Housekeeping Habits to Abandon Now!

Keeping a home tidy and organized takes work. It’s part having a place for everything and part maintenance. We all have good intentions of keeping things organized and stored well, but when things get a little busy some of us have the tendency to push off some tasks for a more convenient time. The problem? By the time we can get to those tasks they’ve piled up into a serious mess we don’t want to deal with. But it doesn’t have to get to that point and even in our busiest time. If we quit certain habits, we can maintain an organized home. Here are some bad housekeeping habits to quit:
 

 

Not Cleaning While Cooking

Cooking involves time and effort but there’s usually some down time between, or during, tasks that can be used to clean up meal-prep dishes and messes. The tendency is to leave everything until after the meal. But instead of waiting till there’s a huge pile of dishes in the sink and spills on the counter, cleaning up while the food is cooking alleviates a herculean project when you probably want to chill on the couch and digest the meal.

Allowing Mail to Pile Up

The daily pile of mail quickly turns into a mountain of envelopes and paper that no one wants to look at. It’s not always pleasant to come home and open bills, junk mail, and catalogues that come your home. But really, it should take you a handful of minutes, at most, to deal with it each day. Leave it till the weekend and you’ll be cursing yourself for waiting. Pro tip: Take the junk mail right to the recycling bin before entering your home.  
 

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Not Doing Laundry on Time

Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill of dirty clothes—get our drift? Once you have enough for a load, wash it—be it mid-week or whenever you have a bit of time. Wait till it’s five loads and you’ll be spending half of your Saturday sorting, folding, and putting away clothing, instead of what you really want to be doing, like having brunch.

Storing Periodicals You Won’t Read

You mean well, we know, and that issue of The New Yorker from three months ago looks really interesting. But if you haven’t read it in a few months, will you really ever get to it? Be honest with yourself and if the answer is no, send off the issue, and all the others you won’t read, to be recycled. And while you’re at it, maybe reevaluate which publications you don’t have time or interest for and cancel the subscriptions.  You might also want to consider digital subscriptions, which only take up (minimal) digital space.
 

 

Allowing Messes to Age

Not cleaning up a mess right away—like a spill or stain— is a big no no. If you’ve spilled something or made a mess of sorts, clean it up right away, rather than dealing with it later. Waiting can mean the mess might become a permanent fixture of your home looking at you (coffee stain on the sofa). It could also mean more work and a bigger deal. This is especially important if the mess is food related because it can attract critters you don’t want in your home.

Throwing Stuff in a Junk Drawer

Yet another tactic to delay the inevitable, throwing random items into a junk drawer to take care of later, means that if you keep doing it, one day that drawer will be bursting with junk. It’s okay to have a holding spot like an everything drawer, as long as you have some method for periodically cleaning and organizing. Everything in there goes into a proper storage space and the drawer is empty for the new pile of items.

Not Putting Things Where They Belong Right Away

Whether it's spices, dishes, or face lotion, whatever it is you use daily should go back to its place as soon as you’re done using it. Don’t just leave items wherever they land, hoping you’ll take care of them later. Because if you keep doing this, you’ll have a bunch of things lying around and then have to spend a chunk of time putting each item back in its place. If you have pets, this is a great practice to have. Your flash drive may end up under the couch!
 

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First Timer’s Storage Guide

If you’ve never rented storage, you might be feeling slightly intimidated by the process and asking yourself a multitude of questions. Whether you’re renting storage to house your stuff temporarily while you renovate, move, figure out what to do with them, or you’re looking for a long-term solution for storing goods, our guide below should help with some basic questions:
 

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 Self Storage or Warehouse Storage?

You might be confused between self storage and warehouse storage. Self storage is when you rent a unit from a storage facility and only you have access to your specific unit. The renter, with some exceptions, is responsible for transporting his or her items to and from the unit at move-in and move-out.

With warehouse storage, a service that is offered by a select group of storage facilities, you never have to leave your home in order to place items in, or retrieve them from, storage. This full-service option often includes packing, labeling, inventory, pickup, and drop off. Some facilities will house your things along with other people’s in a large warehouse. Others will still provide you with a private room. Ask which of these is offered, if it matters to you.

