DECONSTRUCTED – DIY Freezer Organization

Your freezer is a powerful ally in bulk shopping, ice preservation, and other general extreme cooling purposes. If the frozen section of your traditional upright refrigerator/freezer combo unit, the following tips will help you bring clarity, accessibility, and order to your frozen foods.

The following steps will help you achieve this very neat, orderly freezer layout [credit: simplyorganized.me]

Tools:

Containers with handles

Alternative size – container with handle (optional)

Ice bins (optional)

Expandable Shelf (optional)

**Measure your freezer space and verify product dimensions before purchasing

Procedure:

  1. Remove your freezer items.
  2. [Optional] If your freezer DOES NOT have a shelf, you may be able to create one by inserting an expandable shelf.
  3. Place frozen items into the assorted bins according to categories (meats, vegetables, ice cream, etc.) and size.
  4. If you are using an expandable shelf that does not fit your freezer from end to end, consider using miscellaneous containers along the outside edge(s), and place the shelf in the middle.
  5. Enjoy the newly-acquired visibility and accessibility to the items in your organized freezer.

Deconstructed – Kitchen Cabinet Organizing

Kitchen cabinets can be a challenge. First, most kitchens have a variety of fragile dishes and glasses that come in shapes that often do not fit smoothly inside rectangular cabinet spaces. Then there is the issue of aesthetics. Perhaps you have a matching set you would like to keep together. Maybe you only use that set on certain occasions. How do you store those 50 commemorative wine glasses from your best friend’s recent milestone birthday celebration? How do you create a cohesive aesthetic in your cabinet if you have a multiple incomplete dish sets? Check out the photo and instructions below for one way you can quickly organize your cabinet with minimal fuss. Need to know where you can purchase the necessary tools? Click on the links in the supply list to order from Amazon using my affiliate code (I will receive a small commission, but the price of each item will remain unchanged – thank you!).

kitchen cabinet organizing supplies

Supply List:

How To:

  1. Insert mug hooks into the cabinet by attaching each row of hooks to shelf above space in which you would like to position your mugs. You can expect to store about four medium-sized mugs on each row of hooks.
  2. Position glasses for maximum visibility. Place taller glasses on the outside edges of the cabinet space. You can also substitute tall glasses for additional mugs nested together or short glasses from a matching set stacked to make a taller pile.
  3. Next, arrange all remaining glasses from left to right in order of height, shortest to tallest (see photo).
  4. Assemble the corner cabinet shelf, and place it in the far right corner. Place stacks of small plates underneath and on the middle row of the two-tier corner shelf. Place smaller items like ramekins on the very top of the shelf.
  5. Assemble your two sets of stackable kitchen cabinet shelves, and place them adjacent to each other on the next lowest empty cabinet shelf.
  6. Stack your plates together according to matching sets (or as desired), and place them underneath and in front the stackable shelf on the left. Place larger bowls on top of the stackable shelf. If you have a set of smaller bowls, stack them, and place them in front of the stackable shelf.
  7. Arrange remaining plates, bowls, and any specialty dishes on the remaining stackable shelf on the right similar to photo.

Note: If you have sets that do not match or dishes you use infrequently, position these directly underneath the the stackable shelf as they will be slightly less accessible and less visible than the dishes you place in front.

Deconstructed – Easy Closet Design with Hanging Shelves and Shoe Storage

Sometimes we want a little more structure in our closets without the total confinement of custom shelves and DIY organizer units. This very basic closet setup featured on Real Simple shows us how we can achieve a very clean, easy-to-maintain aesthetic by adding just a few organizing products. Let’s deconstruct it!

What You’ll Need:

How-To:

Similar to doing a new hairstyle, closet organization projects have the best results when completed in a freshly cleaned, purged closet. Once you have determined the items you would like to keep in the closet, dusted, and cleaned the floors, you can achieve the above pictured organized closet design by following these steps:

