Restore Order in Your Space

Cork Planter Bookend Set

Cork Planter Bookend Set

There’s nothing wrong with a little spring cleaning, and Daily Candy has just the thing to bring renewed order to your living space. This month they featured 23 great ways to organize and restore order to areas in your home, and what wonderful items you can buy to accomplish it. They’ve even gone the extra mile by providing where you can buy these items online, AND how much they cost!

Enjoy this really helpful information and let us know if you have any other great ideas for restoring order at home!

Be Smart with Kid’s Art

It’s the end of the school year and while that brings big SMILES, it’s also the time of year that the kids bring home big PILES of artwork!! As the teachers purge their classrooms, our homes expand. Are you asking yourself, what should I do with all of these petite Picasso’s and mini Monet’s?  The 3 of us have kids and while we think ALL of their pieces are masterpieces (wink), we can’t hang everything  (or send them to the relatives) so we rotate artwork  as we or the kids tire of seeing what is displayed.  A good way to display kids art is on a bulletin board, a magnetic surface or these great alternatives.

http://www.potterybarnkids.com/products/schoolhouse-utility-decor/?pkey=e%7Cbulletin%2Bboard%7C4%7Cbest%7C0%7C1%7C24%7C%7C3&group=1&sku=212175&cm_src=PRODUCTSEARCH||NoFacet-_-NoFacet-_-NoMerchRules-_-

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/60075295

http://www.amazon.com/Alex-Toys-Art-Expandable-File/dp/B000HV0XLS

Going through their piles with them can sometimes be counter productive if your goal is to simply hang on to a few.  Ask them to pick out their 5 favorites, then take pictures of the other ones they like a lot.  Or, on a rainy day, they can make a collage or mosaic with the ones that didn’t make the top 5, cutting small pieces from each  to create one  new piece!  

 How do you display  masterpieces in your household?

An Organized Car

Does that sound like a fictional novel or an independent film title?  Your car does not have to look like a closet, snack bar or office on wheels.  There are so many organizational items for cars being sold today it is crazy!  Really, you could buy them all and still have a disaster car if you don’t have a system of order to begin with.  So, this is a list of tips and tools that work for me (if they work for me they will work for you).  Believe!! 

First of all, this is a list of must have items for EVERY car:

Tissues, wet wipes, first aid kit, sunblock (soccer), bug spray, glass cleaner (smudges on sunglasses…boo), chapstick, Advil, hand sanitizer, gum, granola bars, napkins and straws.  This might seem extreme, but it is such a GOOD feeling to be READY FOR ANYTHING!

Next, is staying organized!

This Case Logic Back Seat Organizer is a life saver for today’s families, who spend hours and days (or so it seems) driving from one activity to another.  This is a great place to keep granola bars, water bottles, books and any other goodies your kids need close at hand and clearly visible!

I should also mention it makes you a much better driver…you can actually focus on the road and not the traveling restaurant you were once forced to run!!

Most adults can do a pretty good job of staying clean, but kids know just how to destroy a car in 30 seconds!  So, the key word is MAINTAIN.  At the end of each day, when you come home everyone must take their “stuff” out and put it where it belongs.  I can be a bit over the top, but I have a dustbuster in the garage and vacuum the car every other day (seems to be the magic number for crumb accumulation).

 

The Mountainsmith Modular Hauler is a great way to keep items you do not use regularly in the trunk of your car.  An example of how this can come in handy is having a change of clothes for kids, to avoid frustration and to be prepared for food spills or after school activity outings.

Folding Seats and Blankets are another essential for a family involved in many activities and sports.  There are so many mornings you walk out the door and think you have everything, but wait….ouch!  You are standing in the cold for an hour on a wet soccer field shivering (I know the feeling).

Now that you are ready for anything you can not forget the potential emergencies that could stand in your way.  While the world is getting smaller by the day, it can feel HUGE if you are stranded in the middle of nowhere!

