Alison, what do you suggest for keeping guests' coats when hosting a large party?
I'm going to answer this because Alison and I talked about this. Alison suggests investing in an expensive rolling coat rack. These things usually come apart so you can store then. You can put the rack anywhere in the house or even in a hallway or an apartment building if you are having a lot of people over. My former chat mate Annie actually does this when she entertains in her very cool penthouse condo in Georgetown.
How prescient that this is your topic! I just pulled a lot of clothes out of my closet last night to try to sort through some clothes and reorganize things. I feel I have too much of everything and not enough of the right stuff, if that's possible. For example, I have FIVE white linen shirts. Honestly, nobody needs five white linen shirts (and none of them fit properly). How do you "edit" things down so that it's possible to keep everything organized? (Oddly enough, I'm a professional editor but I can't seem to do to my closet what I do to copy all day long.) Thanks for the chat!
If items don't fit properly and don't make you feel great when wearing them, I'd move on. Once you've edited down to items you love wearing, group them by color and item (shirts, skirts, etc). Less is more, I promise.
Instead of keeping my photos online, I want to print them and keep them in photo albums. What is the cheapest way to do this? Where can I find some nice but not expensive photo albums that hold a lot of photos? Walmart's are too cheap-looking but the others I have seen are $100 per album.
This is an interesting question. A lot of people are realizing that just keeping photos in an online archive isn't that satisfying. I've always liked www.exposuresonline.com for albums. Also check out Target and the Container Store. Check prices for printing out photos from different online services such as Flickr or Snapfish.
A question for Alison: About 10 years ago, I ditched all my wire hangers for white plastic tube hangers from Walmart and I love the look. But now I have some clothes that frequently slide off the hangers. I like the newer flocked hangers (kind of like velvet covered) but none of them are white to match what I have. What do you recommend? If I change to another type of hanger, what do you suggest? What do you use?
The Container Store has self adhesive strips you can put on your current hangers. Also, the thin huggable hangers are available in white - try Target or The Container Store.
My house will be empty for about nine days while my family goes to a reunion. What do we do regarding the setting of the A/C? Since no one will be there, I want to leave it off completely to save money, but fear damaging things in the house if I do that. Is there a general recommendation? Thanks!
I have left mine off completely for two weeks. I don't think anything will be damaged.
I think it looks great. But, if you are planning on reselling I'd be reluctant to take a closet out of a room that is supposed to be a bedroom. You won't be able to list it as a bedroom when you sell. Not that you shouldn't do what you want to enjoy your space, I just think that's a consideration.
Another easy and satisfying clutter removal project is your medicine cabinet. I take everything out. Wash the inside and then put back only the things that should be there. I throw out expired items and note any items that I need to replace/replenish. I have a plastic bin in the linen closet for those things that are not frequently used and I clean that out at the same time I do the medicine cabinet.
Another great project, you are right. Great to toss out old make-up samples and expired pain relievers.
Alison, what are your favorite things to help with closet organization?
Make sure everything in your closet serves a purpose. Then, depending on the space, determine how to best utilize the real estate - using containers, over the door pockets, adding shelves, etc.
Wise Ones: I brushed up against a newly painted wall, and got a thin smear of latex paint on my cotton sweater. Tried to wash it off immediately with a rag and water, then put it in the washing machine for a spin, but no luck. What else can I try -- sandpaper?
Once paint has dried and set, it's tough to get out, even if it's latex. You might take the sweater and dip in warm water and use a toothbrush to try and rub it off. Then spray with a stain remover and launder again.
This is just a comment, rather than a question. My husband verged on being a hoarder, and when I married him in 2005, I was extremely messy and disorganized. Add to that the fact that he became terminally ill in 2007 and the house soon filled up with medical equipment. After he died last year, I started cleaning stuff out and giving it away (mostly on Freecycle), and also hired a cleaning team to scrub and organize from top to bottom. I haven't had trouble staying clean and organized since. My daughter says living with a messy hoarder for four years changed me.
Thanks for sharing this story. So sorry for your loss. It is sad how many people have this problem. Good for you that you have made a clean start.