How do you find the right facility?

A little bit of Internet research will quickly reveal storage options in your area. Once you have located several that are convenient for you, it’s good to start reading reviews for each one to narrow down your options. If you see any red flags, dig in a little further to find out if that review is legitimate. As always, recommendations are always best, so ask your friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors if they have used a storage facility that they’re happy with. Make sure the facility offers the right-sized unit, is secure and offers patrols, alarms and closed circuit televisions, is clean, climate-controlled (should you need it) and offers contracts that work with your budget and time constraints. Don’t sign any contract you aren’t comfortable with. Always ask the storage facility managers for help if you don’t understand something.

What size storage is right for your needs?

Storage units come in a variety of sizes, many of which are standard across different facilities, and can measure anywhere from 5’ x 5’ all the way to 10’ x 20’. Smaller units can hold boxes and smaller furniture. Units 10' X 10' and larger are capable of storing larger furniture and the contents of a one-bedroom apartment. If you need to store the contents of a three- or four-bedroom house, you should opt for larger units, such as a 10’ X 20' room. Once you’ve determined what you need to store, it’s best to check in with a facility member to ask for some guidance on a storage size.

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Should you get additional insurance?

Check to see what the limited liability coverage is in your state and then decide if it’s worth it to purchase additional insurance. Limited liability is typically only available to warehouse storage customers. For those renting self storage, tenant protection coverage, or third party insurance are options. In both cases, the decision to buy insurance and amount of insurance required depends on what you’re planning to store. If what you’re storing is of little value—monetarily and sentimentally—then you might not want to purchase insurance. If, however, your items are of value, decide what they are worth and what sort of compensation would satisfy you, should those things get damaged or lost.  

What can you store?

You can store most household items and furniture in a storage unit. You can also rent storage specifically for vehicles, such as motorcycle or boats. If you’re planning to store items such as wine, rare books or art, ask about climate-controlled units and even ones designed for such sensitive valuables.  You should never put food, hazardous material, live animals or plants in storage. Additionally, check with your facility to see what their restrictions are. 

How to transport your items?

Some storage facilities offer free move-ins with specific commitments and room sizes. If the facility of your choice doesn’t, ask them if they offer such a service for a fee. If not, you can either transport items via movers or opt to do so yourself. For smaller items you can use a car but for larger ones, you’ll want to rent a larger vehicle, such as a truck.

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What should you have on hand on day one?

Have your contract handy on move-in day. Additionally, have a good lock on hand to ensure your items are safe.

 

Self-Storage and Parties, A Perfect Match

You probably never thought of the two together, but self-storage and parties are actually a perfect match, especially for those of us living in cities where our living quarters are small.  Many of us in New York love to host parties but often shy away from it due to space restrictions. We can’t house enough dishes, decorations, or seating.  We also have items in our apartments that could get easily damaged once the guest count goes above a handful or two. But, with a little planning and help from a storage unit, those who are into throwing soirees can start hosting. Here are some tips:
 

 
Store Decorations

Having a self-storage unit means you can own items for special occasion and seasonal parties. These include Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas decorations. But, also include special lights, candles, and vases. You get the idea. You can house all your party decorations in your self-storage unit and pull them out when the occasion strikes.  

Tabletop and Bar Items

Kitchen cupboards are in short supply for us city dwellers and for that reason we have a limited supply of dishes, glasses, flatware, and serving wear. Sure we can use disposables and on occasion we do, but at times you want to pull out some nice china and put together a grownup table. Though we keep waiting for that perfect kitchen, with lots of storage space, to one day be ours, we no longer need to pine after those dishes or wine glasses in the store window. A self-storage unit allows you to purchase tabletop and barware and use them on occasion until you have have enough space house them in your own home. 
 

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Special Appliances

Friends in the suburbs sometimes have fancy gadgets that they use for parties. These include ice cream makers, slow cookers, pressure cookers, popcorn makers, and lots of other special items that make city cooks all kinds of jealous. When you have a self-storage space, you can own any number of these things and pull them out when you’re having a party. Want to make chili? Pull out the slow cooker. Frozen margaritas? Bring home the big blender. All these special appliances can make your party more fun and at times a bit simpler to put together.

