The Myth about Storage Bins

 

storage bin coverStorage bins, baskets and containers are everywhere after the holidays.

They are alluring.

They are on sale.

They come in great colors.

They are offered in a dizzying amount of sizes and styles.

They illicit thoughts of neatly organized spaces.

Don’t buy a single bin until you read this.

Our homes are over-run with storage, yet we are not more organized as a result. You may ask yourself, “why”?

It actually isn’t your fault.

We are all fed a nefarious lie every January. Retailers would love you to believe that your home will be organized by simply purchasing their products. They seduce you by the neatly stacked displays. They remind you of your resolution to become more organized. (Becoming more organized has been consistently in the top 5 most popular New Year’s resolutions for the past ten years.) If you pay close attention, you will see organizing products in nearly every cart as you leave Target and Costco in early January. It happens every year.

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Buying more bins alone won’t make you more organized.

In every home or business I have organized, there have already been storage bins and boxes present. In fact, those individuals who often need the most organizational support have MORE bins than they could every use. It often looks like a “container graveyard” in their space. Clearly, valiant attempts have been made to use the organizing items my clients have purchased. A lot of money has often been invested. However, the retailers have left out some crucial information to make you successful when you purchased your bins.

What you need to know before you buy another bin, box or basket this year:

1. Edit

You won’t know what needs to be stored until this vital step is completed. Before you put away your holiday gifts or pack up the Christmas decor, consider if those items truly fit your lifestyle and taste. Local charities could be blessed by your duplicates or excess.

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Are the items in poor repair? Don’t hesitate to toss them. Space is a valuable commodity. Choose what stays in your home carefully.

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2. Consider the storage location

Will the items be stored in the rafters? Heavy-duty bins that withstand heat/cold temperatures will be essential with visible labels. Will the bins be stored in closets? Measure the space you have so that they stack neatly and work with your space. Are pests a factor? Make sure the bin you choose closes securely for dark, deep sheds and garages.

3. Be honest with yourself about your needs.

We only access 20% of the papers we file. We wear less than 20% of our wardrobes. Children play with only a small percentage of the toys they own. Before you purchase bins or storage systems, truly consider WHAT you are storing. Perhaps that nifty, new file box isn’t the best answer and buying a scanner would fit your paper needs better. You may surprise yourself and enjoy the found space removing ill-fitting clothes/shoes provides rather than the newest closet system. Maybe rotating toys into your child’s space would benefit your family more than purchasing bins for every new Christmas toy. In short, careful and creative consideration is much more valuable when organizing than a bin ever could be.

Bins are not “the answer”, just a tool.

Consider editing, the storage location and being honest with yourself about your storage needs before purchasing any more bins. You will save yourself valuable money, time, aggravation and space by carefully considering your personal needs. “Bin” there, done that!

Vacaville Organizer would love to partner with you on your holiday storage project through vacavilleorganizer.com, directly at (530)902-5960 or by using the contact form below. Local consultation are always free.

Happy Organizing!

Lorinda with Vacaville Organizer

Fresh and Tidy Pantry Organization

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I have the privilege of sharing a beautiful pantry today. This darling client I had the pleasure of partnering with had a clear vision for her pantry.

During our consultation, she expressed a desire for her pantry to have the following elements:

  • Tiffany-blue and grey color scheme
  • Canvas bins for bulky items (did not want to see ugly, larger bags of product)
  • spice and pantry staple storage located in the pantry
  • adequate cereal storage space
  • easy snack access for younger family members
  • clean and tidy appearance that would be easy to maintain
  • custom art piece

Having a distinct vision for your organization project is extremely helpful. Before embarking on any big organizing home project, jot down your own “wish list” for appearance and function. Reviewing this list will enable you to hone in on your goals as you work through the different steps of your project without distraction.

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Tour of the Pantry…before

This pantry was neat and tidy, but lacked systems for the homeowner. As a new build pantry, it was generous in size. The client wanted to add function, distinct areas for food and color/style to reflect her own great design sense.

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There were aspects of this pantry that WERE working. The spice storage functioned well for the client and simply needed to be expanded. Evaluate areas of your space that are easy to access, things get put away and are visually appealing just as they are. There is no need to re-invent the wheel when embarking on an organizing project.

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Identify areas of the space that are a source of continual frustration. These areas are generally hard to keep clean, family members are resistant to the systems presently in place or items are difficult to find or access. Efforts should be concentrated on these areas. This client identified a lack of storage for various food categories and a desire to use all of the shelves in her pantry more completely.