I kinda want to use my walk-in closet in a new and interesting way. Redecorating my bedroom, I realize that once I get rid of the clothes and items I don't need or can store elsewhere, my rather large closet (I believe it's about 5x5 or 5x6, though I'm unfortunately not home right now to measure!) will seem like a wasted space. Any ideas?
Do you have any hobbies you could dedicate the room to? A private yoga studio, reading room, craft area?
In over 40 years of sewing, I have accumulated much fabric. It is all organized in boxes labeled "cotton prints," "laces and fancies," " wool," etc. Most of it is small pieces (1/2 yard or so, but not square). I used to use it to whip up Barbie dresses or patch useable clothing, but now not so much. I could use the closet which was designed to store this fabric for more current needs, but I don't want to just dump 12 boxes of cloth in a dumpster. It's not really suitable for a quilting club as most of it is not quitling fabric. Any suggestions?
Wow how nice of you to think to donate this fabric. I'm sure you would be excited to reclaim that storage space. You could advertise it on freecycle or craigslist. You might also call the Vienna Quilt Shop 703 281-4091 and see if they have any suggestions. A school might use them or a summer camp. Any other ideas?
Today's guest columnist is perfect timing - we just moved to a new house, and I am about to go through boxes of clothes I just moved but have not worn in years (since starting a family 5 years ago). Any advice or rules on deciding what should stay or go? I am hopeless at thinking maybe I could wear something again, or that old tee shirt would be perfect for gardening, or attaching sentiment to things. Help, please!
Limit "gardening" or "around the house" clothes to one or two outfits. Most likely if you haven't worn or missed most of the clothing in the last five years, it's time to donate it.
My aunt has the scrapbooks with black paper pages from the 1950's that are tearing away from the posts. Do you know where I can get some type of page protector for them?
Have you tried Michaels? Also look at exposuresonline.com.
Are there companies that help unpack boxes when moving into a new home? I'm helping my brother who lost his wife to cancer. He and his young daughter are moving to a new home. Boxes were packed by movers. I need someone to help me help them set up the kitchen, closets etc.
I would put a notice up on your local list serve or craiglist. Also call a local mover to see if you can hire their personnel by the hour. Don't know where you are located so hesitate to suggest a specific moving company. College students looking for work would be good - you also might try College Hunks Hauling Junk (www.1800junkusa.com) - to see if you can hire them.
I have wanted to redo my closet shoe storage and have thought about installing those shoe cubicles. However, am stumped about whether this would work. For example, my athletic shoes take up much more space than my flats. How does this work in the real world of a shoe wardrobe?
I tend to think the cubicles take up too much space and many shoes do not fit in them including high heels and boots. I'd suggest flat or angled shelves.
Jura. I would love your opinion on door hardware. We're about to replace all our builder shiny brass. What do yout think is the best look? Egg knobs, round, levers? Also what do you like in finishes-We're leaning toward an oil rubbed bronze or a pewter look...this is a newer colonial home. Would just love to hear what you like!
I adore those egg knobs personally! Oil rubbed bronze is a great choice and many designers are going with that right now.
No sales this week?
Does anyone know of any? Summer doldrums.
Love the organizing topic. We have 2 growing boys, an assortment of sports equipment, and no garage to store it in. We have a basement closet we could use to hold all of it, but I'm baffled as to how to organize it in a way that the kids can find and put away their stuff themselves. Thanks!
Could you assign a large tupperware or new trash can for each child and their equipment?
Really? Whatever happened to just laying coats neatly on the bed? It just doesn't strike me as a worthwhile expense - and I entertain almost every weekend.
It organizes the coats and helps guests find them easier. Some people don't want guests in their bedrooms - you know, you might not want people to know you're a slob in some rooms! You can buy racks at Walmart for under $25 and they collapse.
I've been cleaning out my apartment in anticipation of my S.O. moving in. One motivator for me was a swap party - a bunch of my girlfriends came over with all the clothes they don't wear anymore, we tried on each other's outfits and picked out what we wanted. I took the leftovers to Goodwill - and will get a nice tax deduction out of it.
