Thursday, September 21, 2017

Shelf Helpers To Organize

Psst ... you. Yes, you! Take a look in my cupboard.
Once started, I enjoy organizing my home. In an effort to prevent clutter I: 
  • Try not to buy unnecessary things; 
  • Get rid of things I don't use; and 
  • Make sure every thing has a home.
It can be challenging. Whether we live in a big, or small space, we need an abundance of stuff to cook; clean; groom ourselves; and entertain visitors. If you think about it, even a minimalist uses lots of items, tools and gizmos to maintain person and home.

Especially in a small space, it is important to consider how you will store the things you plan to buy. This seems like common sense, but when walking into a store, there are aisles of beautiful, but impractical (for your space) temptations! Whenever possible I buy compact appliances like a kitchen hand held mixer (not a countertop mixer); a laptop computer (not a desktop); and an upright vacuum cleaner (not a canister model). Sans the mass, compact tools do their jobs like their Cadillac siblings. 

Fortunately in my small Manhattan apartment, I have cupboards (some New Yorkers don't!), but I still have to get everything in there. Shelf helpers do the trick! (Please don't judge. I have not found a way to live without plastic storage food containers: Unlike glass storage containers, plastic is easy to stack in a limited space and doesn't break when falling over. I never, ever microwave food in them. But I digress.) Back to putting things in order ...

Here are a few helpful organizing tips:

Take everything out of a cupboard, then return things, placing the stuff you use daily in front at your fingertips.

2) Don't buy expensive organizers. Get rid of stuff instead! Shelf helpers, at $4 - $6 each, are a cheap, unbeatable tool for organizing essentials -- the things you must keep to make your life easier; happier; or better.

3) About size: Medium and small shelf helpers fit better. The large ones take up too much valuable space inside the cupboard. Often they work for outside areas like counter tops.

4) Usually grouping "alikes": cups; plates; wine glasses; or gadgets together is the best system. If you store small footprint items in front, they won't interfere with grabbing bigger items in the back. As much as possible, I try to avoid the need to move things in order to seize other things. It's annoying to have a job (i.e. move stuff) before you do a job (take out a plate). Organize your things in smart ways to save steps!

A shelf helper separates (and stabilizes) dishes and other things, giving them their own home. Not only do shelf helpers organize horizontal space, they let you use vertical space!

In the top photo: The (12) red, goose, china cups and red plate/platter are Christmas dishes. In hindsight, I would not buy once-a-year festive dishes. They take up too much real estate! Moreover, there are a few possessions in the cupboard I never use ... yet am slow to give away as they are gifts. But one day the never-use-articles will have to go!

Extra Tips: Put self helpers (1) in the back of your clothes closet, on the floor to create an extra level for lining up your shoes, as well as, (2) under a bathroom sink to neatly stash a few cleaning supplies. These organizers don't need to stay in your kitchen and will fit tight spaces elsewhere in your house. Finally, (3) be mindful of overconsumption; and try to limit the things you bring into your home. Get into the habit of buying enough. Less is better!

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  1. This is such great advice, Debra, which applies not only to small Manhattan apartments, but to life as well. When we moved from our too large colonial home 14 years ago, I got rid of so much "stuff" to accommodate our townhouse living. I thought I was moving to a smaller space, but I was actually trading horizontal space for vertical space. We have four floors and four and 1/2 bathrooms. Amazingly, I'm starting to accumulate "stuff" again. Need to get a handle on this and your post is a true inspiration. Fall cleaning is coming up and the Good Will outlet is right down the street.

    Cheers, M-T

    1. Marie-Thérèse,

      I watched a talk show years ago that featured the author of a 5 minute video, which was then turned into a book called, "The Story Of Stuff." It made such an impression on me, I have never thought about a purchase the same way since. In fact, I blogged about the video/book:

      So worth the time of watching the video. If you have the time and watch, please let me know if it has the same effect on you. I'd love to get your impressions.

  2. Your shelf helpers look very useful Debbie - I don't think I have seen them here. However I have been using more and more plastic baskets and bins to organise my storage spaces to good effect. Don't know what took me so long! It really is important to throw things away which are not used and keep sorting what you have. We have always had fairly large houses which actually brings temptation to accumulate too much 'stuff' - I am always on a mission to declutter!

    1. Trish, you are not alone. If I built a cabinet under my bathroom sink, it would make my bathroom look smaller. I don't really like the sink skirt idea either for in there, but for years, under the bathroom sink was wasted space. This year I got the idea of putting a shelf helper organizer under the sink. I store spounges and plastic gloves in a plastic bin and can easily slide it under or out. On top of the shelf helper, I put the larger containers of cleaners. They look neat and orgainizered in a tight space. But not crowded or cluttered. Finally, nailed it!

      I don't think I was ever a slob, but Manhattan living has turned me into somewhat of an organizer. Like you, I use plastic baskets and bins to give items homes. As Marie-Thérèse, said above, it doesn't really matter how big of a space a human being has, somehow we end up with lots of stuff if we don't take time to clear it out periodically. Sometimes organizing a closet makes you aware you have to put the brakes on buying stuff!

  3. Dearest Debra,
    Oh, it is a never ending task for downsizing and re-organizing (de-cluttering) our cupboards.
    Those white shelf helpers have been my best investment ever! You create so much more storage space and it is handy.
    Thanks for sharing such a practical post.

    1. You hit the nail on the head, Mariette. Downsizing and de-cluttering is never ending throughout the apartment (or house)! Lately, I only want to keep what I actually use. Easier said then done, since I often keep things just in case!