Monday, August 15, 2011

How to Collect Things in a Basket

Baskets are very useful organizing tools. You can hide a lot of things in them. You can free throw doo-dads into them. You can use them as the miscellaneous files. You can even move them into another room to hide them from guests.

In the basic principles of organizing, baskets are containers. And containers are meant to be filled with things that you want to keep together because they belong together. No mish-mash. No miscellany. No maybe here now and somewhere better later.

Your baskets should be just big enough to hold the items you want to store. Any bigger and they will attract stray stuff. Any smaller and they will overflow. But what if you want to store more than one kind of thing in that basket? Compartmentalize! Divide up the basket into sections.

Add tea tins, jam jars or recyclables of any sort into the basket to divide the bigger basket into smaller groups of like items. One of my clients applied that very concept to her basket of office supplies in her craft room.

Basket of office supplies divided up into organized sections
The smaller compartments within her larger basket keep her office supplies neatly grouped in small, functional sets. Her jumble of supplies is magically unjumbled.

Now, go find one of your boxes, baskets or drawers and then divide and subdivide and then divide again. It's all about creating the right-size containers for the right-size groups.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ne'er a Lazy Day of Summer

For not having planned a holiday this summer, the fact that we had such a non-stop summer away from home has been a surprise. Just two weeks after school let out, my daughter went to Australia for two weeks with 45 other kids in the sixth- and seventh-grade Arizona delegation.

For every day of those two weeks, I was wracked with mom-guilt for sending my 10-year old on a 32-hour return trip to another continent. I worried every single day that we hadn't given her enough money, that we hadn't given her any easy way to call home in case she needed to talk, that we hadn't packed enough options for clothes in her suitcase, that we hadn't given her enough to do on the excruciatingly long airplane rides, that she would run out of memory space on the three camera cards we sent along, and, the worst of the evils, that she would get homesick. Instead, only the dreaded lack of camera memory card space struck, and the thoroughly deprived kid was forced to pare down her pics to make more space. My kid had a blast on her Aussie adventure, as did the rest of the delegation. And it's all 'Australia this' and 'Australia that' around our house now.

Just in case Australia wasn't enough with the one kid, my family logged about 2,000 road miles across Arizona and California between the beginning of July and now. We just yesterday got home from a week spent with my family at a cabin in the Sierra Nevada foothills in eastern California. Our various road travels in the past month have taken us to San Diego, Tuscon, Lake Powell, Oracle, San Diego (again), Anaheim and Arnold, in that order. Ventura is still to come over Labor Day.

School will begin again in a few days, and we are all begging for the return of more familiar routines. Early bed times, alarm clocks, homework, dance lessons, karate lessons and soccer practice will restore regularity and bring a close to our crazy-busy summer. If only the Arizona summer heat would also subside.

In between trips hither and thither, I have worked on organizing more sewing rooms and general household spaces. In the latest redo, we gave Laura's sewing loft some new vertical storage, a long-overdue sorting and a more cohesive design theme.

One side of the loft began with a folding table stacked with books and a movable black hutch recycled from an old desk. The hutch was about to fall sideways, the pattern books and magazines were not visible and the underside was crowded with assorted boxes of fabric.

The solution was to purchase a new bookcase so that Laura could display all of her books together, to join up the fabric in the boxes with the rest of the fabric stash and to sort through all of the patterns and project instructions to remove those that had lost their appeal over time.

Swapping the marble-topped sideboard from another area of the room with the relocated fabric boxes let Laura make the best use of the wall space beneath the air vent. The bookshelves are filled with Laura's quilting books and binders of sorted patterns and ideas. The overall look is far more cohesive and reflects Laura's penchant for antiques.

About 36 hours of work later (a little bit of me and a lot of Laura and her friend Kathy), and this photo above was the prize. When we showed these before and after pictures to her guild, they could hardly believe it was the same space. And this was just one wall in her newly organized sewing loft. Nice work, Laura! May the rest of your summer days be lazy.