Love that idea. I've been meaning to have a girls night like that for costume jewels, accessories and purses that we could trade.
When she moved a couple of years ago, my mom had the same dilemma of boxes of fabric that she no longer needed. She donated them to a childrens' hospital (I think it may have been Georgetown, but I'm not sure) for their arts and crafts room. You may want to call around to local hospitals to see if they are interested in something similar.
Thanks that is a wonderful suggestion.
Apartment Therapy (apartmentherapy.com) lists sales in their Friday e-mail. Also posted on the blog.
Do you think that a good closet system can eliminate the need for a dresser? We have ugly furniture and I wonder if it makes more sense to redo the ample closets or replace the dressers. Space is not the issue.
Yes. Many closet systems have drawers components. Just make sure to build in enough drawers to accomodate all of your folded clothes.
What do you ladies suggest be done with beloved, flattering clothing items when they fall out of fashion? I'm talking things I bought a year or two ago, not ten or twenty. Wear anyway? Save? Toss? Alter?
Always wear clothes that flatter you rather than following the trends. Just keep current with accessories.
The problem with a closed container is, well, the overpowering stank when you take the lid off a bin full of sweaty equipment (not to mention the mold and other nastiness that can grow). There are lots of wire/pegboard storage setups that use hooks, allowing the gear to dry and ventilate while stored.
So well put...
I found that going through my clothes and getting rid of what doesn't fit, what I don't like, what I don't wear took several rounds. I lost about 30 lbs and it took months -- maybe even more than a year -- before I was prepared to donate my larger clothes, most of which I liked and had worn pretty regularly (e.g., work clothes). I also got rid of ALL my suits except one, since my work environment is such that I rarely have to wear them (last time I had to wear an actual suit was late 2007). Then about six months later, I went through my clothes AGAIN and got rid of more things that I just didn't wear for various reasons. The first time, I was probably not being brutal enough.
Congratulations to you for making this a priority.
A school could definitely use them. Also, churches (for vacation camps, activities, etc.). This may seem odd, but you could reach out to some of the amazing online blogging crafters who could either a) use them themselves or b) offer to give them away to their readers. This is done rather frequently. You may also want to contact your local sewing guild. They could probably use those scraps for embellishments, scrapbuster projects, etc.
More good ideas. Don't we all have a box of fabric pieces somewhere that we really should get rid of?
We have a lot of stuff, between two packrats (husband and myself), a kid, and being the default storage place for my father's things (he's moved out of his house after mom died and is now living with his mother in a much smaller space). We NEED to clear things out as we are overrun but how do we do it? How do you start figuring out what's to keep versus what's to throw out/donate/craigslist? How do you not get overwhelmed and then settle for the status quo?
Take one project (the garage, basement) on at a time. Set aside a few hours on a weekend with an end in sight and a fun reward at the end. If you haven't used something in a year, move on. Unless an item is really valuable, I'd donate everything and take the tax deduction.
We went to the Room and Board store to find a sofa for our living room and we really liked one of the sectionals we saw. The only issue is that the default covering is a fabric with 60 percent eco-cotton, 20 percent polyester, 18 percent acrylic and 2 percent nylon. We love how it looks and feels but we don't know if this material will last. Living room will be for when we have guests for the most part and we don't have pets or kids. What do you think? We don't really like the microsuede look so if not this material what else is durable?
Can't you choose whatever fabric you want for this sectional? If you dont like microsuede, which by the way is supposed to be incredibly wearing, find a sturdy woven or mohair that rings your bell. The makeup of the fabric you describe is specially designed to be sturdy.
I agree. Donate stuff that doesn't fit. I recently got rid of a lot of clothing I'd been holding onto for years "just in case" I lose some weight. Now that it's out of my closet it's a lot easier to get dressed. If I do ever lose the last 10 pounds, I'll splurge on some NEW clothes that fit and donate what I can no longer wear.
If anyone has any magic solutions for losing pounds, please post them now. Although I guess we can't turn this into a diet and exercise chat. It is interesting though how much weight has to do with what clothes we keep and don't keep.
