Smart Packing Tips: Don’t Move What You Don’t Want

closet-clutter-monster-1412702This is the hardest part of moving, but it really pays: discard everything you can before you start packing. Here are some suggestions on how to approach this.

Take a room-by-room approach: Go through each room and get rid of the obvious things. Is it time to recognize that you will never use that mini-trampoline? Then let it sit in someone else’s garage. Be brutal. Call Goodwill or your favorite charity and get that stuff out of your house. It will give you more room for your packing process and boxes.

Don’t pack anything that you won’t look forward to unpacking in your new home: Can’t see that gift from Aunt Betty in your new family room? Let it go. There may be things that you have been living with so long that you no longer see them. Packing them up is a good opportunity to give them a second look.

Marie Kondo in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, talks about holding things in your hand to see if they give you joy and letting go of anything that doesn’t. This is actually a smart approach. Are their kitchen utensils, cleaning tools, or other household items that you have held onto but never use? Maybe now is the time to discard them rather than bring them to your new house to never use them there.

Help your spouse and children to go through this process too: Whether it’s clothes or toys, talk about letting go of those things that you no longer use, need or want. That way you can all start fresh in your new home, and only bring those items that you truly value and want to take with you.

Smart Packing Tips: Organizing the Packing Process

file0001135644184Moving into a new home is exciting but packing and unpacking – not so much. But if you approach the process in a smart way you will save yourself a lot of headaches and frustrations. This series of blogs will help you make a smooth transition from your current home to your new one.

To begin with, you don’t want to have a pile of boxes looking like this when it’s time to move. Yes. it’s nice to know what’s fragile, but what exactly is in each of those boxes and where do they go? Before you pack your first box, you need to create a system. And that system should be based on the place you’re moving to, not where you’re moving from.

Develop a three-letter code for every room in your new home: It could be KIT for kitchen BD1 for the master bedroom, BA1 for the master bathroom, FAM for the family room, and so on for every room in the house. Buy three or four wide black magic markers and plan to mark each box on the top and all four sides. That way stacking doesn’t block the room location. Also buy a large red marker to mark all fragile boxes. Place those in a special location separate from the other boxes.

Determine the level of organization you can handle: Some people are organized enough to number and list their boxes with key contents. Don’t be hard on yourself if this is too much structure for you. However, do mark those boxes you will need to unpack first. This may include dishes and silverware, key kitchen utensils, your childrens’ favorite toys, and bedding and towels.

Pack like things together: It’s easy to get harried at the last minute and mix bedroom, bathroom and kitchen stuff in the same box. But when it is time to unpack this ends up leading to a lot of unnecessary work. It’s better to leave some boxes not quite full than to waste time shuffling things all around the house when you unpack.

In our next blog, we’ll talk about what you need to do before you actually start packing.

Create a Handy Gift-Wrap Center

Warner-Groves-at-Morrison-Ranchwrap-room-webAre you wondering what to do with that extra wall in your laundry room, garage or den? Here’s a great idea that is as useful as it is decorative: create a gift-wrap center. Start by installing several large peg boards. This display, visible at the Fulton Home models in Warner Groves at Morrison Ranch, used some nice wood to frame them, making the boards look finished. You can prime and paint the peg boards to match the colors in the room.

To hang the wrapping paper, you can use closet or curtain rods, set at the right width. These rods are mounted on the wood frames, making them as easy to hang as they would be on any wall. In this room, they chose to hang three rods, but you could easily fit six or even seven rods, giving you a nice choice of wrapping paper. Hooks set into the peg board on either side of the paper hold ribbon and bags.

You could put your scissors and tape in a container on the counter and store tissue paper and other package materials in drawers or baskets under the counter. This is also a great room for storing note paper, greeting cards and address lists.

When special holidays roll around, simply change out the every occasion paper for suitable gift wrap and you have your wrapping station ready. Tune your radio or iPad to holiday carols to put you in the mood and you’re all set!

Make the Most of your Laundry Room Storage

From the Rancho Mirage model in Oasis at Queen Creek.

From the Rancho Mirage model in Oasis at Queen Creek.

