For some reason, bedrooms often end up being a "catch-all," especially in a small home. To prevent this from happening, you need to decide the specific purpose of this room and be very mindful of sticking to that purpose. For example, you may decide that your bedroom is going to function as both a bedroom and a small office. Then, only allow things that are necessary for those functions to remain in the space. Everything else needs to find a different home.
Beyond being very specific about the purpose of the room, three things are important when organizing the small bedroom.
1. Keep clutter (and other things) to a minimum.
No one really wants to look at a cluttered dresser or vanity as they're trying to relax at night. It's important that you tidy up frequently so that everything gets put back in place before you go to bed. If you've read any of my other blot posts, you probably would have come across my "15 minute" bedtime routine. Use some of that time to tidy up surfaces in your room.
Other things that can clutter up your small bedroom: furniture and clothing. If you can't easily navigate around the furniture in your room, you have too much. Maybe you can use a smaller bed. Or, you could take out the nightstand if you have a headboard that has shelves or cubbies. Remove furniture that isn't used often. Be thoughtful about what you actually need for storage.
Almost all of us have too much clothing. There is an often quoted statistic that we wear 20% of our clothing 80% of the time. Let go of anything you haven't worn in the last 2 years - you probably don't like it or it doesn't fit right. Also, get rid of clothing that is stained, ripped or otherwise in disrepair. Decide on a specific number of jeans, shirts, etc and only keep what you actually wear.
2. Be clever about the type and placement of storage.
Not everything has to be a piece of furniture that sits on the floor. Get wall shelving that you can store things on. In small spaces, both closed and open storage is important, but lean towards closed storage that can be kept neat and tidy.
If you need to have a desk or vanity space in your room, consider getting a fold down desk like this one from Amazon. You get hidden storage and a work surface!
3. Don't forget hidden storage areas.
The closet immediately comes to mind for most people - and yes, that is a great storage space, provided it's decluttered and things are put away neatly. Don't just throw things on the shelves. Depending on what you need to access, get open fabric bins to get to things easily, or closed totes to stack on shelves.
Also think about storing things under the bed. If your bed isn't currently tall enough to get under, think about using bed risers. Make sure they are heavy duty and made for beds and not other types of furniture.
Storage space in a bathroom is almost always at a premium. Even more so when you barely have enough room to turn around when the door is shut! Yes, I've had a bathroom this small - where a pedestal sink and a narrow tub barely fit in the room. In my case, I didn't even have a linen (or any other type of) closet anywhere close to the bathroom. I had to be very selective about what I chose to keep in the bathroom and what was stored elsewhere and brought into the room when needed.
If you've read some of my other posts, you know I stress thinking vertically. You have more than just your floor space. Add shelves, if possible. When you do, though, also purchase some containers that fit on the shelves to store things out of site. If you can't put shelves on the wall because the door bangs into them, or you'll hit your head when you get out of the shower, think about adding shelves in the wall between the studs. A wall niche like the one shown here from Amazon can be helpful. Or, you can just build your own. Of course, the shelves would only be about 3 inches deep, but you do a lot with that space.
Don't forget the back of the door. Use hooks here for towels or bathrobes. Or, instead, you could use an over-the-door shoe organizer for extra storage here. Just make sure whatever product you use can be easily cleaned - whether it can be wiped down with all-purpose cleaner, or thrown in a washing machine. Small bathrooms especially are prone to excess moisture, which can lead to mildew if there isn't sufficient ventilation.
If you have a pedestal sink, you can purchase an organizer that wraps around the pedestal. This is open storage, but every little bit counts. To have some closed storage, you might be able to use an over-the-toilet shelf. Sometimes, these won't work because of how close the sink or bathtub might be to the toilet - so make sure you measure before purchasing. Look for units that have doors or drawers in them.
Consider shower or bathtub options, too. You can find storage units that use tension rods from the tub to the ceiling. These can work well - just remember to remove them and clean under and around them. Otherwise, find caddies that hang over the shower head. Most suction cup caddies don't hold enough weight and tend to be more trouble than they're worth.
I feel like I just got the tip of the iceberg here, but I hope this helps! Do you have other ideas? Let me know what you're struggling with in your small space.
While I'm blessed to now live in a home where we recently remodeled our kitchen and I have plenty of counter and cabinet space, this was not always the case. One place had only 2 upper cabinets and 2 lower cabinets. The only counter top was next to the sink. Plus, it was an "eat-in" kitchen, so there was a small dining table there, too. That was probably the smallest, but I had a couple others that were almost just as small. Needless to say, I had to learn to be creative with the space.
One of the things I learned along the way - be very picky with what you decide to keep or buy. This applies to food, cookware, and appliances. I did not buy food in bulk (I had no where outside of the kitchen to store things, either). I changed my habit of shopping every two weeks to going weekly. Planning your list is a must - you can't buy too much extra because you don't have the space for it. Also, only have small appliances that you absolutely need - and bonus points for appliances that serve multiple functions. If only the InstaPot was a thing back then! You might have to decide that you can live without a toaster oven, a crock pot, a food processor, etc. Instead use your range, and opt for a microwave and a blender that can chop food. Then, only keep the minimum amount of cookware and other dishes you use. If you have a family of four, only keep enough plates and drinkware for your family plus two more, in case of guests.
