Category Archives: Tips

20 Brilliant NYC Apartment Decorating Tips And Ideas On A Budget

Renting an apartment in New York City poses its own unique set of challenges.

For starters, your upstairs neighbors seem to go bowling at 4 AM every single night.

Then there’s the ambulance plowing down your avenue right when you’re nodding off.

And should you investigate that weird smell coming from the building entryway?

We can’t help you with the smells or noises. But we can help make your home a welcoming respite from all that outside chaos.

Here to show you how is Jamie Hord of Horderly, a professional organization company that serves the greater New York City area. Jamie shares her expert tips on organizing, decorating, and personalizing the types of apartments you’re likely to find in New York City.

The best part:

None of these genius solutions will break the bank. (Trust, we know NYC is ridiculously expensive enough.)

Read on for Jamie’s 20 NYC apartment decorating tips and ideas for turning your place into a home for crashing in the city that never sleeps.

Click any of the links below to jump to decorating tips for your apartment type:
Studio apartment
Railroad apartment
Micro-apartment
Shared apartment

Studio apartment

A studio apartment bed next to two windows
Jamie Hord

You might instantly cringe at the thought of a studio apartment, but some of my all-time favorite apartments are studios.

If you set your studio up right, it can be the perfect little living space. Here are some tips on how to decorate your small NYC studio:

1. Use curtains to make the room look taller

Instead of hanging your curtains at the top of your window, hang them as far up as they can go — think ceiling to floor. Making use of vertical space like this creates an illusion of height, and will make your room feel taller.

2. Use rugs to divide the room

I always recommend to clients to use trays to categorize items on tables. You can use this technique basically the same way when it comes to your studio apartment. Simply use rugs as your “trays” to designate distinct areas: dining, living, bedroom, etc.

3. Light the walls (without breaking your lease)

Instead of taking up floor space with a floor lamp, or table space with a table lamp, use a wall lamp. Apartment Therapy has a roundup of the best wall-lamps that don’t require a lease-breaking foray into rewiring your apartment’s electricity.

4. Get extra space under the bed

Put your bed on bed risers for an instant storage boost.

5. Downsize your furniture

Purchase smaller furniture pieces. Consider a love seat sofa instead of a full, and make sure it’s comfy.

Free Bonus: 15 Seriously Genius Space-Saving Furniture Ideas For Every Room In Your Apartment

Railroad apartment

a well-lit room in a railroad apartment
Jamie Hord

Railroad apartments can be tricky because of their awkward, narrow shape. But they can also be a gorgeous and very uniquely New York home.

Here are some tips for organizing and decorating a railroad apartment:

6. Keep the space visually clear

Because of the fact that you can look across your apartment and literally see every room, keep the tone minimal. Reduce as much clutter as possible, which will calm the space and leave it feeling less cramped.

7. Set up the space according to any natural light

If you’re tasked with balancing and designating the apartment rooms, take note of the lighting. The living room tends to feel best at the end of the apartment, because it gets the most sunlight.

However, this means you’ll have to accept the fact that your bedroom is in the middle of the apartment.

8. Take down any unnecessary doors

Remove doors to open up and brighten your long apartment. This will also help with ventilation.

9. Keep the color palette consistent

Paint the apartment either one color or in neutral shades for continuity.

a room in a railroad apartment has been converted into a closet
Jamie Hord

10. Think outside the closet

Closets in railroad apartments tend to be limited.  Try transforming one room into your “closet” by putting a wardrobe, dresser, and mirror in it. This will also clear tons of space in your bedroom.

To clear even more space in your home, schedule a MakeSpace pickup.

MakeSpace will pick up the stuff you don’t need in your home right now (like your summer and spring clothes) and store it in their secure storage facility. When you need something back from storage, they’ll deliver it to you.

Free Bonus: 53 Insanely Clever Bedroom Storage Hacks And Solutions

Micro-apartment

A mirror hangs in the entryway of a micro-apartment
Jamie Hord

No need to fret over a tiny apartment. Have you ever heard the saying “less space, less stuff?”

In a micro-apartment, you’ll actually end up accumulating less, simply because you won’t have anywhere to put new stuff. There is nothing wrong with living with less.

In fact, it is said that with less you can enjoy more. You might find your smaller space allows for a bigger life.

Here are some ways to maximize your small space:

11. Use mirrors to visually expand your space

Don’t be afraid to go big when it comes to using mirrors in a small room. This will create the illusion of depth.

Use mirrors even in the bedroom and kitchen. Some great areas to place a mirror is facing a window, in the entryway, along a narrow hallway, or above a fireplace.

Free Bonus: 15 Amazing Multi-Purpose Entryway Storage Hacks And Ideas That You’ll Love

12. Pick mirrored and acrylic furniture

Mirrored and acrylic furniture is also brilliant when it comes to decorating small NYC apartments. I recently used this mirrored dresser and this acrylic desk for a few clients, and we were obsessed with the the overall look it gave their apartment.

a large wardrobe with mirrors
Jamie Hord

Mirrored furniture can make the floor space look bigger. However, you don’t want to use mirror furniture if you already have a lot of patterns going on in the room.

As for the acrylic desk, it’s almost like it isn’t even there.

13. Position the bed foot-first

The bed always looks best head-on when you enter a room, even if that means placing it in front of a window.

14. Maximize any and all vertical space

Take advantage of all vertical space. Use shelves and over-the-door hooks wherever possible.

a bed is positioned under a window in a tiny apartment
Jamie Hord

15. Keep backup tables without wasting room

Nesting tables are a great way to store additional side tables for guests.

Shared apartment

a classy gallery wall hangs above a large brown dresser
Jamie Hord

Living with roommates is hard, but I think almost everyone in NYC  has to experience it at least once in their crazy Big Apple journey. Here are some ways to manage sharing a space:

16. Compromise with a shared wall

Who doesn’t love a gallery wall?

What’s best about a gallery wall is it can pretty much be as random as can be and still look good. Try putting together your and your roommate’s favorite pieces and see how much you both love it.

17. Try a touch of DIY

If you’re both bringing in furniture and decor that you each already have, you may have to pull it together by adding a little DIY. Try covering pillows with different pillowcases, painting furniture, and changing dresser and door knobs.

a plant sits next to a window with a gorgeous view from a studio apartment
Jamie Hord

18. Add some (green) life

Increase your happiness and productivity by adding fresh flowers to your apartment. Placing plants by the window will improve the overall aesthetic, too.

Free Bonus: 7 Gorgeous Houseplants That Will Purify The Air And Make You Happier

19. Get creative when dividing the space

There are many unique ways to create a room divider:

It could be a simple 4-part screen, a bookshelf/open bookcase, slider doors, or a curtain. Or simply ask your landlord to build out a wall (yes, sometimes they will do this).

20. Be 100% yourself in your own space

When sharing a small apartment, you may have to sacrifice a few of your favorite decor ideas. So be sure to embrace your bedroom, and make it totally your own!

This article was written by Jamie Hord of Horderly. Horderly is a professional home organization company serving the greater New York City area. Specializing in decluttering, organizing, and unpacking, they help clients feel a new sense of clarity with their belongings, along with maintaining a steady, functional lifestyle.

6 Creative Ways To Easily Increase Positive Energy And Peace In Your Home

Home is where the heart is. That’s what they say anyway, right?

What does that even mean?

It means home should be somewhere you enjoy spending time. Your own personal space that brings you peace and relaxation, especially after a long day at work.

If you work a stressful job, why would you want to come home to a stressful home environment?

You don’t have to.

Implement these six creative ways to increase positive energy and peace in your home, so you can stop stressing and start enjoying the place you call home.

1. Get an essential oil diffuser and *use* it

flowers with essential oil diffusers

Essential oils are one of my all-time favorite ways to increase positive energy in any space.

There are essential oil recipes for everything including reducing stress, boosting mood, alleviating anxiety and depression, increasing focus and concentration, and promoting peaceful sleep.

There are many affordable, aesthetically-pleasing diffusers on the market. It’s easy to pick one that matches your decor.

Here are five oils that I recommend and their uses:

  1. Lavender soothes and calms you. It promotes a sense of well-being and reduces stress.
  2. Sweet orange supports a positive mood. It’s a very uplifting oil that also inspires creativity.
  3. Ylang Ylang calms and relaxes you. It can help reduce feelings of anger.
  4. Bergamont alleviates anxiety, fatigue, and stress.
  5. Frankincense promotes focus and concentration. It also helps balance emotions.

These are only some of many essential oils that can bring positive energy and peace to your home. Experiment to figure out which ones work best for you.

2. Declutter your space

decluttered white wood pallet coffee table with wheels plants

Clutter is stressful.

I can’t stand seeing piles of stuff everywhere, and I definitely cannot function on a messy desk. However, I know it’s easy to let things pile up around the house, especially during the week when you’re tired after work.

Take a weekend to start decluttering your home and get rid of things you don’t need. You’ll probably be surprised by how much you can eliminate to help organize your living space.

A clean, clutter-free space will provide you with a sense of peace and calm. It’ll help ease your mind because you won’t constantly look around thinking about how you “need to clean that up” or “need to organize that.”

Decluttering your living space also declutters your mind.

Free Bonus: How To Organize Your Home To Boost Your Side Hustle

3. Use a Himalayan salt lamp

himalayan salt lamp next to a macbook on a table
Deanna Nabi

I’ve had a Himalayan salt lamp for a while now, but I’ve noticed they’ve recently been increasing in popularity. That’s good because they’re easier to find, and I think everyone should own one.

For starters, they’re aesthetically pleasing, and looking at pretty things makes us happy. The light emitted from Himalayan salt lamps is soft, calming, and soothing. And because the light is amber colored, they work great as low light lamps or night lights.

They also blend in very nicely with virtually any home decor. Who knew a huge chunk of salt could be so visually pleasing?

Himalayan salt lamps do more than just look good. Their primary function is to purify the air. Salt attracts water molecules. Therefore, the Himalayan salt lamp attracts water from the air, which can contain mold, bacteria, and allergens.

These pollutants become trapped inside the salt lamp while water vapor is released back into the room without all the harmful stuff. As the heat from the lamp attracts more moisture, the cycle continues.

Another awesome benefit of Himalayan salt lamps:

They’re known to ease asthma and allergy symptoms, and promote better sleep.

4. Add some flowers or plants throughout your home

fresh white and yellow flowers in a white vase on a kitchen table

Flowers are an instant mood booster. Bright colors, such as pink, orange, or yellow, promote increased energy and focus. Cool colors, such as baby blue or lavender, promote calming and positive vibes.

Free Bonus: How Paint Colors Affect Your Mood (Plus Tons Of Rooms Color Ideas You’ll Love)

Place your flowers in areas where you’ll see them often, like in your kitchen, living room, or bedroom. Many plants, such as English ivy, peace lily, and bamboo palm, help purify the air.

Fresh flowers also have aromatherapeutic properties, similar to the benefits of essential oils. I love the smell of fresh roses, so having a vase of them on my kitchen table helps create a peaceful environment.

