All posts by MakeSpace

Is Renters Insurance Worth It? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

While 95% of homeowners have homeowners insurance, only 41% of renters have renters insurance. It’s an often overlooked type of insurance, but it’s just about the most affordable protection you can buy.

If you’ve gotten by without it for this long, though, do you really need renters insurance?

Before we answer that question, know that renters insurance covers your possessions from damage and loss. Someone break into your apartment and steal your boombox? It’s covered.

Upstairs neighbor’s pipe bursts, ruining your shag rug? It’s covered.

Fire take out the entire building, burning all of your possessions? Pull out your policy and be ready to make a claim. But only after you digest this CliffsNotes-worthy summary of what renters insurance covers, the types of renters insurance policies, and how to buy renters insurance:

Renters Insurance Covers Your Stuff On The Go

renters insurance covers theft on vacation

If you’re on the fence about renters insurance, keep in mind that it’s a relatively cheap form of protection. The average annual premium in 2014 was only $190. That’s under $20 a month to protect your possessions. Plus, you can get discounts if you bundle it with the other insurance types you have anyway, like car insurance.

And speaking of your possessions, renters insurance won’t just cover your things while they’re in your apartment. If you keep items in a storage unit, they’re protected there (double check with your insurance provider) on the off chance that they’re stolen or damaged.

(Not that you need to worry about that, though, because MakeSpace’s storage facilities are closed to the public and have 24/7 surveillance. All of MakeSpace’s storage plans also include a $2,000 MakeSpace Guarantee.)

On vacation? Yep, your coverage extends to there, too.

The peace of mind that comes with protecting your stuff — no matter where it is — is one of the most overlooked benefits of renters insurance. If your laptop gets stolen out of a car, or gets a little too cozy with the sidewalk after falling out of your backpack, renters insurance will cover it.

Besides physical items, renters insurance also provides protection in other ways. Basic liability and medical payment coverage is standard in most renters insurance policies, which means you’re not on the hook for legal or medical bills if someone hurts themselves in your apartment.

Everything You Need To Know About Renters Insurance

An actual cash value policy means that your insurer will cover just that — the actual cash value of your items. A replacement cost value policy means that your insurer will cover the cost of repairing or replacing your item at its current price. That’s the difference between your insurer paying out the depreciated cost of your five-year-old laptop, or the full cost of getting a new one.

Because replacement cost value policies tend to pay out more (since they aren’t based on depreciated value), they also tend to cost more than actual cash value policies.

If you’ve had other insurance policies, you know what a deductible is. That’s how much you have to pay before your insurance will kick in. If your policy has a $1,000 deductible, you’ll need to cover $1,000 of repair or replacement costs before your insurance will cover any of it.

Perils are the types of incidents that your renters insurance will cover. On the flip side, exclusions won’t be covered. “All risk” policies cover any peril that isn’t specifically excluded, and “named peril” policies only cover what is explicitly listed in the policy.

As wide-reaching as renters insurance coverage is, it doesn’t cover everything. Flood damage isn’t covered, and neither are earthquakes. Unless you have a personal property endorsement on an item, it won’t be covered if you simply lose it. Some pet damage isn’t covered, and certain dog breeds won’t be covered at all.

Limits on renters insurance policies come in two different forms. Your policy will have an overall limit — say $30,000 worth of total coverage — and individual limits for expensive property. For example, there might be a limit on jewelry, so you can only claim $1,000 for a stolen wedding ring even if it cost $2,500.

Because of these limits, you might consider personal property endorsements. This provides extra protection for specific items or categories (at an additional cost to your premiums). So you’d be able to add a personal property endorsement to that wedding ring to make sure you could cover the entire cost.

Finally, your policy might have additional living expenses coverage. If something happens and you need to spend a few nights in a hotel, your renters insurance would cover this.

How To Buy Renters Insurance

man typing on a macbook and using policy genius to compare renters insurance companies
PolicyGenius

Many companies offer affordable renters insurance. You can use a digital agency like PolicyGenius to shop for rates, or buy direct from a carrier like eRenterPlan, Allstate, or Lemonade.

Either way, the first step is creating a home inventory to decide how much coverage you need. There are a few apps that make it easy. Make a note of any valuables that might need extra coverage so you can add endorsements for them. Compare quotes for the coverage you need, buy the most affordable policy, and voià — you’re covered.

Fewer than half of renters have renters insurance coverage. And according to a 2016 Federal Reserve study, 46% of Americans don’t have enough money to cover a $400 emergency. For renters who would have difficulty replacing expensive household items in the event of a calamity, renters insurance is well worth the low cost.

This article was written by PolicyGenius, a digital insurance agency that helps people get the insurance they need and feel good about it. Comparison shop and get the best rates on life, health, disability, renters insurance, and more.

How To Easily Clean And Organize Your Garage [Infographic]

When you don’t know where to put something in your house, where do you usually store it?

In your garage, until you figure out a better home for the item?

While that solves your storage problem, it’s only temporary. Things pile up. Next thing you know, you forgot where you stored your luggage for your upcoming Caribbean cruise.

That won’t happen anymore, though. Because we created this step-by-step guide (plus an infographic!) on how to easily clean and organize your garage.

First, we’ll take you through the best ways to clean your garage floor,  door, and walls. Then, we’ll explain how to organize and store your stuff in cabinets, on pegboards, and in other brilliant garage storage solutions.

The advice all comes from home improvement experts, so you can trust their word.

Click any of the below links to jump to a specific section:
How To Clean Your Garage Floor
How To Clean Your Garage Door
How To Clean Your Garage Walls
How To Organize Your Garage Space
How To Organize Garage Cabinets
How To Organize Garage Tools
How To Organize A Garage Pegboard

how to clean and organize your garage infographic by makespace storage

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<p><a href="https://makespace.com/blog/posts/how-to-clean-organize-garage/" target="_blank"><img src="https://cdn.makespace.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/20123840/how-to-clean-organize-garage-makespace-storage.jpg" title="How To Clean And Organize Your Garage" alt="How to clean and organize your garage infographic by MakeSpace"></a></p>
<p><a href="https://makespace.com/" target="_blank">via MakeSpace</a></p>

How To Clean Your Garage Floor

1. Soak up any oil slicks.

 

Garage floors are especially susceptible to grease and oil stains, but you can remove them with some basic cleaners and cat litter.

The pros at DIY Network and Lowes both recommend applying a layer of kitty litter to the stain first. This helps absorb the excess liquid. If you don’t have a cat, sawdust or cornmeal will do.

Once you’ve let the cat litter work its magic, vacuum or sweep it up. Then attack the stain with a detergent or cleaning agent. Out of the several cleaning options that Jeff Patterson tested for Home Repair Tutor, his favorites were Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) and Drylok Etch.

2. Scrub out other stains.

For all the splotches on your floor that did not come from your gas tank, try a mild detergent first. This should take care of light stains, but if you need something more heavy-duty, muriatic acid can help.

Just as it does with oil spots, TSP works wonders on rust stains. Mix it with water and then scrub it into the problem area with a push broom. After it’s soaked for 10-15 minutes, rinse it all off.

3. Fill in any cracks with epoxy paste.

Does your garage floor have cracks from construction projects or heavy items that fell off a shelf?

Fix the cracks with a little epoxy paste. Simply fill in the gaps with the paste, wait for it to dry, and then sand the area until you’ve buffed out any extra or uneven paste.

4. Seal cracks with sealant.

 

A sealant will help maintain and protect your garage floor. And if you’re planning to paint your garage floor, you absolutely need to apply sealant to it first. As Angie’s List explains, there are several different types of garage floor sealers.

First, there’s a topical sealer. Acrylic is the cheapest topical option but also requires the most upkeep. Epoxy is more expensive but thicker and more durable. Polyurethane offers the most protection at the highest price, and you’ll need a primer to pair with this one.

Then, there are penetrating sealers. These are often siliconate-based and require just one coat. For this reason, they’re the most common sealants used for garage floors.

Once you’ve landed on the right option for your garage and cleaned the floor, apply the sealant like you would paint on a wall. Start in the corners and apply a healthy, even coat.

Give it plenty of time to dry, so it bonds with the concrete. And if you need more guidance, pick up some extra tips from the experts at PPG Paints in the video above.

How To Clean Your Garage Door

1. Brush off the dirt.

Before you bring buckets of water and soap into the equation, shake down any loose debris clinging to your garage door. A stiff brush or broom should do the trick.

2. Hose it down.

man holding a garden hose in his left hand

Knock out any lingering dirt with a garden hose. Give the entire door a good spray before you move onto the next step.

3. Wipe it with warm water and mild household detergent.

soapy yellow sponge on a wood floor

Now comes the actual cleaning. You’ll want to have a bucket of warm water mixed with a mild household detergent on deck for this part.

Dip a sponge or old rag into the soapy water and wipe down the door, inch by inch. Look out for splotches or stains as you go, so you can buff them out by hand.

It’s just like cleaning the car sitting in your garage, minus all those pesky tire spokes.

4. Grease and tighten all the moving parts.

This is a pretty quick and easy cleaning process, so while you’re at it, tune up your garage door.

Check for any bent or malfunctioning pieces and use a household oil to grease every moving part. Also, tighten the screws before you close the door.

How To Clean Your Garage Walls

1. Vacuum cobwebs and debris.

cobwebs
Flickr/Matt Brown

Even if you use your garage frequently, it’s a natural home for cobwebs and spiderwebs.

Before you wash your garage walls, use the bristle attachment on your vacuum cleaner to remove any webs or grime lurking in the corners.

2. Sponge the walls with warm water and detergent.

You’ll be doing exactly what you did to your garage door just moments ago. Take your bucket filled with warm water and detergent, grab a sponge, and systematically scrub the walls with careful strokes.

You should be going bottom to top, to avoid long muddy streaks. Keep a step-stool close by so you can hit those hard-to-reach areas by the ceiling.

3. Attack tough stains with ammonia.

For the spots that detergent can’t dissolve, try some basic ammonia. Mix one or two cups into a gallon of cold water to minimize the stench.

Then dip your sponge in the liquid and treat each stain individually. If the ammonia can’t do the trick, Housekeeping Channel recommends trying that trusty TSP.

How To Organize Your Garage Space

1. Separate everything into four piles.

You can’t really get organized until you’ve taken stock of your stuff. So gather everything in your garage and sort it into four groups:

  1. Keep
  2. Donate
  3. Trash
  4. Sell

You should only hang onto items that make you happy. All the rest? Donate it to a charity or hawk it at a yard sale.

Well, except for anything broken or useless (i.e. old newspapers). Those items belong in the garbage can or recycling bin.

2. Find a new home for paint, paper goods, and propane tanks.

paint cans on four workshop shelves

Once you have a “keep” pile, separate out the things that don’t belong in your garage. According to This Old House, these items include propane tanks (a fire hazard best kept outdoors) and paint cans (which are ruined by extreme temperatures).

Paper goods like napkins are also likely to attract bugs, and pet food might bring all the possums to your garage. Relocate this stuff to a more suitable space, such as in your cabinet or pantry.

3. Create a basic floor plan.

garage wall storage for tools

Now that you’ve made all those cuts, it’s time to get down to the real work of organizing. This will be a lot easier to do if you sketch out or at least map in your head a floor plan for your garage.

While you can design it however you want, we recommend following these four basic guidelines:

  1. Group similar items together.
  2. Put the bulkiest gear in the corner, where it’s safely out of your car’s way.
  3. Place seasonal items in the harder-to-reach areas, so the stuff you use all the time is more accessible.
  4. Whenever possible, keep things off the floor. Maximize your walls and ceiling as best you can to avoid crowding the floor space.