  1. Position your shoe rack in the corner. The two-tier wooden shoe rack listed above is designed to store six to eight pairs of shoes while the three-tier rack can store up to 12. Depending on the size of your closet, you may be able to fit more than one shoe rack if you have more shoes. In a standard, non walk-in closet, I most frequently position shoe racks against a wall or directly in the corner with the most frequently-worn shoes within easiest reach.
  2. Position your fabric hanging shelf on the left side of your closet rod. Within the shelf you can store small items like scarves, socks, tights, perhaps t-shirts. The addition of the fabric drawers makes the shelves ideal for storing intimate apparel or items you don’t need to access throughout the year like hats, gloves, and earmuffs. I recommend using the drawers to store items you can afford to have out of sight, but won’t forget their location and go out and purchase duplicates. On the open shelf, I recommend sticking to items you can neatly fold. Alternatively, you can also store items that do not require folding like a few small handbags and clutches or perhaps a few stackable hats. Whatever you decide to store on the open shelf, be sure you are able to keep it maintained neatly!
  3. Decide which clothing items you would like to keep on hangers, and transfer them over to the wood hangers. The closet in the photo only houses tops on its hangers. However, I’ve selected the full triangular wood hangers that allow you to also fold pants over the bottom rung. While these hangers are a little bulkier than some other styles like the popular velvet hangers, the hangers I’ve selected will give your closet a more upscale retail store aesthetic, and they feature notches that allow you to secure your tops with very thin straps. To achieve the color scheme pictured above, start by positioning your white tops on the left side, and gradually add tops of darker colors as you move rightward, keeping your color groups together. Beginning with your white tops on the left side will also help prevent color transfer onto your light-colored clothes. If you would like to include pants in your close, I would recommend putting them on hangers and keeping them together in a separate section further to the right and also organized by color. You can also check out my post on my quick, go-to color-coordinating closet organizing strategy.
  4. Lastly, place your small hamper adjacent to your shoe rack on the right side of the closet. I recommend keeping the hamper in a position within the closet that will allow fresh air circulation if possible. Place your wire cube bin on the left side of the top shelf to create easy storage for lint rollers, fabric sprays, and other clothing and closet supplies.
  5. Step back and admire your work. We did it!

Once again, the following supplies can be found at Amazon and delivered conveniently to your home. Thank you for supporting me by purchasing through my affiliate links:

Stay tuned as we deconstruct more organized spaces in the home!

Basic Closet Organization Strategy

One of the first questions I ask my clients who request closet organization help is: what is your morning routine? Next question: are you often late for work? The automatic follow-up that is: can you find your clothes easily in the morning?
If you struggle in these area, have no shame. You’re in good company. The following is a fairly simple approach to getting your clothes closet in order. One of the fantastic aspects of this basic system is it’s easy to learn and maintain. You can make it as complex and detailed as you’d like. I would advise adding more detail to the way you organize your closet ONLY if doing so would help you. It is entirely possible to get caught up in the act of organizing and get lost in the details.
Ideal Step 1: Purge your closet. Right now we are nearing the end of summer. The next couple weeks provide an excellent opportunity for you to assess spring and summer clothes you will look forward to replacing next year. If you are a person who likes to shop off season or during clearance sales, perfect! Get rid of some stuff before you go buy something new. Seriously. Do not allow yourself to go shopping for clearance items until you have purged.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I will proceed to the more realistic first step for those of us who may be trying to quickly throw our closet together either a) to avoid going insane because we can’t take it anymore or b) because we simply don’t have time to do a thorough purge over the next couple weeks because [insert legitimate reason]. No judgment whatsoever. Okay. Let’s start organizing!
Step 1: Bring all of your hanging clothes (within one closet) into view. You can leave it on the racks as long as you can see it all. Divide your closet based on intended purpose/frequency of use. For many of us, that means hanging all work clothes on one half of the closet and all non-work clothes on the other half. If you have special occasion items, separate them into their own category, preferably at one of the far ends of the closet (in the corner, following your work clothes would be a great place, assuming you dress up or wear a uniform for work).
Step 2: Once you’ve gotten all clothes on hangers and separated into their categories inside the closet [you should have 2 major categories per closet, no more than 3], sort all clothes within Category 1 [let’s call it Work Clothes] by type. This means you would hang all tops at the front of the Work Clothes section, followed by skirts, then pants, then dresses, then suits. Feel free to vary the order of clothing types for greater ease of access or enhanced visual effect–yes, your closet will also look pretty when you’re done. Or you may simply follow the order listed. I typically order clothing as described. Sometimes I vary when working within someone else’s closet.
 
Step 3: After grouping clothing according to type, work within each group, and sort all clothing according to color from lightest to darkest (or darkest to lightest with stripes and prints at the beginning of each color segment [i.e. pink butterfly shirt at the beginning of the pinks, which are located directly in front of the reds because pink is lighter than red, but in the same color family]).
Step 4: This may be more of a bonus step for some, but a necessity when I do my own closet. If you’ve made it this far, you’re doing well. Let’s kick things up a notch by…sorting all clothing (within each type) by weight and sleeve length. This means within Tops: tops with thin straps first, then sleeveless, then cap sleeves, then short sleeves, then 3/4-length, then long sleeves, finally sweaters. Skirts: short skirts, knee-length, calf-length (if you’re into that), ending with long skirts. The idea is to essentially keep lighter weight, cooler clothing to the front of each group and to progress to longer sleeves (or skirt length or pant legs).
This way, you can look at your closet and easily pull out your green beaded camisole without hesitation. Breath of fresh air, right? Ahhh….
 
