How to Maximize Space in a Small Bathroom, Part 2

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When you have a small bathroom, organization is key. Even if your bathroom is designed to maximize space, it’s important to keep the items you use the most at arm’s reach. That can be achieved through a variety of organizational techniques that anyone can implement.

Keep Everyday Products at Hand

Once your shelves and other organizational units are installed, Jessica Decker of Become Organized, a professional organizing service in Manhattan, says the most important thing to remember is to keep the products that you use a lot easily accessible.  If your sink has no storage, Decker recommends storing everyday items inside a medicine cabinet or in a basket on the back of your toilet.

Rachael Nichol of National Builder Supply, an online wholesaler of kitchen, bath and lighting fixtures, said another creative way to store toiletries is on a decorative cake stand. This will offer you some countertop space as well as space on the tier above it.

Store Extra Items

Extra items, like toilet paper, Decker said, can be kept outside the bathroom in a linen closet or laundry room. But Nichol suggests extra toilet paper can be stored neatly in plain sight. “Use tall hurricane glasses from the craft store to store your extra toilet paper beside your toilet,” she said. “Bonus, guests won’t have to ask where the toilet paper is in case the roll runs out.”

Use Baskets

Everything in your bathroom can be kept in storage baskets, as well. “Plastic is good in the bathroom because it can get wet, is easily cleaned and stackable,” said Decker. If it’s clear, you can see the contents. Decker uses baskets to keep like items tidy under the sink, on the back of the toilet and on shelves.

Appliances can be stored in baskets as well, or in a specialized caddy that hangs over your toilet rim.

Items you don’t use often can be stored below the sink in a decorative box so when you do pull them out, they look nice and neat on your countertop or shelves.

In the Shower

Use shower head or pole caddies to keep all your bath supplies in the shower. To maximize space in your caddy, use transfer your shampoo, condition and body wash to smaller bottles, especially if you buy in bulk. Most caddies come with hooks to hang loofahs. Decker says that’s a better option that installed waterproof or suction cup hooks because most of them stop sticking after a while.

Sharing the Bathroom

If multiple people are sharing the small bath, designate different shelves and space under the sink for each user. If kids are using the bathroom, hang a net to store bath toys.

Where to Buy

Decker says all these supplies can be purchased at the Container Store, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and Wal-Mart. Bins and baskets may be available at your local dollar store, too. In the end, you can find relaxation in your bathroom without breaking the bank.

For more about designing your small bathroom with storage in mind, read this.

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How to Maximize Space in a Small Bathroom, Part 1

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Many of us are familiar with the struggles associated with having a small bathroom. But whether you live in a small high-rise apartment or share a pedestal sink with a roommate, there are both visual and organizational tricks for making the most of your space. Continue reading

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7 Travel Tips for Snowbirds

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As cold weather sweeps over much of the northern United States, many Americans are planning to head south for the winter. If you’re like other snowbirds, you’re looking for peace of mind when you’re away. The following tips can help you prepare your house and belongings for extended-stay travel.

Tell the Police
Start by notifying your local police department if you’re leaving for longer than a week. Many officers will go out of their way to check on your house while on patrol.

Get Help From a Friend
Ask a friend, neighbor or family member to look in on your house while you’re gone. Leave a key and your alarm code with them in case they need to go inside. IndependentTraveler.com recommends providing the police and your alarm company with your friend’s name and contact information in case of an emergency.

Set Timers on Your Lights
Attach some lamps to timers so they turn on and off automatically to make passersby think someone is home. Set a lamp in your living room to turn on at a time that you’re often home, like after work, at 5 or 6 p.m. Then set it to turn off around bedtime. Timers can be purchased at home improvement stores like Lowes and Home Depot or discount department stores like Wal-Mart and Target.

Hold Your Mail
Stop your mail and newspaper delivery. A buildup of mail or newspapers is an indicator to criminals that no one is home. You can stop your mail online or by visiting your local post office. Contact your newspaper to hold delivery.

Protect Your Pipes
To prevent your pipes from freezing, Allstate.com recommends keeping your house temperature at 68 degrees or higher, even while you’re gone. In addition, keep your pipes warm by insulating outside walls and unheated areas, sealing your window, and heating your basement. Open cabinet doors below sinks to allow heat from the home to circulate and cover or close open-air vents to prevent freezing temperatures from combining with wind drafts. Finally, you may want to ask your friend to check your faucets for water flow and pressure while you’re gone. If the flow is reduced, your pipes may be frozen.

