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Has your domicile gotten out of control? Are you feeling overwhelmed by the one place in the world that’s supposed to serve as your sanctuary? Would you like to make your living environment more, well, livable? Just click on any button to reveal a whole host of decluttering, space planning, information management, productivity, and other miscellaneous organizing tips for that room. And welcome home!

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Turning Your Attic Into Functional Storage (Instead Of Wasted Space) Taming Your Child's Room (To Prevent All Those Kid-Messes) Ending Kitchen Clutter (And Saving Time On Meal Preparation) Finding New Homes For The Clutter (So Your Car Can Actually Live In The Garage) Creating Efficient (And Attractive) Storage In Your Bathroom Getting Your Closet In Order (And Bringing This Couture Nightmare To An End) Regaining Control Over Paper (And Your Manage-The-Family/Work-At-Home Office, Too) Keeping Your Car Organized (In The Midst Of Crazy-Busy Work And Personal Use) Getting Your Books/Magazines (And Other Miscellaneous Media Items) In Order

click a button for tips on organizing that room of your house

Turning Your Attic Into Functional Storage
(Instead Of Wasted Space)

If you're like other homo sapiens, your attic has become a dumping ground for crap you've not needed, looked at, nor used in years. Broken furniture, dead appliances, decades-old clothing, discarded hobby supplies, junk you stuck in a box three moves ago -- most of which you forgot you even owned! That's the problem with far-away storage, so easy to lose track of what's up there and why you were keeping it:

  • Start with anything that's broken, damaged, dysfunctional, incomplete, out-of-style, or waaaaaaay-too-much-of-whatever-than-you-could-possibly-use-in-a-dozen-lifetimes -- will it kill you to let any of that go? How much of this mess can you immediately part with, sans any sort of regret or guilt?
  • If it works and you love it, why hide it away? Can you incorporate that item back into your home -- I mean god-forbid-actually-use-it-on-a-daily-basis? Or display it as part of your décor? Even if that means trading out some other less-meaningful object currently occupying your active space?
  • Now take a look at memorabilia -- is everything you've got stashed under the eaves truly beloved? Or are you keeping it out of habit? Worry? Obligation? Pick up an item, any item -- does it immediately flood you with good memories? Or do you have to strain to remember where it came from?
  • Is whatever you've got living up here at high altitude (stored just below the ozone layer) in danger of ruination from heat/cold, bugs, moisture, or other environmentally-destructive factors? If you actually care about these treasures enough to keep them, shouldn't you care to treat them with respect?

Taming Your Child's Room
(To Prevent All Those Kid-Messes)

Think that children (as a species) are genetically incapable of maintaining order? Nuh-uh! Little people are my best organizers -- craving structure, thriving on routine, and blossoming within orderly surroundings. But getting your house-ape to put those toys away requires more more nurture than nature. It's all about what they've been taught and how the environment is set up to encourage (or discourage) good habits:

  • Let's talk rug-rat storage -- is your tot's closet rod within reach? Is he strong enough to open those drawers? Can his tiny fingers pry the lid off that toy-storage tub? How exactly is a not-yet-able-to-read preschooler going to understand a label telling him that "socks" go here and "underwear" over there?
  • Do you find yourself having to change out an entire kid-room full of furniture every time your crotch-dropling grows and evolves to a new level? Is there some way you can switch to modular storage components -- the kind that adjust/expand as her intellectual capacity and physical needs change?
  • Is your ankle-biter's stuff all mixed together -- or divided into activity-appropriate "centers?" Have you set up a dedicated space for grooming? One for rest? Another for playtime? Schoolwork/reading? Art/music? And do all the relevant supplies for that area have a clearly-defined place to live?
  • Have you instituted a policy for the putting-away-of migratory toys/books/clothes and unidentifiable-kindercrap -- to keep munchkin-clutter from taking over your house? A physical container into which shriekling-stuff may be gathered? And a routine for returning those homeless items to their domiciles?

Ending Kitchen Clutter
(And Saving Time On Meal Preparation)

Your kitchen is the warm, bloody, beating heart of your entire household -- a welcoming communal gathering place, the origin of all nourishment. (It's also one of the most-used rooms in said domicile -- so when the damn thing doesn't function properly, the whole rest of your life gets mucked up by association!) But mealtime doesn't have to be hard, if you just take a second to get your peking ducks in a row first:

  • Can you move easily between key appliances -- stove to refrigerator to sink? Is anything (like a big-ass island or baker's rack) blocking your way? Have you set up distinct centers for cooking, cleaning, food prep, serving, and storage -- keeping everything you need for that activity at its "station?"
  • Do you have cookware, utensils, and consumables mixed together in your pantry/cabinets/drawers? (Even worse -- canned goods, beverages, dried bulk items, baking supplies, and breakfast foods all cohabiting like a herd of beasts?) Or are you practicing the correct measure of culinary segregation?
  • Are your counters covered (and your most convenient cabinets filled) with everything-under-the-sun-except-what-you-use-on-a-daily-basis? Bread machine you never touch? Mixer covered in three inches of dust? Your wedding champagne flutes? Canisters that serve zero purpose except to take up space?
  • How many of your edibles are inedible? "Non-perishables" that long-ago died of old age? Freezer denizens who more resemble lost arctic explorers than food -- mummified, shriveled, covered in frost? Excessively-hairy-smell-like-a-foot fridge residents who seem one small step away from panhandling?

