Entries from October 2012 ↓

Cramped Kitchens Can Be Conquered

For the most part, my apartment is pretty spacious – I have not one, but two walk-in closets (which somehow manage to still not be enough storage). The bedroom in my home is fairly large as are the hallways and living room. But there is one area of my apartment that is significantly lacking: kitchen storage space.

What passes for a “kitchen” in my apartment is really just a single skinny closet-like room that has a row of wood shelves, a small oven and some sort of mini-fridge / refrigerator blend that I had never seen before in my life. There is hardly enough room for a microwave oven, let alone any extraneous storage. Moving into this apartment really made us make some difficult decisions and pare down to what we really needed in the room.

Part of getting organized in our new micro-kitchen was utilizing any and all kitchen shelf organizers we could find. There are a variety of different organizers for your shelves in the kitchen, all providing a unique and helpful function.

Some options for kitchen storage and organization are extremely easy to install and require no tools. Items such as a wire cabinet organizer are very inexpensive and provide an instant increase in shelf space. I use these for my bowls and plates in my wall-mounted kitchen shelves.

Other items such as a slide-out storage tower provide unique storage for food or cleaning supplies (I would not recommend storing both in the same place!). This innovative shelf fits in-between a major appliance such as the dishwasher and the counter, providing a retractable storage area. Even this kitchen storage shelf is easy to install and requires little use of tools.

The slide out kitchen shelf is a great way to make the most of unused kitchen space.

These are just two examples of how we were able to make our small kitchen space work. Of course, some of the battle was deciding which kitchen items were truly essential and which were just a waste of space.

Shook Ones without Utility Straps

I have been living in Los Angeles, California for the last two years, and in all honesty have done a horrible job of preparing my home for any sort of earthquake. As you probably know, Los Angeles is located along the “ring of fire” which means it gets earthquakes with somewhat regularity. The evidence of Los Angeles being earthquake-prone can be seen throughout the city – many older buildings are retrofitted, up until the 60s there was a height limit on buildings, and even those buildings that have been built since then feature flat tops to accommodate the required helicopter pads.

Now, you would think with all those visual reminders and the long-standing popular culture surrounding Los Angeles and earthquakes it would not take a minor incident to shake one into taking earthquake preparedness measures. But alas, that was exactly the case with me earlier this summer. We had been getting small earthquakes in May and June, but so small that you could barely feel them and one I even slept through completely. But then in July “the big one” hit – yes it measured just 3.0 on the Richter scale, but it was enough to jar me into reality.

Simply put, my particle board bookcase fell flat on its broad face and split in two – not to mention the contents of the case which shot out across my living room. This happened around 4 AM when I was in bed, so as I burst into the living room to view the devastating damage I realized that a change had to come.

The bookcase had to be replaced, and this time I made sure a terrible fate would never befall its gorgeous wood-grain panels. By using a bookcase utility strap to connect it to the wall of my apartment, I ensured that the shelf would stay in place even through a large tremor.
In my next post I will go into detail about other measures you can take to ensure your home stays in order through an earthquake and other tips for keeping you and your family safe.

You can use the utility straps for a dresser as well!

Cleaning up Kiddies with Toy Storage

As a parent, one of the most frustrating aspects of child-rearing is getting them to realize the importance of organization. It is good to develop cleaning and organization habits early on so they do not grow up to become “pig-pens” – this is where toy storage is important.

It can be really exasperating to explain to the little ones about the importance of putting all of their toys away after they are done – but not two hours later as you go downstairs to grab a midnight bologna and cream cheese sandwich you take a tumble in a cartoon-esque manner because someone left their Hot Wheels city fully assembled.

How’s a Parent To Teach Toy Storage?

One of the best ways to teach storage and organization to little ones is to provide them with the correct toy storage options. There are a wide variety of kid’s storage options, from the more practical to the themed and fun storage bins. From toy bins up to decorative toy chests, there are many different options for getting your kids to put their toys away.

Toy Storage

One of the most space-efficient choices for toy storage are uniuqe storage options. These unique products provide a fun and innovative way for your child to learn the importance of cleaning up after themselves.  Some hanging organizers have two mounting points, proving a hammock-like place to keep your kids stuffed animals, actions figures and more. Other hanging storage items dangle down and feature a variety of clips to hang the toys from.

With all of these storage options, you would think it would be a simple task to get your children to clean up with themselves. You can make it fun, you can make it easy but most of the time it just takes perseverance that I know you have deep inside of you! Best of luck getting those kids in order!

Using Floating Wall Shelves as an Art Gallery

Now that the kids have been back in school for a few months, I am sure a lot of my fellow parents are facing the same dilemma as I have. Art and creativity are a huge part of early childhood learning, and as a proud parent I love to put my children’s talent display whenever and however I can. The issue I run into as a father of three is that there is simply not enough refrigerator space to display all the wonderful works of art!