Step 5: Repeat Steps 1 through 3 [optionally 4] on the next category of clothing in your closet [If you divided your closet into Work and Play clothes, you would simply proceed on to the Casual side, sort and group all casual clothing accordingly]
This system has served me so well. I hope you also enjoy implementing it! It make getting back on track much easier when things go awry…as they sometimes do in the world of staying organized…

Organizing Kids: Reining in a Messy Room

This post was inspired by back-to-school season; therefore, it was written with kids in mind. However, many of the principles are easily transferable to adults. The following suggestions many help ease friction between parents and their children by making the process of getting and staying organized more manageable for a child or older youth. In addition to making the completion of chores a smoother process, families may also realize time management benefits by employing the following tactics to help kids manage their own rooms.

Acknowledge that Your Child May Be Overwhelmed

I work with adults who often have significant anxieties around creating organizational systems in their homes and workplaces. Oftentimes, they have long been afraid to experiment with the trial and error that may be involved in finding the right system. This is a common reason some people immediately shy away from the notion of establishing a system or organizing and working within it. Anxieties often begin in childhood. In some cases, a child may not understand exactly why his or room becomes messy because he or she perceives space differently than the parent. In other cases, the organizational system in place may simply not work for that particular child’s way of perceiving and interacting with his or her environment.

Differences in Space Perception

Space perception always comes into play when multiple people reside in the same home. A hyper-organized person may prefer to keep all household items hidden in closets, opaque bins, and drawers. For a child, maintaining the visibility of certain items, such as stuffed animals, Legos, books, or awards, may create a sense of comfort. To that child’s parent, I would suggest solutions that allow a few of the child’s favorite items to be neatly displayed in clear bins or on shelves. The child would then be responsible for ensuring the items are neatly stored in their display areas as one of his or her bedroom or playroom maintenance tasks.

Differences in Organizing Styles

Even at a young age, a child may be inclined to organize differently than his or her parents. An adult may have the focus to separate items into drawers and compartments. While theses exercises may be effective for helping children learn to concentrate while grouping and sorting items, incorporating an organizing system that is too detailed may frustrate and overwhelm some children if the cleanliness of their room depends on it. Therefore, parents may wish to start with simple sorting tasks, such as creating distinctly separate open laundry bins for colored clothes and whites or clearly labeling each drawer and keeping a single clothing item in each (i.e. a drawer for shirts, a drawer for bottoms, a drawer for pajamas, etc.). The key is to keep organizing as simple and as basic as possible when introducing a new system. Also many kids, and even adults, are much more able to maintain their items in clearly marked open bins versus closed hampers and boxes. When using bins for storage, it helps if the container is transparent or only slightly tinted as being able to see the items inside will serve as a constant reminder to avoid placing the wrong items in the wrong bins. Color-coding and keeping the bins in distinctly different, yet still conveniently accessible locations around the room may also make this strategy more effective. When using bins for storing laundry or items that are used daily, it is important to place the bins in an area that is intuitive for the child or adult who will be using them. For example if a child normally piles dirty laundry on a chair, relocate the chair, and replace it with a laundry bin. Helping someone else get organized is much easier when you work with the current habits they have in place. Eventually, they will become more accustomed to having an organized room, and they will be more likely to begin seeking out ways to keep their environment organized.

Break the Task Down Into Steps

Children may need to have the steps for cleaning their room clearly outlined, enumerated, and thoroughly explained. Full disclosure: this was one I struggled with as a child. My mother would simply reference “cleaning my room.” In response, I would tidy up things in the room that seemed out of place to me. My idea of cleaning almost never overlapped with hers. To avoid frustration on both sides of the equation, parents must clearly and kindly communicate their expectations. Making written lists with descriptions of how to perform each task is extremely helpful. Adults use similar tools all the time; we call them contracts and checklists. The overall goal is to ensure both parties are aware of all expectations while providing the performing party with an accurate measuring stick for determining when those expectations have been satisfactorily met.