Fresh flowers are the best. But if you don’t want to deal with keeping up with them, there are realistic-looking artificial flowers and plants that can still give you the same positive effects.

5. Put up beautiful, inspiring decorations

white candle in a glass candle holder that reads "happiness is not a destination it is a way of life"

Decorate your home with things that make you happy. Wall decorations with cute sayings like “Live, Laugh, Love,” “Live Your Dream,” or other inspiring quotes add positive vibes to any room.

Inspiring images, quotes, or pictures of family and friends have the same uplifting effect. Your home is a direct extension of you, so design it to represent you well.

6. Play uplifting music

a woman wearing headphones looking out the window

I can’t stand complete silence when I’m home alone. I love having soft background music playing, especially upbeat instrumentals. Play whatever music makes you feel happy and energized.

Silence is good too. But if you’re coming home from work burnt out, you need all the uplifting vibes you can get. Take a moment of silence to reflect on your day if you need to, then crank up the happy tunes.

At the end of the day, your home should be a happy place, and only you know what makes you happiest. Yes, even if that means getting one of these for your living room:

This article was written by Deanna from Morning Coffee With Dee, a self-care and lifestyle blog that empowers readers to live happy, fulfilling, and creative lives through self-care, a positive mindset, and a little fun!

How Paint Colors Affect Your Mood (Plus Tons Of Room Color Ideas You’ll Love)

Imagine trying to sleep in a noisy room, to eat healthy in a kitchen stocked full of treats, or attempting to be productive when everything else in your office seems to be urging you to relax and unwind.

We try to play to our senses when it comes to making sure a room is serving its purpose. That’s why bedrooms are designed to be peaceful, while playrooms are often decorated from a bright, energetic point of view.

A great way to create the desired ambiance in a room is with the perfect paint color. While it’s beneficial to choose colors that appeal to your tastes and complement your decor, it’s also important to understand how they can impact your state of mind.

Choose the wrong color and you could throw off a room’s whole vibe. Select the perfect color and it will pull everything together.

But how do you know what colors to choose?

Here to explain how paint colors affect your mood and share their favorite room color ideas with you is Paintzen — a revolutionary service that makes it easy for you to get your home or office painted by a trustworthy painting pro at a price you can afford.

Follow their brilliant tips, and you’ll create the ideal mood for your space in no time.

Click any of the links below to jump to a specific section:
Energy Colors
Relaxing Colors
Luxury Colors
Productive Colors
The Cleanest Color
Don’t Forget To Consider Lighting

Energy Colors

red room with high ceilings
Get the look with Benjamin Moore ‘Rhubarb.’

For those of you who love to host, it’s important to keep gathering areas looking their best. The foyer, living room, and dining room tend to be the highest-trafficked areas in the home for parties and events.

When choosing a paint color, the best method here is to lean towards warm shades. From muted beiges to vibrant reds, warm colors will liven up your guests.

Red will raise a room’s energy level, and studies have shown that it can even elevate heart rate a bit. So it’s a good choice when you want people to feel excited, to stimulate conversation, and to make an awesome first impression.

Yellows and oranges are cheerful, energizing colors. And while some shades may be too vibrant to use on all four walls, adding an accent wall or a splash of color elsewhere will have a similar impact.

Relaxing Colors

blue bedroom walls rug
Paintzen project, Upper East Side. Painted in Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore.

Cool colors like blue, green, and purple have more of a tranquil effect on people’s moods.

Blue has been voted the best paint color for bedrooms, given its soothing effects. It has also been known to slow heart rate and reduce blood pressure. While this is a good reason to use a shade of blue in a common area of your home, it’s a better choice for those areas where you go to escape.

Green, too, is a restful shade, and is often associated with “feeling zen.” It’s refreshing without being overwhelming, and its association with nature helps create a peaceful environment. We also love green for bathrooms. What better color is there for a room where you spend time freshening up than a shade proven to help people feel cleansed?

Luxury Colors

royal purple hallway walls
To get regal walls like these, try Benjamin Moore ‘Elderberry Wine.’

Symbolic of the times when kings and emperors ruled, purple has always represented royalty and sophistication. This translates into the home, as well.

The combination of warm red and cool blue creates a unique feeling that’s inspiring and elegant. Whether you use purple paint on all of your walls or as an eye-catching accent, it’s best used in places where you want to make a statement — like your dining room and entryway. It’s also a great choice for bedrooms if you want to make your personal space feel more luxurious.

Regal metallics like gold and silver represent success and glamour. Adding a gold-leafed ceiling or subtle silver touches will give a room an air of opulence. For added drama, pair any of these colors with black to inject the space with a bit of mystery and authoritativeness.

Productive Colors

bright office walls in blue green gold and white
Paintzen project – This NYC office space was painted in various shades of blues and greens.

When it comes to being productive, especially in a work setting, your profession will likely determine what the best office paint color is for you.

For artists and others in creative fields, choosing colors like purple and lilac can help make you feel passionate and more intrigued by your work.

Blues and greens have been shown to increase concentration and lower stress, so they’re excellent choices for high-pressure environments.

Need to be extremely active?

Try an orange or yellow accent wall. Because orange and yellow are invigorating colors, they’ll keep you feeling awake and energized. For that reason, these colors also work well in classrooms and gyms.

The Cleanest Color

clean all white kitchen
Paintzen project – A bright, welcoming New Jersey kitchen painted in Cloud White.

Choosing white paint for your space is not taking the easy route. The perfect shade of white can completely transform a room.

White represents purity, clarity, and an airiness that’s perfect for your home. When used as the primary color on walls, white makes a space feel clean and fresh. It’s ideal for helping small rooms feel more spacious.

While it’s more difficult to clean, a bright white kitchen is crisp and inspiring, a perfect place to start your day. Just be sure to incorporate other colors, textures, and decor throughout the room because white paint can appear a bit stark or bland.

Don’t Forget To Consider Lighting

All of this information comes with a caveat:

You need to consider the lighting in your home or office.

Between morning sunlight, evening moonlight, lamps, and other fixtures in your home, there are many different sources of light hitting your walls. There’s no right or wrong answer to this, it’s just important to understand how your wall color will be affected by light.

Yellow bulbs will warm colors up, so be aware of this if you’re using yellows or beiges, as this will make a room feel even cozier.

If you have a room painted in blue, green, gray, or white, and want to maintain that fresh feeling, consider bulbs that give off a bright white light, or as close to natural light as possible.

living room with strategic lighting
Paintzen project – This Washington, DC living room painted in Balboa Mist gets plenty of natural sunlight.

Overall, the paint color you choose for your home or office should reflect your personal preferences. You’re the one there most often, after all.

But if you’re trying to achieve a certain vibe or feeling, tune into color psychology and use it as a guide to finding the perfect shade of paint for all of your rooms.

Whether you’re ready to transform your space or just get a quick refresh, use Paintzen to make the process more seamless than ever.

Get a fast, free painting quote online, and we’ll send a certified paint crew — along with all your paint and supplies — to your home in as soon as 24 hours. Plus, you can browse thousands of paint colors and get inspired by real rooms we’ve painted.

Save $50 on your first project with promo code MAKESPACE. Visit www.paintzen.com to get started!

This post was written by Paintzen, the only painting company that combines convenient online booking, high-quality paints, free color inspiration tools, competitive prices, and top-rated painters ready to start within 48 hours — all in a simple, one-stop solution for all of your home painting needs.

5 Eco-Friendly Tips For A Masterfully Organized Pantry

Like any recipe, designing the perfect pantry requires a balance.

It should efficiently use its horizontal limits, vertical space, and depth. Similar types of food should be clearly designated into categories.

There shouldn’t be any sneaky corners where items can spoil or go missing. And there should be room for growth.

Your pantry should make cooking easier, not harder. Creating an organized pantry is all about setting yourself up for success in the kitchen.

Follow these five tips for a pantry that’s not only organized, but sustainably so as well:

1. Always use glass when decanting food

4 glass jars on a flat table decanting pantry staples
Lili Pettit

Choosing glass over plastic is one of the Clutter Healing® cardinal rules of food storage.

Anchor Hocking Montana glass jars are a much safer choice for both personal and environmental health. The reason is twofold:

  1. Plastic is a non-renewable resource that directly contributes to an increase in greenhouse gases and trash.
  2. It leaches harmful chemicals when it comes into contact with food. For safer plastic usage, avoid heating it.

Although BPA-free plastic has been marketed as a healthier alternative, a UCLA study shows that many of these alternatives actually share, and sometimes even exceed, the same potentially harmful qualities.

In addition to being the safest choice, artisan glass containers with oak lids can be used and reused endlessly … unless of course you drop and break them.

Don’t have a budget for decanting your dry pantry foods?

Many staples from the grocery store are sold in glass jars that can be washed and reused for your organization needs. Things like pasta sauce jars, nut butter jars, pickle jars, to name a few.

Give these jars new life by using them to store dry goods, such as nuts, seeds, oats, and dried fruit. Glass also extends the life of your pantry staples by keeping foods fresher, longer.

Wins all across the board.

2. Labels, labels, labels

pantry items like dehydrated beets and almond butter are divided by salty and sweet categories
Lili Pettit

I cannot stress enough how much having a labeled space makes a difference.

Here’s how to use labels to save yourself time, money, and a headache:

  1. Sort your food into categories, like “On The Go Snacks” and “Fresh Fruits” (more on that below)
  2. Keep those categories in designated baskets, like the Blackwash Rattan Storage Bin
  3. Add a label, like the Black Bin Clip Labels, to each bin

Labels allow you to see all of your categories instantly. This prevents overbuying since you can easily identify and track what you already have on hand.

In addition to saving you money, labeling will contribute to maintaining the organized space after every trip to the market.

When categorizing your pantry, it’s a good idea to keep labels broad, such as “salty” and “sweet,” especially in the snack section.

Categories that are too specific may result in new additions not having a designated home. Popcorn may not fit within a “cracker” or “chip” section, but it would certainly blend in with “snacks” or “carbs.”

3. Use Risers to Sort and Separate

bamboo risers are used to elevate pantry staples
Lili Pettit

Many pantries that we overhaul share common challenges, such as how to create more space.

Even walk-in pantries without adjustable shelves don’t use the vertical space efficiently.

While tall spaces are perfect for cereal boxes, large jars of flour, and bottles of oil,  smaller items like canned foods and sauces are swallowed up.

Eco-friendly and stackable bamboo shelves to the rescue!

Risers allow you to create more separation between the smaller items so that you don’t stack too many things on top of one another.

They’re also great for creating “stations.” Store your mugs above or below the coffee and tea station, and your bread above or below the nut butters and jams.

These stations create excellent energy flow when navigating any kitchen.

4. Create a snack station

savory snack items like Pirates Booty, kind bars, and kettle potato chips are organized in pullout shelves
Lili Pettit

One of the most frequently dismantled areas of a pantry is that which contains snacks.