How To Organize Garage Cabinets

1. Consolidate items into storage bins and tubs.

A post shared by MakeSpace (@makespace) on

Don’t just throw junk onto your cabinet shelves. Storage bins and tubs can help you manage the chaos. This works best if you dedicate categories of items to specific bins and tubs.

Holiday decorations can have one bin, winter clothes can have another one. Once they’re all filled up, slide them into your cabinet. Just make sure you label everything as you’re sorting.

2. Store small stuff in old coffee cans and gum containers.

For the little things that would get lost in a tub, upcycle containers from your own kitchen. Lil Blue Boo cleaned out some old coffee cans to serve as battery recycling receptacles. You could easily use yours for small items in your garage.

Or take a cue from The Ugly Duckling House and save old Orbit gum containers. They’re great homes for your screws, nuts, and bolts.

3. Convert a metal office cabinet into a pantry.

Martha Stewart suggests getting a metal office cabinet to serve solely as a pantry. That way, you can use a magnet to attach a clipboard — with an inventory of your LaCroix, spring water, and other sundries — to the cabinet’s front door.

4. Consider a locker for each family member.

Giving each member of your family their own garage cabinet might seem excessive, but what about assigning everyone a locker?

Shelly at 100 Things 2 Do salvaged a set of old school lockers, repainted them, and then gave herself, her two daughters, and her husband one unit apiece.

Each person could then sort their helmets or sidewalk chalk to his/her liking. Shelly found the lockers in the Canadian classifieds, so keep an eye on Craigslist or The Container Store for your own set.

How To Organize Garage Tools

1. Mount toolboxes on the wall.

Popular Mechanics shared a smart storage tip from car collector Bernie Nevoral:

He bolted his toolboxes to his garage walls and mounted a few metal tool cabinets high up near his ceilings. This garage organization system keeps his floor empty so he has more room for tune-ups.

Even if you’re not a motorhead like Bernie, this approach can also help you save space in your garage.

2. Store garden tools in a converted filing cabinet.

Turn an upcycled filing cabinet on its side and you’ve got a great home for your rakes, shovels, and mops. As The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel illustrates, all you have to do is remove the cabinet’s drawers and slot your tools into the empty space.

You can even install a little pegboard storage with hooks on the side of the cabinet so you can hang wrenches, scissors, garden shears, and more:

3. Build a portable tool caddy.

Your tools make life so much easier. Return the favor by building them a tool caddy with these instructions from Mom 4 Real.

This DIY garage storage project requires wood, pegboards, a saw, screws, glue, and casters. Once you’re done building it, you have a movable one-stop-shop for all your tools.

4. Outline your tools on the wall.

It’s easier to keep track of your screwdriver when it’s literally drawn on the wall. When hanging up your tools, carefully trace an outline around each one with a pencil.

Then, take down the items and make the sketches more visible by going over each sketch with a marker or paint pens. When you’re done, put your tools back in their (now very clearly) assigned spaces.

How To Organize A Garage Pegboard

1. Install a pegboard.

 

Garages sadly don’t come with built-in pegboards, so before you can organize one, you need to set it up. For this project, you’ll need a tape measure, screws, a drill, an actual pegboard, and a few other items to mount it.

Bob Vila lays out the process in five steps here, but if want a more dynamic tutorial, watch the above demo from Frugal Home DIY.

2. Add hooks.

Once your pegboard is all set up, you’ll need to install some hooks so you can actually hang things.

Hooks can easily slip off their slots after you attach them. Which is why The Family Handyman recommends locking them in place with zip ties, pegboard clips, or some hot glue for extra security.

3. Use baskets and bins.

garage wall-mounted pegboard storage bins
Flickr/mtneer_man

Small wire baskets and pegboard bins can help you store items that don’t easily fit on a hook — think stud finders and loose screws. Check your local Home Depot, Staples, or Sears for these accessories.

4. Or skip the pegboard and let MakeSpace store your stuff.

 

Still have stuff that won’t fit in your garage cabinet, on your shelves, or on your new pegboard?

We’ll store it for you.

All you have to do is schedule a  MakeSpace pickup, pack your stuff, and leave the rest to us.

We’ll pick up everything (including your bulky snowboard, skis, sports equipment, and appliances) and store it in our secure temperature-controlled storage facility. We’ll also create an online photo catalog of your stuff so you always remember what you have in storage.

The best part:

When you want something back from storage, simply log into your MakeSpace account, select the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it to you. It’s that simple.

MakeSpace Raises $30 Million In Series C Funding Led By 8VC

Company Modernizing $30 Billion Storage Industry Scales to Meet Consumer Demand

NEW YORK – April 20, 2017 – MakeSpace, the leading full-service storage provider that picks up, stores and brings back your belongings, announced today it has raised a $30 million Series C round led by 8VC. Existing investors Upfront Ventures, Harmony Partners, and Summit Action also participated. The capital will be used to scale the business and further develop the company’s logistics technology platform and operational infrastructure to meet the growing demands for moving thousands of customers during peak season. 8VC partner Kimmy Scotti joined the company’s board of directors.

“We are driven and highly focused on creating the very best experience for our consumers,” said Sam Rosen, founder and CEO of MakeSpace. “8VC shares our passion for disrupting an antiquated industry and creating the 21st century version of a storage company. Kimmy has deep experience in business development and direct-to-consumer marketing and will bring her expertise to the board, which is invaluable as we continue our rapid growth.”

“MakeSpace is modernizing the archaic storage industry – with a clear opportunity to change how we think about the $30 billion space,” said Scotti. “MakeSpace has achieved impressive growth over the last year, signaling an enormous opportunity for the company. I have tremendous respect for Sam and his team and look forward to working with them.”

MakeSpace’s professional movers provide pick-up, packing and delivery services so that customers never have to visit a storage facility. Unlike traditional self-storage, MakeSpace stores customers’ belongings in massive warehouses outside city centers and passes along the real estate savings to its customers. Customers can manage their storage remotely by viewing their digital catalog to easily review items and schedule deliveries.

Following its launch in 2013, MakeSpace operates in New York City, New Jersey, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and most recently added Los Angeles.

About MakeSpace
MakeSpace, founded by Sam Rosen and Rahul Gandhi, set out to make storage more consumer-friendly, creating an affordable storage service that allows consumers to store their belongings without lifting a finger. MakeSpace’s professional movers provide pick-up, packing and delivery services so that customers never have to visit a storage facility. Customers can select a storage plan that suits their storage needs and manage items remotely through their digital catalog to easily view stored items, and manage pick-ups and returns. MakeSpace is headquartered in New York City. Find out more at makespace.com.

How To Clean Your Apartment Fast: 17 Quick And Easy Tips

You know how it goes. You’re at home enjoying a very lazy Sunday afternoon when the phone rings. It’s your college roommate, and she’s in town. No, she’s not just in town. She’s in your neighborhood, and will be over in about 35 minutes.

You can’t possibly turn your apartment into a sparkling centerspread from Better Homes and Gardens in that time, but you can still get it in shape for an unexpected guest.

All you have to do is relax, breathe, and follow these 17 cleaning tips. They won’t take care of everything  — and they cut a few notable corners — but they will get your home ready for company, however unannounced.

1. Take a picture of your place.

take a picture of your apartment before cleaning it

Before you rush into panic cleaning mode, snap a few quick photos of your space on your phone. Now look at them. Does anything strike you as glaringly out of place?

It can be easy to get used to the gym bag you dropped in the corner two weeks ago, but a photo can help you notice things that don’t belong. (This tip comes courtesy of A Beautiful Mess blogger Emma Chapman, who clearly knows all about messes.)

2. Focus on rooms your guest will actually use.

 

You don’t have time to make every inch of your apartment spotless, so narrow your scope. Millennial Moms host Jordan Page makes an excellent point in her quick clean tutorial (embedded above):Your guest is only going to hang out in a few spots in your home.

Your guest is only going to hang out in a few spots in your home.

That means there’s no need to clean your home office, since you won’t be showing Aunt Diane how to use your new printer. Simply shut the door on that space and worry about it later.

Instead, focus your energy on sprucing up your bathroom, living room, kitchen, and bedroom.

3. Pick up dirty clothes and towels.

laundry basket next to a white eames style vortex chair on a wooden floor in a clean home

Speed walk through all those rooms we just mentioned, with your eyes trained on the floor. Do you spy crumpled T-shirts next to your bed? Damp used towels by the shower? A rogue sock peeking out from under the couch?

Grab them all up and toss them into your hamper. You don’t need to wash them today, but you definitely need to get them off the ground.

4. Deposit empty glasses or dirty dishes into the sink.

cool coffee mugs from the london coffee festival at the old truman brewery

Time for speed walk, round two. This time, you’re looking at your tables and counters.

Do you see a coffee mug stained with this morning’s latte? The plate you used last night for your Bachelor snacks? Anything else that clearly belongs in a kitchen cabinet?

Collect all those dirty dishes and drop them in the sink. You’ll get to them in a bit. But until then, onto the next task.

5. Caddy your cleaning supplies.

cleaning supplies caddy
Flickr/Collin Anderson

Now is the time to bust out your detergents and disinfectants. Keep your cleaning supplies in one portable place to make this step a lot easier on yourself .

You can use a bucket, caddy, bag, or any other portable item that can hold all your sprays and rags. This way, you can clean more quickly from room to room.

And when you’re all done? Everything goes back in the same place.

6. Give the toilet, sink, and bathroom mirror a quick clean.

decluttered bathroom with a clean mirror
Flickr/Christine Warner Hawks

Your guest is going to ask to use the bathroom at some point. So wipe down the main fixtures like your toilet, sink, and mirror with your preferred cleaning agent. (But first, put away any hair dryers or shaving cream you have sitting on the ledge.)

GQ cleaning expert Jolie Kerr recommends spraying the toilet and sink with Scrubbing Bubbles. Since the bubbles need a few minutes to work their magic, you can run off and do other tasks while you wait.

When you return to wipe everything off, make sure to Windex your mirror, too, for any streaks or spots. And straighten out your hand towels while you’re at it.

7. But just keep the shower curtain closed.

closed shower curtain
Flickr/Dan DeLuca

Yes, your tub should be clean, but it’s also way more work to scrub it than a toilet bowl. Plus, your friend dropping by isn’t going to hop in the bath for an hour-long soak.

Save yourself the time and effort by simply snapping the shower curtain shut. No one’s going to look inside, unless they’re the kind of person who also snoops through medicine cabinets. In which case, why do you even invite them over?

8. Tidy up your surfaces.

white wood pallet coffee table with wheels in a clean living room

As you move out of the bathroom and into your three remaining rooms (kitchen, living room, and bedroom), start looking for out-of-place items on your surfaces. We’re talking about your coffee tables, nightstands, and countertops.

If you spy something that you can easily put away in a second, do it. For everything else? Stack and clump together what you can into semi-neat piles.

Once that’s done, give those surfaces a good dusting. Feather dusters cover lots of ground in very little time, and they cost basically nothing. Bustle suggests this $6.99 microfiber duster from OXO.

Is your counter in need of more than a light dusting?

Wipe up any obvious spills or stains for now, and make a mental note to give your surfaces a more thorough clean tomorrow.

9. Toss stuff in baskets.

multiple pairs of white, red, and black converse chuck taylors in a laundry basket

So what about the junk on your counter that isn’t so easily sorted or stacked?

