Category Archives: Tips

8 Tips To Sell Used Furniture Online Fast (And For The Most Money)

Let’s face it, whether you’re moving into a new place or just redecorating your current home, the last thing you’ll want to worry about is having to sell your furniture. On the other hand, there’s an opportunity to make money while decluttering your home!

To help you out, we’ve come up with a simple list of quick and effective strategies that will teach you how to sell used furniture online fast — and for the most money:

1. Determine the condition of your furniture

a woman standing in front of locker-inspired storage cubes and organizing things
AptDeco

The first thing you should do is to take a look at the condition of your item. Does it have blemishes? Is it in good shape? Does it have any useful life left?

These are some the questions you should objectively ask yourself while reviewing your furniture. You may love your item, but it’s important to consider whether it’d also be desirable to someone else.

2. Consider your timing

brown leather sofa
Katie Steuernagle

Most people don’t know that timing plays a huge role in the process of selling your furniture. If you need to sell your furniture right away, it’s recommended to lower the price of your item. This increases the chances of selling your item much faster (hint: people are always looking for deals).

On the other hand, if you’re not in a rush, you can offer your item for a higher price and take it from there. The right buyer will appear!

Another interesting fact about timing is that furniture market trends are similar to those of real estate. People tend to start selling their furniture during summer because it’s a desirable time to move into a new home.

3. Determine the value of your furniture

pierre jeanneret chair
My Unfinished Home

When thinking about pricing your item, consider its characteristics: age, condition, brand, and of course, your time of sale. We generally encourage sellers to list used furniture at about 20 – 50% of the original retail price since furniture is very much like any other depreciable asset.

One exception: pieces that are part of a unique or special collection because they tend to lose value once they’re taken from their retail location.

If you’re still not sure how to price your furniture, try using our Furniture Calculator. It estimates the value of your furniture based on its details.

4. Check your competition

a woman wearing headphones while reading her phone and sitting in a canvas chair
AptDeco

If you’re selling in a well-balanced marketplace like AptDeco, search for pieces that resemble your item in style, condition, brand, and age. Then figure out how you can improve your item to make sure it’s more competitive and attractive than the rest. This will also help you define the right price for your item.

Remember: This is a game of supply and demand.

5. Take great pictures of your furniture

brown leather sofa surrounded on all sides by a bookcase
AptDeco

We’ve seen thousands of furniture listings on our site, so take it from us: pictures do matter.

Now, when we say “pictures,” we’re not just making reference to stock photos. We’re actually talking about real-life images that show the actual conditions of your item.

Keep in mind that people buying furniture online are making decisions without seeing the item in person, and thus it’s important to provide a full glimpse of the piece to help them make informed decisions about their purchase.

Not an expert in photography?

No problem!

Follow these four easy tips to help make your furniture look picture perfect and command the highest price possible:

  1. Clean your furniture before you photograph it.
  2. Remove any clutter, such as pillows, throws, cups, and books
  3. Take photos during prime daylight hours.
  4. Take eye-level pictures of your furniture’s front, back, and sides.

6. Tell your furniture’s story

wooden cassette tape coffee table
Brit+Co

This is your moment. Be creative with your sales pitch. Make your listing rich with details.

Think of all the things that are important to you when you’re buying furniture: color, dimensions, brand, style, materials, etc. All those things are also key drivers for buyers of used furniture.

Was your item made by a popular brand like CB2, West Elm, or Room & Board? Or was it made by a local craft maker with a unique story? Include those details as some shoppers may prefer one manufacturer over the other.

Is your item an antique or a high-value piece? Share a proof of authenticity like a photo of the furniture’s label or your purchase receipt.

By following the above tips, you will accomplish these three things all at once:

  1. Reduce the number of questions that shoppers ask you.
  2. Make your furniture look more irresistible to shoppers.
  3. Increase your furniture’s perceived value so you can sell it for a higher price.

7. Be honest about your furniture’s condition

stylish wood dining table
AptDeco

It’s normal for furniture to suffer a bit of damage with use. You know this, we know this, and buyers know this. Feel free to share some details and pictures of any damages, such as stains, tears, chips, scratches, and dents.

Buyers like to know exactly what they’re getting beforehand. They don’t mind damage as long as you’re upfront about it. Keep in mind that the used furniture market is a sharing economy that depends on trust. This is what really motivates people to buy furniture from someone they’ve never met.

8. Be proactive

a father sitting on the floor of a stylish living room while lifting his son in the air
AptDeco

Lastly, make sure to step up your game and share your listing in a marketplace like AptDeco. We’ll help you promote your item to our community, take care of pickup and delivery, and make sure you earn the most money from your furniture.

This article was written by AptDeco, an online marketplace for quality pre-owned furniture. With a verified community of buyers and sellers and pre-arranged pick-up and delivery, AptDeco is a simple and reliable way to buy and sell furniture without the hassle.

7 Reversible Apartment Upgrades That Won’t Break The Bank, Or Your Lease

Apartment living, whether by necessity or as a chosen lifestyle, often lacks a desirable factor: The freedom to do whatever you please with your space. For tenants, the lease may be as limiting as it is binding.

The good news? Your home needn’t be any less cozy just because it’s temporary. While knocking down walls – or in some cases, even a simple paint job – is probably out of the question, there’s a lot you can do without declaring war on your landlord.

You might think “redecorating” necessitates a grand-scale, permanent renovation. However, swapping some smaller, everyday things can also greatly influence the way you feel about your surroundings.

Ready for some subtle-yet-effective embellishment? Our friends at RENTCafé have seven tricks up their sleeves to make you feel instantly more at home in your flat.

And when your lease is up? Simply revert these swaps, sweat-free.  

1. Let there be light fixtures

kitchen light fixtures
RENTCafé Charlotte NC apartments

So you want to put your apartment in good light and are wondering where to start … With the lights, obviously! Since they’re such integral parts of any room, changing the light fixtures will affect the space’s entire atmosphere.

Whether you prefer tungsten, fluorescent, halogen, or LED light bulbs, pendant fixtures work with all of them. They also come in all shapes and sizes to make bold statements.

The same goes for surface-mounted units. They’re a more subdued choice and guarantee an easy, reversible installation.

Change the switch covers, too, while you’re at it. In a small space especially, this tiny swap can make a big difference. Funky picks add whimsy, while clean ones make for a streamlined effect.

2. Add a breezy frame with curtains

bedroom window curtain
RENTCafé Cincinnati, OH apartments

Natural light is also something you can play with. Blinds rarely offer much flexibility, if any. But if your windows happen to be set up for textile curtains, you’re in business, since the good old curtain rod works with any fabric you fancy.

It’s been said that curtains make a room, so the fabric you choose should reflect that room’s purpose. Setting a formal tone? Opt for silk. Prefer a more casual look?  Go with linen or crinkly velvet. Balance patterned furniture with a solid-colored curtain, or vice-versa.

3. Get a handle on your cabinet’s appearance

upgrade kitchen cabinet handles
Gusto & Grace

Handles: You wouldn’t believe how much of an impact these little guys have on the way your cabinets look. Until you change them, that is.

It’s a cheap swap, and the only tool you need is a screwdriver. Keep the original ones stashed away, though, to stay on the safe side with your landlord.

4. Get a better faucet and go with the flow

upgrade kitchen faucet
RENTCafé Fullerton CA apartments

Whether style or functionality is what you’re after, you’ll almost certainly find something at your local supplier that can do better than the cookie-cutter faucets that come standard in most apartment kitchens.

If you’re not comfortable with wrenches and o-rings, a professional will be happy to install it for you.

5. Make the bathroom sparkle in more ways than one

upgrade shower head
RENTCafé Austin TX apartments

All those tiles and porcelain may lead you to think that bathrooms are pretty much set in stone. But there’s plenty of stuff you can personalize. Add a unique toilet seat cover, or switch your mirror out for a newer one.

Even a good shower head has the power to radically change the way you think of your time in the tub. Don’t worry, replacing them is a breeze most of the time.

6. Treat your toes to a clean, dry floor

upgrade bathroom rug
Flickr/meline@

You already know that stepping on cold tiles after a nice hot shower feels uncomfortable, to say the least. So if you’ve been enduring it until now, it’s time to invest in a nice rug.

Pro Tip: Buy several, smaller rugs. They fit in any bathroom and you’ll always have a crisp, dry one at hand.

7. Take control of your personal climate with a thermostat

man changing thermostat

Speaking of temperature, it goes without saying that optimal temperature is crucial if you want to feel at home in your apartment. Invest in a high-quality thermostat. It will take care of your thermal comfort and save you money in the long run.

A good thermostat can control all kinds of heating and cooling systems. It should also last a lifetime so you can bring it with you when you move.

We hope our tips and tricks will serve you well. If you are after more artsy ways to personalize your home sweet home, don’t worry: our friends at RENTCafé have more ideas to jumpstart your imagination.

Top image via RENTCafé Evanston IL apartments

This article was written by Balazs Szekely from apartment search website RENTCafé.

48 Best Organizing Tips And Ideas From 20 Top Professional Organizers

The benefits of getting organized are endless: There’s less housework. Goals become clearer. There’s more space for things you love. You may even sleep better.

There’s just one hurdle: The journey from Clutterville to Tidy Town can be bumpy.

To make your ride as smooth as possible, we asked 20 top professional organizers to share their best organizing tips and ideas.

All aboard!

Beth Penn, BNeato Bar

1. How to determine if your clutter is, well, clutter

beth penn, a professional organizer in los angeles, california

Clutter is sometimes hard to recognize. We live in our houses day-in and day-out, where clutter becomes part of the landscape. We don’t recognize piles and groupings of stuff because it’s become the norm. We have gotten pretty good at ignoring clutter, or just plain not realizing it’s moved in.

It usually doesn’t show itself until you can’t find what you’re looking for, or realize you have bought something you already had – costing time and money.

My recommendation for individuals wondering if they have clutter is this: Take a photo of the space. Start small with a drawer, a closet shelf, or a bookcase. Zoom in on the photo. How does the stuff make you feel? Do you use it all? How often? How would your life feel if the space was tidy, leaving room to grow?

The answers to these questions will be great indicators to the work that needs to be done.

2. Keep these three things in your bag to stay organized on-the-go

  • Cord Tacos for wrangling cords and earbuds (lifesavers, since wires can become a tangled mess).
  • Scannable app for taking photos of receipts and recycling paper.
  • A portable iPhone charger.

3. Use these four apps to digitally organize and save time

Snooze: Allows the user to snooze an email until they are ready to deal with it.

Snippets: We often type the same text over and over; emails, phrases, introductions – the list goes on and on. Snippets saves time by allowing you to create templates of saved text that you can insert within any email just by typing a short command.

Todoist: A task management app that coordinates effortlessly with Gmail. There are so many great features but my favorite is the ability to create to-dos from actual emails, therefore getting rid of the email. Emails can’t be prioritized, but in Todoist, they are.

FileThis : An online tool that helps me stay paperless. FileThis logs into each of my accounts and files my statements in Dropbox. It also alerts me when things are coming due so that nothing falls through the cracks.

Seana Turner, The Seana Method

seana turner, a professional organizer in connecticut

4. Accept that you probably do need to declutter

You may think you don’t have anything you want to get rid of, but believe me, you probably do. Even if you’ve carefully pruned before a move, you will likely still pull items out of a box and think, “Why did I bring this?”

Life tends to bring new items into our space each day, and we frequently fail to recognize the pace at which we are accumulating things.

5. Let yourself let go

Ownership is overrated. Often we feel that we need to own something to enjoy it. In reality, we may get more pleasure out of borrowing or renting something. Anything we own requires that we clean it, move it, store it, maintain it, and maybe insure it. This all takes energy. Be open to alternative ways to access and enjoy physical objects.

