Cool new ways to get organized

Eliminate the clutter with tips from local design experts

Posted: Thursday, September 18, 2008
 Feeling trapped by clutter? Fall is the perfect time to clean up the house and get organized before the holidays. We’ve got advice from the pros on what to do with all that stuff.

The first step is to clear out any items you no longer need or want. Instead of throwing them away, donate them to your local goodwill, Salvation Army or thrift store. Or take advantage of the crisp fall weather to have a yard sale.


“It’s really all about staying on top of the clutter. The major problem that I think we all suffer from is that we just have too much stuff,” says Claudia Jacobs of Claudia Jacobs Designs in Goshen.


Fortunately, clutter is a problem that’s easily solved. You can find hundreds of different storage bins, baskets and shelves in every home goods store.


The Rubbermaid company suggests color coding each person’s belongings throughout the house. For example, if you share a bathroom with your spouse, divide your toiletries in his and hers. Each of you should pick your favorite color and find containers in that hue to organize your necessities. You can even keep this color coding going throughout the rest of the house – that way, your belongings will not only be neat but easily identifiable as well.


“Always keep function in mind,” says Jacobs. “Clients tell me all the time that certain rooms in their homes are hardly being used. Often it’s because of disorganization. Many times removing items – whether large pieces of furniture or small stacks of books and paper – opens up the room and makes it nice and tidy.”


She also suggests looking for dual purpose furniture, such as the ottoman that opens up for storage or a coffee table with doors and drawers.


“In smaller spaces we have to find hiding places, such as under the bed, and utilize every square inch of closet space,” Jacobs explains.


On her list of great clutter solutions are floor to ceiling closet organizers, jewelry compartments and ‘huggable hangers.’


“‘Huggable Hangers,’ originally created by Joy Mangano for the Home Shopping Network, do wonders for the closet,” says Jacobs. “They take up less space, the clothes don’t fall off, they come in tons of colors and they just make the closet look neater. Now, you can find them all over the place too – they’re quite popular.”


To create a more custom closet, add more shelves if you need to, or use double rods. Maximize that space as much as possible. “In my own house I put more shelves in my guest bedroom for linens. The next owner may not like that, but so what – it works for me now, and that is what’s important,” Jacob says.


If you’ve gotten through the basic sorting and storing, and are looking for a larger solution you can always build custom closets, which are more pricey but extremely efficient.


Vince Lisanti, of CCS Woodworks Inc. in Rock Hill, explains that all enclosed custom closets, where no clothes or accessories are visible because everything is encased inside the cabinets, are gaining popularity. “We build units to fit each person’s budget and space. Right now closets are popular especially with his and hers features, such as roll-out hampers.”


Media units are also gaining popularity because of the increased demand for flat-screen TVs. “A lot of people go out and buy a flat screen, mount it to the wall and then think it looks naked. We build custom wall units complete with shelves and roll-out bases, which add style to the TV and keeps all of the audio/video equipment tidy.”


Jacobs agrees. “Flat-screen TVs and media centers have become a problem because of the lack of cabinets and shelving.”


The roll-out bases, Lisanti explains, are very popular because of their easy access. There is a drawer underneath the TV, enclosed in the base by a door, that pulls out so that clutter can remain hidden and people don’t have to bend over so far to retrieve what they need. “Closed compartments definitely give a neater look, especially for spaces guests will see often,” Jacobs concurs.


Both the built-in closets and media units can be pricey because each one is custom made to fit your space and style. Obviously, the bigger the unit, the more expensive it is. Lisanti estimates that closets generally cost between $100 and $1,000 per linear foot, depending on the ornamentation and accessories included.


Media units typically range anywhere from $400 to $1,000 per linear foot. (A linear foot includes the height of the wall in addition to the right/left span of the wall; therefore, the higher the ceiling, the higher the cost.)


However, Jacobs adds that there are many organizing projects you can do yourself that will be just as efficient.


“Although many people worry about organizing public spaces like the kitchen or living room, places like the bedroom that are the least thought of are probably the most important spaces to keep tidy,” Jacobs reveals.


That clutter and disarray can cause stress. “If you can’t relax, or if you have trouble sleeping, it very well might be because of the clutter in your bedroom,” she explains. “You should do what ever you can to tidy up your private space.”


Try under-the-bed storage containers, file boxes, and shelving. Reading nooks and home libraries can also be organized. Recycle old magazines and newspapers and use a rack for new issues. Keep borrowed library books and your own collection on separate shelves as to not confuse the two.


Ultimately, as long as you stay on top of clutter by downsizing as much as you consume, it won’t be so overwhelming. The more neat and tidy your home is, the more relaxed you will feel.

Categories: Feature Stories

Tags: fall,clutter,organizing,organizing tips

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