How to Organize and Beautify Your Entry Hall in 7 Days

How to Organize and Beautify Your Entry Hall in 7 Days

Take your entry from scuffed up to spiffed up, restoring total cleanliness and order in just a week.

Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

A neat, chic entryway gives visitors a positive first impression and makes coming home a pleasure. But between the daily influx of mail and a household’s worth of coats, shoes and bags, this space is often one of the most challenging to keep clean and clutter free. Give your entryway a fresh start with this weeklong plan to clean and declutter from top to bottom — and learn to maintain a serene space long-term.

Day 1: Address the outside.

Cleaning tasks: The entrance to your home really begins outside your front door, so let’s start here. Sweep your porch or stoop, including the siding, and wash the exterior windows at the front of your home. Using a soft cloth, wipe down your mailbox, doorbell, porch lights and front door.

Decluttering tasks: Remove everything that doesn’t belong on the porch and find another home for it. Toss dead plants and store empty pots elsewhere.

Day 2: Clear the decks.

Decluttering tasks: Think of your entryway as a busy but temporary holding area — like a train station, not a permanent storage area. Scoop up all of the mail, shoes, coats, scarves, cell phone chargers, tote bags and so on, and move them away where you can deal with them more easily.

Find a permanent home for the items you remove from the entry — you should be able to do this for nearly everything, except perhaps your keys. Even if you think you can’t find another place to store that jacket or bag, challenge yourself to find a place … anywhere but the entry!

Cleaning tasks: Once all of the stuff has been removed, cleaning will be much easier. Vacuum and mop the floors, vacuum cobwebs from the corners, clean mirrors and wipe scuff marks off the walls.

Day 3: Bring back the essentials.

Decluttering tasks: Rather than keep all your shoes and coats by the door, try keeping only the one or two you use most often. Store the rest elsewhere.

The same goes for bags, sunglasses and other accessories — if you find this difficult, try taking a picture of your entryway looking fresh and clean with only the absolute minimum amount of stuff in it, and use it as a reminder of why it’s worth the effort.

If your entry has room, your essentials may include a rug, a boot tray or bin to corral shoes, a surface for mail and keys, hooks for coats and bags, a place to sit while putting on and taking off shoes, and adequate lighting.

Day 4: Tackle a problem zone.

Decluttering tasks: If you have a large household, consider adding extra closed storage — piles of coats out in the open look messy, even when the coats are neatly hung on hooks. If you have children, make sure the storage is easily accessible and clearly marked.

Cleaning tasks: The biggest cleaning challenge in the entry is dirt tracked in from outdoors. Rugs are your first line of defense against street dirt, so make sure yours are in good shape. If your area rugs are dirty, launder them; if they are getting worn out, consider buying new ones. Instead of choosing a typical doormat-size rug by default, consider if a larger rug or runner would better suit your space — a larger rug has more dirt-trapping power.

Day 5: Improve the flow.

Decluttering tasks: Step outside your home for a moment and come back in through the front door, taking the time to really notice how you naturally move into the space. Is your furniture arranged in a way that is convenient, or do you nearly bump into something on the way in?

Would it be easier to toss your keys on a floating shelf by the door instead of taking four steps to a bigger table down the hall? Today is the day to try something new.

Day 6: Beautify.

Cleaning tasks: Wipe down surfaces; polish wood furniture.

Decluttering tasks: Pay attention to what is kept out in the open in your entryway and what is behind closed doors. You can choose to keep your cutest rain boots and cheery umbrellas on display, and hide the less attractive gear. Add something fresh and pretty, like a bouquet of flowers, to bring your space to life.

If you don’t have a closet or cupboard for hiding utilitarian items, use baskets. But beware of going overboard and providing too much storage — it will only get filled up and then overfilled.

Sometimes a minimalist setup actually helps reduce clutter, because it forces you to put things away where they actually go instead of plunking them down in the entry. Strike a balance that feels right to you.