Consider Appropriate Storage

Working with a professional organizer brings a world of possibilities to you. Following the consultation, various storage systems were presented. A professional organizer will measure your space, take photos, do extensive research and provide various viable solutions from which the client can choose. The wonderful part of this is that it all occurs in your home, at your convenience, and the choices are presented to you. For this already highly organized client, careful consideration was given to systems that would function well for years to come. The client selected an affordable option for her cereal containers with these Rubbermaid containers:

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They were carried for a brief time at various Costco locations, but can also easily be purchased online. They are durable, kid-friendly and came in a complimentary color. The blue color was found at Costco, but can also easily be purchased through Amazon in this same Sky Blue color.  The angled side makes the container easy to grasp.

The client already had a few of these plastic, thatched baskets that have been popular in a grey color purchased for her pantry.

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I notice that Target’s online selection of these is now very limited. This line is most-likely being discontinued and is limited to what remains in your local store. After considering my client’s specifications and pantry plans, I purchased complimenting baskets in a Tiffany blue color to bring color and additional storage to the pantry. A professional organizer can provide options to compliment existing storage to make one cohesive system. In addition, options that are not readily available/known can be obtained through the organizer to make your pantry truly special.

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Establish “Zones”

Creating various zones for different types of food or to accomplish certain tasks is a huge time-saver and maximizes the use of your space. More specifically, this client requested a pantry staple area. My recommended storage containers are made by Snapware. I like their durability, price point, that they take up identical footprints so they can be modularly stored, that they are easy to grasp, they contain a flip top action and they are easy to manipulate with one hand.

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Lazy Susans are another way to establish “zones” in difficult to access corners or on deep pantry shelves such as the ones in this pantry. We corralled the clients oils, vinegars, sauces and spreads on a separate, rotating lazy susans for easy access and maintenance. This is my favorite brand with its fixed base and smooth as silk turning ability. These can also be purchased in either size from Amazon here. (NOT an affiliate post.)

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These Snapware containers work well in for clients with large walk-in pantries as well as those with smaller, cupboard pantry configurations.

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Keeping cans by category in these fabulous and sturdy rolling can racks further separates the pantry into zones and makes inventory a snap.

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“Personalize to Prioritize”

Adding your own personal touch provides needed encouragement to keep the pantry tidy. When you are personally vested in a space and it is visually appealing to you-as well as highly functional-the space is easy to maintain. The newly organized area becomes important to you. In this pantry, the gorgeous rug (selected by my client) performs the added function of preventing glass items from instantly shattering should little hands lose grip. A low pile rug that does not impede the function of the door and can be easily vacuumed (rubber backed) is a smart choice for a busy, young family.

My darling client’s initial wish list also included a custom sign featured on a popular HGTV television show. Although we were unable to find the original, antique tin sign, a custom piece was made especially for her pantry in her desired Tiffany blue color scheme.

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Label, Label, Label!

Labels often are viewed as clearly an aesthetic aspect of the organizing project. However, adding labels enables things to be returned to their correct area after use. Labels and bin/baskets help to set limits, preventing over-stocking a pantry. When clients work with Vacaville Organizer, custom labels are created to their distinct specifications. In this fresh and tidy pantry, custom laminated labels with brad fasteners were used for a polished, personal look. This type of label is not only durable, but also highly functional. Attention to detail and the extensive time spent creating custom labels are a complimentary service Vacaville Organizer offers clients at this time.

Pantries are the hub of our kitchens. Make yours truly special and “tidy” today!

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Vacaville Organizer would be honored to help partner with you to make your pantry truly special and function well for your family’s needs. Call or email Vacaville Organizer for a consultation appointment to bring your organizing dream to a reality.

Happy Organizing!-Lorinda, owner of Vacaville Organizer

Darling Dollar Store Pantry

Is the biggest obstacle standing between you and organizing your pantry money? Perusing Pinterest would give you the impression that it can be expensive to give the heart of the kitchen-the pantry-a facelift. Take heart..today’s post features a darling pantry done on a dime. What I like most about this pantry is the cute client’s sunny personality shining through. Let’s take a quick peek:

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Like every good project, there is a beginning and happy ending to the organizing story. I share with you the beginning to let you know that you are not alone in your efforts to keep your pantry organized. This organized client’s pantry has to serve a busy family and gets used on a daily basis. Considering the function of a pantry is foremost.

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After a client assessment, this on-the-ball client didn’t wait for me to get started. She emptied the entire pantry out, cleaned it, purged and had in painted in a matter of days. I was so impressed. Being able to do the ground work independently truly helps your budget and often allows the organizer just to come in to do the finishing/spacial work. This client saved a great of of her budget with this step alone. The bright,white paint provided the perfect clean canvas for this organizing project.

