Tag Archives: Cabinets

Organizing bathrooms

Dear Kathi,

My bathroom is small and very disorganized. We just moved in to this new condo and I would love to hear tips about streamlining and making sense of all of our stuff. To make matters more difficult, my husband and I share one sink.



You are fortunate to be able to start with empty drawers, medicine cabinet and under counter areas. If you already have put things in, pull them all out again.

You will need to toss old items that you will never use and sort the remaining. Throw out anything with an expired date and all perishables over one year old. Even toothpaste expires; the expiration date is on the crimp of the tube.

Sort all remaining items into like categories.
If you have an unreasonably large collection of lipsticks, nail polish or perfume, pare it down. Get rid of old colors and the excess that you will never use. Any amount over what you might be able to use in one year should go. Sort by item, category, and color. If you have duplicate or similar colors, unless it is your signature color, get rid of all but one. Replace each element of your streamlined collection as you use it up to conserve precious space in the meantime.

Keep your makeup all in one area, preferably in a container. The same for your husband’s shave crème and razor. Ceramic bowls are decorative, keep items from cluttering up the counter and expedite cleaning the counter top.

Attach a long magnet behind the door of your medicine cabinet to cleverly and neatly hold tweezers, clippers and other metal gadgets.
Consider installing a wire shelf by the sink to hold toiletries that you use every day, such as powders, sprays and creams. Hang a simple s-hook (found in any hardware store) by the side of the shelf to hold your hairdryer. Simply tie a knot in the hairdryer cord and pass it through the hook.

Use small plastic bins with drawers for under the bathroom sink. One drawer can be for lips, another for hair, and the third for eyes. Use whichever categories you need. Usually two plastic drawer units fit, with room in between and by the drain pipe for stand up items like shampoo bottles and suntan lotion.

If you don’t need two sets of little drawers, buy plastic stacking bins for the other side to contain like items with like. Use your imagination to find the proper containers to group all like items together.

No bathroom should be without some sort of shower caddy. The basic type is constructed of wire and hangs below the shower head. Whatever variety you choose, these caddies neatly hold your shampoos, soaps, shaving crèmes and lotions. Install a fog free mirror against the back wall for your husband. Look for a style that also holds his razor and shave crème.

If you have a large enough bathroom, buy a coat tree, or standing coat rack. Or install two or three attractive hooks on the back of the bathroom door. These are useful places to hang bathrobes and nighties as well as provide an extra hook for the occasional houseguest.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
San Diego Professional Organizer

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5 Tips for Creating More Space in Your Home Office

5 Tips for Creating More Space in Your Home Office

Working from a home office can have many conveniences. Being at home means that anything you need is just a few steps away. It also means that the space which other family members need may encroach on the office. Many people have the problem of having to work in a cramped home office. Here are a few ways to help create more space in the home office.

1. Clean and Organize

Cleaning the home office is the first step towards creating more space. This will not only clear some space to work with, but will also help to get an idea of the entire space and what can and cannot be moved.

Start by organizing papers, moving them into piles or placing them where they belong. Do not worry about throwing away the papers at this point, just make sure they are manageable and in some order.

Next, take time to gather wires and other electronic clutter. Use twist ties or tape, but try and make sure that there is no large tangle of wires behind the furniture. This will help if you have to move the furniture later and also just makes the room look nicer.

2. Assess Furniture

Once the home office is clean, it is now time to look at the furniture in the room. If there is a lack of space, this is the place to start making changes. Remove furniture that is not being used. Because it is a home office, furniture from other rooms in the home may have migrated into the space.

Now look at the furniture that is actually being used. Make sure that there is not a better configuration. See if printers can be placed underneath of a desk or on a shelf. See if things that are taking up desk space can be placed somewhere else.

Finally, if no helpful changes can be made, consider purchasing new furniture. Look for modular multi-purpose furniture. This refers to desks that have special cabinets for computers or surfaces that roll out. Wheeled storage containers can also help because they can be moved around as needed.