Day 7: Master a daily routine.

Cleaning tasks: A quick daily sweep will help keep dirt from accumulating in the entry. Storing a broom and dustpan or a small stick vacuum in the closet nearest the door will make things easier.

Decluttering tasks: Get in the habit of opening your mail as soon as you walk in the door, while standing over the recycling bin. At the end of each day, put away anything sitting around in the entry that doesn’t belong.

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Toss These 5 Things Before You Move For a Fresh New Start

Toss These 5 Things Before You Move For a Fresh New Start

While you’re packing, consider throwing out these household items and give yourself a fresh start in your new home.

 

Houzz Contributor, Aly Finkelstein

It’s a great feeling to walk into your new home and know you have a blank space to work with. But making sure your new home stays this fresh, clean and exciting is much harder. Here are five things to consider throwing away before your next move.

1. Old trash cans. Old and used garbage cans and bins can be dirty and in bad shape. And nothing says “yucky” like an old trash can that you’ve used for years.

If your family is anything like mine, you have gum, stains and sticky spots on even the cleanest of indoor and outdoor trash cans. Do yourself a favor and throw out the old bins before you move to your new home. You can buy new trash cans that match, fit the space and are clean. This rule may also apply to recycling bins you have around the house.

If buying all new cans isn’t in your budget, definitely clean your cans before packing them into your moving truck or car. Fill the inside of the can with dish soap and warm water and let it soak. Then scrub. The soak will make scrubbing easier.

2. Toys. Moving is the best time to clean out the things you haven’t used and the things that won’t serve you in your new space. Toys are a major clutter culprit, and often many of them just aren’t being used anymore. My motto: Keep the favorites and toss the rest. Once you’re in your new space, you can buy a special new toy to celebrate the move.

Pro tip: If you feel too guilty about getting rid of your child’s toy, pack up the ones you think your child may miss and leave them in a separate box in the garage. If they don’t ask for them after a certain amount of time, get rid of them.

3. Old paint. Every client I work with has gallons of old paint. Chances are the colors match your old house but not your new one, so this is a great time to clean out all the old cans.

Before disposing of paint, check your town’s rules on recycling or disposing of it.

Pro tip: If you loved some of those colors, add them to a spreadsheet on your computer. Make sure you list the room a paint was used in, for future reference. Make sure to update the spreadsheet as you repaint in your new house too.

4. Paper. As long as you’ve rectified your statements, paid your bills and set aside important documents and receipts, you don’t need to keep all the paper that’s weighing you down. File the things you need to keep, such as tax documents, health insurance paperwork and property records, and get rid of the rest.

I keep three files on my desk at all times: bills to be paid, business receipts to keep and paid bills. Once I see online that the paid bills have been registered as paid, I throw the paper versions out. This keeps the files small and manageable year-round.

Pro tip: In the weeks before you move, carve out five to 10 minutes a week to tackle the paper piles you have around the house. Almost all of the items in these piles can be thrown away if you take the time to go through them.

Read more about which papers to toss and which to keep

5. Storage containers. Do yourself a favor and get fresh storage containers for your new home! The container drawer is often a major source of clutter and frustration for my clients. Your new home will feel even newer with a full set of matching storage containers.

I store my containers with the lids on so they don’t get separated. If for some reason the lid does go missing, I repurpose the bottom or get rid of it. I’m loving glass containers these days because I can microwave, store and eat from them. They can do it all and then go back into the drawer with their matching lids.

Pro tip: Buy storage containers based on your family’s needs. For example, if you cook often and send friends and family home with leftovers, buy inexpensive, disposable containers. If you use your containers weekly for whole meals, buy larger sizes.

Don’t Pack These Items Up When You Move Into A New Home

Don’t Pack These Items Up When You Move Into A New Home

From medications to plants, here is a list of items you need to put some extra thought into for your packing strategy.

