Friday, January 24, 2014

Organizing Tips & Tricks: Keep It Where You Use It

Even though I'm a person who loves to organize, I am still finding ways that I can use spaces in my home more efficiently.  As I continue to learn and grow as an organizer, I am eager to share solutions with you  that are working for me; hence, I am starting a new "Tips and Tricks" series here on the blog.  Today's tip is a rule that I try to steadfastly live by:  keep it where you use it.

When it comes to deciding where to store certain items, too often we base our decision on where we have "always" kept it and not necessarily on where we actually need or use it.  Case in point:  the linen closet.  By definition, the linen closet is a place to house your linens; for most of us, that translates to sheets and towels.  In the majority of homes, the linen closet is located either in a laundry room or in a hallway.  Interestingly enough, I don't know many homes that have a bed in the laundry room or a shower in the hallway.  So, why in the heck are we all storing our sheets and towels in a room that does not require sheets or towels?

In our home, we keep a spare set of sheets in each bedroom closet (near the bed - where we actually use them!).  If space is tight in your closet, consider putting spare sheets in a shallow bin under the bed.

Similarly, we store our spare towels in baskets or cabinets in our bathrooms.  I should also mention that having your towels stored in your bathroom means no longer running naked and freezing from the shower to the linen closet when you realize your forgot to grab a towel.

A few more examples of ways in which I abide by this rule in my house:

Toilet Paper:  We buy our toilet paper in bulk.  We used to put a few rolls in each bathroom and then store the remainder on a shelf in the garage.  One day it dawned on me that (surprise!) we don't have a toilet in our garage and therefore it didn't make sense for us to keep our extra toilet paper in there.  We moved our spare TP to a shelf in our walk-in closet, which is located in our master bathroom.

Kitchen Supplies:  When cleaning out our kitchen last January, I realized that so many of the items were in all the "wrong" places.  Like most people, we originally organized our kitchen when we first moved into our home, without yet having actually lived in the space.  We did our best to figure out the best drawer for the silverware and the best cupboard for the plates, but six years later I realized that we were not using our space nearly as effectively as we could.

The immersion blender (one of my favorite tools that I use several times a week) was being stored in the way back of a cupboard. It got moved to a much more convenient drawer next to the stove where I use it to blend soups.

Similarly, our bulky food saver that we only use about once a month was taking up valuable space in an easy-to-access cupboard in our kitchen island.  Alternatively, our mason jars that I use almost daily were stored in a hard-to-reach cupboard above our pantry.  The rarely used food saver was moved to the hard-to-reach cupboard and the everyday mason jars were moved to the easy-to-access cupboard.

Children's Dishes:  Instead of keeping our toddlers' utensils, plates, bowls and cups alongside the adult versions, we moved all of our children's dishes into two low drawers.  Now, J&A can set their own place at the table, put away their own dishes from the dishwasher, and get their own cup for water when they need it, without needing any help to reach high-up cupboards or drawers. 

Nail Polish:  Yes, nail polish.  I used to keep my nail polish in our master bathroom.  This would seem like a logical storage spot, except that I always paint my nails in our family room while watching TV.  After many trips carrying nail polish up and down the stairs, I finally moved my collection to a cupboard in our entertainment unit.  

Shoes:  Generally speaking, we are a "no shoes in the house" kind of family.  We used to keep our shoes in the closet in our master bedroom which inevitably led to a huge pile of shoes in our entry way waiting to be carried up to the stairs to be put away.  We have since moved our shoe bins into our garage where we take our shoes off and put them on -- no more piles of shoes!  

Cleaning Supplies:  Instead of keeping all of your cleaning supplies corralled together in one spot, try distributing them throughout the house in the places where you use them the most.  We keep a dust rag and wood spray in the cabinet of our entertainment unit.  In each bathroom, we have clorox wipes, glass cleaner and toilet bowl cleaner.  Keeping these supplies where you use them makes cleaning your bathroom or dusting your living room a quick and easy job.

Next time you tackle an organizing (or re-organizing) project, ask yourself "where do I use this item?".  Instead of putting something away where it has always gone, think about where you need and use it the most and find a spot for it there.