Here’s a cleaning secret:

You don’t have to put it away right this second.

Grab a laundry basket and load it up with all the stuff you’re not quite sure what to do with. Then set it aside, so you can move on to the next step.

If you happen to have extra time at the end of all this, feel free to put away all the items in your laundry basket. But if you don’t, just slide it under your bed before company arrives.

It’s okay, we won’t tell anyone.

10. Make your bed.

custom plywood bed frame supporting a made bed
Flickr/Pedro Reyna

Maybe your throw pillows spend more time on the floor than they do delicately perched on your comforter. But no one needs to know that.

Making your bed is the easiest way to make your apartment look more put-together than it actually is. And besides, there’s a very good chance your guest will end up storing a coat in this room.

11. Take out the trash.

green trash can on a sidewalk

If you just took the garbage out last night, you can skip this step. But if your trash can is packed to the brim with banana peels, eggshells, and coffee grounds, it’s time for a purge.

Bag up all the trash — not just from the kitchen, but the bathroom and bedroom, too — and get it out of your apartment. Don’t forget to add fresh new bags immediately, in case your friend needs to throw something out.

12. Do the dishes.

clean yellow coffee mug, drinking glass, and dish brush in a kitchen

Remember how you put this off eight steps earlier?

Well, you can’t do that any longer. No one likes the sight of a sink stacked with smudged, stinky plates, so you have to do something about this mess.

If you have a dishwasher, just throw everything in there and move on. If you don’t, wash the biggest pieces and place them on the rack to dry. A sink with a few forks isn’t so bad. But a sink with a skillet full of last night’s stir fry? That’s not great.

If you really don’t want to leave anything behind in the sink but are running out of time, Cosmopolitan has a funny fix:

Simply stack all your dirty dishes together and hide them in your freezer or oven. What they don’t know won’t hurt them.

13. Take care of pet hair.

cute brown dog lying on a white fabric sofa

You probably don’t mind the fur your pup seems to shed every five seconds. But other people might, especially if they have allergies. Run a dust buster over the couch for stray animal hairs and give the floor a quick sweep.

While you’re at it, clean out your cat’s litter box and/or pick up the chew toy your dog left right by the front door. Then remind Winnie to be on her best behavior because you have company coming.

14. And vacuum if you can.

red and black hoover vacuum cleaner on a carpet

Vacuuming is a big time suck (pun intended), and realistically, you might not get around to this task. But if you can give your floors a cursory clean, it will make a big difference.

To ensure maximum vacuuming efficiency, cleaning pro Laura Dellutri suggests tackling the entire length of the room in one straight row. Then adjust and start again at the front of the room.

Loop the cord over your shoulder while you’re making these long rows, so you don’t trip in your mad dash to cleanliness.

15. Fluff your couch pillows.

homespot hq decorative pillows on a clean sofa
Flickr/Homespot HQ

It’s a silly, simple step, but it will not go unappreciated. As a final touch before your friend or family member arrives, fluff the pillows and cushions on your couch.

If you happen to notice a stain on the cushion as you’re fluffing, flip it over to the cleaner side. Also, fold up any throw blankets hanging off your sectional.

16. Spray a scent or light a candle.

porter and plot pinot gris-scented candle

Between the garbage can you just emptied and the dog fur you vacuumed up, there are a lot of weird smells floating through the air right now. Make your home less musty with a fresh scent.

Spray some Febreze, plug in the Glade, break out the essential oil diffuser, or light your favorite candle. The welcoming aroma will trick your guest into thinking your place smells (and looks) this good all the time.

17. MakeSpace.


While you were cleaning your home in a hurry, you may have found some things you love but don’t need in your home right now. Instead of putting them back after your guest leaves, only for the items to take up unnecessary space in your home, schedule a MakeSpace pickup.

We’ll pick up your stuff and transport it to our secure, temperature-controlled storage facility. We’ll also create an online photo catalog of your stuff so you never forget what you have in storage.

That’s not all.

When you want something back, you won’t have to spend hours rifling through a bunch of boxes in a storage unit. Just log into your MakeSpace account, select the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it to you.

Last-minute visits from your family will always be stressful. But with MakeSpace, storage never is.

Top image via Flickr/Living Rooms London

4 Indoor Spring Cleaning Tasks To Do Now

You know spring is on its way when the weather becomes milder and buds are forming on trees and bushes. You’ll also know spring is near because the urge will probably hit you to clean, refresh, and renew your home.

There are a number of ways to approach the annual indoor spring cleaning project that can make it a less onerous event. Concentrate on cleaning a few of the more obvious parts of your home that both you and your guests will notice.

This way, after a long winter season, cleaning doesn’t have to be a huge chore says King of Maids, a professional cleaning service based out of Chicago, IL.

And with that, here are four cleaning tasks you can do now to spruce up your home for spring:

1. Clean Your Carpet and Rugs

spraying carpet with carpet cleaning spray

When guests are sitting in your living room, sometimes they can’t help but look down at your carpeting. Yes, you do vacuum your rugs, hopefully on a weekly basis. But they need some extra special care after enduring a winter of dirt and germs.

First, rent a rug shampooer from a local home improvement shop. Then clean a small, out-of-the-way area of the carpet to be sure you know how to work the machine properly.

Instead of moving every piece of furniture out of the room you’re cleaning, move each piece just enough to clean beneath it. Now place a square of wax paper under each leg and position the furniture back where it belongs. The wax paper will protect the carpet and prevent your furniture’s legs from getting wet.

Lastly, air out the room by opening the windows so the rug will dry more quickly.

If you have area rugs, shake them outdoors, then hang each one over a railing and beat it with a stick, such as a broom handle. Air them out for while to get rid of odors. Some area rugs can be tossed in a washing machine or dry-cleaned.

The result: Your carpets will be dirt-free and smelling fresh for the coming months.

2. Wash Your Walls, Cabinets, and Woodwork

You may not notice right away, but your walls, baseboards, and woodwork could all use a fresh cleaning after a year of dust, cooking smoke, and grease filling the areas of your home. With a sponge or a sponge mop and a few drops of dishwashing detergent, wash those surfaces. Dry with a clean cloth when done.

The difference should be obvious, especially when you squeeze out your sponge or mop in a separate bucket of water and see the dirt changing its color to gray.

3. Clean Your Windows

cleaning the outside-facing part of a window with a squeegee

Windows need a thorough cleaning by the time spring rolls around. Getting your windows shiny and brilliant doesn’t have to involve a lot of effort.

Take down any window treatments, if convenient, to get full access to windows. Brush away any loose dirt and spider webs that have collected on each window sill and frame, as well as the tracks that the window moves up and down on.

As a heads up, you can skip removing the window’s screens. Simply vacuum them with your vacuum’s brush attachment, working from the top down and side-to-side.

For modern tilt-in windows, spray liquid glass cleaner on the inside panes. Wipe horizontally with a lint-free cloth until dry. Now tilt the window in to clean the outside panes, this time moving the cloth from the top down, vertically. Wiping in two different directions lets you see which panes you need to go over again when you’ve finished.

For double-hung windows, just slide the bottom part of the window up far enough so you can get your arm through it to clean the outside panes. Spray and wipe down as much as you can. Close the window, then get to the rest of the outside panes by pulling down the top part of the window about 8 inches or so to get your arm through.

If you have windows that don’t open easily or at all, such as skylights or casement windows, simply clean the inside and spray the outside panes with an outdoor hose.

If you have windows that don’t open easily or at all, such as skylights or casement windows, simply clean the inside and spray the outside panes with an outdoor hose.

4. Clean Your Window Treatments

white window blinds facing downward

Now that your windows are clear and sparkling, think about cleaning those window treatments before putting them back up.

Pleated honeycomb shades can be easily vacuumed to remove dust and dirt. Use your vacuum’s long bristle attachment to do the job quickly.

Clean blinds while the slats are facing downward. You can run a microfiber cloth along the slats, beginning at the top and dusting left to right. Then reverse the slats so they are facing upwards and repeat the process.

Depending upon the material of your draperies or curtains, you can either wash them by hand or in the washing machine, or you may be able to steam-clean them. Some materials may require a professional dry cleaning.

Enjoy Your Home

happy family spending time together on a couch

Now that you’re done with four of the biggest spring cleaning tasks, it’s time to relax and enjoy your surroundings. Light will now stream into your rooms through clear windows. If there’s too much sunshine heating up your home, draw those newly cleaned draperies to cool things off.

You can now invite company into your home and not have to worry about carpet stains or odors, and your cabinets and walls are free of dust and grime. It just takes a few hours of your time once a year to spruce up your home for the season.

This article was written by King of Maids, a platform that makes it super easy for you to book a professional home cleaning.

Easily Clutter-Proof Your Bathroom In Only 5 Steps

Though it’s probably the smallest room in your home, the bathroom is also one of the most-used rooms in your home. Naturally, with more use comes more potential for clutter.

What are your biggest challenges? Keeping your bathroom counter organized? The random items in your drawer that you might not need? Unhung towels? Your child’s toys in the bath tub?

No problem. Follow these five simple steps to clutter-proof your bathroom in no time:

Step 1: Pare Down Your Stuff

organized cosmetics and toiletries in a white bathroom cabinet

It’s a lot easier to organize your bathroom—and keep it that way—when you have less stuff to begin with. Start by decluttering. Set aside an hour or so to empty all cabinets and drawers, or declutter one drawer or shelf at a time over a few days.

Using the floor as your sorting place, group like items such as soaps, shampoos, dental supplies, nail care, and makeup. Trash the trash as you go. That means toss sunscreen, lotions, other toiletries that are past their expiration date, sticky nail polishes, and anything that doesn’t look or smell like it did when it was new, including makeup.

Separate expired and unused prescriptions as well as over-the-counter medicines for proper disposal. If your local pharmacy has a medication take-back program, bring your unwanted medications to them.

If there’s no take-back program in your area, mix your unwanted medications with liquids, cat litter, coffee grounds, or dirt. Then pour the mixture into a sealable bag or a tin that you can seal with a lid.

That way, no one will take the medications out of the trash and ingest them. Do the same with medicines in pill or capsule form, add water to dissolve them, and dispose of the bag in your household trash.

Chances are good that you have duplicates of certain things in your home. Decide how many of those items you want to keep. Then distribute excess toiletries to other bathrooms for example, and discard or give away everything you no longer use, like, want, or need.

You can also pare down your collection of towels. If you’re doing laundry regularly, two weeks’ worth of towels should be enough.

Step 2: Assign Everything a Home

As you decide what to store and where, consider accessibility. Think about how and where you use items and how often you use them.

Store frequently used items where they will be most convenient. Store things you access occasionally or rarely in less prime locations, such as the back of a cabinet or upper shelf of a closet. This might include extra bars of soap, rolls of toilet paper, and boxes of tissues.

It may be tempting to leave frequently used things on the sink counter, but what if all you left on it was hand soap?

If that’s a bit too minimalist for you, try storing everyday items on a decorative tray or in a basket for a cleaner look. Keep in mind that the less stuff you leave out, the easier it is to clean your countertop.

In your medicine cabinet, organize prescriptions and over-the-counter items by family member name,  roommate name, or category, such as “cough,” “cold,” and “pain relievers.”You can also label your shelves, or store the items inside labeled plastic containers like these ones:

You can also label your shelves, or store the items inside labeled plastic containers like these ones:

"dad" and "mom" labeled medication holders in a medicine cabinet
Donna Smallin Kuper

Assign drawers or shelves for each family member or roommate who shares the bathroom, as well as an “ours” drawer for shared items. Alternatively, you can organize drawers by categories, such as “makeup” or “hair care.”

