Planning Your Lady Lair

lovely lady lair

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These days it’s not uncommon to hear about the man cave, a private sanctuary somewhere in the house where a man can go to be alone and do as he pleases. Home Goods Store suggests that men are not the only ones who need a room of their own. Women need their own space, too, and the idea is the same: it’s a relaxing getaway to escape the daily hassles of life.

Women are traditionally the ones who take care of everyone else, from family to friends, so it’s especially important for her to have her own special place to escape, unwind and relax. No matter what you call it–a mom cave, a woman’s cave, or a lady’s lair–the first thing you need to do is figure out what you want from your personal refuge.

What is the Purpose of the Space?

When picking a room for your lady’s lair and thinking about how you’d like to decorate it, it’s important to ask yourself what you intend to use it for. Understanding its purpose will help you determine how large a space and what items you’ll need to make it function for you.

  • Is it a quiet refuge for napping, reading or crafting?
  • Do you want a place where you can hang out with girlfriends, take those drum lessons you’ve always wanted to, or dance your cares away?
  • Will it be more of a safe space to stash your treasures and personal belongings without worrying that someone might misplace, break or borrow them?

5 Essential Items for Your Lady’s Lair

CraftJack’s ImproveNet home improvement website discusses the must-have items for any woman’s space, offering advice from New York City interior designer Elaine Griffin. Griffin suggests that the purpose of a lady’s lair is to give women a place where they can escape from the chaos in their lives to nurture themselves. Though it’s important to make this space unique and personal to you, Griffin offers these five essential elements for any mom cave:

 

Personal Things

Because the space is meant to be a haven, the personal touches a woman includes in her space should express the things that interest her, bring her joy, relax her and make her feel good about herself. This area is all about finding an inner sense of peace, so don’t bring anything into your sacred space that creates chaos or anxiety–and that means no to-do lists or laundry to fold!

Organizing Aids and Storage Areas

 

One of the best ways to ensure that you enjoy and continue to return to your pleasure palace is by making sure that the room is well-organized and clutter-free. Think of the organizing as part of the design and a way to add ambiance to the space. Get creative about storage solutions, such as bookshelves, fabric-covered boxes or trunks and wicker baskets. Make use of nooks, crannies and the space beneath the sofa.

A Desk or Workspace

 

Every woman needs a table or desk where she can do the things she enjoys. You may want to use the table for crafting, writing, spending time on the computer, or playing cards or other games with girlfriends. On the other hand, you may choose to use this quiet time to catch up on bills. The whole point of the lady’s lair is to give you a private area you don’t have to share with others and where you can do whatever you want.

Lots of Pillows and Comfy Seating Areas

 

Since the lady’s lair is all about comfort and relaxation, a cozy corner to curl up with a book, haul out the Kindle, or just lounge around doing nothing is a must. Large, brightly colored or patterned pillows add warmth and coziness to a small room and invite people to get comfy, while offering needed seating when bulky furniture might clutter the room. As long as the room has adequate storage solutions, you can stash those pillows neatly away when they aren’t in use.

Atmosphere

 

No lady’s lair would be complete without those little touches that give it a special atmosphere that’s so essential to its purpose. Colorful lamps, warm lanterns or candles, fresh flowers, essential oil diffusers, throws, pictures and pleasant music are some of the ways that transform a room into a private, spa-like retreat!

Places to Look for Inspiration

Home improvement website Houzz shows women how they can create a dream space of their own, even if short on space. Whether it’s a closet or a guest house, you can have that Lady Lair you’ve always wanted. All you need to get started is a little inspiration.

If there isn’t enough space inside the house, there is no reason you can’t have a lady’s lair in the backyard. This whimsical idea from Pinterest shows a small enclosed gazebo with just enough room for a woman to enjoy tea, read, listen to music, or enjoy some quiet time alone. If you’re in the market for a newly built home, consider this Pinterest pin of a craftsman style garage with 510 square feet of living space (and a bathroom!) above it.

Budget is always an important consideration when doing any project involving re-purposing, renovating, or redecorating. Places like Houzz, Pinterest, HGTV, DIY Network and Home Goods are excellent resources because they can give you inspiration and ideas. The way to get that space you’ve dreamed of without breaking the bank is by channeling your creativity, looking for things you have but aren’t using, or hitting second-hand stores, yard sales or flea markets.

So now when your significant other disappears into his man cave, the dogs or kids are too rambunctious, you’ve had a long day at the office, or you just want to have girls’ night in, you know just where to go.

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Special Feature: Military Relocation Guide

family greeting a soldier coming homeMilitary families tend to move fairly often, as deployment or unit reorganization is common throughout military installations. In the United States Armed Forces, this relocation is called Permanent Change of Station (PCS).

