Monday, January 24, 2011

Homeworks: Save your sanity, organize the house

I don't know of any official campaign, but I've always considered January the month of “getting organized.” It probably has something to do with all the decorating we do in December. Once Christmas is over, the only way I am forced to put everything neatly back where it belongs is to organize things.

IKEA's shoe cabinet can be used in a mud room or foyer.
 One of the tips my mum passed along to me, and one that I've used every year, is to take the task of getting organized one drawer at a time. If you look at the big picture, you'll feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Tackling one drawer, closet or room at a time builds confidence. 

Getting organized inevitably falls into the top 10 category of New Year's resolutions, according to a report by IKEA. To help us all get started, experts at IKEA offer the following tips for organizing the home, one room at a time.

Living room
* We'll start here since the living room has become the multifunctional room of the home. Everyone knows about sleep sofas, but did you know you can get one with built-in storage. If you've got kids whose friends are always spending the night, you can appreciate the idea of having a place for the pillows, afghans, blankets and other linens. 

* Another great idea for the living room or game room is furnishings designed specifically for techno-toys such as folding laptop tables and game trees and ottomans. They not only keep the items safe from the kitten that likes to chew cords, but out of sight and organized.

* Speaking of technology, have you seen this year's selection of wall units? They are slick and some, once assembled, become a wall. What's nice about these -- unlike my beautiful oak entertainment center that only fits one way in our house -- is they can be reconfigured as media equipment evolves. 

* Now that you've got the big things such as your HDTV and stereo equipment organized, look for storage containers of different sizes and shapes but in the same color to help impart a sense of order and unity among the smaller items. Containers are available in a variety of designs from baskets and plastic bins to leather and wood boxes.

Use stainless steel racks and shelves to organize gadgets on a wall.
* When it comes to items designed to organize the home, no other room in the house has a bigger selection (except maybe the garage) than the kitchen. 

* One of the tips from the experts at IKEA is to organize drawers from a bird's eye view. Think about it. When you look for a spoon or a tea towel, you're always looking down. So, get some drawer dividers to section things off.

* Now wipe off that counter. This is another tip I learned by example. If you keep the countertops free from clutter, the whole kitchen looks more organized. To help with this task, look for hooks, shelves and other items that make use of overlooked wall space. A fashionable pot rack, for example, can serve as a space-saver for your cookware and culinary tools and as a decorative piece. 

* Now look below the countertops. Take advantage of every available space. Can you add a slide-out garbage or recycling bin under the kitchen sink? How about a storage rack behind the door for items such as sponges, brushes and plastic wrap. You would be surprised at what a difference organizing a few things like that can do.

In the bedroom
* If you can't stow away items such as lotion, perfume and contact lens solutions in your nightstand (because it's stuffed already), make what you have out in the open look attractive. A fancy silver tray or a mirror will not only keep everything in one organized area, but look nice as well. 

* Maximize the space in your bedroom using ottomans and benches that provide both seating and storage.
Instead of tossing your shoes and boots into the closet, get a shoe rack and consider an over-the-door hookie thing for your purses, too.

Everywhere else
* The same ideas can be applied to other areas of the house like the home office or play room. Containers go a long way to keep toys and office supplies organized.

This wall display by IKEA is both attractive and functional.

* As with the kitchen consider adding shelves and hooks to maximize the space available on a wall and keep clutter on the countertops to a minimum.

* Also, make it a resolution that whatever paper comes into the house gets put away, tossed out or recycled.

Send your comments or home and garden tips to Gina Joseph, The Macomb Daily, 100 Macomb Daily Drive, Mount Clemens, MI 48043, or e-mail them to gina.joseph@macombdaily.com.

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