Home Organizing

Clever Ways to Add or Boost Attic Storage

 

When it comes to extra storage an attic is a wonderful place. There many different ways in which you can turn your attic into a place that provides loads of storage despite its sloped ceiling. So, take a look at the ideas below and hack your attic for boosting storage:

 

1. Design The Walk in Closet of Your Dreams Inside The Attic


Image via: attic works

2. Build Benches with Storage Drawers


Image via: home dit

3. Install a Built in Bed With Storage Drawers and Shelves


Image via: simplicity in the south , houzz

4. Build a Bookcase in Place of The Stairway Railing


Image via: modern home tours , elephant buffet

5. Create Storage Inside a Knee Wall


Image via: new england

6. Build Modular Shelving Along The Walls


Image via: houzz

7. If You Want to Create a Bunk Room in The Attic Then Add Bookcases at The End of The Bunk Beds


Image via: thrifty decor chick

8. Install a Pull Out Wardrobe or Drawers in The Under-Eaves Space


Image via: jerosch , houzz

9. Build a Bookcase with a Bench and Create a Cozy Reading Nook That Can Store Your Books Too


Image via: freddy and petunia

10. Invest in Free Standing Storage Solutions Depending Upon The Size and Storage Requirement of Your Attic


Image via: houzz

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20 Beautiful Kitchens With Floating Shelves

by Camille Moore

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image via homedesignlover.com

If there’s one room in your house that needs plenty of storage space, it’s the kitchen. Beautiful kitchens are a source of pride, and one way to keep your kitchen looking good is to keep it clutter free. But we all know that isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Between dishes, ingredients, and utensils, there are plenty of kitchen items that need a place to go. For people whose homes don’t have pantries, finding a convenient place to store things can get a little difficult. No one wants to clutter their counters with pots, pans, or dishes, but people also want to make sure that all of these items are easily accessible. This is where shelving comes comes in.

Shelves allow you to store your items in a way that reduces clutter but also makes them easy to get to. That all sounds well and good, but you’re probably thinking about how boring and ugly shelves can be. However, floating shelves offer storage and style. These shelves, which appear to be suspended in air, are a great solution for kitchens. If you want to see how amazing these shelves can look, especially in already beautiful kitchens, these examples will give you a taste. Here are 20 beautiful kitchens with floating shelves.

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image via rilane.com

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image via homedesignlover.com

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image via houseupdated.com

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image via decorpad.com

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image via shelterness.com

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image via houzz.com

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image via biggerthanthethreeofus.com

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image via decoist.com

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image via beeyoutifullife.com

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image via freshome.com

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image via http://www.smnrc.org

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image via http://www.alineadesigns.com

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image via http://www.foodking.us

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image via decorpad.com

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image via http://countertop.iconloungesf.com/

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image via lonny.com

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image via xboxhut.com

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image via homebunch.com

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image via http://hzmeshow.com

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image via decoist.com

 

 

 

 

Establish a Cleaning Schedule that (Finally!) Works for Your Home and Your Life

Image credit: Morgan Schemel

Creating a cleaning schedule may not be at the top of your to-do list, and I get it. There are hundreds of more pretty, fun, exciting, and pressing things to do. But know this: having one makes life better. You get to live in a cleaner space and you have more control over your time. The question is, how do you get started when you’re super busy already?

Image credit: Courtesy of Melissa Maker

It’s All About Routines vs. Schedules

Before we get into the nitty gritty, allow me to make a quick distinction: Routines encompass the things we do each day, usually the exact same way, and schedules are plans and tasks we block in based on what we need to accomplish during a given period of time.

Work Cleaning Into Your Routine

A healthy chunk of your cleaning can get knocked off your list if you re-think your daily routines and find ways to weave cleaning into them. It’s akin to adding more vegetables to your diet—if you learn how to tweak things just so, your food will taste just as good and your body will feel happier, all without expending much extra effort. The same thing can happen with cleaning, my friend.

Have a good, honest look at your daily routines and see what your everyday patterns are. Then, when you have figured out what your Most Important Areas are (which I call MIAs), marry the two and re-work your daily routines.

