New Year's Storage Solutions And Resolutions - What To Do First

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The holidays can often be overwhelming for many…boxes come out, packages get wrapped, then unwrapped and just when you think you have it all under control, the family begins to show-up unannounced. What’s a person to do? Set some basic ground rules early in the season making it clear who will be hosting what and when. Knowing this ahead of time will help minimize the stress and help you better prepare for what is to come.

The best way to prepare is to focus on the rooms that are most often used rather than the rooms that rarely see the light of day. Kitchens, powder rooms and living rooms are the most popular and should be given the most attention. If items in these rooms are not decorative or functional, out they go! Toys are typically the biggest issue when it comes to adult entertaining and decorating for the holidays. 

Here are some simple rules for keeping it simple but elegant:

Focus on the rooms being used by utilizing the rooms that will not be used. When not entertaining overnight guests, use the closets in that room for storing empty boxes or wrapping paper, etc. Milk crates are wonderful because they can be stacked and piled, maximizing small spaces.

Let’s face it. How many toys do the kids really need in the “grown-up” room? Think small items like coloring books and crayons that are easy to store but also keep the kids entertained. 

An “open house” with a set time period guarantees that your guests will get in and get out. This type of party is a lot less stressful than an ongoing evening party and gives you more control. When the party is over, it’s over! I always throw a fabulous open house on New Years Eve from 1-5 PM. I usually offer champagne and a spiral ham as a quick festive light lunch and with no commitment to kiss anyone at midnight. I find that just about everyone I invite pops in, has a quick drink and moves on to the next party. This gives me the opportunity to clean-up and still be able to change my clothes and go out for the evening. My entertaining responsibility is done and most will remember my open house because it was simple but elegant.

New Trends and Products in Home Organization

The best new trend to get organized in your home is to make sure that everything has multi proposes. Old vintage suitcases offer both function and style. Trunks are perfect for storing pillows and blankets and fit nicely at the end of a bed. These items are easily found at flea markets and tag sales. You’ll be amazed how wonderful they can be incorporated into just about any home design.

Bring the outside in!. A weathered teak container normally used for storing outdoor seat cushions works perfectly as a coffee table and gives you extra storage space. Add a quarter inch piece of glass on the top for protection and now you have not only a great looking coffee table but one that holds lots of stuff.

My personal favorite is to reuse old cupboards. I took my grandmother’s old kitchen cupboard and placed it in my garage (known as my garden studio). I now have a rustic storage unit that has history and charm. Old cabinets can have a second life if you select the best pieces for the right space. Consider recycling your old units for new storage. It’s the “green” thing to day.

I use small antique urns for storage in my office. I just love this idea. Instead of the boring pencil cup, I stash all my pens and markers in a fabulous black urn. These urns can also be used to store TV and video remote controls and reading glasses. This is so much more chic than a plastic or wire container. 

How do you know what to keep and what to toss?

This is simple. I have one rule that I have lived by for the last ten years that works perfectly no matter what the item may be. Are you ready…? Here goes: If you don’t use it, wear it, or touch it in one year—out it goes. Make a donation, give it to a friend but whatever you do, DON’T KEEP IT!!! Chances are you’ll never miss it! This is one rule that may take a bit of getting used to, but once you do, you’ll find no clutter and new space becomes available for the new stuff awaiting you. 

De-cluttering can improve the safety in your home:

Ask yourself this question. If I had to walk around my house blindfolded, how many items would I bump into or hit along the way? Can I see the floor or carpet or do I just know it is there? And what if an unexpected guest showed up, would I be embarrassed because of all the extra stuff? If picking-up is not your normal modus operandi, consider the safety issues that lie beneath the clutter. My friend Mary has a special room in her house that she calls the “pink room”. Everything that does not have a home ends up in this room….on the floor, on the walls and in the closets. There’s not enough space to walk around in this room. I call this the room of misfit items. Frankly, I think this is a potential fire hazard and should be cleaned up. She feels that as long as no one goes in, what the heck. Oh well, to each his or her own. Lucky for her she doesn’t need the room but this can easily get out of control. What happens when one room is filled? Then it becomes two or even three. Yikes! It’s best to end the madness the same way it started. Address one room at a time, reminding yourself about the “one year” rule, ultimately moving throughout the whole house.

Keep it simple. Think about all the beautiful magazine spreads you’ve seen with the perfect placement of items and just the right mount of furniture to maximize the living space. The old saying “less is more” is about safety in the home as well as good taste. If you have less stuff to riffle through and or walk over, the better chance you have of avoiding an accident such as a slip or a fall.

And there you have it.