Kids and adults are equally guilty of rummaging through boxes of granola bars and single-serve popcorn when in a hurry. Grab-and-go snacks are a hot commodity and most likely to be rifled through multiple times a day.

The solution:

Corral all of your snacks into a low drawer or shelf for easy access. Contain them in Spectrum Scoop baskets or bins. Or use stackable bamboo drawer organizers to create separation between categories.

Take individually-wrapped snacks out of their cardboard boxes and plastic wrap. Then file them into their new bin or basket.

Whoever comes hunting for a quick bite won’t have the opportunity to mess with your expertly organized space.

5. Properly store food to avoid waste

a spice drawer has been organized into uniform jars and labeled with a non-permanent marker
Lili Pettit

What good is an organized pantry if the food ends up spoiling?

It’s like getting all dressed up with nowhere to go.

To avoid food waste, proper storage is crucial.

When decanting foods with foreseeable expiration, we suggest writing the expiration date on the back of the jar with a wine glass writer. This pen washes off easily and looks pretty. I’ve even written down basic cooking instructions for things like my pancake mix.

If you are decanting super seeds (e.g., chia seeds, hemp seeds, or flax seeds), refrigerate them after opening to extend the life of their nutrients.

Make sure you check labels on nut butters and sauces as many of these items require refrigeration after opening.

As far as produce goes, follow these four rules to thwart spoilage:

  1. Never store onions with potatoes.
  2. Store tomatoes at room temperature. Refrigerating them can cause their texture to be unappetizing.
  3. Avoid storing fruits and vegetables together. Fruits give off ethylene, a ripening agent that will cause surrounding produce to spoil faster.
  4. Store sensitive fruits, like bananas and avocados, on the countertop until they’re ripe. Then transfer the fruits to the fridge to extend their life for another few days.

One final important note:

We always recommend looking around your home first for any organizing supplies that you may have on hand.

There’s no need to run out and purchase a ton of new stuff in order to make your pantry work for you.

Remember: Storing your food in places that fit your lifestyle is the best place to start. Everything else is a bonus.

Here’s to creating a refreshed pantry organically.

This article was written by professional organizer and Clutter Healing®, Inc. founder, Lili Pettit. With more than 10 years of organizing experience, Lili helps people get rid of their physical and emotional clutter. The result: increased energy and feelings of clarity and purpose.

Growing Herbs Indoors: How To Grow An Herb Garden In Your Apartment

When you move into a small city apartment, you let go of certain dreams:

  • Pulling into a two-car garage every day after work
  • Adopting a pack of Bernese mountain dogs
  • Planting a perfectly manicured set of rosebushes

A full-on botanical garden might be impossible. Growing herbs indoors? Much easier to pull off.

This guide will teach you how to grow herbs indoors. You’ll master planting herbs in pots, caring for them, and harvesting your sage, cilantro, and basil when the time is right. Plus, you get to exercise your green thumb and improve your home cooking.

You may have to make a few trips to Home Depot, but your stomach will thank you.

Click any of the links below to jump to a specific section:

Indoor Herb Gardening Basics
How To Grow Basil
How To Grow Mint
How To Grow Rosemary
How To Grow Oregano
How To Grow Thyme
How To Grow Sage
How To Grow Parsley
How To Grow Cilantro

Indoor Herb Gardening Basics

growing herbs on an outdoor balcony
Flickr/Suzette

Selecting a spot for your new indoor herb garden is the most important part of the process. The plants need a place where they can get six hours of sunlight each day.

A kitchen windowsill is a great option. But as Planet Natural advises, a corner with two windows — one that faces south and one that faces west — is the best case scenario.

Have an apartment with minimal natural light?

Bump up the brightness with some fluorescent or high-intensity discharge (HID) lights, available at home improvement stores.

Free Bonus: 7 Easy Ways To Fill Your Apartment With Natural Light

Your pots should be at least eight inches in diameter — for certain herbs, even larger pots are better. And when shopping for soil, don’t make the rookie mistake of picking up garden soil. It’s too heavy for pots and not formulated for the plants that grow inside them. Get a high-quality potting mix instead.

While it’s fine to use soil straight from the bag, mixing in some compost (for added nutrients) and coarse sand (for better drainage) can work wonders.

It’s important to water your plants, but don’t go overboard. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so try to hit a happy medium. The rule of [green] thumb is to water when the soil feels dry an inch below the surface. Also, use pots with drainage holes.

Three more important  pieces of advice:

  • Make sure to label each of your plants.That way, you won’t accidentally add cilantro to your pesto sauce.
  • Once the herbs mature, harvest carefully. Taking more than a third of the plant at once makes it harder for the plant to recover and produce new herbs.
  • When it is time to harvest, do it in the morning. According to Modern Farmer, the midday sun saps the essential oils out of herbs, so it’s best to grab them while they’re still full of flavor.

So what are the best herbs to grow indoors?

Here are a few of the most common herbs, and what it takes to make each of them thrive.

How To Grow Basil

how to grow basil indoors
Flickr/Tony Austin

Basil is an herb garden no-brainer. You can use it in pastas, salads, pizzas, sauces, and so much more. Plus it’s very easy to cultivate at home.

Basil requires a medium-sized pot, since it usually grows to between 12-24 inches in height. Fill the pot up about 3/4 of the way with soil and lightly water it.

Then it’s time to add your seeds. The New York Restoration Project recommends spacing the seeds 2-3 inches apart on top of the soil. Once they’re settled, cover them with the remaining 1/4 of soil.

You’ll need to space your seedlings even further apart after they’ve had a chance to grow. Every now and then, snip off the tips of the plant to encourage the basil to branch out. Also, keep an eye out for flowers. You should cut those before they bloom.

As soon as your plant is in tip-top shape, pick leaves individually to suit your recipes.

How To Grow Mint

fresh mint grown indoors
Flickr/Terri Bateman

Mint is a sprawling plant, so take extra precautions to keep it contained. The first thing you’ll need to pull this off is a large, deep pot. Use one that’s 12-16 inches wide.

The Kitchn suggests you skip the seed stage and start with a more mature piece of mint. If you have a friend who’s already growing buckets of the stuff, ask him or her to cut you off a root.

Don’t have a pal with a green thumb?

Head to the farmers’ market and pick up a sprig. You can set that in a glass of water near the window and, once the roots emerge, transfer it to the pot.

Since mint grows like crazy, stay on top of your harvesting. You can pick leaves as you need them, like basil. Or your can reap most of the bounty at once by cutting the leaves at the stems. If you’re doing the latter, make sure to harvest before the whole plant flowers.

How To Grow Rosemary

home grown rosemary
Flickr/craigles75

Don’t be a hero and try to grow this stuff from seed. Rosemary is very difficult to germinate.  Many seeds don’t take at all, and the ones that do take their sweet time.

That’s why Gardening Know How suggests buying a small bedding plant from your local nursery. Make sure it doesn’t have any powdery mildew on it before you purchase.

Set your plant up in a pot at least 12 inches wide. Rosemary hates the cold, so put it close to sunlight. Also, don’t crowd it with too many other plants.

Because rosemary is a bit tougher than some of the other herbs on this list, you’ll need clippers to harvest it. You can take quite a bit at a time, but don’t cut the stems too low or it’ll take longer for the plant to regrow.

Although you can use fresh rosemary, eHow expert Jarrett Mann says it tastes better dried and stored:

To dry your rosemary, bundle up the sprigs and set them in a dry space like an attic or your oven. (The Kitchn suggests placing it on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, then turning the oven onto the lowest setting.) Then, you can pull off the leaves and crumble them into a jar. Alternatively, you can pluck off all the leaves and freeze them in a Ziploc bag for later use.

How To Grow Oregano

growing oregano in your home garden
Flickr/Br3nda

Although oregano can be grown from seeds or root cuttings, cuttings are much easier on first-timers. After you’ve set your oregano up in a pot that’s about 12 inches in diameter, keep an eye out for flower buds. As with basil and mint, those signal it’s time to harvest.

If you’re taking a big batch of oregano rather than a few leaves for your dinner recipe, cut by the stem and then hang the bunches to dry. Once dry, pick the leaves off the stems and seal them up for storage.

How To Grow Thyme

thyme growing in a pot indoors
Flickr/Jason Baker

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, thyme seeds are tough to grow because of their slow, uneven germination. So it’s much less of a headache to start with a seedling that’s already bypassed the early stages of growth.

Water thyme frequently, and cultivate it in a sandy soil mix. When it’s grown, thyme is super simple to harvest. Just snip off whatever you want, leaving several inches on the stem so it doesn’t slow down.

If you want to use thyme fresh, grab the leaves off the stem and crumble them slightly before adding them to your recipe. If you want to use it later, hang the stems up to dry in a cool, dark spot and then pack them into glass jars.

You can also freeze thyme, though maybe not in the same way that Time Lords do. For more info, refer to Crafty’s guide on how to grow thyme indoors.

How To Grow Sage

gathering home grown sage for cooking

The next stop on our tour of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair” garden is sage. This herb can grow up two feet tall and two feet wide, so make sure you start with a big pot.

Balcony Container Gardening recommends you keep your soil fairly dry, and supplement with fertilizer once a month during growing season.

Sage can acquire a “woody” quality after your plant hits the three or four year mark, so take cuttings while it’s in its prime. That way, you can cultivate new specimens before the current one hits retirement.

You can harvest sage leaves as you need them. But if you want to help your plant reach its highest potential, do at least two bigger hauls during its growing season. This will make the plant more rounded, and the leaves more plentiful.

How To Grow Parsley

chopping home grown parsley for cooking
Flickr/Kelley Boone

There are actually two types of parsley: curly leaf and flat leaf.

Curly leaf is much easier to chop, but flat leaf (also called Italian parsley) has a bolder flavor to it. Decide which one is best suited to your culinary needs before you proceed.

On the Green Farms recommends you grow your parsley in a gallon-size pot with a minimum depth of eight inches. It’s fine to use several seeds, since parsley has a low germination rate.

When do you harvest parsley?

Once your plant is producing leaf stems with three branches. The plant should be about six inches tall by that point. Simply take a stem or two from the lower branches to start and then build as the plant continues to grow.

While you can keep parsley going for two years before it taps out, know that the second-year yield will probably be more bitter than the first.

How To Grow Cilantro

cilantro grown in a bucket indoors
Flickr/yevkusa

Anyone who loves guacamole (aka everyone) needs a steady stream of cilantro in their lives. This is easy to achieve. It begins with coriander seeds.

Coriander and cilantro are often used interchangeably, but there’s a slight distinction. Coriander refers to the seeds, while cilantro is the term for the plant those seeds produce. According to Den Garden, coriander has a high germination rate, so don’t plant too many in your container. Go for a medium-to-large pot, since cilantro roots run 19-23 inches deep.

The first couple leaves will look long and plain, and sometimes they stick to the seed. Don’t panic, that’s normal. Let the leaves be. The plant will straighten itself out.