Ship Your Luggage in Advance
Once your house is safe and sound, you can travel with confidence. To make packing easier, Kristina Scuoteguazza of Luggage Forward, an international luggage delivery service, recommends shipping your luggage to your vacation home in advance of your travel. “Travelers who are packing for months don’t have to worry about packing lightly or hauling numerous bags to the airport,” she said. “They can ship all of their bags ahead to their destination and walk through the airport with ease.”

Inform Your Bank
Finally, before you go, call your bank and credit card companies to inform them of your upcoming trip. Tell them where you’re going and when so they don’t suspect unusual behavior when you use your accounts out of town.

Now that your house is secure, you’ll be able to kick back and relax without worrying about what’s going on back home. And that’s true peace of mind.

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6 Fantastic Resources for Food Storage Beginners

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Whether The Walking Dead has convinced you the end is near or you want to prepare for potential winter weather problems, food storage is a smart endeavor to embark on.

However, food storage isn’t necessarily simple. What do you buy? Where do you keep it? How much will it cost?

Regardless of what type of scenario you are planning for, creating a food stockpile you can depend on in a crisis is a daunting task and you’re going to need some help.

Before you run to the grocery store and load up on 10 pound bags of beans, make sure you check out these resources for tips on getting started, growing a stockpile and safely keeping food.

What food can be stored?

Before you rush off to the store and purchase dozens of cans of food, read up on what you should be storing. Depending on how long you intend to store the food and what you hope to get out of it, your grocery list could be very different than the usual items you’d purchase.

If you are looking for long-term storage, this is a great list foods that keep the longest from OffGrid Survival:

56 Long-Term Survival Foods and Supplies at the Grocery Store

If you are interested in seasonal storage for weather-related scenarios, this list might be more fitting for your short-term storage needs:

Best Foods to Stockpile for an Emergency

What does storing food cost?

While there is no set number for what storing food costs, it’s important to understand that it isn’t necessarily an endeavor that happens over night. If there isn’t any urgency in your stockpiling needs this plan is a great way to go.

How to Start a Food Storage Plan $10 a Day

Instead of trying to determine what you are going to ultimately spend on food storage (which can be a continual effort) determine a budget that works best for you. Decide on the size and timeline of your efforts and commit a weekly amount to your food storage plans.

Where do I keep my food storage supply?

If you are creating a large food storage supply, odds are you’re not going to want all of that clutter in your pantry and kitchen storage areas. Where else do you keep food though if not there?

Whether you have a large linen closet going unused or an indoor storage unit you think may be a good fit, there are certain conditions your storage space should meet to qualify as a proper area for your stockpile. This resource outlines those conditions in a clear and simple manner:

7 Simple Rules for Effective and Hygienic Dry Goods Storage

How do I preserve foods to store?

If you’re interested in storing and preserving food beyond what you can simply find in a can or bag at the grocery store, there are great books for preserving different items that may not be particularly common supplies in the store.

Canning, Pickling, and Freezing with Irma Harding: Recipes to Preserve Food, Family and the American Way

Food Drying: How to Safely Dry and Store Food

Food storage can be a very important part of preparing for emergencies, but it’s not as easy as buying a few supplies and sticking them in the back of your pantry. Before you hit the store, make sure you read up on how to best stockpile your food.

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7 Tips for Hosting a Successful Holiday Garage Sale

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When the holiday season rolls around and you prepare to open your home to new gifts, unloading unwanted items can be appealing and often necessary. If you can make some extra shopping scratch in the as well that’s even better.

With the season of giving (and therefore buying) approaching, it’s the perfect time to unload your gently used appliances, electronics and more. Make the most of the experience by following these tips for a successful holiday garage sale.

