Order in the house

Take your home back


1. Resolve to admit the problem. To misquote Tolstoy: Every unorganized family is unorganized in its own way. So figure out your home’s problem areas: Poor paper management? Haphazard meals? Too many black shoes? Breeding toys? Once out-of-control areas are identified, commit to conquer each one.

2. Resolve to let go of more stuff. Open your cupboards, closets and drawers. If they don’t make you proud, clear them out. Then, before you shove the same stuff back in only neater piles, ask two questions of each item: Do I love it? Will I use it? If you say yes to either, then ask: Is this the best place for it? Would this storage area be better for other items, say, placemats instead of light bulbs? Purge anything you’re saving out of guilt or cheesy sentiment. All the kids’ artwork, really? Get rid of unnecessary multiples of common items. How many old T-shirts do you need? Establish a maximum for disposable items; if you save shopping bags, margarine tubs or gift boxes, allow yourself five and toss the rest. When putting away what made the cut, group like-items, so no tools in the towel closet. Everything you own should have a home. Give it one, and keep it there. (Progress note: My daughter and I just cleaned two craft cupboards, filled a jumbo trash bag, and now have just one craft cupboard. I feel holy.)

3. Resolve to use family planning. No, not that kind. Make sure your whole family gets on board with the plan for household order. If you’re the only one committed, well, better luck next year.

4. Resolve to organize those photos. If your photo situation is like mine, I say we form a support group. I’ll start by confessing: I have a giant plastic tub with photos dumped in willy-nilly, more photos stuffed in a kitchen drawer, more on my computer, and others lurking on digital memory sticks that I can’t find. I haven’t put a photo in an album since my youngest was born 13 years ago. To be clear, I’m not resolving to stick my photos into some cleverly stenciled, calligraphy- captioned memory book. Let’s be real. I am resolving to scan all photos worth keeping onto my computer, and file them by year and occasion. Some services will do this for you, and I’m tempted. Scanmyphotos.com will scan photos [for 12¢ per photo].


5. Resolve to use space better. Turns out what goes down can — and often should — go up. A lot of stuff, especially kids’ stuff, winds up on the floor hogging space and tripping people. Think up. Use your walls. In kids’ areas and offices, set up shelves with stacks of matching bins or baskets. Use these to store stuff that isn’t beautiful, and most stuff isn’t. In the garage, hang bikes on heavy-duty hooks and install pegs to hold skis and hockey sticks vertically. Exploit the overhead garage space. Run a few heavy-gauge rafters across the ceiling space. Place laminated wood panels over those, and you can store that crib you just may need again and those light-up reindeer.

Syndicated columnist Marni Jameson is the author of “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo), available through Amazon. www.marnijameson.com.