6. Get your kids on board

Set times each day for restoring order. Avoid using the words “clean up,” which children interpret as “make look pretty.” This leads to items being tossed into the nearest container.

Teach children that a space needs to be reset, with items going back into their homes. Do this at least once a day, and maybe more if children are in the space all day. For example, consider a cleanup before lunch and before dinner.

7. File, don’t pile

Paperwork is always better stored vertically than horizontally. Piles are difficult to sort through, and typically only provide a reminder of the page that is on the top. Even in a mostly paperless environment, there will still be some paper, so have either a file drawer or box where this paper belongs.

Separate the action space from the storeroom. Often we buy office products in bulk (e.g., a box of pens and a 20-pack of sticky notes). Don’t keep all of them in your desk. Keep one or two of each supply at your desk, but set up a separate supply space for the bulk packages. When a pen runs dry, throw it away and go get another from your storage area.

8. Put items away now, rather than later

It is very tempting to put something down rather than away. We tell ourselves we will put it away later, but then life gets in the way and it never happens. If you can, push yourself to get the item to its final destination in the moment.

Pooja Naik, Organizing With You

pooja naik, a professional organizer in chicago, illinois

9. Seek functionality over visual appeal

This is the best way to ensure you can stay organized. Organizing is about creating systems that cater to your needs, not just tidying up or putting things in piles. If you’re a visual person, label everything!

10. Take baby steps for your organizing goals

If it gets overwhelming, you will lose interest and momentum. A little bit every day, but continuity is key.

Organizing is not an end destination, it’s a process of acquiring skills, applying them, and being committed to being organized every day.

Linda Samuels, Oh, So Organized!

linda samuels, a professional organizer in croton-on-hudson, ny

11. Use an event to motivate your decluttering efforts

Entertain: Throwing a party, from an intimate dinner to a large BBQ, can motivate us to declutter as we prepare for company. Use social, happiness-producing events for clutter maintenance.

Move: Moving motivates us to evaluate our stuff and release the extraneous. The more you edit and declutter before a move, the faster your home will sell, and the easier it’ll be to organize your new space.

Sell: Having a yard sale gives you a specific deadline to work towards, increases your letting-go motivation, is an enjoyable social activity, and lets you make a few bucks in the process. It’s also fun to meet the buyers of your stuff.

Free Bonus: Move-Out And Move-In Cleaning Checklists You Can Actually Use

12. Prevent future clutter by developing a steady awareness of what you are doing

If you have just entered the house with groceries or purchases in hand, take time to put them away. The few minutes spent doing this minimizes clutter that might otherwise collect in hallways, corners, and on floors.

13. Tackle any closet build-up with these basic starts

Remove all extra hangers. Recycle, give away, or reroute hangers that don’t belong.

Pick up your clothes from the closet floor. Hang them up or reroute to laundry, dry cleaners, or giveaway.

Set the timer for 10 minutes, and quickly remove clothes that you absolutely no longer want. Reroute them to give away.

Voilà! This is a great beginning. Your closet feels more spacious and is on its way to being clutter-free.

Regina Lark, A Clear Path

regina lark, a professional organizer in los angeles, california

14. Set aside time and energy

Before one can start a decluttering strategy, one needs to make sure to:

  • Schedule blocks of time for every single project.
  • Plan in advance by putting every single project on a calendar.
  • Have someone to help on the projects that are too heavy, too emotional, too time-consuming.

15. A place for everything, and everything in its place

To stay organized anywhere, be mindful of everything you bring in through your front door. Everything needs its own home – don’t bring it in unless you know exactly where it’s going to live.

Rachel Rosenthal, Rachel & Company

rachel rosenthal, a professional organizer in washington, dc

16. How to begin decluttering if you’re overwhelmed by all your stuff

Once you start purging items (donate, trash, or consign) you’ll likely feel relieved, and even motivated to move on to another area.

Enlisting the help of a friend or family member to help you get through the task will give you the support needed to finish the (sometimes daunting) task at hand.

Tip: Start in the kitchen and pantry to weed out any expired food. I’m sure you’ll be surprised at what you’ve been holding onto, and will be inspired to tackle the next spot!

17. Limit your nightstand contents to vital objects

Items like eyeglasses, hand cream, ChapStick, a phone charger, and a nightly read (e.g., book, magazine, or e-reader) are the standard for this storage spot. If your necessities list is longer, by all means don’t stop yourself from having the items within arms’ reach.

If you depend on your nightstand for extra storage, just make sure you are strategic about what goes inside. It’s easy for an empty drawer to turn into a junk catch-all, so in order to prevent that from happening, give it a purpose before you start storing. Stick with one or two categories (e.g., sunglasses and jewelry) so that you know exactly what’s stored inside when you need it.

18. Restrict items in your office space to what you really need

A pad of paper and pen are always helpful for jotting down the thoughts and reminders filling your head. Headphones or noise-cancelling earbuds are great for blocking out noise and helping you focus. And a calendar nearby (digital or hard-copy) is a necessity to keep your schedule in check.

If you have the available space, add a personal touch with framed art or a plant.

Use structure in drawers. There is no way to keep small supplies from sloshing together if you don’t have a drawer organizer. Measure and get inserts to keep like items together.

19. Be strategic when packing for a trip

Create a list of items that you need to bring to ensure that you never leave without the essentials. Tip: Make a digital version on your computer so you can reference it for each trip.

Plan full outfits in advance (rather than bringing seven tops and four bottoms for a weekend trip), so that you know exactly what pieces work together and what you are comfortable wearing. That’s preferable to lugging around extras, “just in case” the outfit didn’t work out like you envisioned in your head. Similarly, ignore the “what if” scenarios!

Be realistic with the amount of options that you bring and stick with that number when choosing your clothing.

Tip: Stick with a color scheme and choose options based off of the scheme to ensure that all clothing, shoes, and jewelry can be mixed and matched!

Andrea Hancock, Dexterous Organizing

andrea hancock, a professional organizer in alexandria, va

20. Recommended organizing and decluttering books

Peter Walsh’s It’s All Too Much gives a rip-the-Band-Aid-off approach to decluttering, and most importantly, on making space for the things that are important to your life.

Julie Morgenstern’s Organizing From the Inside Out helps people figure out what some of their blocks are to organizing. She also provides a reusable formula for tackling any organizing project, whether it’s a wallet or your garage. I use that formula when working with my clients, and in my own life.

Getting Things Done by David Allen is great for productivity and time management. Even if you use just his core methodology, you’ll live a much more peaceful and productive life, with fewer things slipping through the cracks.

Once I get my client’s space organized, it’s up to them to maintain the systems we put in place. I love the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It teaches us that if we don’t put habits in place, we get frustrated when getting and staying organized. It’s full of anecdotes and science, but presented in an interesting and intriguing read.

Tova Weinstock, Tidy Tova

tova weinstock, a professional organizer in nyc

21. Go paperless when you can

Set up automatic payments for monthly bills and make sure companies don’t send paper mail – all the information you need will be available online.

Send junk mail straight to the recycling. Don’t even let garbage mail hit your counter or tabletop –  pull it out of the pile as soon as you can and send it to the trash. Only keep important mail that involves items you have to address.

File important papers in an accordion folder. Its size will keep your papers down to a minimum. And remember: There are very few that you actually need to hold on to.

22. Keep sentimental papers in check

Don’t hold onto every card just because it was once special. I advise having one plastic container for sentimental items, and don’t let it overflow – if something new comes in, reconsider what you’re holding onto.

23. Keep your suitcase organized when traveling

Store smaller items and accessories in mesh bags. Keep your undergarments in a bag, and wires and electronics in a bag. This will keep things in your suitcase tidy.

Refrain from leaving trash in your bag. It’s a suitcase, not a trashcan!

Store toiletries in a clear plastic bag. This will keep them safe from spills and easy to see.

Free Bonus: 7 Super Creative And Cheap Ways To Store Your Luggage

Jean Marie Herron, POSSE Partners, LLC

jean marie herron, a professional organizer in new jersey

24. Treat your surfaces wisely

The more surface space you have in your house, the more opportunity for clutter, because people feel entitled to put things down on it – even if that’s not where the item belongs. So take away extra furniture surface space if you can.

But most importantly, either give everything you own a “home,” or get rid of it.

Julie Naylon, No Wire Hangers

julie naylon, a professional organizer in los angeles, california

25. Maximize what’s available in your closet

If you can see the back wall of your closet, you are not utilizing all its space.

Instead of piling hats on a shelf, install some hooks and hang your hats on the walls inside your closet. Hang clothes on the same type of hanger by style, and then by color. Make sure they are all facing the same direction.

Lisa Zaslow, Gotham Organizers

lisa zaslow, a manhattan professional organizer

26. Respect, don’t neglect, your bedroom

It’s tempting to store suitcases in a corner “just for now,” to pile up clothes that need to go to the cleaner or tailor, or to leave unfinished projects and papers strewn all over the dresser.

Banish anything that isn’t related to dressing, sleeping, relaxation, or romance. Relocate items to other rooms or closets – or let them go. Add fresh flowers or a candle.

27. Label, label, label any at-home storage

I.D. the contents of containers so you know what’s inside.

Clearly label file folders by topic.

Note what’s in a box before you stow it in a closet or in the garage.

Label the inside edge of a drawer or the inside of a cabinet door so it’s obvious what’s stored where.

Go pro with a label maker (I love the Brother P-Touch), or simply use a Sharpie marker.

Jodie Watson, Supreme Organization

jodie watson, a los angeles professional organizer

28. Practice the art of purging

We all have too much stuff (yes, even organizers have more than they need). If we don’t regularly and open-heartedly let go of things, the abundance of stuff starts to slowly overcome us and we find ourselves getting overwhelmed and squeezed out by our possessions.

Once we start to practice the art of purging, we are continually looking for what can be let go of.

This piece of advice actually benefits us in two ways because we also start to think more carefully before bringing more stuff into our lives.

29. Don’t be too hard on yourself when decluttering

Oftentimes, I hear my clients criticize, judge, and condemn themselves for the way they have let things become.

Decluttering and organizing takes time and can be hard work. So definitely don’t beat yourself up and tear yourself apart as you go. Keep your focus on where you are headed, not on where you have been.

Jeni Aron, Clutter Cowgirl

jeni aron, a professional organizer in nyc

30. Make your wardrobe space-efficient

Keep only current season clothing in your bedroom. Have the right amount of drawer and hanging space. If you create a routine of hanging up your daily clothes when you come home, this habit will keep clutter at bay.

31. Prime your bedroom for relaxation

Many people decide to eliminate TVs and other electronic equipment from the bedroom. Placing a desk somewhere other than the bedroom might be a good idea. Work, bills, paperwork, and other clutter leads to poor sleep and an unsexy environment.

Make your bed every day to ward off the piling of books, magazines, and other stuff.

Check in with yourself and your partner about how you feel in your space frequently.

Free Bonus: 9 Creative Book Storage Hacks For Small Apartments

Ann Sullivan, Ann Sullivan Inc.

ann sullivan, an nyc professional organizer

32. Be closet conscientious

The average person wears 20% of their clothes 80% of the time, so edit your closet twice a year and donate unwanted items.

To keep the closet organized, color code from light to dark. Invest in slim hangers to maximize space, and use shelf dividers to keep sweaters from tumbling.

Stephanie Shalofsky, The Organizing Zone

stephanie shalofsky, an nyc professional office organizer

33. Think of your desk as a command center

All of the items that you need to do your job must be in arm’s reach when you are sitting at your desk. The tools that you keep in this space should be customized so that they support your daily activities and tasks.

By doing this, you will be much more effective and more productive.

