Eight Organizing Tricks for Small Homes

Often when you live in large urban areas, such as New York City, you pay for it in terms of square footage. The closer you are to the city, the less space you get for the money. For that reason you have to make the most of your space. Luckily, New Yorkers and others in big cities are familiar with this and often find ways to get the most out of their apartments. Here are some time-tested organizing tricks that will help make the most out of your space:
 

 

Get a Wall Mounted Desk with Shelving

Many of us don’t have a dedicated room to house an office in our homes.  However, a good percentage of people in this city work from home. What that means is that desks are often housed in the living room, or the lone bedroom and can take up precious space. Desks that are mounted on the wall with shelving will make the most out of that space. This helix acacia desk from CB2 is a great example of how you can have a desk and utilize vertical wall space as well.

Mount a Magnetic Knife Holder

We all need good knives in the kitchen to chop those lovely farmer’s market finds for dinner. Sadly though those knives take up a lot of space in our kitchenettes. But if you have a bit of wall or backsplash space to spare, you can mount a magnetic strip to hang your knives from.  For $8.99, you can get the GRUNDTAL magnetic knife rack from Ikea and be on your way. Bonus trick: we’ve also used these strips to hang our tins of tea and coffee and it works beautifully. You’re welcome! 

 

 

Hang a Pot Rack

We feel you with the lack of cabinet space in the kitchen. It’s not fun trying to fit your pots and pan in that small space and then try to grab the right one for a sauté meal. One solution? Hang a pot rack in the kitchen. Not only it looks cool and you come off looking like a pro but it’ll also save you cabinet space. At nearly $150, the J.K. Adams Small Grey Ceiling Pot Rack from Crate and Barrel isn’t exactly cheap but it’s so pretty we’re willing to splurge for it.

Rent Storage Space

At less than $100 each month you can buy yourself some wiggle room in the apartment and have a place to store the items you don’t need on a daily basis. You can use the unit to switch out seasonal goods, store business inventory or simply house the items you need infrequently. Some people even use their storage units as offices or gyms. Just make sure the facility is legitimate, safe and convenient and offers a contract that works for you.  

Use Shelves Wherever Possible

This is one of our all time favorite tricks for utilizing space in small spaces. Always always go vertical. Shelving has a small footprint but can be used to store a variety of items, like books, electronics, decorative items and even clothing. And don’t forget, when you have a nook that’s not being used, you can always install corner shelve and create a little more storage space.

 

 

Customize Closets

Yes, it seems expensive to customize a closet, especially when you’re renting but trust us this is an investment that will help with not just organization but also with your sanity. From The Container Store’s Elfa to Ikea’s Pax wardrobe system and a variety of other options available at home improvement stores you can find something that works within your budget. This is an investment that is absolutely worth the trouble and money.

Get the Right Hangers

All clothes hangers are not created equal: Some are thinner than others giving you more room in the closet and some are intended for very specific apparel and accessories like ties and belts and pants. Using the right hangers will help you save some much-needed room in your closets.

 

 

Utilize Space Under and Behind Furniture       

The space under and behind the bed, sofa and any other large piece of furniture is often wasted. Use this space to store items you might not need that often. This could mean extra sheets and blankets, sleeping bags, luggage and shoes. 

 

Seven Indoor Composting Bins for City Living

The New York City Department of Sanitation has recently rolled out its Compost Project, aimed at reducing waste citywide. Almost one third of the waste that the department collects is organic material—food scraps, spoiled food and plant material. With this program, people can now biodegrade organic waste instead of throwing it into a landfill. Composting helps put organic material where it belongs—back into the environment.

The Department of Sanitation, which will serve more than three million New Yorkers with curbside organic service by the end of this year, will provide bins for your building once enrolled in the program.

Of course, you need to keep your organic waste in a separate bin in the home before transferring it to the one on the street. With our tiny apartments it’s important to find bins that fit and look good and won’t compromise too much counter or storage space. Here are some options of compact and nice looking ones that we like:
 

Credit: Bill Lowe Gallery

Credit: Bill Lowe Gallery

Stainless-Steel Compost Pail

This one one-gallon pail from Williams Sonoma fits nicely on the countertop, perfect for a small kitchen or kitchenette. It holds scraps like vegetables or peels that you might otherwise throw away while keeping odors at bay with its charcoal filter. It comes in white enamel steel or brushed stainless steel, a set of replacement filter and retails for $39.95.

Typhoon Summer House Blue Compost Caddy,

We love the look of t vintage styles 2.6-Quart Capacity compost bin made of color-coated steel—just look at the Summer House Blue.  Similar to the one mentioned above, it also contains a carbon filter to absorb odors. Its tight lid also helps keep odors in while keeping flies out. The Typhoon comes with a plastic liner, which you can easily take out and clean when needed. And at $34.99, this caddy is comparable in price to its competitors.