Use drawer organizers to keep drawers organized. Or repurpose empty checkbook boxes or baby wipe dispensers into dividers. And be sure to keep cabinets organized with labels and clear, stackable bins.

Pro Tip: Labeling shelves and bins provides a visual cue that will increase the likelihood that everyone puts things back where they belong.

Another option for storing personal toiletries is a bath caddy or tote for each family member or roommate. What’s nice about this bathroom storage hack is that it’s as easy to put away as it is to retrieve.

Plus, if storage space is limited, you can always store the tote in a linen closet or bedroom.

maidpro mesh house cleaning tote
Great Useful Stuff Mesh Tote

By the same token, keeping makeup in a bag or bin on a shelf is one of many smart ways to store makeup for easy access. Bonus: When you travel, you don’t have to think about what to bring because your makeup kit is ready to go.

Step 3: Maximize Storage Space in Your Bathroom Cabinets and Linen Closet

youcopia ministack spice, vitamin, and medicine organizer
YouCopia MiniStack Organizer

Cabinet space is often underutilized. You may be able to maximize the space in your linen closet and bathroom cabinets by adjusting their shelves to better accommodate items of different sizes.

For example, position shelves so that you can store three rolls of toilet paper and a foot-high stack of bath towels on one shelf, and shorter stacks of hand towels and washcloths on the shelf above it.

If you can’t adjust your shelving, add a hanging shelf or two to maximize the vertical space in your cabinets or closet. A turntable or lazy Susan is the perfect solution for deep or hard-to-reach shelves.

Wire mesh sliding baskets also make good use of deep cabinets while providing easy access for frequently used items. Most products that are made to organize spices are perfect for storing prescriptions, vitamins, and over-the-counter medicine bottles in a bathroom cabinet.

hampton bay over-the-toilet storage cabinet in white
Hampton Bay 2-Door Over the Toilet Storage Cabinet

Some things are best hidden behind closed doors. If you need more closed storage space, move bulk purchases of paper products to a linen closet or maybe even under a bed.

Consider adding a freestanding, ready-made cabinet/shelving unit for extra storage space. Or roll towels and washcloths, and store them in a decorative basket near the bathtub or shower.

Step 4: Hang Stuff Behind Doors

Think you don’t have anywhere to hang anything? Make use of the space behind doors.

Invest in an over-the-door rack with multiple hooks for hanging wet towels, bathrobes, and other articles of clothing. Or hang a shoe bag organizer on the back of a door, and use it to store toiletries and other bathroom items like rolled-up magazines.

Another quick, no-tools-required storage solution is to hang a few hooks that adhere to any surface and remove easily without marring. They come in finishes to match any décor, and in a variety of sizes to hang everything from bath towels and laundry bags to hair dryers and flat irons.

You can even hang your trash bin inside a cabinet door to keep the floor clear:

youcopia plastic bag trash bin
YouCopia Plastic Bag Trash Bin

Everybody knows that a shower or tub caddy helps to keep the bathing area clutter-free. But one caddy rarely offers enough storage space to accommodate the product needs of multiple family members or roommates.

The solution is simple: Organize bath and shower toiletries by family member or roommate name in buckets, and then hang the buckets on your shower curtain rod. The buckets are also great for storing bath toys when they’re not in use.

great useful stuff hanging bucket bins storing skin and hair care products
Great Useful Stuff Hanging Bucket Bins

Step 5: Make Your Bathroom Easy to Keep Clean

2 white bottles and a rubber ducky, cologne bottle, and glass toothpaste and toothbrush holder on a wooden bathroom shelf

Here are four more bathroom organizing strategies that will help you clutter-proof your bathroom like a boss:

  1. If you discovered any unopened and expired items, buy less of those items next time.
  2. Use up toiletries before buying more. One bottle of shampoo to replace the one that’s in use is plenty.
  3. When you get new prescriptions, dispose of the outdated ones. Also, mark expiration dates on bottles with a Sharpie so you can easily see when it’s time to dispose of them.
  4. Keep cleaning supplies handy to make quick clean-ups easier.

Follow the advice in these steps, and chances are high that your bathroom will look, and stay, clean.

This article was written by Donna Smallin Kuper, an organizing and cleaning expert who is also the author of a dozen best-selling books on uncluttering, organizing, cleaning, and simplifying life. Currently writing for Home Depot, Donna is often quoted by the media, in Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple, and Woman’s Day.

Where To Donate Your Old Clothes, Books, Furniture, Toys, Cell Phones, And More

Hoarders aren’t the only ones hanging onto stuff they don’t need. You might have clothes you don’t wear, movies you never liked, and Nokia phones from 2005 lurking in the corners of your home.

Before you toss those items in the garbage, consider saving the planet, and helping out those in need, by donating the items.

There are lots of charities out there, and it can be tough to know where to donate clothes, books, furniture, toys, cars, cell phones, TVs, and more. That’s why we compiled this guide to charities accepting used goods.

While each charity has different guidelines and ways for you to give, all of them will be pleased to receive your old stuff, whether it’s used books or an old car.

Goodwill®

goodwill store door and sign
Flickr/Mike Mozart

Items it accepts: Just about anything. Clothing, shoes, furniture, bedding, toys, kitchenware, books, computers, and coffee makers are all cleared for Goodwill® donations.

There’s a pretty specific list offered on the Goodwill donation valuation guide, which will also help you calculate your donation tax deduction.

Items it does not accept: Any item that’s been banned, recalled, or doesn’t meet current safety standards will be turned down. Check out the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for more info on those standards.

Also, not every Goodwill® location can accept certain “specialty items” like computers, mattresses, or cars. The organization suggests you give your local branch a call before you show up with your old Buick.

If you’re specifically looking to donate a computer, try Dell Reconnect. It’s a partnership program between Dell and Goodwill® that recycles old computers and their parts.

Participating Goodwill® locations will accept any computer in any condition, even non-Dell computers. Over 2,000 locations offer this service, so do a quick search on Dell Reconnect’s site to find a dropoff location near you.

How to donate: Goodwill has donation dropoff sites all over the country. To find the one closest to you, simply plug your zip code into the search bar at the top of Goodwill®’s website.

If you’re donating a ton of stuff and don’t have a car to transport everything, Goodwill® may be able to help you out. Simply call the donation site that’s closest to you and ask them if pickup service is available in your area.

Pro Tip: MakeSpace offers free Goodwill® pickups in NYC, Chicago, and Washington, DC.

makespace offers free goodwill pickups for storage customers in nyc, chicago, and dc

When you schedule your first MakeSpace appointment, we’ll bring a shiny blue MakeSpace + Goodwill bag to your home. Fill the bag with any gently-used items you want to donate and leave the rest to us.

We’ll drop off your donation bag at a local Goodwill — at no extra charge.

Salvation Army

salvation-army-family-store-donation-center-sign
Flickr/Mike Mozart

Items it accepts: The Salvation Army accepts appliances, clothes, furniture, kitchen gear, books, movies, computers, cars, and even ice skates.Here’s the

Here’s the Salvation Army’s donation valuation guide. It’ll help you determine the approximate tax-deductible value of some of the most commonly donated items.

Items it does not accept: Although the Salvation Army welcomes your car, boat, and vehicle donations, they don’t always accept them due to various regulations.

Call 1-800-728-7825 for more details. You can also enter your zip code here to find Salvation Army vehicle donation services in your area.

How to donate: Find a dropoff location in your area or schedule a free pickup at satruck.org.

Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA)

a pair of brown leather sneakers atop a pair of folded dark blue jeans

Items it accepts: Shoes, clothing, bikes, toys, electronics, books, small appliances and furniture, tools, cosmetics, and cars are all clear. At the same time, the VVA has a particular need for clothes, so try to prioritize that if you can.

Items it does not accept: The VVA website says it accepts almost anything. If you have questions, give them a call toll-free at 1-800-882-1316.

If you’re considering a car donation, call 1-800-435-7838 or complete and submit the VVA’s online car donation form.

How to donate: VVA pickup and dropoff services are available in 32 states. Head to VVA’s donate page to find a dropoff location near you or schedule a pickup.

Habitat ReStores

habitat for humanity ground breaking in north augusta, sc
Flickr/Savannah River Site

Items it accepts: You already know that Habitat for Humanity builds new houses from scratch. But have you heard about its Habitat ReStores?

Habitat ReStores are non-profit home improvement stores that also accept donations in the form of gently-used or new furniture, appliances, housewares, building materials, and more.

Items it does not accept: Check with the nearest ReStore near you. Each ReStore is unique, and many locations accept items outside of the aforementioned categories.

How to donate: Search for your nearest ReStore and call them. Depending on what item you’re donating and its size, the staff may advise you to drop it off or sit tight while they pick it up from your home.

The Junkluggers

 

Items it accepts: The Junkluggers is a full-service and eco-friendly junk removal company that picks up your items for donation and brings them to one of their charity partners.

Their charity partners include The Alliance Against Homelessness, Boots on the Ground, Goodwill®, Habitat for Humanity, The Salvation Army, and more.

Since The Junkluggers works with several different charities, they accept a lot of stuff. Seriously. The list of what The Junkluggers takes includes furniture, appliances, computers, printers, TVs, mattresses, sinks, tires, hot tubs, and a whole lot more.

The Junkluggers will also take your literal garbage. If your item can’t be donated, they’ll recycle it.

Items it does not accept: The Junkluggers does not take hazardous materials, including paint, chemicals, asbestos, oil drums (unless they’re empty with the bottom and top cut out), oil tanks, furnances, and water heaters.

How to donate: The Junkluggers serves nine states: Connecticut, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

If you live in one of those states, book a Junkluggers pickup online or call 1-800-LUG-JUNK (1-800-584-5865).

Donation Town

yellow and black ford capri

Items it accepts: Donation Town connects you with local charities that will pick up your stuff for free. While each charity has its own guidelines as to what items they’ll pick up, they typically pick up the following items and more:

  • Antiques
  • Books
  • Bedding
  • Clothes
  • Electronics
  • Jewelry
  • Office supplies
  • Shoes
  • Sports equipment
  • Toys
  • Vehicles

Items it does not accept: It varies by charity.

How to donate: Type your zip code into Donation Town’s search bar. Donation Town will show you charities in your area that pick up donations, their contact info, and what items they accept.

Soles4Souls

converse chuck taylor sneakers for donation

Items it accepts: Soles4Souls accepts all types of shoes, as long as they’re new or gently worn. They also accept new and gently worn clothing via Clothes4Souls that handles your old coats, shirts, jeans, and more.

Items it does not accept: Any items that are not new or gently worn clothing or shoes.

How to donate: Find the nearest Souls4Souls dropoff location and drop off the shoes and/or clothes that you’d like to donate. Soles 4 Souls also encourages you to host a shoe drive to get your entire community involved. They’ll even help you do it!

Dress for Success

womens blazers hanging on a clothes rack
Flickr/Esmay de Olde

Items it accepts: Dress for Success helps women achieve economic independence by providing support,  development tools, and professional outfits. The organization accepts pantsuits, skirts, dresses, blazers, blouses, shoes, purses, and unused cosmetics and jewelry.

Items it does not accept: Any article of clothing that you wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing to an interview.

How to donate: Drop off your business attire at any Dress for Success affiliate location.

