Tuesday, July 29, 2014

0 Renter Friendly Organizing Tips

Although I haven't lived in a rental for many years now, I am often asked about organizing and storage solutions that are rental friendly.  Some of you have been long time apartment dwellers, military families, have decided to downsize or are living within a rental property temporarily, and need tips that don't require built-ins and installing wall storage.  You need solutions that are versatile, inexpensive and can transition from place to place.

Many of these tips can be used in any small space, apartment or not, but they also take into consideration that no drilling or hammering can take place.  Here are my top room by room tips.

In The Entryway

  • Utilize a tall bookcase as a temporary closet.  With adjustable shelving, boots and shoes are able to be stored below while a few hooks above offer hanging storage.  Add in craft drawers for hats, mittens and mail as well as a small tray to collect daily personal necessities.
  • Credenzas also make great entryway storage with the ability to conceal footwear below while adding a lamp and tray creates a drop zone above. 
  • Pop a small storage ottoman near the entry to act as a place to sit while putting on shoes, as well as providing a place to conceal outerwear clutter.
  • If your entry door is made from steel, consider magnetic hooks which can be attached to the back of the door for hanging outwear, umbrellas and totes.

In The Living Room

  • Although we are not renters, our DIY "built in" bookcases are renter friendly!  They hold everything for our family/living room such as electronic components, board games, family photos and mementos, books and craft supplies for the boys.  They consist of a series of bookcases pieced together and have been a major storage win!
  • Conceal media and memorabilia within decorative boxes to reduce visual clutter.
  • In a rental, storage ottomans will be your best friend in almost any space.  In the living room, utilize them to store video game controllers, games or toys for the littles.
  • Collapsible television trays work well as sofa end tables because they can also double as a place to dine or work.

In The Kitchen

  • Add a stand-in wire shelving or a rolling cart to hold small appliances, cookbooks, bulky cookware and bake-ware as well as serving dishes and barware.
  • Command Strips are a renter's best friend in almost any space.  Not only are they perfect for holding measuring cups, bibs and utensils on the insides of cabinets, they also work well to hold small baskets and tension rods which allow you to get really creative with cabinet storage.  They also rock for getting utensils and cookware off of the limited counter space and up on the walls.
  • Utilize over the door pockets and organizers for additional food and pantry storage.
  • Maximize cabinet storage by adding in wire shelf inserts and shelf baskets, which allow items to be stacked without becoming cumbersome to take out and put away.
  • Stackable bins and baskets used within cabinets for dry food packaging and the fridge for yogurts and snacks will maximize any vertical space.

In The Bathroom

  • Take advantage of the cabinet doors by adding over-the-door baskets to hold hair tools and cleaning supplies.
  • Most vanity cabinets do not come with built-in shelving {I always question this but suppose it is to accommodate plumbing}, so make the most of the vertical area with open faced stackable baskets.  They are ideal for toiletries, linens and paper products.
  • Consider utilizing a narrow bookcase to act as a stand in linen closet.  Baskets can be added to corral daily essentials while towels and linens can stack on the open shelving.
  • Use the space behind the toilet by adding in a narrow bathroom etagere which will allow you to keep your oral care products tucked away behind closed doors.  Within the cabinet, utilize small stacking shelves and Command bins to hold smaller cosmetics and toiletries.
  • Add over the door organizers and hooks to hold towels and linens.  If floor space is so limited that no cabinet space is available, stock a tote with daily toiletries and hair tools and hang on a hook behind the door.

In The Laundry Room

  • Many rentals are not equipped with a washer and dryer within the unit, so laundry organization can become even more tricky.  Stock a caddy with daily laundering essentials such as detergent, dryer sheets, stain remover and lint brushes, which you can "grab and go" on laundry day.  Diaper, cleaning or shower caddies all work well for this purpose.
  • Use laundry sacks hung on the back of the door to sort clothing.  Not only do the laundry sacks take up very little space {and no floor space}, they are easy to transport to the washer.
  • Invest in a small, collapsible drying rack which is light weight enough to hang on the back of the bathroom door with some Command Hooks, and can be placed in the shower to dry daily delicate items.
  • If the rental does contain a washer/dryer, narrow rolling carts are a great solution for storing daily laundry care items.
  • As with all rooms and closets in the home, take advantage of doors to add over-the-door storage.