Guest Post by NorthStar Moving Co-Founder Laura McHolm

You have gone through the packing drills: Boxes? check; Tape? check; Precise type of boxes? check. Ready, set, go! Start packing! Wait a second! Hold it! Before you pack every tea cup and toy car in your home; take a break and step back. There are some items  you should first set aside; these items should not be packed. Certain valuables should always be kept close to you during a move, other items can be dangerous and some items simply should be left to the pros to pack to prevent injury and breakage.

Here are some of the items NOT to pack and move with the rest of your belongings:

1. Treasures: Money, securities, valuable papers and jewelry – Keep your treasures with you. If they are already tucked securely in a safe deposit box in the bank, don’t forget to get a new safe deposit box close to your new home and transfer the items there before your move.

2. Flammables: Items such as aerosol cans, paints, and gasoline – Ask the local hazardous waste organization in your community how to dispose of these items properly. The local fire department can point you in the right direction.

3. Perishable Items: Frozen foods and produce – You can donate food to your local food bank. Move for Hunger is a great organization for linking you to a food bank near you. Or, have a very eclectic left over dinner: ice cream and frozen waffles, anyone?

4. Plants & Flowers: Some states don’t allow plants to cross state lines so a moving company won’t be able to transport them for you. Moving locally? Way in advance of moving day: Ask the moving company if they can move plants. Can they move them in one day or  would you be better off moving your green friends yourself? You don’t want those plants in the dark without water too long!

5. Soaps & Polishes: Check with the water department and fire department on proper disposal.

6. Medications: Speak to your pharmacist, get your prescriptions transferred to your new home and find out how to transport them safely. Don’t forget your pet’s medications too. Talk to your vet and get those records and prescriptions transferred to your new home.

7. Explosives: Have guns, firearms, fireworks, explosives, or toxic substances? Check moving details with your local police department. Many cities have a no question asked turn in your firearms policy. Don’t under any circumstances leave them unattended. Children get very curious during a move and the last thing you would want on moving day is a horrible accident.

8. Family: Children, special need individuals, elderly family members and pets including fish and reptiles – Now, I know you aren’t packing these loved ones! BUT it is very important to make sure they all have a safe, cool and have a secure place to be on moving day, away from all of the boxes, commotion and movers. Make those arrangements way in advance of moving day and make sure everyone knows where everyone is going during the moving process.

The Ultimate Lifesaver Packing Tip:  Items you want to have easily accessible and close by your side on moving day be sure to pack a suitcase for each family member so everyone has their pjs, a change of clothes, phone/computer chargers, toothbrush, toothpaste, meds and favorite teddy bear. Also, make sure each family pet is microchipped, tagged and has a backpack full of food, meds, treats and toys to keep them settled where ever they will be babysat during the move. If you’re moving a long distance, make sure each family member has enough to get them through until the moving van rolls up to the new home. Really, you don’t want anyone to start that new school or job in their polka dotted pjs!

 Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.   www.northstarmoving.com.

10 Surprising Ways to Find More Space in Your Home

10 Surprising Ways to Find More Space in Your Home

An organized home is a happy home.

How are your 2016 resolutions going? It’s that time of year again when we break out the running shoes, eat healthier for a couple of weeks and pledge to get our lives more organized. However, how are we supposed to eat healthier if our pantries are over flowing or be inspired to hit the pavement every morning if we are looking at piles of clothes? To lead a more organized and inspired life the clutter around you must be cleared. It’s simple, if your home is organized your mindset will be too.

A clean and balanced home is actually a launching pad for all of your other resolutions. So if you are already starting to fail at your self-resolutions try this home resolution – find more space in your home by clearing out the clutter. Follow these ten tips and I promise you it will inspire you to complete your other resolutions and lead you to a more organized, happier year!