It’s easy to let your laundry room become a catch-all for those things you can’t figure out where to put. Holiday decorations, extra hangers, cleaning supplies and other odds and ends find their way into your laundry room cupboards and before you know it they’re full. Instead of this kind of unintentional use, how about turning your laundry room into a resource for specific types of storage? Here are a few suggestions.

Entertainment Central: Vases and other elements for table centerpieces and buffet decorations could find a convenient place in one or more laundry room cabinets. Add a frog, some pebbles or marbles for helping to stabilize flower arrangements and you’re ready for flower arranging or creating an interesting base for a buffet arrangement. You might add some of your favorite serving pieces and table linens for one-stop-shopping before a party.

Clothes Management: Pins, scissors and your sewing kit can be kept in the laundry room when you need to sew a button on tighter or stitch up a hem that’s coming loose. Stain removers, wrinkle release spray and even fusible sewing tape for any quick fixes can really come in handy when that jacket and skirt that you really wanted to wear needs mending.

Roadtrip Supplies: Cool bags, paper plates, disposable silverware, condiments in little packets, favorite road games and activities can be organized in one place ready to grab when you decide to take a weekend trip. Don’t forget a map or two for the kids to use to follow along where you’re going – reducing although not eliminating the cries of “are we there yet!”

Gift Wrap Center: Wrapping paper, ribbon, tape, scissors and a nice collection of gift cards help you be ready for those last-minute gift needs. Instead of searching through the house for everything you need, keep a special set of supplies in one cabinet just for gifts.

These are four quick ideas for ways to make the most of the storage in your laundry room. What other ideas can you come up with to make your laundry room useful for more than laundry?

Attack Closet Clutter

closet_montage_Ironwood-webAre you finding it hard to keep even the most generous closet you’ve ever had under control? Even if your master closet is as spacious as this one from Ironwood Crossing, it may be time for a serious attack on your clothes clutter. Let’s take this step-by-step so you can take back your closet and stop going crazy every time you step into it.

Step 1: Empty your closet. This may seem foolish, overwhelming, or unnecessary, but you need to start this way to truly make a difference. There are several reasons for this. One is you may find that once your closet is empty, it could do with a cleaning. Clothes can hide a multitude of sins. Vacuum the floor and wipe down the shelves and clothes poles. You’ll start feeling better immediately. Pile your clothes on the bed and put shoes, purses and anything else you find in there on the floor.

Step 2: Remove anything that doesn’t belong in your closet from the room. Did you discover where you hid that birthday present for your daughter that you couldn’t find when you wanted to? Maybe your closet has become a catch-all for books, papers or other items you wanted to stash quickly before company came. Whatever it is, if you don’t want it in your finished closet, get it out of the bedroom.

Step 3: Take each clothing item and honestly decide whether it belongs in your wardrobe. You’ll hear people say that if you haven’t worn something in a year, then it should go. Instead, take a look and decide if you feel attractive and comfortable in it. If the answer is yes, it stays. No and it goes. Try on any clothes or shoes you’re not sure about and take the time to look in the mirror. Would you buy each item again if you saw it in the store? If the answer is no, get rid of it. Check the look of purses, scarves or other accessories. Let go of items that are worn, out of style, or that you’re simply tired of wearing.

Step 4: Create a plan before rehanging your clothes. Do you like to have work clothes in one section and weekend clothes in another? Maybe you want to sort by color or type of fabric. Have you been hanging clothes that would do better folded in a drawer? Figure it out and replace accordingly.

Step 5: Use bins and baskets to sort shelves. Keeping smaller things contained by category will make it easier to stay organized. Shop your own home for likely boxes and other containers before rushing off to the store. You may find some solutions that work well and add a decorative touch to your closet.

Step 6: Add some hooks to the door or a free wall. These can be used for clothes you’ve worn once but that aren’t yet ready for laundering. They’re also handy for scarves and belts. Hooks can help you keep everything off the floor, which makes a closet feel more spacious and workable.