Barbara Reich, Resourceful Consultants

barbara reich, an nyc professional organizer

34. Dispose and reassess toiletries

Purge any expired products. Both over-the-counter medications and prescriptions have expiration dates. And makeup, once the package is open, is a breeding ground for bacteria.  Check dates and dispose of old products every six months.

Use acrylic makeup organizers that will hold your toiletries upright in your vanity.

Use drawer organizers inside shallow bathroom drawers to separate cosmetics.

Use apothecary jars to store small items like hair elastics, chapstick, q-tips, and makeup applicators.

Use vanity accessories like a soap dispenser, soap dish, and tissue box holder for a polished look in your bathroom.

Free Bonus: 11 Beautifully Easy Makeup Storage And Organizing Ideas

35. Find your packing harmony

Strike a balance between packing too far in advance and not waiting until the night before the trip. I always recommend that the packing take place the weekend before the trip. Generally, you’re calmer then, and if there are things you need, you’ll have time to purchase them.

Pack small items in individual Ziploc bags. For example, children’s underpants and socks can be stored in a Ziploc bag, and then placed in a suitcase.

Pack the suitcase in layers, and place heavier items on the bottom. For example, shoes go on the bottom of the suitcase along with jeans and sweatshirts, which are heavier than a silk blouse you may want to lay on the very top.

Put layers of tissue paper between items of clothing to prevent wrinkling.

Carry prescription medicines, cameras, laptops, and any expensive jewelry onboard with you.

For airline travel, employ “the rule of fractions.” If there are four people in your family, pack a fourth of each person’s clothing in each piece of luggage. If luggage is lost or stolen, everyone will have enough to wear until it’s found.

36. Tidy up while cooking

Wash or put items in the dishwasher as you go.

Put things away as you go. For example, if you’re done with the flour, put it away. If you’re done with a condiment, put it away.

When possible, prep food items ahead of time.

Determine when you need dishes to be ready and work backwards, time-wise.

Nonnahs Driskill, Get Organized Already

nonnahs driskill, a professional organizer in pasadena, california

37. Use produce drawers as time capsules in your fridge

Most refrigerators have two produce drawers. Instead of dividing produce by category into the drawers, try this trick:

When you are checking the fridge before you shop, toss out the unusable things in the drawers. Move everything to the right drawer which you have labeled with a sticky note. Eat these produce items first. Once you have new produce, put it all into the left drawer.

38. Use clear (preferably glass) storage containers for food

Regular plastic storage containers are cloudy and hard to see into. Take-out containers are even worse!

Put your leftover food and ingredients into sturdy containers with safe-sealing tops (I love the Pyrex ones) to clearly see what there is to eat in the fridge and freezer. I often store these containers full of food upside down for even greater visibility. Crazy!

39. Use a Lazy Susan for overlooked olives

Who can remember what condiments are hiding in the back of the refrigerator? Not me! I gotta see it to believe it. So, I use two Lazy Susans in the fridge. One is for pickles and olives. The other is for rarely used condiments. No more buying what you already have.

40. Tackle the black hole in your freezer

Most freezers are extremely hard to keep organized. The main problem is the things we store in there are all weird shapes and sizes. Hello turkey carcass for making soup!

Use a small cookie sheet to freeze your liquids into nice flat solids right in Ziploc bags. Then you can stack the solid bags. (Write the contents on the bag before filling it.)

Stack clear, glass storage containers for non-liquids in the freezer. Label them with a little piece of paper that sticks out of the lid.

Sarah Giller Nelson, Less Is More Organizers

sarah giller nelson, a professional organizer that serves miami and chicago

An organized home doesn’t just happen – it is the result of specific habits and routines that help one maintain a clutter-free environment long-term. Here are some habits that professional organizers, and organized people in general, use every day that help keep their homes neat and organized:

41. Make your bed every morning

Since your bed is the dominant feature in your bedroom, a made bed will make your whole room feel orderly. Bonus: This task takes less than two minutes.

42. Keep a donation bag in each of your clothes closets

You now have a place to keep clothes you no longer like or that no longer fit until you have the time to take them to a resale shop.

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

43. Keep a trash bin as close to the mailbox as possible

The vast majority of the mail you receive will be junk. Throw it away [or recycle!] before it clutters your main living space.

44. Use more hooks

Hooks involve much less work than hangers. Place them low enough so your children can easily hang up their own coats, backpacks, and gear.

Jeffrey Phillip, Jeffrey Phillip

jeffrey phillip, an nyc professional organizer

45. Be constantly aware of your limits

When it comes to organizing and living with less clutter, something that we can all do very easily is to be more conscientious consumers and live within our spatial means.

By asking ourselves a few questions before we bring something home, we can easily help stop the clutter before it enters our house. A few example questions are, “Do I have space for this item?” “Do I need this item?” and “What am I willing to donate so that I do have room for this new item?”

Andrew Mellen, Andrew Mellen, Inc.

andrew mellen, an nyc professional organizer

46. Declutter your kitchen cabinets

Start by emptying out everything on your counters or table. Sort like with like. Get rid of everything you will not use or eat: donate still-good food to a local food bank, and discard anything that’s no longer consumable.

Zone the cabinets before you put things back: baking, cooking, storage, utensils, sharp items, dish towels, dishes, serving pieces, canned goods, spices, and sauces. Wipe and clean the cabinets thoroughly. Use Lazy Susans, bamboo drawer dividers, or wire shelves to corral smaller items such as spices, herbs, utensils, and hand tools.

Load everything back in, according to the zones you’ve created. Label the drawers/doors if needed for the first week or so, until you remember where things live now.

47. Attain inbox zero

Sign up for Unroll.me to get rid of all unwanted subscriptions. Create a separate email address just for subscriptions and online shopping, and migrate everything to that address so your personal one is reserved exclusively for actual correspondence.

Use your app’s rules or filters to pre-sort emails into clearly labeled subfolders.

Schedule appointments with yourself for any action items, and delete emails instead of allowing them to stack up in your inbox as a “tickler” or reminder.

48. Develop time-management skills

Always live in the math: 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week. If you aren’t in the math, you’re in the story, and the story seldom has a happy ending.

If you want a simple life, make simple choices. Think each choice through to its natural conclusion. Don’t stop examining the choice without carefully considering all the costs – both immediate and in the future.

Every person should do a set of core value exercises to gain complete clarity on what is important to them. If you live or work with anyone, you should do them as a family, team, or roommates.

Someday doesn’t exist.

There is no such thing as multitasking. You can’t bake a cake and do open heart surgery at the exact same time.


It’s no secret that getting organized is hard work. But sometime between restructuring your fridge and taming that paper dragon, take a step back. Breathe. Appreciate the extra space you’ve created.

And when you’re ready to make even more space?

Schedule a MakeSpace Pickup
 

We’ll pick up any bulky winter coats standing between you and your soon-to-be she-shed. Then, we’ll transport your items to our secure temperature-controlled storage facility. We’ll even create an online photo catalog of your stuff so you always remember what you have in storage.

And when you want something back, simply log into your MakeSpace account, select the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it to you.

Now that’s an organizing hack.

Click a city to learn more about MakeSpace in your area:

Chicago, IL
Los Angeles, CA
New York City
Washington, DC

Moving In Together? Don’t Make These 11 Common Mistakes

You’ve taken trips together, you’ve survived your first fight, and you’ve celebrated anniversaries. Now, you and your significant other are about to hit another milestone: moving in together.

Living together comes with all kinds of perks, like less rent and more quality time. But it’s a big transition, and lots of couples struggle with cohabitation.

You don’t have to be one of them.

Simply study up on these common mistakes couples make when moving in together. Once you know how to avoid them, you’ll be well on your way to domestic bliss.

Here are 10 missteps to avoid:

Mistake 1: Not talking about why you’re moving in

Moving in together is a huge step, so consider it carefully before you sign on the dotted (lease) line. You and your partner should have several conversations about this, but the first one should be about why you’re doing it.

Be honest: Why are you moving in together?

Is it because you’re sick of the subway commute to your partner’s place? Are you looking to save money on rent?

It’s totally fine if money and convenience are motivations for you — everyone likes having extra cash in the bank — but those shouldn’t be your only reasons.

So with that said, do you see this as a step towards marriage? What are your long-term goals and plans with this person?

It’s important to be transparent with each other in case you aren’t quite on the same page. Some people assume moving in together is an unspoken promise of engagement, only to discover their significant other doesn’t believe in marriage at all.

Whatever you do, don’t move in together because you think it’ll “save” your relationship. It definitely won’t, but it will place you in a legally binding living situation with your soon-to-be ex.

Mistake 2: Ignoring the signs that you aren’t ready

It’s natural to be nervous about living with your boyfriend or girlfriend. But there’s a difference between some harmless moving-in jitters and well-founded fears that this is a horrible idea.

Do you and your partner know how to compromise? More importantly, do you know how to move past fights?

These aren’t sexy skills, but they are essential for cohabitation. If you two have never settled a big argument — or have ongoing ones all the time — that’s a bad sign.

Here are four other red flags:

  1. You’ve never spent more than a few consecutive days together.
  2. You can’t comfortably talk about money, health, or other weighty issues.
  3. You’ve always been long distance.
  4. You’re rushing into this because of an expiring lease — or you’re rushing things because someone (family, friends, or your partner) is pressuring you.

If the negative signs are there, take a step back and rethink moving in together. Maybe you need to hit pause on the plan for a few months while you work out some issues, which is totally okay.

It doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed, or that you’re immature. It’s just smart planning.

Mistake 3: Avoiding the conversation about money

You and your significant other are about to share the costs on a lot of bills — electric, cable, groceries, and rent, to name just a few. That means you have to get frank about your finances.

Figure out how you want to divide up your expenses first. How much will each of you owe per month? And how are you going to pay it?

Will it be an even 50-50 split? Or will you work out percentages based on income?

Make sure the division is fair, and that both of you feel comfortable with the final numbers.

The two of you may want to devise a budget while you’re at it. That way, you’ll stay on track with all your boring bills and your planned vacation to Thailand.

Another important question to ask:

Do you want to open a joint bank account?

It’s not for everyone, but it can come in handy when managing shared expenses. One BuzzFeed tipster recommends putting the same chunk of your paychecks into a joint account each month for bills, food, and cleaning supplies.

That way, “you’ll never have that awkward ‘I spent $35 on groceries yesterday, so it’s your turn to order food tonight’ conversation — you both can happily stuff your faces with Chinese food knowing everything is even.”

But no matter what system you land on, always make sure to keep the lines of communication open. If one of you is stressed about money or has an issue with the new budget, say so.

It might be awkward at first, but it’ll help you avoid fights in the future.

Mistake 4: Searching for an apartment without a gameplan

Since you’re already getting real about how you want to spend money and where you see yourselves in five years, it’s also important to get real about where you want to live. Sit down together and figure out your ideal neighborhoods and an ideal budget.

Then, come up with your list of must-haves. You can’t go into this expecting your significant other to read your mind. Unless he/she is a Legilimens or Professor X, in which case, run.

Be sure to also check in with each other frequently throughout the process. What does your boyfriend or girlfriend think of your broker? What about the pet clause in the lease?

Finding a new place is exhausting, and the only way you’ll survive is by keeping a united front. Well, that and following all these crucial apartment hunting tips.

Mistake 5: Procrastinating on the required renter documents

The bad news: There’s a mountain of paperwork in your future.

The good news: You can knock some of it out early. And you should, if you want to land a place in time and on budget.

Before you head out to the 15 apartment tours on a Saturday, you and your partner should each collect some key documents. Scan color copies of your IDs. Get and print letters of employment and/or pay stubs. Request a free credit report.

Next, bring all of these papers with you when you meet with your broker or prospective landlord so you can get an application ready immediately if the opportunity arises.

This boosts your chances of snagging a great apartment and preserves your relationship. Because if one of you stalls on printing a pay stub and it costs you that dream one bedroom, there’s bound to be resentment.