 

 

Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin

This 1.3-gallon bin is the number one best selling indoor compost bin on Amazon, so you know it has to be good. It’s also currently on sale for $22.95, though it typically retails for $34.95, so grab one while you can. Molded from a single piece of metal, this rust resistant, stainless steel composter is built so it won’t crack or chip. Similar to other composters, it comes with a replaceable carbon filter and a tight lid to keep odors under control.

Noaway Countertop Compost Bin

If you’re looking for something more discreet, and are willing to pay for it, this salvaged wood number from Cliff Spencer is the way to go. Made of wood that would otherwise go into a landfill, these mitered boxes add warmth to kitchen counters. Each box sports a stainless steel lid and pan that holds your organic waste.  At $175, this compost bin will set you back some dough but sometimes that’s the price of beauty.

 

 

Kitchen Compost Caddy

If you prefer to keep your compost system out of plain sight, you might want to look at a system that can be mounted under the sink. This caddy has a double seal lid that ensures flies don’t have a way in and odors don’t have a way out. Furthermore, its carbon filters work to minimize odors. This number might not be especially pretty, but who cares, as you will hardly lay eyes on it.  The Kitchen Compost Caddy retails for $46.70 and is available on Amazon.

RSVP 4.5 Quart Square Bamboo Compost Pail

Here’s another handsome looking compost pail. Made with bamboo and boxy lines, this $39.99 bin will not look like others in the category. Similar to many other bins, this indoor composter comes with a plastic liner for easy cleaning and a charcoal filter for minimizing odors.

 

 

Blue Mason Jar Ceramic Compost Bin

At .79-gallon capacity, this bin is small but look at how cute the Mason jar is—they are still all the rage. Made of ceramic, this vintage-style compost bin is airtight, comes with a replaceable charcoal filter and sports a handle for transport. And its size, while maybe not large enough for some, means the jar can pretty much fit anywhere on the counters of many New York City kitchens. The Mason Jar Compost Bin costs $19.99 and is available on World Market. 

 

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Downsizing Tips

Living in New York City is fabulous. With all the restaurants, cafes, shows, galleries and other happenings, there’s no shortage of what one can do.  It’s a constant playground for those who like to be entertained. The only downside to our great city is the expensive real estate, which translates to smaller spaces for most people. If you’re moving to New York or have recently done so you will likely need to downsize you home. Here are some ideas on how to do that:
 


Make Lists

Before making the move to a smaller home, make a list of essential items. These would be things that you can’t see yourself living without. Once you jot this down, list items that really make you happy or you must keep for sentimental reasons. Next make a list of items you’re not sure about keeping and those that you no longer want or need.  

Donate Items You Don’t Need

Use the lists you made to donate items that you no longer want or need. There are lots of organizations you can donate to. These include religious centers, like churches, or non-profits like The Salvation Army or Goodwill. You can donate books to libraries and clothes to organizations that provide attire to those in need like Dress for Success.
 

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Give Away to Friends and Family

So your nephew is going to college and needs a mini fridge? Well it’s a good thing you have one and can give it to him. Similarly, there are likely other people in your circle of folks who will want or need some of the items you no longer do. You can always send a detailed list, with photos, of items you own to friends and family and ask if anyone is interested in anything in your give away pile. For convenience, you can pick a weekend with hours and have everyone stop by to get their goods.

Sell Items You No Longer Want

If you’re moving from a three-bedroom house in the suburbs to a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, you won’t be able to fit all your furniture into your new home. Prior to moving it, you can list the item on classifieds sites, like Craigslist.  Make sure to provide detailed descriptions and photos. Selling them would lighten your load for the move and likely pay for a dinner or two out—which you’ll need after the move.
 


Toss the Unwanted

There are some things that will not get sold or taken by anyone. Those can get trashed. Find out what category each item type fits into—recycling, bulk garbage, etc.—and plan to dispose of the items as directed by your town or municipality. Tossing items prior to your move will mean you don’t have to pay to have it relocated, which is a benefit.

Maximize Storage in Your New Home

At first sight, a small apartment looks like it won’t hold anything but you’ll be surprised as to how much space even tiny dwellings have. Utilize ceiling heights by going vertical with shelving, customize closets with built ins, use under bed spaces, and invest in furniture that work double duty—examples include chests as coffee tables and ottomans that fold out into a single bed.

Ask for Help

You’re not the only person who has to deal with little room in this city. Because of this need, there are professionals who, for a fee, can help you organize and maximize the space in your new home.  Ask around and find an organization specialist to help you edit and maintain your apartment in the city. If you don’t want to spend the money, you can always find books and websites that will give you plenty of ideas to help you downsize.
 


Rent Storage

There are some things that you likely won’t want to part with or items that you aren’t yet sure you want to keep or toss. To help with the transition, or to simply give yourself some extra room, you might want to consider renting a storage space in the City. There are plenty of those in different boroughs and neighborhoods. Just make sure the facilities are safe, run by professionals and provide you with a contract that suits your needs. Always read reviews and ask around before committing to a contract.
 