Step 7: Pack up the give-away clothes and get them out of the house immediately. Otherwise you may be tempted to dive in and rescue some items later. Don’t let that happen.

Step 8: Step back and admire your handiwork! This has been quite a job but you now have a closet filled with clothes you love. Be sure to reward yourself for your hard work – maybe by going shopping???

Spring Cleaning

spring-cleaning-webWith temperatures in the 90’s only a few weeks ago, most Arizona residents know that summer’s heat is just around the corner. This makes Spring cleaning extra important, since now is the best time to open all the doors and windows and sweep everything left over from Winter away to gear up for Summer.

This is a great time to open all your closets and cupboards and gather old clothes, kitchen utensils and other unneeded things that have accumulated over the past year and donate them, sell them or throw them out.

Start by creating a list of goals. Do you want to make-over your master bedroom with new colors and less clutter? Maybe you would like to get rid of all the junk food hiding in your kitchen as the start to a new healthier eating plan. Or it could be time to wander through some of the toys and DVD’s that your children are too old to enjoy anymore. Remember that others can benefit from items that you no longer need.

Next, set aside time to meet your Spring-cleaning goals. Do you work better with a large block of time? Then choose a free Saturday to tackle your list. See if you can get help from your family or trade time with a friend so you can work on each home and chat while you clean and organize.

Finally, dive in. And be sure to plan a special reward when your list is finished. It might be dinner out or a bouquet of fresh flowers to set off your newly-tidy dining room. Or maybe just the promise of a Sunday afternoon with nothing to do but relax. With just a bit of planning and some serious effort, you can refresh your home this Spring and prepare for Summer. And above all, have fun with the process!

Start the New Year off Right

Two Young Women in Front of the Computer TalkingWhile it’s tempting to use the start of a new year to make lots of plans and resolutions, this approach is often doomed to disappointment. By February you are no longer going to the gym once a week, let alone three times, and those healthful meals you planned have given way to fast food at least once a week. So what can you do to celebrate 2015 that you can actually accomplish? Here are a few suggestions.

Take care of the little things. Do you find yourself frustrated because you can’t find anything in your kitchen junk drawer or you are tired of tripping over the boxes of giveaway items you haven’t taken the time to bring to your favorite charity? Those small unfinished projects can bother you several times a day but hardly seem worth the time to complete. However over time getting those projects off your to-do list frees up time and space and reduces stress. Plan to finish one lingering little project a week. You may find you have more time and energy for the more important things.

Change one thing for the better. Maybe it’s eating an apple a day, or walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator one day a week. You might consider switching sodas for water or serving your family fruit for dessert several times a week. You may want to make major changes, but one simple change is easier to make a part of your life. You can always add other changes later.

Speak with kindness. Like someone’s hair or blouse? Tell them. Say thank you for unexpected consideration from others. Write Thank-you notes. It’s easy to get caught up in your day, ignoring the thoughtful gestures of other people. Pay attention. Did your daughter clean her room, or your son take out the garbage without being prompted? Recognize these small efforts with a compliment or some acknowledgement.

So let go of the big resolutions and plans for 2015. Instead, commit to gradual and easy changes that you can accomplish. And have a lovely new year.

 

A Fresh Start on Organizing your Home: The Kitchen II

The large island with schoolhouse pendant lights, rich dark cabinets and light granite countertops combine to make this Fulton Design Center kitchen memorable.

The large island with schoolhouse pendant lights, rich dark cabinets and light granite countertops combine to make this Fulton Design Center kitchen memorable.

If you’re ready to organize your kitchen but are hesitant to engage in an all-out full-day redo, you can take baby steps that will leave you with a fully organized and functional kitchen. The following can be accomplished over a number of days or even weeks.