The non-profit organization also strongly encourages donation drives. If you’re interested in hosting one, get in touch with your local branch so they can tell you what items are needed most.

Books for Soldiers

Flickr/U.S. Army

Items it accepts: Books, magazines, comic books, video games, relief supplies, CDs, and DVDs for soldiers stationed around the world.

Items it does not accept: Adult movies, books, or magazines.

How to donate:  Register on Books for Soldiers’ website. Once you’ve chosen a username, you can access the mailing addresses for the military men and women requesting supplies.

If you have any questions about the process that aren’t addressed in Book for Soldiers’ FAQ, email info@booksforsoldiers.com.

Operation Paperback

books on a shelf, including harry potter by j.k. rowling

Items it accepts: Paperback books,  magazines, hard candy, and playing cards for the armed forces. The most popular book genres are bestsellers, science fiction, fantasy, murder mysteries, action, and spy fiction.

Items it does not accept: Romance novels.

How to donate:  Register for Operation Paperback and accept the terms of their volunteer agreement. Then log into the Volunteer’s Corner and request addresses of troops deployed overseas, veterans, or military families. Enter the genres of the books you’d like to donate, and the website will match you with relevant requests.

As a heads up, be sure to pack your shipment with an Operation Paperback shipping letter, or a note of your own, when you bring it to the post office.

Books for Africa

light blue, royal blue, and black pens atop an open light blue notebook

Items it accepts: Books for Africa partners with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Africa to provide donated books to African students. While books are the majority of their donations, Books for Africa also accepts paper, pencils, pens, maps, wall charts, and other school supplies.

Items it does not accept: Magazines or journals, including academic journals, are not permitted. Neither are home decorating books, wedding books, cookbooks, music books for grades K-12, foreign language books unless they’re French, or other books listed in the “does not accept” section of the organization’s Donate Books page.

How to donate: If you live in Atlanta, Georgia or St. Paul, Minnesota, you can drop off books at a Books for Africa warehouse. Each warehouse has specific hours, so be sure to check them before you start driving.

If you live elsewhere, you can mail in supplies to the Atlanta location. Here’s their address:

Books For Africa Warehouse-Atlanta
3655 Atlanta Industrial Drive, Bldg. 250
Atlanta, GA 30331

BetterWorld Books

kids mug atop a stack of children's books

Items it accepts: BetterWorld Books works with several literacy groups, including Books for Africa, to bring books to low-income communities, prisons, and kids around the world.

Items it does not accept: Anything that isn’t a book.

How to donate: Use this handy tool to find your closest BetterWorld Books drop box location. For bulkier donations, email clientservices@betterworldbooks.com.

Secure the Call

nokia 6020 phone
Flickr/Rodrigo Senna

Items it accepts: Used and working cell phones. Secure the Call converts them into emergency access phones for domestic violence victims and senior citizens. If you have the cell phone’s charger, please donate that too.

Items it does not accept: Anything that isn’t a working cell phone.

How to donate: Find a collection barrel near you. You can also mail in your old cell phones with Secure the Call’s prepaid shipping label. If you plan on donating one to three cell phones, Secure the Call requests that you pay the shipping costs if you have the means.

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)

virgin mobile lg phone emergency call
Flickr/Keera Russell

Items it accepts: The NCADV accepts cell phone donations as part of its program with Cellular Recycler, which refurbishes the phones for sale. A portion of those sales then go back to the NCADV to support their mission of stopping violence in the home.

You can donate any phone (and their accessories) in any condition, laptops, MP3 players, digital cameras, and video game systems. While their website says that iPhones, Samsung, and HTC phones are the most wanted, they will accept any phones.

Items it does not accept: Any item that’s not listed above.

How to donate: Pack your donation and ship it using this prepaid FedEx label. The NCADV encourages you to send at least three items to help keep shipping free.

HopeLine

android phone with charger

Items it accepts: HopeLine is a Verizon initiative that recycles and refurbishes phones for sale, and then uses the money to provide cash grants to programs that combat domestic violence. Verizon also provides some of the phones to domestic violence victims.

In addition to cell phones from any provider and in any condition, HopeLine accepts your chargers, spare batteries, headsets, and pagers, if you still happen to own one.

Items it does not accept: Any item that’s not listed above.

How to donate: Bring your items to a local Verizon retail store and drop them in a HopeLine bin. If there isn’t a Verizon retail store near you, print out this prepaid mailing label and ship your items to them.

Thrift Stores and Public Libraries

outdoor thrift store furniture company sign in chicago, il
Flickr/S Jones

Don’t forget to look local. Thrift stores take all kinds of used items, and some (but not all) public libraries welcome book drops.

Have items you want to keep but don’t need in your home right now (like your Warped Tour tees that you haven’t worn since Blink-182’s last hit single)?

Schedule a MakeSpace pickup.

After we pick up your band shirts and anything else you’d like us to put in storage, we’ll transport everything to our secure, temperature-controlled storage facility.  We’ll also create an online photo catalog of your stuff so you always remember what you packed.

What if you get a sudden urge to reminisce and belt “All The Small Things”?

You won’t have to drag yourself to a self-storage unit way across town. Simply log into your MakeSpace account, select the photos of the item’s you want back, and we’ll deliver them to you.

Take a look:

7 Surprising Space-Saving Lessons From Presidential Homes

As your history teacher always said, you can learn a lot from our past presidents. Each one offers lessons in honesty (George Washington), courage (Abraham Lincoln), and the importance of bundling up (William Henry Harrison).

But did you know that our former commanders-in-chief can also school you in an unexpected topic: storage?

No, none of our former presidents wrote a secret book on home decorating. (Although Teddy Roosevelt’s would probably involve tons of bearskins.) However, their civilian homes can teach you how to make a little space go a long way.

That’s right. We looked at the childhood, vacation, and retirement houses of seven past presidents for useful space-saving lessons that you can apply in your own home.

Here’s what we discovered:

Lesson #1: You can stick a bookshelf anywhere.

President: Franklin D. Roosevelt
Home: The Little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia

little white house in warm springs, georgia
Wikimedia/Jim Clark

Franklin Delano Roosevelt lived in many homes over his lifetime. There was the “Big House” in Hyde Park, New York where he was born and buried.

There was also the family vacation home on Campobello Island. And that Executive Mansion he occupied from 1933 through 1945. But perhaps the most special Roosevelt residence of all was the “Little White House.”

The “Little White House” is located in Warm Springs, Georgia. Roosevelt first traveled there in 1924, seeking mineral springs treatment for his polio. Although repeated exercise and treatments at the local resort did not restore his ability to walk, he responded well to Warm Springs and bought the resort in 1926.

The resort was a bit run-down and not nearly as grand as his other homes, but Roosevelt loved the little cottage and retreated there often during his four presidential terms. Since his aides frequently followed him there to conduct business, it was nicknamed the “Little White House.”

So what home organization wisdom can you gather from this estate?

Take a look at FDR’s living room:

Flickr/Janine

Roosevelt has a sizable bookcase in one corner, and he’s sandwiched two skinny shelves between a doorway. One of the shelves is practically hiding behind a chair. Use this ingenuity to squeeze shelves into your apartment.

Can’t fit something along your doorway like FDR?

Then try the ledge above your door frame. Also think about using window sills and walls for storage:

the living room in fdr's little white house in warm springs, ga has above door shelves, wall shelves, and a fireplace
Flickr/Janine

Once you’re all set up, consider adding a paperback of Roosevelt’s fireside chats to the books on your floating shelves.

Lesson 2: Alcoves are your friend.

living room of president eisenhower national historic site in gettysburg, pa
Wikipedia/Niagara

President: Dwight D. Eisenhower
Home: Eisenhower National Historic Site in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Our 34th president “Ike” grew up in Abilene, Kansas. When it came time to retire, though, he chose this farmhouse right next to the Gettysburg battlefield.

It made sense: He had already used the place as a weekend getaway during his presidency and even entertained a dignitary or two on the sprawling acres. (Jawaharlal Nehru, then prime minister of India, stayed in the guest room.)

Once he was done running the country, Eisenhower dedicated his days to raising Angus cattle and painting on this Pennsylvania property. The home is now a national park open to visitors, and it retains 99% of its original furnishings.

Although Mamie Eisenhower’s blazingly pink bathroom is probably the highlight, take notes on the living room, pictured above.

The Eisenhowers clearly took advantage of their fireplace mantle, coffee table, and smaller end tables. Each one supports ashtrays, flowers, family photos, and clocks.

Now how did they manage to display several pieces of china without using an inch of that surface space?

An unassuming white alcove.

If your apartment already has an alcove built into the living room or kitchen, put it to use.

If your apartment doesn’t have an alcove, but you’re pretty handy — and you have your landlord’s permission to do this — think about building an alcove. You’re literally adding space to your home, without sacrificing anything but some dusty drywall.

Lesson 3: Get a desk with lots of storage space.

President: Harry Truman
Home: Harry S. Truman National Historic Site in Independence, Missouri

president harry s truman's national historic site in independence, missouri
Wikimedia/Nationalparks

It seems only fitting that the 33rd president of America spent most of his life in Independence, Missouri. Harry Truman moved into 219 North Delaware Street with his wife Bess at the start of their marriage in 1919, and he stayed there more or less until his death in 1972 (if you don’t count those couple years in Washington, DC).

The Trumans had lots of roots in Independence. Bess’ grandfather built their longtime home, where their only child, Margaret, was born and raised. Truman’s brothers lived in houses nearby, as did his aunt and cousins.

So when Truman returned to Independence for good in 1953, he lived like a man of the people. He didn’t keep a Secret Service detail. He frequently drove his own car, and indulged any neighbor hoping for an autograph or handshake.

Bess Truman kept a large desk made from scrap wood salvaged during the White House renovations on the second floor of the house. While the desk itself was fairly cluttered — Marie Kondo would’ve had a field day with the former First Lady — it still illustrates the importance of a good desk with lots of storage space.

This particular piece of furniture featured at least ten drawers, including several on the sides. The top also contains a few small built-in shelves.

Take a page from Bess’ book and seek out a desk for your home that has enough drawers, hutches, and slides to contain all your office supplies and so much more.

Lesson 4: Hang family photos on the wall.

President: John F. Kennedy
Home: Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts

 

Few people are familiar with the Eisenhower farmhouse or Truman home. But everyone knows about the Kennedy Compound. The famous photos of the kids throwing a football on the lush lawn and Jackie sailing in her chic beach wear cemented its mythical status.

One other thing helped give the Kennedy Compound its mysterious edge:

While other presidential homes are open to the public, this Cape Cod residence remains private.

Still, historians and journalists have picked out details about the Kennedy Compound. Rose Kennedy, AKA JFK’s mom, revealed plenty in a 1962 video promoting her son’s first Senate campaign. ABC News included some of the details in a report on the Hyannis Port estate.

The main takeaway from this promo?

The Kennedys really valued family photos. Even a small clip shows hundreds of framed photographs of the Kennedy kids throughout the house.

While Rose placed a bunch of stuff on tabletops, she also mounted things to the walls. This is free space you also have for hanging your posters, pictures, and paintings.

Vertical space is a lifesaver in a cramped apartment or house, so feel free to use your walls for storage, too.

Lesson 5: Levitate pots and pans on the wall.

President: Bill Clinton
Home: President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace National Historic Site

president bill clinton's birthplace home in hope, arkansas
Wikimedia/JW1805

Bill Clinton spent the first four years of his life in this green and white foursquare home with his grandparents and mother, who was tragically widowed three months before his birth.