A wonderful example of post-modern art from my son. He calls it “Dad and Me and Dog Walking”.

One issue with using the refrigerator as your de-facto home art gallery is that the works of art tend to get food stains on them, or fall to the ground and are crumpled under the feet of a hungry kid. Additionally, my oldest has enrolled in a pottery class and there is no way to stick a paper-machete NBA star to the refrigerator.

One great way to add a little bit of display space to the home is to install a floating wall shelf. These are great options for displaying smaller items because they do not take up floor space, which most tables and shelves have been known to do.

What is great about wall shelves is that they can also add a touch of décor to the room. Personally, my home has a Mid-Century modern interior theme, so finding something that was sophisticated and contemporary was important. The Vicksburg Floating Wall Shelf worked perfectly for what I was looking for – it has a sleek, floating style plus it can support 15 pounds of weight, the perfect amount for displaying children’s arts and crafts.

Vicksburg Floating Shelf in Espresso.

Now my home has become a virtual art-gallery for squiggly abstract drawings and deformed cubist-style NBA star statues!

Wall Racks as Shelves

Not all shelves have to be of the flat, thin variety.  Wall organizers, including wall racks come in all shapes, sizes, materials, styles and prices.   This week we are covering different types of wall organizers that fall out of the typical shelf variety.  These three are all designed with some sort of clothing storage in mind, which we all can certainly use more and more of I think it’s safe to say!  The first type of wall rack I love is for the laundry room.

Arrow Instahanger - Folding Clothes Hanger - White

Arrow Instahanger – Folding Clothes Hanger – White

In the laundry room, you might need a shelf to hold detergents and sprays, but beyond that I’m not so sure shelves are the best way to organize in that particular room.  What I find is often lacking in laundry rooms is hanging space for clothes.  Whether you like to drip dry your garments or simply have a few items that cannot go through the clothes dryer, you will likely find yourself in need of a closet rod in the laundry room at some point.  For tight spaces, I recommend the Arrowhanger White Instahanger – Folding Clothes Hanger is a great choice, as it is just 3 inches deep and holds up to 10 hangers.  It also folds flat which is a major bonus.

The QuikCloset

The QuikCloset

If you want something a little bigger, the QuikCloset – Easy Installation – Instant Hanging rack is a great way to go.  This is also a great choice for use in the coat closet or other area in need of an instant closet.  A third type of wall rack that, frankly, every home should have, in my opinion, is a Cubbie Shelf For Entryway.  If you don’t have a formal entryway, this is still a great product for the hall or anywhere near the front or rear door.

Cubbie Shelf for Entryway by Prepac

Cubbie Shelf for Entryway by Prepac

This one is great because it has hooks and shelves.  If you have kids, they can each have a designated hook and shelf for their school items – a great organizer for the whole family!

Making the Best Use of Shelves

Yes, we would all love to have tons and tons of extra shelf space around our home, everywhere from the closet to the pantry and garage and beyond!  But just because a home is graced with loads of shelving, doesn’t instantly make it an organized home.  Shelves can be great to have, but you have to use them right if you want to stay organized, as opposed to just getting organized.

Vegetable Bin - Slide Out

Vegetable Bin – Slide Out

Here are some tips on making the best use of shelves in every area of the home:
Kitchen:  Cupboards, cabinets and pantry shelves are wonderful for food and dish storage, but only if you can see and reach all of the items that are in there.  Tiered cabinet organizers and lazy susans are two great ways to gain access to the backs of your pantry shelves.  Another are sliding baskets, like these wire organizer baskets – slide out, which sit right on top of the cabinet shelf and allow you to easily access items at the back.  In lower cabinets and even under the sink, a vegetable bin – slide out can do wonders.

Wire Organizer Baskets - Slide Out

Wire Organizer Baskets – Slide Out

Bathroom: Use baskets and sliding baskets to hold makeup and other toiletries.  This way you can simply pull out the basket you need (say, for tooth grooming), and easily stash it back on the shelf when you are finished.
Closet:  Most closets come with a built in shelf above the closet rod, and, in most homes, this area is a jumbled mess of clothing and boxes that are just waiting to topple over onto your head!  Shelf dividers work by sliding onto the existing shelf and keeping sweaters, stacks of pants and other items separated for easy access without a big mess.
Garage:  Garage shelves can benefit from various sizes of plastic bins.  Smaller ones for hardware, larger ones for tools.  Just make sure to label each bin for easy organizing and storage.

Does Your Locker Have The Right Stuff?