Here’s an example: Every day when you come home, you drop your shoes, bags and coat at the front door, leaving them to be picked up some time later. But you realize that your entryway is an important area (MIA) for you, so you have a lightbulb moment: If you can revise your routine to include hanging your coat and delivering your shoes and bag where they belong before getting distracted with anything else, nothing needs to be done later. Your entryway MIA stays clean and tidy forever.

By incorporating little micro-tasks into what you’re already doing instead of delaying it for the big half-marathon cleaning session, you get to square away the majority of your regular cleaning needs with just a few simple tweaks.

 

Image credit: Morgan Schemel

Make a Schedule for Everything Else

The bigger jobs need planning, that’s for sure. Anything important that doesn’t get handled with small, routine changes needs to be worked into a schedule. The schedule has to work for you and your family, though. And once you think through a few things, you’ll see that the work is far less daunting than it seems. You’ll clean what you want, how often you want, at the time you want.

Here’s what you need to consider:

  • How often do you need this task completed? Just because Susie So-and-So from perfecthouseandlife.com says she cleans her tub every 4 days, that doesn’t mean you need to. What suits you? What’s a level of acceptably clean that you can tolerate? When the scale tips from “it looks ok” to “I can’t even,” that’s when you know your time to clean has come. Don’t sweat it too much; you’ve got good instincts for what you require frequency-wise.
  • What are you going to clean? If you’ve seen my previous post about figuring out your MIAs, then you already know where you need to focus your efforts. If you haven’t, I’d suggest you figure those out first. Trust me, this makes the job significantly easier and gives you far less to schedule.
  • Find the best time to do the cleaning. When are you most energetic? When do you have your cleaning mojo? When are you least likely to make excuses? That’s the best time to clean.
  • Determine who can help you do it (if you’ve got a roommate or family member, this is your time to flex those negotiation skills) and determine what each person is going to do. Finally, determine how this will be tracked: an app, a spreadsheet, calendar items? (Something else?) What works for your situation?

In my book, I share with you the Maker Method, which is the secret to cleaning better, faster and loving your home every day (this is also the subtitle of the book, which makes sense). The third and final step of the Maker Method is dedicated to routines and scheduling, and I go into detail about how to do this, as well as include my four key routines (sharing the before and after of each), and a comprehensive scheduling tool which allows you to set up your very own cleaning schedule in a simple and manageable way.

Thing is, this sounds simple because it is. The hard part is just starting. And my best advice for that is just to try it and have faith. I like to believe that cleaning is a self-care tool, and nothing to be too fussy about or too lax about. You need to find your happy place—the just-right midpoint—and a cleaning routine that works for you. When you do, you’ll be more inclined to keep at it and you’ll get to reap the feel-good rewards of living in a cleaner space.

10 Things to Toss From Your Junk Drawer Now: How Many Are Hiding in Yours?

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We all have one—a drawer that either by accident or design becomes the “junk drawer.” The one into which we throw random things that soon meld into a sea of mangled paper clips, empty tape rolls, and chip clips. Even the most obsessive-compulsive organized among us have this compartment of chaos somewhere.

There are few things in life, however, that feel better than tackling the junk drawer. The easiest way to start is to just dump the whole thing out and put back only the items you need. But what should you keep and what should you toss?

Here are 10 things to ditch from your junk drawer to transform it into an organized, efficient storage space—or at least one that will open and close easily, without getting jammed because of all the worthless crap in there.

1. Nonworking pens

The cap is gone and the ink has long since dried up, yet for some reason someone keeps putting them back in the drawer. Get a notepad, test them all, and get rid of every single pen that doesn’t work. Do it now. The relief you’ll feel the next time you go to grab a pen that actually works will feel downright sublime.

2. Expired coupons

You had the best intentions of using the coupons and saving money; however, they never made it into your wallet. Now they’re just sitting there, crumpled and expired. Sad. Toss them into the recycling bin (save the ones from Bed Bath & Beyond, or other stores that honor expired coupons), and consider collecting digital coupons instead going forward. Another option is to send the old coupons to Support Our Troops, which allows U.S. military families to use manufacturers’ coupons even if they’re expired.

