If autumn has inspired you to spruce up your home for upcoming indoor entertaining, chances are you've been looking around the house and thinking, "I really need to get organized."
Even if your fall schedule seems filled to the brim, now is a great time to clean up that clutter, says professional organizer Samantha Buck, the owner of LifeOrganizeIt.com. "Being organized brings a sense of calm in an otherwise chaotic world," she says. "We feel in control of our environment if things are neat and orderly."
Sally Sevener, who owns an organizing service, agrees and recommends using the SPACE formula -- sort, purge, assign a home, containerize and equalize. "I'm also a fan of containers, as long as you don't buy them too soon," she says. "By getting rid of things, you'll free up some of the bins and baskets you already own."
No matter what size your closets are, they need to be organized properly, Sevener says. Tackle your closets by cleaning out clothing that doesn't fit, is hopelessly out of style or that you simply never wear. If you haven't worn it in a year or two, give it away or recycle it into cleaning rags.
Although many closets only have one clothes rod, most have room for a second rod under the first one. Hang the clothes you wear less often -- or those that are out of season -- on the lower rod.
"I like the closet systems that you can get," Sevener says. "I think it is good to use see-through plastic containers (for shoes, smaller items and sweaters). That way, you can see what's in them." Put items you use all the time where you can reach them easily, preferably between waist and shoulder height.
Most of Sevener's clients request that she help organize their kitchens. "I mostly help people rearrange cabinets," she says. "Sometimes you can find extra space just by doing that. You also don't need 20 coffee mugs or stacks and stacks of plastic cups for your kids."
It is OK to have a junk drawer, according to Sevener. "I have a junk drawer in my kitchen," she says. "But you have to clean it out once in a while."
When it comes to counter space, most people have too much stuff sitting around. "When you have a kitchen, you need that work space to cook," Sevener says. "I'm not a fan of having small appliances sitting out. I think you need a toaster and a coffeepot on the counter; that's about it."
Keeping your kids' stuff organized is important, too. "Kids need what I call a 'landing spot,' and if you're lucky enough to have a mudroom that's big enough, then use this space," Buck says. "I have to use an area in the garage right outside the door. In it I have cubbies for every kid that keep their backpacks, shoes and whatever else they have to grab on the way out the door."
Even if you don't use it every day, having an organized home office space makes life easier. George Coontz, owner of The Organized Home, says many of his customers are interested in arranging a home office space. "In this economy, we've found that more people are now working from home. They want a well-organized office space.
"Also, we as a society are aging. We work with a lot of baby boomers who have children who are grown, and they've always had several bedrooms but no office," he says. "Now they want to create that home office space." However, Coontz says, those same people want to welcome grown children and grandchildren during the holidays or on summer break.
"They still need a place for kids when they come home. That's why we carry Murphy beds in several sizes that can come out either horizontally or vertically," he says. Murphy beds are contained in a metal frame that is built in with a special cabinet system.
If your garage is so crowded that your car is parked in the driveway, you should really get it out of the elements once and for all. Loren Kunz of Gorgeous Garage recommends sorting through your stuff, eliminating excess items and then installing a garage storage system.
Kunz sells Monkey Bars, a system that has a storage weight capacity of 1,000 pounds for every 4 feet of storage space. Kunz says to use high shelves for things that you don't use very often. The Monkey Bars hanging system allows you to hang tools in multitiered layers. For example, in fall and winter, rakes, shovels and ice picks should be hanging in the front.
"As you can see, being organized reduces stress levels," Buck says. "Besides, it's nice to be able to find what you need when you need it."