When the leaves are ready to reap, it’s best to pick and use them ASAP. Unlike many other herbs, cilantro does not dry or freeze well. So get it in that guac, stat.

Clear room for your herbs with MakeSpace

It might start with a simple basil plant. But once you’ve got some thyme, oregano, and parsley in the mix, you’re going to need extra sill space for your thriving herb garden.

So what should you do with the oversized appliances or accessories that have been displaced by your sage bush?

That’s easy. Send them to MakeSpace.

After you’ve scheduled a pickup (your first pickup is free!), we’ll pick up your stuff and transport it to our secure temperature-controlled storage facility. We’ll also create an online photo catalog of your stuff so you always remember what you have in storage.

The best part:

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

Maintaining fresh mint might not be easy, but storage has never been simpler.

18 Alluring Ways To Organize A Bathroom Without Drawers And Cabinets

In the definitive ranking of bathroom storage solutions, a set of deep drawers tops the list, followed closely by a discrete medicine cabinet or under-the-sink cupboard.

But what if your bathroom has none of these options? What if all you have is a toilet, a pedestal sink, and a heavy heart?

Before you give up and resort to piling your bathroom products in a plastic bin on the floor, know this:

There are a surprising number of unexpected storage possibilities in even the tiniest of bathrooms.

With a few unconventional tools and strategies, you can easily organize and store everything from toothpaste and toilet paper to hairbrushes and makeup.

Keep reading to discover 17 alluring ways to organize a bathroom without drawers and cabinets.

1. Mount baskets to the wall to organize your bathroom products

5 wire baskets mounted vertically on a white bathroom wall
Use Beautiful Home via I’m An Organizing Junkie

Take advantage of your empty wall space. Hang a set of wire baskets to keep the clutter off your bathroom counter. They also make it super easy to find and grab what you need when you’re getting ready in the morning.

Free Bonus: 42 Bathroom Storage Hacks And Solutions That’ll Help You Get Ready Faster

2. Hang a medicine cabinet

a white and wall-mounted DIY medicine cabinet with a mirror
Flickr/Kevin Marsh

Medicine cabinets are ideal for the bathroom because they hide your most embarrassing products and keep them within easy reach.

If your bathroom doesn’t have a built-in medicine cabinet, you can install your own. Head to your local hardware store and look for a medicine cabinet with a towel bar or an extra shelf.

3. Store bathroom supplies in a rolling cart

ikea raskog utility cart storing toiletries, a houseplant, towels, and more
A Beautiful Mess

When you don’t have an under-the-sink cabinet to store your bathroom necessities, get help.

Enter: The ever-versatile IKEA Raskog cart. Take a cue from the women behind A Beautiful Mess and use it to organize towels, toiletries, and extra supplies.

Free Bonus: 12 Best IKEA Hacks And Ideas For Every Room In Your Home

4. Add a side table to your bathroom

a poem in a gold picture frame above a blue side table next to a green chair in a bathroom
Sincerely, Sara D

A small side table adds a punch of much-needed personality to a sterile bathroom. That, and it’s an excellent way to organize some of your necessities.

Use it to store a stack of towels, a basket full of toilet paper, or your perfumes or colognes. If your side table has a drawer, even better. Stock it with extra soap and toothpaste.

5. Store bathroom essentials in cutlery caddies

3 ikea fintorp bathroom storage caddies hanging by hooks on a rail
11 Magnolia Lane

Much like kitchen counter space, the bathroom counter is prime real estate. This smart storage hack from 11 Magnolia Lane saves precious counter space by using a wall-mounted IKEA Fintorp rail with hooks and utensil holders to store bathroom essentials like toothbrushes and combs.

6. Install floating shelves

2 white DIY floating shelves storing a wicker tray, glass container of q-tips, wire basket of toiletries, clock, and plant
Make It & Love It

When you’re running out of storage space, go vertical. Floating shelves add dimension and height to your bathroom, while also offering space to store beauty products and supplies.

Just make sure to use baskets, bins, or trays to corral your stuff and keep it organized.

Free Bonus: 15 Breathtaking Floating Shelves That You Don’t Have To DIY

7. Display nail polishes in an acrylic rack

container store acrylic rack storing bottles of nail polish
Cupcakes and Cashmere

Save your hidden storage space for pimple creams and extra shampoo. Your collection of colorful nail polishes is instant vibrant decor, so put it on display.

Mount a sleek double acrylic spice rack on the wall à la Cupcakes and Cashmere. Or steal a spice rack from your kitchen.

8. Organize toiletries in a wire basket on your counter

a two tiered wire basket organizer storing q-tips, toothbrushes, hand towels, mouth wash, and more
Golden Boys & Me

What’s even better than a basic tray to show off your bathroom products?

An elegant two-tiered organizer. Golden Boys & Me knows that a two-tier wire stand takes up little counter space yet offers double the storage.

Just remember the secret weapon of stylish organization:

Use small glass jars and containers so each item has its own place.

9. Use a narrow shelving unit to hold supplies.

a narrow white corner bathroom shelving unit with a cabinet
Flickr/Bonsoni.com

When it comes to storage space in your bathroom, less is definitely not more.

Have an extra few feet of space?

Add a narrow shelving unit to your bathroom to compensate for the lack of cabinets and drawers.

Free Bonus: Easily Clutter-Proof Your Bathroom In Only 5 Steps

10. Let your beauty products double as decor

a hurricane glass on a bathroom counter storing bars of ivory soap
Organize & Decorate Everything

Some things are just too pretty to hide behind closed doors or inside an opaque basket. Fill a glass hurricane or vase with your most aesthetically pleasing products. Think: cotton balls, soap bars, lipstick, or nail polish.

Want more fun storage hacks for your beauty products?

Here are 16 amazing beauty product storage ideas you’ll love.

11. Repurpose an old ladder as rustic towel storage

3 white towels on rungs of an old white ladder leaning against a bathroom wall
Funky Junk Interiors

Who needs cabinets and wall hooks for your bathroom towels when you can use a rustic ladder instead?

Lean an old ladder (sand it down so you don’t get splinters) against your bathroom wall and hang towels off its rungs.

It’s simple, functional, and ridiculously charming. All your guests will be jealous.

12. DIY a Mason jar organizer

DIY mason jar organizers storing makeup brushes, cotton balls, flowers, and q-tips
The DIY Playbook

Everything looks cuter inside a Mason jar, even Q-Tips. If you need proof, look no further than this adorable Mason jar organizer project from The DIY Playbook:

It’s pretty, and it can store everything from makeup brushes to hand creams.

Two birds, one stone, zero disappointment.

Free Bonus: 10 Brilliant Mason Jar DIY Ideas For Your Tiny Apartment

13. Store hair tools in a hanging file box

a file box hot tools organizer mounted on the side of a bathroom sink cabinet
Dream Green DIY

Hair tools are tricky to organize for three reasons:

  1. They’re bulky.
  2. They have long cords that get easily tangled.
  3. They’re dangerous to store next to other products when they’re still hot from use.

That’s why this DIY file box holder from Dream Green DIY is the perfect solution. The project takes less than five minutes to do, occupies minimal space on the side of your sink, and is heat-safe.

Want more awesome DIY project ideas?

These 13 easy DIY storage ideas and solutions will help you organize your entire home.

14. Display your scents on a DIY perfume stand

a black and white striped DIY perfume stand storing 4 perfume bottles
Simply Darrling

This beautiful DIY perfume stand made by Simply Darrling couldn’t be any, well, simpler. Just glue a cool plate to a pillar candleholder and voilà! You have an elevated perfume holder that rivals any vintage cake stand.

15. Store towels and toilet paper in hanging baskets

3 hanging wicker window box baskets storing towels and toiletries
Our Fifth House

If shelves bore you, mix up your vertical storage with a set of matching hanging baskets. This rustic DIY storage project from Our Fifth House uses wicker window boxes and sturdy metal hooks to easily organize supplies like towels and toilet paper — without eating any floor space.

16. Organize your makeup using a decorative magnet board

magnetic makeup storage board
Laura Thoughts

When you don’t have space to hide your stuff, make it look good enough to put on display.

This brilliant DIY makeup magnet board from Laura Thoughts fits the bill. It looks like art and keeps your products within arm’s reach.

Free Bonus: 11 Beautifully Easy Makeup Storage And Organizing Ideas

17. Organize supplies in an over-the-toilet cabinet

over the toilet cabinet
May Richer Fuller Be

The area above your toilet has major storage potential. Unlock it by installing an attractive over-the-toilet cabinet.

From there, you can organize toilet paper rolls, hand towels, toiletries, shower supplies, candles, or whatever makes you happy.

18. Effortlessly store your extra stuff in MakeSpace

After you organize your bathroom, start decluttering the rest of your home.

Still have stuff you need to store?

Use MakeSpace. We’ll store whatever you love but don’t have room for, like your window A/C unit, surfboard, CD and DVD collection, luggage, and more.

All you have to do is schedule a 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 it to you.

You can create bathroom storage from baskets, plates, and ladders. But when your bathroom-without-cabinets-and-drawers can store no more, use MakeSpace.

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

13 Miracle Solutions For Arranging And Organizing A Kitchen Without Cabinets

Having an organized, clutter-free kitchen makes everything from cooking dinner to making coffee a thousand times easier. But what if your kitchen doesn’t have cabinets? Where are you supposed to put your plates, mugs, and snacks?

The answer: Wherever they can fit.

When there’s no obvious place to store dishes, food, and appliances, you have to think outside the cabinet. Here are 13 genius ways to arrange and organize a kitchen without cabinets:

1. Store kitchen tools on a pegboard

a pegboard hangs in the kitchen with cooking supplies like a cutting board and knives
Elizabeth Joan Designs

A well-designed pegboard isn’t just beautiful to look at, it’s also the key to maintaining your sanity in the kitchen — cabinets or not.

Why?

Because a pegboard organizes your cooking tools in a functional and aesthetically-pleasing way. Which saves you from having to rummage through multiple drawers just to find your whisk.

Pro Tip: You can also use a pegboard to organize your hats, ties, and scarves.

2. Install floating shelves

floating shelves hold plates and a plant near a window in a white kitchen
Lemon Thistle

Floating shelves add style and personality to your kitchen while also housing your favorite dishes.

The best part:

They don’t take up any of your precious floor space.

Go minimalist with your shelves. Or jazz them up with potted plants, cookbooks, and framed photos.

3. Use a rolling kitchen cart

a white rolling cart has been styled as a portable espresso vessel
A Beautiful Mess

Even the smallest of kitchens can accommodate a rolling cart. They’re surprisingly stylish and can provide tons of storage in a small space. If you need more space, simply roll the cart to your living room or dining nook.

Take a cue from the ladies behind A Beautiful Mess and give your cart a theme: Espresso Cart, Baking Cart, Snack Cart — you get the idea.

Or just put your extra dishes and cooking essentials on the kitchen cart and call it day.

