Friday, March 30, 2012

Got Books? Get Bookends!

Yeti bookends

I love books; most of my clients love books; and many of you, my readers, love your books. So even though I wrote about bookends not all that long ago, I wanted to share my most recent discoveries — because these Yeti bookends from Sinki Industry were too wonderful not to share, right away.

Update on April 12, 2012: I've received an email from Andrea Everyman, who writes: "I wanted to let you know that the Sinki company is using my yeti shadow puppet character for the design of those bookends without my permission. I just found out about this a few days ago and am desperately trying to protect my original design. Sinki is a South Korean company and they have not responded to my emails." Given this, I'm removing all links to these bookends and everything else from Sinki, as well as all the information on where to buy the bookends.

fetish bear bookends

NC Rustic sells a number of bookends made by Ironwood Industries, but these Zuni Fetish Bear bookends were the ones that first caught my eye. They're made from recycled sheets of steel.

bookends shaped like orange slice
angel wing bookends

Next, let's give thanks to Etsy for bringing us the bookends made by Lena and Dmitry of Design Atelier Article of Ukraine. The lemon and orange bookends are what first caught my eye, but the angel wings are pretty special, too.

roller skate bookends

And finally, here are some pretty amazing vintage roller skate bookends, sold by Uncommon Goods.

Related Posts:
Nice Bookends Don't Have to Cost $685
Treat Your Books to Some Nice Bookends: The Elephant Edition
Bookends for Those Who Haven't Totally Converted to the Kindle, Nook or iPad
5 Bodacious Bookends
For Book Lovers: Fun and Functional Bookends
A Bookend Menagerie — and More

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Garage Storage: Making Good Use of Limited Space

garage storage system

Professional organizers have conferences, and I'm just back from one — which explains why blog posts have been light lately. The conference expo acquaints us with a number of neat products — and both this year and last, one of those products was the Monkey Bars garage storage system by Gorgeous Garage.

Comparison photos - Monkey Bars uses less space than other garage systems

The company claims that "Monkey Bars have 2 to 3 times more storage capacity than other garage systems" — and they do indeed have a number of clever ways of making the most of limited space.

storage racks for plastic bins

And let's look at a couple of other tools that could help you make the most of your space. I've seen many garages with stacks of bins — which makes it a real pain to get to the bottom bin. The Bin Warehouse would eliminate that problem.

Of course, the first question would be: Does it make sense to keep everything that's in those bins? But if the answer is yes, then storing them for easy access makes sense. The Bin Warehouse comes in two sizes, storing either 8 or 12 plastic bins, and there's also a file box version. You can find these products a number of places on the web, including Stacks and Stacks.

folding sawhorse

I was also pleased to learn about the Storehorse — a folding sawhorse from Crawford. Reviewer Chris Rodenius raved about these sawhorses, and the folding feature means they can be tucked away where others wouldn't fit.

Related Posts:
Garage Storage: Going Up
Garage Storage - For All Kinds of Stuff

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Stacking Paper Trays: A Problem or a Solution?

stacking letter boxes

I'm not usually a fan of stacking in boxes or paper trays; the papers in the lower trays, hidden from view, often get neglected — sometimes for years. But the trays can work well if they stack and unstack easily; then they can hold papers related to various projects or tasks, and either be spread out for easy access or stacked up to save space.

For example, take a look at the SOTO Pile Boxes from Details, a Steelcase company. They come in black or white.

paper trays, stacked

While the trays shown above are interlocking, they certainly don't have to be. For example, take a look at the Pierre Belvédère paper trays, sold by See Jane Work, and how they've been stacked.

two orange inboxes, stacked

Poppin says its inboxes, available in white or orange, can be stacked the traditional way — or sideways, or on an angle. And I loved this blurb: "Holds up to 300 sheets of paper, or 2 small animals." [via Popgadget]

beech wood filing / paper trays

And while these filing trays from Manufactum don't unstack, it's still easy to see the contents of each tray.

Related Post:
The In Box: 9 Options

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Search for Under-Desk Storage Drawers

4-drawer mobile pedestal

Since not all desks come with drawers — or you may be using a table as your desk — you may be looking for storage units you can put under that desk. And, like some of my clients, you may want a storage unit that has four or more shallow drawers to hold various supplies, rather than the more customary one or two supply drawers and a file drawer.

Space2 in the U.K. has this four-drawer mobile pedestal shown above; it's 67 cm (26.4 inches) tall. Update on April 11, 2014: It seems Space2 has gone out of business; its website says it is "no longer trading."