Mistake 6: Only putting one person’s name on the lease

We’re not trying to jinx things for you, but there is a chance you and your partner could break up. And although you can’t protect yourself from the heartache following a potential split, you can protect yourself from a potential financial strain.

How?

By making sure both your names appear on the apartment lease.

As Kiplinger’s explains, this move holds both parties accountable for the rent should things turn sour.

If you end up taking your ex to court for skipping out on payments, your case will be much stronger with two names — not just your own — on the lease. It’s a situation you don’t want to imagine, obviously, but it’s happened before.

Mistake 7: Failing to consolidate your stuff

You’ve each spent years building up separate stashes of furniture, appliances, dishes, bedding, and towels. Now you’re about to combine all that stuff into one living space. So unless you’re going to rent a multi-million dollar penthouse with a basement storage unit, there are going to be some cuts.

You need to decide what to keep, store, sell, donate, and ditch together (our decluttering flowchart will make it easier). Start with the furniture, because that’s the trickiest. Whose bed makes the move? What about the couch? Coffee table? Bookcases?

Come into this discussion willing to compromise, and be realistic. You may cherish the chairs you scored for $15 at a yard sale in college, but they’ve probably seen better days.

Next, move on to duplicate appliances, like TVs, microwaves, coffee makers, and blenders. Who knows, you may even decide to shrink 11 big kitchen appliances into one small Lakeland Multichef. And don’t forget about your duplicate drinking glasses, eating utensils, and cooking tools. Those items need to be considered, too.

Also keep an eye on little things like books (here’s how to decide what books to keep or get rid of) and DVDs (here’s how to store and sell DVDs for cash). There’s a good chance the both of you own copies of Almost Famous (or Bad Boys), but you only need one in your new place.

Once you’ve sorted everything to satisfaction, plan out any necessary trips to the storage unit, Goodwill, and/or dumpster. Actually, skip the first two trips we just mentioned because MakeSpace will not only pick up, store, and deliver your stuff back, but we’ll also take your donations to Goodwill (if you live in NYC, Chicago, or Washington, DC).

Then, just to put a bow on everything, pick out one new item for the apartment together. It can be a lamp, a dresser, or just a set of coasters for now.  It’ll help the place feel like a shared space — and give you both an early lesson on making household decisions.

Mistake 8: Not dividing up chores

Who wants to spend all their spare time fighting about dishes? Having a conversation about cleaning responsibilities early can help you avoid a ton of silly arguments about whose turn it is to vacuum.

You don’t need to map out a strict chore schedule, but do talk about expectations and the chores each of you hate doing the most. Maybe you loathe laundry, but your partner doesn’t mind it. Which means your partner can grab that task, while you take care of the porcelain throne scrubbing he/she can’t stand.

If there’s a massive gap between the two of you in terms of tidiness, you might want to hire a cleaning service. That way, the “neat freak” isn’t constantly losing it over the “slob’s” trail of dirty socks.

Mistake 9: Spending all your time together

Just because you live together now doesn’t mean you should be shut-ins. You’re bound to drive each other insane if you spend every spare minute in the apartment, just the two of you. So get outside and spend some time apart.

Go out for drinks with your college friends. Post up in your favorite coffee shop with a new book. Keep up with any hobbies or interests your significant other doesn’t share.

Is there an art exhibit you’re dying to see, that you know isn’t his/her scene?

Go to it by yourself.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean you should ditch date nights, or refuse to hang out with your partner’s friends in favor of your own. It just means you should have an active social life that’s yours.

Giving each other space is key to preserving the peace, especially if you live in a tiny apartment with your significant other. Talk to each other about alone time, because it applies to more than just that standing Margarita Mondays appointment you have with your coworkers.

Sometimes you’re going to be upset or overwhelmed, and you’ll need some space (or perhaps an Ecocapsule) to sort out your feelings before you talk to your partner about it. Make sure your partner knows that it doesn’t mean you’re mad at him/her, or don’t trust him/her.

Maybe you just need to sit alone on the couch for a minute, preferably with a sleeve of Oreos. Your partner can join in later.

Mistake 10: Hiring a shady moving company

It’s tempting to speed through this step. You’ve just spent weeks sorting through your stuff, assigning chores, and having many long, serious talks. Can’t you just pick a mover and be done with it?

Nope.

If you need to hire movers, don’t solely rely on the first company that appears in Google after you search “cheap movers near me.” Do your research, ask your friends, and compare prices. Sites like imove and Unpakt will help you sift through your best options.

11. Not calling MakeSpace for storage

When it comes to finding storage for the extra Crock-Pot, coat rack, comforter, and mattress in your inventory, don’t go with a random self-storage facility way across town where insane things happen. Go with MakeSpace.

Simply schedule a storage pickup and we’ll pick up all your duplicate stuff — plus that Pasta Boat your partner vetoed.

Next, we’ll transport everything to our secure temperature-controlled storage facility. We’ll even create an online photo catalog of your stuff so you never forget what you have in storage.

But that’s not all. Here’s something you and your new roommate will absolutely love:

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.

You and your significant other might disagree on how to cook spaghetti, but thanks to MakeSpace, you’ll never disagree on how to store your stuff.

19 NYC Apartment Hunting Tips That Will Save You Tons Of Money And Stress

You thought moving to a tiny NYC apartment was the hard part. But getting a New York apartment is the real nightmare. Just when you think you have one, someone else swoops in. Or just when you think you’ve found something in budget, more hidden fees emerge.

The New York City housing market is confusing for new transplants and seasoned veterans alike. That’s why we compiled this list of 19 essential NYC apartment hunting tips to make sure you don’t get scammed, stressed, or put out on the streets.

Read them all before you schedule any apartment tours. And remember: If a Craigslist post seems too good to be true, it usually is.

1. Figure out your max budget — and stick to it.

calculator next to 3 short stacks of different coins

The insanely competitive New York City housing market requires you to be flexible. You need to be able to move fast, put up stacks of documents and cash, and give up on your dream of a washer/dryer in unit.

But one thing you shouldn’t budge on? The amount of money you’re willing to spend.

Before you start responding to apartment listings, sit down and seriously look at your expenses. Write out what you spend each month on groceries, gym membership, Seamless, the internet, Netflix, and your other expenses. Be specific and honest. It isn’t going to help you to leave anything out.

Then, once you have a total, look at your salary and figure out a price range. Set a ceiling for the absolute most you could spend on rent and not starve. Once you’ve done that, don’t change the number, no matter how spacious the bedroom closet is.

As a heads up, most landlords in NYC require your gross annual income (before taxes) to be 40 times your monthly rent.

2. Remember that rents are lower in the winter.

moving in the winter means lower rent for an apartment

No one wants to move in the middle of a snowstorm, but December through March is the best time to rent an apartment in NYC. The winter is considered “off-peak” for housing because the summer months are when most people move (just consider all the college grads).

When it’s warm out, you can expect rent prices to be outrageous and places to go in minutes. In the winter, there’s less demand — which means you can usually get a better deal. The rent might be lower, or the landlord may even offer to pay the broker’s fee to get the spot filled.

3. Make a list of your must-haves.

queens plaza station entrance for e, m, and r trains

Okay, so you’ve figured out your budget and your time frame. Now it’s time to decide on your must-have checklist.Your

Your apartment hunting checklist should be realistic, so don’t make it too long. Everyone has requirements for their living space, and it’s best to nail those down early.

Have a pet, or plan on getting a pet in the near future?

Then it’s only “pets allowed” places (and these 17 pawesome pet-proofing tips) for you.

How close does the subway have to be? What about the laundromat? Are you comfortable living on the first floor, or the sixth floor in a walk-up?

Think carefully about what you’d like your daily life to look like, then write down the things that would make that possible.

4. If you’re apartment hunting with another person, include them in the process.

bert and ernie from sesame street sitting on the ground and talking behind a new york license plate
Flickr/See-ming Lee

When you’re looking for a micro-apartment, studio, or one-bedroom for yourself, you call all the shots. But when there’s another renter involved — like a roommate or significant other  — you have to make them an equal partner in every decision. That means you need to merge that person’s budget and must-haves with your own, and respect their concerns each step of the way.

As for touring places together, BuzzFeed has this great tip:

Write down (or just mentally gather) your thoughts on the spot but do not share them. Then, ask the other person for his/her honest opinion. If it sounds a lot like yours, say so and move forward. But if it doesn’t, keep on looking.

This way, you can both independently determine if a particular apartment will make you happy. You won’t just say that because the other person did, which can lead to resentment later on, after you’ve moved into a place you don’t actually like.

5. Prepare your documents early.

us passport atop a small sheet of paper, a small notebook, and a clipboard

Rental units move fast and require excessive documentation. You can easily lose your dream apartment if you don’t come armed and ready with the (admittedly absurd) list of papers most NYC landlords expect to see before they let you sign on the dotted line.

According to U.S. News & World Report, you should have the following items:

  • A copy of your most recent paystubs
  • Tax returns from the past two years
  • A color copy of your driver’s license or passport
  • A current credit report
  • A list of personal and professional references

If you’re using a guarantor, you’ll need some extra documents. A guarantor is somebody who basically vouches for your financial responsibility. The implication is that if you fall behind on the rent, your guarantor will cover it.

Guarantors are often necessary if you don’t make 40 times the monthly rent. (Most landlords stick to this figure.) Your guarantor will usually need to make even more — 80 times the rent — and live in the tri-state area. The guarantor will also need to provide some ID, so make sure to give your guarantor a heads up on that.

6. Google your brokers and/or landlord.

unfurnished studio for rent sign
Flickr/Steven Damron

Unfortunately, there are some shady people controlling New York City property, and they aren’t always obvious. Google a broker or agent’s name before you share any important personal information with them. If Google returns links to reviews titled “SCAM ARTIST,” back away fast. But if there are no alarming red flags, proceed.

Do the same for the landlord of any place you’re strongly considering. There’s actually a list of the “100 worst landlords in New York City” compiled by Public Advocate Letitia James. It’s based on the number of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) and Department of Buildings (DOB) violations they’ve accrued. Scan it for your prospective landlord before you sign anything.

Then, search Google News for any lawsuits brought against your landlord, and poke around the web for complaints on other sites.

7. Bring a friend.

lego star wars characters holding hands and looking through a window on a rainy day

If you’re sharing your new place with a roommate or significant other, you have a built-in buddy to go with you on apartment appointments. But if you’re searching solo, it’s best to call on a friend to accompany you.

This isn’t just a safety precaution for women. As Psychology Today points out, having someone you trust by your side is good for your mental space. It’ll calm you down, which will help you avoid rash decisions you’ll regret.

Plus, your friend can serve as a natural sounding board for your concerns. If that friend happens to be a seasoned city dweller who knows the right questions to ask, even better.

8. Ask if pets are allowed.

Every building has a defined policy on dogs, cats, and other animals. Some are all-inclusive, some are cats only, and others don’t allow any furry friends at all. 🙁

It’s best to know this upfront, since pets are part of the package deal. Ask the broker (or landlord) what kind of animals — and what kind of breeds — are allowed in the building. Then ask if there are any additional fees you’ll need to pay because sometimes your pet gets factored into the security deposit or monthly rent.

Free Bonus: How To Safely Move With Dogs And Cats: The Ultimate Guide

9. Check for major appliances — and a functioning smoke detector.

modern apartment kitchen with a fridge, freezer, stove, oven, microwave, 2 coffee makers, a kitchen island, and 2 stools

Most apartments you tour will have blank walls, empty floors, and closets free of clutter. But you should see a refrigerator, stove, and kitchen sink in every single one. Make sure they all work. If anything is missing or faulty, press for a concrete answer about when that fridge will be fixed.