Free Bonus: 7 Smart Ways To Save A Ton Of Space In A Small Kitchen

4. Hang coffee mugs on a rack

a small coffee station with a shelf and hanging rod that holds mugs
The Inspired Room

No room to stack your mugs?

Hang ’em on a pretty rack instead. If you don’t have a coffee mug rack, repurpose a wooden coat rack or sleek towel rod with sturdy hooks.

Bonus points if you can create enough space for a coffee station below your mug display.

Free Bonus: 11 Clever And Easy Kitchen Organization Ideas You’ll Love

5. Add storage to your kitchen island

A handmade kitchen storage island with drawers that pop and slide open
My Love 2 Create

This kitchen island with pantry storage from My Love 2 Create is a serious game changer.

The bad news: You’ll have to block out a Saturday afternoon to get your materials and build the kitchen island.

The good news: You’ll be thrilled to have a portable kitchen island with plenty of storage space for food, silverware, dish towels, cutting boards, and more.

So worth the hands-on work.

Want more awesome DIY ideas that won’t hog your Saturday?

Check out these 10 DIY storage and furniture projects you can make in less than one hour.

6. Store dishes on a bookcase

a large brown bookcase has been converted into a storage space for dishes
Not Just A Housewife

Bookcases are the casual cousin to a fancy glass-paneled china cabinet.

A multi-shelf bookcase can easily hold an entire collection of dinnerware, plus extra items like cookbooks, jars of cooking ingredients, and a cutting board.

7. Maximize your drawer space

an organized kitchen drawer with items separated with clear containers and organizers
Organizing Made Fun

In a kitchen without cabinets, drawers are your saving grace. They hide your unsightly but necessary kitchen tools (like citrus squeezers and meat tenderizers) and make everything easy to reach.

The trick to a well-organized drawer is to take advantage of every inch of available space.

How?

Go crazy with drawer dividers and stacking bins.

Free Bonus: 12 Next-Level Ways To Organize Your Kitchen Cabinets, Drawers, And Pantry

8. Turn your cooking necessities into countertop decor

three clear canisters with gold lids hold flour, sugar, and oats
Sincerely, Sara D.

Don’t have space to hide your baking and cooking ingredients?

Put them on display: Buy a set of matching jars and fill them with grains, flours, seeds, nuts, sugar, and dried pasta.

Free Bonus: 48 Kitchen Storage Hacks And Solutions That Will Instantly Upgrade Your Life

9. DIY a wood pallet spice rack

a multi-level spice rack made of pallet wood holds a number of spices
Make It & Love It

Don’t give your spices the drawer treatment, where they’re bound to roll around and spill.

This clever DIY pallet spice rack from Make It & Love It saves space and keeps everything organized and easily accessible.

Hungry for more space-saving DIY wood pallet ideas?

Take a look at these eight cheap and easy wood pallet projects that will revitalize your home in no time.

10. Store food in baskets on the counter

a grey wicker basket lined with a white towel holds three loaves of packaged bread
Honey We’re Home

Rather than hiding everyday staples like bread and fruit, store them front and center on your kitchen counter.

Get a stylish wire or wicker basket, cover the interior in cloth, and fill it up with your go-to foods.

Want more smart kitchen tips?

Learn how to cook in a small kitchen with ease.

11. Use a wall-mounted pot rack

a hanging pot rack over a white kitchen stovetop
Imperfect Homemaking

Hang a sturdy pot rack above your sink, stove, or kitchen island. It’s an easy and artistic way to store your collection of pots and pans.

12. Store silverware in Mason jars

three mason jars are filled with spoons, forks, and knives on a countertop behind a loaf of monkey bread
Deliciously Organized

If your drawers are filled to the brim with spatulas and rolling pins, store your silverware in Mason jars on the kitchen counter.

To limit the scrape of metal against glass, fill your jars with rice. Doing so will keep your forks and spoons stable and scratch-free.

Free Bonus: 10 Brilliant Mason Jar DIY Ideas For Your Tiny Apartment

13. Let MakeSpace pick up and store your extra stuff

Let go of the stuff you don’t need. Then pack your extra kitchen stuff and schedule a MakeSpace pickup (your first pickup is free!).

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.

Need something back from storage?

Browse the convenient online photo catalog of your stuff, click the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it to you.

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

The Expert’s Guide To Packing, Cleaning, And Storing Your Camping And Hiking Gear

Hiking and camping can be in tents, but rewarding. You get plenty of fresh air, a break from stressful city living, and you stay in excellent shape.

But there is one major downside: managing all the gear.

Boots, backpacks, tents, and sleeping bags have a way of eating up all the extra space in your place. Luckily, there’s a smarter way to store your hiking and camping gear

We harnessed the power of trail associations, magazines, YouTube tutorials, and even The Mountaineers. All so we could create this expert guide on how to pack, clean, and store your camping and hiking gear.

Follow the advice, and you’ll have nothing but happy trails and serene, starry nights in the wilderness from here on out.

Click any of the links below to jump to a specific section:

How To Pack For Camping
How To Clean Your Camping Gear
How To Store Your Camping Gear
How To Pack For Hiking
How To Clean Your Hiking Gear
How To Store Your Hiking Gear

How To Pack For Camping

1. Invest in a rooftop car carrier

an SUV with a rooftop carrier during winter
Flickr/Aaron

Depending on your particular brand of camping, you might have more stuff than your car can feasibly contain. That’s what rooftop car carriers were made for.

You can find all kinds of options at outdoor gear stores like REI or more general stores like Walmart and Sears.

2. Or some cargo nets

You may not need a whole extra storage appendage, but you do need to keep all that gear in your trunk in place. Some strategically placed cargo nets can do just that. And they’ll save you the agony of cleaning up your spilled cooler at the first rest stop.

3. Follow a camping checklist

Before you place anything in your car, run down a camping checklist. Do you have the items below?

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bags
  • Water filter
  • Flashlight
  • Windbreaker
  • First aid kit

It’s easy to forget seemingly small but actually important items. Make a comprehensive list and pull out everything on it before you start playing storage Tetris in your trunk.

If you need some help, Real Simple has an interactive camping packing checklist. You can also watch Howcast’s three-minute-long video on how to pack all your camping gear:

4. Throw some frozen water bottles in your cooler

Even if you pride yourself on your ability to rough it in the woods, you probably brought along some food and beverages to supplement all those wild berries you foraged.

Here’s an ingenious hack to keep those items cold:

Place a few frozen bottles of water alongside them in the cooler.

The bottles will function as DIY freeze packs. When they melt, you’ll get some bonus filtered water to drink.

5. Pack the tent last

The logistics of packing your trunk for a camping trip are more involved than they seem. If there’s something you need to unpack first, then it should be the last thing you place in the car. The tent (or tarp) definitely fits that bill, so set it aside until everything else is safely stowed.

How To Clean Your Camping Gear

1. Throw your sleeping bags in the washing machine

Even if your sleeping bag looks relatively clean, it’s probably picked up some sweat and stenches from your weekend trip. Give it a fresh clean by simply putting it in the washing machine.

Check the bag’s label to be sure, but if it’s a front-loading washer, you should be fine. You can even dry your sleeping bag in a front-loading dryer on low heat. Just throw a few tennis balls in with your sleeping bag to avoid clumping.

2. Let your tent air out before you put it away

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to tent storage is mildew. If you put away a tent that’s not completely dry, you’re bound to get that nasty fungus.

To avoid it, set up your tent outside after your camping trip and let it fully dry out. Brush off any dirt or sand from the fabric, stakes, and poles. Now it’s ready for mold-free storage.

3. Thoroughly wash your utensils, dishes, and pots

You might have rinsed your pots, forks, and spoons out on the campgrounds. But once you’re back home, give everything a good clean with dish detergent or a spin in the dishwasher.

Sloppily cleaned cutlery is a breeding ground for bacteria, and you don’t want to get indigestion on your next weekend in the wild.

4. Carefully clean your portable stove

Before you clean anything on your camping stove, remove the fuel.

Once that’s safely tucked away, wipe off any crumbs or soot from the stove’s exterior. Then consult your stove’s instruction manual for further advice on how to properly clean the rest of the appliance.

How To Store Your Camping Gear

1. Categorize your gear by use

Camping requires a lot of stuff that comes in different shapes, sizes, and degrees of flammability. The easiest way to organize all your camping cargo is to break things down by their function.

As the American Hiking Society explains, you can cluster sleeping bags and tents into a “shelter” group, stoves and utensils into a “cooking” group, and sleeping pads and stakes into a “ground” group.

2. Then load it into crates or bins

Now that you’ve got neat piles of everything, pack them into corresponding crates or bins. And make sure to label each one with the correct group name, so you know exactly what’s in each container.

3. Slide it onto shelves

If you’d rather not drop the cash on all those crates, you could line your grouped items up on a rack system or even spare shelves in your apartment building’s basement.

And depending on how hot or damp it gets in the basement (or how many mice hang out there), you may want to move your stuff inside your home to a closet or hidden storage area.

4. Roll your tent up, don’t fold it

Folding your tent repeatedly can tear the fabric or damage the waterproof coating. Instead, roll your collapsed, clean tent into a sack and store it somewhere where the UV rays won’t hit it. Those can also inflict some harm, so keep your tent away from windows.

5. Hang sleeping bags in closets

Although rolling up your sleeping bag seems like the simplest, most sane solution, the “gear guy” at Boys’ Life magazine cautions against it. Stuffing a sleeping bag into a sack long-term messes with the insulation. If you have a spare hanger in the back of your closet, hang your sleeping bag up next to all your clothes.

6. Lie them flat under your bed

Boys’ Life says you can also slip your rolled-out sleeping bag under your bed, as an alternative for people with cramped closets.

Best way to store camping gear: MakeSpace

Packing away camping gear in the off season can make your home cramped and make you dream of escaping to the great outdoors. It doesn’t have to be that way, thanks to MakeSpace. Simply schedule a pickup (your first pickup is free!) and we’ll pick up your tents, sleeping bags, and anything else you don’t need in your home right now.

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

When it’s time for your next camping expedition, just log into your MakeSpace account, select the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it to you.

How To Pack For Hiking

1. Organize the things in your backpack by weight

When loading up your backpack for a hike, keep your spine in mind. Keep the heaviest items centered to save yourself a lot of back pain.

Place some lighter items at the bottom of the backpack, followed by the big stuff, and then some more lightweight items. This system will also keep your heavy items cushioned, so they don’t sink or slide wildly.

2. Keep the vital stuff easily accessible

Think about what you’ll be grabbing the most during your hike: Your water bottle and snacks will be the most frequent. Sunscreen is a close second. Sunglasses will be key in the early afternoon. And your phone should be easy to grab in case of emergencies or a sweet landscape photo.

All those things should be stored on the outer pockets, so you can get to them without dumping out your entire backpack.

3. Remember the Ten Essentials

You don’t need to consult a million checklists for hiking because here’s one the pros have been using for decades: the Ten Essentials.