Not only is moving an inconvenience, but it takes a toll on families, especially the kids. Parents can ease the stress for everyone by preparing for this process and staying sane. One place where you can find helpful and inspiring tips, advice and ideas from others who have gone through a military relocation is Pinterest.

Preparing Kids For Change

Change can be difficult for kids and they are keenly aware of everything that goes on around them. Depending on their age, they may not understand the concept of moving, but they’ll pick up on your stress, and that may make them feel uncomfortable. When you talk to your children about what’s happening, be ready to deal with their feelings – which they may be unsure of – and try to involve them in the process when possible. The can help keep the transition from seeming too scary.

Dealing With Grief About Leaving Your Job

An unfortunate consequence of moving is the havoc it wreaks on your career. If you have to quit a job, be sure to give notice and leave on good terms. Getting a reference from your current employer will help you once you’re settled and ready to look for a new position. Military communities are used to the transient nature of their population.

De-cluttering

For many people, the only incentive to do large-scale de-cluttering is a major move. Think of this as a great opportunity to get rid of toys the kids no longer play with, books you’ve grown tired of, clothes you don’t wear anymore, and anything else you are ready to let go of. As you pack each room, take the time to go through stuff and place it in bags labeled “throw away,” “donate” or “store,” packing, of course, what you plan to keep.

You can do this with everything, not just clothing and toys. If you have packaged food that won’t keep or isn’t worth packing, donate to a local food bank or soup kitchen. Get rid of any open boxes to prevent pantry bugs from traveling from one place to another.

If your new home doesn’t have the space for all your belongings, consider renting a storage unit in the area. Not only will this option keep your house clutter-free, but most storage facilities are equipped with security guards, cameras or alarm systems, so you can have peace of mind knowing that your possessions are safe and secure. Many offer a discount for active (and sometimes non-active) military personnel, so be sure to ask.

Organization

Organization is the only way to simplify and streamline the moving process. With so much to do, remember and keep track of, a 3-ring binder is the best device for filing lists, paperwork or other important information. If so inclined, you can also make a fancy planner to help visualize the big move.

The National Military Family Organization has a useful checklist to help you get organized and remind you of things that are easy to forget when you’re in the throes of chaos. This list outlines what you need to do as far as three months in advance and continues to zero in down to one week before the move, the day of the move, etc.

Do a Google or Pinterest search for military relocation ideas; there are abundant resources available, including templates you can download or print to keep track of the contents of each room, what you have to pack in each room, and checklists to remind you of what you’ve completed or still have to do.

Packing Supplies

Make sure you get packing supplies as soon as you find out you’re moving. The last thing you want to worry about is running out of tape, boxes or marking pens at the last minute. When you buy these supplies in bulk, many places offer discounts.

Uniformly-sized packing boxes will allow movers to use every inch of space in the moving truck. You may want to create a color-coordinated system for your boxes, such as designating red for the master bedroom, blue for the bathroom, yellow for the kitchen, etc., and keep track of these colors in your planning binder.

Prioritize

Moving is a part of life when you’re in the military, but it doesn’t have to be only stressful—it can be an exciting adventure, too.Minimize the chaos by prioritizing everything on your to-do list. Make a separate list for those things you’ll need immediately upon arriving at your new place and pack them in the truck last so you can unload them first.

Don’t forget that your moving checklist should also include the things you need to do to make your new home ready for you. You’ll want to contact the utility company to turn on the electricity, the phone company to install the phone and internet services, and the cable company to set up your cable television before you move in.

Find out about other important details, such as enrolling kids in school, transferring your medical records and choosing a new doctor. You’ll also need to register and insure your car in your new state or country, as well as possibly get a new driver’s license.

Military Help

Anyone who has orders for PCS (Permanent Change of Station), Temporary Additional Duty (TAD), or Temporary Duty (TDY) can take advantage of the Military PPM or Personally Procured Move benefits. Although you are required to handle all moving arrangements yourself, doing a PPM move offers many benefits over a normal military move.

For example, if you use the PPM program, the government gives you a stipend of 95% of what it would pay for your moving expenses, along with the standard moving allowance. The best part is—you get to keep any of this money that you don’t spend on the move. You also get extra time off for taking care of moving arrangements—something you don’t get if the military moves you.

Remember, making a big move doesn’t have to be chaotic, as long as you are organized, prepared and know where to go for help. The military offers many resources and tips to make your move as stress-free as possible, and sites like Pinterest offer many inspiring visuals. Before you know it, you’ll be sending your friends postcards saying, “Wish you were here!”

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5 Reasons to Rent a Self-Storage Unit

woman looking mighty unhappy and frustrated at her desk

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Perhaps it’s that leaning tower of books you keep stubbing your toe on. Maybe it’s the hall closet that takes two people to close (and the panic that ensues every time you need to get something from it). Or it could be all that time you waste wading through the piles of junk in the attic to get what you want. Whatever it is, you know you need more space. So if you’ve had enough bruises, cuts and headaches, then it’s time to call up a storage facility.