Alison, how many great outfits do you recommend putting together per season? Is there a rule of thumb for how much you wear a certain item? How should one approach shopping?
It all depends on your lifestyle, but in general I suggest shopping like the French and buying fewer, more expensive items. If you wear jeans or black pants every day, buy the best you can afford.
I think it was last week when someone wrote in about towels, etc., for their pink and black bathroom. After trying to downplay the floor-to-ceiling pink tile in one of my bathrooms with gray, white, you name it, I decided to embrace it. I found a rug at Anthropologie that had a much darker, deeper pink and orange pattern, and paired it with deep/saturated pink and orange towels. I topped it off with matching artwork and even pink handsoap (Method pink grapefruit from Target). I am not a pink person, but I finally decided that I needed to stop fighting it and embrace it all the way - it looks great.
Embrace reality. What a great lesson here. I think it sounds fantastic. Pink ennd orange is such a rereshing combo. Interstingly enough, this week I tried the pink grapefruit dishwashing tablets by Method - Smarty - and they left my glasses sparkling. (No kidding.) And I love the scent. Anthropologie has such fun things for the home - and an accessory like you chose can make a whole room look fresh and current.
Good morning -- I have a basement that includes many things from my parents and grandparents estates and me, the accumulator. (Don't think I'm a hoarder, but we do have alot of stuff.) I have put off doing anything about the mess, but really need to tackle it. I've gone online to look for an organizer who can help and then help with organizing for a yard sale -- or at least get me started -- I've looked online, through NAPO, but I couldn't seem to match myself up with anyones description. Do you have any ideas for me please? I love this discussion -- never miss it. Thanks for any help you can give me.
Sally Thatcher of Practical Systems may be able to help. www.pracicalsystems.org
The storms on Tuesday revealed that I have a very leaky window. It's too high for me to try and fix myself (if I even knew how). Is this something that I call a general contractor for, or do I call a window replacement company? I don't know if it's a window problem or a sealant problem.
Could you get someone to help you caulk it? There are also small window companies that could help you - Blaine WIndow Repair 301 565-4970 or District Window & Glass Repair 202 289-2730.
I put my chest of drawers IN the walk-in closet, making it into a small dressing room. I don't have to walk back and forth between storage units in the bedroom, it's all there together. That freed up space in the bedroom once the chest was moved into the closet. I like the comfy dressing room feel.
I love that too. I've stayed at hotels that have that feature.
A friend who made window treatments and pillows gave my daughter an overflowing shopping bag of fabrics, fringes, and trims which kept her in craft supplies for years including a junk sculpture birthday party.
Hi - LOVE the chats Here is what I did to re-organize when I retired. I took everything out of my closet, cleaned it and papered it in a pretty stripe and coordinating print that I got in an "closeout" sale. Then I invested in the shelves from home depot that you hang yourself. (Couldn't afford an Elf or closet maid). I bought nice hangers and grouped items by type, i.e., dressy, casual, bummy. I used colored hangers for each type of clothing. On the shelves I used a label machine and created areas for sweaters, sweats, jeans, etc. I have more than enough room, plus an order came about my million (exxagerated) amount of shoes...AND, I can fit in my husbands meager belonging (:) on his shelves and area of the closet. This didn't cost me more than $150.00 TOTAL, including wall paper.
Good for you! Don't you love "shopping" in your new closet everyday?
Maybe this is a question for Carolyn Hax, but how do I get my husband to have any interest in cleaning junk that's not out in the open? He has old papers, computer equipment, etc. , that are stored in boxes and placed under beds or in closets that we never use. His idea is that if we don't need the space, why clean up? I just hate the idea that there's all this clutter somewhere, and we can't possibly consider using the space if it's filled with his old junk. How do you declutter when we technically aren't seeing the clutter in our daily lives?
This is a real problem for so many of us. My husband has boxes in the attic from each job he has had over the years filled with files of things he hasn't look at in ages!! I think the only way to deal with this is to have a frank discussion that it's time to deal with this stuff and that maybe every weekend, you will take out one box and go through it together ( if he will let you!) or he can do it himself but start to whittle down the stuff that is being stored. It is a great feeling to have open spaces in your home not clogged with stuff. It's good feng shui!!!!