Credit: Moishe's Self Storage

Outdoor Summer Fun in and around New York City

Summer is around the corner and it’s time to get out and enjoy the warmer temperatures while you can. Though we live in an urban jungle and often feel removed from nature, there are plenty of things to do both in New York and a short drive or train ride away. Here are some fun things you can do this season:
 

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Hit the Beach

To get a serious dose of vitamin D, head on over to one of the many beaches in and around New York City.  From New Jersey to Long Island to Queens, you’ll be able to find one where you can stretch your body on the sand and zone out for a few hours. To get you to a beach, there are many transportation options like the LIRR beach packages, good old MTA buses and subways and on-demand transport apps like Skedaddle. You can also use a zipcar or a take a car service.

See some Art

Living in the city, we’re lucky to have access to a plethora of outdoor art. From the Socrates Sculpture Garden in Queens to the scattered bits of art here and there like the Hippo Ballerina near Lincoln Center or the Oy Yo piece at Brooklyn Bridge Park, the art connoisseur won’t run out of eye candy in the city.  For those venturing out, our favorites are Upstate’s Storm King Art Center and Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey.
 

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Have Cocktails on a Roof

Summer time is roof time in the Big Apple. If you have access to yours, grab a bottle of rose or whatever your pleasure and head on up. If you don’t have an accessible rooftop, worry not as there are plenty of rooftop bars in New York. Here are some ideas: The Ides at the Wythe Hotel, in Williamsburg, Penthouse 808 in Long Island City, POD 39 Rooftop Lounge and Bar in Midtown or the Jane Hotel in West Village.

Explore Smorgasburg, Brooklyn Flea and other Outdoor Markets

Whether it’s to stuff your face at food markets like Smorgasburg, get fresh produce at a farmers market or to buy knickknacks at the Brooklyn Flea, outdoor markets are in full swing during the summertime. Check out Markets of New York to find dates and information on a market near you.  And don’t forget to venture out to those in a different neighborhood—exploring is always part of the fun.
 

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Attend Summer Festivals

One of our favorite things to do in New York is participate in its many outdoor festivals, which often feature top-notch artists and musicians from all over the world. SummerStage, BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn, Shakespeare in the Park, Summer Film Festival at Bryant Park, Lincoln Center Out of Doors and Panorama Music Festival are just some of the many such events in our great city.

Get out of Town

A weekend away from the hustle and bustle of New York is not only good for your body and soul but even necessary from time to time. You can stay at a charming bed and breakfast near the beaches of Long Island or New Jersey, explore a cute seaport town in Connecticut or head on Upstate for some nature. Among our favorites is the Catskill region of New York, quiet, with cooler temperatures and plenty of things to keep you busy for a couple of days.
 

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Take a Sip, at a Vineyard

You like day trips and you like wine. Combine the two and you got yourself a fun little outdoor adventure just outside New York. Did you know there are a bunch of vineyards in Long Island, New Jersey and in the Finger Lakes region—some of which are less than a two-hour drive? Some, like the Cedar House on Sound on the North Fork of Long Island, even have a bed and breakfast on site. You’re welcome!

Pick Some Fruit

Summertime brings to mind farms and sipping lemonades and fruit hanging from trees. Lucky for you there are farms in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut that allow you to pick berries, and cherries and stone fruit.  One of our favorites is Battleview Orchards in Freehold, NJ—they even have sour cherry trees. Pie anyone?
 

Home Staging: Seven Mistakes to Avoid t

If you’re looking to sell your home, and to do it in a timely fashion, your best bet is to stage it. Staging will highlight the best of your home while downplaying its weaknesses. It has another important function; to help potential buyers see the potential of the dwelling and to imagine themselves living there. So while you want to make it look livable, you don’t want to personalize it too much.  Here are seven mistakes people make during the home staging process:
 


Failing to De-clutter

Most of us have lots of things in the places we live in—from kid’s toys to magazines and even more furniture than we might need. Once you decide to sell, you need to think of the space less as yours and more as a place to lure potential buys in.  And to do that, you need to get rid of anything that makes the living spaces seem cluttered.

 

If there are items that you’ve been meaning to sell, donate or purge, this is a good time to take care of those. For anything you plan on keeping, you might opt to rent a self-storage unit. Failing to de-clutter is one of the worst mistakes sellers make.

 

Not Letting in Light

Even if you prefer your curtains and shades drawn during the day and the home dimly lit at night, your apartment or house should be at its brightest when prospective buyers visit. For one, they want to be able to see the space carefully. But also more light will help the place look happy and well, bright.
 

 

Failing to Use Neutral Colors

You might love that fuchsia accent wall you have in the kitchen or the striped turquoise wallpaper in the living room. But when you’re trying to sell a home, you want it to appear like a blank canvas where others can imagine the possibilities within their vision. Using paints like gray, white, beiges and such are usually safe bets that will help you achieve this goal.

