Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that periodically we do a segment called, “Ask an Organizer.” It is so fun for us to see your spaces and offer tips for how to improve your systems.
We have gotten so many great questions from followers recently that I wanted to dedicate an entire blog post to answering some of them.
Q: How do I store large toys?
A: If you’d like to store them out of sight, keeping them on a shelf in a closet in or near the play area is a great option. If you don’t have that sort of hidden storage, create some with large toy hampers or rope baskets. Alternatively, we often like to display large toys on top of cubby units.
For long term storage, use large totes. For the largest toys, wrap them in moving wrap or a large plastic bag to keep them clean. Use the vertical space in your garage or basement – shelving units or rafter storage systems work well if you won’t be using them again anytime soon.
Q: How do I set up a toy rotation system?
A: You’ll need a separate storage space from your play area for the “out of rotation” toys. Keep a lidded, labeled bin there. It’s the only time I don’t suggest using a clear bin. It’s better if kids can’t see what’s inside the toy rotation bin so they aren’t tempted to get into it!
For seasonal books, dvd’s, music, and toys, I like to add them to the same bins where I store my seasonal decor. That way they only come out once a year and your kids will be so excited to play with them.
Make a plan for how often you will swap out the toys. Quarterly is a good place to start. The key is to set reminders for yourself! Jot it down in your planner or put it on your family calendar.
Q: How do I store sets with small parts (like Barbies and their accessories)?
A: Good news! There are so many options for keeping these items together:
- Keep them together in mesh bags. Label the bags and store them together in a bin. (This works so well for games and puzzles, too!)
- Use simple shoe box containers to store sets. The stack very well!
- Use drawer dividers to separate small accessories.
- Use drop in organizers in a three-tiered cart.
- Open baskets work well on shelves. And no lid means kids are more likely to put them away!
Q: How can I pare down kids’ stuff (clothes, toys, stuffies, etc.)?
A: This is a tough one. Kids can be very hesitant to get rid of their favorite things, even once they’ve outgrown them. It’s nice to involve them in the process if you can. Emphasize how the items are going to another family where they will be used more frequently and talk about new plans for all the space you’ll get back. If they are still struggling, make a plan to set the items aside for one month (in a basement or in a closet are good options). If they really miss an item, they can have it back at the end of the waiting period. Those that they didn’t miss can be donated.
I’ll also add here an important reminder that you should not feel guilty for passing on an item just because it was a gift or expensive.
Q: How do I organize a pantry cabinet with deep, pull-out shelves?
A: For any deep space, bins are your friend! Fill the space from left to right with as many bins as will fit. Go shopping with your measurements handy. Get the deepest bins you can to take advantage of the depth. Keep in mind that the space may be best filled by putting two bins together if you have an especially deep pantry. This works best with the lower shelves. On upper shelves, use clear bins or lazy susans so you can see what you have and easily access it. Or you can have larger baskets of backstock, since you won’t need to access that as often.
Organizer Sarah recently did a pantry with this same set up. You can see her solutions here.
Q: How do organize a brand new kitchen?
A: Read all about kitchen organization in this blog post.
For a brand new kitchen that you’re not used to yet, I recommend getting everything set up on a temporary basis before adding any space-specific containers and fancy labels. Use painter’s tape to label everything so you know where to find things, and so you can add to bins as you unpack. After a couple of weeks, once you know the layout you’ve chosen will work for you and purchased any extra bins or containers that you need, then take the time to label with your label maker.
Q: What is the best way to set up a drawer freezer?
A: Subdivide the space. Use large bins (measure to maximize the space) to create smaller compartments for like items. Some categories we regularly use are: breakfast, vegetables, dinners, desserts, bread and sides. Our favorite freezer bins are the very inexpensive multi-purpose bin from The Container Store. The medium and large sizes work best.
Q: What are the best tips for organizing on a budget?
- Product-less organizing techniques can go a long way. One example of this is arranging things by color. This simple swap will make books, clothes, and toys look more organized.
- Take advantage of sales when you are buying containers, and remember that while there are different tiers of product, even the most simple can still transform a space. Our favorite bins with handles from the container store are a great, low cost option, that still look very nice, especially with a simple black and white label. Plastic shoe boxes are another cost effective storage solution.
- Get rid of stuff! You’ll be surprised how much more organized you’ll feel by just owning less!
Q: What are the best multi-purpose organization products?
A: The answer to this one is in the question! One of our go-to products, that we use everywhere from the garage to under the sink, is the multi-purpose bin from The Container Store. It comes in a variety of sizes and colors and is budget-friendly, making it a winner in so many spaces.
Another favorite is the men’s shoe box. Use it to store back stock medications and makeup, toy collections, small appliance accessories, laundry supplies – the list goes on!
Q: I live in a small home in the city, how do I maximize the space?
A: In any small space, editing down your belongings to only what you really need is a great place to start. The next step is to take advantage of every inch of your closets, even the doors! Use that vertical space.
For more specific tips, read this Project Feature and this blog on Dorm Organization. Both are full of great advice for maximizing small spaces!
If you have more questions about a problem space in your home, keep an eye on Instagram. Question boxes go up periodically in stories, so tap through to keep up with our projects and to get more tips and tricks.
If you fee like you need a complete overhaul of a space in your home, my team would love to help! Reach out to set up a free consultation and we’ll get you on the schedule!
Each of my career choices-wedding coordinator, event planner, and teacher — gave me the creative freedom to organize everyone and everything. I have always thrived on to-do lists, planners, and systems! Now, I lead a team of organizers to help me on my mission. Read more…