One of the Four
Depending on your family's habits and time spent in the living room, it is one of the easiest rooms to keep organized. We are more conscious of how it looks than other rooms which may not see the same amount of visitor traffic.
I find the one thing to eliminate in a living room to give it a more open, airy appearance (and keep clutter to a minimum) is the coffee table. This is especially important when the room is small. A coffee table is a nice addition for a foot rest, but in our case it always becomes a clutter-catcher. Another reason to eliminate it is if it happens to be within a traffic zone. What do I mean, you ask? Is the coffee table placed where it can be tripped over during the night? Our floor plan and living room size does not allow for a coffee table, as it overlaps the "walk zone" between my daughter's room and the rest of the house.
Bookshelves are a great addition to any room and play a special role if they are kept in the living room. If books are readily available, I find family members are more apt to pick one up than if they have to go searching in another part of the house. The photo to the right is only one of the four bookshelves in our home; two are filled completely with books while the other two have a combination of cookbooks, DIY books, games and manuals on the shelves.
One of the most important features a bedroom should have is adequate closet space with an organizer. This will help eliminate piles of clothes on the floor or dresser, and a spot for things like shoes, boots, and sporting equipment (especially if your home does not have a garage or a functional basement).
Depending on the age of the occupant, it is a good idea to have a spot for toys, books and dirty laundry. Each bedroom should have a laundry hamper, a waste basket and a dresser for clothes. If the bedrooms are small, why not incorporate storage solutions into the bed frame (Captain's bed) or utilize the space under a loft bed. A desk and chair will keep your child's homework off the floor (hopefully) and give them a spot where they can express their creativity. Be sure to supply them with a lot of paper, otherwise their walls may soon become their canvas.
The bathroom is probably one of the easiest rooms to keep organized, as it generally doesn't have enough room for junk (although you'd be surprised at how much stuff they can hold; has anyone watched "Hoarders"?).
Our bathroom is small, and the fixtures take up most of the space. I added a small cabinet so we would have a space to store extra toilet tissue, toothpaste, Q-Tips, feminine products, band-aids, etc. When we moved in there wasn't even a cabinet under the sink, but we replaced the original sink with a sink/cabinet combination. I do not use it for storing anything other than the trash can and cleaners, as it tends to leak occasionally. I also added a set of corner shelves for decorative items such as candle holders and a spider plant (which is currently in my office area as it wasn't doing well in the bathroom).
Every house should have its own laundry room, or at least a portion of a room dedicated to laundry. The laundry room should have adequate storage and shelving, as well as enough floor space for sorting clothes. Ideally, there should be at least one laundry sorter available (more if there are more than three or four family members).
I do not have a separate laundry room and I dislike the fact very much. Our home is an old one, and the laundry area was an afterthought I'm sure. It was installed in one of the bedrooms and takes up both storage space and floor space (especially on laundry days). Fortunately the room is only inhabited part time (my son lives with his father); if he were here full time I would have to make some drastic changes.
Depending on the size and type of your washer and dryer, it is advisable to have a shelf above the units for storage of laundry soap, fabric softener and other laundry related items such as spray starch, iron and a spray bottle. Having a rack for hanging clothes on as soon as they are removed from the dryer is also ideal, as it prevents wrinkling of clothing.
An ironing board is also a great addition to a laundry room. If there is enough space, it may be left set up all the time. if not, simply fold it up and tuck it between the wall and washer or dryer (assuming there is space and headroom that is).
Having the linen closet in your laundry room not only saves time, but frees up other closets in your home for seasonal and rarely used items.
Did you know used dryer sheets make great dust cloths and fabric stabilizer? They work great for appliqué projects as well, eliminating the need for pinning.
If you are fortunate enough to have a room dedicated to an office, the following items should be utilized:
- filing cabinet with at least two drawers, but four is better if you have a lot of paperwork. I use the bottom drawer in my filing cabinet for extra school supplies. This way they are all in one place and the kids know where they are. If they need pencils, pens, paper or even report covers, they know exactly where to look.
- computer desk (preferably with at least one drawer) and chair (whether or not you use a laptop)
- paper shredder
- trash can
- book shelves for the reference books and computer programs you need to access on a regular basis
- memo board - the bigger the better
- a view
It is especially important to have the above if your home office is also the center of your business activity (online or offline). In some cases the "office" is part of another room (welcome to my world), so keeping it as organized and clutter free as possible is important.
How often do you do a thorough cleaning of your home?
Basement and Attic - Yikes
These can be the biggest clutter-catchers in the home. Some homes have one, some the other and some have both. We are in the latter category, although we do not store much of anything in our basement due to leaking walls. The attic on the other hand, has become a place where I put things I do not want to deal with. One of the best ways to keep these two areas organized is to install plenty of shelving.
Basements are great for keeping preserves cool and if you are fortunate you can add a cold room which will allow you to keep potatoes for several months. If the basement will be used for recreation as well as storage, be sure the two areas are as separate as possible. Adding an extra bathroom is a must if there will be occupants (such as an extra bedroom). Keep in mind basements are not one hundred percent leak-proof, no matter what your contractor has told you. Be sure your shelving units are secured to the walls and not necessarily standing on the cement floor. Any leaking (or backing up of sewer - yuck!) will quickly damage any items and shelving units placed directly on the floor.
Attics are less prone to leaks, unless the roof needs new shingles. Either way, it is a good idea to store as little as possible in them. Anything stored in the attic should be kept in plastic totes. Cardboard boxes are another option, but be sure to check regularly for leaks. Also keep the fluctuation in temperature in mind, as attics are rarely insulated properly (especially in older homes). Try to avoid keeping anything in them that may be damaged by extreme heat or extreme cold.