1The pantry. Create room by removing the large and awkward food packaging. Purchase clear, air-tight containers, take the box of your food item, and cut out the product name, nutritional facts and expiration date. Tape them to the inside of your clear container and then seal the food.

2. The pantry shelves. Arrange the food on your shelves to help keep your resolutions. Make “first choice” shelves for the food that you want to stay on that diet. Make shelves that are for the kids snacks or foods that you’re just not going to have on a regular basis anymore… You get the idea –some shelves are just for the once a week treat. Some are for every day.

3. The pantry. If you like to buy in bulk, put the bulk of your paper goods in another location, perhaps a closet or the garage, and place only what you need in your pantry— restock as needed.

4. The kitchen. When storing pots, pans and other durable items, stack them on their sides like files. This simple step not only creates more room, it also allows you to see exactly what you need. Caddies or sorters from a shelf or container store are great tools for vertical organizing

5. The dresser. Place clothing in drawers vertically (not the traditional horizontal piles) because it not only maximizes space, it allows you to find items more quickly. You can purchase wooden planks or plastic planks to use as dividers. This way you can see all of your clothes at once when you open the drawer.

6. The closet. If your shoes don’t have a place they end up in a pile taking up valuable space. Place shoes and accessories in clear plastic containers so you can see everything and tape their photo to the inside of their container with photo facing out. This little step gives you triple duty: more space, you can find it easily and better still you can put it away in the exact same spot for next time that hot date rolls around…

7. Use color to keep it straight. Organize your closet and drawers dark to light. It can be great way to find out that you really have way too many black blouses… and you can keep your resolution of being a kinder gentler you by donating the extras!

8. The kids’ rooms. Purchase bed raisers for under-the-bed storage. You can store everything from shoes, laundry basket, books and any bulky items that might otherwise clutter their room.

9. The baby’s closet. Is there room to add another bar? Take advantage of the fact that baby clothing is smaller and if you can, add an additional bar to hang the clothing to maximize space. You can purchase premade closet organizers that you can customize to make the most out of baby’s closet.

10. The best trick to more space in your home, less is more! So if you find you have extra things laying around, throw a reverse housewarming party! You will be starting a new party trend. Set aside your unwanted items and instead of having your friends bring a housewarming gift, they are to pick one of your items and take it home with them. This is a great way to reunite with friends, find your unwanted things a good home, and de-clutter all at the same time!

Now that the clutter around you is cleared your mind will be clearer to meet all those 2016 goals!

How to Win at the Organization Game

How to Win at the Organization Game

Try one of these clever storage ideas to tackle sports equipment clutter and we’re sure you’ll come out a winner of the organization game!

We all love to root, root, root for the home team, but when the team’s equipment starts invading our homes, it can feel like we’ve struck out in the game of organization.  If your front hall or garage is cluttered with lacrosse sticks, hockey pads and baseball cleats, try one of these clever storage ideas and we’re sure you’ll come out a winner!

sportsorg_bungee balls

Add bungee cords to your garage storage for an easy way to bounce back into organized shape.  This organization system makes grabbing a basketball to shoot some hoops quick and easy, but clean-up even easier!

Garage Cubbies

sportsorg_garage cubbies

The key to good garage storage is lots of shelving.  This great cubbie system creates space for everything from skates to bike helmets.

Hockey Pad Drying Rack

sportsorg_hockey drying rack

Anyone with a hockey player in their household knows that victory doesn’t always smell so sweet.  Fend off piles of stinky hockey pads by creating a drying rack that organizes gear for the next big game.

Pegboard Organization System

sportsorg_pegboard

Anyone with growing athletes in their home knows that as passions grow, so too does the size of the sports equipment that comes along with it.  This pegboard organizational system is flexible enough to expand with your kid’s activity schedule.

Rollable Bins

sportsorg_triple storage bin

For sports equipment that gets used frequently, this rollable storage bin is a great storage solution. Organize equipment into each compartment by sport (soccer, tennis, baseball, etc.).