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Not Consulting with Your Realtor

If you trust your realtor, you should consult with him or her on how best to stage the home. Realtors know what sells and what the local tastes and trends are so they should be your first line of advice before starting a staging process.

 

Failing to make Small Improvements

Holes in walls, broken door handles, cracked toilet seats and any other visibly damaged item around the house will immediately turn buyers off. True, it’s just as easy for the buyer to spend $20 and buy a toilet seat but many don’t have the vision to think about what it takes to make the improvement themselves. Failing to make small fixes around the home might also give the impression that there could be other, less detectable parts of the home that aren’t properly taken care of.

 

Not Removing Personal Items

Any knick-knacks, family photos, framed degrees and the likes will take away from the blank canvas idea of a home you’re trying to create. Make sure to box these up and put them away either in a closet or basement or in your self-storage unit.
 

 

Failing to Remove Out of Fashion Furniture

With so many blogs and home design television shows, buyers nowadays are very conscious of current styles. If your furniture and décor is very old fashioned, it can hurt the sale of your home. You might want to consider consulting a home staging company who can provide more up to date decoration for your home while you’re selling it. Though the monthly cost might seem high, if the home sells faster and for more you’ll make up for the expense quickly. Talk to realtor for staging company recommendations.  
 

It’s been too long: Areas that Need Cleaning or Organizing

While we tend to vacuum the apartment and clean the tub each week, there are some areas of our dwelling we don’t often take on—partly because they don’t need constant cleaning and partly because we forgot about them. But it’s good to have a little reminder of the more neglected areas of the home. Here are some that come to mind:
 

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Freezer

You have that piece of steak you planned to make two years ago and have been hoping you still can but you know that it’s too late. Start with the obvious items and get rid of them. Then take everything out, wipe the areas that need wiping with a damp paper towel and put everything back in a fashion that makes sense to you.

Periodicals

If your magazine rack is like ours, it’s likely overflowing with old newspapers and catalogues that you plan on going back to but never do. Time to read them if you can or purge if you can’t. 
 

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Windows

We haven’t cared much about windows during the cold season but now that you want get the most out of that beautiful tree outside your window, it might be time to clean out the lens through which you’ll see.

Bathroom Cabinets

Old medicine, makeup and toiletries that you don’t use don’t deserve to take up storage room in your small bathroom. Go through this stuff and if you haven’t used it in several years, consider clearing it out. Then take a damp paper towel and wipe all the insides of your cabinets and drawer. Feels good, doesn’t it?

Kitchen Pantry

Go through everything and look at the dates and condition of each edible item, then decide if it’s worth keeping or if you will use the item. If the item is not expired but you have no use for it, consider donating it to a local soup kitchen or shelter who will take it.
 

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Electronics

The television, stereo, speakers, printers and the likes don’t often get a good wiping. Dust, then wipe these areas to reveal clean surfaces. 
 

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Self-Storage for Home Staging

If you’re looking to sell your home you know that in today’s market staging is very important, if not necessary. It might be that you have to put in entirely new furniture, or you might just need to declutter your home to make it look its best for open houses and showings. The problem most New York sellers face is finding a place to put their stuff while their house is on the market. The solution is often self-storage. Here are some tips on how to go through the process:

 

List Items that Must Go

After talking to your real estate agent and getting tips, go through the home and list what items you need to put away in storage. Make sure to go through rooms, cabinets, closets and bookshelves. The idea is you want everything to be sparse and clean and for potential buyers to see themselves, not you, living there.  And remember, this is a temporary situation so it’s okay to put away your favorite things for a little while.

 

Decide How Much Space You Need

Once you have a list of items you need to temporarily get rid of, find out how many boxes of which size you’ll need. Then find the volume of space you’ll need for storage—you can always ask facility professionals to help you. Then you can decide on the storage unit size.

 

Find the Right Self-Storage Facility

Research facilities nearby and find several that hit your checklist. Then go visit to make sure the units are clean and safe. Finally, make sure they offer contracts that match up with how long you’ll need to rent for. Compare the final contenders to pick the best one that suits your needs.

 

Box ‘em Up and Put Away

You can purchase boxes from many self–storage facilities or gather them from local grocery or liquor stores. Once you pack your stuff, clearly label each box. If you’re putting away furniture you might want to consider covers.  You can either rent a truck yourself, if needed, or ask movers to transport your items to the unit.

 

Stage Away

Once you’re done decluttering your home, you want to make sure everything is clean and pleasant—a fruit basket or some flowers can help. At this point, you’ve done your share and can hope that the market is kind enough so that you can sell your home in a timely manner. 