Developed by The Mountaineers in the 1930s, the Ten Essentials list includes the following categories and items:

  1. Navigation — map and compass
  2. Sun protection — sunscreen and sunglasses
  3. Insulation — outerwear
  4. Illumination — flashlight or headlamp
  5. First aid supplies — first aid kit
  6. Fire — waterproof matches, lighter, or starter
  7. Repair tools — duct tape, safety pins, needle and thread, nylon fabric repair tape, and cordage
  8. Nutrition — extra food
  9. Hydration — water
  10. Emergency shelter — tent or tarp)
Free Bonus: How To Pack For Hiking Like A Minimalist

How To Clean Your Hiking Gear

1. Wash and waterproof your hiking boots

hiking boots in leaves

Once you’ve hiked home and removed your boots, let the boots air out and dry. Next, use a stiff shoe brush to remove dirt. If there are tougher stains that won’t come out, apply some warm water (no soap) and brush again.

Now it’s time to assess the smell. Sometimes sprinkling baking soda inside your boots will do the trick. If it doesn’t, remove the insoles and wash them with a mild detergent. After everything has dried, apply a waterproofing treatment to the boots so they’re safe for your next hike.

2. Take old boots to the cobbler

After countless trail treks, even the sturdiest hiking boots will show some wear and tear. Instead of replacing them, consider getting them resoled at a cobbler. This will add years to your boots’ life and save you some cash.

3. Scrub your hiking backpack

male hiker backpack

Most backpacks can be placed in a washing machine, but double-check the label first. And don’t put it in the dryer.

If your backpack isn’t cleared for machine washing, scrub it  with warm, soapy water. Then hang it to dry. And if you’re ready to go the extra mile, take a cue from Backpacker and clean the zippers with a toothbrush before lubing them with silicone grease.

How To Store Your Hiking Gear

1. Keep boots in cool, dry spaces

Most hiking boots contain leather, and you know what doesn’t respond well to heat? Leather.

Too-hot or simply moist areas will cause your boots to crack. Your best storage bet is probably your closet. But since you don’t wear your hiking boots every day, place them in a less prominent spot than the shoes you wear throughout the week.

2. Do the same for backpacks

The backpack you use for hiking probably doesn’t have leather. But cracks aren’t your concern here. Mildew is.

The fabric on your backpack is likely to contract mold if it’s in a spot with variable temperature or tons of moisture, so pick a storage spot accordingly.

3. Shield both your boots and backpacks from the sun

Excessive exposure to sunlight can fade leather boots. It can also fade the colors on your backpack. Keep them both looking new by choosing a UV-free storage space.

Best way to store hiking gear: MakeSpace

There’s one cool, dry place with zero direct sunlight where you can store your boots without taking up an inch of room in your apartment: MakeSpace. All you have to do is schedule a pickup (your first pickup is free!), pack your stuff, and leave the rest to us.

We’ll pick up your hiking gear, transport it to our secure temperature-controlled storage facility, and create an online photo catalog of your stuff. That way, you always remember what you have in storage.

Whenever you feel the mountains calling, simply log into your MakeSpace account, click the photos of the items you want back, and we’ll deliver them to you.

Once you’ve overcome all the passes and peaks you can handle, properly cleaning and storing your gear is crucial to the success of your next outdoor expedition. Keep the wilderness wild and your equipment equipped. You can never be too prepared!

The Right Way To Store Skirts And Dresses: 14 Easy Steps [With Photos]

Skirts and dresses are often the most delicate items in your closet. Some of them — like the ones you wear to weddings — might also be the most expensive. That means they need some extra care.

To help you keep them in the best shape while maximizing space, we created this guide on the best ways to store, clean, and organize every skirt and dress you own. It’ll keep everything from your jean skirts to your designer ball gowns in the best possible condition.

1. Edit your collection

organized walk in closet
Stylizimo

Experts agree: When organizing your clothes, you should always take an initial stock of which items you actually wear and which ones have been gathering dust. But it doesn’t have to be quite as dramatic as “purging” your wardrobe.

“I like edit,” says Laura Cattano, a professional organizer in New York. “Editing is a thoughtful process. If you’re going to edit your clothes, you should know your style ahead of time. How do you want to look? What’s your lifestyle? That’s the step everyone skips, and they can’t figure out why they can’t get their closets organized.”

Go through these questions as you look over your skirts and dresses. If you find something that doesn’t fit your look or lifestyle, put it in a pile for Goodwill.

Ann Sullivan, another NYC professional organizer, recommends keeping a “donation bag” right in your closet so that when you spot something you don’t wear, you can eliminate it immediately.

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

2. Sort skirts and dresses by season

sweaters organized by season and material

You won’t be wearing heavy tweed skirts when it’s a boiling hot summer day, or sundresses in the winter. Group all your clothing by season and rotate each cluster out as the temperatures change.

Nancy Heller of Goodbye Clutter offers one caveat:

“If you’re a big traveler, the typical season rotation will be a little out of whack. So look at your upcoming trips and do your best to organize your closet accordingly.”

3. Group them together

group similar clothing in closet
Flickr/Rubbermaid Products

Now that only your in-season clothes are in your closet, single them out by type. “If the person has room, I like to keep all the skirts together,” says Heller. “Then they’re not too hard to find. Try to keep them together and it’s a hodgepodge. It’s important that people see what they have.”

Sharon Lowenstein of Organizing Goddess concurs. “Sort similar items together,” she says. “Dresses and blouses are wider than pants, so you won’t see everything if they’re all mixed together.”

Clustering your dresses in one group and your skirts in another will help you sift through your outfit options each morning. And you can subdivide even further by pairing up work dresses, wedding dresses, and more.

4. Consider a color scheme

color-coordinated dresses
Simply Spaced

Color-coding your closet might seem like an aggressively type-A move, but as Lowenstein argues, it makes it much easier to see and locate items hanging on the curtain rod.

Putting an additional marker or divider between close colors, like navy blue and black, also helps you know what color dress you’re putting on before you check it out in your mirror.

5. Each dress gets its own hanger

7 dresses hanging on a wall-mounted storage rod
My Pink Life

It’s tempting to pile multiple dresses onto regular hangers or the multi-tiered versions. But that also makes it harder to see what you actually have in your closet.

“You need to keep clothing to one item per hanger,” says Lowenstein. “A lot of people will keep two dresses on one hanger or get those hangers that swing out to hold five pairs of pants. Those multi-clothing hangers are great for off-season clothing, but not every day.”

That might seem like a waste of space, but if you’re using the same types of hangers — and not a chaotic mismatch of wooden hangers, plastic ones, and the flimsy wires you get from the dry cleaners — everything should fit in place.

6. And they should be nice hangers

wooden hangers hanging on a wall-mounted board with hooks

Hangers seem like a cheap, throwaway item you don’t have to worry about. But they have a bigger impact on your clothes and your closet than you think.

“A lot of people don’t invest in good hangers. They buy generic ones that aren’t good for long-term use,” says Sullivan. “You should invest in the best hangers you can afford.”

She recommends looking beyond the “huggable” hangers you find at Bed Bath & Beyond and bearing in mind what kind of clothing will go on the hanger. An expensive silk dress needs a different type of hanger than a cotton maxi.

If you need some guidance pairing the right hangers with your dresses and skirts, consult this WikiHow tutorial on how to match hangers to clothing.

7. Use straps to make sure your dress is properly fitted

Many dresses come with thin straps sewn into the inside. They don’t seem to serve any purpose — until you hold a hanger.

As stylist Kristie Hale demonstrates in the video above, you should be looping those straps around the neck of the hanger. This helps the dress hang perfectly in place, which prevents wrinkles you’ll have to iron out later.

8. Clip skirts to their hangers inside out

tulle skirt hanging
Bernina

Storing skirts on hangers with adjustable clips is a smart idea. The sliding clips accommodate all sorts of sizes without stretching the fabric.

That way, you avoid the creases that come with folding a skirt over a traditional hanger bar. But those clips can leave marks, particularly on delicate skirts.

If you hang the skirt inside out, though, the marks are suddenly on the side of the garment that no one sees. As an added bonus, it keeps the skirt exterior from rubbing against other fabrics hanging next to it and accidentally knocking some beading or elaborate stitching loose.

9. Take stained dresses and skirts to the dry cleaners stat

clothes in plastic dry cleaning bags are hanging on racks at the dry cleaners

When you accidentally splash sauce on a “dry clean only” dress or skirt, it’s important to act fast.

First, dab (don’t rub) away as much of the liquid as you can. Then take the dress or skirt to the dry cleaners as soon as you can. Waiting on a trip to the dry cleaners gives the stain more time to set, so time is of the essence here.

Describe the stain stats (e.g., what you spilled and when you spilled it) to the person behind the counter in as much detail as you can. That way, they’ll know the best way to treat the problem area. 

10. But don’t leave anything in the dry cleaning bag

sequin skirt dry clean only

When you come back with a mountain of skirts, dresses, and suits from the dry cleaners, all you want to do is clump them on the closet rod and move on to more important things.

Fight that urge.

As Sullivan cautions, leaving clothes in the plastic dry cleaning bags is “definitely not a good idea.” For one, the bag will trap in lingering moisture from the cleaning process, which can cause mildew.

Plastic bags also contain something called butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). This antioxidant can discolor or yellow your clothes when it comes into contact with the wrong things in the air.

So don’t chance it: Remove and recycle all the plastic bags from your dry cleaning the second you get home.

11. And don’t clean them too much

laundromat washing machine
Flickr/timlewisnm

There is such a thing as being too clean, particularly when it comes to your clothes. Frequent dry cleaning visits can deteriorate the fabric on your dresses and skirts, not to mention break your bank account.

The big dirty secret:

You can wash a lot of “dry clean” clothes yourself.

As Cosmopolitan advises, check labels for “dry clean only” versus “dry clean” phrasing. If you see “dry clean only,” stick with the pros. If you see “dry clean,” it’s applied to polyesters and nylons that you can usually hand-wash at home (just make sure to lay them flat to dry).

12. Seriously, cool it

4 girls in floral skirts and black tops

In addition to those delicate clothes we just discussed, you may be overcleaning the dresses and skirts that fit safely in your washing machine.

You can certainly wear your skirts, which are far away from your sweat glands, at least three times before cleaning. Unless you get marinara on them. Then wash them pronto.

13. Approach suede and leather skirts with caution

a girl wearing a black leather tie front mini skirt and a black bag over her left shoulder
Flickr/Laura

While it’s important to attack any leather or suede skirts at the first sign of staining, be extra careful with how you handle cleaning these materials.

If it’s just dirt, a brush can probably take care of the problem. A damp cloth or saddle soap can remove minor spots on leather, but don’t try that on suede. Suede can become hardened and discolored when it’s exposed to water.

For serious stains, consult a professional. Your dry cleaner can usually refer you to a leather specialist.

Want to avoid these issues in the first place?

Get a commercial waterproof protectant spray for all your leather and suede items.

