Take the time to really organize your home

By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Home & Garden - posted Mon., May. 7, 2012
- Contributed Photo

Thinking back over the long list of topics that have appeared in these pages over the last several years, one theme seems to bind many of them together. Without intentionally prescribing the thread of continuity, we have subconsciously stitched together the creative ways in which a person can organize the home.

A few years ago, we suggested a plan for organizing kitchen drawers. It made you spill out the contents and organize them, not only by function, but by size as well. Laying things out on the counter allows you to organize them into puzzle parts that can be fit together in sections within the bounds of each drawer. It goes beyond the fundamental sectioning for knives, spoons, forks and all else, to group items large, medium, small, flat and bulky into as many groups as required. Fashioning the frame of the drawer and the separators first out of cardboard gives you the chance to be creative, perhaps fail, and then try again. If you took this suggestion, your junk drawer may have disappeared.

Not all space in your house is well used or even made available for your use. We showed you how to expand the size of your bathroom, without moving walls, by taking back the dead space in an adjoining closet. With this technique you can install an 18- to 24-inch-deep linen closet as well as a laundry chute. On interior walls, you can reclaim the space between studs by building in a storage cabinet. The same space can be transformed into exposed shelves for toiletries and such.

Organization in a workshop is an absolute essential. If you can’t stow it, container-ize it, label it and retrieve it whenever you need it, then sell it or throw it out. We have discussed reusing common, everyday items in a previous column, and the workshop is a perfect place to implement that practice. We suggested that the Velcro-like material that holds a head of leaf lettuce together in the grocery store works just fine as a strap for coils of extension cords. We shouldn’t even have to remind you about the many uses for coffee cans, mayonnaise jars and other recyclable containers you buy and otherwise discard several times each month or year.

Kitchen cabinets and pantries look like they will hold a lot of plates, glassware, utensils, pots and cans and boxes of food. But their capacity for organization can be increased considerably by implementing variable shelving. Replace fixed cabinet shelves with those that can be adjusted to fit the height of the things you need to store. The unwieldy dimensions of trays and platters might demand an entire shelf’s width and depth, but their height only needs a few inches to store an entire stack of these unique pieces.

The interior sides of cabinet doors are typically smooth, undecorated versions of the exterior. When closed, there are several inches of wasted space behind them that you should be using. Buy or design your own specialized racks for holding the lids of your pots and pans.

Use your computer to create your own home journal. Then print a hard copy for ready reference (maybe by flashlight, when the power is out and the computer is useless). In your home journal, include as much information about your home as you can conceive. It should be a dynamic document in which you add, edit or delete things as they change. When was the water heater installed, and how much water does it hold? When did you buy the refrigerator, and how much capacity does it have? Where is the well, and who services the pump? Where is the main shutoff valve for the water? What year was it you replaced the roof, and who did the work? Which circuit breakers control the outlets and switches in each room? It’s easiest to conceive of the journal as a book of chapters - one for each system or part of the house.

One chapter in your journal should be devoted to the boxed items you have on shelves in the garage, basement and/or attic. Create an inventory as you fill the box, store it as an electronic document, and update it as you use and reuse the box’s contents. Include a printed copy in the journal, but print a second copy you can store in a plastic sleeve or baggie glued to the outside of the box. When you want to find something stored in these cartons, you can reference the electronic document or the journal or scan the exterior labels on the cartons.

Now, just how well is your own home organized?

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