You should also locate the smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Then test it. Property owners are legally required to provide at least one “approved and operational detecting device” in every unit. Plus,  this concerns your safety, so hold them to it.

10. Check your cell reception.

Did the service bars on your phone drop the second you walked through the door?

Pace around the entire place and see if there’s any change in your cell reception. Having to make your calls from certain corners might be annoying, but it’s doable.

Not being able to make any calls from your home? Unacceptable.

11. Ask if utilities are included.

water coming out of a kitchen sink faucet

Are utilities included? If they aren’t, how much are they going to cost?

You should try to estimate what your heat, electric, and/or water bills might be if you’re expected to shoulder those fees yourself. They can add up, and they might even set the place over your budget.

12. Scan for signs of rodent life.

If your prospective place has had bedbugs in the past year, you’ll know — the landlord is bound by law to disclose that information. But if the apartment has had rat or mice problems, you won’t.

There’s no legal requirement on landlords to tell you about rodent issues, so you have to do some recon work yourself. Time Out New York recommends you search the cabinets, especially the ones under the sink, for traces of unwelcome pests.

There’s also the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Rat Information Portal that lets you search addresses for rat inspection data. It’ll tell you if the place has “active rat signs,” “problem conditions,” or “passed inspection.”

13. Take measurements and pictures.

closeup of a tape measure on a wooden surface

No matter how good you think your memory is, you’re not going to remember the exact layout of each place you see. Or whether the living room can fit your current couch and coffee table.

When you arrive at a new place, take a picture outside the building, maybe of the exact street number so it’s easier to remember. Then snap photos of each room in the apartment and the insides of the closets.

After that, it’s time to pull out your tape measure. Bring it to every appointment along with all those documents we discussed earlier. Take some quick measurements of the doorway and rooms so you know if you can push your headboard through the door and into your bedroom.

14. Find out the fees.

stacks of dollar bills

You’ve heard of those mythical “no-fee apartments.” You know, the ones where you don’t have to pay an additional 15% to a broker who brought you to the place. We’re not saying they don’t exist, but we are saying they’re incredibly difficult to find.

While Brick Underground has a list of the eight best websites for finding a no-fee apartment in NYC, one of which is Naked Apartments, you should still brace yourself for that 15% fee (plus a security deposit) just in case.

Also, watch out for scams. The HPD notes that “key money,” or fees for supers and/or doormen, is illegal. And if your place is rent-stabilized, the security deposit cannot be more than one month’s rent.

15. Look for rent-stabilized apartments.

1930s 6-story apartment building located at 208 east 28th street in manhattan, new york
Flickr/Mr.TinDC

Now, you may be wondering what exactly “rent-stabilized” means. Any rent-stabilized unit is protected against dramatic price spikes. Your rent can still go up, but it can only be adjusted annually by the NYC Rent Guidelines Board. Thankfully, the adjustments tend to be $50 rather than, say, $500.

Another perk of rent-stabilized apartments:

You’re guaranteed the right to renew.

If you don’t want to stay in your place when renewal time rolls around, you’re welcome to leave. But your landlord still has to ask you if you want to renew before other tenants are considered.

Rent-stabilized leases are also much more attainable than rent-controlled leases, which prohibit the owner from changing your rent at all. While the Rent Guidelines Board estimates there are over one million rent-stabilized apartments in NYC, it puts the number of rent-controlled apartments at roughly 27,000.

Rent-controlled apartments tend to stay in families who’ve owned them since the ‘70s, and the Rent Guidelines Board estimates that eventually, there will be zero rent-controlled apartments.

16. Spend some time in the neighborhood.

manhattan, new york at sunset

You can’t get a true sense of a neighborhood from the 30 minutes you spent there on a Saturday afternoon with a broker. If you’re unfamiliar with the area but want to get a sense of where you’d be living (note: this is a good idea), explore the neighborhood on your own.

Spend an hour in a local cafe. Walk a few blocks. And most importantly, check out the neighborhood at night. You need to get a sense of what the area is like at all times of day so you can make sure you feel comfortable living there.

17. Learn the alterations policy.

paint brush painting a wall white

Let’s say you’ve seen a place you love … only the weird paint on the walls has got to go. Don’t assume you can just slap on a fresh coat of sage green or Feathr wallpaper once the apartment is yours.

As Refinery29 explains, most leases require you to obtain express permission from the owner before you make alterations (even seemingly small ones) to the unit. Even if you do get the green light from management, you may still have to return the walls to their original shade before you move out.

And since we’re discussing lease specifics …

18. Read the lease carefully.

hand signing apartment lease with a pen

By the time you sit down to sign your lease, you’ve probably been through so much apartment hunting stress that you’d sign away your first-born child without a second thought. But you need to read the whole thing very carefully, or you could wind up missing a major problem.

If the jargon confuses you, ask a lawyer to look it over. Can’t afford a lawyer? Ask a friend who passed the bar, or at the very least read up on tenant rights at nyc.gov. There’s even a free “ABCs of Housing pamphlet” that should clear up a lot of questions.

If something in the lease doesn’t align with what you were promised, take it up with the owner before you sign or initial a page. It could simply be a mistake, but you can’t expect good faith or a verbal agreement to trump a legal document once it’s signed.

19. Let MakeSpace store your extra stuff.

 

Your brand-new apartment is under budget, beautiful, and blocks away from a great grocery store. There’s just one tiny hiccup:

You downsized two whole closets, and there’s no way all your clothes will fit in the IKEA dresser you’re bringing along.

Luckily, there’s a way to keep all your clothes and the cool apartment:

Use MakeSpace.

Schedule a pickup and we’ll come get your extra sweaters and scarves. Next, we’ll transport it over to 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, you won’t have to dig through boxes in a dusty self-storage unit. Simply log into your MakeSpace account, select the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it to you.

With MakeSpace, there are no shifty landlords, rodent problems, or faulty stoves. Just affordable full-service storage, no matter where you live in NYC.

Want more super actionable tips on finding an apartment in NYC?

Check out Wit & Whimsy’s wonderful article “So You Want To Move To New York.” It’s chock-full of awesome advice from Meghan and her friends on apartment hunting plus moving to and living in New York City.

Top image via Flickr/Teri Tynes

Move-Out *And* Move-In Cleaning Checklists You Can Actually Use

Boxes packed? Check. MakeSpace pickup scheduled? Check. Fridge scrubbed down? Che – wait, what?

Fact: The busiest season for moving (Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend) is right around the corner.

Also fact: Sometime between all that packing and schlepping should be some serious spring cleaning.

If you want your security deposit back on your old place, you’ll need to do a thorough wipedown before returning the keys. And chances are, your new space requires a dash of deep cleaning as well.

Not sure where to start? Below are move-out and move-in cleaning checklists you can actually click and save, courtesy of the green cleaning pros at GreenHouse Eco-Cleaning.

No need to print or download anything. Simply check the boxes with your mouse or finger as you finish each to-do.

Ultimate move-out and move-in cleaning checklists? Check!

Click any of the links below to jump to a specific checklist:
Move-Out Cleaning Checklist
Move-In Cleaning Checklist

Move-Out Cleaning Checklist

Kitchen

Stovetop: Brush off any debris with a stovetop brush and sprinkle the surface with baking soda, followed by a spray of hydrogen peroxide. Let it sit for several minutes before wiping clean with a sponge and cool water.

Oven: Wipe away any loose debris. Coat the inside of your oven with a paste made from equal parts baking soda and water, and let it sit overnight. Finish by wiping the paste away with a damp cloth. Still see some baking soda? Spray with a bit of vinegar. The combination will fizz up, making it easier to wipe away.

Refrigerator: Unplug it! After clearing everything out, spray the inside and outside with a solution made from equal parts vinegar and water. Wipe with a damp cloth, then thoroughly dry with a clean towel.

Freezer: The quickest way to defrost a freezer? Place a clean dry rag on the freezer’s floor, put a pot of boiling water on top of the rag, close the door, and let the pot sit inside for 30 minutes. Voilà – the ice will melt. Wipe down with the same cloth and vinegar combo used for the fridge.

Counter: Fill a spray bottle with equal parts water and distilled white vinegar, plus a few drops of your favorite essential oil (citrus is perfect for the kitchen). Use this to wipe down your countertops.

Sink: Wipe down your sink with the same mixture you used for your countertops. Then sprinkle 1/2 cup of baking soda down the garbage disposal followed by 1 cup of white vinegar. Let the mixture soak for a few minutes before rinsing with water as you turn on the garbage disposal.

Floor: Give floors a quick sweep (even under the appliances!) followed by a mop dipped in warm water. Floor still seems dirty? Check out Real Simple’s eight DIY cleaning solutions for specific kinds of flooring.

Bathroom

Toilet: Mix 1/2 cup of vinegar and a tablespoon of baking soda. Pour the mixture into the toilet bowl and let sit for 30 minutes before scrubbing with a toilet brush.

Sink: Sprinkle baking soda onto the sink and rub it in with a soft cloth before rinsing with cool water.

Mirrors: Wipe down all mirrors and fixtures with a mixture of 1 part vinegar and 4 parts water.

Floor: After sweeping your floor, mix an eco-friendly cleaning solution in your bathroom sink by using 1/4 cup of vinegar, 1 tablespoon of dish soap, and 2 gallons of water. Dip a towel into the solution and wipe down your floors.

Living Spaces

Doors: Wipe down the front and tops of all doors with dish soap and a paper towel. Don’t forget the doorknobs! PopSugar recommends using this DIY antibacterial spray: 3 cups water, ½ cup white vinegar, and 15 drops of essential oil (either lavender or tea tree).

Wall damage: Remove all nails and plaster any holes using spackling paste, a putty knife, and sandpaper.

Wall cleaning: Remove any scuff marks easily with a Magic Eraser. Then, cover a broom with a towel and wipe the walls from the top to the baseboard.

Windows: To remove dirt from windows without leaving streaks, spray the windows with this solution from Care2: 2 cups water, ¼ cup white vinegar, and ½ teaspoon dish soap or detergent. Wipe with a microfiber cloth or a squeegee.

Hardwood floors: Follow up a thorough sweep with a deep mopping. If you don’t have mop solution on hand, you can DIY one with a ½ cup vinegar and a gallon of warm water.mop solution on hand, you can DIY one with a ½ cup vinegar and a gallon of warm water.

Carpets: Remove stains from your carpet with a mixture that’s 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water. Place a wet rag over the stain, set your iron to steam, and iron on top of the rag for about 30 seconds.

Vents: Use a vacuum attachment to vacuum any grime or buildup. Wipe thoroughly with a microfiber cloth.

Drapes: Remove the fabric, place it on a solid surface, and use an upholstery brush and crevice tool to vacuum thoroughly.

Move-In Cleaning Checklist

In addition to following the cleaning tips for moving out above, follow these cleaning tips for moving into a new home:

Kitchen

Stovetop and Fridge: Remove all the stove-top parts and fridge shelves and drawers. Soak them in a tub filled with warm, soapy water. After an hour or so, dry the parts and put them back into place. After cleaning the fridge, prevent future odors by placing a tray of fresh or used coffee grounds in the back. Replace every two weeks.

Dishwasher: Pour a cup of white vinegar into a dishwasher-safe container and place it on the top rack of your dishwasher. Run the dishwasher through one cycle.

Bathroom

Toilet: Replace toilet seats and covers. They’re an inexpensive way to ensure a clean, fresh start.

Surfaces: Wipe down every surface, including medicine cabinets, with a disinfectant spray.

General

Sage your home: Give your new home a blank slate by saging, which is said to clear negative energy that may be lingering in a space. Place the sage in a clay bowl, or on another heatproof surface, and light it with a match. Give the sage a few minutes to build up a nice smoke before you start cleaning your new home.

Take pictures: Before you unpack, take photos and/or videos of the entire home, including pre-existing holes or damages.