Although the 42nd president would move to Hot Springs, Arkansas with his mom and new stepfather, Roger Clinton, at a fairly young age, he always remembered this place fondly.

“In this house I learned to walk and talk, I learned to pray, I learned to read, and I learned to count by number cards my grandparents tacked on the kitchen window,” he said in 1999.

While three adults and a baby can easily overwhelm a house, the family made it work. In fact, they had quite a bit of space for little Bill to roam in both the living room and dining room, which featured a playpen in the corner.

The kitchen, however, offered less freedom. As you can see at the 1:49 mark in this video tour, there was just enough space for a table, three chairs, Bill’s high chair, and a few basic appliances:

 

So how did they get around the stark shortage of cabinets?

By using their vertical space, just like Rose Kennedy (and tiny-apartment dwellers Mary Helen Rowell and Grayson Altenberg).

Skillets, baking pans, and an enormous copper bowl all hung from pegs along the wall in Bill Clinton’s boyhood home. Pegs or a mounted rack can do similar wonders for your cookware.

Even a magnetic knife strip, like this one from IKEA, can change your culinary game.

Lesson 6: Be strategic about your house plants.

lbj ranch main house in stonewall, texas
Wikimedia/Larry D. Moore

President: Lyndon B. Johnson
Home: Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in Stonewall, Texas

The 36th president first acquired the “LBJ Ranch” or “Texas White House” in 1951 when his aunt gave him her rundown ranch.

Lyndon B. Johnson had his eye on the property since his teenage summers spent on the range, and he quickly built out the place into a folksy retreat from his demanding political life.

While he was president, Johnson hosted other past presidents like Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Richard Nixon at the ranch. Guests could expect to receive a tour of LBJ’s prized Hereford cattle in the Show Barn. Or a terrifying dip in the lake.

The prankster president was fond of scaring visitors with his Amphicar by driving off…into the lake…without warning.

But it wasn’t all fun and games. If an important call came in for anyone, they could get down to business: Johnson had around 300 phone lines installed in his Texas ranch.

The Johnsons were obviously nature lovers, so they decorated their home with all kinds of greenery. They didn’t just load down every table with a sprawling fern. They were strategic.

A small cactus on the desk here. A basket of wildflowers on the sitting room table there. And a much larger potted plant on the fireplace hearth.

Look for houseplants in a variety of sizes, suited for a variety of surfaces in your home. That way, you can keep your place nice and green without sacrificing too much counter space.

Lesson 7: Invest in extendable furniture.

president ronald reagan boyhood home in dixon, illinois
Flickr/Roman Boed

President: Ronald Reagan
Home: Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home in Dixon, Illinois

The Dixon, Illinois home where teenage Ronald Reagan lived is nothing like the $15 million Bel-Air mansion he would later share with his wife Nancy. But since you probably don’t need advice on maintaining giant swimming pools, let’s talk about the 40th president’s childhood house.

Four Reagans occupied the two-story home: Ronald, his parents Jack and Nelle, and his older brother Neil. The boys had one bedroom, Jack and Nelle had another. There was also a kitchen, dining room, two parlors, and a sewing room.

Although the family only lived there for three years (the Reagans moved a lot), Ronald seemed to have a special attachment to this particular house. “All of us have a place we go back to; Dixon is that place for me,” he wrote in his autobiography.

What made the place so magical?

Well, the Reagan matriarch probably had something to do with it. By all accounts, Nelle Reagan was an industrious woman, and it shows in her kitchen.

The tops of her cupboards and ovens are home to kettles and creamers. And her space-saving table is home to our jealousy. The table seemingly fits only two, but snap up the leaves and you can feed the whole family.

Look for extendable furniture that can stretch space constraints in your home as well. Search for tables with drop leaves, desks with pull-out panels like the tables in Carmel Place, and even futons that turn your living room into a makeshift guest room.

Bonus Lesson: MakeSpace takes care of all your storage needs.

Home: Your own

You might admire Rose Kennedy’s interior decorating, but you don’t have a spacious beach “compound” to accommodate all your belongings.

Heck, you (and us) would settle for an apartment with an actual dining room.

Good news: You can still live like a president in cramped quarters. All you need is MakeSpace.

Schedule a pickup and we’ll pick up your extra furniture, kitchenware, luggage and anything else that’s taking up valuable room in your home.

Then, we’ll transport everything to our secure, temperature-controlled storage facility. We’ll even create an online photo catalog of every item so you always know what you have in storage.

But that’s not all.

When you want something back from storage, you don’t have to drag yourself to a storage unit way across town. Just log into your MakeSpace account, select the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it to you.

You may never win a presidential election. But with MakeSpace, you can win the endless campaign for more space in your place.

Top image via Wikimedia/Scewing

Hygge: The Danish Secret To Staying Cozy And Happy All Winter Long

Everyone has an opinion on how to survive the cold, dark months of winter. Some people swear you need a light therapy box. Others say a good humidifier and lots of moisturizer are key.

But the Danes? The Danes say you need hygge.

Hygge is a comfy lifestyle craze that has been gathering steam in the past year. You might have seen books about it, or just wondered how to pronounce it. So what is hygge? And will it really help you through the freezing nights ahead?

This guide will explain what hygge is, why the Danish swear by it, and how you can apply it to your life and home.

While there’s no one way to practice hygge, these tips should point you in the right direction. If you’re a truly serious student, throw on your fluffiest pair of socks before scrolling down.

Click any of the following links to jump to a specific section:
Hygge Definition
Hygge Origin
Hygge Pronunciation
Why Is Hygge So Popular?
How To Hygge Your Life
How To Hygge Your Home

Hygge Definition

hygge definition: feeling cozy and content, and embracing life's simple pleasures

Hygge is a Danish word meaning “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” Basically, it’s when you’re cozy and you feel good about it.

You can use warm slippers, a nice cup of tea, or just a good meal to achieve hygge. It’s the feeling, not the cause, that’s important.

Hygge didn’t just show up a few years ago. The concept has long been a part of Danish culture. Back in 1957, The New Yorker reported that “the sidewalks [in Copenhagen] are filled with smiling, hyggelige people, who keep lifting their hats to each other and who look at a stranger with an expression that indicates they wish they knew him well enough to lift their hats to him, too.”

Many believe hygge is part of the reason why Denmark routinely lands on top of the World Happiness Report. (Denmark ranked #1 in 2012, #1 in 2013, #3 in 2015, and #1 in 2016).

Hygge Origin

rooftop view of winter in kongens nytorv, a public square in copenhagen, denmark
Flickr/Kristoffer Trolle

According to the BBC, hygge is a means to cope with those brutal Nordic winters. Denmark can go dark for up to 17 hours a day during the worst of the season, and the average temperature is frequently around 32 degrees.

So there’s not much else to do but stay inside, which forced the Danes to get creative about their indoor activities. Hence, hygge.

Hygge Pronunciation

The Danes pronounce “hygge” as “hue-gah.” Turn up your volume and watch this quick video to hear the correct way to pronounce hygge:

Why Is Hygge So Popular?

hygge books in a bookcase at waterstones picadilly in london
Flickr/Cory Doctorow

The publishing world went on a bit of a hygge craze starting around 2015, and it’s not stopping anytime soon. The concept was quickly sold as an appealing self-improvement trend that could follow Marie Kondo’s “life-changing magic” of decluttering.

After all, who doesn’t like cozy candles and cardigans?

There was a big wave of hygge lifestyle books in 2016 that included The Year of Living Danishly, The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well, The Little Book of Hygge, The Cozy Life: Rediscover the Joy of the Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge, and many more.

Once the dust settled, publishers saw they had a hit. And since your friends likely read one of those best-selling books, that’s why you’re hearing about hygge all the time.

So now that you know the basics of this Danish secret to happiness, how do you incorporate hygge into your life and home? Allow us to explain…

How To Hygge Your Life

1. Spend quality time with friends and family.

gone girl synopsis on a flat screen tv in a living room

Marie Tourell Søderberg lists “togetherness” as a key aspect of hygge in her book Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness. Hanging out with the people you like best is a great way to get your hygge on, and it doesn’t really matter what you do.

Dinner parties, coffee dates, or even a Netflix binge can all do the trick. Here are a few more cozy group activities from The Kitchn.

2. Avoid multi-tasking.

A magazine, a flower in a pot, and a cup of coffee are on top of a wooden crate.

Hygge is all about savoring, which means multi-tasking is a no-no. If you find yourself reaching for your phone to check emails while you watch a movie, turn off the phone.

Or if you keep checking out of conversations with your roommate to wash dishes, embrace the time with your roommate and try to steer the conversation towards a topic that the both of you find interesting.

You should focus solely on enjoying your leisure, and don’t feel bad about it. You’re allowed to just read a magazine or just catch up on Game of Thrones. That’s a major part of hygge’s appeal.

3. Remove stressors.

hygge coffee mug that reads "keep calm and drink coffee" on a coffee table

Hygge is supposed to improve your well-being, so anything that makes you feel stressed or sad is not allowed. The Year of Living Danishly author, Helen Russell, believes the best description of hygge is “the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming.”

Sounds nice.

So the more you can eliminate (or at least temporarily minimize) your stressors during hygge time, the happier you’ll be.

4. Leave work at a reasonable time.

empty workspace with an apple imac

Denmark strongly believes in a healthy work-life balance. In fact, they kind of enforce it.

Every Dane gets a minimum five weeks of paid vacation per year. Long work hours aren’t really a thing in that country, and the parental leave policies (52 weeks!) are incredibly generous. It’s no wonder The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) routinely ranks Denmark high on its list of countries with the best work-life balance.

So if you want to emulate those high-on-hygge Danes, you can start by leaving the office at a reasonable time. You have to get your work done, of course, but don’t linger behind solely to impress your manager or redraft a proposal that’s already solid.

Get out and get cozy instead.

5. Eat well.

 

The whole hygge lifestyle is sometimes described as “healthy hedonism.” And what’s healthy hedonism without some fine food and drink?

As the above video demonstrates, there’s no guilt in hygge. Just a whole bunch of almond cake, winter salads, and spiked punch.

The book that Jean Menzies, a creative producer at Pan Macmillan, hypes in the clip is How to Hygge by chef and author Signe Johnasen. Signe may be Norwegian, but all the Nordic countries have a pretty firm grasp of hygge.

If you’re curious about what else Signe likes to cook, here are tasty recipes for her salmon burgers, sticky ginger cake with clementine glaze, and roast rack of lamb with a rye, herb, and spice crust. They definitely count as comfort food.

6. Ride your bike.

 

Denmark loves its bicycles. Copenhagen has nearly 250 miles of bike lanes to prove it! And apparently, bikes are yet another part of hygge.

The above video from VisitDenmark, the official tourism site of Denmark, proves it. When VisitDenmark sent a Swede out to discover what hygge is, the first place she stopped at was a combination bike shop-cafe.

So take your bicycle out for a ride. As long as you’re adequately bundled up and the streets are clear, there’s no reason why winter should get in the way of your pedaling.

7. Wear comfortable clothing.

hygge clothing hanging on a clothes rack in an apartment

Hygge promises constant comfort. And if you expect to be comfy 24/7, you’ll need to dress for the part. But that doesn’t mean you have to wear dowdy sweats all winter long.

Vogue has several chic tips on incorporating hygge into your wardrobe. Have you considered head-to-toe knits? How about Gucci-approved layering?