Be Patient; Expect Trial and Error

Helping a child or family member get organized requires patience. I recommend observing the person’s habits or having a non-confrontational conversation to determine why they store items the way they currently do and to assess approaches that require little behavior modification upfront (such as placing a storage bin in the exact same area where the person typically discards items; suggesting one day at the end of the week to clear out or sort the items in the bin will help the person maintain the area). Trial and error may be necessary. I prefer to work in one-week or two-week increments to give the person time to adapt to the new system and to evaluate the potential for modifications that may make the system easier to follow and, therefore, likely to be more successful.

At the end of the day, the ultimate goal in helping a child or other family member get organized should be the well-being of the person in addition to preserving harmony in the home. Before presenting a new organizational system to someone, it is essential that you evaluate your objectives and eliminate all semblances of a desire to control the other person. Any assistance that is offered from a genuine place of wanting to help the person succeed and improve his or her quality of life will consider that person’s perspective and individual needs. Therefore, suggestions that truly come from a place of selfless concern will generally be received much better by the intended recipient.

Starting Point

Probably the most common challenges people face after deciding to get organized is figuring out where to start. It is at this point that a person is likely taking in the view of the disorganization in its entirety and feeling overwhelmed. My number one secret to starting virtually any organizing project is actually quite simple: categorize, categorize, categorize.

The easiest way to begin categorizing a pile of “clutter” is to start by grouping “like with like.” If a closet requires more organization, gather all the shirts with shirts, pants with pants, belts with belts, etc. The basic act will bring clarity and allow the clothing to be further organized by season, fabric weight, color, casual vs. formal, or in any other way that will make the closet more visually appealing and accessible.

Organizing a “junk drawer” or items that may be stored on an exposed surface like the top of a dresser may seem more daunting. Nevertheless, the same principle applies. When grouping items in these types of situations, I highly recommend maintaining groups by using drawer dividers or small baskets/boxes/bins/drawer organizers that are of an appropriate size. A key advantage to creating and maintaining categories is by doing so, you will gain a better sense of which items can and should be readily purged.

By teaching yourself to quickly categorize the items in your living or work space, you will likely find that, after your first attempt at organizing, you will be required to spend less time maintaining your newly organized space. And when it is time to reorganize or purge, being able to assess items by category may also make the process seem less overwhelming.

Definitive Guide to Buying Closet Organizing Supplies

After seeing how helpful the moving supplies guide has been, I decided to begin work on my second “Definitive Guide.” Below are some of the most commonly prescribed closet organizing tools I recommend to clients. [Note: the following links are Amazon Affiliate links. As an affiliate, Amazon compensates me with a small percentage of each sale that is made through the links listed below].

Shelf dividers can save a great deal of frustration when storing folded clothing on shelf space. Dividers are available in a variety of materials. It is important to measure the thickness of your closet shelf before purchasing to ensure the divider will attach. If your shelves are too thick for dividers, there are other options (such as fabric cubes and baskets) for keeping folded clothing and linens organized on shelves.

Wire Shelf Dividers

“Platinum” Shelf Dividers

Unbreakable Acrylic Shelf Dividers

Baskets – I am a fan of keeping folded clothing and linens contained, but visible. One of my favorite hacks is to place a stack folded items into a basket or fabric cube HORIZONTALLY, which allows you to see all the folded edges when looking into the basket. Then place the basket onto the shelf on its side. Doing so grants total visibility of the stack of clothes you wish to keep folded. Baskets may be used in their traditional manner (with the opening facing the top) for items you wish to store on a shelf, but don’t require visibility.

 

Java – Set of 3

Seville Classics Hand-Woven – Set of 2

Fabric Storage Cubes – Alternative to basket storage; also useful in various other areas in the home. Low-cost and efficient way to organize items on shelves, including folded clothing.

 

 

Shoes & Boots – Virtually every U.S. household has multiple pairs of shoes. Depending on the climate, some also have boots. Most of us in the NYC area have both. Here are a few tools that will help you store them neatly and keep them off the floor.
10-Tier Space-Saving Shoe Rack

3-Tier Shoe Rack

Over-the-Door Shoe Rack – 36 Pair!

Hanging Boot Storage

Boot Shaper Inserts

 

 

 

Linen Storage – Many of us change linens with the seasons. There are several items that can help you store heavy blanks and large comforters when they are not in use.

Linen Storage Bag

Vacuum Storage Bags – I should not that I very much prefer the vacuum bags that require vacuum suction versus the bags that require folding and manual removal of excess air. When using a vacuum storage back, I typically vacuum out the air until the fabrics transform into a solid rectangular block.