Finding New Homes For The Clutter
(So Your Car Can Actually Live In The Garage)

No room in the garage for your car? Makes total sense to leave that $35,000 vehicle outside to fend for itself -- your all-important-mode-of-transport-and-lifeblood-of-mobility rusting away at the mercy of the elements, while you carefully protect $500 worth of junk you honestly couldn't care less about. Now that we've had that small reality check, let's make room for your ride to sleep soundly indoors at night:

  • What sort of actual storage have you set up in this space? I don't mean random split-open-cardboard-boxes-and-other-miscellaneous-loose-crap piled on the floor -- I'm talking shelves. Cabinets. Hooks. Tubs. Racks. Some for-realz item-appropriate, intentionally-designated places for your shit to live?
  • Which of your garage stuff gets used elsewhere? Sports equipment, picnicking paraphernalia, pool toys, gardening tools, cleaning supplies -- how time-consuming, cumbersome, difficult, and unwieldy is it to move that junk back and forth? Any chance of a portable storage solution?
  • How much wasted space in your car-shed is vertical? See anything you could hang (on a wall/door, under a shelf, from the ceiling) to get it off the flo', visible, accessible, out-from-under your flipping feet? (Hint -- hammers to hockey sticks, hardware to brooms, pretty much anything and everything!)
  • Garages tend to contain a lot of things that don't fit into typical storage -- soccer balls, tennis rackets, rakes, shovels, chainsaws, paint-sprayers. How can you get creative with your containment? Stand things up in a bucket? Gather them into a bag? Hang them from a rack? Put several together in a case?

Creating Efficient (And Attractive)
Storage In Your Bathroom

Poor potty. One of the most important rooms in your house (you'd explode without it) -- yet always overlooked in the grand creating-order-and-eliminating-chaos scheme of things. Does a privy not have feelings? Does the head not deserve respect? Look past that cold unfeeling tile (and apply a touch of air freshener) -- you'll find a warm little center of your home that just wants some organizational loving:

  • What is all that crap (figurative, not literal) piled on the counter? Keeping things closest to the point where you use them is a good thing. But how much of these open-air toiletries are part of your regular ablutions -- and how much of this junk is just in-the-freaking-way as you get ready each morning?
  • Everyone loves a bargain (and lord knows I value once-a-year-bulk-shopping as an efficiency tool) -- but do you really need to waste your most-precious-and-easiest-to-reach storage space on those three-gallon refill bottles of shampoo, six-dozen rolls of toilet paper, and 64 extra spools of floss?
  • Maximizing your limited lavatorial storage is all about corralling small items within large, cavernous spaces. What do you own (along the lines of eye pencils, lip balm, clippers, combs, hair accessories, cotton balls, q-tips, or makeup sponges) that could stand to be categorized and contained?
  • What time-saving water-closet-sanitation system do you have in place? How can you make it easier for folks to wipe up splats as they happen (before that toothpaste or hairspray or god-forgive-me-but-yes-I'm-going-to-say-it-poo dries into a cement-like substance requiring a jackhammer to remove)?

Getting Your Closet In Order
(And Bringing This Couture Nightmare To An End)

Crappy-quality clothes storage equals an unhappy life. Don't believe me? Think about how pissed you got the last time you ran late -- because a beloved outfit was suddenly too small, or a skirt busted its zipper, or your black shoes disappeared amid the fashion clutter. A bad start leads to a bad day -- so one of the most positively impactful changes you can make to your environment is to get your damned closet in order:

  • If I held a gun to your head, could you honestly say that every bit of attire you own deserves be taking up valuable wardrobe space? While sifting through garb, ask a few of the harder questions -- like when was the last time that fabric touched your bod? And how does wearing those threads make you feel?
  • How do you "use" your trousseau? Are some items just for work, others for play? Do you think more in terms of the season during which you wear them? Do particular pieces or accessories only ever go with one outfit -- or is everything mix-and-match? Does your organizational system reflect that?
  • Is any apparel you own not currently wearable -- jackets that last fit in 1979, pants that have needed hemmed for a decade, ripped seams, missing buttons, ties covered in stains, shirts that don't match anything you own? What can you do to breathe new life into these poor neglected buggers?
  • Is your closet filled with non-costuming stuff? It might make sense to keep luggage or clothing care items with your duds -- but what about the memorabilia, sports equipment, holiday decorations, and paperwork? Maybe the rest of that crap could go elsewhere? Free up a little room? Hmmmmmmm?

