OK, well, I know organization isn't really decorating, now is it? But, let's face it, what good is all the effort to create a nice home when it's hidden behind the mess and the clutter? So in order to help us all prevail over the chaos, here are some great hints for putting everything in its place! (On a budget, of course!)
The number one way to reduce clutter and mess? Deal with things as they occur, don't save them for later! File the mail (or throw it away) as soon as it comes out of the mailbox! Don't step over a small mess thinking you'll do the whole room later. Get the idea?
File your paperwork. Make a file/correspondence box with file folders. I just covered a sturdy cardboard box with some contact paper, turned it on its side, and glued a piece of miniature picket fence (cut out of leftover foam core) onto the front to hold in the bills! You could save lightweight cardboard for dividers and make a "to pay" file and a "to keep" file and perhaps a school file for the kids, and whatever else fits your household!
Hide stuff! Yes, there are times when we don't want our living room to look like Disneyland! Floor length cloths on the end tables are a great place to shove a toy box or unusually shaped toys when not needed. If you have open shelving or a pantry area, consider sewing a gathered curtain panel to cover clutter. Install it with a spring-tension curtain rod, tie it on with ribbon, or try my favorite Velcro stick-on tabs!
Organize your kitchen logically, and not only will you reduce clutter, you'll save time and energy! Place items in cupboards near the area where you normally use them. For instance, put your spices near the stove, everyday dishes near the dishwasher, cutting board and knives near the sink. You get the idea! Use small boxes turned upside-down to make higher "shelves" in the back of your spice cabinet.
You don't have to buy expensive storage cubes for your kids' rooms! Covered boxes, sewn drawstring bags from extra material, even an old suitcase under the bed make good storage. A wall of simple metal-strip utility shelving (they sell it in white, as well) can accommodate a large amount of stuff, especially for the older kids, and is relatively cheap at home improvement stores. I save old baby-wipe containers to store crayons, hot wheels, and that endless supply of useless toys from the fast food joints! You can cover them with contact paper. Try labeling what goes where, even for the older kids, so there is no arguing about what "putting it away" really means!
Finally, attack one area at a time. Try to fit in a little re-organizing each day, and you'll be recognizing that creative décor you lost in the clutter again soon!
Kathleen Wilson is the author of Quick Decorating Ideas Under $20: The Budget Decorator's Bible and the editor of The Budget Decorator, a free ezine dedicated to the "budget impaired" home decorator! For more free projects visit her at TheBudgetDecorator.com.
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