Using Self-Storage When Traveling

You’ve long thought about taking a few months to see Europe or South America. Now, you have the time and money to do it. Your lease is ending and you have no commitments in New York for a few months. The only problem is you’re not sure what to do about all your stuff. Luckily, for less than $100 a month, you can rent a small self-storage unit to house your stuff while you’re off sightseeing. Here are some factors to consider when picking self-storage:
 

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Find a Contract that Works for You

When you decide how long you will be away, you’ll know what contract length works for you. Make sure you don’t end up in a one-year lease if you only plan on being away for three months.  Read the terms carefully and only sign if everything makes sense to you.

Pick the Right Size

Storage units come in different sizes. If you have say a one-bedroom apartment you can ask the facility pros what size unit they recommend. You can also estimate how many boxes you’ll have and the total volume of your stuff before a site visit.

Think about Climate Controlled Units

If you have any musical instruments, wine, or other items that are prone to damage in extreme heat or cold or sensitive to humidity, you might want to consider a unit that has climate controls. Otherwise, arrange to store your sensitive items with a friend or relative.

 

 

Valuables

While it’s always better to house valuables with those you trust, always ensure the facility is safe and that you have sufficient insurance should you choose to store them in the unit.

Get a Solid Lock

In addition to picking a secure and well-attended facility, you should always get a solid lock for your storage unit to deter anyone who might be looking to break in.  Ask the facility or a locksmith what your options are.
 

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What to do with College Textbooks? A Guide

If you are graduating from college this year, it’s likely you will soon have a few extra things around the apartment. Textbooks are often among those items. They are heavy, large and as a group take up a lot of space. Here are some things you can do with old textbooks:
 

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Sell

Be it to the college bookstore or via online retailers like Amazon or auction sites like ebay, selling is what students have done forever. This is a good way to get back some of the money you’ve spent on these expensive texts and to make room in your home.

Donate

There are people who can put these books to good use and who otherwise might not be able to afford them. If you can forgo the money you’d otherwise make, consider donating these sought after educational resources. From libraries to donation centers like Goodwill and programs that send books to those in need like Books for Africa you won’t have any trouble finding organizations that will take your texts.

Keep

If you decide to pursue a profession in the field studied, the textbooks might be useful in the future. Consider putting up some wall shelves or devising a storage nook around the apartment to keep these around as reference material. A future work office might also be able to accommodate these texts.
 

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Store

If you rent a self-storage unit, you can always store textbooks until you decide to pull them out and use again. Make sure you box these well and that your unit is not humid as to destroy the books.
 

 

Recycle

In the unlikely event that you can’t find anyone interested in taking the textbooks or you absolutely have no way to store them, you might want to think about recycling them. Check with your town or local recycling programs to find out how to best handle this option. 
 

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Picnic Time in New York

New York weather is super pleasant: The sun is shining, the trees have just given birth to bright yellow green leaves and the blossoms are abundant. In short, it’s picnic time in the city.  So grab your basket and other picnic supplies out of self-storage and head on over to a green patch of goodness dotted within the Big Apple. Here are some of our favorites:
 

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Prospect Park

Brooklyn’s Prospect Park is ginormous, which translates to lots of options for a picnic. You can sit on vast expanses of grass, eat goodies that you brought, then go for a little hike and then stop by the boathouse to look at your reflection and watch the swans swim.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Sit at one of many picnic tables and look out onto the skyline of lower Manhattan, while eating the goodies from your basket. You can also bring your burgers and hotdogs and whatnot and cook your meat and veggies on one of the hibachi style grills available. If you plan on doing that, however, get there early to snag a grill as there’s a lot of competition.
 

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Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

This Brooklyn gem is one of the magical slices of New York. The 52-acre space houses specialty gardens such as a Japanese garden and the Cherry Esplanade, featuring more than 200 cherry trees. Pink blossoms on the trees and the grass below make for a spectacular site. Bring a basket or dine at one of their onsite establishments.

Governors Island

This 172-acre island 15 minutes off of Manhattan is open to the public May 1 to October 1st and accessible via a ferry from Manhattan or Brooklyn. Bring a blanket and pick a spot from one of many of the green and shaded spaces to chow down your munchies. Or head over to the food court in the middle of the island to buy food from a variety of vendors and bring back to your picnic station.
 

Credit : Iwan Baan/Courtesy West8

Credit : Iwan Baan/Courtesy West8


Central Park

There’s more space in this park than you’ll know what to do with. You can head on to the popular spots like Sheep’s Meadow or the Great Lawn or be more adventurous and carve your own spot somewhere within the park’s 840 plus acres. 
 

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Living in a Small Apartment or Studio

New York City real estate is famously expensive. Renters pay an approximate $55 per square foot per year in Manhattan. That means that a 450 square foot studio could run you more than $2,000 each month. But that’s the price you pay for living in one of the most exciting cities.  What this all translates to, in practical terms, is that many of us live in small spaces into which we must fit all of our stuff. Here are some tips on maximizing a tiny living situation:
 

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Utilize Multitasking Furniture

The key to having any large piece in a small space is that, the pieces must serve double or triple duty. Meaning, they’ve got to work hard to earn their domestic keep. Examples of hard working furniture are pull out sofas, coffee tables that serve as storage, ottomans that open up to become a bed, chests that could work as benches and so on.