  1. Search high and low. Take the garage sale as an opportunity to really clear some space in your home and your storage units. Look beyond the items in a cluttered corner and really try to unveil all the things you could sell.
  1. Advertise in advance. Odds are you won’t be the only person hosting a yard sale this year. Make sure you give potential buyers plenty of opportunities to discover your sale. Bonnie Dewkett of The Joyful Organizer recommends posting neighborhood signs in both directions of traffic, pamphlets in the grocery store and online listings on sites like Craigslist.
  1. Offer a freebie. Everyone likes free. Why not sweeten the deal by offering your patrons coffee, donuts or maybe even a tiny knick knack you’re just hopping to clear out. Not only is there a good chance they’ll hang around and gaze a little longer, they may even tell local friends and family memebers to head over.
  1. Presentation is everything. In the same way you are more likely to buy something off a shelf at a store versus digging through a bin, your shoppers also enjoy the convenience of organization and tidiness. Make sure the objects you’re selling are not only clean, but also easy to view.
  1. Prepare for hagglers. “Expect haggling and don’t be offended no matter how low the offer. That is hard but the potential buyer has shown an interest and as a seller you need to capitalize on that interest and turn it into a need so the item is sold because you no longer want it, but someone else does,” says Helaine Fendelman, a professional appraiser.
  1. Involve the family. Garage sales can be a fun event for everyone in the house. Not only is it great opportunity to make a few extra dollars, it’s also a great exercise in money and value for your kids. Have them help pick out toys they no longer play with, let them work their own station at the sale and share in the profits. Your little helpers will not only learn valuable lessons, they can also be the best sales people in your arsenal.
  1. Stay safe. While the sale is an innocent opportunity to earn extra cash and, for your customers, to snag a holiday deal, there are unfortunately unsavory characters in every corner of the world. Since you are inviting people to your doorstep, make sure you are staying safe. Lock your doors and make an effort to hide any valuables that could be visible from the sale location.

Take the opportunity this year to make a little extra money, clear out some cluttered spaces and maybe get to know your neighbors

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Holiday Decoration Storage 101: Finding Your Décor

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You can do everything right when it comes to storing your decorations. You can perfectly wrap every tiny trinket. You can store items in stackable boxes to save room. You can label your boxes according to the proper holiday. But when a whole year passes without so much as a thought given to decorations, it’s easy to forget what you’ve done with all that décor.

New items pile up in front of holiday boxes and reorganization leaves you unfamiliar with where you’ve put things.

As important as it is to stow your items safely and neatly, it’s equally important to keep track of what you’ve done with them. What if a Halloween candle would be perfect for a theme party you’re going to in April? What if turkey platter would be perfect for a spring ham?

Being able to find your stuff takes planning too.

Plastic Containers

It can be frustrating to have all of your precious decorations hidden behind a cardboard wall. Pulling out box after box to find one small item often feels like more trouble than it’s worth.

Holly Bohn of See Jane Work recommends a different means of storage to avoid rifling through boxes.

“Use labeled plastic see-through bins so you know what’s in each container from season to season. A favorite are the clear storage bins from Office Depot, with a large, clear label stuck on and enclosed in a sheet protector,” says Bohn.

Don’t do a storage scavenger hunt to find your items, use transparent containers that will make finding your decorations easier.

Photographic Proof

If you’d rather not replace all your boxes with plastic containers there are other methods of tracking what’s inside that don’t require see-through storage.

Before you pack up your decorations this year, take pictures of what you’re storing.

You can use this in two ways:

  1. Print the pictures of your decorations and tape them in an envelope to each box you store. It will be much easier to flip through photos than to unpack an entire box.
  2. If you’d prefer to go all digital, you can take pictures of decorations and put them into albums on your computer. Name the albums the same as the unique name you put on the box label so you can reference the contents of each box easily.

Storage Map

If you have a large storage unit and have accumulated a lot of items over the years, the problem may not even be finding individual items. The biggest issue may be facing is finding the boxes themselves. This year, instead of storing your boxes and hoping for the best next year, make a map of where your decorations are located in your storage unit.

Keep the map affixed to the inside of your storage space so that any time you move something, you can correct it.

Don’t let good decorations go missing. Make sure that you are tracking what you’ve put where so that when you look for it next year or any time in between, locating your precious possessions can be done easily and quickly.

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Holiday Decoration Storage 101: Pack it Away

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When the holidays start winding down and it’s time to say goodbye to decorations, it’s not uncommon to want to put it all away as fast as possible. The urge to de-clutter your living space can often lead to hasty packing. The damage done by swiftly storing your holiday decorations may not be an issue for almost a year, but eventually you may open your boxes of bobbles and find a mess.

Make sure you take the time to tuck your decorations away safely. Continue reading

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Holiday Decoration Storage 101: Candles

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The dazzling display of candlelight during the holiday season can bring warmth to any room. From pumpkin pie-scented jarred candles to reindeer-shaped decorative wax figures, these beautiful winter additions are also very delicate.

From the breakable long-stemmed candles to the generations old crystal holders, protecting your candles during storage can help ensure you have beautiful displays year after year.

4 Tips for Proper Candle Storage

  1. Avoiding Candle Defects

Candles are easy to dent, scratch, break and blemish, so storing them needs to be done carefully. Tom Lund of Heritage Self Storage recommends an individualized approach when storing candles.