Emergency Kits are essential and you can make your own or purchase one from www.beprepared.com.  Items that you should always have in an emergency kit are:  jumper cables, tire pressure gauge, fix-a-flat, reflective safety vest, roadside reflectors, flashlight, batteries, auto escape hammer, cat litter or sand for traction, and flares. 

Spring break is here and summer is around the corner, so now is the time to get your car ready for some serious travel!

Suitcase Tips for any Trip!

One of the most overwhelming parts of a vacation is packing. I’m always afraid I’m going to forget something — especially when I’m responsible for getting our entire family prepared to pack for the trip.

  There are so many things to be packed: clothes, toiletries, shoes, books and if you have kids there are even more things to add to the list!  Then, how do you ensure that the clothes do not get wrinkles and make sure no liquids spill on your clothes.  FORGET IT!  Cancel the trip…..Just kidding!  

These packing tips and goodies can help avoid any packing pitfalls:   

Tip #1
A week or so before the trip, prepare a list of items that you know you will need and start setting aside those items in order to save time on your actual packing day.  You can keep this list in your suitcase as a handy guide for your return and for any future travels you do.  This packing list from the amazing travel expert Rick Steve (I would do anything for his job!!) is all you could ask for: 
http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/packlist.htm

Tip #2
Clothes ideally should not be folded as crease marks may appear on them while packed in the suitcase. Rather, rolling them with medium tightness will keep them crease free. You can roll up two or more of the same kind of garments together. Take the pants, close their buttons and zippers and fold them lengthwise. Now place all of them one over another and roll up. The skirts should be  packed in the same manner. The arms of shirts, tops and sweaters should be folded at the back first before they are rolled. Keep all these garments next to each other.

Tip #3
Keep the number of shoes, handbags and belts minimum.  I know this is really hard!!  We all know the importance of accessories; but, sometimes we must travel “light.”  They take up too much room and can weigh down your luggage!  Placing the shoes at the border of the suitcase, in such a way that the soles touch the lining of the suitcase and not the clothes, keeps your clothes from getting soiled. Put them in plastic bags or fabric bags that come in certain brand name shoe boxes to avoid ANY damage or dirt.  Wal-Mart sells cute PB 2 shoe bags for $16!

Tip #4
Pack all the essential toiletries like toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, sunscreen, medicines, and other such important things in zip lock bags, so leaky items will not spill on to your clothes and ruin them.  There is also something to be said about a cute travel bag like the ML Traveler from Stephanie Johnson.com.

Tip #5
So, now you need to think about “how” to arrange!  Think layers!  Keep them in the order in which you need them.

That means the clothes that you need on the last day of your trip should be kept at the bottom. If your suitcase does not have a separate section for socks and undergarments, keep them at the bottom corner. The laundry bag in which you will put all your dirty clothes should be kept at the top for easy access. The bag containing all the toiletries should be kept below the laundry bag. Fragile items should be kept in between the top layers of clothes, so that they get adequate cushion. Valuables like cash, travelers cheques and bank cards should be dispersed throughout all of your bags and luggage (never in one place).

What really matters is that you are GOING ON VACATION!!!  Have fun and send Sweet Abode a postcard! 

“Green” with Envy

It seems as soon as the temperature starts to rise and the flowers begin to bloom that I need to do some reshuffling in my home.

I feel the need to make sure the windows are extra clean and that things in my house are exposing us to the “light” we have been yearning for all winter long.

Do you drool over home and decor magazines all winter like I do?  Do you realize that rushing out to your favorite boutique or other furniture shop doesn’t seem quite right when you have plenty of pieces already?  YOU ARE NOT ALONE! 

“These are the days of miracle and wonder”, like Paul Simon used to sing…it’s true!  Look at these days as times for you to ponder your “nest” and shop in your own home.  I have been called the “reshuffling queen.”  Once a piece in my house , be it furniture or art, starts wearing on me I realize it has a greater purpose and position somewhere else.  My goal is to always keep it unpredictable and exciting.  When that’s not happening, it gets repurposed in a whole new fashion…to the curb!

There are all forms of recycling.  One of my favorite forms is to take things or pick things up from the curb to be repurposed.  It is amazing what your neighbors throw away.  Pay attention the day before and the day of TRASH DAY!