AJ Products in Ireland (whose parent company is AJ Produkter AB) has this mobile pedestal, available in three finishes; it's 550 mm (21.7 inches) tall. AJ Produkter sells throughout much of Europe.

rollcontainer - mobile under-desk pedestal

Wellemöbel, a German company, is another source for mobile pedestals. This one is 55.5 cm (21.8 inches) tall.

mobile pedestal, four drawers, white

And Endo, in Australia, has this mobile pedestal, which comes in 16 different finishes. It's 675 mm (26.6 inches) tall.

These are just some of the under-desk pedestals I found around the world. But when I tried to find the same thing in the U.S., it became much harder. There's a similar product available from Herman Miller, but at a price higher than you might prefer.

steel multidrawer under-desk cabinets

So what are your other options? You could go with the Bisley multidrawer cabinets; Bisley has dealers in many parts of the world. These steel cabinets are 670 mm (26.5 inches) tall, and come in seven configurations — ranging from five drawers to 20 drawers. Unlike many of the other options listed here, this one's not designed to be mobile. Update: Bisley let me know that there is indeed a castor base option for this product — so it CAN be mobile!

mesh cart with four drawers

Or you could go with mesh products, like this mesh cart from Safco; it's available through and many other sites. It's 27 inches tall.

mesh desk drawers

And The Container Store has Elfa desk drawers; they're 29 inches tall.

cart with four drawers

If you don't want either steel or mesh, you could consider this drawer cart from Alkali Scientific; it's 27 1/8 inches tall.

short drawer unit p 6 drawers, white

And then there's Ikea, where you can get the Alex drawer unit. It's 26 inches tall.

mobile trolley, red

Finally, for something different and fun, there's the Boby trolley storage unit from the Italian company B-line — but available from many sources in the U.S., including Gibraltar Furniture and Nova68. It comes in a number of colors and drawer configurations. However, it's 74 cm (29.13 inches) tall — the tallest one listed here, and a bit too tall to fit under some desks.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Own Organizing: Water and Other Disaster Supplies

emergency supplies, mostly water, in garage on shelves

I live in earthquake territory, where preparation for a possible quake makes all sorts of sense. But, like anyone else, my preparedness sometimes is a little lacking. However, this past week I took some good steps forward, and I'm so pleased I just had to share.

I know to stock up on water, and I'd actually done that some months ago — and then found I had no good place to put the bottles. I had some of them in my garage cabinets, but I didn't really like that answer; if a bottle sprung a leak, it could do a fair amount of damage.

So this past week I got some shelving, which fits into a little niche in my garage just perfectly. (I didn't even realize that; I had the shelves put up somewhere else, and then my neighbor noticed the better place for them.) I'm not handy at all, but these Plano shelves really were as easy as they claim; the "two minutes to assemble" claim was actually true. So now my water has a good home.

And I did one more thing. I carry an emergency kit in my car, because I may be away from home when a quake hits. But I was overdue to order replacement supplies for that kit, and I just took care of that.

Anyone going to join me in taking at least one baby step toward being better prepared for earthquakes or other natural disasters? If so, please share in the comments!

Update on July 5, 2012: This shelving is now bolted to the wall, and there are restraints to help keep the bottles on the shelves if there's a quake.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Purse Organizers Keep Your Handbag Contents Under Control

purse organizer

Does everyone who carries a purse struggle with keeping the contents organized? It would seem so, given how many purse organizers are out there! I've covered this topic before — see related posts at the end — but more neat organizers keep showing up.

Let's start today's tour with the purse organizer inserts from It's All In the Bag. They come in four sizes, and a variety of nice fabrics.

purse organizer, floral pattern

And Sew Much More has purse organizers in two sizes, and a number of fabrics.

handbag organizer, red

Baggitz goes for solid colors in its handbag organisers; you have seven colors to choose from. These are made in Wales, but Etsy makes it easy for those of us in the U.S. to order this organiser, too.

purse organizer

Great Useful Stuff also has a solid-color purse organizer — no color options on this one.

handbag organizer

Handbag 2 Handbag has a dozen color/pattern options to choose from in its 11-pocket handbag organisers.

handbag organizer, purple, roll-up style

Sew Chic and Unique has handbag organizers in the same general style as those already listed — but also in this roll-up style.

purse organizer that holds an iPad

Here's a different sort of organizer: invite.L's Slim Bag-in-Bag. It's designed to hold your iPad, along with other things. [via popgadget]

organizer for purse, laptop bag, etc.

And finally, there are the Grid-It organizers from Cocoon — some of which could work just fine in a purse. This one is the CPG4.

