Tracy Bush knows from organizing. She started Space Control, her St. Catharines, Ont.-based business devoted to helping people get out from under all their clutter, about a year ago, and she's been downsizing and rearranging people's homes for the past three years.
When Tracy makes a house call, her first step is purging. "We get rid of all obvious clutter -- garbage, newspapers, old catalogues -- you'd be surprised how much people have," she says. Next step is to clean off every flat surface. "Bills, birthday cards, mail…we don't look at it, we just put it in a box," Tracy explains. After applying this process to the entire house, the boxes themselves are examined and trimmed. "The goal is to get the space as spare as we can," says Tracy.
When it comes to getting organized, this is the season to look beyond the obvious, like out the window, into the yard, the porch and your garage. And Tracy also has some ideas to get your outdoor surroundings as organized as your indoor ones.
In the garage
Tools of the trade: pegboard; heavy-duty hooks; a multi-drawer storage cabinet
- "Divide the room into areas -- one each for gardening, sports equipment, and, of course, car-related items," Tracy suggests.
- Next, get stuff off the floor and onto the walls. "The cheapest and oldest method is pegboard," says Tracy, "and it works great for car tools." Use the small metal hooks to suspend wrenches and pliers, and other tools big and small.
- "Put your car-cleaning supplies in one little caddy," (metal and plastic versions are widely available), "so you can carry it easily to the car," says Tracy.
- Blankets, sleeping bags and other camping gear should be stored in durable plastic tubs with lids.
- "Mason jars or plastic juice containers work well for holding seeds collected from your vegetable garden," says Tracy.
- Coil extension cords and air hoses and hang them from hooks.
In the backyard and on the porch
Tools of the trade: a garden cart; a hose caddy; a folding storage bag; terracotta planters
- Control your garden hose by wrapping it around an attractive shelf bracket such as a hand-gilded cast iron or wood-sculpted style.
- "Buy an outdoor patio bench made of plastic, so you can put reading material and a blanket in there," says Tracy.
- Keep a storage bag for sports equipment just outside the front or back door so kids can throw their soccer balls, baseball gloves and other items inside before they get into the house.
- "An old distressed dresser by the barbecue or on the front porch offers a handy extra counter as well as storage for table-setting supplies, tea towels, CDs and candles, even a blanket for cool nights and your favourite magazine or book," Tracy says.