14. Only keep fabulous skirts and dresses in your closet

baroque costume dress

You already know to filter your clothes collection by season, style, and color.

But here’s one not-so-obvious tip:

Only store and care for skirts and dresses that make you feel fantastic.

“Fill your closet with items that you love and feel great in,” says Lowenheim. “Every time you get dressed, you should feel fabulous. I always say that you want to go out of your house and feel that if you ran into someone you haven’t seen since high school, you won’t feel bad about your outfit.”

So if you have a jean skirt you’d hate for Heather Finley from ninth grade government class to see, pitch it and find something you love wholeheartedly.

If you’d rather dedicate your limited closet space to pants, let MakeSpace store your dresses, skirts, and other out-of-season clothes. Our free storage bins can fit every casual skirt and sundress you own, and our free wardrobe boxes can safely store your more formal frocks.

After you schedule a pickup and pack your stuff, we’ll pick up everything, store it in our secure storage facility, and deliver it back once warm weather arrives. Except for maybe those lucky Los Angelenos who enjoy skirt season year round.

12 Relationship-Saving Ways To Share A Closet With Your Significant Other

It’s hard enough to maintain order in your own closet, let alone one you share with your significant other. After all, sharing a closet means two personalities, two wardrobes, and double the amount of shoes in a tiny space.

If that mental picture sends you into panic mode, don’t worry. It’s totally normal to be a bit stressed about giving up space that was once all yours.

But before you start searching for studio apartments, know this: Sharing closet space is totally doable. You just need some creativity, smart planning, and an open line of communication with your partner to make it happen.

Read on to learn how to successfully share your closet space with your significant other.  These 12 practical tips will help you divide your space, stay organized, and hold onto your sanity:

1. Declutter first

sharing closet hangers
The Organised Housewife

The key to maintaining an organized closet is to limit what goes inside it. Before you start arguing with your partner over who gets the highest shelves, you each need to cut down the amount of stuff you had in your individual closets. That means clothes, shoes, accessories, costumes, and tools, for example.

Separate your things into categories, then sort through your belongings one by one. Donate any item you don’t love or wear regularly.

Need help decluttering?

Read these 15 actionable decluttering tips from Certified Professional Organizers. Or use our KonMari method cheat sheet  to declutter your home like Marie Kondo.

2. Organize your closet together

shared organized closet
Just A Girl and Her Blog

Even if your partner doesn’t have the tidy gene (and claims to trust your judgment), it’s important to organize your closet as a team.

Discuss your habits, morning routines, and which items you wear regularly. Doing this will help you figure out how much space each person needs and where to store certain clothes.

If you both get ready for work at the same time, try storing your stuff on separate sides of the closet to avoid getting in each other’s way. On the other hand, if you use the closet at different times of the day, you might be able to share drawer and hanging space more easily.

Above all, remember this:

You don’t need to split your closet space 50/50 if you don’t want to. Just focus on organizing your clothes in a way that makes it easy for both of you to get dressed in the morning.

Free Bonus: How To Easily Organize Everything In Your Closet (For Cheap)

3. Store off-season items elsewhere

assorted boots stored in a clear storage bin without the lid
Paige Smith

Limit your stuff to the basics. Store the pieces you wear every day front and center, and stash off-season items — like skirts, shorts, sandals, and bathing suits — in your coat closet or a bin under the bed.

Pro Tip: These 53 insanely clever bedroom storage hacks and solutions will help you save serious space.

4. Label storage boxes

labeled storage boxes in the closet
A Beautiful Mess

If you’re low on drawer or shelf space, store dress shoes, scarves, belts, and hats in baskets or shoe boxes.

Just make sure to label or color-code each person’s boxes so it’s easy to find what you both need when you’re scrambling to choose an outfit before work.

Free Bonus: 13 Easy DIY Storage Ideas That’ll Organize Your Entire Home

5. Use cohesive hangers

matching velvet hangers hanging shirts
Flickr/Emily May

Matching hangers are like non-stick pans and cordless vacuums — you don’t think you need them, but once you start using them you can’t imagine ever going back.

Coordinating hangers limit harmful visual clutter in your closet and help save space. Velvet hangers in particular are super slim and take up half the room their bulky wooden and plastic counterparts do.

Pro Tip: Use Hang A Bunch multi-purpose hangers to hang six times as many clothes on just one hanger.

6. Take advantage of every inch

organized closet storage
Confessions of a Serial Do-It-Yourselfer

When you’re combining two wardrobes into one closet, you need as much space as possible to keep your things organized and accessible.

Use high shelves to store bins. Mount sturdy hooks on the back of the closet door (here are eight more hidden storage areas in your home). And take advantage of open floor space to store a shoe rack or small dresser.

7. Designate a place for dirty laundry

master bedroom closet laundry hamper
Clean Mama

No matter how tiny your closet is, make space for a laundry basket or hamper. Having an easy place to stash your dirty clothes means they won’t end up in smelly piles on the floor. If that won’t keep the relationship strong, we don’t know what will.

8. Take advantage of vertical storage space

tie storage closet
Our Fifth House

Vertical storage space is a serious game-changer. Even the smallest, most poorly designed closets have plenty of vertical storage possibilities.

Here are five:

  1. Install wall hooks to hang belts, hats, robes, and handbags
  2. Use key racks as jewelry displays
  3. Save shelf space by storing sweaters in a hanging organizer.
  4. Hang a shoe rack on the back of your closet door.
  5. Use a towel rod for scarf and tie storage.
shoe rack on back of closet door
Paige Smith

Want your stuff to double as art?

Take a cue from Our Fifth House and create a pretty heel display using a curtain rod and an extra piece of molding:

crown moudling heel storage
Our Fifth House

9. Use convenient storage solutions

hanging clothes in an organized closet
Our Fifth House

The more convenient it is to put away clothes, the more likely both of you are to do it. That’s why it’s smart to use storage solutions that make sense for you and your partner.

If you both hate folding clothes (here’s how to fold and store 10-20 more shirts in the same space required to hang 10), get rid of the shelves in your closet and install an extra hanging rod.

Or, if your partner dislikes bending down to put his shoes away, store them in a hanging organizer.

Bottom line: Make your closet work for you two, not against you.

Free Bonus: 5 Problems With Your Bedroom Closet (And How To Solve Them ASAP)

10. Purge often

small closet organization
Flickr/Emily May

Every couple months, set aside time with your partner to reevaluate your stuff and decide what you want to keep.

Get rid of anything ill-fitting, unloved, unworn, or damaged beyond repair. Paring down your stuff simplifies the process of choosing an outfit and makes it easier to organize your closet. Win-win.

Free Bonus: A Professional Organizer Shares Her 8 Best Tips For Decluttering Your Home Once And For All

11. Stay on your side of the closet

man side of the closet
Just A Girl and Her Blog

Respecting one another’s space and belongings is key to maintaining shared closet harmony. Make an effort to keep your area of the closet tidy and don’t let your collection of workout shorts or jean jackets overflow into your partner’s zone.

If you’re running out of room for your stuff, consider donating a few items (MakeSpace offers free Goodwill donation pickups in NYC, Chicago, and DC) or rotating pieces from storage.

12. Let MakeSpace pick up and store your extra stuff

Let go of stuff you don’t need. Then, let MakeSpace store everything you and your partner can’t fit in the closet.

Simply schedule a pickup and pack your stuff. We’ll pick up everything from your home and transport it to our secure, temperature-controlled storage facility.

The best part:

When you need your swimsuit and/or carry-on back, browse the convenient online photo catalog of your stuff, click the items’ photos, and we’ll deliver them to you.

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

15 Things You Should Get Rid Of Now For a Cleaner, Calmer Home

Decluttering your home is a big undertaking. It takes a considerable amount of energy to sort through your stuff to figure out what you should keep or get rid of.

Luckily, there are certain items you don’t need to think twice about before tossing. We’ve compiled this handy, no-brainer list of clutter culprits for you, so all you have to do is follow our lead.

Below are 15 things you should get rid of right now for a cleaner, calmer home, plus tips on the best ways to do it.

Free Bonus: Decluttering Flowchart: Finally Expel Clutter From Your Home

1. Meaningless knick-knacks and souvenirs

Porcelain elephants are lined up on a dark surface

If your travel souvenirs and random knick-knacks (like your plastic Big Ben replica or porcelain elephant) don’t enhance your decor or bring you happiness, bid them adieu.

Pro Tip: If your stuff is valuable, consider selling it on OfferUp.

2. Books you don’t plan to read

A small collection of books are lined up on a shelf
Flickr/Jay Cross

Are you actually going to crack open that beginner book of Italian, or dive into Les Misérables for the first time?

Be honest with yourself, and donate the books you no longer have the desire or time to read. Here’s how to decide what books to keep or get rid of.

You’ll have more space for the stuff you love, like your vinyl record collection. Plus, you won’t feel guilty every time you look at your bookcase.

Need more space for the books you do keep?

Check out these nine creative book storage hacks for small apartments.

3. Worn-down shoes

a closeup of a pair of old running shoes
Flickr/Erno Mijland

If you reach for the same one or two pairs of shoes over and over, consider getting rid of your collection of old, dusty footwear.

Here’s how to store the shoes, boots, and sneakers you save.

Pro Tip: Since shoes take 30 to 40 years to decompose in landfills, it’s better for the planet if you repurpose or recycle them instead of tossing them. If your kicks are in good condition, donate them to an organization that gives shoes to people in need, like Soles4Souls or One World Running.

Planet Aid accepts all shoes in any condition. Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program will take your worn-down athletic shoes and recycle the material to manufacture athletic surfaces like tracks and tennis courts.

4. Old Halloween costumes and school uniforms

A child's school uniform complete with a satin bow and shoes
Flickr/MIKI Yoshihito

Your high school volleyball uniform might be sentimental, but chances are you won’t miss it when it’s gone. Same goes for those polyester Halloween costumes and masks cluttering your storage closet.

Get rid of the clothes you’ll never wear again. Then use this guide to clean and store your remaining Halloween costumes and decorations.

5. Cards

A small, closed envelope resting on a table
Flickr/amy gizienski

It’s tempting to save cards for sentimental reasons. But if you don’t purge them often, you’ll have boxes full of notes you never look at (and probably forgot you saved).

Recycle your holiday cards (you’ll get new ones next year, anyway!) and any birthday, thank you, or “just because” cards that have brief, generalized messages.

Only save the ones that have special meaning to you.

6. Expired beauty products

a white bathroom sink hosts a number of toiletries
Flickr/J B

Believe it or not, beauty products like lotion and shampoo have an expiration date (Real Simple has a guide to checking makeup expiration dates).

To free up space in your bathroom cabinets, toss all your expired skincare, hair care, and cosmetic products, especially makeup and sunscreen that’s no longer fresh.

Here are 16 clever beauty storage ideas and solutions for the products you have left over.

Important: Recycle the plastic containers from your beauty products so they don’t end up  in landfills. Sign up to be part of Terracycle’s free and super easy Personal Care and Beauty Recycling Program. Or drop off your empty and thoroughly rinsed containers at a nearby Origins store. Origins recycles empty containers from any brand at any time.