3. Batteries

The big question is: Do they work? It turns out, you don’t need a battery tester to find out. Just try this simple trick: Drop each battery—negative end down—on a hard surface. If it bounces, it’s a dud. If it makes a thud, it should still have some juice. Seriously!

If you don’t believe us, check out the video below for a demonstration and a search for the explanation that’s worthy of “MythBusters.”

4. Duplicates

When I recently cleaned out my junk drawer, I found four rulers. Why? Probably because every time someone needed one they couldn’t find one in all the clutter, so we bought another one, then stuffed it in the junk drawer. Rinse and repeat a few times, and we’ve got 48 inches taking up space in the drawer. Take inventory and discover which duplicates you can ditch.

5. Cords, chargers, and cables

Long after phones, cameras, games, and other electronic devices are abandoned for shiny, new models, their chargers and other accessories linger on. You keep them around because you’re worried you might need them at some point in the future. If you can’t remember what something goes to and/or the last time you used it, get rid of it.

6. Spare change

Pennies and nickels scattered throughout, maybe even a handful of quarters. Scoop it all up, and take the pile to a coin machine—and finally let your junk hoarding ways pay off. Or just dump it into some lucky barista’s tip jar.

7.  Random keys

How people wind up with random keys is anyone’s guess, but for whatever reason, it’s a pretty safe guess that there are at least a couple of them in your junk drawer. If you can’t figure out what they open, it’s probably safe to toss them. If you do successfully ID them, go ahead and label ’em to keep them from going back into key purgatory.

8. Rubber bands, paper clips, and chip clips

All of these have legitimate uses, but you’ll never actually use them if they’re buried in all of the clutter. Separate them into groups and place them in containers or drawer dividers so they can be easily found.

9.  Corks

Once upon a time I thought about making a corkboard with all the corks I amassed, but I gave up on that dream many bottles of pinot ago. If you are the crafty type, you probably would have recycled these into a Pinterest-worthy project a long time ago. Since you haven’t, make it a rule to get rid of corks when the bottle is dry. Recork provides a search tool for wine cork recycling drop-off locations.

10.  Buttons

From the extra ones that come with clothing to random ones that pop off, there are often colorful little buttons swimming about in the senseless sea that is your junk drawer. Scoop them up, and put them in a sewing kit for those times when you might need them. Or if the thought of sewing a stitch has you in stitches, you can also collect them for crafts projects or donate them to local schools or day care centers that might use them for art projects.

7 Must-Know Closet Organization Tricks the Pros Use

By Amanda Sparks

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Closets are one of the most abused areas in homes. While some closets are neat and well kept, it is also factual to say many are so disarray and cluttered. We love our closets, but are they really presentable enough? If no, then you obviously need some serious closet organization task to do. You’ll certainly benefit from this in the long run. Probably, one of the greatest benefits is the fact that you will learn how to be more organized in life because the principles are quite similar.

So are you now inspired to move forward and give your closet the proper attention it deserves? let’s get started.

Set a schedule

The first thing you need to do when making a custom closet is to set a schedule to do this stuff- maybe on weekends when you’ll have plenty of spare hours. Not only that, you can involve the kids or spouse to help you get on with it. You can just cajole, sweet talk or even blackmail them to assist you. The more hands, the faster and better!

Secure empty boxes

The next step is to secure empty boxes and write some labeling words on them like favorite clothes, accessories, designer clothes, underwear, casual wear, undergarments, and so on. The higher the level of diversity of your clothes portfolio, the more the variation in the number of boxes you will need. However, you can still group them together either on the bed or the floor in case you run out of boxes.

Research on the ideas of purchasing a closet organizer

There are lots and lots of custom closet organization aide which comes at affordable costs and you can find them at ClosetPro. You can get wire closet organizers for $60 at your favorite home décor store. There is no need for you to go for luxurious organizer system. Though, you can, if you’ve got some cash to spare.