Here are five great reasons to rent a storage unit:

1. The population is growing but your space isn’t.

When you bought your adorable little starter-home (read: microscopic apartment) years ago, it was the perfect size for you and your dreams. But now you’ve got a husband, two kids, maybe a dog or a couple of hamsters, and there’s only so much a small space can take before something blows.

Or now that you’ve recovered from empty nest syndrome, you find yourself among the 30% of American families whose adult kids have had to move back home during the economic downturn.[1] This time they come with piles of books, clothes, stereo equipment, bikes, and a trunk full of emotional baggage.

On the other hand, maybe your great aunt is coming for an extended stay, or you’ve volunteered to host a foreign exchange student. No matter the reason, the bottom line is: you need to clear out the “catch-all” room and don’t know what to do with all that stuff. For everyone’s safety, sanity and comfort, getting a self storage unit is just the thing to make room for more company and to keep you from being anti-social.

2. That awkward moving transition.

Many scenarios can make moving to a new space inconvenient. You have to be out of your old house by the end of the month, but the repairs are far from being completed in your new house. You’re relocating offices, but the old tenants of your new office space haven’t even begun packing. You’ve just moved to a new city and need somewhere to put your belongings while you couch-surf for a few months.

You have two choices: have an Oscar-worthy breakdown on your front lawn, or…well, honestly, that option sounds like the most fun. But if you’re not the crying, screaming, or fainting sort, a storage unit can save the day! The best part is everything you own is already packed—you just need a place to safely stow it until you’re ready to move into your new digs. Check out local storage units on a site like Self Storage Finders to compare prices and other details.

3. You’re remodeling.

This is a messy business, which is ironic, considering that you are trying to expand or improve your space. One day you’ll be comparing before and after pictures of your beautiful new home or office, but until that day, your stuff is in the way and dangerously close to being stepped on, lost or heaved out the window in a fit of frustration. To help you get through this transition, check out some nifty storage ideas from Pinterest, like these drool-inducing under-the-stairs and in-the-wall storage ideas. In the meantime, your possessions can be safely stowed in a storage unit far from the drills, hammers and paint rollers.

4. Business is booming!

Hooray for you and your entrepreneurial spirit! But now that you’re so successful, your home office or small rented office is overflowing with records, paperwork, samples, and inventory. You don’t want to apologize every time a client comes over secretly fearing a lawsuit for personal injury. It’s time to add a new budget line for an off-site storage unit where you can safely store inventory you don’t need right away or archive records.

5. ‘Tis the Season.

Where are you going to put the snow plow and Christmas decorations over the summer? You’re probably tripping over them in the garage to get to the camping gear and lawn mower. Clutter is a hassle, especially when the seasons change and you want to stash these things out of sight until next year. A self storage unit is your ticket to decluttering your home and garage every spring and fall. Everything you don’t currently have use for can stay out of sight in a secure storage facility.

In a perfect world, we would all have the time to organize our space to accommodate everything we need and want under one roof. But we live in the real world, and that means getting some help. With so many secure self storage units for rent at reasonable prices around the country, there’s no need to keep tripping over clutter. So look around for one that fits your needs before you get beaned on the head by another falling box.

Sources:

1. “The Boomerang Generation,” Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2012/03/15/the-boomerang-generation/, http://www.economist.com/node/21560602, http://www.selfstoragefinders.com/states.aspx, http://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=under%20stairs%20storage%20space%20ideas, http://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=pull-out%20wall%20storage%20ideas

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24 Must Have Self Storage Tips and Tricks

plastic storage bins

What can I say? I like my stuff beige.

The moment you drive away from your newly filled storage unit, a million thoughts race through your mind: Did you pack everything carefully to avoid breakage? Are you going to return to a rat infestation? Will your antiques and fine art survive, or did you just flush thousands of dollars down the toilet? These thoughts are enough to make anyone break into a cold sweat.

Instead of inviting a bona fide panic attack, take a deep breath, maybe crack open a cold brewski, and follow these must-have storage unit tips and tricks. With a little planning, you can ensure that when you walk away from your loaded storage unit you won’t have anything to worry about except what you’re going to do with all that extra space at home.