Then there’s the Sarah Lund sweater. Sarah Lund is the lead character on The Killing — the original Danish one, not the remake you caught on AMC. She wears a specific sweater on the show, and viewers went wild over it.

Sarah Lund’s sweater quickly became its own website, where you can find advice on how to knit a copycat. But if you need to have the OG, head over to Gudrun & Gudrun. The Faroe Islands company still makes the sweater in several colors.

Just be sure to brace your wallet: the Sarah Lund sweater costs $400.

How To Hygge Your Home

1. Curate a hygge candle collection.

In The Little Book of Hygge, author and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, Meik Wiking, writes that “no recipe for hygge is complete without candles.”

When Danes are asked what they associate with hygge, 85% say candles. That must be why the average Dane burns about 13 pounds of candle wax each year.

But that doesn’t mean you should stock up on “Bahama Breeze” and “Peach Bellini” varieties. The Danes are all about organic, natural candles, so don’t seek out anything with an overly artificial scent.

2. Don’t forget about hygge lamps.

Candles aren’t the only lights Danes care about. Lamps are just as important. Hygge-conscious Danes are known to shell out major money for designer lamps, even if they’re on a tight budget.

The wattage is what’s crucial here. Optimal “hyggelig” (the adjective form of hygge) lighting resembles an open flame or sunset. So go low rather than high. And whatever you do, don’t go fluorescent.

3. Bring the great outdoors indoors with plants.

hygge plants, including a fern and red berries

The Danes are big nature lovers. They are people who love to go on long walks and hikes even when it’s cold outside. But what do they do when it’s too blustery, dark, or dangerous to stroll through the natural scenery?

They bring the greenery indoors. A few houseplants — think ferns, spider plants, and weeping figs — can go a long way. In fact, gardening has been scientifically proven to lower blood pressure and boost endorphins, which can bring about feelings of euphoria.

How to Hygge also recommends a small aloe vera plant in your kitchen (for soothing burns) and fresh flowers once a week. The flowers shouldn’t be too showy, though. Stick to one variety or color to avoid “look[ing] twee.”

4. Build a fire — or stream one.

 

When you think “cozy,” you probably imagine sitting in a comfy chair in front of a roaring fire. This is a pretty classic hygge scenario, so if you have a fireplace in your home, you should definitely put it to use.

Once you have flames kindling, close the gate and curl up on your space-saving sofa with a blanket and a good book. You’ll feel like a hygge natural in no time.

But if your home doesn’t have a hearth, you can still hack that cozy feeling. Just stream a fake fire onto your TV. Seriously, even the Danish pros do this.

Netflix subscribers have the entire “Fireplace for Your Home” series at their disposal. For Amazon Prime members, there’s Yule Log. Hulu has the hour-long “Christmas Fireplace.” And YouTube has the video embedded above.

5. Soften and simplify your home with hygge decor.

cat sleeping on a hygge rug

What do we mean by “soften and simplify”?

Let’s break it down one word at a time:

Softening your home means making it plusher with soft fabrics. That means area rugs, tapestries, and lots and lots of throw blankets. Drape a throw all over the place. Or pile them high in baskets for your guests (and self).

Simplifying is a little more complicated. Hygge practitioners would definitely get along with Marie Kondo considering they too do not believe in overly cluttered living spaces. But “simplifying” doesn’t just mean ditching your old clothes. It also means making tasks easier.

Consider this HGTV example: Open kitchen shelves don’t just lighten the space in a way that cabinets do. They also make the task of cleaning simpler. Think about similar redecorating moves that you can apply in your own apartment.

6. Designate a hygge nook.

hygge window nook in a home

According to Good Housekeeping UK, a good nook can make all the difference. Designating a favorite spot in your home where you can unwind with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine will help you get your hygge on, so look around your place.

Maybe this nook is the end of your sofa, an easy chair, or a window seat. Once you’ve found your nook, keep an extra cushion or blanket nearby. You know, in case of a hygge emergency.

7. Achieve hygge with MakeSpace.

 

You understand what you need to hygge up your life. You already picked out the candles, lamps, houseplants, and blankets. (And scheduled a tea party with your sister.) But you’re just not sure how you’re supposed to make everything work.

You can barely fit any new socks in your tiny home. How are you supposed to add a few ferns — and a couple of new throws — in there, too?

You don’t need to go to Copenhagen to find that answer. Just go to makespace.com and schedule a pickup.

We’ll come get whatever’s standing in the way of your new Danish lifestyle. Then, we’ll transport your stuff to our secure, temperature-controlled storage facility. We’ll also create an online photo catalog of your things, so you always remember what you have in storage.

But here’s what will make you feel extra cozy:

When you want something back from storage, you won’t have to spend hours digging through dusty boxes in a dim storage unit. Simply log into your MakeSpace account, select the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver the item to you.

With that kind of service, you’ll be at the top of the World Happiness Report in no time.

An Interior Designer Shows You How To Create A Fancy Foyer With A Simple Room Divider

Tiny homes and apartments often have a front door that opens directly into the living room or dining room, so there’s no distinct foyer. Although that isn’t usually a deal breaker when buying your first home or renting, it is nice to have a designated entryway.

One solution is to build a dividing wall, but unless you’re using EverBlocks, that means bringing out the power tools and running to the home improvement store for wood and sheetrock.

An easier way is to “build” a different kind of room divider. By “build,” I mean set up a screen to separate the living room from the front door.

An advantage of using a room divider or screen is its portability. If or when you move, it goes with you. But the best part is you can find or create one to fit your home’s exact style. If you’re the creative, do-it-yourself type, the possibilities are endless.

I happened to have a four-part screen with framed-in wood and cardboard inserts. It has two-way hinges that allow it to fold in a variety of flexible stand positions.

4-panel room divider with a wooden frame and cardboard inserts
Merry Cvetan

As an interior designer, I’m always looking for ways to add personality to a client’s home. For first-time homeowners or young professionals renting their first “grown-up” apartment, the design budget is usually limited. However, a limited budget doesn’t mean you can’t turn your home into a space that reflects your style.

To the surprise of many people, I recommend wallpaper. Not only is it making a comeback, but you can use it in more ways than just on the wall. Wallpaper is available in so many patterns and prints, from traditional to abstract, with a rainbow of color options. If you don’t find a paper you absolutely love, you aren’t trying hard enough!

For this room divider, I decided on warm, brown tones, since neutral colors tend to be more versatile. I found a mottled brown wallpaper that resembles natural stone. The depths of colors give it a rich texture.

mottled brown wallpaper that resembles natural stone
Merri Cvetan

Although I love stripes and plaids, I suggest avoiding patterns with vertical or horizontal lines for a multi-section divider. You’ll have to be perfect when trying to match up straight lines, so it’s much easier to forgo them altogether.

First, I painted the wood frame with a semi-gloss latex paint in a matching shade of brown before setting up my wallpaper. A portable folding table is the perfect work surface when working with wallpaper in any installation.

4-panel room divider with semi-gloss latex paint
Merri Cvetan

Since my screen sections are just shy of 13 inches wide by 55 ¾ inches long, I chose a 27-inch-wide wallpaper so I could get two widths out of each length. Using a straight-edge ruler and an X-ACTO knife, I measured and cut each piece.

the back of the room divider's wallpaper has lines for cutting with an x-acto knife
Meri Cvetan

Before attaching the paper to the screen, I laid out each piece to make sure they fit.

room divider panel with mottled brown wallpaper and a tape measure on top
Merri Cvetan

For this project, prepasted wallpaper was the way to go. I also made sure I didn’t pick a really heavy vinyl paper. Following the manufacturer’s directions, I submerged the rolled piece in lukewarm water for 15 to 20 seconds.

a mottled brown wallpaper strip is soaking in lukewarm water
Merri Cvetan

Next, lift the paper out of the water, allowing the excess to run off. Then lay the paper on the table, right side down, and “book” it — meaning fold the paper in half with the back sides together to let the paste activate. Make sure you do not crease the fold.

booking a wallpaper strip on a table
Merri Cvetan

Then lay the paper on the screen section, and gently smooth out any air bubbles with a wallpaper brush. Use a metal paint edger and razor knife to trim away excess paper for a nice clean edge.

Repeat the process with each section, front and back sides, and just like that, you have a beautiful new foyer.

My entryway before I built and added a custom room divider:

merri cvetan's entryway before building and adding a custom 4-panel room divider
Merri Cvetan

My entryway after I built and added a custom room divider:

merri cvetan's entryway after building and adding a custom 4-panel room divider
Merri Cvetan

As you can see, a screen divider instantly transforms one space into two. A hinged screen can be positioned and repositioned depending on your needs and how much space you have. You could also use a coordinating paper on the opposite side so that the foyer would get one look and the living room another.

Choose a paper that suits your personality. If you’re not a neutral person, go bright and bold — there are no rules except to pick a wallpaper you love. Your guests will be wowed when they visit and find out you made this screen yourself.

This article was written by Merri Cvetan, an interior designer who writes for The Home Depot about creating beautiful spaces through crafty DIYs. She provides tips on topics from designing a beautiful master bedroom to creating a foyer when you don’t have one. Visit The Home Depot to see a selection of home decor products you can use to create your own foyer.

How To Decorate A Small Apartment For The Holidays On A Budget

You’re the type of person who starts playing Christmas music in early November. You have several ugly holiday sweaters, and at least five different eggnog recipes.

You’ve seen The Muppet Christmas Carol so many times. You’re embarrassed to reveal the number — but let’s just say it’s in the triple digits.

Basically, you love the holidays. But it’s hard for you to really unleash your cheer, when your apartment (and bank account) can barely accommodate a stocking.

Don’t let space or money hold you back from celebrating the holidays to the max. This guide will show you how to deck the halls even when you have less of a “hall” than a three-person railroad apartment.

With a little strategy and DIY know-how, you’ll have your place looking like Santa’s workshop in no time:

1. Research the Christmas tree market.

christmas trees for sale in nyc
Flickr/Jazz Guy

So you’ve decided to get a tree. The first thing you have to do is figure out where exactly you can get one.

Stroll for a few blocks in your neighborhood and pay particular attention to churches, hardware stores, or any shop that already sells plants. You will usually find Christmas tree pop-ups in front of those places, but they can also show up beside the local CVS.

Still struggling?

amNewYork compiled a bunch of spots in all five boroughs, and DNAinfo has an interactive map.

Now, you shouldn’t necessarily settle for the first tree hub you find. Prices can vary wildly based on your location. If you’re in a ritzier area, you may want to venture outside your neighborhood for a better deal.

Just make sure you have a way to get your out-of-town tree home. Look for vendors with delivery options, or bribe your friend who has a car with cookies.

2. Consider different tree sizes.

small christmas tree for small apartment
Flickr/Stacie

Obviously, prices grow with the size of the tree. Those staggering six-footers are definitely impressive, but they may be a drag on your budget — and your tiny apartment. So ask the vendor for a full breakdown of sizes and prices. The tallest trees might be out of reach (pun intended), but you may be able to snag a mid-sized fir for under $50.

There’s also the beloved Charlie Brown tree. Yes, we’re talking about the scrappy little tree that Charlie Brown picks out, much to Lucy’s chagrin, in A Charlie Brown Christmas.

A 24-inch Charlie Brown Christmas Tree and a MakeSpace storage bin on the side.
MakeSpace

Tree vendors figured out a long time ago that most of their New York customers were pressed for space, so they began offering small, table-top trees or “Charlie Brown trees” as an alternative.

