7 Mistakes You’re Probably Making When Storing Your Holiday Decorations

Christmas

istock/Willowpix

It’s all fun and spiked eggnog when it’s time to decorate for Christmas. But after the holiday is over you’ll probably hear crickets instead of clamors to help with the twinkle lights and wreaths.

Yes, the post-Christmas haze is exhausting. And the only thing you may feel like doing is tossing every ornament into a giant bag—and then stuffing it in the nearest closet. Unfortunately, doing this will guarantee you a load of frustration come next year

Take heart: Even home professionals can’t stand the thought of organizing their baubles.

“Honestly, it took a busted pipe in my basement for me to get my act together and store things in a reasonable manner,” admits Karen Gray-Plaisted of Design Solutions KGP, a home staging and decorating company.

Don’t let your holiday finery become a hot mess! Here are seven mistakes to avoid when taking down and storing decorations.

1. Working solo

Like folding king-size sheets, storing holiday decorations with a partner makes things much easier, says Darla DeMorrow, author of “Organize Your Home With Sort and Succeed.”

“Having someone to help with carting the storage boxes up and down can shorten the process,” she says.

And who knows, she adds, you might uncover some things that will make you more efficient next year—like that one of you doesn’t mind schlepping boxes, while the other likes the tedium of packing things in bubble wrap.

2. Not properly protecting your decorations

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Pack up your decorations properly.skhoward/IStock

And speaking of bubble wrap, don’t gloss over this step.

“Not taking the time to protect delicate items is a big mistake when it comes to putting away holiday decor,” says Jamie Novak, author of “Keep This Toss That.”

It’s normal to want to rush through this tedious job so you can be done with it, but moving too quickly will just result in breakage.

3. Forgetting to cull (and donate) your decorations

If you didn’t put it up this year, what are the chances you’ll do it next year?

“Anything that’s in disrepair or out of favor I toss,” Gray-Plaisted says.

After all, it’s a good excuse to shop the after-Christmas sales—where you’re sure to find new items that you’ll actually want to display next year. And on that note, make sure to save room in storage for anything you might buy.

“You will get more, so don’t pack your bins all the way to the top,” Novak says.

Before you toss your purged decorations in the trash, though, consider donating them. Shelters, public libraries, health care centers, and other nonprofits might welcome the chance to give your used decorations a second life.

4. Tossing decorations in willy-nilly

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Don’t throw stuff into storage without a clear plan.Susan Vineyard/iStock

If you have garland in four different boxes, you’ll never keep track of it from year to year. Instead, store like with like.

“Put items to decorate the outside together, and place soft goods in their own bin, such as tablecloths, stockings, runners, and napkins,” Gray-Plaisted suggests.

And be sure to pack up the pieces, parts, and written directions for each item together.

“You think you’ll remember how to set up the tree, but you won’t,” Novak cautions.

5. Labeling your decorations vaguely

On a related note, once you’ve packed things together, get out that magic marker. Sure, you’ll write “lights” on the box of lights, but try to be more specific when it comes to labeling your containers. Are the lights for the mantel, mailbox, Christmas tree, or something in the yard?

Novak also recommends labeling boxes as “X out of X” (e.g., “5 out of 7”). If you do this, you won’t miss out on a box or search for one that doesn’t exist.

6. Cheaping out on organizational supplies

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Plastic storage bins filled with decorations for various holidaysChris_Soucy/iStock

Stop yourself before reaching for those brown paper bags!

“Make this the year to invest in sturdy containers for all your ornaments,” Gray-Plaisted urges.

“They may seem pricey, but good ones can last the rest of your life,” DeMorrow adds.

And as long as you’re splurging, opt for red and green containers that are easy to spot in a garage or storage space.

7. Not keeping notes

As you put things away, make notes on what needs replacing or items you need to add your collection (e.g., broken lights, stained cocktail napkins, or a bigger turkey platter for next year). With a detailed list, you can strategically hit those half-price sales in January and fill in the holes for next year.

Posted by Jennifer Geddes on realtor.com

 

Tiny Home Traits: 5 Features Every Small Space Needs

Live more comfortably and efficiently in any size dwelling with these clever tips.

Tiny homes appeal to many people, whether as a solution to surging rents or because of the freedom they can lend your lifestyle. But if you decide living in 400 square feet (or less) is for you, how do you actually make it work?

Here are five features that help make tiny homes functional — and even comfortable.

1. A bed on the main level

Although most tiny homes have lofted beds for obvious space-saving reasons, it’s a good idea to also have somewhere to sleep on the main level for guests, or if you can’t make it up the stairs due to an injury, notes Dee Williams, author of “The Big Tiny” and founder of Portland Alternative Dwellings.

One of the easiest and most efficient ways to put a bed in the main living area is to purchase a couch that converts to a bed.