To Keep Out Pests

Besides just being creepy, insects, spiders, moths, and rodents can wreak havoc on your stuff. They chew it up, leave their droppings all over it, and cause some serious stink if they die in it. Unless you’re looking for new friends, here’s how to keep pests out of your storage unit:

  • Baits and traps are useful, but for some extra protection, place some dryer sheets in the corners of your unit as well as in the boxes (you will need to replace them once per month for maximum results). Not only will the odor dissuade pests, but your stuff will smell like a crisp, spring morning!
  • Tape canvas drop cloths to the floors and walls before loading your storage unit. Canvas, as opposed to plastic, is resilient and absorbent, and provides an extra layer through which pests will have to burrow to get to your priceless action figure collection.
  • If you’re storing your vacuum, make sure the vacuum bag is completely empty, because there’s nothing that attracts pests faster than particles of old food. Can you blame them?

To Eliminate Moisture

Few things will destroy your fine goods faster than humidity. When it comes to antiques, furniture, and artwork, moisture–and the mold that often develops as a result–is not your friend. To keep humidity at bay, follow these tips:

  • Unless you have a climate-controlled unit, avoid cardboard boxes for long-term storage as this material is more susceptible to humidity (or if you do use cardboard, keep it off the concrete floor which may seep moisture). The best storage containers are plastic boxes with air-tight lids.
  • To absorb the moisture from the air, place some charcoal in a saucepan. Yes, this really works.
  • Allow some ventilation throughout the storage unit by putting your items on wooden pallets and leaving a small space between the walls and your stuff.
  • If you store appliances that use water (like a washing machine), wipe the insides of them with baking soda to remove any traces of H20.

To Prevent Dirt Buildup

A little dust probably won’t ruin your belongings, but why give yourself more work when you eventually unload your storage unit? Follow these tips for a clean unit–and a clean conscience:

  • Use mattress bags or furniture covers for anything with fabric. Or you can use two fitted sheets around a mattress or box spring.
  • Before storing your wooden furniture, give it a good coating of furniture polish to repel dust and dirt.
  • Lubricate your metal items, like tools and bicycles, with oil before storing to prevent them from rusting.

To Avoid Damage

If you pack and load your self storage unit without much thought, you may as well add ‘regret’ to the top of your to-do list. To avoid being surprised by a roomful of broken items, follow these tricks:

  • Use bubble wrap for any breakables. Not only is it reusable, but you can see through it should you need to find something in a jiffy.
  • Make sure to fill up each box to prevent internal shifting and thus breaking. Get your Tetris on and pack each one like a pro (crumpled newspaper makes a great box filler if you need it).
  • Clearly label the boxes that include fragile items, and place them in the unit last so that there is nothing heavy on top or in front of them.
  • Don’t store electronics in a room that gets below freezing. These subzero temperatures can wipe out your hard drive and ruin your TV. If you must, at least give them a few blankets to keep them warm.
  • Place mattresses flat, otherwise your good friend Gravity is going to drive all the padding to one side.

To Maximize Space

For some reason, storage facility owners like to charge you more money for a bigger unit. Go figure! But since there’s nothing you can do about the rates, you need to make the most of the space you are given. Here’s how:

  • If you are storing small or awkward-sized items, use a shelving unit to maximize space. If you don’t have any spare bookshelves handy, the DIY Network has some great tutorials on how to build your own.
  • Fill every nook and cranny. If you have a dresser, put stuff in the drawers. Place your brooms, shovels, and rakes in an unused garbage can. Hollow space is nobody’s friend.
  • Stack according to weight and size: heavy items on the bottom and smaller boxes on top.
  • Vacuum seal clothing or bedding before placing it in the unit.
  • Disassemble beds and tables (place screws in a sandwich bag and tape it to the furniture) and store sofas upright.

To Allow Easy Access

It doesn’t matter how amazing you are at packing and stacking if you can’t actually get to any of your belongings when you need them. That’s why you need to:

  • Make an aisle, because you definitely don’t want to have to play Spider-Man just to reach a box at the back.
  • Label every box with the key items that can be found within. It’s much easier than having to open them one by one.
  • Place furniture sliders under the heavy items as you unload them. That way, if you need to push things around, it’s super easy.
  • Take an inventory of everything you load into your storage unit. Not only will this help you remember whether your totally rockin’ vinyl collection is in the storage unit or your attic, but an itemized list is extremely handy should anything get damaged and you need to file an insurance claim.

Implementing these tips and tricks might take a little bit more time upfront, but completing them will decrease your chance of having a complete melt-down the next time you open your storage unit and an avalanche of boxes rains down on you.

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Infographic: KItchen Hacks – Optimizing the Space in a Small Kitchen

cartoon fruit not quite going to fit in the fridge

This scene look familiar?

Ever wish you had more space in your kitchen?

Stupid question, right? To own a kitchen is to want a larger kitchen. But most of us don’t have $30,000 in cash lying around.

So, what to do… what to do… well, you could make the most of it. And that’s where we can help. This infographic will help you make the most of your always limited kitchen space.

You’re welcome.