 

 

 

Hangers – 99% of households have closets with a hanging rod. The type of clothes hanger you choose can actually help save space and improve the aesthetics of your closet.

Velvet Hanger – These are thin, strong, and available in a variety of colors; perfect for color-coding the clothing categories within your closet. I mean. If you’re into that.

The Pipeline

I have been conspicuously MIA in recent weeks, so I figured I would provide an update. Basically, business is growing, and I am finally able to shift my focus to creating the extensive knowledge base I have been envisioning! With that said, here are a few updates:

1. Definitive Guides: The Definitive Guide to Moving Supplies has received an overwhelmingly positive response and, frankly, has made life easier for me when I walk into situations in which clients are preparing to move. As a result, I have decided to create more Definitive Guides to streamline the organizing process and to better empower my clients to remain organized on their own. My aim has always been to “teach people how to fish…” but with shelving, decorative bins, and high-quality clothing hangers. 😀

2. More focused product reviews and recommendations: It occurred to me that I should probably post more real-world use cases for the products I recommend to give readers ideas on the different ways seemingly conventional organizing tools can be used around the home and office.

3. More video content!…More on that later.

Stay tuned, people! There is much, much more to come.

Recommended Service: Plum Print

Parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles often struggle with deciding what to do with artwork created by the kid artist in their lives. We all know that it is impractical to keep every single masterpiece your little loved one produces. But what if you could have all your favorite pieces digitized and compiled into a beautiful and convenient art book?

Thanks to Plum Print, you can now have your child’s artwork compiled into one book or produced into a variety of other home decor products, including shower curtains, pillows, and calendars. To start the process, visit the website to learn how to mail your artwork in a prepaid box supplied by Plum Print [Note: As an affiliate, Plum Print compensates me for every order it receives through my customized link: plumprint.com/helpmelanda.] . After creating your online portfolio, the company will then email you a proof, at which point, you may approve the digitized artwork and select and order the products you wish to have made from it.

Get started today, and receive $10 off your first order!

Digging Out of the Aftermath of Depression

[Disclaimer: I am not a licensed counselor, social worker, psychiatrist, or psychologist. The following post is intended for motivational purposes only for individuals who would like to create a more organized environment. Individuals who believe they may be experiencing depression are urged to seek out a licensed counselor or other mental healthcare professional.]

I recently worked with a client who is an accomplished businesswoman. She is also at the tail end of a six month struggle with anxiety and depression. She described herself as “finally having the motivation to do something, but felt terrible after looking around” and seeing the state of her home. In particular, she had been avoiding her office area and another space that was dedicated to her love of working on craft projects.

Feeling overwhelmed when emerging from a period of physical illness or depression is not uncommon. Oftentimes, people struggle with finding a place to begin in restoring order to their environment. As illustrated in the example above, remaining in a disorganized home or work environment can lead to procrastination and additional feelings of guilt and anxiety, thus potentially creating a negative cycle that can become very difficult to break: eating habits may suffer, work performance declines, and a daily schedule that was once filled with more fulfilling activities may be reduced to simply going to bed upon arriving home or watching television until falling asleep.

In these situations, starting small and organizing one area at a time may be most effective. Those who have recently experienced anxiety, depression, or illness my require more immediate results. Small victories up front may provide the momentum these individuals need to keep going and to dramatically transform their environment. The following suggestions may help virtually anyone who is struggling with getting started on a large organizing project, especially those who are recovering from emotional or physical stress or illness.

  • Organize according to your energy level. I am a firm believer in realistically creating a plan before beginning an organizing project and tailoring the steps within the plan to your mental and physical energy level at the time. It is okay (and even encouraged!) to set relatively challenging targets, but plan to take a break or reach a stopping point before you would typically expect to become completely exhausted.
  • Start small. If you lack the time, energy, and focus to organize your entire home or office within a day or over the course of a weekend, divide the project into manageable parts. Can you organize one room at a time? If not, try starting with a single closet, dresser, or “junk drawer.”  Whether removing clutter from a bookshelf or donating old clothes from a closet, completing the first part of a large project often provides the inspiration to do more.
  • Don’t organize alone! Call a friend who will help you and keep you accountable, or call a professional organizer! An organizer can coach you along while offering the encouragement and, if necessary, healthy distraction from the more mundane or perhaps overwhelming parts of the process.

Contrary to what most people believe, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting organized. Therefore, the individual must consider his or her specific needs and goals when setting out to affect a lasting, positive change in his or her environment.

 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com