Furniture

Yes, seating is limited in the average city home; most of us have a sofa, a chair or two, and some dining seating we can take out. But any more than six or so guests and we’re at a loss as to where to have our visitors sit themselves down. In storage you can have a variety of furniture items that can be brought in for a party when needed. These may include folding chairs and tables.
 


Staging Facility

If you’re designing floral arrangements or want to try out different table settings, you can use your self-storage unit as a staging area. Set up a table and arrange your tablecloth, dishes, barware, and decorations there to make sure it fits your idea of what you want the party to look like while keeping the mess out of the house. Once everything is ready, all you have to do is bring everything home on the day before the party. Just make sure the hours of the storage facility coincide with your needs to come and go. The last thing you want is to not have access to your table settings the day of the soiree.

Valuables

Having friends visit is fun. Having to worry about them breaking the Tiffany lamp given to you by your grandmother is not! Often when there are a lot of people in small spaces, we worry about them bumping into things that are of monetary or sentimental value.  One way to alleviate this unnecessary stress is to temporarily remove all items that you don’t want damaged while you’re having a party. This means that you can box up your valuables and take them to storage before the party and return them after you’re done with the festivities. Always be sure the self-storage facility you pick is safe and you have access to it whenever you desire. Also, always choose a secure lock to further protect the items in your unit.

In Between Homes: A Guide

Whether you’re selling your current home and purchasing a new one or going from one rental to another, like everyone else, you’d like a smooth transition. Ideally you’d take your stuff out of the old home and be moved into the new home the same day. But sometimes, things don’t work out that way: You’ll need to move out and wait before you can move in. This in-between period before having a permanent dwelling is challenging on many levels but there are ways to deal with it. Here are some tips to help you cope with this temporary situation.
 

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Store Your Belongings

The first challenge of not having a home to move into is not knowing what to do with all your stuff. The answer is not that complicated—store everything in a self –storage unit. If you’re using movers, you can ask them to take your belongings directly to the storage facility on moving day. Make sure the facility location is convenient to the new home or where you’ll be staying should you need something during the transition time. Also make sure the facility is reputable, safe and offers a contract that you are happy with. Alternatively, if you have a friend or family member with some extra room, perhaps in the basement or other area, and they offer you the space you can also store your belongings there.

Find Temporary Housing

There is a multitude of short-term housing options. From extended-stay hotels to rentals to house-sharing options like Airbnb. You’ll be sure to find something suitable to meet your needs. Pick a reasonable budget and figure out your spacial requirements. Start looking for short-term housing as soon as you know your move dates. Ask yourself if you need a furnished place and if there are specific amenities you require. You can also check with friends and family if they need a house or pet sitter, or are willing to host you or rent you the space. And remember, where you stay during this time doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s temporary after all.
 


Pack Essential Items

In a temporary home you’ll need enough clothes to last you during that time, toiletries, medicine, personal electronics, and essential documents. Make sure you pack all of these and not put them in storage to reduce your stress while living in temporary housing. The last thing you need is to run out and buy sneakers for your workout when you already own three pair or search through boxes in the storage unit. Of course, don’t over-pack for the time you’ll be in temporary housing because you’ll have to pack it all up again when you’re ready to move into your new home.

 

 

Keep Your Routine

Moving is stressful and not being able to get into a more permanent situation can make the transition even more difficult. For that reason, it’s especially important to keep some things the same so you don’t feel completely uprooted from your day-to-day. For example, if you like having coffee from your special French Press in the morning, maybe take the press with you; then, make your java like you always do.  If you watch a specific show each night at home, do the same at the temporary home. These little things can make the new situation seem familiar and help reduce anxiety.

Add Personal Touches

Although it’s best to take just the essentials to the temporary home, personal touches can help make the place cozier and reminiscent of what makes you comfortable. This could mean your favorite candy bowl stocked with a familiar snack, a family portrait and that blanket you like to wrap yourself in while reading each night. The goal is not just to make the time pass but for it to go by as pleasantly as possible. 