Continue reading

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What Hollywood Has Taught Us About Storage

mud room

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Before airplane travel was an option, Hollywood actresses had to travel abroad with steamer trunks, suitcases and carpet bags to accommodate their huge wardrobes and jewelry collections.

Since the Golden Age of Hollywood, people have been compelled to collect more things than ever before. The more belongings you have, the more storage you need to keep your home organized and clutter-free.

Hollywood’s Organizing Queen

“Spelling Manor,” owned by famed television producer Aaron Spelling and his wife Candy, was a lavish 56,000 square foot mega-mansion in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles. Meticulously organized by Candy, there were rooms devoted to silver, collectibles and, perhaps most famously, gift wrapping.

After Aaron Spelling’s death, Candy decided to sell the house for an asking price of $150 million, making the mansion the most expensive home listed on the real estate market in U.S. history.

Unlike Candy, most of us don’t have thousands of square feet to devote to specific hobbies, but fortunately a carefully designed storage system that organizes belongings and keeps them tucked away – yet accessible – is within our reach.

You can get design ideas for Hollywood-style storage from pictures of Hollywood celebrity homes on sites like InStyle.com, ElleDecor.com and ArchitecturalDigest.com, then simply customize them to fit your budget, taste and house’s structure.

Start At the Entry (and Exit) to Your House

Organizing should start in the entry and exit to your home.

Celebrity homes often have grand entrances that are more showy than practical, but they usually feature a unique table that provides a spot for small items, like this X-based console in Julianna Margulies’ New York apartment. Another option for storage is a cabinet with drawers, like Amy Smart has in the entry of her two-bedroom cottage in Beverly Hills.

One of the most useful rooms that a home can have for storage, undoubtedly present in some celebrity homes but not glamorous so it isn’t featured in style magazines, is a mudroom.

If you have a mudroom, either at the front or back entrance to your home, it’s a good place to add shelving and cubby holes for jackets and shoes. Having a rule about keeping outdoor clothes in designated spots is an easy way to train family members to be organized and keep the rest of the house (including a swank celebrity-style front entry, if the mudroom is in the back of the house) tidier. A mudroom can be the launch pad for each family members’ daily activities, including a place to put kids’ school lunches and bags.

The Importance of Kitchen and Bathroom Storage

Real estate experts often remind sellers and homebuyers that attractive and well-organized kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. Home buyers usually want lots of storage space, and this is particularly important in smaller homes where an efficient use of space is essential to avoid a cluttered look.

It may be a cliché, but there is merit to the saying “the kitchen is the hub of the home.” Custom cabinetry is a common feature in celebrity kitchens, including islands that can be used for meal preparation, eating and storage. In the Bel Air home previously owned by Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr, the kitchen island also has a sink.

In a well-organized kitchen, storage can also be used for display. For example, comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s wife, cookbook author and philanthropist, Jessica Seinfeld, uses glass cabinets to store and display her cookbooks and collection of vintage bottles.

In bathrooms, medicine cabinets, like the matching ones in Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick’s Hamptons retreat, are excellent for storing toiletries, keeping sink tops clutter free.

Adding furniture with drawers, like the custom-made walnut vanity in Cat Deeley’s master bathroom, is another great way to add storage to a bathroom.

Closets, Closets, Closets

You wouldn’t expect anything less than the most lavish, unusual, upscale and high-end closet designs for Hollywood celebrities. Elizabeth Taylor had a dressing room with embroidered silk-covered walls that housed her collection of jewelry and gowns, and the dressing room in Mariah Carey‘s Manhattan apartment resembles a chic boutique.

Some celebrity closets are more practical. Lacking space for a huge closet in her New York City Greenwich Village townhouse, Brooke Shields hired a design company to create shelving, a rolling shoe rack, and a library ladder out of rift-sawn white oak. A designer revamped storage in Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi’s Beverly Hills home, adding stained walnut shelving to the curved walls of a bedroom closet.

If you don’t have a large room that can be turned into a closet with built-in shelves and hanging rods, a bit of creativity will help you get more storage out of the space that you do have. For example, Elton John used space under the attic eaves of his Old Windsor estate in the UK to display his massive sunglasses collection.

Can’t Afford Custom-Designed Built-in Storage?

Investing in permanent storage solutions adds value to a home, but outside the world of Hollywood celebrities, most people can’t afford custom-designed storage. Fortunately, home improvement stores sell shelving and storage containers that can greatly increase the space in your home. Creative solutions allows you to add shelves and bins to a refrigerator to hold more food, shelves and cubbies to closets that lack built-in storage, and free-standing or wall-mounted cabinets to bathrooms that lack cabinet or drawer space.

Another benefit is that if you use commercial storage containers, you’ll have the option of taking them with you if you move, something that celebrities rarely have to think about as they can afford to buy large homes that already have ample storage.