2. A ton of natural light

Many tiny homes are restricted to an 8.5-foot width and 13.5-foot height due to federal and state highway rules on transporting structures. (Although you can build a tiny home on a foundation, many tiny home owners choose to place theirs in backyards or even in RV parks, which means the home will need to be moved once it has been built.)

Because of this limited amount of space, the more natural light, the better. “Using windows or different wall finishes can make a space feel a lot bigger,” explains Derin Williams, builder and designer for Shelter Wise, a design-build firm based in Portland, OR.

3. Creative storage solutions

If you are living (or planning to live) tiny, then a large majority of your items will most likely need to be recycled, given away or tossed. However, the items you still have will need a space, which can be a challenge in less than 400 square feet.

Simple solutions like hanging up your pots and pans instead of storing them in drawers, or keeping extra blankets and pillows in an ottoman or trunk, are good space savers.

When building your tiny home, consult with your builder, as there are tons of creative ways to make space for your items. “Many people have collapsible or hidden drawers in their tiny homes,” notes Dee. “A lot of builders are now also putting drawers in the toe-kick area, which is an awesome additional use of space.”

4. Multipurpose areas

In a tiny home, every area has to be flexible in how it is used. A kitchen will not be your kitchen all the time in your tiny home, because it could be your office, dining room and maybe even your closet at any point in the day.

Because each room has to be multipurpose, it’s important to have furniture that reflects these uses. “If you have a table for eating, make that space multifunctional,” says Derin. “Remove the table, and then you’ll have a lounge area. Drop down the table and make it a bed.”

5. Multi-use appliances

Many of us are familiar with the stackable washer and dryer, and maybe some even have experience with combination washer/dryers, but the popularity of tiny homes has given rise to appliance innovation.

“GE and other manufacturers are leaning toward developing smaller appliances for tiny homes, studios and mother-in-law suites,” says Dee. “The idea is that you could have a whole kitchen setup — kitchen sink, range, dishwasher — all built into one set.”

Although these products may not be widely available at every major appliance store, it could be something to look into if you are serious about moving into a tiny home.

All photos courtesy of PAD Tiny Houses. The home shown is the Hikari Box Tiny House, designed by Shelter Wise. Plans for this home are available from PAD Tiny Houses.

Originally published April 1, 2016.

Posted by Jamie Birdwell-Barnson on Zillow

Get Your Rainboots Ready: The Makings of a Mudroom

As the main staging area for arrivals and departures, the mudroom is a much relied-upon space in the home. If your floor plan doesn’t include a mudroom, you can create one by screening or walling in a section of an existing room, by finishing an attached porch or by building a small addition. However you go about it, once you have a mudroom, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without one!

Location

Whether you start from scratch or convert an existing room — or part of it — into a mudroom, choose a location that is frequently used by your family to get in and out of the house. Kitchens or pantries with entry doors to the exterior are ideally suited to incorporate a mudroom. Garages are also excellent candidates. Utility or laundry rooms with an outside entrance make good mudrooms as well — you can wash and dry your wet, dirty clothes on the spot! The same is true of basements that are equipped with plumbing and have entry doors to the exterior.

Flooring

Because the main function of a mudroom is to keep mud and snow away from the rest of the house, you shouldn’t have to worry about getting the floor dirty — there will be plenty of dirt. So, you’ll need to select durable flooring that is easy to clean.

Tile makes hard-wearing and decorative floors but for safety reasons, choose nonslip styles. Vinyl tile and linoleum flooring is durable and washable too, but make sure the color and pattern you pick will hide dirt and stains easily. Another good option is concrete. Its easy maintenance makes it perfect for mudroom floors, and when stained, colored or painted, it can be a very attractive flooring material.

Whatever you choose as your flooring surface, be sure to place fiber mats or absorbent rugs near the entryway to catch water and dirt before they get tracked through the house. It’s a good idea to install a boot scraper just outside the entrance to your mudroom, so dirt and mud won’t make it over the threshold.

If you have the budget and your home allows for it, consider installing a drain in the center of the room and angling the floor slightly so water and slushy, melting snow can drain away, and you can easily wash out the room as often as required. If it’s not practical to place a drain in the center of the room, consider putting it in a corner where you can set a mesh rack above it for wet boots and shoes. If a drain is not possible, a sturdy rubber mat with sidewalls should do the trick.

Extra storage

As any homeowner knows, you can never have enough storage; this is especially true in your mudroom. Because it’s the main pickup and drop-off spot in the house, the mudroom needs to accommodate coats, scarves, boots, cycling helmets and backpacks — thereby stopping these items from littering entryways, hallways and bedrooms.

One way to eliminate clutter is to install cabinets fitted with pegs, shelves and drawers. Assign a specific storage space to each family member. Make them all responsible for putting away their own coats, shoes and other items they use every day. If your budget allows, include upper cabinets in the plan. They’re great for stashing out-of-season items.