Empty out everything

This is the most difficult task to handle. If you already assisted, then there will be no need to sweat this out.

But if you are on your own, get ready to accept that this will take you some time. You will have to completely empty out all the things inside the closet, pieces by pieces, one by one, before putting them in the empty boxes prepared by you. Group the clothes that belong in the same category together. An advantage of this is that you may just end up finding some stuff that you have been looking for.

More segregation

After grouping the stuff you just emptied from the closet, the next thing is to segregate further those stuff that you still feel you might want to use or wear. Ask yourself questions like: “Do I still need to wear this rickety looking shirt?” or else, you’ll just realize that your closet is stuffed with clothes you haven’t wear for long.

Finally

Now this is time to put the clothes you can still wear back in the closet. Make sure you put things back in proper perspective. Pack clothes of similar category together. If you hastily put them back and end up mixing them up, then you might end up to square one.

Job well done

Well done! You just did a nice work of the closet organization. Now, you will find your closet amazing.

9 Habits of Highly Organized People

By Danica Rog

We all want to be a little bit more organized.

What causes you stress on the outside – whether a long list of errands or a cluttered home, is what causes frustration and uneasiness on the inside. Research shows that it takes 21 days to form a habit. By following some of these easy ideas for streamlining your life, you could be three weeks away from a brand new, organized you.

9 Habits of Organized People:

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Image: General Assembly

They have a place for everything

Put things where they’re used, not where there is space

When it comes to fighting clutter, the most important thing that organized people do is make room for items in the location they’re used, not where there is space. Stamps stay near the bills in the home office, stain remover stays in the laundry room.

The further your belongings are from where you use them means the more time and effort to retrieve them, and the less likelihood you’ll put them back once they’ve been used. Which is the last thing you want when you already have to pay a cable bill or remove a coffee stain.

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Image: Hannotte Interiors

They use tools

Mental notes are out, day planners are in.

Organized people schedule everything. They map out their days and weeks with calendars, whether online, in a planner, or both. They invest in the time to set a reminder or make a note, freeing up brain space to focus on what’s in front of you.

Going digital? Here’s a list of some great organizational apps.

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Image: Nicole Hollis

They have less

The less there is, the less there is to organize.

It’s that simple. Organized homes aren’t filled with excess towels and sheets, or plates and dishes. They just have washing machines and dishwashers. If you can narrow down to just the necessities, you’re bound to be left only with the items you use regularly and love.

Having less of anything – whether wardrobe, board games, or pantry items, makes for easier choices.

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Image: Domus Nova

They know when to say, “good enough”

They’re not perfectionists, and don’t try to be.

Organization is so often associated with detail-orientation, but the two are not mutually exclusive. Organized people are the ones who are OK with putting slightly wrinkly sheets on the bed. They don’t have a five-star meal on the table each night. They get things done as efficiently as possible, allowing themselves to cut some corners to get to the next task at hand.

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Image: Up Interiors

They put things away

Right away.

Author Gretchen Rubin wrote about her experiences trying to clear clutter and become more organized. Her two biggest successes: the one minute rule, and ten minute tidy-up.

The one minute rule declares any task that can be done in under a minute should be done immediately, from filing a record to hanging up a coat or umbrella. Then, every night before bed, she suggests taking ten minutes to tidy up visual clutter in your home. Can’t commit to ten? Start with five.

Staying on top of things little by little is much easier and rewarding than having to tackle your mess once it’s hit the point of no return.

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Image: AWH Architects

They reevaluate

Often.

Lifestyles (and design styles) change, and the organized person is constantly combing through their belongings and deciding what isn’t needed anymore. In a world where we’re almost always accumulating things, we also have to consciously curate our items.

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Image: Dyer Photo

They say no

And don’t think twice.

The invitation to a last minute happy hour, the extra task at work, the lamp from their mother-in-law. Organized people are OK with saying no to things that risk overloading them, whether physically or emotionally. Because the straw that broke the camel’s back shouldn’t be a lamp you didn’t even want in the first place.

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Image: Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day

They don’t hide their belongings

Out of sight isn’t out of mind.