You may not need a room devoted entirely to gift wrapping or a whole guest house for your collection of shoes, but you can still find inspiration in the creative and beautiful organization methods of Hollywood celebrity homes.

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The Worst Places to Store Your Precious Items

awesome attic filled with tons of antique stuff

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With the average burglar taking just 8 to 12 minutes inside a home or apartment, hiding away valuables in unexpected spots around the house can make the difference between losing a few things and losing everything of personal value.

Remember, one of the first rooms burglars will likely ransack is the master bedroom, because it is generally where jewelry, cash and security safes are located. Other areas such as the living room and home office will be targeted next, for easy to carry home electronics. That leaves bathrooms, the kitchen, hallways, mudrooms, and the laundry room as better spots for safekeeping duties.

Your precious items—jewelry, other valuables or personal items from your past —must be kept in a place where they can remain safe for years on end, regardless of what happens. Below is a list of the worst places to store your precious items, depending on what they are, and a few suggestions on where they should be stored instead.

Basements

While you might think a basement is a great place to store precious items, you’re actually mistaken. Basements are classically used for storage, because they are under the house and out of sight, difficult to access, and not frequented by visitors.

But the basement is a trap. It’s where your precious items may go to die. The problem with many basements is that they are difficult to access and are vulnerable to flooding. For example, if a basement was used for storage in New Orleans, a city that is known for flooding, all precious items would likely be lost. Not only that but basements often flood because a pipe bursts in the house or building above and leaks downwards, pooling without anyone knowing it, at least not until it is too late. If you’re going to store precious items in the basement, be sure they are in a fireproof lock box or mini storage unit that can be locked and is lifted off the floor at least a few feet. Unless you’re into scuba diving. In that case, a basement might be the perfect place to store everything important to you.

In Your Yard

What are you, seven?

Why would you ever store your precious items in a hole in your yard? Sure, they would be difficult to find, especially if someone were to break into your home and ransack the place, but there are other ways to deal with those types of concerns (see: security system, get a dog, buy a gun). If you are that concerned about losing precious items, you should consider a secure storage unit or a safety deposit box.

Beyond the obvious idiocy of burying valuables in your yard, there are a number of reasons you don’t want to do it. For one, you’ll have a lot of holes dug and covered up in your yard. This looks terrible. For another, you will have to draw a treasure map — again: are you seven? — but who uses a map without GPS anymore? It’s hard to believe adults actually hide things in their yards—but they do.

In Your Kid’s Room

Some people will actually hide their precious items in their kid’s rooms. This is a bad idea for a whole host of reasons. If your precious items happen to be alcohol or drugs, then your kid will undoubtedly search every corner of the room at some point and find your adult treats. Then there’s the problem of having to intrude on your child’s personal privacy to retrieve hidden items. Finally, you’re putting your kid in danger if someone else came looking for these items. If they were really thorough, they would check your kid’s room, which is the absolute last place you would ever want an intruder.

We’ve even seen it suggested to hide a weapon in a child’s room so that an adult can run to protect his or her children and have access to their weapon. Is it even necessary to explain all the reasons this is a bad idea?

In Your Car

Unless you drive an armored car (you don’t, even metaphorically) storing precious items in your car is grade A stupidity. You should know the reasons why, but we’ll delve into them anyway. Cars can be stolen, meaning you will lose your precious items with the car. Cars can easily be broken into, so if someone knows the precious items are inside it’s a broken window when no one is looking and those precious items are most likely gone forever. Cars are also liable to get into accidents, catch on fire or be towed to some garage where strangers will have the ability to root through them. These are not traits that you want associated with a place that precious items are ever stored. The car should be used to transport your precious items to a storage unit and that’s it; beyond that, the only precious items that should be stored in your car are maybe inexpensive electronics.

In a Storage Shed or Garage

A place that is not in your house but is on your property is usually not the best protected place for precious items. Both storage sheds and garages are reasonably easy to access and break into, unless you have outfitted them to be incredibly tough structures that someone would need to pry open or break a lock to access. By the time you have added all these security features to these other structures on your property, you might as well have just rented a local storage unit that is built to be incredibly secure and often has security systems in place. Why go through the trouble of spending more time and money when all you have to do is pay a monthly fee to rent a secure unit? Some people just like to make things more difficult.

The idea of hiding valuables at home is nothing new. There are so many tales of backyard buried treasures and mattresses filled with cash. You may even be among those who stashes cash and jewelry away at home. Just remember, however, that a reliable home security system is always your best bet when it comes to protecting your treasures.

While we don’t want you to divulge all of your secret hiding places, we do look forward to hearing your thoughts about where or where not to hide valuables at home.