7. Kitchen utensils and appliances you never use

A white, spacious kitchen with an oven and open shelving
Flickr/Emily May

There’s no sense in organizing your kitchen drawers and cabinets to accommodate bulky appliances and obscure gadgets you never use. If it’s been months since you dug through your cabinets to find your pasta maker, meat thermometer, or mini-loaf pan, put them in the donation pile.

Save your precious kitchen storage space for your go-to items, like your French press or blender.

Free Bonus: 11 Clever And Easy Kitchen Organization Ideas You’ll Love

8. Formal wear you only wore once

a formal blue bridesmaid dress hangs from the door, ready to be donated
Paige Smith

You might love your BFF, but that bright-green bridesmaid’s dress from her wedding isn’t doing you any favors. Neither are any suits, gowns, or formal attire you don’t wear at least annually.

After you declutter (our KonMari method cheat sheet will help you do that), learn how to easily organize everything in your closet.

Pro Tip: Sell your formal wear at your local Buffalo Exchange or online with Poshmark, Prom Again, or The Dress List.

9. Desk and craft supplies

Colorful art supplies are grouped together in six tin canisters

Unless you’re a hard-core crafter (or you have a child in grade school), you don’t need multiple boxes full of dull pencils, promo pens, and scrapbook stickers.

Organize your desk, and narrow down your supplies to the basics. Then donate the rest.

10. Your collection of CDs and DVDs

A small collection of old CDs and DVDs are gathering dust on a wooden shelf
Flickr/Karl Baron

There are a couple practical reasons to hold onto your CDs and DVDs, like in case your WiFi gets spotty and you can’t stream music and movies. But finding space and time to store and organize a massive collection of outdated physical media isn’t always worth it.

If your stack of Good Charlotte CDs and Austin Powers movies is taking up prime real estate in your bedroom or living area, get rid of them so you have more space for the things that matter.

Free Bonus: Should You Keep CDs And DVDs? How To Store And Sell Them For Cash

11. Half-used spices and expired food

A closeup of 3 spices in 3 separate plastic spice bottles
Flickr/Andrew Malone

Double your kitchen cabinet space in two seconds by tossing out all your expired food. While you’re at it, get rid of spices you’ve never used or don’t particularly like. Bye, fennel.

Pro Tip: Trash your expired food, but make sure to recycle or reuse glass and plastic containers.

Free Bonus: 7 Smart Ways To Save A Ton Of Space In Your Small Kitchen

12. Accessories that aren’t your style

A collection of chic women's scarves on a wooden floor
Flickr/emma

You know the ones: The black leather purse with the rhinestones, the paisley scarf you bought on impulse in London, or the tie your brother-in-law gave you two Christmases ago.

Accessories, whether sunglasses or a belt, are designed to add extra flair to your wardrobe. But if you don’t feel confident and cool when you wear them, they’ll never make it out of your closet.

Donate the accessories you don’t love. Then use this list of 13 easy DIY storage ideas and solutions to organize the rest of your stuff.

13. Wire hangers

Old wire hangers are crammed together in a dimly lit closet
Flickr/Michael Lehet

If your closet is full of flimsy wire hangers you’ve had since the early 2000s, it’s time to let go. Trade them in for a matching set of wood or velvet hangers.

Free Bonus: 5 Problems With Your Bedroom Closet (And How To Solve Them ASAP)

Some cities prohibit you from putting wire hangers in your recycling bins. Check your city using Earth911’s Recycling Center Search. Either way, you can always donate your hangers to your local dry cleaners or drop them off at a recycling center near you.

14. Instruction manuals, expired coupons, and old magazines

A sizable pile of old magazines like Food and Bon apetit
Flickr/Jessica Spengler

Cut down on clutter (and save your sanity) by recycling all the unnecessary papers you’ve accumulated over the years.

First on the list: Stacks of outdated, unread magazines, expired coupons, junk mail, and all those useless instruction manuals you saved but never once relied on to restart your TV.

Free Bonus: 13 Painless Ways To Organize, Store, And Get Rid Of Paper Clutter

15. Electronics you don’t use

A pile of old phones like Blackberry and Vodaphone
Flickr/Enrique Dans

It’s safe to say you won’t need your old iPod mini or dead Blackberry, well, ever.

Get rid of these outdated devices, along with random chargers, USB cords, and any other technology you don’t use on a regular basis (like your Kindle, or the Dell computer you haven’t opened since you got a Mac).

Pro Tip: You can’t just throw electronics in the trash. You need to be thoughtful about how you dispose of them. For old or broken electronics, find a responsible recycler (otherwise known as an e-Steward) near you. Staples, Best Buy, and Apple will also take your old products. Just make sure to delete your data first.

Donate Your Stuff

A box full of books ready to be donated
Flickr/Alper Cugun

Give your things new life by donating them. The Salvation Army is always looking for gently-worn shoes, clothes, and formal wear, as well as books, kitchen tools, and household supplies.

The same goes for Goodwill, which will take your old electronics, too. And if you live in NYC, Chicago, or DC, MakeSpace can even pick up your donation and drop it off at your local Goodwill — for free.

After you let go of the stuff you don’t need, use MakeSpace to store your off-season clothes, bike, surfboard, luggage, A/C unit, and more.

Simply schedule a MakeSpace pickup (your first pickup is free!) and pack your stuff. We’ll pick up everything from your home and carefully transport it to our secure, temperature-controlled storage facility.

And when you want something back from storage, simply browse the convenient online photo catalog of your stuff, click the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it to you.

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

How To Throw A Happier Holiday Get-Together

You don’t want to throw a holiday party where all anyone talks about is that sweet onion dip.

(And truth be told, you bought it from Costco. Shhh.)

No, you want the rollicking good times and great conversation to be the star attractions of your next Halloween bash, holiday cocktail party, or New Year’s Eve soiree. You want to help best buds bond deeper, old friends reconnect, and new acquaintances hit it off.

Why?

Because one of the world’s foremost happiness experts, Robert Waldinger, says that the key to happiness (and healthiness) is maintaining good relationships with others. This is hardly speculation — Waldinger is the latest caretaker of an immersive 75-year study on the subject matter.

He shares three important findings from the study and wisdom on how to build a fulfilling life in his popular Ted Talk:

The study’s findings include the idea that we don’t need thousands of Facebook connections to be fulfilled. Just a handful of deep, real-life connections are more than enough to make us smile.

So your responsibilities as party host go beyond setting up a buffet, stocking up on ice, and springing for some top-shelf bubbly. Your most important duty is to transform your get-together into a breeding ground for happiness.

Ready to upgrade your shindig from the standard “let’s bring a bottle of wine and stay 20 minutes” to one of those “remember when” all-timer parties?

Follow these four, wildly effective tips from goHappy:

1. Get everyone together

Friends gather for a Friendsgiving celebration and toast at the table
A Beautiful Mess

Here’s the way we’re used to throwing a party: We make a date, and we invite folks to come.

Sometimes we’re lucky, and all the people we really want to be there can make it.

Other times, life happens, and folks’ competing social obligations get in the way. You may even resort to inviting a second flight of guests you normally wouldn’t, just to pad attendance, right?

Good news: There’s a better way. With a goHappy date poll, you can suggest a few dates that invitees can vote on. Others can even suggest new dates. Then you pick the best date for your plan and watch the RSVPs roll in.

It’s not only considerate, but it’s also a way to maximize attendance of the guests you really want to make it. Remember, quality relationships rule over quantity.

2. Set the stage for good conversation

a peaceful white living room with two chairs and a sofa
Homey Oh My

Think your antique ottoman is a talking piece? Or that the sectional should stay right in the middle of everything, just in case someone has to crash after the party?

Think again.

The only reason guests will be talking about the ottoman is to curse it out after tripping over it. And you can always buy or borrow extra air mattresses, then tuck them in the hallway closet for later.

Free Bonus: 13 Glorious Ways To Organize Your Storage Closet

But this may be the hardest part of gearing up for a social gathering at your house: letting go of your stuff.

Most of us have too much stuff, and certainly way too much cluttering up the flow, feng shui, and conversation spaces for your party. Look at your space — whether it’s a studio apartment or your entire 5,000-square-foot home — through the eyes of a party guest.

Where would you chat up a friend? Where would you hide? (Don’t put the dip there!) And what can you do to bring together people at varying levels of intimacy, from loud group chats to one-on-one conversations?

Five pointers:

  1. Position your furniture to convey a sense of entry, which will immediately give guests a sense of direction and ease.
  2. For facilitating those group chats, nix low-level seating in favor of daybeds, chairs, and sofas facing each other in a circle-like shape.
  3. Plop down a cool coffee table book that reflects your style, serving as an interesting conversation starter.
  4. Push furniture to the middle of the room to encourage mingling.
  5. Once you have a stronger sense of your ideal layout, schedule a MakeSpace pickup (your first pickup is free).

MakeSpace will pick up that pesky ottoman and any other furniture that doesn’t fit your fiesta’s feng shui, and store everything in their secure storage facility.

The best part:

When you need something back from storage, MakeSpace will deliver it to you.

3. Fine tune the atmospherics

A stalk of wheat is wrapped with colorful strings on top of a Thanksgiving table
Inspired By Charm

Skip the smoke machine and green disco ball. Instead, think background music and subtle lighting.

If you’re going with holiday tunes, try instrumentals only. And if you can’t pass up the flashing lights, balance them out with some smartly-placed votive candles.

Smells count, too. Avoid the last-minute, frantic sprint around the house blasting a couple bottles of Febreze (we’ve all been there.)

Instead, drop that last tray of baked holiday goodness in the oven right as the party starts.

4. Make the memories easy to relive

A person uses his phone to take a photo of a cake

A sign of a good party is that folks want to talk about it long after the final chip crumbs are consumed. An even better sign is that they want to revisit the frivolity and festivities by ogling whatever pictures were taken.

As party host, you may think your job includes playing a part-time photographer, too. But actually, all you need to do is upload one or two pictures to the goHappy Plan you invited everyone from — just enough to jumpstart the sharing.

Next, sit back and watch as dozens of images get uploaded right then and there.

Free Bonus: How To Host Thanksgiving In A Small Space (Without Going Nuts)

Think of the power you have as a party host. You have the power to bring people together. Not just for one night, but to create unforgettable moments that can make you and your friends profoundly happier.

Isn’t that an awesome gift? We certainly think so.

So plan away. And with a little extra effort, you won’t find it hard to put a smile on your guests’ faces — and memories that last way longer than any leftover guacamole.

This article was written by goHappy, the glue of your get-togethers and the life of the party. goHappy’s friendly invitations help you find the best time to meet up with the ones who matter most. Their simple photo-sharing and messaging features build anticipation for your special moments — helping you relive them whenever you need a smile. Don’t just make plans — goHappy! Now available for iOS and coming soon for Android.