The art of being organized isn’t the art of stowing away all of your items. In fact, keeping your belongings in plain sight or easily accessible makes them easier to find, use, and move on from. Keeping all of your possessions in boxes and drawers means more time and frustration spent digging.

Invest in some aesthetically-pleasing storage containers. For the kitchen, they’re great for storing cereals, nuts, and pastas (and making it easy to know when they’re running low). For elsewhere in the home, an assortment of sizes can contain kids toys, beauty accessories, even spare change.

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Image: Indi Interiors

They celebrate big and small achievements

A long list of big tasks is daunting to anyone.

Those who stay organized flourish by putting small, easy tasks on a to-do list. Mixing in simple tasks with difficult ones provides encouragement and shows progress as you make your way through the list.

And when tasks are overwhelmingly large, like doing your taxes or buying a new car, break it down into smaller, more digestible to-dos.

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Image: danielle colding design, inc.

They aren’t easy side-tracked

Notifications off.

Often times, multitasking (or attempting to) leads to less productivity overall. This is especially relevant living in a world where we constantly have a buzzing cellphone in hand and a full email inbox.

Organized people don’t feel the need to answer every email as they receive it. Instead, they ignore or turn off notifications for such distractions, and finish the task they’re currently in the middle of.

A study by the University of British Columbia said the average person checks email 15 times a day. However, the study suggests three times is all we need to keep added stress away and stay on track with other tasks.

What secrets do you employ to stay organized? We’d love to hear from you on social media or in the comment section below!

 

10 Cool DIY Bookcase Ideas That Won’t Break The Bank

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If the collection of your books needs to be housed in a bookcase then you can make a bookcase yourself too. There are many materials and items you can use or recycle to create a cool bookcase that will not only store and display your books, but will decorate your home too. Along with that we have discovered such bookcase ideas that call for less money. Take a look:

1. Stack Old Wooden Crates and Build a Bookcase

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Image via: tara michelle interiors

2. Recycle an Old Ladder and Give It a Second Life

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Image via: tara michelle interiors

3. Install Ledges on a Wall to Become a Bookcase That Won’t Require Too Much Material to Build

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Image via: two plus cute

4. Re-think an Old Door And Turn Trash to Treasure

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Image via: the elliott homestead , etsy

5. Give a Makeover to An Old Dresser

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Image via: viral upcycle

6. Re-imagine a Cable Reel into a Bookshelf

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Image via: lucht adoption

7. Get Creative with Plumping Pipes

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Image via: pinterest , charliestine

8. Re-purpose Old Drawers and Employ Them as a Bookcase

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Image via: indulgy , pinterest

9. Build a Bookcase from Recycled Pallet Wood

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Image via: pinterest , pinterest

10. Show Off Some Creativity with Old Table Legs

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Image via: layla grayce

Your Ultimate Garage Organization Guide

By Jennifer Kelly Geddes

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Jodi Jacobson/Getty Images

Your garage isn’t a giant storage pod, so why is it crammed with junk while your car sits in the driveway? The fix: garage organization, which not only gives your vehicle some breathing room, but can also boost your home’s market value when you eventually sell.

According to a survey of 500 Realtors®, 82% say a messy garage is a big turnoff for potential buyers. Don’t let yours do the same! Here’s how to whip your garage into shape.

Purge

Old newspapers, magazines, and catalogs that have been banished to the garage are never going to be read again—so just toss them, says Emma Gordon, an organization expert at Clutter.com. Ditto for those plastic trays that came with your plants (keep them around and you’ll be dealing with spiders), paint stirring sticks, disposable paint trays, and other remnants of DIY projects.

“Almost every garage in America has a flimsy aluminum tray coated in house paint, with a matching roller in a crumpled grocery bag,” says Gordon. The reality is, you’re not going to get another use out of these items. Odds are, you’ll forget you have them and buy them again anyway!

But take note: Gardening chemicals, old paint, and other hazardous materials need proper disposal so they don’t end up in the water supply, notes Julie Coraccio, an organization coach at Reawaken Your Brilliance in Raleigh, NC.