Another way we stayed within a small budget was to take advantage of what storage the client already owned. We re-thought her existing containers and moved all her staples into the Rubbermaid containers she already owned. The dollar store provided the three needed remaining containers for things like cornstarch, baking powder and cornmeal. Consider all of the containers you presently own and ways that you can use them differently. Sometimes the client already owns the perfect solution.

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Our big spurge (still only $26 dollars each) were the rolling can organizer racks which the client purchased from Amazon for the project (link here). Having the cans function better and finding a long-term solution to inventory issues was a priority for this on-the-go mommy. When making a budget for any organizing project, decide what items you can splurge on and what items you can save on. In this case, the ultra-narrow shelves were perfectly designed for bins found at our local dollar store. If your project centers around dollar store finds, consider allowing extra time in your timeline to acquire all the needed items. In this case, many trips to several different store locations over a few weeks enabled us to have the right combination of sizes/colors to complete the project. A little work on your part can save you plenty of money in your bottom line. Find out when your local dollar store receives shipments and don’t be afraid to ask the employees to help you find the items you are searching for. I have found that they are more than willing to help on days that the store isn’t too busy. (Asking sweetly helps too!)

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Choosing a cohesive color theme with labels and bins can tie a project together. In this case, the inspiration was this cute palette of blue and yellow against a crispy, white pantry backdrop.

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Finally, add a touch of yourself to your space. Not only does it give your newly organized space personality, but cognitively is encourages you to keep the space organized and tidy. I often refer to it as “putting your moon flag” on the new space. You are claiming it for your own!

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I encourage you to look at your space with fresh eyes if budget has been a deterrent. Find ways to recycle what you have, rethink the space, pay a visit to the dollar store and personalize your pantry with your own, special touch.

Robertsoncover#1Vacaville Organizer would be happy to help you with a budget pantry facelift. Local consultations are always free.

Happy Organizing!-Lorinda Childs, owner of Vacaville Organizer

Pretty Pantry Organized

HappyPantry#1It is pantry season this spring with lots of inspiration to share! Most families face the challenge of managing food. An organized and functional pantry is at the top of the spring cleaning list. There are many ways to maximize storage, regardless of your pantry size and configuration.

I had the privilege of partnering with a wonderful client with her pantry organization project recently. Her pantry was absolutely typical for a busy family who cooks daily. It is full of healthy food that this busy mama uses to prepare meals. She kindly allowed me to photograph her pantry on a very busy day to demonstrate that even the neatest homes can benefit from a little boost in function.

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I appreciate gracious clients who allow me to see their spaces without tidying before I come. As a organizer, I use the clues left in this photo to develop a system that will solve problems and work long-term based on “organizational tracks.” By studying the photo, I realized that following areas/items needed to be addressed in our pantry organization design:

  1. Ability to assess shopping needs more readily
  2. Categories of food placed together for ease in meal preparation
  3. Small items corralled so they aren’t lost on shelves
  4. Baking items contained and easily accessible
  5. Access to daily snacks for the children
  6. Use of space under the lower cabinet
  7. Bag storage
  8. Art supply storage relocated for easier access
  9. Sweets put out of the reach of children

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We used rolling crates to contain shopping bags and vegetables such as potatoes. This was a great storage choice to maximize the space under the bottom shelf and works with the angled wall. This darling client doesn’t use many canned vegetables, so we placed them (by category) on a rolling can rack under the shelves. Adjacent to the cans is a light-weight grey and white basket. This basket easily slides out, adds texture and holds paper supplies for easy access.

Woven plastic baskets were used to organize the various categories of food. These basket are HEAVY DUTY, easy to clean and add the pop of “happy”this busy mom wanted.

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We further addressed storage on the shelves by adding striped baskets for snacks which the children can help themselves to. The baskets are at a level her children can reach and hide the ugly, big bags (i.e. beloved Pirate Booty) that were making her “crazy”.  We also contained all of her cereals in uniform containers to allow the children to pour their own cereal and to make shopping inventory a snap.

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Lazy Susans are used to maximize the shelf’s width and accessibility.

  1. The oils are contained here
  2. The various vinegars are contained here
  3. The spreads are housed here
  4. Baking staples are also housed in the pantry in this home. We placed them near the door-at the optimal level for the homeowner-so she could easily reach in and grab what she needed to bake. The airtight containers ensure that the shelves will remain flour/sugar free and that the ingredients will remain fresh between uses.

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As I said, this mama can COOK and she has the cookbooks and recipes to prove it! We used magazine holders to contain the lightweight cookbooks and odd-sized recipe books. This configuration allows the homeowners to pull out the books/recipes they need and the books won’t topple over. Tidy success is built-in to this system.

Designing a system that fits the routines, shopping habits, cooking patterns and invidiual family is paramount in pantry organization. Vacaville Organizer would love to partner with you in your own pantry “spring tidy-up”.