It’s also a good idea to include a storage bench in the mudroom. It’s not only convenient for removing wet shoes, but it also provides a space below where those shoes can be stowed. (And if the bench is sturdy enough, you can use it to reach those handy upper cabinets!) Again, if you are going to store your shoes in cubbyholes beneath the bench, use plastic trays or mats cut to size to make cleanup easier.

Quick exit & entry

Mudrooms can help create a hassle-free start to the day and a relaxing homecoming in the evening — if they’re well organized. As you’re planning, make sure there’s a place for everything. For example, set up decorative bowls or pegs for car keys and keep a notepad by the door for reminders, or even put up a cork board, whiteboard or chalkboard where family members can leave notes. Set up a charging station for your electronic devices (if your mudroom is heated) so that you won’t forget your phone in the morning. Use pegs or a vintage coat rack to hang dog leashes, shopping bags, and coats so they’re easy to grab quickly. One more practical addition: a mirror to ensure that you leave the house looking well turned out.

Warm welcome

Your guests, family members, and even pets will appreciate coming in from the freezing outdoors to a warm and cozy mudroom. To keep the space toasty, you may need to rely on a space heater or heat lamp (which can also help dry damp clothes), or you can connect the room to the home’s central heating or hardwire an electric baseboard system. If you have a pet, once the room is sufficiently heated, you could consider putting a pet bed in a corner and making the room your companion’s special retreat.

In addition to adequate heating, it’s essential to have proper ventilation in a mudroom to keep the air fresh (there are likely to be a lot of shoes here after all!) and to prevent the growth of mildew and mold. If there are no windows in the room that you can open for fresh air, a bathroom-type exhaust fan can do the trick.

Control room

For frequent travelers who worry about bedbugs or dedicated hikers who are concerned about ticks, the mudroom can be a great place to “decontaminate” when you return home. If you have a washer and dryer in the room, simply unpack or undress in the mudroom and start up a laundry cycle. (Keep some robes and slippers in the room to help with this process!) If your laundry facilities aren’t close by, keep plenty of heavy-duty plastic bags on hand to transport clothing from the mudroom to your laundry room.

One final selling point: If you suffer from allergies, a mudroom can be effective in minimizing the amount of outdoor allergens like dust, pollen and mold that enter the house on your clothing.

Cheerful decor

Even though it has the word “mud” in its name, your mudroom does not need to be drab. You can paint the walls in bright colors and use color-coded storage units and decorative baskets, making the room lively while still keeping things stored neatly and out of sight. Paint a wall with chalkboard paint, and you’ll also have attractive and useful means of keeping your busy family organized. Installing pendant or recessed lighting instead of fluorescent will make the room feel more like home than a storage area — and, after all, it’s both.

This article was originally published by Michael Franco of Bobvila.com on Zillow Blog. See the original article here.

Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at BobVila.com. His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.

5 Ways to Organize Your Bedroom

At the end of another long day, doesn’t everyone want — or even need — the bedroom to be a peaceful, relaxing refuge from the rest of the world? Let’s face it: Messes are stresses. If you’ve been too busy lately to organize your boudoir, devote time to DIY bedroom-storage projects this weekend.

No. 1: Cut corners

Corners get a bad rap. People assume they’re good for nothing. But in the case of DIY bedroom storage, corners become very valuable, if only because they are so often left empty. Consider filling yours with a wooden magazine holder, space-saving corner table or floating shelves.

No. 2: Create a walk-by closet

Some grumble over not having a walk-in closet, but others must suffer bedrooms with no closet space whatsoever. For those miserable unfortunates, there’s the option of creating a walk-by closet like the one pictured above. Here, California Closets has designed custom hanging and drawer space that complements a diagonal window.

No. 3: Use unusual storage

Source: Urban Chalet

Like skinning a cat, there is more than one way to store clothing. Consider adding drawers in unexpected places like bunk-bed stairs. Surprisingly, vintage suitcases also lend themselves to DIY bedroom-storage solutions that are at once decorative and effective.

No. 4: Organize wall hangings

Source: Willey Design LLC

Source: Willey Design LLC

Cutting clutter plays a major role in successful DIY bedroom storage, so it’s time to finally hang that poster you bought at the museum gift shop last year. Wood-mounted artwork, clipboard displays, and picture frame collages stand out among countless gallery-wall projects.

No. 5: Install floating shelves

Source: Niche Interiors

Source: Niche Interiors

Especially in small bedrooms, bulky, standalone storage units hog what precious few square feet there are available. A space-saving alternative is to install floating shelves. You can achieve this sophisticated, modern look on Saturday morning, leaving the rest of your weekend free for browsing bookstores!

This article was originally published by Marisa Villarreal on Zillow Blog. See the original article here.