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The Psychology of Hoarding

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Hoarding isn’t just about people with messy houses. It’s not about having a little too much clutter or dirt hanging around. It’s a real mental illness. This serious condition affects the lives of the hoarder, their family, and often friends and neighbors. Television shows like Hoarders and Hoarding: Buried Alivehave helped to bring the truth of hoarding to light, informing while horrifying viewers.

Significant Hoarding Cases

Before TV camera poked into the lives of hoarders, they’ve been making news. The most famous hoarding case was the Collyer Brothers, who lived in NYC and were part of Manhattan’s elite crowd. They withdrew from society after their parents died, and Homer – who was blind and crippled – was taken care of by his brother, Langley. Neighbors called police in 1947 because of a smell coming from the property, and Homer was found dead. He was in the middle of literally tons of items, most of them junk.

A manhunt began for his brother Langley, who was nowhere to be found. The house was also cleared. Several weeks and 180 tons of garbage later, they found Langley’s body buried in the mess and mostly eaten by rats. He had apparently been crushed by piles of junk falling on him, and Homer died because his brother could no longer feed him. It was an incredibly tragic case, but it is not the only case where a person has died in their home because of their hoarding tendencies.

Another famous hoarder was the UK’s Edmund Trebus. Most of the junk in his home came from his desire to collect anything and everything about Elvis Presley, but also from raiding his neighbors’ trash. He grew vegetables in his garden, but saved them all in bags in his home, where they rotted away. The smell was so strong that the neighbors started complaining. He lived in a roomy Victorian Villa with five bedrooms, but was relegated to using only a small area on the floor because all of the rooms were full of all kinds of junk and bag after bag of decomposing vegetables.

What Makes a Hoarder

Hoarding is a mental illness, and is not the same as collecting. Many people have extensive collections, but they take care of these items, display them, and learn about them. They show them to others, and are proud of what they have. While these collections can take up significant levels of floor space, the collectors generally use proper storage options for keeping their collections contained. They may have a lot of money tied up in their collections, too, but they aren’t saving things just to save them. Collections have a purpose, and can often be very valuable.

In contrast to these collectors, hoarders often save anything and everything. Much of what they bring home is garbage, and they often can’t seem to throw anything away. Many hoarders have homes infested with bugs and rodents, and it’s not uncommon to find dead animals in their homes, too. If a pet suddenly goes missing, there’s no way to find it in all the piles and boxes of items and garbage. Trash and even human waste are often located in the houses of hoarders, making cleanup a biohazard issue that’s expensive, hard to handle, and honestly – just plain gross.

Help for Hoarding

Fortunately, for people who are pack rats, or people who want to get their lives under control based on how things they have, there are options. They can get help, both mentally and physically, to start correcting their hoarding behaviors. It’s not an easy road, and people trying to help can be met with a lot of resistance. The biggest problem is often getting a hoarder to throw anything away, even if it’s truly trash.

For items that actually do have value but that really need to be removed from the home so they can be auctioned off or sold, a self storage facility can be a good option. Storage can allow a person to employ an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality with numerous items, which can be disposed of later. This only works for items that really do get disposed of, though, and not things the person just wants to hang onto for a little while longer.

Local storage units should be used for the items that will be sold, not for storing stuff the hoarder wants. The goal is to significantly reduce how much “stuff” the hoarder keeps, and to begin working on healthier behaviors. For the interior of the hoarder’s home, there are also many ways to organize items that are important to keep. It’s easy to create extra storage in most homes with a little creativity, so you can make more room for the things that matter to you and still not have clutter.

Mental health care is important because the disorder is not accumulating too many things. It’s about why a person does that – which can’t be corrected just by organizing the space or getting rid of belongings and trash. All the self storage units in the world won’t “fix” the problem a hoarder has, and in some cases can only compound the problem because they just mean more space to put things in.

Some hoarders fill unit after unit, and with storage unit prices in some areas it’s amazing how they afford to continue to pay for their habit. Getting them mental help, emotional support, and physical organization options can be a great three-pronged approach to getting their hoarding under control. The psychology of hoarding can be complex, but it won’t get better until help is provided and the hoarder becomes proactive in working to control the problem.

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Handy Relocation Checklist

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It’s safe to say that moving is pretty high on most people’s lists of things they hate to do. Changing your life and where you live, especially moving to a new town or state, is never easy. But we’ll let you in on a little secret: Procrastination stinks even more. There’s nothing worse than frantically dumping your stuff into trash bags as the movers wait. If you don’t stay on top of things, you’ll be forced to deal with last minute decisions and items on moving day.

Packing up an entire household can seem daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before. But have no fear, first-time movers — we’ve put together a timeline and a ton of handy-dandy tips that should ease some of your stress.