Happy Organizing!-Lorinda, owner of Vacaville Organizer

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Organized Pantry Reveal

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Organized Pantry Reveal

I had the privilege of working with wonderful clients recently with their new build pantry. In California, a spacious walk-in pantry is a rarity! My clients wanted to maximize this new space with a thoughtful plan. I considered what a wonderful opportunity this process would be to share for those interested in over-hauling their pantry.

Organized Pantry=Healthier Eating Opportunities

How motivated are you to cook a healthy meal when the pantry is a “hot mess”? Are you much more likely to eat convenience foods when your kitchen is not set up for cooking? I know that having a mess of expired, unappetizing food stuffed in my own pantry has me thinking about take-out in a New York minute!

In a fascinating book I love entitled Life at Home in The Twenty-First Century, in-depth studies have been conducted by ethnoarchaeologists. Traditional archeologists excavate houses and cities of ancient civilizations. In this book, archaeologists use these same methods to record and analyze modern domestic households.

In this interesting study and book, only about 1/4 of the studies’ families cook a weeknight dinner from scratch. However, studies conducted by the Center on Everyday Lives of Families at UCLA, point to the startling statistic that, on average, it takes just 12 minutes longer to cook from scratch each night.

Cooking from scratch time for dinner: average of 38 minutes

Cooking from pre-packaged/convenience foods: average of 26 minutes

A well-stocked, healthy pantry makes cooking from scratch a possibility for families. Having food organized by categories that make sense for your family and meal preparation encourages cooking. My clients are a terrific example of how having the right ingredients- organized-can lead to a healthier lifestyle.

This is the pantry after just a few items were moved into the space on moving day.pantry before

The clients wanted to take advantage of the opportunity of their recent move to organize and mirror their healthy lifestyle.

Steps for an existing or new pantry organization project:

  1. Empty the contents of the pantry.
  2. Purge any items that are expired or compromised.
  3. Separate food into categories (i.e. pasta, beans, breakfast foods, sweets, baking, snacks, etc.).
  4. Decide on the zones* for the kitchen cupboard area (*more on the kitchen zones in an upcoming post). Relocate these items to the correct “zone”.
  5. Ask yourself a few questions: What is the desired goal for your pantry? Are aesthetics important? Do you have small children to consider when placing items such as glass? Are there those with disabilities that could not reach certain shelves? What are the present trouble spots in your pantry? Actually write these answers down and refer back to them throughout the organizing process.
  6. Use PostIts to begin thinking about food placement. Place the PostIts where the appropriate food will be stored. Move around as necessary.
  7. Inventory the storage pieces you may already own and add to them if necessary.
  8. Place the food, by category and frequency of use, back in the pantry.

Now…wait a few days and try things out.

Inevitably, as a professional organizer, I end up making small adjustments to high-use, important areas such a pantries after the install. The families use the space, go shopping and make important observations post-organization. I then come back in and get feedback from the client. Changes are made to maximize their space.

In this particular pantry, my darling clients wanted an “organically tidy” look (no overt plastic, minimal clutter and no bright colors). We opted for more natural materials. One of my favorite products for a variety of spaces are these glass storage jars from World Market. They have a one gallon capacity are very affordable at $6.99 each. I love their tight-fitting lid, large size, they don not leach scents/colors like plastic and they are dishwasher safe. These jars are a great investment.

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I also adore using canning jars for organization. My favorite size for pantries is the pint and half. We put legumes, dried fruit, nuts, specialty rice and other dry goods in this type of jar. We did our shopping at a local grocery store and were able to get a dozen for less than $12.00. (The online price in the hyper-link is considerably more, so shop smart locally if you use this option.)

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The client and I scoured our local TJ Max stores, Homegoods, World Market, Ross and Marshall stores over the course of a week to gather the baskets required. Baskets are useful not only for aesthetics, but they also set limits on each category. You know instantly that if “pasta” is full, that you need to use what you have before purchasing any more. This simple idea is really helpful for pantry maintenance. The baskets don’t have to match exactly, but having similar hues/styles is helpful.

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Now, comes the labeling. We labeled the top of each glass jar’s lid, just in case the client decided to change the contents. In addition, labeling only the lid kept the integrity of the glass. The textures and colors of dried fruit, pasta, nuts and legumes is art in itself and we didn’t want a label obscuring the beauty of the food.

Organized Staples

Chalkboard tags with a sturdy grommet were added to each basket to indicate its contents. These tags can easily be changed out if the client’s needs and food categories change as well.

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What a difference an organized pantry can make!

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Happy Organizing-Lorinda with Vacaville Organizer

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