Related Posts:
Purse Organizer Found During Flight to Paris (and 8 More)
Can't Find Anything in Your Purse? 10 Purse Organizers to the Rescue!
Got Purse Clutter? Consider a Purse Organizer!
An Organizer Opens Her Purse

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Using Freecycle to Find New Homes for Your Stuff

Freecycle: Tailors Dummy. Tall, adjusts, takes up room.
Photo by Daniel Catt, found on Flickr, licensed through Creative Commons.

As a huge Freecycle fan, I notice Freecycle-related stories, and I've come across three of them recently that I wanted to share.

This first one is just a small tidbit buried in a story about the woman who won the grand prize in California Closets "Organize This!" contest, getting her a new storage system and a visit from Peter Walsh. That's all well and good, but here's what caught my eye — a few words from contest-winner Pat Murphy:
This experience forced me to not only decide what I need and don't need, but I was also able to pass along my unwanted items to someone more in need of them. For example, through the website, I sent a cat tree to a family with a disabled cat.
The next one is a simple tweet from artist Lili Chin:
just got rid of a suitcase via freecycle. Felt so good it went to a very grateful punkrock teenager who said "WOW it's really nice!"
And finally, I'll just share a bit of an amazing Freecycle post included in a recent Jon Carroll column; I highly recommend you go read the whole thing:
Reader Cindy Houts sent me the following entry from the Alameda Freecycle listings:

Helen is tall and elegant. She used to contain a lovely orchid, but then it stopped blooming. It's so hard to make orchids bloom a second time, and Helen has thus found herself at loose ends, orchidless. She's pale green, slender, and tapered.

Carl is bright metallic red and squat, like a little barrel. He used to contain a red lion amaryllis, two years ago. ...

Mike ... Little Mikey is a tiny little pot covered with a green clover pattern. In fact, he used to have a real clover plant, but that was last year. ...

Related Posts:
The Things You Find on Freecycle
Short Takes: Funny Stuff Found on Freecycle
The Thoughtful Consumer Uses Freecycle
How to Reply to Offers on Freecycle
Freecycle: Your Clutter Is Someone Else's Treasure

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spare Toilet Paper: Five Fun Storage Options, Plus a Practical One

toilet paper holder shaped like an angel, with cloud-shaped shelf for extra toilet paper

Who knew organizing the toilet paper could be so heavenly? Meet Séraphin and St. Cloud from C.QUOI; they can hold your current roll and some spares. See the C.QUOI web site for purchasing information; you can also get Séraphin from Maginéa and Kdesign.

toilet paper peg rack; holds 12 rolls

This toilet paper storage solution, from PA-Design, comes in white, black, and a natural wood tone. You can get it from PA-Design, Thisdas or Kdesign.

giraffe-shaped toilet paper holder

This cast iron giraffe toilet paper holder accommodates two rolls. It can be found many places, including Art & Artifact, Signals, and Grandin Road.

spare toilet paper mounted on inside of cabinet door

Of course, you could be purely practical and use the Bottoms Spare Toilet Paper Holder, mounted on the inside of a cabinet door. Organized A to Z carries the product. Update on Sept. 14, 2016: Organized A to Z no longer carries this, and the eBay page that sold it no longer does so.

toilet paper roll covers in three patterns

But what if you want to keep your toilet paper out on a shelf or a countertop? The you might want a toilet paper roll cover, and Jonathan Adler has designed some for Cottonelle. You can read more about this collaboration at Casasugar.

crocheted chick toilet paper cover

And finally, you could go retro and get a crocheted toilet paper cover. This one comes from Lucy's Art Emporium on Etsy.

Related Posts:
6 Ways to Display Spare Toilet Paper Rolls

Discardia: More Life, Less Stuff

Discardia book cover

Back in 2002, author Dinah Sanders wrote: "I've decided to invent a new holiday called Discardia. It takes place in the time between the Solstices & Equinoxes and their following new moons. Discardia is celebrated by getting rid of stuff and ideas and habits you no longer need." Dinah's been writing about Discardia ever since, and now she's published a book on the subject.

Although the book is structured around things you might do at each of the four Discardias each year — we've got one coming up, running from March 19–22 — each chapter could be read on its own, providing inspiration in the area where you want that inspiration.

Here are just a few of my favorite bits:
Weeding out things that no longer need to be in your home — that juicer you never use, the old beloved decorative item that has morphed somewhere along the way into merely an object to dust — can leave you uplifted and energized and draw your attention back to those things that do still matter to you.

When you are uncluttering or sorting through old things ... allow some items to go into a Not Sure container. In a perfect world, every single thing is clear and unladen with emotional baggage, but I don't live there and I bet you don't, either. Don't try to force an airtight system onto a far more complicated reality. Leave yourself a little slack. Keep moving on the easier choices to get your 90% progress while letting the 10% weird ones bide a little time to get less weird.

