Simplify and organize: the hottest trends in home improvement

With the economy remaining uncertain, homeowners are tending to stay in place and upgrade their homes, rather than move up to something newer or larger. Just as economic conditions evolve, however, so does this housing trend. Simplifying and gaining control are now the hot incarnations of the “staying put” trend.

Organizational design expert, TV and radio personality, and author of numerous New York Times bestsellers, Peter Walsh hosts “Extreme Clutter” on the Oprah Winfrey Network and has starred on TLC’s “Clean Sweep.” Walsh offers some advice on how do-it-yourselfers can simplify home improvement, and gain control of their home environment, room by room:

Coping in the kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home, where you spend time as a family, prepare meals and entertain guests. All that activity and use can make it difficult to stay organized in the kitchen, but doing so can save you time and money.

* Maximize cupboard space with easy-to-install sliding racks. These racks make it easy and fast to find items, even in the deepest cupboards.

* Keep cooking utensils and flatware neat and easily accessible with a compartmentalized drawer organizer. You can find them in kitchen and home design stores.

* If you store often-used spices in a cupboard, it’s easy to lose track of what’s in there. You don’t have to give up your cabinet convenience. Just put your most-used spices in a small baking sheet (you can even buy a disposable one) so that when you need something, you can slide the sheet out to make finding it easier.

* Retire your junk drawer – we all have one. It’s the drawer where you deposit receipts, warranties, product manuals and other items. One way to clean up the paper portion of the mess is with an online organizational tool like MyLowe’s on Lowes.com. The free online tool from home improvement retailer Lowe’s allows you to keep track of purchases, warranties and manuals.

“I’m always trying to teach my fans the latest tips and techniques for organizing their homes and simplifying their lives, especially when families are staying in their homes longer in this uncertain economy,” Walsh says. “Keeping track of everything in our homes is now so easy with MyLowe’s, the newest and best way to take home maintenance and planning to a whole new level.”

Cutting closet clutter

Whether you have a spacious walk-in closet or a modest single-bar one, keeping your bedroom closet organized can be a challenge. But an organized closet means speedier wardrobe changes and a more harmonious environment.

* “We wear 20 percent of our clothes 80 percent of the time,” Walsh says. Declutter your closet by getting rid of that 80 percent you don’t wear. At the start of the season, turn all your hangers so that they face back to front. When you take something out and wear it, rehang it the correct way. At the end of the season you’ll be able to see which items you haven’t worn. Those are the ones you can probably live without.

* Reclaim vertical space. Look for creative ways to use the walls, backs of doors and other vertical spaces in your closet. Modular home organization systems can solve most storage challenges.

Taming the toy room

Children outgrow toys almost as quickly as clothes. It’s important to regularly sort toys with your children to decide what to discard, what to pass on and what to keep.

* Involve kids in deciding what should stay or go. Arrange toys in piles by type of toy, age appropriateness or length of time the child has had the toy. This will help your kids see the toys as distinct groups and make the task more manageable.

* Bring in space-maximizing organizational products like colorful cubbies with canvas bins or decorative shelving units. MyLowe’s makes it easy to find storage products that will fit in your space. Simply enter your room dimensions and the site helps identify solutions that will fit your needs.

Advice for every room

Getting organized is great, but staying organized is even more important. Rather than having to tackle organization tasks in a daunting mass once or twice a year, take steps to stay organized throughout the year. A little organization today means fewer headaches tomorrow.

Keep track of your home improvement and decorating purchases, like the paint colors you use and the creative choices you make with MyLowe’s. You can create a home profile and sort information by room, assign products and wish lists to each room, track purchases, store product manuals/warranties and more.

Organization issues stem from the stuff you have, and not just from the space you have. Anyone struggling with clutter faces the decision to either move to a larger home or learn to make choices and live within the limits of their space. By reducing clutter and increasing organization, everyone can learn to honor and respect the space they have.

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