They usually go for about $25-$30 a pop, and they’re often lusher than Charlie’s actual pick. But if you still want to decorate it with a single red bulb, no one will stop you.

3. Get a Christmas tree stand.

christmas tree stand
Flickr/Anthony Crider

A basic Christmas tree stand isn’t going to break the bank, but vendors also don’t throw it in for free. Make sure to bring an extra $5-$10 in cash to cover the cost.

Vendors typically only offer one or two types of stands, so if you prefer a larger selection, shop for the stand separately. Sporting good and hardware stores will have them. So will Target.

Look for a durable tree stand so that you don’t have to return it next year for a replacement. Also look for one that can hold some liquid, because you’re going to be watering the tree constantly.

4. Don’t want to haul a tree? Buy an artificial one online.

fake xmas trees on a table in an apartment
Flickr/Joshua Blount

Are the logistics of finding and hauling a tree back to your place giving you a yuletide migraine?

Skip the stress and buy a fake Christmas tree. There are plenty of convincing (and cheap!) faux trees on the market.

The best part: You can reuse an artificial Christmas tree for as many years as you want.

If you’re planning to order yours online, make sure to do that early, like right now. Otherwise, it won’t show up until New Year’s Eve. (If you’re lucky.)

5. Ask around for spare ornaments, and DIY the rest.

red and gold christmas ornaments
Flickr/Paul VanDerWerf

Alright, now it’s time to decorate your prized tree. If you’re starting your ornament collection from scratch, the cost can quickly rack up. So before you start mass-ordering Golden Girls ornaments, ask your family and friends if they have any spare stuff taking up space in their homes.

There is a high chance your uncle has, at the very least, an extra set of lights gathering dust in his garage. If he’s not using it himself, he’d probably be happy to give them to you.

Once you’ve tapped out those resources, consider making the rest of the ornaments on your own.

Bake clay snowflakes. And sew together felt Santas:

 

You can also make pipe cleaner reindeers. Prefer penguins? Idunn Goddess shows you how to DIY an adorable penguin ornament from a light bulb and paint:

 

6. Hunt for cheap holiday decorations.

manchester christmas market
Flickr/Phil Long

Your apartment’s holiday makeover is not done once you’ve placed a star on top of your tree. You still have walls, coffee tables, and windows to decorate, which you can do for cheap.

Rummage through yard sales and surplus stores first. After that, stalk the aisles of your local drugstore for discounted displays. And don’t forget to search online for any festive flash sales.

You can also stroll through holiday pop-up shops in your neighborhood. A lot of the stuff there will be overpriced, but you can still find affordable items like those ubiquitous paper star lanterns.

7. DIY holiday decorations for your apartment.

diy candy cane pine wreath
Flickr/ProFlowers

Another surefire way to save on holiday decorations? Make them yourself. Start with a crafting classic: the Mason jar snow globe. You can find almost all the supplies — glitter, glue, and tiny sleighs — at your local crafting store.

As The Washington Post points out, the project is simple enough for a child to make. So if you have kids, this is a fun and engaging holiday activity to do with them.

You already know that Mason jars are good at storing pretty much everything. But did you know that Mason jars are also good at being Underwater Forests? You just need some fake flora to bring this forest to life.

You can also make a cute votive display with upcycled cans, wrapping paper, and a wooden hanger. (Make sure to hit Google Translate on that link. The site is written in Hungarian.)

Want a wreath but already blew your greenery budget? Build one out of gift bows.

As Woman’s Day explains, simply attach a loop of floral wire around a Styrofoam wreath ring, which you can find at craft supplies stores, save-on-crafts.com, and even Dollar Tree.

Next, hot glue your bows to the ring. Just remember to think of a color scheme before you start gluing things down.

All of these are excellent DIY holiday decorating ideas, but they each have one flaw:

You can’t eat them.

So let’s turn our attention to the ever-edible gingerbread house. Watch this video from How to Cook That to learn, well, how to make one:

 

8. Make Christmas tree potpourri.

christmas tree close-up
Flickr/Oregon State University

If you ended up getting a larger tree (i.e. one with ample needles to spare), collect a few fragrant branches for a festive potpourri. Olivia Cleans Green has a super easy Christmas tree potpourri recipe.

All you need to do is collect two small branches, break them up, and then combine them in a brown paper bag with cinnamon sticks, cloves, dried orange peel, and cotton balls containing essential oils.

Shake it all up and then marinate it in an airtight container for one week. After that, you can bust out the potpourri whenever you want your apartment to smell like Christmas.

Bought a smaller tree, and think you can’t pull this off without depriving your Charlie Brown tree of one of its precious few branches?

Think again.

Most tree vendors will give you loose branches for free if you ask nicely. Their trees shed all the time, so they have plenty of needles to spare.

9. Line your windows with paper snowflakes.

stick paper snowflakes on windows
Flickr/suzette.nu

Paper snowflakes aren’t just for kids. Now that you have an adult-level set of crafting skills, you can make some seriously intricate ones. You know, the kind that would make Buddy the Elf’s collection look amateur.

 

Regardless of your paper-folding proficiency, these snowflakes are a cheap and fun way to brighten up your windows. Here’s a tutorial from Martha Stewart on how to make fancy paper snowflakes.

10. Display your holiday cards.

things organized neatly holiday cards
Flickr/Lauren Manning

Maybe you don’t have a mantel, but you’re still getting tons of holiday cards from your friends and family across the country. Displaying your loved ones’ smiling faces is a surefire way to boost holiday cheer, so don’t relegate those cards to a pile on your counter.

Make use of your apartment’s vertical space by hanging the cards up on the walls. You can even take a play out of the Real Simple book and turn the holiday cards into a jolly display with a tree branch and some ribbon.

11. DIY a menorah.

There are plenty of creative ideas for anyone celebrating Hanukkah. Try making any of these 13 DIY menorahs from Brit + Co for a candelabrum all your own.

You can use wooden blocks, spray-painted bottles, or color-blocked candlesticks for example.

If you’re really down to get wild, head straight to the rhinestone rhinoceros.

12. Wrap your cabinet doors like presents.

You’ve just wrapped enough sweaters, books, and Hatchimals to last a lifetime, and yet miraculously, you still have some extra ribbon and bows. Use that surplus to apply a cheery touch to your kitchen cabinets.

As these holiday decorating hacks prove, wrapping your cabinets in a simple red ribbon can make your kitchen downright holly-jolly. But if you still feel like that room is lacking holiday spirit, move onto our next tip…

13. Transform your fridge into Frosty the Snowman.

 

Your fridge is already chilly, so it only makes sense to transform it into Frosty the Snowman.

For this cool DIY project, you’ll need to cut out cardboard buttons, eyes, a mouth, and a nose. Then paint the mouth, eyes, and buttons black, and paint the nose bright orange. After the pieces have dried, tape them onto your fridge.

For the finishing touch, upcycle a few strips of old wallpaper into the snowman’s scarf.

14. MakeSpace for Santa’s sleigh

 

You thought you had enough room for a Christmas tree and a few decorations. But somewhere between your first and 50th rotation of “Jingle Bell Rock,” you got a little carried away with holiday cheer and eggnog.

Now your apartment is covered from head to toe in holly, snowflakes, stars, and a giant unmeltable snowman. If you and your less festive furniture is starving for space, you don’t have to ditch the holly. You just have to MakeSpace.

Schedule a pickup and we’ll come collect any chairs, bikes, surfboards, or AC units that are getting in the way of your holiday displays. We’ll then transport everything to our secure temperature-controlled storage facility, and create an online photo catalog of your stuff so you never forget what you packed.

But that’s not all. Here’s something that’s sure to bring joy and goodwill:

When you want your stuff back, you won’t have to unpack a bunch of boxes in a dim self-storage unit way across town. Simply log into your MakeSpace account, select the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it to you.

Until then, enjoy your decorations and the time with your loved ones. We’ll be here when your decorations need a vacation. Happy Holidays!

a makespace bin used for holiday decoration storage

6 Easy DIY Fixes For Common Household Problems

There’s a scene in It’s a Wonderful Life that pretty much encapsulates the ups and downs of homeowning. It’s the loose ball cap on the stairway newel — at first, it’s endearing. But after years of wear and tear, it definitely loses its novelty.

Don’t tell George Bailey, but homeowners have been dreaming up DIY fixes for these kinds of problems for hundreds of years — most of them with common ingredients and equipment you can find in your pantry or shed.

1. Use wood putty and a sander to buff out baseboard dings.

how to repair baseboards

Battered baseboards are no friend to polished home decor, but they’re unfortunately all too common in our busy world of furniture moving and active kids.

Luckily, wood putty exists. You just take a little bit of this stuff, spread it over minor scratches to even them out, and then sand it down after it’s dry.

Touch it up with a little paint and no one will be any wiser.

2. Unclog slow-draining bathroom sinks with baking soda and white vinegar.

how to fix clogged sink in bathroom

Nobody wants to revisit yesterday’s toothpaste. But when the sinks in your bathroom are draining slow, or not at all, it can be hard to wash all the gunk away in short order.

Thankfully, this problem is fairly easy to fix, and can be corrected using safe, natural ingredients that are a lot better for the environment than your typical drain cleaner.

To start, grab a box of baking soda and a bottle of white vinegar off your shelf. Unscrew the drain cover and dump a ½ cup of baking soda down the drain. Then pour a ½ cup of vinegar down after it, and let it go to town!

It will start fizzing and bubbling, just let it work its magic for a few minutes. Then turn on the tap and enjoy your primping clog-free.

3. Recaulk cracking window seals to prevent wind from driving you insane.

caulking windows to stop wind from coming through

The wind is just like a prying coworker or neighbor: Give it the tiniest in and it will try to get inside and start nosing around. That’s why it’s so important to keep your window seals in good shape.

If you have caulking that’s cracked, don’t worry, it’s easy enough to fix. Use a utility knife to scrape out the old stuff, wipe it down with a cloth, and then reapply silicone caulking in a straight bead all around the window panes.

Lastly, smooth the caulking down and wipe any excess away. Not only will your windows look nicer, you may just save some money on your utility bills, too!

4. Conquer grimy shower grout with baking soda, water, and vinegar.

clean grout with vinegar, baking soda, water, lemon, and salt

If your shower tiles are moldy or grimy, can you really be sure you’re even getting clean?

Washing your hair shouldn’t be a science experiment, but grime that’s basically baked into your tiles needs some special attention.

For an all natural solution, turn once again to our old friends vinegar and baking soda. Line the grout between the tiles with baking soda, then spritz it with a solution of one part water and one part vinegar from a spray bottle.

Give it a few minutes, then scrub it down with a wire brush.

5. Silence squeaky boards with this baby product…

fix squeaky floors with baby powder

Bet you didn’t know that a little common baby powder can stop creaking floorboards in their tracks. You did? Oh well. For those who didn’t know, sweep a thin layer of it across the boards.

The dust will get into the cracks and prevent the boards from rubbing together. Which means no more things going bump in the middle of the night.

6. Put runaway knobs in their place with wood glue or nail polish.

fix loose drawer handle with wood glue or fingernail polish

Got a drawer knob with a mind of its own?

Keep knobs from instigating their own great escape with this simple fix: Unscrew the knob and dip the end in wood glue or fingernail polish.

Let it set overnight, and then relive the glory that is opening your drawer, wobble-free.

That’s all it takes to avoid six common households. If only they had this list in Bedford Falls…

This article was written by Erin Vaughan, a blogger, gardener, and aspiring homeowner. She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full-time for Modernize, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.