 

Embrace Shelving

The beauty of shelves is that you are not sacrificing floor space. You’re utilizing wall space, which would otherwise be left unused. By putting up shelves in the kitchen, bedroom, hallway, bathroom and many other little nooks, you can increase storage space throughout your home.
 

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Go Vertical

Although many of New Yorks’ apartments are tiny, a lot of them have tall ceilings, especially ones in older, pre-war buildings. Tall ceilings mean you can go vertical in terms of storage. So consider installing cabinets, shelves, or housing large wardrobes and bookcases. You can also stack items—like carts or books—on top of each other. 

 

Rent Storage

Self-storage units are abundant in New York City. For a small monthly fee you can rent a unit where you can safely store seasonal and bulky items and therefore maximize your living space. When looking to rent storage, always make sure the facility is well regarded and safe and the contract terms meet your needs. Finally, you might want to look into a space that’s close by if you plan on making frequent runs.  
 

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Self-Storage for Home Staging

If you’re looking to sell your home you know that in today’s market staging is very important, if not necessary. It might be that you have to put in entirely new furniture, or you might just need to declutter your home to make it look its best for open houses and showings. The problem most New York sellers face is finding a place to put their stuff while their house is on the market. The solution is often self-storage. Here are some tips on how to go through the process:

 

List Items that Must Go

After talking to your real estate agent and getting tips, go through the home and list what items you need to put away in storage. Make sure to go through rooms, cabinets, closets and bookshelves. The idea is you want everything to be sparse and clean and for potential buyers to see themselves, not you, living there.  And remember, this is a temporary situation so it’s okay to put away your favorite things for a little while.
 

 

Decide How Much Space You Need

Once you have a list of items you need to temporarily get rid of, find out how many boxes of which size you’ll need. Then find the volume of space you’ll need for storage—you can always ask facility professionals to help you. Then you can decide on the storage unit size.

 

Find the Right Self-Storage Facility

Research facilities nearby and find several that hit your checklist. Then go visit to make sure the units are clean and safe. Finally, make sure they offer contracts that match up with how long you’ll need to rent for. Compare the final contenders to pick the best one that suits your needs.
 

 

Box ‘em Up and Put Away

You can purchase boxes from many self–storage facilities or gather them from local grocery or liquor stores. Once you pack your stuff, clearly label each box. If you’re putting away furniture you might want to consider covers.  You can either rent a truck yourself, if needed, or ask movers to transport your items to the unit.
 

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Stage Away

Once you’re done decluttering your home, you want to make sure everything is clean and pleasant—a fruit basket or some flowers can help. At this point, you’ve done your share and can hope that the market is kind enough so that you can sell your home in a timely manner.
 

Cleaning Out the Fridge, A Guide

Spring is finally here and at the beginning of each season it’s good to clean out, and open up some storage space in, the refrigerator. We know that the abundance of condiments and containers can look scary to tackle. But fear not, here’s a little guide you can use to break down the tasks and give your fridge a little bit of a makeover inside:
 


Condiments

Remove all the condiments from the fridge and place them on the counter. Go through each one and check the dates—if expired, it’s time to toss. If not ask yourself if you ever use the item, if not you’re better off making room in the fridge you really will use. Wipe down the space where your condiments are and place what you intend to keep back in.

Containers

You know how you stored that pineapple a month ago and forgot about it? Or the meatloaf your sister made? Well, go through every container and get rid of any leftovers that are too old to eat—typically cooked food more than three to four days old.  Make sure to wipe any spills when you clear out each shelf.
 

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Freezer

You likely don’t need to do a defrost, but you should look through the meats, veggies and frozen meals and treats you’ve stored there. Look at the dates and toss anything that is too old to safely consume. It’s good practice to label and date meats and what not you keep in storage bags so you know when you placed them in the icebox.


Drawers

Here’s another place in the fridge we can stick food in and forget about. Open up the drawers and toss any old fruit or veggie that looks suspect or that you won’t eat. Then pull out the drawer, wipe or even hand wash and dry and place back.
 

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Storing Luggage

Ahhh, luggage, necessary items but hard to find room for in our tiny New York City apartments. They are often big and bulky and hard to hide away. But here are some ways you can store your luggage:

Self-storage Unit

If you rent a storage unit, you have an easy solution for putting away your suitcases and bags post travel. If not, and if you have other stuff taking up space, you might want to consider getting yourself a small unit. Though you might think you don’t need it, you’ll be surprised at how much more breathing room you’ll have around the home.

 

Above the Kitchen Cabinets

You know that space between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling? The one you never use? Well, you can put your suitcase up there and if it’s an attractive suitcase it could even look like a decorative item.