It’s no secret that moving is stressful. Chances are, your to-do list is already pretty full, what with decluttering, packing, and planning before the big moving day. If time is of the essence, you can always hire a professional green cleaning service to do your pre- and post-move cleaning.

This article was written by GreenHouse Eco-Cleaning, an award-winning, green eco-friendly cleaning services company in New York City. Since 2006, GreenHouse has been making homes and offices safer, healthier, and of course, cleaner — all without the use of dangerous chemicals.

How To Cat-Proof *And* Dog-Proof Your Home: 17 Pawesome Tips

After years of casually browsing Petfinder and begging your friends to let you dog-sit, you’re actually doing it: You’re getting a pet.

But your work isn’t done after you’ve completed the adoption papers and cleared things with your landlord. You still have plenty of things to buy, and plenty of cords to coilbefore your new bundle of fur can safely walk through the front door.

This guide will help you make your home cat and dog-friendly. If you still have questions after you’ve read it, call your vet for his/her expert advice.

Until those questions come up, here’s how to cat-proof and dog-proof your home:

1. Get a good collar with tags

sleeping cat

Both cats and dogs like to run away, so it’s important for you to have a collar with ID tags waiting for your new pet on day one. Now, you may be thinking, “Okay, sure, a dog needs that, but my cat won’t wear a collar with a tag.”

Not true!

According to a study by the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine at Ohio State University,  three out of four cats will wear a collar, even if their owner doesn’t expect they will.

Considering this, plus the fact that less than 2% of lost cats are returned to their homes, getting your kitten a collar with tags is a no-brainer.

All the major pet supply chains stock customizable tags. They come in heart, bone, circle, and other simple shapes.

After you provide your cat or dog’s name and your contact information to a store employee (or to a tag engraving machine at a chain like PetSmart), the employee will make sure it gets etched onto whatever tag you choose.

Pair it with a breakaway collar (i.e. the ones with a safety buckle) and you’re all set.

2. Then buy a leash and harness for your dog

husky wearing dog harness

This rule obviously doesn’t apply to cats. No matter what your crazy neighbor who keeps her tabbies on a leash says, kittens do not need this kind of equipment. But dogs definitely do.

Leashes are mostly a matter of preference. There are materials (e.g., nylon and leather) and style (e.g., straight and retractable) to consider, but don’t fret too much about your choices.

If you have a big dog, consider a heavier leash. Here are some picks from the American Kennel Club, if you’d still like some guidance.

Harnesses are another story. There are three major styles:

  1. Front-clip
  2. Back-clip
  3. No-pull

Think about your pet’s personality when you’re weighing each option. For instance, the no-pull is for rambunctious dogs who like to go rogue on walks. It’s probably not the best fit for a calmer pup, who would do well with a back-clip.

You also need to keep your dog’s size in mind when it comes to harnesses. If the one you pick doesn’t fit, your dog might feel uncomfortable or even experience pain. Trainer Mikkel Becher gives some pointers on selecting the right harness in this video from Vetstreet:

3. Find a local vet

maltese mix puppy at the veterinarian
Flickr/Army Medicine

Your pet may not need a vet immediately, especially if he/she is up to date on shots. But you should have a vet lined up because you’re quickly going to have questions that only a medical professional can answer.

Your first stop should be the AAHA-Accredited Hospital Locator. The AAHA is the American Animal Hospital Association, and it only accredits clinics that pass their evaluations based on about 900 standards. Plug your address into their hospital locator’s search bar and see what comes up.

Once you have your list of accredited clinics, Prevention recommends you investigate all prospective vets. Ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Did the vets complete multiple internships or residencies?
  2. Are the vets certified by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP)?

The vets with the strongest educational backgrounds and experience will be your best bet. You can schedule multiple appointments and make your decision based on which vet you and your pet like best.

You can also consult your friends who live in the area. They’ve likely already been through this process and can tell you which vet on your shortlist is tops.

4. Figure out what food your new pal needs

cat bowl of cat food

There are tons of pet foods on the market, but only some will be right for your new dog or cat.

First, check the pet food labels to see if it has all the nutrients your cat or dog needs. Puppies and kittens have different nutritional requirements than adult dogs and cats, so be sure not to buy young animals food that’s formulated for grown-ups.

Next, be mindful of your furry friend’s allergies. The tricky part is you might not know what those are yet. Unless the people who were caring for your pet before you entered the picture identified them, you’ll have to figure this out for yourself.

Carefully watch your dog or cat’s reaction when you introduce it to a new food. If your pet gets sick afterward, it may be allergic to an ingredient in the kibble or Fancy Feast you bought.

Of course, that’s just a maybe. Animals get sick for all sorts of reasons. Consult your vet if you’re unsure about a possible allergy.

While we’re on the subject of food, remember to buy food and water dishes before your pet arrives. Also, stock up on treats you can use for training.

5. Pick out a crate for your dog

white puppy crate training
Flickr/Suzette Franck

Crates are necessary for housebreaking your pup.

Why?

As The Humane Society explains, dogs don’t like to soil their own dens. Using a crate will teach them that your home is a number two-free zone.

Remember that puppies get bigger, so shop for an expandable crate that grows with your dog.

6. Pick out a litter box for your cat

black cat in a blue litter box
Flickr/Laura LaRose

Cats, on the other hand, need litter boxes to do their business. Once you have the box, choose a designated spot for it in your home.

A corner or otherwise secluded place is a good call because cats, like humans, value their privacy. Also, have a big bag of kitty litter on deck.

7. Don’t forget toys

A post shared by MakeSpace (@makespace) on


Your pets need to have a little fun, too. Toys will keep them entertained while you’re away— and also distract them from trashing the place.

Look for good chew toys for dogs. Bones, ropes, and hard rubber toys will help with teething and give them something to gnaw on besides your shoes.

As for cats, make sure they have scratch posts to shred instead of your carpets.

And when your best furry friend is done with a toy, be sure to store it in any of these 10 pawdorable dog toy storage ideas that will make your pup smile.

8. Put medicine, cosmetics, and chemicals far out of reach

Like little kids who are obsessed with electric outlets, animals enjoy messing with things that could really hurt them. They don’t know that Drano and nail polish are bad for them. It’s up to you to keep all medicine, makeup, green cleaning supplies, and other chemicals out of their grasp.

Do this room by room. Locate the dishwasher detergent in your kitchen, the tub cleaner in your bathroom, the creams on your beside table, and the disinfectants in your closet for example. Then relocate them to a spot where your pet definitely can’t get them.

9. Child-proof your cabinet doors

Even if you already moved your Clorox to a high shelf, child-proof your cabinets as an added precaution. These latches will keep your dog or cat from shredding the paper towels you left inside, or breaking your favorite coffee mug.

10. Cover your trash cans and air vents

pull-out trash cabinet
Flickr/Kelly Sue DeConnick

Leaving your trash uncovered is basically asking Fido to gorge himself on rinds and coffee grounds until he’s sick. That leaves behind spilled garbage and puke for you to clean up. And who wants to spend their evening doing that?

Make sure the lid on your trash can is securely fastened. If the Fido in question is a big dog who could easily knock over that can, you might want to move the trash can inside one of those cabinets you just latched.

While you’re covering up things, check all the grilles on your air vents. Those need to be properly secured so curious kittens don’t pry them loose and get trapped in the vent.

11. Close your toilet lid and dryer door

black and white cat walking in front of a washing machine
Flickr/zoetnet

Sure, everyone laughed when the pups drank from the toilet in The Secret Life of Pets (and every other dog movie). But pets can get sick from lapping up the chemicals in your toilet — and the little ones could even fall in. So keep the lid closed, especially while your pet is still getting used to your home.

Another thing you should shut? The dryer door.

Many cats (understandably) see a warm dryer as an ideal sleeping spot. You probably shouldn’t let them wander off into the laundry area at all. But just in case they do, keep the washer and dryer doors closed 24/7.

12. Mind your wires

black power cord wrapped with a black plastic tie
Flickr/The Next Web

Dumping phone chargers on your coffee table is a recipe for disaster. They look like toys to your pets, and the pets won’t know better until they bite them.

Don’t leave any loose wires or cords out for curious cats and dogs to chew. And tape any wires or cords that need to stay put (like the plug for the TV) to the baseboards.

Also, any sort of string or thread is catnip for, well, cats. Pack up crafting supplies so your kitten can’t get into your sewing projects, and coil or clip your blind cords.

13. Hide your food and any other small objects your pet might choke on

cheese, cream cheese, and yogurt containers on a fridge shelf

Hopefully, you already thought to hide your chocolate and other foods that are obviously toxic to animals. Do your best to limit your pet’s access to all of your food. Even if it’s harmless, do you really want Whiskers eating all your snacks?

Don’t set food out on counters your pet can reach. Put everything in the fridge or freezer, or in one of those newly child-proof cabinets.

While you’re at it, scan your home for small items that could prove a choking hazard. Any knick-knacks on low shelves or tables have to find a new home. Preferably far away from your pet’s mouth.

14. Install gates, if you need them

black and white border collie with an orange ball in its mouth standing behind a wooden gate
Flickr/bambe1964

Even with all that hiding, covering, and child-proofing, there might be some areas you just don’t want your new pet in. Or maybe your pet isn’t quite ready to explore upstairs yet. Either way, we recommend putting up some gates to protect your pet.

Gates are key to laying the ground rules for new pets. It keeps them out of trouble while they’re still learning what’s allowed and what isn’t, and it’ll make you a lot less nervous. It may also be a long-term solution if you want to keep certain rooms pet-free at all times.

Buy gates that are tall enough to fence your pet in, and be sure to read the installation instructions carefully. Crafty cats and dogs can find a way around loose locks.

15. Block small spaces

stove, sink, dish washer, and an all-ine-one washer dryer crammed next to each other in a small kitchen
Flickr/Marion Doss

Now it’s time to think about the tiny nooks and crannies in your apartment that you normally never think about. That means the space between the oven and your wall. Or basically any spot you can’t reach with your vacuum.

Small animals can reach those spots, and get stuck. Block small spaces now to avoid a rescue mission down the line.

16. Make sure your plants aren’t poisonous

white and brown cat sitting underneath raised potted plants
Flickr/torne

Common houseplants, flowers, and herbs that seem harmless can be toxic for your new roommate. The no-no list for cats includes:

  • Sage
  • Lace fern
  • Daisies
  • Lavender

Meanwhile, poisonous plants for dogs include:

  • Hydrangeas
  • Irises
  • Thyme
  • Aloe

Several of these are bad for both animals. For a more complete list of plants toxic to your pet, check out the lists the ASPCA compiled for cats and dogs.

Thinking about planting a garden outside?

Check out Rascal and Rocco’s guide on how to create a cat-friendly garden, patio, or outdoor space.

17. Clear the path for bones and bowls with MakeSpace

 

Even the tiniest toy poodle is going to take up some space in your place. Between your pet’s toys, bed, and hourly lap around the entire apartment, the little guy needs some room.

The only problem is you don’t have it. You’re ready to rescue a furry friend, but your apartment isn’t quite as ready. It’s a bit cramped, and you have no idea how you’re going to fit a puppy in between all your furniture, shoes, and clothes.

Don’t give up on Buster. Use MakeSpace.

Simply schedule a storage pickup and we’ll come get that coat rack taking up valuable crate space. Then, we’ll transport it to our secure temperature-controlled storage facility. We’ll even create an online photo catalog of your stuff so you always remember what you have in storage.

But here’s what will really get your tail wagging:

When you want something back, you won’t have to spend hours sorting through boxes in a self-storage unit two hours away. Simply log into your MakeSpace account, select the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it to you.

Your dog’s 3 AM barks might give you a headache, but with MakeSpace, storage never will.