Explore the Outside

You might normally be a homebody sort, but if you’re moving to a new area it might be a fantastic time to get out and explore your new environs. Find new restaurants or coffee shops to try. Take a walk and poke your head into retail shops. Locate the nearest grocery store and learn what’s in each isle. Not only is this exciting and gets you out of the temporary housing, but it will also help get you familiarized with the new neighborhood. Remember, moving is a new adventure so why not enjoy the ride and make it the best it can be?

Dorm Room Organization Guide

It’s that time of the year again. Yes, we’re sad that summer is winding down, but for those of you heading off to college, it’s exciting to think of all you’ll be learning, the new friends you’ll be making, and amazing opportunities you’ll encounter.  It can also be a little nerve-wracking moving from your childhood home to a dorm room. You’ll possibly be living with one or more roommates and squeezing all your belongings into a smaller space. But fear not! With a few tips you’ll be able to make the experience of living in a dorm room the fun and memorable one it’s supposed to be!
 

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Take Only What You Need

It seems like obvious advice but it’s worth mentioning that you should only plan on taking the items you’ll need while in school. This means that you’ll only want your clothes, books, and other necessities. All the other stuff that you might use on occasion or valuables should stay at your parents' or guardian’s home or in a dedicated storage space.  So if you’re an avid skier and are moving to a school far away from the mountains, you’re best off leaving your skis at home or at a self-storage unit.

Coordinate with Your Roommates

If you are sharing a room or a suite with others, check with your roommates to see what communal items they will be bringing. For example, if one person is bringing a mini fridge, the others won’t need to. Or if there’s a window, only one person needs to bring curtains or blinds. You can also discuss layout and room selection beforehand so everyone is on the same page on moving day.  If you don’t know your roommates, ask your housing coordinator to provide you with their contact information ahead of time so you can make proper plans.

Make a List

A few weeks prior to your move, make a list of the items you’ll need in college. Think of specific clothes, toiletries, study guides, equipment, and medication that you'll need during your time away from home. If you’re planning on visiting home mid-semester or every few weeks, remember you can always grab any extra items if you need to.  If your college is far from home, it’s more important to plan well and make sure you will have all necessities.
 

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Utilize the Space Wisely

Dorm rooms can be small and more often than not, students bring more than easily fits into the space they have. Think of small space storage options and get creative with what you have to work with. Use the space under the bed, on top of the closet and get organizers, such as over the door hooks and hangers to fit your stuff. Also ask your roommates for ideas, as you never know what creative solutions they might have up their sleeves.

Go Vertical

One of the tricks to properly using small spaces is going vertical. Utilize tall bookcases, and chest drawers to fit your things. Raise your bed to create more space underneath and utilize hutches to add shelving over desks and other surfaces. You can get blocks at your local hardware store to put under the bed feet. 

Get the Right Tools

In a small space, being smart counts for a lot. Use skinny hangers to create more space in the closet, clip on lighting that can be fastened to a desk or bed, and magnetic strips that can hold makeup and bobby pins. There are many tools like these that can add more space and help you stay organized. Peruse websites and stores for smart solutions to dorm room living.

Discuss Chores with Your Roommates

The key to staying organized is to constantly clean and tidy up a space. Figuring out how to divvy up chores is a sure way to stay neat and to avoid conflict with roommates. You can simply talk this out from the get go or make a chart with your roommates that spells out who does what each week.
 

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Make it Comfy

In addition to being practical you want to be comfortable in your new space—which will also help you stay organized. Make sure you have accessories and enough decorative items to make you comfortable and help you enjoy the room. This is your home for at least one academic year so make it count by ensuring you like spending time in it. 
 

Tips for Keeping Your Home Office Organized

Many New York residents partially or fully work from home. This sounds amazing—and it largely is. You can, to a point, set your own hours, be your own boss and work in you pajamas, if you wish. But it can also have its downfalls, such as finding motivation every day and meeting deadlines. One thing that helps people run their business smoothly from home is having a dedicated organized space to work from. In the small confines of city apartments, a home office is at times a desk in the living room or bedroom or some nook.  Keeping these small home offices organized is harder than doing so in a room designated to work but, with a little bit of mindfulness, it’s possible. Here are some tips:
 


Set Up a Proper Station

Your home office will, at minimum, require a desk, a comfortable office chair, a filing cabinet and probably a shelf or two. Having your work area is conducive to staying organized and very important. If you don’t have a shelf to put your reference books or note pads, they will likely end up on the desk or even the floor. Similarly, if you have no filing space, your documents will soon pile up somewhere in the general area. Setting up a proper workstation means that everything will have its own place and that you will be comfortable while conducting business.

