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Slide out drawer, Pantry closet, organization, pantry storage, shelving, food pantry

Spring Cleaning For Storage Spaces

After this long and cold winter, we’ve become accustomed to the collection of gloves, scarves, hats and the pile of shoes by the door. However, once the good weather finally arrives, it’s time for spring sports and all the accompanying muddy gear. Worst of all, this mess is the first impression people have when they arrive at your lovely home. One of the most overlooked essential areas is the coat closet. These closets tend to have a hanging rod and maybe a single shelf. By simply adding some shelves you can create space for boots, shoes, and other gear. If space permits, you can store hats, caps, winter scarves and gloves by adding drawers or baskets that slide out. Closet baskets and drawers are great to have near the bottom of the closet, around a small child’s height, making it easier for the little ones to put away their own stuff and to grab their toys or mittens before running out the door. These are also an excellent place to store the dog toys, leashes, and other gear. Our dog takes his own leash out of the bin when it’s time to go walking! While some homes don’t have a convenient coat closet or have already fully utilized that storage space, many of us have an area that can become a mud room. In this space you can find room for kid’s jackets so that the coat closet can be more formal for dedicated adult use. A mud room can include hooks for hats, scarves, or other grab-and-go items. Alternatively, an attached garage can provide mudroom type storage. The garage is a great way to grab extra space while containing the clutter discretely. The key is to install custom storage that will protect any expensive sports equipment, like storage shelves, drawers and baskets. Shelves can handle the boots, shoes, and cleats; while standing storage bins can hold bats and longer gear. Hooks can also be added to any storage area to catch the baseball hats, dog leashes or other frequently used items. Cabinet doors add a beautiful finishing touch. Spring is almost here—and it’s time to store the winter away while planning for warmer weather. A well designed storage solution can take your gear away from your door, and leave you more time to stop and smell the daffodils. Enjoy!

Multitasking Extraordinaire: Spring Clean, Prep for Taxes and Help Charity–all at the same time?

The Start of Long Island NY Spring 2016

This time of year, our thoughts turn to Spring, and Taxes…so logically, Tax Deductions as well.  A conversation with our Tax Adviser got us thinking about these connections.

In honor of the Season, let’s consider some ways that Spring Cleaning can—literally—help the world.  Think that’s a large statement?  Well, try this on for size:

Spring Cleaning:

Clothing:   By February, with the hats and coats, gloves and boots always needed, you may never want to see a sweater again.  That’s a perfect time to take a look at your winter clothing situation.  At this point in the season, if you or your family hasn’t worn it, you really can ask why it’s occupying valuable real estate in your closets.  Now, there may be good reasons.  It was the sweater you were married in…ok, you get a pass.  But, while the weather is still keeping us stuck indoors, let’s start a pile of clothes to give away. Coat Closets:  This is an obvious one—if the winter coat hasn’t been worn by now… Often the coats we don’t wear are the ones we keep around because we liked them once. Of course, keep the dressy coat.  Just so long as it fits.    But when the coat closet is too full for guest’s jackets, because we’re keeping coats that don’t fit or are out of fashion, we certainly have the choice to let those go.  Someone who doesn’t have a coat would love to have one!   And wouldn’t it be nice to have some space in there?  Start a pile. Pantry:  If you’re anything like me, by February, you’ve run through your entire soup and stew repertoire.   You’ve used many canned, jarred, and dried goods.  This is a good time to question:  How committed am I to learning how to cook mung beans?   Or, am I ever actually going to serve this jarred pasta sauce I bought on sale…in September?   Your pantry is likely too full, with pasta you bought two boxes of and just didn’t like, with … you can fill in the blank.  You get the idea—start a pile.  This food is valuable nutrition someone else can use.  And, you get the bonus of freeing up space for food you like and will serve your family.

Helping the World & Charitable Tax Deductions:

There are two ways you can help the world by giving away stuff you don’t need:
  • You free up your personal emotional energy. This is a serious statement.  By keeping stuff we don’t need or even want, every time you open the closet/pantry/coat closet, you see this stuff that causes you stress.  You know that that coat hasn’t fit in a while.  And you know that you just don’t like that pasta and feel like you wasted money on it.  We can all use less stress.  We actually feel lighter when we release this stuff.  And, you free up room on your shelves and closet rods for new opportunities.  You make space for trying a new look, for trying the quinoa recipe or even for buying that bread machine you’ve wanted but couldn’t fit on your shelves.  Give it a try—you’ll like it.
  • You help other people who live right here, nearby—who can really use the stuff we don’t want. And this is the Tax Deduction for next year.  We’ve compiled a list of local charities we know and love.  We suggest that if you want to clear up some space by donating clothing or other items, that you consider these worthy charities:

Donate to Charities:

  • Dress for Success: Donate professional women’s clothing in good condition.    The mission of Dress for Success is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. https://newyork.dressforsuccess.org/
  • Veterans House, Family & Children’s Association: Donate men’s clothing, coats, pantry goods, blankets, special request for a bath scale with slip resistance.  Please contact Velma Berry for details. vberry@familyandchildrens.org
  • Mercy First: Provides a home for children who need one and offers life skills programs for older children, including cooking, food safety, etc.  Donate dishes, pots, kitchen supplies.  Also can use tables & chairs for young folks moving into permanent adult housing.  Please contact Ellen Miller 516-921-0808.
  • ReStore: Habitat for Humanity ReStores are nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, appliances, home accessories, building materials and more to the public at a fraction of the retail price.  Proceeds are used to build homes, community, and hope locally and around the world.   http://www.habitat.org/restores
  • The Book Fairies:  Donate gently used children’s books to this tax deductible charity.  The books go to schools, libraries and non-profit organizations to enrich the lives of children by encouraging a love of reading.  Contact info@thebookfairies.org for details.
  • Long Island Cares:  Works with affiliates to bring food to food pantries.  Food Locator link http://www.licares.org/find-help/food-locator/
  • Ronald McDonald House of LI.  Once a house is built, it is completely supported by charitable donations, which can include household items and packaged food.  The foundation only supports the initial construction of each house.  Contact: Jennifer Nicholson, Director of Special Projects 718-343-5683/516-775-5683 x158, jnicholson@rmhlongisland.org
It’s truly a win-win.  You can free up your storage space and clear out emotional baggage too.  This is a convenient way to help our neighbors, and to help ourselves too—while banking some Tax Deductions for next year!

Happy Spring Cleaning!

Organizing and Making Room for Spring

Organizing for SpringWe’re hearing the birds chirping in the morning, the snow banks are finally starting to recede, and spring is definitely in view. Soon, we’ll be focused on the outdoors–planting beautiful flowers, getting the patio furniture together, clearing out the garden. But consider this—right now, these few weeks before spring starts are your chance to deal with the inside of the house. This is the time to tackle those organizational projects you’ve been meaning to get to all winter. This year, why not take the opportunity to make the next few seasons flow more smoothly? These are some of the seasonal projects our customers have asked us about lately—are some of these on your to do list?
  • Off Season Clothing Storage: Soon the heavy winter clothing will be swapped out for the lighter spring and summer wear. It’s easiest to store off season clothes in a basement/attic/spare room closet just as they were in the winter closet. That way you can simply slip the next season’s clothing into your closet.
  • Coat Closet Systems: The coat closets get crowded quickly. This is the perfect time to assess what’s worth keeping for next winter. You may have found a great new jacket on sale—give away the old one. Of course, anything that’s frayed, pilled, out-grown or obviously dated can go in the give-away box as well. The reward–when the winter coats are washed and dry cleaned this year, they’ll fit back in the closet with room to spare.
  • Off Season Bedding and Linens: The thick blankets and flannel sheets, winter pillows and heavy curtains need to make room for the airy and bright colors of spring. Having a dedicated place for each bedroom or function helps you to find what you need for the next season.
  • Garage Storage: We really needed the skis and snowshoes this winter. But we’re eager to put away our sleds, ski poles, and other gear until next year. You may have the perfect place in your garage or basement to store the stuff you have, and maybe for the stuff you want to get next year. If not, a storage system can help organize everything and keep it clean/dry until next winter.
  • Pantry Storage Solution: Every season seems to call for an organized pantry. Right now, we’re just about ready to stow away the crock pot and big soup pot. And soon we’ll need serving pieces for Easter/Passover and outside non-breakables for summer barbecues. It’s hard to find places for it all. An organized pantry can help, and even if your space doesn’t currently have a pantry, it’s often possible to adapt a nearby space to help simplify your seasonal transitions.
After this winter, none of us can wait for the warmer weather! We hope that these ideas inspire you and make the next few months more enjoyable and fun. Happy Spring!
House Magazine, rewards
Originally published in HOUSE magazine By Bonnie Reich, President and Owner at Symmetry Closets We want our homes to look beautiful, to impress our friends and to feel comfortable—we want to feel truly at home. I am a professional designer of small spaces: a professional closet designer. My goal is to use every inch of usable space and have it function according to my clients’ needs. After all, no two people are the same and everyone should have a closet that works for her/his lifestyle. I recommend so many wonderful and beautiful products and accessories that really make the closet function at the highest level. I show my clients the latest materials and colors available for their cabinets. But that’s where my work ends, and the interior designer takes over. When my clients and I work with an interior designer, the closet really becomes a thrilling space. Every detail beyond the cabinets is considered at another level. Interior designers bring their resources and add details that make it sing. Some examples: *    Benches are covered in cushions coordinated with carpeting and window treatments *    Wall paper and interesting paint finishes add layers of texture, making these relatively small spaces feel incredible *    Additional inlay materials are added to the door panels *    Hand selected handles and knobs are introduced to the design *    Even fun and funky pillows and throw are sometimes added to the design to make it a cozy hide away that reflects the owner’s personality Interior designers add other luxuries as well. Planning for an island in the walk-in closet? The interior designer will bring fun, personal touches and accessories that make that incredible center island a real stand out. I have designed, fabricated and installed hundreds of walk-in closets, but the ones that are memorable have all been as part of a team with an interior designer’s vision leading the way. For your next interior design project, small or large, hire an interior designer. The result will be satisfying, function well, and you’ll enjoy beautiful style for many years to come.