Call your local health department for the location of the nearest special waste drop-off site. Or if the items you’re chucking may still have value, consider holding a garage sale or donating instead. We’re talking about old PCs, printers, outgrown sporting equipment, deflated balls of every variety, too-small shoes, clothes, VCRs, and VHS and cassette tapes (no, they’re never going to make a comeback).

Categorize

Once you’ve tossed and donated your unwanted items, start your garage organization by grouping what’s left into piles of like items. Some to consider: lawn and garden, automotive, tools, sports equipment, and seasonal decorations. Designate a section of the garage for each category and decide how to store them. Clear plastic bins are ideal for Christmas lights and wreaths, and shelves can hold liquids (paints, solvents, gardening sprays). For tools, including rakes, shovels, ladders, trowels, and other gardening implements, mount a pegboard.

“Get as much stuff off the floor as possible,” Gordon advises. If things aren’t hung up, they’ll morph into piles and those piles will become clutter. Once you have things arranged on your wall, take a dark marker and outline each tool so you’ll know exactly where to place it after it’s used.

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Photo by CLOSET ENVY INC.

Store

Open wire or chrome metro shelving is another good way to tackle garage organization. Make areas for camping items (sleeping bags, lanterns, tents), sports equipment (skates, tennis balls, rackets), and pet stuff (shampoo, leashes, and toys).

“Label everything so you can easily find what you need—or create a map that you can keep near the garage door,” says Gordon. And don’t forget the ceiling! (Think S-hooks or simple planks laid across beams.) “This is a great place for things that you don’t access frequently, such as luggage or holiday decor,” she notes.

Lastly, set up a small “mud room” near the door with a bench or chair, tray or large basket for shoes, and a few hooks. You’ll be encouraging family and guests to take off their footwear and hang up their coats in your now nicely organized garage.

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Photo by Organized Living

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Efficient Kitchen Storage Ideas

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Kitchen Storage Ideas

If there is any room in your house that you need efficiency, the kitchen is the number one place. For a novice cook, you may be trying to rush and finish cooking. While a seasoned veteran chef will tell you an efficient kitchen, is a happy kitchen. In your home, safety, organization, and great food all stem from the efficient use of storage. From small galley kitchens, to enormous gourmet kitchens, follow these ideas to help prevent frantic searching and enjoy the experience of cooking.

CABINETS: The ideal place for storage is in the upper and lower cabinetry of your kitchen. Although, the reality is all cabinet storage is not created equal. If you are only using 1 or 2 standard stationary shelves per cabinet, you are not maximizing their use. Use pull out shelves for large pots and pans, mixing bowls, and small appliances. They help maximize storage for stacking, as well as save your back from digging to the back of the cabinet. Long, vertical pull out storage are ideal for spices, and condiments. Ideally, place these adjacent to the stove/oven area for quick reach, and return of the items. Adjacent to the kitchen sink, pullout trash and recycle bins are handy and you can clean your hands immediately after handling items.

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DRAWERS: Your local storage and home improvement store will have a wide variety of drawer organizers. Try to separate large and small utensils from each other. This allows for ease of choosing the right utensil without fumbling and searching. Locating aluminum foil, wax paper, trash bags, and storage bags in a drawer prevents boxes from collapsing and falling off of a pantry shelf. If you have the space, refrigerated drawers are available that can keep kids food and snack items in arms reach. These drawers enable kids to get their own food, and won’t interrupt your food preparation.

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KITCHEN ISLANDS: There are portable and fixed kitchen islands that add storage and extra counter space. Islands with casters are ideal for kitchen’s that need flexibility in space and function. Fixed kitchen islands can house shelves, drawers, a lower microwave shelf, and display area for cookbooks and collectibles. Kitchen organizer professional’s can also help you plan out each storage space to get the maximum use out of your cabinets and drawers.

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OPEN SHELVING: Don’t forget to use open shelves over the counter to maximize on storage and display at the same time. Consider storing dishware, and decorative pieces on open shelves. Pots and pans can hang from pot racks to add storage and ease in cooking over the stove. Storage isn’t always about hiding items. Some of the best storage ideas are one’s that serve a function and look beautiful doing it.

