For over a decade our friend, Linda Wallace, has been designing interiors for Southern California homes. We invited Linda to provide some insight into how to organize your surroundings to maximize your menopaused memory, while also keeping things pretty.
Are you a basket case when you lose things? Do you find yourself feeling scattered because, well, things are scattered? Women don’t have to be “of a certain age” to constantly feel forgetful. Do you have young kids? Stress in the workplace? Both? If you’d like some semblance of organization in your home without breaking the bank for an “organizer” – read on!
The simplest solution to this common scenario is to follow these key organizational rules:
Keep essentials visible. If you can see it, you’ll remember where you put it.
Keep essentials in the same place, every time. You won’t waste time and precious brain cells searching for your things.
Keep your essentials displayed attractively. You’ll be more likely to keep things in the same place if you like the way these places look.
Keeping things visible without leaving your home a total eyesore requires some design know-how. There are a lot of “get organized” and “great storage ideas” books out there, but they’re usually too long and pretty dry. Put your feet up to read them and you’re out like a light! Let’s face it, those books are for energetic, young brains. My tips are for women like me: the “menopausally” challenged who need their clutter to be out in the open where they can find it – yet attractively displayed. If that’s you, too, keep reading (but don’t put your feet up)!
Let’s get things out in the open and make them look pretty!
ORGANIZING THINGS THAT MOVE AROUND THE HOUSE
KEYS: Create drop-off locations at each main entry and exit to your home. Why two? Because, if you come in one way, the chances that you’ll walk all the way to the other entrance without setting the keys down somewhere along the way are pretty slim. Avoid misplaced keys by only keeping them in these two locations. Use a decorative bowls or baskets on entry tables or near back door entrances. I prefer baskets or bowls over key hooks because my hands are usually full when I’m coming in the house. It’s much easier to drop than hang.
GLASSES: Don’t even try to keep track of your readers. It’s a waste of time. Reading glasses have become quite affordable (you can buy them at the 99 Cent store!) making it easier to buy them in bulk. I keep a pair in the following locations: television room, bedside table, laundry room (who can read those tags?!), kitchen, car, purse, outside patio, garage.
Bonus Tip (Greeting Cards): Off to a party, running late and no birthday card? Think you bought one, but where did you put it? Keep all greeting and thank you cards in an antique tin box or a lidded basket. I make sure there’s a pen in there, too…and maybe another pair of reading glasses! Remember, just like in decorating-group ‘like items’ together in one place.
RINGS: Place a small, porcelain dish in up to 3 locations (depending on your habits): by the kitchen sink, bathroom lavatory, and next to your bed.
PINS: Know that woman who always dons cool pins and you think, Why didn’t I think to wear a pin? Probably because it was buried in a drawer and you couldn’t see it. Out of sight, out of mind! An inexpensive and fun way to avoid that is pinning them on a long ribbon and hanging it where you get dressed. Tie the ribbon on a decorative hook or tack it right to the wall or a shelf.
BRACELETS & NECKLACES: I don’t think there is anything prettier than interesting bowls full of chunky jewelry set out on your vanity or dresser. I use silver, porcelain or wicker containers. As colorful as flowers, but much less maintenance!
ORGANIZING THE HOME OFFICE
BULLETIN BOARDS: Whether for appointments or invitations, they are a must! There are a jillion places to purchase nice ones. I like Ballard Designs or Pottery Barn. Or make a fabric-covered one yourself. (yeah, right). And please – no dry erase boards. They’re ugly and those pens stink.
WRITING IMPLEMENTS & MISCELLANEOUS SUPPLIES: Display pens, pencils, and other office tools in a collection of decorative vases or those ceramic pieces your kid made in the first grade that you just can’t throw away. It’s better than digging through drawers.
MAGAZINES: Yes, that pile of magazines by your bed that you haven’t had time to read? Please put those in a nice, big basket. Attractive and you won’t slip on them getting out of bed at night. Much cheaper than a new hip.
Bonus Tip (Magazine/Catalog Clippings): Use magazine holders to store catalogs you may “need” in the future; pages you tear out of magazines, take-out menus, travel brochures – hide anything in these you’ll never take the time to file. They look tidy and attractive on shelves. Magazine holders can be grossly overpriced, so I get mine at IKEA.
ORGANIZING THE KITCHEN
“HOUSEHOLD” DRAWER: OK, I lied. Some things should be out of sight. Growing up we called it the “junk drawer”. Small household tools, tape – you know the stuff. Buy cheap drawer dividers and throw it all in there! At least it’s in one place and make sure to keep it all there!
COUNTER TOP CLUTTER: Out in the open on the counter is fine, but only if they look nice. Maybe it’s a designer thing, but containers do help the cluttered house/cluttered mind syndrome. Put those unsightly vitamin bottles in a fun basket so you remember to take them but don’t constantly knock them over. Fill a vintage flowerpot with those “grab & go” snack bars that are keeping you so thin.
ORGANIZING BEFORE LIGHTS OUT
Already in bed and don’t feel like getting up? By your bed, in yet another pretty box, basket or tray, keep your reading glasses, lip balm, hand lotion, pen and a small notepad for the “to do list” you fret over in the middle of the night when you are undoubtedly wide awake!
SO… now that your home is beautifully contained and clutter free, you have time to search for the answers to life, not your car keys. Happy organizing!
–Linda Wallace, Divine Finds Interiors