“To keep your candles from scarring one another, wrap each individually in plain tissue paper. Do not use newspaper, as the wax may pull the print off. If these candles are scented, consider sealing each in airtight containers to preserve their scent,” says Lund.

  1. Cool Storage

Needless to say, a major concern of storing candles is keeping them from melting during the non-winter seasons. If you live in an area where your house remains 80 degrees or cooler year round, storing them in your home or a basement shouldn’t compromise your candles.

For those who store their decorations in an attic or an outdoor storage unit, keeping candles in good shape for more than 300 days can be difficult. Starting an in-home candle storage box or choosing an affordable candle option than can be replaced each year will be your best option.

  1. Neutral Candles

If you aren’t completely set on having holiday specific candle colors and scents, it may be worth it to change your candle color scheme to something neutral that doesn’t need replacing.

“Some of my clients use neutral colored candles to decorate their tables and mantles year round and choose not to store them at all,” says Lauren Silverman of MOREganized.

  1. Candle Holders

One of the most frustrating parts of holiday storage is being unable to find paired items amidst your stored decorations. When putting things away this year, make sure that you are keeping candles and their holders near one another.

If you have candleholders you use for both Thanksgiving and December holidays, make sure that when you put away the decorations for the year, you return them to your Thanksgiving decorations so they won’t miss the November holiday next year.

Candles can seem like such a simple thing, but if you love these waxy decorations, take care of them properly to ensure you have them year after year.

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Holiday Decoration Storage 101: Christmas Trees and Ornaments

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Whether you’re into fake trees or the real thing, these living room centerpieces bring as much trouble as they do joy. From trying to fit all the right pieces together year after year to testing tangled twinkle lights, Christmas trees come with a lot of work. But proper storage can often be a thrown together process that puts your troubles on repeat for the next year.

As a part of our series on holiday decoration storage, we want to give you a head start on planning out the best way to take care of your tree and its accessories. Continue reading

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Holiday Decoration Storage 101: Labeling and Stowing

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As the holiday season approaches and you dust off decorations you may be suffering some seasonal storage stress. When the holiday season wrapped up last year, the rush to do away with the winter décor likely left you with a disaster to unearth this time around.

This week, we’ll be giving away our top holiday decoration storage tips so that this is the last year you’ll face a mountainous mess of twinkle lights and snow globes.

Today we’ll be talking labeling and proper stowing. Though you may have scribbled “Christmas” onto an old Amazon box last year, odds are you’re still struggling to find every last stocking.

Take the time this year to ensure your decorations are easy to find and safely stored for the future.

Purchase Proper Storage Containers

If your holiday boxes have a faded image of a VCR on them, odds are you’re due for a storage container upgrade. Cardboard boxes can serve a purpose, but if you’re keeping Halloween decorations, Thanksgiving platters and cookie jars in brown, indistinguishable boxes you’re probably struggling to sort out what’s what right about now.

Decide this year to liberate yourself from the cardboard incarceration and invest in some plastic containers. These will not only do a better job protecting your delicate decorations, but they have a stackable quality you’ll be glad to have when it comes to putting everything away again.

Color Coordination and Label Location

What good does labeling do you if you end up eventually stacking something on top of it? Label your holiday decorations in a way that will make it easy to find a year from now.

Rob Rebholz of SpaceWays recommends using color as the first step in decoration labeling.

“All the boxes you use to store your holiday decorations should be of the same shape and size so you can stack and store them more easily. Also, color coordinate your labels by picking seasonal colors. For instance, use orange labels f​or your Halloween decoration, red labels for Christmas decorations or green for Easter decorations,” says Rebholz.

Make sure the label is not only visible at all times, but a color that you can easily recognize for the season. Instead of placing labels on top of your storage containers, place them on the side in a location that will face outward.

Stack Smart

As Rebholz mentioned, you’ll want boxes that are the same shape and size to ensure you can easily stack decorations and make the most of your storage space. Stacking alone, however, doesn’t guarantee easy removal next year.

If you stack your Christmas decorations on top of Halloween decorations, it may make putting things away this year easy, but you’ll be regretting this decision next October.

Create like stacks so that loading and unloading goes the same every year. Dedicate a column to each holiday that will assure you’re not doing the storage box shuffle next year.

Storing your decorations in a way that makes them easy to find and safe from harm sounds like a great idea, but it’s easy to forget just how irritating unloading decorations can be until the next year when you’re trudging through the mess all over again. Make the decision this year to get organized and you’ll be glad you did the following season.

Stay tuned all week for more tips on how to store holiday decorations. Your knick knacks and garland will thank you.

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