 

Under the Bed

It’s easy to slip a suitcase or a bag under the bed. If you have room, this is an obvious solution. If your bed is too low you might consider bed risers.

 

As a Side table

Stack several hard suitcases, especially pretty ones, and you got yourself a nightstand, or a side table. You can also use them as storage when not traveling.

 

Inside a Closet

Another obvious place to store luggage is inside the closet. Once again, you can fill the contents of the bags with items already in the closet, essentially freeing up room for your bags. You can also pack smaller suitcases inside your large ones.

 

Behind a Sofa

If possible we like having our large furniture pieces, like couches, a little bit away from the wall. If you’re like us, use that space to slide in a suitcase or two.

Teaching Your Kids to De-clutter

We often place on ourselves the responsibility of de-cluttering and purging. But our kids have a lot of stuff too, which take up valuable storage space. It’d be nice if we could include them in the process, which can be a learning experience for them and helpful to us. Here are some tips to help you de-clutter with kids:

 

Make it Fun

Let’s face it, de-cluttering is not a fun task but the kids don’t know that. So why not turn the dreaded job into something the little ones can enjoy? Maybe turn it into a game or activity or give them a prize after a de-cluttering stint.  For example, you can see which of your kids can clear their closet faster. The winner can then get a small prize or snack.

 

Teach Them Why it Matters

Take a few moments to explain to your kids why getting rid of something they no longer play with or wear might make their space both roomier and neater. Also talk about how someone else can benefit by playing with the toys or wearing the clothes.

 

Don’t Do Too Much At Once

Kids have short attention spans and won’t want to spend hours cleaning and purging. Maybe split the job into several days worth of work and have them do a little each day. Gauge what your child is willing to do. For most, 10 to 15 minutes is likely their limit.

 

Take them With When Donating

It will make your kids feel good to know their toys and clothes are going to a worthy cause. If donating to a specific person or an organization, take them with you so they can see where their stuff is ending up. Then maybe go out for ice cream or pizza or some fun activity so they associate what they’ve done with a positive feeling.


 

How to Score Self-storage Deals

You’ve decided to rent a self-storage unit. We get it: Our apartments are too small and no matter how careful we are with our purchases and constant purging, there just isn’t enough space in the apartment. In addition to making sure a facility is clean, secure and convenient for you, you also want to score the best deal, one that’s affordable and reasonable. So how do you go about getting a good deal for a unit? Here are some tips:
 

 

Compare Prices

Compare the deals your top three facility picks offer. See how they stack up against each other. Make sure you compare apples with apples—meaning your contract length, room size and likes should be the same. If one deal seems better than the rest, you can ask the other facilities to match or beat those prices.

 

Modify Contract Length

Sometimes you can score a better monthly rate if you increase your contract length. Ask the storage facility what they can offer if you sign up for a longer rental commitment. It’s likely you’ll need the space longer than you think anyway, so why not pay less?
 

 

Mention Affiliations and Special Circumstances

Students, senior citizens, AAA members, army vets and those affiliated with various organizations are often eligible for discounts. Ask your facility if they have any such deals and take advantage of it if they do.

 

Change Move in Date

Some months, storage companies offer promotions—because during those seasons they have fewer tenants or they want to attract more renters. Ask the facility if they have such deals and think about starting your contract then to take advantage of promotions.
 

 

Negotiate

Never be afraid to negotiate for a price or package that you think is fair. The worst that can happen is they will say no, in which case you can decide if the deal is for you. But if they say yes, you just scored a better deal by simply using your bargaining skills. 

Spring Cleaning Checklist

Spring is here and it’s time to give your apartment a fresh start by organizing and deep cleaning. How much you want to get done depends on your needs and how well you’ve kept your home all winter. But for most hitting the items on this checklist should get your place ready for the new season:
 

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Purge Unwanted Items

Go through your closets and storage furniture and get rid of anything you might not need. Donate or sell these items. If you plan on keeping something but don’t need it right away, you can put it away in your self-storage unit if you have one.

 

Clean Window Coverings

Window coverings are prime dust collectors. Wash or dry clean your curtains. You can vacuum or wipe most blinds and shades. When in doubt check for labels of manufacturer recommendations on how to clean.
 

 

Dust the Moldings

Moldings are another neglected area of the home. Dust baseboards, doorframes and any other moldings in the apartment.

 

Change Air Filters

Though you should be changing furnace air filters every quarter, spring is a good reminder to do this in case you’ve neglected to do so.

 

Clean the Fridge

Organize and clean the inside of your fridge. Then, wipe down the outside and top of the appliance.  
 

 

Give your Oven a Cleaning

Wipe down the inside of the oven according to the manufacturer’s directions and if needed use the self-cleaning option.

 

Wash Windows

With all the dust, rain and snow, your windows have been through a lot. Give them a cleaning from the inside and then if needed, hire a company to wash the outside for you.
 