3. Use the Walls

Above the regular furniture there is usually a large area of wall that can be utilized. There may be pictures there or other decorations, but they can easily be turned into a massive amount of useful storage space.

The most obvious way is to install long shelving units. This is especially handy if there are a lot of reference books or other bound papers. The walls can also be used for specialized shelving units like a grid of small cubbies to hold sorted materials.

There are also narrow bookshelf-like installments that can be mounted to the wall to provide a sturdy surface for equipment or electronics.

4. Throw away unwanted things

Once the space in the home office starts to clear up, it is time to look at what to get rid of. First, consider throwing away unneeded documents. If there are simply too many documents that cannot be disposed of then it may be time to try scanning documents and storing them digitally and then shredding the originals.

Also look at getting rid of items that may be in the office because of indecision. This can include items such as computer accessories which do not really work but look too valuable to throw away. It is time to decide what to do. Either get it repaired or dispose of it.

Other items include any distracting decorations, broken furniture or storage containers that are unused and sitting empty.

5. Store things elsewhere

One advantage of a home office is that it is located in the home. This means that items which cannot be thrown away and are taking up too much space in the office can be stored somewhere else in the home. An attic or basement can be very useful for this purpose. Just make sure that the space where the items will be stored is safe from flooding, leaks or other conditions that could cause damage.

Once more space has been found in the home office the final step is to maintain the space. Do not let documents or mail build up into unmanageable piles. Keep them organized and throw away things that are not needed right away.

If after trying everything there still is not enough space, it may be time to consider buying smaller office equipment. Computers and printers have decreased dramatically in size in the last years. Monitors are also smaller and flatter than ever.

There are also instances where the scope of what is being done in a home office exceeds the capacity of the space. In a case such as this a second room in the home may need to be claimed as an office extension or, more likely, it may be time to look for a commercial office space to rent outside of the home.

Ready to get your home office organized? Click here to get a jump start!


Please note~ My guest author for this article is George Baker. George works with vacuum bags, so if you ever need to know anything about Numatic vacuum bags then he is the guy to ask.

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The Keys to Designing a Functional Kitchen

Functional Kitchen

Today, kitchens are the focal point of many homes and account for a fair percentage of the total square footage in any new home. Planning a kitchen for optimal workflow will enable you to get the most out of your space. What you do most in your kitchen will determine the focus, but there are a (more…)

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Top Ten Tips for Organizing Your Medicine Cabinet

Medicine Cabinet

Have you or someone in your family ever felt that “cold coming on,” late at night and all the medicine cabinet had was old, half-empty, probably expired medicine? Does the tiny area of the medicine cabinet seem like a hunt in a deep forest when looking for something in particular? Managing prescriptions, first aid, supplements, and cough medicine is important. Getting things organized can help you minimize the frustration of hunting for “those pills” or “that medicine.”

Here are ten medicine cabinet organization tips, in no particular order, that can help resolve some unhealthy chaos. (more…)

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Organizing kitchen

Dear Kathi,

I would like some tips on organizing my kitchen. I’ve just moved in and am basically starting with a clean slate. I can put my items anywhere you feel it makes sense. Are their any common guidelines I can use to decide where to store my spices and kitchen gadgets?

James, San Diego


Congratulations on your new space! You are really smart to plan where you will store things before you begin unpacking your kitchen items.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines the word “organize” as follows: To form into a coherent unity or functioning whole; to arrange by systematic planning and united effort. This sounds exactly like your intention!

Define the space you will use for each major kitchen task: Prep, Cook, and Cleanup. Assess the storage space available in and surrounding each area. The ideal kitchen will have enough cabinets and/or counter area to house the tools required for each task.
Position the spices/oils, pots/pans, and other cooking tools (spatulas, hotpads, etc) in the Cook Zone. You can find stacked Lazy Susans built specifically for spices that really optimize your cabinet space and keep spices within easy reach.