Whether you have a locker at the gym or at school, it’s easy for such a small storage space to get out of hand. If you always find yourself digging through your locker to find something, or open it only to have items fall out it’s time to get organized! By adding locker shelves you can ensure that everything has it’s place so items are easy to find.
When trying to keep binders and books organized a product like the 9″ Double Locker Shelf doubles shelf space. Simply slide this shelf into your locker and instantly gain storage space. This easy to install shelf is durable enough to stand up to heavy weight text books, making it a great choice for the school locker. For a custom storage solution the LockerOrganizer provides an adaptable design that allows this set of two shelves to be positioned where they’re needed while expanding to fit the width of the locker. This way shelving can be moved around from semester to semester so books will always fit.

LockerOrganizer - Set of 2

LockerOrganizer – Set of 2

For the ultimate in locker storage add the Locker Organizer – Hanging Shelves. With three shelves and lots of pockets this organizer has a place for everything. Use it at school for storing books and school supplies or use it in the locker room for storing sporting equipment and water bottles. The large shelves provide plenty of room for storing uniforms or shoes. Simply sliding over a shelf this organizer only takes a second to install.

Locker Organizer - Hanging Shelves

Locker Organizer – Hanging Shelves

Whatever you’re storing in your locker there is sure to be shelving you can add to make that tiny space easier to use. Whether you choose a shelf with plastic construction or a hanging mesh organizer, these are all easy to clean choices. All these locker storage options are easy to install, also making them easy to remove when it comes time to graduate!

Organization Is Key For School Success

High school is one of the most important times of a young person’s life. The lessons that are made and learned during the high school years are some of the most important and life-trajectory setting that will occur in his or her life. Staying organized through high school is a very important routine for adolescents, as it gets them in a good habit for when they are off on their own in college.

One way to keep your student organized in high school is to provide ample storage and organization accessories for their locker, desk or backpack. There are a wide variety of locker accessories that makes staying organized a breeze.

There are a variety of organizational tools for lockers, from shelves that divide up the locker space and increase the efficiency, to magnetic baskets that keep pens and pencils close-by at all times, and even a memo pad that allows your high school child to have a written schedule right at his or her locker.

9" Double Locker Shelf

9″ Double Locker Shelf

Using a locker shelf is a must for anyone in middle school or high school that needs to improve their storage space. Whether you have a large locker or a smaller locker, adding a 9” double locker shelf or a 12” double locker shelfis a great way to increase the efficiency of the locker. These shelves have a folding leg that makes it easy to install and remove at the end of the year. Best of all, they can be re-used over and over again for the length of your child’s high school career.

Stainless Steel Magnet Pocket

Stainless Steel Magnet Pocket

Most lockers are made from metal, so a great way to add organization is to use a magnetic basket or bin for pens, pencils and other classroom essentials that always end up getting lost. Nothing is worse for a student to arrive at school and realize they did not bring a pen or pencil to take notes. Using a basket such as the stainless steel magnet pocket makes it easy for your student to store writing utensils and grab one before class starts, so they will always be able to take notes!

Finally, if your child is involved in after school activities or just has a complicated class schedule, adding a magnetic memo center is the perfect way for your ensure he or she knows where to go, every day! He or she can use this memo pad to write down their weekly schedule and avoid any confusion. This memo pad has a white-board surface as well as a slot for storing paperwork and more writing utensils.

Ensure your child puts his or her best foot forward in the high school years, these days every year counts and every class counts. Being prepared is the best way to ensure a bright future for your young adult!

A Well Thought Out Dorm Room – Closet Shelf Organizers

It’s not too late to get organized in the dorm room.  Maybe your child has just moved in and realized that she didn’t have quite everything she needed from the get go to stay neat and tidy.  One thing many people forget when planning to move into the dorms are closet shelf organizers.  They come in a wide range of styles, and they are really the icing on the cake when it comes to achieving an organized dorm room.  Closet shelf organizers either sit on or mount to the existing closet shelf that is found over the closet rod.  They can also be used on other shelves though too, such as a linen closet.  The main purpose of these handy organizers is to keep clothing in the right place, and reduce the amount that spills on the closet floor!

Shelf Dividers - Set of 4

Shelf Dividers – Set of 4

Here are some of my favorite styles and how to use them:
Slide On Dividers – these slide right onto the shelves and stand upright, no mounting required.  They are great for dividing up stacks of sweaters, jeans, t-shirts and other foldables.  This set of 4 shelf dividers has a modern look and is ultra-durable, so it can be used for many years (and many living situations) to come.
Stacking Bins – These usually have an open front for easy access, and since they are enclosed on three sides, they are perfect for accessories and smaller items like socks, scarves, purses and even flip-flops and flats.
Extra Shelves – small wire shelves that are freestanding are great for placing on the closet shelf.  They divide up the space vertically, allowing you to access clothes without a whole pile tumbling down on top of you.
Baskets – Have an extra basket lying around the house?  Use it on top of the closet shelf to keep your loose accessories contained.
A little organization goes a long way when dealing with tight spaces!