Beyond limiting the items in the space, make sure you're using the space you do have efficiently. Think about space you have on the walls, under cabinets, and on the ceiling. Can you add open shelving on a wall? This doesn't have to be pricey shelving - just some nice brackets with stained or painted 1x12 lumber would work nicely. Can you hang a small pot rack - and hang serving utensils there along with your pots and pans?
precious drawer space.
One other thing to consider - keep your counter tops as uncluttered as possible! Put things away when you're done using them. Clean up the dishes right away, rather than letting them pile up. Keeping the counter tops open will make the space feel bigger, which is almost as important as actually being bigger!
What ideas do you have for a small kitchen? Let me know in the comments!
Spring is here!!! I love seeing and hearing all the birds that have returned to our area. We have sandhill cranes (noisy but interesting), geese, and all sorts of songbirds. When I hear the cranes in early March, I know it's time for spring decluttering. Ok, Ok, I know - it's supposed to be spring cleaning. But, you can't get to the cleaning until you move all the stuff out of the way. You might as well do a bit of a purge while you're at it.
I find that beginning with clothing is helpful. Depending on the part of the country you live in, you might be switching out your seasonal clothes. Instead of packing away all the winter stuff, evaluate what you've worn this year, and what you haven't. Has that well loved sweater finally been worn out? Look for excess pilling, holes or stains. Donate children's clothing that they won't fit into next year.
In the kitchen, pull out plastic storage containers - recycle those that have seen better days. Go through food in the pantry and toss anything expired or open boxes/bags of food that has gone stale. Sort through cookware and get rid of nonstick pots and pans that have had the coating chipped off.
The bathroom can be decluttered, too. Old medicines that have expired should be disposed of properly. Half used bottles of shampoos and beauty supplies that you decided you didn't like need to go. Then, look at your towels - are they threadbare or have holes? You can turn one or two into cleaning rags, but throw out the rest.
Depending on how much spring decluttering you want to do, you could even move into storage areas - basements, attics, closets. What things have you been holding on to for years? Are they really useful - what's their purpose? Take a hard look and get into the spirit of the season by getting rid of the old stuff so that you can begin with a fresh outlook.
What's your spring declutter plan? If you don't have one or are having trouble getting started, I'm happy to help! Contact me or comment below.
You probably experience this year after year - you think you're ready to file your taxes, but finding them and ensuring you have what you need is difficult and time-consuming. If your tax preparer spends more time sorting through your receipts and documents than preparing your taxes, you have a problem. Why not get started off on the right foot for next year?
When it comes to setting up a system, simpler is better. But, simpler does not mean everything thrown randomly into a cardboard box - or a plastic bag (yes, I've seen this)! If you create a storage system that is too complex, you won't use it. It becomes cumbersome to file anything away, so you resort to the box method. One of the better methods that works for most people is either a very small file box with hanging files, or an accordion file folder. The one listed below is great because it closes, has enclosed sides and is very portable. Or, if you need something that's heavy duty, choose the plastic banker's box style.
Aim to have only 7 or categories, as you may find it too difficult to manage if you go beyond that. For example, instead of having separate files for your retirement account and your non-retirement related investments, it might make sense to combine those into one file, just labeled investments.
Speaking of labels, be sure you do label your tabs or folders. It does no good to come up with categories if you don't clearly label things. Trust me, I know people who don't label... and they end up getting very confused. When you only have a few categories, labeling can be quick. Labels can be as simple as a post-it note stuck on the tab, or as fancy as a machine made label. Whatever works for you is fine, as long as the label doesn't fall off and is clear to you what is contained in that file.
So, do yourself a favor for next year and get this ready now. It will only take you a few minutes, but save you a ton of time next year. If you aren't sure how to get started, get in touch. I'm happy to help!
I must confess, I don't have an emergency kit in my car. I live in Wisconsin - it's winter... snowstorms happen, accidents happen. What am I thinking? Apparently, I'm not. I've lived in this state for more than 20 years and I've been lucky enough that I've had good Samaritans stop and help when I've been stuck. But, I'm sure my luck will only hold so long. Not to mention, I have 2 teenage boys driving now. It's definitely past time to get emergency kits for the cars.
So, what do you need in your emergency kit? Think things that will keep you warm, safe and nourished.
As a professional organizer, I’m always interested in hearing new ideas about organizing. Because I tailor my methods according to my client’s needs, I tend to read a lot about what other organizers do and how their methods help clients in specific ways. Enter Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In case you haven’t heard, she calls her method the “KonMari” method… combining her first and last names.
To be honest, I’ve been a bit skeptical of her method since I heard about it, because I didn’t think it really would work in most American family households. Of course, I hadn’t actually read the book, so before I started discounting her work, I wanted to learn about it myself. Now, I am by no means trained in the KonMari method (and yes, there is an actual certification for this), so please keep that in mind. Realize that my opinions are based only on my reading of the book and not through taking her classes.
