We all have various excuses why we can’t make our homes the most efficient they can be — a lack of funds to buy what we really want, an emotion preventing us from detaching from family furniture, or simply just not enough hours in the day to ponder the situation and act on it.
Mari Mongil, training manager at The Container Store in Overland Park, with a background in interior architecture, offers this decluttering and space planning advice: Making an efficient home requires asking yourself some questions.
“Quiz yourself about what your top priority is and work down,” Mongil advises. “Be honest. What do you really want to accomplish? What do you truly need?”
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In an office, create a place for incoming and outgoing paperwork near, but not necessarily on, your desk. Air out your file cabinet by storing rarely needed items like IRS forms or mortgage contracts elsewhere. Use the vertical space around you, possibly with clips or a cork board, to keep your work surface clear.
Regarding bedrooms, most people claim to want a relaxing retreat yet they clutter their room with stuff or focus too much on beauty and not on functionality.
For larger spaces, Mongil recommends creating smaller areas within the room, for instance, a sleeping area, sitting area and dressing area. To keep the space restful, she advises against placing an office within a bedroom. “You need to set boundaries for yourself,” she says.
In smaller rooms, innovative designs can come from limitations.
“Small spaces can be more intriguing than large ones, but you want to leave them plain, with a bed, a rug and reading chair,” Mongil says. You can then get creative with the vertical space, and utilize under-bed storage and other nooks and crannies.
Designate your main closet as “prime real estate” for items you use daily and move things that you use less regularly — fresh linens, flip-flops, ski coats — to secondary or tertiary places.
This inventory challenge should naturally help you purge unneeded things, but if you need further help, Mari has a trick for letting go of wearables: Put your hangers backward on the bar until you wear an item, then put it back the right direction. You’ll see whether you’ve worn certain things by the end of the year.
“It’s proof of what you’re not using,” Mongil says.
To double the storage space of a typical single-bar closet, Mongil suggests installing a freestanding unit with shelves or drawers in the middle; raising the bar and adding a lower bar on one side; and keeping a single high bar on the other.
Also, make your bed — the room will look 50 percent better.