Regaining Control Over Paper
(And Your Manage-The-Family/Work-At-Home Office, Too)

Every human who participates in modern society (not counting Massai warriors and uncontacted rainforest tribes) has administrative responsibilities to stay on top of -- filing, finances, communications, that sort of thing. Wouldn't it be nice to have an actual place to sit while taking care of business? Maybe a drawer for your supplies? Possibly even (god forbid) a folder for your paperwork? Absolutely no reason you can't:

  • Shall we discuss what it takes to create a biomechanically-pleasing office environment? Do routine activities (like computing and corresponding) give you a pain in the neck? A sore back? Carpal tunnel? Does your monitor leave you blind and headachy? Isn't it time your workspace stopped hurting you?
  • Even the most fantabulous spatial arrangement is rendered useless with a desk covered in unopened mail and miscellaneous action items -- do you have a damn system for incoming paper? A method for sorting what you receive? Cleaning out the trash? Deciding what steps to take with the remainder?
  • The way to get stuff off your desk is to get it done -- which requires a companion time management tool. Do you have a calendar system? Do you actually use it? Putting time-sensitive responsibilities on a particular date? Blocking off a reasonable amount of time to actually-god-forbid tackle that task?
  • Once to-dos are to-done, they need a place to live -- but what type of housing will it be? Each given its own room in an orderly, well-maintained domicile? Or a bunch of unrelated strangers jammed into a cramped, cluttered, neglected hovel (that looks suspiciously like a cardboard box/shopping bag)?

Keeping Your Car Organized
(In The Midst Of Crazy-Busy Work And Personal Use)

Think about everything you carry with you as you drive -- snacks, water, work paraphernalia, sunglasses, toys, school supplies, extracurricular equipment, bills to pay, magazines to read, buying mistakes awaiting repatriation. (And in every car a billion straws -- where do they all come from?) Was said conveyance really designed to store all this junk? Probably not -- and that's why your ride is so frigging cluttered:

  • What kind of "temporary" stuff are you toting around? Do you have an errand bin in the trunk -- a place where consumer-regret-purchases-to-return, dry-cleaning-to-drop-off, art-to-frame, broken-items-to-have-fixed, discards-to-donate, bodies-to-bury, and library-books-to-take-back can live?
  • When was the last time you double-checked your emergency kit? Is your insurance/registration easily accessible in case of an accident or police altercation? Getting that poor little POS in order is not just about cleaning out -- it also involves adequately equipping your bucket in case of roadside disaster.
  • How much of what seems like innocuous "car clutter" is actually "automotive garbage?" Disposable cups, candy wrappers, fast food packaging, napkins, junk mail, parking tickets, those stupid windshield fliers -- can we come up with a better solution for containing (or better yet, eradicating) these?
  • Are you a nomadic employee, an itinerant worker, a job-driven-road-warrior? What sort of vehicular office have you set up for yourself? A steering-wheel laptop desk? Mobile storage for supplies/files? Something that makes it easy to tote gotta-have-away-from-the-office paraphernalia back and forth?

Getting Your Books/Magazines
(And Other Miscellaneous Media Items) In Order

Try convincing an otherwise reasonable individual that it's okay to pitch an outdated National Geographic, or toss out a 1989 copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica, or even recycle an old VHS tape (when they no longer own a player) -- you risk losing a freaking limb! But I'm the kind of gal who likes to live on the edge. So I'm going to do my best to help you trim, tighten, and regain control over your media collection:

  • Why are folks (who're perfectly willing to toss clothing that no longer fits and long-since-abandoned hobby equipment) so reticent to let go of a book they last read two decades ago? Or a research article they haven't looked at since college? Or a video they've owned for 15 years and still never watched?
  • Can I please-please-please talk you into going through your library once a year and cleaning out whatever's no longer personally relevant or doesn't actively interest you anymore? Sell? Donate? Give to a friend or colleague? I'm sure we can find SOMEONE who'll appreciate the info. Pretty please?
  • Do magazines languish for months and months past their expiration date, even when you only want to read an article or two? Do you really need the whole publication? Or could you rip those pages right the freak out, Dead Poet's Society style -- and be just as happy? (I promise you won't go to hell.)
  • Why cling to media that you've tried to like and failed? Unless it's been assigned for a class, life is too short for entertainment-induced "have-tos." Can you forgive yourself for getting bored with that movie (or CD or video game or novel) and giving up on it? Can you be okay with letting it go?