The Prep Zone, ideally located by the sink, should contain cutting boards, knives, vegetable scrubbers/ peelers, spatulas, spoons and mixing bowls. If counter space is an issue in this zone, donate your knife block and install a large magnet strip on the backboard above the cutting board.

The Cleanup Zone is fairly self-explanatory. It encompasses the sink and dishwasher as well as the garbage container. The Prep and Clean Zones are generally adjacent to each other and share the use of the sink and garbage.

If you have the option, your main Prep Zone should be on the side of the sink closest to your stove and oven with your Clean Zone on the side of the sink area that is directly above the dishwasher and away from the Cook Zone.

Dishes should be housed above the Clean Zone. Serving platters and bowls can be housed above the Prep Zone.

If possible, also create a breakfast area in your kitchen that contains the toaster, coffee/tea pots and mugs, honey, jams, fruit basket and assorted cereals.

The ultimate pantry will be located by or near the kitchen entrance. Your pantry can also be organized into different zones. Separate snacks, meals, beverages, condiments, paper goods, etc into their own spaces.

Stacked/tiered shelves work well for storing canned goods and extra condiments. Plastic or rubber covered wire shelves can now be found in almost every superstore.

When purchasing storage containers always buy square or rectangular shapes. They typically hold more volume and take up less space than their round counterparts. They stack neatly and store flush against each other.

Store extra tea bags, spice mixes, and baking packets in their own baskets or boxes without lids. Your packets will be neatly contained and easily accessed.

Consider the vertical space available between each shelf, in every cabinet. Typically, there is a major amount of unused space within each cabinet. Riser racks will double your square footage. Top shelves and coffee cup shelves usually benefit greatly with these riser shelves.

If you are lucky enough to have deep drawers in your kitchen, you have a marvelous space to store your plastic containers. Your containers will stay neat in a deep drawer and won’t fall out when you try to access them. Consider it serendipitous if this drawer also happens to be located in your Prep Zone!

If you have a second deep drawer, consider placing your pots, pans and lids in this one. If you are using a hanging rack for your cookware, store your lids in a drawer by the stove.
You have a clean slate, so enjoy your new creative ideas and have fun getting settled.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

San Diego Professional Organizer

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Garage organizing

Dear Kathi,

We are moving across country and will have a new three-car garage. We swear we won’t clutter it up this time, but I am already worried. What tips can you give me to break our garage dumping ground habit?

Ren, Business Owner


Plan ahead and make a list of the items that you need to store in your new garage. Items that are normally kept in garages include lawn equipment, holiday decorations, sports equipment, tools and excess household supplies bought in bulk. Do you have any additional items to store? Determine how many cabinets and shelves are currently in your new garage. Before you move in, use this time to build additional storage in your garage. Efficient garages feature a row of cabinets that line an entire wall, floor to ceiling. Open shelves on the wall closest to your home entrance will conveniently store household supplies bought in bulk. Holiday decorations should be grouped together and stored high and out of the way. Sports equipment should be low and easily accessible. To avoid future garage clutter follow this rule; items that no longer work or fit inside your home do not go to your garage. Do not pass go and take your excess furniture and old light fixtures directly to your favorite charity. If the item is too big for you to haul, call the charity and schedule a pick-up. The evening before the truck arrives, place the items in front of your house. Don’t put anything “temporarily” in your garage and you will be on your way to consistently parking cars in your new garage.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
San Diego Professional Organizer

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The Balcony that was used for Storage Space


This balcony was used as a catch-all for items that needed to be moved to other places within the house. It all began with the laundry. The family needed a central location to gather laundry and the ideal spot was on the balcony outside two of the bedrooms. This was a OK idea but, as we know, when items outgrow their space, clutter grows into more clutter!