Moving is a Process, Not an Event

Unless you have been chased out of your home by a landlord with an eviction notice or a sheriff’s deputy brandishing a foreclosure order, in all likelihood you can anticipate when you are going to make your move and plan accordingly for the ordeal. As such, unless all of your worldly possessions will fit in a single duffle bag that can be readily tossed into storage, you will want to consider a timetable of six to eight weeks out when drawing up your relocation checklist.

6 to 8 Weeks Prior to D-Day

Approximately 2 months before your move, you should look into the services of a professional mover, or reserve the truck and trailer that you will need to complete the move yourself. If utilizing the services of a professional moving service, be sure to account for everything that is going to be handled on the day of the move when arriving at a cost estimate. The morning of the move is not the time to decide that you want to keep the Baby Grand piano after all. Such last minute change of plans is guaranteed to fall outside the scope of your written estimate and will end up costing you more than you had planned. To quote Benjamin Franklin, “if you are failing to plan, you are planning to fail.”

4 to 6 Weeks Prior to D-Day

A month to a month and a half out from the big day, you’ll want to start notifying friends, family, and businesses of your impending move and cancel utilities and transfer services to your new address. In the hustle and bustle of a move, however, it’s easy to let important details slip through the cracks, so here’s a handy reference list of places to notify of your move:

  • Utility company (electric, gas, water, trash, sewer)
  • Cable/Satellite (don’t forget Internet!)
  • Lawn Service
  • Post Office
  • Credit card companies
  • Finance companies
  • Probation officer (we’re not judging)
  • DMV (don’t stand in line — see if there’s an online form)
  • Social Security Administration
  • Human Resources/Personnel Department
  • Magazine or newspaper subscriptions

Taking care of these notifications ahead of time ensures that you won’t be billed for services past your move date — and it guarantees that service won’t be interrupted at your new abode. The last thing you want to do is stand on hold, the day before the movers arrive, attempting to cancel and transfer numerous accounts.

Now is an excellent time to deal with the debris that has become of your life. The last thing you want to do is move the box that apparently hasn’t been opened since your previous move four years ago. Set aside some time to go through your old belongings and bid a fond and final farewell to those things that you have not seen in years. As such, be sure to parse through your belongings and consign them to either the rubbish pile, garage sale pile, or donation pile.

A Note on Moving Storage Units and Storage Units for Rent

An excellent way to get some elbow room and mental composure is to consider staging your packed goods at a nearby local storage unit. You can retrieve items easily on moving day. Mini storage units provide you with the flexibility to ease moving out, and storage unit prices are highly competitive. It’s well worth your time to explore options.

Storage units provide the perfect solution when your new property isn’t up to snuff. For instance, you can stage your property at a Charlotte self storage before having it shipped and warehoused at a New Orleans self storage site until your new place is ready for occupancy. The purpose of a self storage facility is to simplify your life, so you might as well take advantage of them during that time of your life that’s screaming for simplification.

2 to 3 Weeks Prior to D-Day

At this point, you probably have more boxes that need packing than you have days left to pack them. As the stress mounts, it’s always good to take a step back —  and glance ahead. During this time you should check with your mover to confirm pickup dates and times, and any special details regarding your relocation. If you are a do-it-your-selfer and rented a truck with an eye towards doing the driving yourself, be sure to call the rental company to make sure that your truck will be available at the time and location you require.

1 to 2 Weeks Prior to D-Day

The countdown is imminent as you race about completing the final details that are accumulating. Now is the time to start making a determined effort to consume all those heavy canned goods in the pantry and perishables in the fridge should be eaten with only the necessary groceries refilling the shelves.

Unless you have plans for somehow getting your plants from Point A to Point B (many moving companies will not transport them), you may need to look into giving them away. Friends, family, hospitals, and hospices are all great places to deliver an orphaned plant.

Since your pet is probably convinced that something is up, what with all the activity and such, you should consider your pet’s needs in terms of possible boarding or transportation issues. Moving is as stressful for the family pet as it is for the family, so be sure to attend to their emotional needs and security. Open gates, busy movers, and stressed out animals is a perfect storm in terms of being unable to find your cat 3 hours after you should have already been on the road.

D-Day

The day of the move will be tinged with excitement and overlaid with exhaustion, so be sure to get enough sleep the night before and enough caffeine the day of the move. Generally speaking, if you have hired a professional mover, it is your responsibility to make sure that all your property has been loaded onto the truck. Work with the movers to ensure that they have the exact destination, and find out from them when their ETA in the new city is expected.

Getting a new place is exciting and stressful, but with a little organization and advanced planning you can lessen the stress and make a seamless transition to your new place and life.

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Storage Hacks for the Home

lego storage room

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No matter how much space you have in your home, storage is always an issue. No one likes clutter. Instead of spending your money on custom-designed furniture or cabinetry, do it yourself with these budget-friendly storage hacks. Continue reading

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