A neighbor on my block has a vintage radio flyer wagon on her front porch: her son drops off his sports gear in there before he goes inside so no dirt gets tracked in the house.
That sounds charming and functional.
Jura sez: "It is interesting though how much weight has to do with what clothes we keep and don't keep." I think it's because we don't want to lose that potential within ourselves. Also, it's the dreaded "d" word: discipline. I know that I'm not disciplined about my weight or my organization. Just call this the combo Fashion/Home Front/Carolyn Hax chat today! A three-fer!
Discipline is the thing we all need more of in terms of our weight, our stuff and our relationships. You are right, that is the key. If only we could figure out a class to teach this, we could make a fortune.
I just moved into an apartment with very little storage space. There is a bedroom closet and a front/hall closet. That's it. The latter in particular is very small. Do you have any ideas about how to store things that normally would go in that closet but don't fit? Any simple storage units you'd recommend to purchase?
What sort of things aren't able to fit into the hall closet?
Great article today about all the organizing tips - very timely and helpful! I've forwarded it on to friends. I've been trying to help my mom get her house organized for years, a little bit at a time. She tends to fill up every closet/dresser she has, and then buy plastic bins to put the rest in, instead of culling the old stuff first. Is there a way to help encourage this, without getting so exasperated? I wonder if hiring a professional to help would be better? Any advice on who to call? Or is this really something she has to initiate?
I'm afraid that buying more plastic bins is a solution a lot of us have to clutter. If we can't see it, we feel like it is containerized and not a problem. The National Association of Professional Organizers www.napo.net can offer you names of people in our are that are trained to work with people to eliminate clutter and set up organizing systems in their homes and offices. Perhaps the gift of an organizer, who is really a life coach, would be a wonderful one. Good luck.
Jura- cutting out meat, dairy and booze will drop lbs fast! Non-processed foods and moving your body speeds up the weight loss.
But I love cheese. No discipline there...
I tend to hang on to favorite clothes that are too shabby or don't fit. I hate to part with them. Also I don't want to give away the shabby or stained ones. Where can I recycle the fabric in Montgomery County?
Maybe look into sewing groups or craft clubs in the public schools near you.
Is it worth it?
You must mean ELFA. Elf storage would be worthless! Meanwhile, I personally am not an Elfa user but once we throw this question out there, there will be devotees writing in immediately. I don't really like the look of grid myself, but they make amazing pieces for all different closets and needs.
Re doorknobs. Remember that the lever types can be opened with an elbow; great when your hands are full or dirty or wet. They also are more friendly to those with some disabilities.
Thanks good thought.
One reason to clean up - it makes a nice nest for bugs and rodents while it's there. Also, if you've got tons of junk under your beds that you never use, the dust piles up around it. Not good for allergies and such. If you've got stuff stored under the beds that you actually periodically pull out and use, you are more likely to clean it up occasionally. I prefer to have nothing under the beds so that I can easily vacuum out the dust bunnies. Can you tell I have bad allergies?
For the poster looking for albums for photos currently kept online: We make books from our photos using the book function in iPhoto. There are other programs that do this too. You can organize your photos on pages, add captions and then have the books printed. You also can choose background designs based on family photos, wedding, etc. It looks like a regular photo book, and might be easier/less expensive than making prints and organizing them in an old-fashioned album. Plus they look great on the shelf.
Great tip. Thanks.
A better solution is to set the A/C on about 80 while you're gone, especially if you live in a humid climate. It won't run all the time, but if there's a heat wave, you won't return to an oppressive house, and if there's rain, you won't give mold spores a chance to get started making you miserable.
When I got rid of the smaller sized clothes that I thought I'd wear one day after losing weight, at first it made me feel like I was giving up on losing the weight. But now I'm more motivated because buying some new, updated outfits is good inspiration.
Agreed. Use a shopping trip as motivation!