Where do you put your guests’ coats?

One of the greatest features in a home are CLOSETS!  You now have storage and there is an added bonus when you have a hall closet.  Well, you move in and decide that closet will be for guest coats ONLY and you will get really nice hangers to show your guests their coats have a prestigious location to call their own when they come over.  Fast-forward 2 to 3 years and all of a sudden your closets are overflowing and the kids rooms and playrooms are maxed out and you realize….that hall closet is EMPTY.   Yay, again!

We all know that the hall closet is really the place to throw things when guests come unexpectedly or you have run out of storage space in all of your other closets.  There are a number of space-saving tools you can use to maximize this very useful nugget of space.

Clear out all things that do not make sense in that closet.  Board games need to go to the kids’ rooms or the playroom or living room.  Remember to donate any outdated outerwear.  Properly storing your items maximizes your space and time.

Low plastic bins are the best way to store boots and cleats.  An umbrella stand is a great way to store baseball bats, tennis rackets and even wrapping paper; this makes it easy to find what you are looking for and nothing falls out of the closet when you open the door. 

Cute storage boxes like these from organize.com add a pop of color to your once drab family containment center (aka hall closet).  You can even take it to the next level by painting the inside of the closet a fun and bright hue.

Being organized will also help you get out the door faster!  Hanging sweater shelves will add a lot of space for things like scarves and mittens, baseball caps, balls and gloves and make it easy to see and grab.  A hosiery organizer is a great place to store the little things that get lost easily like sunscreen, bug spray, batteries and first-aid items. 

When trying to maximize space, don’t forget to look at ALL of the available space…like the door!  Adding a couple of hooks on your door will create a nice place to hang your bags and hats.  If you do a lot of gift-wrapping there is a great over-the-door gift wrapping station from www.organizeit.com.

Get inspired and get organized! 

Photos courtesy of Real Simple and Martha Stewart

Mudroom Advice

Assess, Measure, Plan, Purchase, Install
  
So, you want to incorporate a mudroom into your home…where shall you put it?
 
Step1 — Define your storage needs. What do you REALLY need to store in this location (essentials)? What things are convenient to have available when you walk out the door (handy)? What items do you use only occasionally or seasonally that might be stored elsewhere (seasonal)?
Step2 — Assess your storage area. What spaces do you have for storage? Can you add furniture to the room or hall you want to use? Is there wall space for hooks or cubbies?
This mudroom locker from StacksandStacks.com is a great solution if your kitchen or laundry room is near your main entryway and you have a corner that can be filled. 
Step3 — Measure and plan. If you can not build out a space for a mudroom, think creatively.  Is there room for a second rod or an over-the-door organizer in your hall closet? Will a chest of drawers fit in the kitchen corner? Can you hang hooks in the hall?
Country Living has a great example of how a couple of hooks and an interesting bench can work as a “hallway mudroom”.

If there is no way you can fit a mudroom “in” your house, you always have the option of your garage or carport.
familybalancesheet.org has a great idea for using a blank wall of your garage as your mudroom.  This way your “stuff” is not the centerpiece when your guests arrive!
 
A mudroom really is a mom’s friend.  With a little creativity, you can find a spot for the trail of “stuff” that follows your kids home every day!
 

Mom’s Love Mudrooms


Is someone always in trouble for tracking in mud or snow?  Are there shoes or bike helmets in random places of the house?  For people who don’t have garages or carports for these items, a mudroom is a great solution.

What is the most frequently used entrance to your house?  If it is the front entrance, the design will be something quite different from what you would have at a rear or side door.  If the entrance is from the garage into the house, an area inside the garage near the door can be used.  If there is an entryway or utility room inside the door, that is a wonderful place to create a mudroom.  Even a well thought-out corner can be tremendously useful.

Moms especially love mudrooms.  It’s reason to exist is for storing everything that cannot be stored in the main house (muddy shoes, wet clothes,large and bulky sports equipment, backpacks, bags, purses and seasonal coats).
This area and these items should always be easily accessed coming in and out of the house.  And, honestly, they are hard to decorate around!