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Dust Light and Ceiling Fixtures   

Ideally, you’ll want to first vacuum and then wipe down lights and fixtures like fans. But either method will tackle some of the accumulated dust.

 

Spring Storage Switcheroo

Spring is just around the corner. On March 20th right after the 6:28 am equinox our hemisphere will start to see longer and warmer days. What that means in terms of self storage is that we can safely start to put away much of our winter gear and tools and start to take out of storage our gardening and warmer weather goods. Here’s a list of items you might want to switch out at your unit this spring:

 

Snow Removal Tools for Gardening Gear

Though possible, it’s not likely to get a heavy snowstorm in the tri-state once the end of March hits. Put away your shovels, snow blowers and bags of salt. Instead, this would be a good time to get out your gardening tools, pots and planters, soil and the likes.

 

Skis for Surfboards

The time for winter sports has passed, at least in much of the East Coast. Stow away your skis, snowboards, snow tubes and the bulky attire of the cold weather. But don’t be sad because you can now take out your bicycles, skateboards, surfboards, boogie boards, kayaks and bathing suits as preparation for the summer months or late spring for the brave ones out there.

 

Sweaters for Tank tops

Goodbye cashmere and wool, hello linen and rayon. This is an easy one. Most of us are happy shedding winter layers—like down coats (aren’t you sick of yours already?) and knit hats—and going for lighter jackets and attire.

 

Boots for Shoes and Sandals

Those Sorels sure are cute. But you know what’s cuter? Canvas sneakers and bright colorful sandals. Lucky for you, it’s time to put away the bulk and let your feet breathe.

 

Zinfandel for Rosé 

If you keep your wines in self storage spring is a great time to switch out the full bodied jammy wines for the lighter warm weather wines to drink poolside, or at a barbecue. Rosé, Sauvignon blanc and bubblies are always good to retrieve from the cellar come spring.

Headboards with Storage

In our often-tight New York City apartments, many pieces of furniture must work double duty. Headboards are no exception. Sure they are decorative features that give your bed and bedrooms a finished look, but they can also be a storage compartment for holding books, reading glasses and other items. Here are some examples of headboards with storage:
 

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IKEA’s BRIMNES Headboard with Storage Compartment

At a reasonable $130.00, this number from our favorite Swedish retailer can hold books, magazines, plants and a whole host of other items.  It also has pre-drilled holes for cables so you can charge your phones, plug in an alarm and hook up lights.  The piece coordinates with a BRIMNES bed, though you can probably use it with other beds—just make sure the size and style works out.
 

 

Andes white bed

The storage on this hi-gloss headboard that’s part of the bed comes in the form of integrated nightstands. Each side of this CB2 bed features two shelves that can hold books, electronics and lights. The price ranges between $699 and $899 for a complete bed, sans mattress of course.

Queen Bookcase Headboard

If you live in New York, you’re likely to have come upon a Gothic Furniture store at some point. This family operated retailer makes all their furniture with real wood and often sells them unfinished, which means that you can finish it to your own taste or have it stained or painted with one of the offered options. This bookcase headboard is constructed with unfinished pine and features a bookcase shelf and a top shelf for $249 to fit a Queen sized bed.

Manhattan Bookcase Headboard by Prepac

Available on Wayfair, this laminated composite wood headboard features six shelves—one of which is adjustable—to hold your books, electronics and other knick-knacks and comes in an espresso finish. At under $200, it’s a reasonable bet.
 

 

 

Becoming a Minimalist: A Guide

Not everyone likes the idea of being a minimalist. But for many of us living in tiny New York City apartments, the choice is either living with lots of items or mostly just with essentials.  If you prefer to have less things—and hopefully spend less money on buying goods—here are some pointers to get you started:
 

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Decide What Your Goals Are

The first step to becoming a minimalist is to decide how simple you want to live. Do you want to only have absolute essentials or do you want some knickknacks and memory invoking pieces around your home? Is your goal to get rid of some of the items you own or is it to purchase less moving forward? There are no right answers here and the only thing that matters is a goal that makes sense to you.

De-clutter Your Home

Once you know how it is you want to live, you can start to get rid of the items you no longer want. Place any unwanted items in designated boxes to be taken to a self-storage unit, donation center or to be sold.  You can begin by purging the items you know for sure you don’t need and work your way to de-cluttering more as you get the hang of it.
 

 

Make Rules For Purchases

Decide how you want to handle future purchases. You might opt to only purchase an item if you purge a similar item, which will mean you are not adding more things to the home and merely replacing. Or you might opt for a different system that would better work for you. Either way, having a plan in place will allow you to think twice prior to making a purchase.

 

It’s Okay to Fail

There will come a time when you will purchase an item you won’t need or when you decide to keep an item even though you know you won’t have use for it. Don’t beat yourself up for it. Forgive yourself and move on. The point of being a minimalist is to reduce stress and clutter not to further stress yourself out.