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Your enjoyment in the kitchen depends on how efficiently you can cook, to move on to enjoying your meal. These storage tips may just make you a happier cook.

 

Read Before You Refi: 5 Tips For A Higher Home Appraisal

By Laura Agadoni | April 21, 2016

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A clean, uncluttered home isn’t just attractive for potential buyers: It can make an impression on your home appraiser too.

If you’re refinancing, these home appraisal tips can help.

If you’re hoping to refinance the mortgage on your home, there’s one big roadblock between you and that lower rate: the home appraisal. If your appraisal is low, you might not be able to refinance at all, or you might be facing less-than-optimal loan terms, including potentially paying for private mortgage insurance. If your appraisal results in a higher assessment, you’ll quite likely have more loan options available to you — often with lower interest and better payments.

To start your appraisal prep, make sure your home is clean (inside and out). Appraisers are human, after all, and can be swayed by how pristine (read: well-cared-for) a home looks.

Here are five more home appraisal tips to ensure your home appraises as high as possible.

1. Make those small repairs you’ve been postponing

Your house isn’t going to morph into a mega-mansion overnight, so some of the considerations for an appraisal (such as the number of rooms, square footage, and location) aren’t negotiable. But you can make the most of your home’s features. “Make sure that all the major systems have been serviced and that everything in the home appears to be maintained and functional,” says Ingrid Vincent, a Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts real estate agent. For appraisers, the condition of a home often matters more than the year it was built. Tackle any DIY home projects that you’ve put off.

2. Enhance your home’s curb appeal

You might not pay much attention to your home’s exterior, especially if you typically enter and exit through the garage or a side door. But curb appeal matters to potential buyers, and it matters to appraisers too. The Appraisal Institute states that properly maintained landscaping can enhance a home’s value. If you’re wondering what else you can do (besides mowing the lawn) to boost curb appeal, Cassy Aoyagi, president of FormLA Landscaping in California, gives these tips for a quick landscaping fix:

  • Strategically place container gardens
  • Mulch flower beds
  • Wipe down existing foliage and outdoor lights
  • Stage patios or porches with seating and pillows

3. Create a file of all recent improvements, upgrades, and tax documents

If you spend any money on your home, save all your receipts and keep them in a filing cabinet. (Or digitize the documents and store them on your computer.) It’s also a good idea to take before-and-after photographs of any improvements and upgrades. By staying organized, you can easily prove to the appraiser what you did to improve and upgrade your home, and how much you spent. Also be sure to include documentation for any permits that were pulled as part of home improvement projects.

4. Know the comps in your area

One of the best ways to determine the value of your home is to compare it with similar homes nearby that have recently sold. If you know the comps as well as or better than the appraiser, you can challenge any lowball comps they might use. “Don’t wait until the appeal process if you think you got a lowball appraisal,” says Gloria Shulman, a California mortgage broker. “You have almost no chance of succeeding because it would be an admission they were wrong.”

Instead, here’s the approach Shulman suggests: “Go to your local county offices and find out exactly what properties have sold in your area in the last six months and then go see them in person.” Too labor-intensive? Trulia makes it easy to find recently sold homes with a quick property search (like this one for recently sold homes in Charlotte, NC). “You might find out that the property with the lowest sale price was a teardown,” Shulman says — and that’s the type of information appraisers can use to best evaluate your property.

5. Don’t be pushy

To present the appraiser with all the great information you’ve gathered, you need to do so diplomatically, or all your efforts could be wasted. “Meet the appraiser, and be as nice as possible but not overbearing,” says Antonia Barry, a Maryland broker. “State that you have some information to share with them before they get started.” You would then go over your intel (don’t forget to mention the brand-new shopping center nearby) and then let them do their jobundisturbed. If you hover, the appraiser might wonder what you’re trying to hide.

One the appraiser is finished, you have one last chance to offer assistance. “Ask the appraiser if they have any questions and if they feel there will be any issues with the appraisal,” advises Barry.