Bye-Bye Junk Drawers, Piles and Mishmash. Hello Organized!

 

For Mail—Only Touch Paper Once

 

File or toss each piece immediately to prevent a pileup. Then go a step further and minimize incoming junk: Search your Web browser or app store using the term “stop junk mail” and you’ll get ideas for how to do just that.

 

 

 

Take It One Day at a Time

 

You didn’t become disorganized overnight, so cut yourself some slack on getting things in order. Tackle one task each day—either sorting through the junk drawer or cleaning out your medicine cabinet—until you’re done.

 

 

 

Put Loose Photos in Special Boxes

 

Even in this digital world, chances are you have printed snapshots kicking around somewhere. The memories are precious, so house them in a special place, like in colorful photo boxes that you label by event or date. When they’re easy to grab, you’ll look through and enjoy them more often.

 

 

Bring on the Baskets

 

A colorful basket can play double duty as part of your décor and as a useful place to stash TV remotes, chargers and small toys that don’t have a home. Just be sure you don’t throw it all into one basket.

 

 

Apply Aromatherapy

 

After you organize a drawer or closet, stash a scented dryer sheet in each space. Every time you open the drawer or door, you’ll get a hint of freshness, which will motivate you to keep chaos at bay.

 

 

Give Your Closet a Makeover

Do the glossy photos of super-organized closets in decorating magazines make you long for some order in your own home? Surprisingly, it’s not that difficult to transform a messy closet into a picture-perfect—and functional—space. These closet organization tips make it easy. Hint: The less stuff you have, the simpler it is to organize.

Pare down your collection. Start by removing everything from your closet and making three piles—keep, donate, and toss. The toss pile is for anything that’s damaged or too worn out to pass on to a charitable group. Be ruthless in your editing. If you haven’t worn something in over a year, donate or toss.

Do a spot check. When you know what you’re keeping, inspect each garment carefully under a bright light for any stains. If it’s clean, it can go back in the closet. If there’s a stain—and the garment’s safe to launder—remove the spill with a liquid detergent.

Create some order. Sort the items you’re keeping by category (short-sleeve blouses, long-sleeve button-downs, sundresses, pants, skirts, etc.), then by color. Invest in slim hangers covered in a nonslip fabric. Cramming your clothing in the closet prevents air from circulating and can lead to wrinkling. And don’t hang your sweaters, which can lose their shape; stack them by color or texture on shelves, keeping the stacks eight to 10 inches high to prevent toppling. Consider investing in a shoe rack too.

Accessorize. Whether you’ve got a walk-in wonderland or barely enough room for a second clothing bar, your closet is one of the most important “rooms” in your house. So have some fun with it! Paint the interior a bright color or add wallpaper to the back wall. Attach decorative hooks for hanging belts, fabric bins for storing scarves, and powder-coated handbag divider bars for keeping purses in order. If you have room, add a boldly printed throw rug or a hang a cork “inspiration” board for displaying photos of outfits you love. You’ll smile every time you open the door. 

5 Easy DIY Centerpieces

Your centerpiece is often the first thing your guests notice about your table. Have fun experimenting with color, theme and found objects to create fun, eye-catching displays.

Flower power. A single bouquet was once the go-to dinner table fixture. For a more modern look, line up a row of smaller vases down the center of the table and place a few blooms in each. Pay attention to the height of each arrangement to be sure guests can easily see each other across the table.

Sweet tooth. Why should kids have all the fun? Visit a sweet shop and fill clear-glass jars with old-fashioned favorites such as rock candy and big, swirly lollipops. Even peppermints, foil-wrapped chocolates, and other grocery-store staples can be playful choices. An extra perk: Your centerpiece doubles as dessert!

Collectibles on parade. Whether you collect salt-and-pepper shakers, toy soldiers, or miniature baskets, a tabletop cluster of your cherished possessions is sure to be a hit. Stagger the height of the pieces by placing some on a cake stand or a trivet and others directly on the table.

Fanciful fruit. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most eye-catching, like towers of fruit in a big glass bowl or clear vase. Choose a single color scheme that coordinates with your table linens, like only green apples or only lemons. If you use artificial fruit, boost the fragrance factor by placing a fruit-scented dryer sheet at the bottom of your bowl or vase before piling fruit on top. 

Shore thing. Hosting a summer get-together? Place a row of outdoor lanterns or hurricane lamps down the center of the table and then arrange seashells, beach glass, dried sea stars, or decorative river rocks around the base of each.

Before you start, coordinate. Crisp white linens complement any arrangement, but why not choose a fun color or pattern to liven up the table even more? 

5 Chores You Must Do Every Month

If you have a plan, conquering pesky household tasks that often get overlooked can be fast and simple.  Here's what you need to do.

Recharge a sluggish showerhead: 5 minutes. To rid mineral buildup, unscrew the showerhead and quickly wipe off loose debris with a scrubber sponge. Then, using a large zip-top bag, submerge the head in a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water. Leave it to soak and move on with your chore list.

Unclog and deodorize the kitchen sink: 3 minutes. Pour a half cup of baking soda, then a half cup of white vinegar, down the drain. Set a timer for 2 minutes. (While you’re waiting for the timer to go off, move on to the next step.) When the timer stops, return to the sink and rinse hot tap water down the drain.

Tidy the dryer vent: 3 minutes. Sweep lint from the lint trap, and clean the vent under the trap with a vacuum hose attachment or a skinny brush made for dryer vents.

Clear cobwebs: 5 minutes. Use a duster with a handle that extends for high ceilings. 

Finish what you started: 4 minutes. Flush the kitchen sink drain with cold water, then head back to the bathroom and replace that showerhead. Run clean water through it to flush debris—and you’re good to go in 20 flat.

 

Merry and Bright—and Energy Efficient

 

 

Turn down the heat and turn up the revelry

 

More bodies mean more natural warmth, so turn down that thermostat when you have guests! Also, make sure you seal and insulate your home’s air ducts, as the process can improve your system’s heating and cooling efficiency by 20%.

 

 

Wash clothes in cold water:

 

Family + parties + overnight guests = a whole lot of laundry. While you may not be able to spare the chore of handling those extra loads, you can spare yourself the high-energy bill. When you switch loads from your normal warm water wash to cold water, you will use as much as 80% less energy if you use a standard top loading machine. Just make sure you use a detergent designed specifically for washing in lower temperatures. 

 

 

Use low-watt or energy-efficient LED lights:

 

Light-emitting diode, or LED, lighting uses as much as 75% less energy than incandescent lighting and lasts 35 to 50 times longer. While a strand of LED bulbs may be a bit more expensive than regular bulbs, you’ll end up saving energy and money in the long run.

 

 

No peeking!

 

Resist the urge to open the oven door for a quick look at that juicy turkey or holiday ham and turn the oven light on for a glance instead. Opening the door for even a few seconds can lower oven temperature by as much as 25 degrees—increasing cooking time and wasting energy. 

 

 

Save water while cleaning up.

 

Washing dishes by hand can actually use more water than a dishwasher would. However, if you fill up wash-and-rinse basins instead of letting water run, you’ll use half as much water as a dishwasher. If you do use the machine, make sure you wash only full loads, and pre-rinse plates with cold water, not hot.