In The Bedroom

  • I have always boasted about creating custom closet solutions, and many think that this cannot be done in a rental.  But it can!  I am a GIANT fan of the Closetmaid Selections pieces sold at most home improvement stores, because they stack and mix and match to meet your individual storage needs.  In a variety of sizes, they offer shoe racks, drawers and cubbies which can be paired with a variety of bins and baskets.  Definitely a smart way to maximize bedroom storage without having to install a high end closet.
  • Use a storage ottoman at the end of the bed to act as a bench while getting ready each day as well as storage for oversized bedding and linens.
  • Add risers to your bed frame to allow for underbed storage containers or drawers.  These drawers are fantastic for holding off-season clothing, exercise equipment and all of your other miscellaneous possessions that need a tucked away place to call home.
  • Consider adding a small desk to act as a makeup vanity, which can house your daily beauty supplies and free up space in the bath.
  • Don't forget the back of the door to add hooks, Command Caddies and shoe pockets, which work wonders for storing accessories, shoes and handbags.

OK friends, surely I have forgotten a thing or two since I haven't lived in an apartment for 13 years now, so help a gal out.  What else do you have to add that has been a small space life saver?  

Friday, July 25, 2014

29 Garage Update: Outdoor Toy Organization

This has been one of those projects that seems to drag on FOREVER.  I was looking up old posts and we started finishing our walls back in August of 2012 when we installed our sports station!  That is almost two years now that we have had a stack of beadboard paneling waiting to be installed on our walls and trimmed out.  Well, one wall is finally done!  I guess waiting two years makes the celebration process that much sweeter.

You can catch up on our garage story and progress here.  Long story short, the entire space is getting brand-spankin' new storage so that it is simple to maintain.  We built in boatloads of overhead storage which I will share when I finish painting it up.  That will get a lot of the larger items up and off the floor and tucked away out of sight.  All we want left out on the walls is the items we use daily, such as lawn toys / games, sports equipment and bikes.

As soon as hubby finished caulking up the last hole in the beadboard, I couldn't wait to get to work on the newly empty corner of our garage.  The corner previously held our gardening supplies, but we actually put our garden shed to use, and that left this corner as the ideal location for outdoor toys.  In fact, it is right near the opening of the garage, making it super simple for the boy's and their pals to access everything they need for a day of outdoor play.

After we had ripped out our previous walk-in closet a few years ago, we saved a few pieces of the track shelving system (which I believe was purchased at Menards back in the day).  It was the perfect solution for this nook, as it is durable and the open shelves prevent too much dust build up.  I also love that they are adjustable to allow us to customize each shelf to our needs.

Installation is simple and only requires locating the studs in the wall using a level to make sure the top rail is installed correctly.  It went up in a jif!

You may recall that in the chaos of the garage, I had dumped their items onto the front porch.  Then we cleaned that up and moved them to the backyard until storage day.  

Before filling up the shelves with all of the boy's belongings, I took inventory of everything and gathered bins and baskets from around the garage and home.  I began sorting everything down by type, and made a list of the labels that I needed to create.

For any bin or basket with a flat surface, I cut word labels with my Silhouette die cutting machine.  For everything else, I painted up some unfinished wooden tags, and affixed the vinyl lettering to those.  In typical Jen fashion, I went a little label crazy. 

My entire thought process was sticking with what has worked well for us in the past.  I break the toys down by type and put everything into portable bins.  This allows the boys to grab a bin to take out to the yard and easily return the bins and contents to the shelf when they are done. 

For outdoor storage, I always select finishes which are weather friendly.  Galvanized steel, plastic and outdoor rattan were all used for this project.  That way if anything is left in the rain, no worries.  These finishes also make for easy dusting and cleaning.

The teal and green plastic totes were purchased at the dollar store and are lightweight and portable, which is perfect for quick trips to the park.

The green metal pails are my favorite.  They are from IKEA and remind me of the adorable versions from PB Kids. 

For all of the random sized balls that are used for impromptu neighborhood dodge ball matches and kickball games, I found an oversized wire basket from Target.

Bike gear remained in a bin we were using previously in another area of the garage.  It just received a sweet new label.

Squirt guns, life jackets and other water gear is in a portable plastic tote which is ideal for day trips to the beach.  Didn't those labels turn out darling?  Happy sigh....

There is a step stool nearby for the boys should they need anything higher, and for the items we didn't want little hands to reach, they we placed in bins on the top shelf.

Sometimes it is the quick and easy projects that really motivate us to continue on with the less fun items; like installing the rest of the beadboard and trim and finishing up the painting of the overhead cabinets.  But oh the difference the beadboard walls are making to the entire garage.  It is like ten windows were installed with how open, clean and bright it feels.  And we also have plans to update the lighting, build a new step and paint the doors.  One day at a time my friends, one day at a time...

I couldn't even finish getting everything in bins and on the shelves before half the neighborhood kiddos were down grabbing things and playing in the yard with the boys.  I love that leaving everything out and easy to access really promotes instant play.  A total summer saver for sure!

Sandbox toys are stored in our outdoor bench in the backyard, you can check that out here.
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