The baskets being used did not provide enough space for all of the laundry as it landed there. Once the laundry began to overflow, other totally unrelated items began to gather there as well. Surprise! OK, not really…


We cleared away everything that was not laundry related and either donated it or moved it to other parts of the house. The kids were old enough to safely remove the mesh barrier. We purchased a set of nice wood cabinets that held three large laundry bins. Now the landing area is clean and clear and the laundry is behind closed doors! The view from the front door looking up is fantastic and even the dog loves the new perspective.

*Please note: the picture does not show the new three drawer laundry system.  It was taken after we had cleared the landing and before the new cabinet was installed The photo above is representative of what we used for the cabinet solution.

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Garage Becomes a TV Lounge, Play and Craftsroom


This garage was used for watching tv, working on crafts, and an extra playroom. At the same time, it had to be used to store the usual garage items including holiday décor, extra entertaining supplies, etc.


In the beginning there was no storage in this garage, only some assorted furniture, TV and a desk. As with many garage conversions, this space had to accommodate many different types of activities and serve as a comfortable retreat /playroom for the two boys and a space for mom and sons to create craft projects and read.


My client had wall-to-wall cabinets installed along the longest side of the garage without windows. The cabinets made it possible to create order with the deep freeze storage items like holiday décor and also made a place for sporting equipment and extra entertaining items to live while not in use.

I shifted furniture around to create zones for each type of activity. The desk was moved to the back wall so that all craft supplies were in the same zone with small table and chairs positioned for action.

The lateral file cabinet was moved next to the door into the house as this contained the permanent family records.

The large cube shelf was moved behind the couch to create division between storage and TV zone. All extra toys were grouped together ‘like with like’ and stored in baskets behind the couch. As the boys decided to play with different activities, they brought out one basket at a time and learned to put the first one away between activities to keep chaos at bay.

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An entertainment center that was no longer entertaining

SITUATION: An entertainment center that no longer entertained, but instead, simply annoyed the owner.

CHALLENGE: This entertainment center was in the footpath of the way into and out of, the family/great room. I think that the basket was originally intended to hold remote controls.

Instead of being a storage area for entertainment supplies, it was housing keys, glasses, and any other loose toy that was found in that area.

SOLUTION: I recommended getting rid of the basket. Baskets are often a tricky solution to implement. Unless the intended purpose for each basket / container is agreed upon by all family members, it will begin to attract miscellaneous objects almost like magic.

We got busy and emptied and reorganized the drawers that were part of this massive entertainment center. Many of the drawers were underutilized and did not contain entertainment related items. After creating a cabinet space for cameras and other video related tools, we were able to get those supplies off the shelf. Also, in the process, we found memory cards, charger cords and bags that were scattered throughout the area. Now, when it is time for a quick photo or action video of the baby, all important items are quickly located.

It was determined that the basket was not the solution for this area. Instead, using a drawer was a better alternative. This way keys and could gather without becoming an eyesore during tv time.

We also spent a lot of time sorting through electrical cords and moved all of them into a tub to be stored in the garage for future needs. Every house that I visit has too many unidentified cords.

Look at this from my perspective for a moment because this is a very common problem. If all of the electronic devices that you own and use right now are hooked up and functioning, it is a good idea to let go of the unidentified cords that are jamming up your drawers and cabinets. If you can’t convince yourself to let them go, at least move them out of the house and store them in the garage in the tool zone.

Consider this, what is the worst thing that can happen if you don’t have the proper cord later? Well, for starters, right now everything you own is working and hooked up just fine. If you do one day need a cord, go out and spend the $10- 20 to replace it. The money that you might possibly have to spend later is better than living with a drawer or cabinet space that doesn’t function every day in the meantime. Right? Well, at least I think so…

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Laundry/Craft Room Gets a Clean Sweep

Laundry room before

Situation: This laundry room also served as a craft room. The previous owner had designed a built-in work space with cabinets but there were too many items to fit inside the area until they were better organized.

Challenge: There were multiple crafts projects (more…)

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