Get the hangers that are really thin with a sort of velvety texture. I've bought them at Target and TJ Maxx. They're fabulous and take up half the space of the plastic tube ones.
Huggable Hangers are very popular for people looking to organize their closets and save space. I did a piece on a Penn Quarter apartment that I think we are going to post where they fit an amazing amount of shirts and pants in a closet using these.
Hands down, the best book ever is "Simple Isn't Easy" by Amy Fine Collins and Olivia Goldsmith. I read it, donated all the clothes in my closet that didn't fit or didn't flatter me, and hung everything on matching mahogany hangers. I enclosed my special items in canvas bags. I folded my knits and placed them in a commode-like structure--instead of drawers, it has fully-extended shelves. Drawers are the worst because you never can see what's in them. I am now in the replacement stage--upgrading the things that are shoddy and worn. Which I am hoping Ms. Lukes can help me with. I feel great.
You are indeed a reformed hoarder!
I keep several elves in my kitchen for cleanup, and they also let the dogs out in the morning!
Can you tell us where we can find some elves ourselves? I would totally love to have several.
Where do you find those fabulous French-inspired finds? Top three must hit boutiques? And what is your uniform this summer?
In this heat...a cotton dress and sandals!
I love shopping at local boutiques - georgetown, old town and bethesda have great shops.
A business trip may take me to North Carolina next month. As it happens, really need to replace my sofa (circa 1992) and could be tempted to get a new coffee table and maybe a few other pieces too. Where would I need to go to shop? Is there a place where a few manufacturers have show rooms in a single location? Could I do some previewing on the web? Would I be able to leave my colleagues for an evening and do my shopping, or do show rooms close early? I could probably add a Saturday on to the trip if I need to.... Any direction would be greatly appreciated.
I know that the Hickory Furniture Mart has some great higher end outlets. www.hickoryfurniture.com. You might want to take a Saturday to explore this.
I have zero willpower with cheese too.. but I hear it works! :)
You mean totally not eating any cheese? I will have to think about this.
I used a company called "Busy Buddies" to unpack after I moved and they also set up the entire house. They are terrific.
I think you could set your A/C on 82 or 83. My parents turned theirs off one time and mold started growing in their basement because of all of the moisture!
And I live for cheese and wine. So hard to deprive one's self of favorite things.
Life is too short as they say.
In my experience, moving companies aren't good at unpacking and they have no idea how to organize a kitchen or closet. Perhaps you could hire an organizer to come to the new home and help you organize as you unpack. And you sound like a very thoughtful sibling.
If you haven't opened the box since the last move you don't need toss it or give it too charity. You do not need your old college textbooks etc. If you have a two car garage and you can't even put one car in it you have too much stuff. Get rid of it. if its your kids stuff it maybe time to cull the herd.
My kid has a ton of college textbooks. How can I get him to sell them?
Only if you can afford high-end. The poster that talked about the home depot shelves has it right on
Wouldn't throw anything away, kept putting it off and procrastinating. Until I pointed out that the mice and ant infestation had nested in his junk. Wow. That was cleaned up in one weekend. No more rodents.
I can't fit random odds and ends - Christmas decorations, toolbox, hand vac, the box for my printer. That kind of stuff. Thanks.
Do you need the box for the printer? Can you put the x-mas decor in a tupperware under a bed? Hang the hand vac on the wall of the closet?
Lots of good suggestions. I cleared out a ton of clothing last year, and oddly feel like I am left with much more to wear, because now I can see it. I had a bad habit of saving the good stuff for a special occasion and wearing less flattering clothes more often...forget that. If it doesn't flatter, it goes. And this is a multi-stage process. I'm still getting rid of stuff...I keep a 'donate' bag going int he closet, and just add to it as I decide something no longer works. In my area (metro Boston), the Big Brothers / Big Sisters foundation picks up used clothing. You might check and see if they or another charity does so in your area, as it's easier than lugging things in. I just leave the bags on the front porch.
Good for you! Great idea about the Bib Brothers/Big Sisters.
It is a multi-stage process that can take weeks, months, even years - but the goal should be to feel amazing wearing everything hanging in your closet.