6 Clutch DIY Pegboard Ideas That Will Make Your Garage Smile

While we’d all love to keep an organized workspace, it’s easy to get bogged down by stuff, especially when it comes to power tools and hardware. Their odd, bulky shapes and small accessories make them tougher to store than, say, your winter clothes.

On top of that, not properly storing your tools and hardware could drastically lower their lifespan. And who wants to buy new tools prematurely? That’s right, no one.

Thankfully, the organizational gods invented the Swiss cheese of wood: pegboard.

Pegboard is the storage classic that made even Bob Villa wax poetic. It has a place in any garage, especially since it can be easily modified to accommodate various tools and spaces.

So make your garage smile. Gift it with any of these six DIY pegboard storage ideas that will organize all of your clutter in style:

1. The Old Standby Pegboard

white diy pegboard with hooks storing tools in a garage

Sometimes the classics just work. A pegboard panel mounted across your garage wall makes it easy to hang and display tools, keeping them off the workbench until you’re ready for them.

In fact, we like the idea of hanging your pegboard directly on top of a workstation or shelving unit so your hammers are right there when you need them. The right hardware really makes a difference here, too.

We recommend using metal hooks (rather than plastic hooks, which don’t hold up to your tools’ wear and tear as well), and investing in specialized hangers for hammers and screwdriver sets.

2. The All-Dolled-Up Pegboard

diy pegboard baskets and shelves

If your garage doubles as a living space or home gym, you need to set up a storage area for your tools that’s as easy on the eyes as it is functional.

Fortunately, adding pegboard is a home improvement project that can fit right into even the most sophisticated of home furnishings with a little paint and a mitered frame made from molding.

A word of advice:

Always buffer the space behind the board with furring strips. This will ensure there’s enough room in back for the hooks.

3. Pegboard Panels

modular pegboard storage panels

Are you the proud owner of a serious tool collection?

This genius pegboard storage solution is like the next dimension in pegboard panels — and it only looks complicated.

What we like about this idea is how naturally it lends itself to categorization. You could designate one panel for wrenches, one for hammers, and so on.

The only catch is the size:

At 12 inches across, those larger circular blades might not make the cut.

4. Rolling Pegboard Cart

diy pegboard tool cart with wheels

You already have the tools, so why not put them to use?

If you’re gunning to get out the saw, you can easily build a rolling tool caddy in one afternoon. It works especially well for the handyman/handywoman who hates shuffling from workbench to wall just to retrieve a different bit.

The basic idea here is pretty simple — four pieces of pegboard attached to a wooden frame fitted with casters.

Good with a welder?

Take this double-sided approach that might be a bit easier to maneuver through a crowded garage.

5. Sliding-Door Shop Cabinet

Looking to tackle an even larger project?

This sliding door shop cabinet plan looks promising. For starters, it features pegboard panels mounted along a sliding track that offers tons of support for heavy tools.

It also has plastic hardware bins, which means no more spilled nails (your feet will thank you) or lost washers (your screws will thank you).

6. Custom Pegboard Tool Holders

custom pegboard tool holders

Over at Popular Mechanics, Senior Editor Roy Berendsohn points out a common problem. He loves pegboard but hates how easy it is to clutter up the panel with too many tools.

His solution:

A selection of handmade tool hangers that lets you double, or even triple, the efficiency of a single area. The tool hangers look nice, too. The hand-bent steel definitely says “serious builder at work.”

And actually, DIY pegboard hangers are a craft in their own right. We’ve seen tool holders made from cut PVC, a split garden hose used to store sharp blades, and way more hacks — all of which will keep your garage humming for a while.

Top image via Flickr/mtneer_man

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

12 Surprising Ways Clutter Is Ruining Your Life [Infographic]

Clutter is bad for your health. Clutter increases creativity. Clutter ruins productivity. Clutter damages your relationship.

You’ve heard a lot about clutter. It can get confusing. Now it’s time to get the hard facts on how clutter affects your life.

We analyzed various studies on clutter and hoarding. We spoke to psychotherapists, physicians, and professional organizers to learn more about the psychological reasons for clutter and its negative effects. We then created a clutter infographic. All so you can finally decide if you have a healthy or unhealthy amount of stuff in your home.

Here’s how clutter affects your physical and mental health, relationships, career, and finances:

clutter infographic by makespace storage

Copy the code below to embed our clutter infographic on your site:<p><a href="https://makespace.com/blog/posts/clutter-infographic"><img src="https://cdn.makespace.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/04152312/clutter-infographic-makespace-storage.jpg" title="12 Surprising Ways Clutter Is Ruining Your Life" alt="Clutter Infographic by MakeSpace"></a></p>
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Click any of the links below to jump to a specific section:
Clutter Harms Your Health
Clutter Hurts Your Relationships
Clutter Derails Your Career
Clutter Drains Your Wallet

Clutter Harms Your Health

Your apartment isn’t the only thing affected by over-accumulation of stuff. Clutter also has proven, tangible effects on your mental and physical well-being.

1. Clutter increases your stress.

According to a study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, people with cluttered homes full of unfinished projects were more depressed, fatigued, and had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those who described their homes as “restful” and “restorative.”

The study also mentions that cortisol’s failure to decline normally over the course of the day has “been associated with greater chronic stress, disease progression, and even mortality risk.”

2. Clutter wrecks your diet.

A study in Psychological Science found that participants in an orderly environment chose healthier snacks than those in a cluttered environment.

“Clutter is stressful for the brain, so you’re more likely to resort to coping mechanisms such as choosing comfort foods or overeating than if you spend time in neater surroundings,” explains Dr. Eva Shalhoub.

3. Clutter triggers respiratory issues.

According to the Alliance for Healthy Homes, cluttered homes often contain more dust, which can cause or amplify breathing problems.

As more things pile up, more dust is generated. This creates the ideal living environment for pests like dust mites.

The harder it gets to access different areas of the home to clean, the more serious these respiratory issues become.

4. Clutter threatens your safety.

The Mental Health Association of San Francisco warns that excessive amounts of clutter — especially cardboard boxes, paper, and clothing — can block doorways and windows, creating a serious fire hazard.

Clutter Hurts Your Relationships

If you share your home with others, excessive clutter is no longer just a “you” problem. Clutter in your home can also negatively impact the lives of your significant other and kid(s).

5. Clutter jeopardizes your love life.

People with hoarding disorder persistently have difficulty getting rid of things because of a perceived need to save them. They also feel distressed at the thought of parting with their belongings. This can take a toll on one’s marriage, as studies have shown that compulsive hoarders have higher rates of divorce.

Clutter’s negative impact on marriage is not limited to hoarders. “Spouses of a cluttered person who are bothered by the condition of the environment express their discomfort in judgment, negative comments, name calling, anger and irritability,” writes Debbie Bowie, a Certified Professional Organizer based in Richmond, Virginia.

6. Clutter upsets your kids.

If you have kids, they too can feel the negative effects of a cluttered home. The National Institute of Mental Health found that kids living in a severely cluttered environment often have elevated levels of distress, experiencing less happiness and more difficulty making friends.

7. Clutter isolates you.

The cleanliness of your home can affect your desire to invite anyone into it. In a Rubbermaid survey conducted by Russell Research, nearly half of surveyed homeowners said they won’t invite friends over if their home is cluttered.

Try not to go too far in the opposite direction, though. Living in an overly tidy and controlled environment can also cause stress, which harms your musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, and gastrointestinal system. According to Kellie Rice, Psy.D., CGP, that level of anxiety makes it hard for someone to leave the house because he/she is so preoccupied with whether or not it’s neat enough.

Clutter Derails Your Career

“If a person doesn’t have control over their home environment, they use work as an escape,” says Connor McClenahan, Psy.D. People with messy tendencies rarely confine their disorganization to just their homes. Meaning that chaos can seep into your professional life, too.

8. Clutter prevents you from getting promoted.

A chaotic desk, an untidy briefcase or purse, and an undefined filing system (or no filing system at all) can all have a major impact on your job performance. A CareerBuilder study found that 28% of employers are less likely to promote someone with a messy workspace.

9. Clutter makes you miss work.

Researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health discovered compulsive hoarding was associated with an average of seven work impairment days per month — more than those reported by participants with other anxiety, mood, and substance use disorders.

10. Clutter decreases productivity.

When your environment is cluttered, the chaos inhibits your ability to focus. A study by the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute observed that “multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation.”

In other words, a desk strewn with papers, snacks, photos, and pens will probably beat out any kind of productivity you had planned for the day. The research also shows that a clean work environment will help you be more productive, less moody, and better able to process information.

Clutter Drains Your Wallet

A messy home can negatively affect how you manage your finances, leading to poor money management and severe debt. While there are solutions to these issues, being able to find your electric bill is a good place to start.

11. Clutter encourages bad spending habits.

When your home is cluttered, it’s easy to misplace things. If you can’t find an item, like your yoga mat or your dog’s favorite toy, you might buy a duplicate. This habit, combined with spending a lot of money to hoard items, can get you into debt.

Beat debt with a money management service like YNAB.

12. Clutter keeps you in debt.

A cluttered home can also make it difficult to locate credit card bills and bank statements. Another lost bill leads to another late payment. Suddenly, you’re dealing with additional fees, higher interest rates, or even collection agencies.

Set up automatic bill pay or create calendar reminders in your phone to ensure you pay your bills on time.

Ready to live an uncluttered life?

 

Say goodbye to disastrous clutter, and hello to delightful space: Schedule a MakeSpace pickup, pack your stuff, and leave the rest to us.

We’ll pick up your stuff (including large items like furniture, skis, and snowboards) and transport it to our secure, temperature-controlled storage facility. We’ll also create an online photo catalog of your stuff so you always know what you have in storage.

When you need something back, simply log into your MakeSpace account, select the photos of the items, and we’ll deliver them to you. No headache necessary.

Choose a city to learn more about MakeSpace in your area:

Chicago, Illinois
Los Angeles, California
New York City
Washington, DC

Here’s What To Store And What To Toss Before You Move

Moving soon? Before hiring a moving company, consider organizing your home first.

By getting rid of unworn clothing, clunky furniture, and out-of-date electronics, your upcoming move will be a much smoother (not to mention cheaper) experience.

Plus, there’s nothing like a fresh start in a new home — without college futons and broken appliances to weigh you down.

Some items, though, will need to be stored. Whether it’s a sentimental item or a valuable furnishing, not everything can be trashed so easily.

For help figuring out what to store and what to toss when it comes to your clothes, furnishings, and electronics, keep reading.

Clothing, Shoes, and Accessories

clothing and accessories on closet shelves

Let’s face it — you don’t have to be a hoarder to need some closet tweaking. Over time, we tend to accumulate more than our hangers can handle.

Even if you haven’t donned that sequin dress since 2012, it’s all too easy to convince yourself that you might wear it again one day. Spoiler alert: you won’t.

Here’s how to decide whether to store or toss your closet items:

Keep it if…

  • It currently fits.
  • It’s in good condition.
  • You’ve worn it in the last year.
  • It’s on-trend.

How to store:

I recommend first laundering and dry cleaning all of your garments before storing them. When placing them in bins and wardrobe boxes, make sure they’re folded nicely to avoid wrinkles and damage. You may also want to use vacuum-sealed bags to save space.

It’s also a great idea to protect all shoes and accessories. Place shoes in plastic shoe bins to keep them from getting flattened. Also, insert your boots with something that will help them keep their shape, such as boot shapers, rolled up newspaper, or tissue paper.

Toss it if…

  • It no longer fits.
  • It’s torn, stained, or in otherwise bad condition.
  • You can’t remember the last time you wore it.
  • It’s no longer in style.

How to toss:

Holding onto t-shirts with holes and skirts with rips?

