We all love our kids’ artwork. The tiny handprints, the sun with the face, the macaroni skeleton. But saving it all is impractical. As a professional organizer, I am constantly being asked: With all these piles of masterpieces, how do we decide what to keep and how do we store it?
Here are some ideas to help you and your child proudly display, sort, and store those works of art.
Designate one high-traffic area where you can display the newest, favorite works immediately. A clothesline can be strung high on a wall with clothespins to hold the art or clips can hang from the ceiling.
Photos above courtesy of www.DIYDelRay.com
A hinged frame from hearthsong.com is great. Newer works are placed in front; up to 50 older works are stored behind it. This allows for easy display and storage.
Put your kids to work doing some tasks that are a big help to Mom and Dad, but that they enjoy too.
Organizing plastic containers. Sort the plastic containers: bottoms in one pile, tops in another pile. Then, match up each bottom container with the appropriate top.
Any top without a bottom, or bottom without a top can be recycled. (Where did those missing pieces go?) Also, consider donating or recycling any excess if you find that you have too many of one size. If you end up with one extra larger-sized bottom, it could be used to hold the tops. Stack smaller containers inside larger ones.
Replace the containers to your kitchen cabinet.
For those of us making the best of small-space living, furniture that doubles as storage can be a godsend. You don’t need custom-built or pricey pieces. Finding furniture that increases your home’s storage capacity without gobbling up tons of square footage can be fun! Here are some creative examples of furniture that doubles as storage.
I found this old pie safe on the curb nearly twenty years ago. It was yellow and had glass panes with ducks painted on them. I painted it blue and removed the glass, replacing it with chicken coop wire. It now stores the kids’ arts and crafts supplies, my cookbooks, trivets, etc. I use this piece so much that when I renovated my kitchen, I left a space for it.
This next piece is a refinished trunk. It was a wedding gift from my uncle and aunt (he re-finished the outside, while she fixed up the inside). The possibilities here are endless. I use it as a coffee table and I store lesser-used board games here. But, you could use it to store extra linens, out-of-season clothes, or wrapping paper.
We all have that all-purpose closet that has become our dumping ground for everything from high school yearbooks to grandma’s tea set. We know those holiday decorations are in there somewhere, but there is too much clutter on top of them to get at them easily. (Or, very often, we can’t even remember what is in there!)
Although it may seem daunting, cleaning out a closet will save you time formerly spent looking for lost items and give you the sense of accomplishment that comes with conquering your clutter. So, now that you know you are going to tackle the closet, put aside a couple of hours, make a plan, and stick to it. Use the following steps to get that closet in shape.
Sort and Purge
First, pull everything out of the closet.
Separate and arrange contents by category and type. For example, balls, gloves, bats and bases.
We all spend a lot of time in our kitchens – preparing meals, packing lunches, baking for bake sales. So, having an organized kitchen can truly improve your daily life. Getting organized takes a little work up front. But, with a little know-how and the right products, you can have that organized kitchen you’ve always wanted. Here are my top five favorite kitchen organizing products to help you tidy up your kitchen.
1. Clear Drawer Organizers
Messy kitchen drawers can only lead to frustration and time lost looking for that favorite wooden spoon. To solve this, first, remove everything from the drawer. Only keep the items that you use often. Then, measure the entire drawer: depth, width, and height before shopping for products. (If a drawer organizer is too tall, you won’t be able to close the drawer – been there, done that.)
Purchase clear drawer organizers that will fit the items that you are keeping and your drawer. The photos below show a drawer before and after tidying up. It took about 10 minutes of sorting, 10 -15 minutes of shopping, and about $25 in product cost.
Insider’s Tip: If you are a highly visual person, cut out a piece of newspaper to match the size of your drawer. Bring this, along with the height of the drawer, with you when shopping. Place the newspaper on the floor of the store and arrange drawer organizers on top of it to help you visualize what the drawer will look like.
Divided drawer organizers aren’t just for pull-out drawers. One Mom uses two of them side by side in her pantry to hold granola bars. She stores full boxes of the bars behind them. The kids can easily help themselves and she can tell at a glance if she is running low on any of their favorite snacks.
Insider’s Tip: If you are looking for tall drawer organizers, check the bathroom section of the store. Often, taller organizers that are designed for hairbrushes are displayed there.
Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions I receive from clients about how to clear out our houses without filling up our landfills.
What can I do with all these books, DVDs, and CDs?
Schools often have used book sales to benefit their PTA and would be happy to take used books off your hands. If you’re in Alexandria, you can donate books for the George Mason Elementary school’s book fair through Sarah Goldstein. Mount Vernon Community School just launched their Alexandria Book Shelf in the front lobby which enables kids to take as many free books as they want. You can contact the PTA for information about how to donate your used books.
Books, CDs, and DVDs can also be donated to your local library to be placed in circulation or, more often, to be sold at book sales. If you’re in Alexandria, contact your branch’s Friends of the Library. It is helpful to the library if you call ahead of time with information on the materials, the amount of the materials, and the estimated time of the drop off.