Although the mudroom is a utility area more than anything else, it is essential that it looks nice and inviting.  Add pillows, a  plant, a durable rug and a  foot mat at the entrance to rub muddy boots on .  For a personal touch, add photos.  Small touches will make you want to keep things tidy and organized, right?
Bring on the mud!
Images via Crate & Barrel
Tomorrow we will tell you HOW to plan and design your mudroom!

Kids and their Closets!

It’s a conundrum!  children’s rooms are usually small, often shared and generally lack in built-in storage.Yet, kids’ rooms are host to out-of-season and outgrowing clothes, surplus toys and even household overflow!  You would be amazed at how much kids crave and can maintain order, so help them create a nice space they can manage. 

The solution:  Sort, Simplify and store!

1.  Make “stay”, “donate” and “consignment” piles.  Once you have sorted put the donation items in your car so they are ready for your next errand run.  

2.  ALWAYS try to see things from your child’s perspective.  Go ahead and get on your knees so you can see how kids see things.  Hanging shelves and closet rods within their reach will be so much nicer for them and their sense of independence. 

Organizing the closet this way helps divide the space so the bottom half is their go-to area and the upper half (shelves or an additional bar) is ready for next season.  

3.  Hanging cubes and over-the-door shoe racks are great ways to store a number of items in a small space.  Hanging sweater shelves can be so convenient:  each shelf can hold an outfit for every day of the week or hold t-shirts and shorts for easy viewing. 

4.  Hooks and peg boards are another great way to add organization and style to a kids’ closet, or even their room.  This is a great place for belts, hats, sweaters and backpacks.  Check out these adorable letter hooks from thisnext.com.

One added bonus to having a lower closet bar, particularly when using an Elfa system, is the shelf the rod hang from.  A perfect place for shoes.  Which leads me to…

5.  The floor of the closet!  All of a sudden you have blank space…to keep storage bins, baskets or cubes for toys, art and any other item that does not need to be within reach.  Benjamin-Moore has a very innovative way to keep track of the contents in those bins: use chalkboard paint to paint squares on your plastic bins, so you just erase the label when you need to repurpose that bin!

Order and organization is such a gift to give your child.  Their room or closet should not be a showroom.  It should be a place where they can find what they need and enjoy what they have!  Remember:  Don’t get overwhelmed…Sweet Abode is always here to help.

The Jewelry Jam

 

Isn’t it a challenge to keep your necklaces, bracelets and rings out of a tangled mess?  Already late for work, you reach into your jewelry box to grab the perfect necklace for your outfit and you pull out a wad of silver and gold the size of a tennis ball…nice!  I know the feeling, so I have found a few ways to help us all with that problem.

If you don’t own a lot of jewelry, a traditional jewelry box with compartments will suffice.  Another alternative is a set of stackable trays from the Container Store.  These are great if you have extra space in a bathroom drawer or even on an open closet shelf!

Tackle boxes and divided craft boxes are excellent for storing rings and earings.  They are great for dorm rooms or for those of us who travel a great deal.  The dollar stores have small ones with secure tops for easy storage and are great for travel. An even better idea is to use a daily pill container for travel!  Another great Dollar store find for jewelry is an ice-cube tray…I know…great idea!  You can color coordinate your sets of rings and earings this way and stack them for easy storage.

 So, now that we have dealt with the practical side of storing our fashionable flair (not to be confused with the Benningan’s flair in the film Office Space)…how can we get creative with our displays of jewels?  Well, you start with a sheet of mesh wire you can find at your local hardware or craft store and then look for an interesting frame from a yard sale or even your attic.  Use a staple gun to adhere the mesh to the back of the frame and within minutes you have a decorative jewelry storage solution to hang on your bedroom, bathroom or closet wall.

Necklaces, bracelets and watches can be a challenge to store, but when you think creatively why not display them?  If you have bare walls in your room, you might want to consider a non-traditional form of art!

Remember, Jewelry takes people’s mind off your wrinkles.  Quote by Sonja Henie