Keep Your Home Office Free of Personal Items

It’s a little hard in small apartments to have a dedicated space for just one thing. But still, it’s helpful if you keep your office area free of paperwork, knick-knacks, and other items that are personal and unrelated to business. This will help you keep the work area organized more easily and it will also mean that it’s less likely to mix up personal paperwork—think utilities bills and insurance cards—with business items that might have to do with a client.

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De-clutter at End of Each Workweek

If you de-clutter any space regularly, it’s easier to stay organized.  If you’re ambitious you can do this every day when you’re finished with your office or work hours. But the more realistic approach would be to purge papers and other items you longer need at the end of the week. An extra 15 minutes of doing this every week means a clean desk and work area when you start back up Monday morning.

Have a Filing System

It doesn’t matter what this is—your system could be color-coding, alphabetizing, or categorizing. But no matter the system, you need to have a way to store files so that you can retrieve them when you need to. If possible, get a small filing cabinet so that you can safely store paperwork away.

Use Calendars

Calendars are a necessity when it comes to running a business and frankly life in general. Although in life you might get away with missing drinks with a friend, in business you might lose a client if you don’t show up to a meeting or miss a deadline. Some folks love the datebooks on their computers or mail programs, others swear by good old desk planners or wall calendars. Whatever your method, a calendar will help you log your tasks and deadlines and stay on track.   
 

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Make Lists

At the beginning of each week, make a to-do list of the tasks you need to tackle. These include duties related to clients and tasks that include organizing. Each day, when you look at the list you can see if you’re on the trajectory to finish all your to-dos by the end of the work week.

Rent Self-Storage Unit

Sometimes the space in your home just isn’t enough and no matter how much you purge and de-clutter you will have papers and equipment relevant to your business that you cannot realistically part with but are taking up too much space.  In those cases it might be helpful to rent a self-storage unit where you can store some of the goods and paperwork related to your work. You can make periodic trips as needed or put yourself on a schedule to visit the storage unit once or twice a week. Just make sure the space is secure and, if needed, climate controlled.

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 city residents 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 the city work from home. What that means is that desks are often in the living room or the only bedroom and take up precious space. Desks mounted on the wall with shelving 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, 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. Bonus trick: we’ve also used these strips to hang our tins of tea and coffee; it works beautifully. You’re welcome! 

 

 

Hang a Pot Rack

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

Rent Storage Space

For 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 often use. Some people even use their storage units as offices or gyms. Just make sure the facility is legitimate, safe, 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. 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 install corner shelves to create a little more storage space. Check out target.com for a variety of ideas!

 

 

Customize Closets

Yes, it seems expensive to customize a closet, especially when you’re renting. But trust us. This investment helps not just with organization but also your sanity. From The Container Store’s Elfa to Ikea’s Pax wardrobe system and a variety of other options at home improvement stores, you can find something that works within your budget. It 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. Others are intended for very specific apparel and accessories like ties, 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 the bed, behind the sofa, and other large pieces of furniture is often wasted. Use these areas 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 wish to keep. There are lots of organizations you can donate to. These include religious centers, like churches, or non-profits like , Vietnam Veterans of America 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 friends who will want or need some of the items you no longer do. You can always send a detailed list, with photos, of items 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 Ebay (be sure you list local area only) or 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, there are professionals who, for a fee, help you organize and maximize the space in your new home. Ask around and find an organizing specialist to help you maintain your apartment in the city. If you don’t want to spend the money, you can always find books and websites that 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 requirements. 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! 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. It's 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 have 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 are less than a two-hour drive. And 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, sipping lemonade, and fruit hanging from trees. Lucky for you there are farms in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut that allow you to pick berries, 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.