Many people engage in some kind of projects that involve supplies. Knitting, carpentry, building Linux servers, whatever. When one has a hobby, somehow, through a magical process, the supplies for that hobby proliferate beyond reasonable bounds. ... Fill up a bag with your excess craft crud. Depending on the boot and the stuff, give it to a school or a charity or throw it in the dumpster, which may be where you rescued it from in the first place.

Remember you can keep a digital photo of a meaningful inscription, or a page on which you are quoted, and not the book itself.

How many things in your house purely represent your affection for someone but which, as objects, you would otherwise not choose to have? That slightly tacky jewelry from your deceased great-aunt that you never wear but which you wouldn't want to hurt her posthumous feelings by donating to charity?

To be more productive and rewarded, don't try to do more at once; instead, choose your actions well and do what you are doing with greater focus.

If you gut strongly says "no" to something, find a way not to have your mouth say "yes."

I bet you have a tool you use every week — maybe every day — that bugs you. It's adequate, which is why you haven't replaced it, but it is suboptimal and it slows down your say or doesn't put you in a good mood. Replace this tool with a better version and learn what a difference truly well-designed things can make.

When we re-examine our belongings after self-reflection, we begin to see how letting go is deeply intertwined with being honest with ourselves. ... Look at the things you've had in front of you for so long that you've stopped seeing them. Do they still match who you are? ... Acknowledge your beginnings and accept when you've grown beyond them. Be true to who you've become.
Full disclosure: I know and like Dinah, and I'm quoted briefly in this book — which I purchased twice, in both iBook and paperback formats. For some reason, reading the paperback worked better for me.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lucite Trays: In-Box Options and So Much More

Lucite tray in smoky gray

I was looking for items, other than the letter trays you see in office supply stores, that could serve as in-boxes — and I stumbled upon the world of Lucite trays. These aren't the cheapest of storage options, but they certainly can be lovely. And, of course, they can be used to store all sorts of things.

The tray above comes from Boom Design and is sold by AllModern. You can also get it in red (or clear, or smoke gray) from Spacify. Update on April 27, 2014: I'm no longer finding this tray at AllModern or Spacify, but you can find it here.

square Lucite tray with paper insert

And then there are the trays with the paper inserts. If you're using the tray as an in-box, there's some incentive to keep the box emptied, so you can see that insert! Dabney Lee offers 12" square Lucite trays, as well as small and large rectangular trays. You can choose from 89 patterned inserts or 18 solid colors; there are also 60 choices for the monogram or name plate. Update on Feb. 18, 2014: I'm no longer seeing the large tray.

Lucite tray with paper insert

Erin Condren sells Lucite trays in two sizes. The inserts are designed to be personalized.

insert for Lucite tray; zebra in a dress

Iomoi has Lucite trays in three sizes, with some of the wilder designs out there. This is the front and back of the "Muffie the zebra" pattern. [via Apartment Therapy]

acrylic tray

And this isn't just a U.S. phenomenon. Jonathan Adler has acrylic trays in small and large, although the store is sold out at the moment. There are four design choices.

Lucite trays with laminated insert

And in Australia, VT Interiors sells customizable Lucite trays, with a removable laminated insert, in three sizes. Update on Feb. 18, 2014: These trays now seems to come from Tisch & Co, which is somehow related to VT Interiors.

Related Post:
The In Box: 9 Options

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Four Fashionable Ways to Organize the Toothbrushes

ceramic toothbrush holders

Do you still use a regular toothbrush, rather than an electric one? If so, I've got some interesting ways to store those toothbrushes — for those of you who want an answer other than the spare coffee mug, which is what I use. There are wall-mounted options, but for now let's focus on the countertop choices.

And let's start with the toothbrush holders from Orla Kiely: the acorn cup pattern, and the linear stem pattern. They're only available to those in the European Union, sadly. [via Switched On Set]

toothbrush holder

Jim and Gina Mahoney's bath collection includes this practical stoneware toothbrush holder that still has that handmade charm. It's dishwasher-safe, and they say it will fit most toothbrushes.

toothbrush holder with crow

I don't know if the toothbrush holders sold at the Speckled Hen Country Store — in a crow, sheep, and bunny design — are large enough for the fatter-handled toothbrushes, but they're delightful.

tooth-shaped toothbrush holder
And Propaganda, based in Thailand, provides this toothbrush holder in white and gold. I can find it for sale in Japan, Singapore, France, Germany, Denmark, and Australia — but not any U.S. site I feel good about linking to.