The very basics of her method are that you start with the premise that you’re deciding only what to keep, not necessarily what to discard. And, you only keep those things that “spark joy.” You do all your tidying by category and you do it all at once. You also verbally thank and appreciate the objects in your home.
Some of the tenants, I certainly agree with. Kondo asserts that the “tidying” must all be done at once. At first, I was laughing hysterically. If she’s been in some of the houses I’ve been in, all at once would have been a marathon 3 week undertaking with no breaks. But, that’s not what she means. She means for you to decide to tidy up and work continuously at it and complete it within a certain amount of time - 3-6 months, for example. That makes more sense to me, and I agree with that. You don’t want to start organizing and then take months off in between. You’ll undo anything you’ve started.
I also agree that it’s best to sort like items at the same time. She insists on it. I don’t. This is where we part ways. This works fantastically well for some of my clients - if their homes aren’t cluttered to the point that they simply don’t know where all their clothing is, for example. So, I would take her advice and modify it to fit my client’s situation. We sort by category as much as possible but realize that we may need to do a second sort once we’ve gone through the bulk of the home.
As far as thanking the items for their service, I think I’ll pass. But I definitely can take this and put a more culturally acceptable American spin on it. I do believe, just as Kondo states, that the things we own can be easier to get rid of if we accept that they have fulfilled their purpose in our lives. We may not have realized what the purpose was when we acquired that object, but it could have been as simple as providing us a certain amount of happiness when we found it for half price in the store. We don’t necessarily have to hang on to something just because we haven’t gotten “full use” out of it. Sure, you did, you just didn’t realize it at the time.
Overall, I enjoyed Marie Kondo’s book. I did laugh to myself a few times when I envisioned trying to work through some client’s homes the KonMari way. Surprisingly though, I did learn new ways to help clients make decisions on what to keep. So, her book has served a purpose in my life. And I can, with joy, let it go.
What do you think? Have you read her book? Has it helped you tidy up, or did it just give you a good laugh (or a little of both)? Let me know in the comments!
A few clients admitted to me recently that they were embarrassed. One was embarrassed because she had engaged my services. Another was ashamed of her home and was very humbled to have someone in when it was so cluttered (in her mind). Their embarrassment stemmed from two different reasons, so I'll try to address each one of them.
A professional organizer is just like any other "service" professional. You probably wouldn't hesitate to hire an electrician, real estate agent, or auto mechanic, right? Not everyone has the expertise or time to organize their home or office. And that's ok. I'm sure you do many things that I could never dream of doing - because you're more of an expert than I am. That's what makes the world work!
You should never be embarrassed to have a professional organizer in your home - whether it's mildly cluttered or it meets the standards of "hoarding." The vast majority of professional organizers are kind, empathetic individuals who are in the business to help. To be honest, I don't know of any organizers who are critical of their clients! We strive to keep everything we do for you and everything about your home as confidential as possible.
I have found that using the services of a professional organizer can help release you from your stress and tendency to withdraw. Creating a clean, uncluttered space can boost self-confidence and motivation. Give it a try!
I see it every day - friends and acquaintances posting every day on various social media sites how "broke" they are. Yet, I see those same people posting about how much fun they have at the bar every weekend, or how they bought the latest iPhone.
Maybe they're thinking they deserve it because they've worked so hard. I'm not denying that. Unfortunately, we can't always get what we feel we deserve. Having a little bit of will power to put off getting the latest gadget could have huge rewards later on. For example, if you take the money you were going to use for the new phone and put it towards your debt with the highest interest rate, you may be able to pay it off, rather than continue to pay interest. That $600 could make thousand of dollars difference.
Think about other ways you can create a free or cheap alternative for the activities that are most costly. If your bar bill is $50, you could think about spending $20 on a mixer or a case of beer and invite friends over for a game night. You still get to hang out and enjoy a beverage, but at less than half the price.
It's not always easy making the tough choices to live more financially responsibly, but it is necessary if you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck. You can still have fun and get some of the things you want - you just have to be creative and patient to get there. For more free and cheap entertainment ideas, check out my book Living Within Your Means: A practical guide to financial freedom. I'd love to personally help you live a more organized and stress-free life - contact me for a free estimate.
New clients often ask me what should they purchase to get organized. My answer - NOTHING! Well, at least in the beginning. The problem is that you don't really know what you're going to end up with to actually organize/containerize because you need to go through all of the "pre-organizing" steps first. You know - sort (figure out what belongs here vs donate vs move to another space) and remove (take out garbage, take donated items to charity and move things you're keeping to other places they belong).
Once you know what you have left, you can assess what makes sense to buy. I don't necessarily have any specific products that I always use. Each home or business is unique in what they have chosen to keep. However, I do have some suggestions that I think help just about everyone as they organize.
My number one piece of advice - know what you need to organize before you buy anything. Have a specific purpose for that storage bin, basket or shelf before you purchase it. That way, you don't end up with an organizing solution that doesn't work for your organizing problems.
Jennifer Raschig loves to share thoughts on creating restful spaces and presenting your best self every day.