Most donation sites simply won’t accept clothing that is irreparably damaged, so it’s best to trash or recycle anything that isn’t salvageable.

As for your gently-used clothes, donate them to charity (here’s where to donate your old clothes, books, furniture, toys, cell phones, and more).

If you have items that are on-trend, vintage, or valuable in some way, try selling them on Poshmark or at a local consignment store.

Pro Tip: Good news! MakeSpace partners with Goodwill in NYC, Chicago, and Washington, DC.

All you have to do is schedule a MakeSpace pickup, fill up their blue MakeSpace + Goodwill bag with anything you’d like to donate, and hand the bag to their SpaceMakers. They’ll drop your donations off at a local Goodwill — at no extra charge.

Furniture

throw pillow on a yellow futon in a living room

Unless you’re a staunch minimalist, you may have acquired one too many chairs in the past few years. So before you move, measure your furnishings. Once you have these measurements, use your new home’s blueprint as a guide to figuring out what will go where.

If you’re downsizing or moving to a home with a different layout, you’ll need to figure out what to do with your excess furniture. Here’s how to decide whether to store or toss your furniture:

Keep it if…

  • You love it.
  • It’s sentimental or valuable in some way.
  • It serves a purpose, and you’ll use it down the road.
  • You’re planning to pass it down to someone.

How to store:

Before storing your furniture, consider disassembling beds and other space-inefficient large items. Make sure to wipe down all surfaces and thoroughly clean your furniture as well.

Finally, protect your furniture with covers, sheets and drop cloths before storing them.

Toss it if…

  • It isn’t sentimental or valuable to you.
  • It’s no longer your style.
  • You don’t plan to reuse it later.
  • There’s no one you plan on giving it to.

How to toss:

To donate your furniture, contact Goodwill, Salvation Army or a Habitat for Humanity ReStore to arrange a free pickup at your home.

Not sure if your furnishings are in good enough shape to donate?

You can also have a company like 1-800-GOT-JUNK? or The Junkluggers come to your house to remove large items.

To sell belongings, I suggest trying an online marketplace, such as Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, Nextdoor.com or Facebook Marketplace. Mobile apps LetGo and OfferUp are two other good alternatives for selling your furniture as well.

Electronics

a macbook, white ipad, and white iphone on wooden desk

From TVs and tablets to smartphones and gaming devices, our homes are filled with every kind of electrical device imaginable. Bringing them all with you when you move may not be an option.

Here’s how to decide whether to store or toss your electronics:

Keep it if…

  • It’s up to date.
  • It’s expensive to replace.
  • It still works well.
  • You will have a need for it later.

How to store:

Before storing electronics, make sure all photos, documents, and other important data have been properly backed up. Then dust off the devices and disassemble as much as you can.

Buffer items with packing paper or bubble wrap. Pack items in waterproof, airtight containers to avoid damage. Finally, separate any loose tangled cords and secure them with durable cable ties.

Toss it if…

  • It’s old or out of date.
  • It’s easy and inexpensive to replace.
  • It’s broken and no longer works.
  • It won’t serve a purpose later on.

How to toss:

Hoping to sell your gently-used electronics?

In addition to online marketplaces, consider trade-in programs offered by Walmart, Target, GameStop, Best Buy, and Amazon.

Looking to donate your TVs, iPads and other electronic devices?

If the item is outdated or broken, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a donation site that will accept it. For instance, Habitat’s ReStore won’t accept TVs older than 5 years. If it’s time for your electronic items to power down for good, recycle responsibly at a local Best Buy recycling kiosk or at your city’s own household recycling drop-off station.

Once you’ve decided what to store, schedule a MakeSpace pickup. They’ll pick up, store, and deliver your stuff back so you never have to rent a truck or visit a self-storage unit. It’s as simple (and painless) as that.

This article was written by Marian White, a contributor for Moving.com, relocation expert, and author based in West Palm Beach, Florida.

13 Extremely Easy Eco-Friendly Organizing Tips For Your Home

Even if you already carpool to work, buy second-hand clothes, or pay your bills online, there are still plenty of small but impactful changes you can make to live a more environmentally responsible lifestyle.

How?

It starts at home — with your habits, routines, and organizational systems. Yep, you read that right. These 13 extremely easy eco-friendly organizing tips for your home will help you save money, control clutter, and reduce waste (the ego boost is just a bonus):

1. Repurpose shoe boxes as storage containers.

eco-friendly green shoe box storage made by paige smith
Paige Smith

Make use of empty shoe boxes instead of buying new storage bins. Use them to store craft supplies, tools, green cleaning products, jewelry, beauty products, or winter gear like hats, gloves, scarves, and boots.

You can even, gasp, use them to store shoes. Revolutionary, right?

2. Store magazines in a donation basket.

eco-friendly red wicker magazine basket
Flickr/Wicker Paradise

Reduce the amount of waste you produce by donating your magazines instead of recycling them. Designate a stylish basket as the official drop-point for magazines you’ve finished reading.

Then give the magazines away every week or two. Bring them to your local library, nursing home, dentist office, medical clinic, retirement community, or family shelter.

Free Bonus: If you’d like to donate your magazines, read our handy guide on where to donate your old clothes, books, furniture, toys, cell phones, and more.

3. Reuse glass jars to organize your stuff.

a mason jar storing forks, a mason jar storing scallions in water, and a wooden knife block by paige smith
Paige Smith

If your jar of coconut oil, marinara sauce, or pickles is running low, save it instead of recycling it. After you clean it out, use it to organize any number of random household items: cooking ingredients and grains, kitchen utensils, pens, craft supplies, or makeup brushes.

You can even use glass jars as vases and planters.

Pro Tip: Learn more ways to repurpose glass jars with this list of 10 brilliant Mason jar DIY ideas.

4. Toss junk mail in a “Need to Unsubscribe” bin.

junk mail recycling bin by the organised housewife
The Organised Housewife

Immediately recycling your junk mail prevents clutter from building up in your home. But if you always throw away catalogs and promotional flyers without unsubscribing from them first, you’re setting yourself up to receive more paper products down the line. It’s a vicious cycle.

To get rid of junk mail, stash it in a bin where you’ll see it every day. Every two weeks or so, go through the pile one paper at a time, call the customer service numbers, and ask to be removed from all of their mailing lists.

Or use Catalog Choice to stop junk mail for good. And while you’re at it, check out these 15 awesome apps and services that will spring clean your entire home.

5. Store a pile of rags and dish cloths in an easily accessible kitchen cabinet.

kitchen towel tower
Flickr/prettyinprint

Using cloth napkins and rags instead of paper towels and paper napkins can easily cut your waste in half. Keep them in a nearby kitchen cabinet or drawer so you always have something within reach to wipe up spills.

Go a step further and slide a bin below your sink to collect dirty cloth napkins and rags that need to be washed.

6. Display a basket near the front door to hold reusable grocery bags.

entryway drop zone by honey we're home
Honey We’re Home

Make space for a pretty basket in your entryway and fill it with fabric totes. That way, you can quickly grab a tote on your way out the door so you don’t have to resort to using plastic or paper grocery bags.

If you have limited entryway space, hang your bags on a coat rack or wall hook instead.

Free Bonus: These 15 amazing entryway storage hacks and ideas will keep your home's first and last impression incredibly organized.

7. Set up a wrapping station to store used boxes, gift bags, and tissue paper.

gift wrapping station made by paige smith
Paige Smith

You can make your gift station as basic or as Pinterest-worthy as you want. All that matters is that you designate a place — even if it’s a single desk drawer — to store all the used gift bags, tags, tissue paper, bows, and boxes you receive.

Reusing these items saves tons of waste and money.

8. Store a “Reuse” bin in the hall closet.

white reuse bin by paige smith storing socks, roiander body butter, a candle, books, and a pair of vans shoes
Paige Smith

Create a drop-off zone in your home for items you want to reuse, whether by donating, repurposing, or upcycling them. You can toss in clothes, shoes, books, stationary containers, candle jars, mint tins, jewelry boxes, or anything else you think could be given a second life.

Just remember: The Reuse Bin is supposed to help you stay organized. At least once a month, make a standing date with yourself to sort through the bin and decide what to do with each item.

Not sure what items to keep or get rid of?

Our decluttering flowchart will help you finally decide.

9. Set up a mini recycling station in every room.

recycle and non-recycle bin from a doubletree hotel
Flickr/Carol VanHook

You probably have a recycling station in your kitchen, but what about the other areas of your home?

If you only have small trash bins scattered throughout your house — all of which inevitably get filled with a variety of recyclable and non-recyclable materials — it’s time to make recycling more convenient.

Give each room (yes, even the bathroom) its own proper recycling station. Simply add another bin for recyclable items like paper, plastic, and glass. Or use a dual trash and recycling bin like the one pictured above.

Free Bonus: Scope out these 35 powerful spring cleaning tips and tricks from professional organizers.

10. Repurpose wooden crates as storage systems.

custom wooden toy storage crates
Flickr/Kyle Van Horn

Used wooden wine and fruit crates are excellent storage containers because they’re sturdy, versatile, and easy to stack. Use them to store blankets, books, or kids toys (or dog toys, for that matter) in your living room. Or tuck the crates in your entryway and use them to store your shoes and umbrellas.

They also make cool shelving systems in lieu of store-bought bookcases or plastic drawers.

wooden crates storing books
Flickr/Emily Allen
Free Bonus: These 13 easy DIY storage ideas and solutions will organize your entire home.

11. Build a green cleaning kit.

green cleaning kit
Flickr/go_greener_oz

Grab a wooden caddy and fill it with your favorite green cleaning tools: towels and rags, old socks for dusting, wooden scrub brushes, baking soda, vinegar, and jars of homemade disinfectants and stain removers. Just like this lemon and clove nightly sink scrub made by Clean Mama:

clean mama's lemon and clove nightly sink scrub ingredients: baking soda, lemon essential oil, clove essential oil, castile soap, and a ball mason jar
Clean Mama

Stash the caddy in the cabinet below your kitchen sink for easy access.

Want more amazing cleaning tips?

Check out this list of 20 genius green cleaning tips and tricks for every room in your home.

12. Stock a kitchen drawer with reusable to-go items.

zero waste lunch kit by trash is for tossers includes: a stainless steel lunch container, a reusable fork and napkin, organic cotton bags, a mason jar, and a stainless steel canteen
Trash is for Tossers

Rather than rely on paper plates, plastic cups, and disposable silverware, arm yourself with a cool eco-friendly to-go kit that you can use for office lunches or beverages like coffee and smoothies.

Gather these tools:

  • A stainless steel lunch box or glass container
  • A stainless steel straw
  • A mason jar or stainless steel water bottle
  • Linen napkins
  • Cutlery
  • A couple cotton drawstring bags to hold your sandwiches and snacks
Free Bonus: Learn how to organize the rest of your kitchen drawers with these 11 clever and easy kitchen organization ideas.

13. Use power strips for appliances.

power strip with three chargers plugged in
Flickr/trenttsd

Power strips save electricity and outlet space. Use them in areas where you have multiple appliances or devices to plug in, like your kitchen, TV room, office, and bedroom.

To save even more power, get in the habit of switching off your power strip when you’re not using the items plugged into it.

After you organize your home so it’s ultra eco-friendly, use MakeSpace to safely store the stuff you love but don’t have room for — like your luggage, bike rack, snowboarding gear, skis, winter coats, and collections of CDs and DVDs.

 

All you have to do is schedule a MakeSpace pickup and pack your stuff. We’ll pick up everything from your home, transport it to our secure temperature-controlled storage facility, and create an online photo catalog of your stuff.

When you need something back from storage, simply browse your online photo catalog, click the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver the item back to you.

This article was written by Paige Smith, a freelance writer from Orange County, California who specializes in lifestyle, wellness, and travel topics.

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.)

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.