  • In a corner of your dining area or somewhere near the kitchen but still out of your way, place a large wastebasket and a box. These will hold your discards and giveaways.
  • Begin with one cabinet or drawer. Take everything out, wipe it down and put in new shelf paper if you desire.
  • Only put back those things that you want to keep there in the future.
  • Take a look at what’s left and discard or give away whatever you can.
  • Put the remainder on a corner of your countertop. If you want, you can stop here until the next day.
  • Choose your next cabinet based on what remains on your countertop. Which one is the logical place to put the bulk of what you have there?
  • Empty that cabinet and continue as before, wiping the shelves down and replacing what you feel belongs there, including those things that are currently waiting for their new home on your counter.
  • As you continue around the kitchen, are there certain groups of items that never seem to have a place? Perhaps you need to designate a specific cabinet or space for them. If they aren’t essential for your kitchen, consider another location such as the laundry room or garage.
  • Once you finish, do you still have leftover items on your counter? It’s time to decide whether you really want to keep those things or if they go in the giveaway box or boxes.
  • As you work, keep thinking of your specific needs rather than trying to follow arbitrary rules. For example, the bookshelves on the end of the island may be designed for cookbooks, but they may work better for your family as cubbies for the kids to put their homework and books for school the next day.

Yes, this process leaves your kitchen a bit up in the air for a while, but once you’re done you will have a space that matches your functional needs, with nothing extra cluttering up the room. So it’s worth it to bite the bullet and deal with the disorganization for a few days for the benefits at the end – a kitchen that works!

A Fresh Start on Organizing Your Home: The Kitchen

One of the kitchens on display at the Fulton Design Center

One of the kitchens on display at the Fulton Design Center

At first glance, getting your kitchen organized may seem like a daunting task. Chances are that when you moved in your goal was simply to get unpacked and able to make meals. Even if you had some plan of organization at the time, actually using your kitchen can help you discover that some items need to be rearranged. You have at least two ways to tackle your kitchen. See which one appeals to you.

Complete do-over. This is a full-day project, preferably with at least one other person to help as well. To make this work, try the following steps:

  • Clear off counters, placing any decorative items in another room for the day.
  • Have a bag ready for garbage and a box for giveaways.
  • Empty every shelf onto the counters and dining table.
  • Dispose of anything you don’t want or use in either the discard bag or giveaway box.
  • Wipe down counters and add or change shelf paper if desired.
  • Place the “sure things,” those items you already have a good place for, in their cupboards.
  • Thinking of function and utility, rearrange the other cabinets & drawers.
  • Determine if you need baskets or other containers for some items, and measure the space to know the size. Make a list for an upcoming shopping trip.
  • Measure your drawers for appropriate drawer dividers – these help keep drawers in shape once organized.
  • Compare the space left to the items left. Can you make them work? If not, consider more discards.
  • Put your kitchen counter accessories back, or not. Analyze what you actually want back in your kitchen.
  • Celebrate by going out to eat – you don’t want to mess up your newly-organized kitchen right away!

In our next organizing blog, look for advice on the second suggested method of kitchen organization. It takes longer but is less overwhelming.

Organizing your New Home – Recruiting Others

12057397_SYou may have included your family when visiting your Fulton Home during construction, and they may have helped pack and unpack their own rooms, but now that you’ve moved into your new home, how about recruiting them to help you organize it?

You know that they contribute to the disorganization, so your spouse and children can be a terrific resource when figuring out how to create organizational systems that will last.

Start with one space in your home, such as the front or garage entryway. Do these spaces end up as catchalls for shoes, books, purses, keys and other things? If you chose the Fulton Drop Center built-in for your home, bring your family together to assign spaces, drawers and shelves to some of this clutter. You may even want to label some of it.

Could a drawer be assigned to each child to hold homework as well as notes to or from the teacher, and your spouse’s car keys? Would a bench with slots for shoes under it in the hallway help?

The kitchen is another space that begs for group organization. Setting up a breakfast center with various cereals, an area for making lunches with bags and containers, and placing a selection of afternoon snacks in a specific spot might help contain potential messes. Add in a few rules such as everyone bringing their dishes to the sink, rinsing them off and putting them in the dishwasher and you are on your way to a kitchen that keeps itself under control with only minor reminders from you.

Once you move on to coordinating homework, laundry and any other regular organizational challenges, you’re on your way to a more organized home. One final suggestion: provide regular prizes or little treats as a reward for maintaining the organizational system – for you as well as your family.