Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How to Organize a Small Space? Use the Walls!

wall storage unit with 7 pockets

Using the walls is a great strategy any time storage space is limited —and there are many cool products to help you. This wall storage unit comes from House Doctor, and is sold at Bodie and Fou.

modular wall storage pockets

Urbio was designed as "the magically magnetic urban vertical garden" — but somewhere along the line, the company seems to have realized it had a wider use than just that. Now you can find Urbio in places like The Container Store and EQ3 — and the modular wall organizer at Uncommon Goods sure looks like Urbio.

wall pockets

And here's another kind of wall pocket, called Leaning, from Objekten. It's currently "Out of stock due to success" but it seems more are on the way. [via Better Living Through Design]

wall-mounted line with hooks - holds eyeglasses, newspaper, etc.

But pockets aren't the only way to use the walls. Here's something different, called the Hanging Line, designed by Josh Owen for Kontextür. It's intended for the bathroom, but there's no reason you couldn't use it elsewhere. [via Better Living Through Design]

magnetic wall stickers holding small scissors, nail file and tweezers

And for another totally different approach, there are the magnetic stickers from Peleg Design, sold by Monkey Business and [via Book of Joe]

Related Posts:
3 Unusual Ways to Use the Walls
Zid Zid Kids - Wall Panels
Cache-pyjama Hippo - Fun Storage from France
Your Mail Needs a Home (see option 4)
Small Space Organizing: Using the Walls
Small Space Organizing: Making the Most of the Walls

Monday, February 25, 2013

Bike Stands for Bikes with no Kickstands

bike stand made of wood

Want to just stand your bike up in your garage, or elsewhere in your home? When I was a kid, my bike had a kickstand, so that was easy. But many bikes no longer come with kickstands — although it seems you might be able to add one. And you could try using something like the Upstand, which is sort of a removable kickstand — or the Click-Stand, a folding portable kickstand.

But there are also plenty of stands available to hold your bike in place. For example, you can get one from Racor, Art of Storage or Gear Up.

And if you want one that's eye-catching as well as functional, you can get that, too. The bike stand at the top of this post comes from Dale Pedals, and it's "made out of oak from recycled beams that used to belong to past century buildings." Update on April 21, 2015: I'm not longer finding this product.

bike stand made from plywood

The Renovo bike stand is made from birch plywood. It comes in two colors, cherry and black.

bike stand made of steel

Shadow, from Quarterre, is made from folded steel.

bike stand made from stone

And finally, there's the Milestone from Love One. It sells for 78,000 yen; that's about $829. [via Shoebox Dwelling and Moco Loco]

Related Post:
When It IS About the Bike: Cool Storage Options

Thursday, February 21, 2013

This Could Save a Life

Many forms of multitasking might make you less productive — but multitasking while driving might make you (or someone else) dead.

I rarely share a video, and I rarely share a single item. And I very rarely share something produced by a corporate entity like AT&T. But I saw this video today, and it's a powerful message that cries out to be shared.

So please, take a look; it's not gory, just horribly sad. It's about 9 minutes long, but well worth the time. And then please share this video with others. If we can get one person to change his or her habits, we've done a good thing. [via Scott Stratten of Unmarketing]

Monday, February 18, 2013

Fun with Felt: Baskets, Bowls and Bins

nesting felted bowls

For those who like at least some of their storage containers to be out of the ordinary — and soft — I've got an assortment of felt storage containers to show you.

Let's start with Amy Herbst, who mostly sells her patterns — but she also sells some wool felt nesting bowls she's made herself. I was also pleased to note she's from Santa Cruz, California, which is just about an hour's drive away from me. Hurray for local!

felted wool bowls, nesting

You can also get felted wool bowls — single bowls, or nesting bowls — from Hold of Vancouver, Canada.

three felt bowls

And another source of felt bowls is Gräf & Lantz. The bowls are available in four different color combinations. You can also find them at Switch, which also has a couple additional felt storage products from the same company. Update on August 6, 2015: Gräf & Lantz no longer seems to make these bowls.

three felt bread baskets, gray

These felt bread baskets were designed by Norm; of course, they can be used for more than bread. They're sold in sets of three. You can also buy them from GSelect and Spark Living. Update on August 6, 2015: Spark Living seems to have disappeared.

felt basket, green

Manusmade has some felt baskets in luscious colors, as well as neutrals.

felt bin

And finally there's Filzkraft, which makes a number of felt storage products, including this bin. [via Apartment Therapy and Cool Mom Picks]

Related Posts:
Soft Storage: Felt Baskets or Boxes
An Homage to Etsy: Felted Bowls, Incredible Baskets, and More
Fabulous Felt Boxes and Baskets
Organizing with Felt: Pails, Boxes and Baskets

Friday, February 15, 2013

This is Important: Organize Your Medical Information

My Medical Matters - medical history organizer

I still remember the difficulty of piecing together the medical histories and treatment plans of Hurricane Katrina victims back in 2005.

After our experience with Katrina victims, we understand the need for people to add a simple, one-page form to their evacuation kit. It’s just as important as water, flashlights and extra batteries.
Thomas Feeley, MD, on

Hopefully, most of us will never need to experience an evacuation. But all of us should have key medical information — our medications, our doctors, our insurance, our immunizations, our medical history — at our fingertips. And fortunately, I've recently seen some helpful tips on just how to do that.

Seth Godin has created a simple form to fill out.

Lisa Bonchek Adams, who is dealing with metastatic breast cancer, writes about the must-have medical binder. This focuses on cancer patients, but it will also provide good ideas for anyone, especially those with complex medical issues.

If you'd prefer to just buy a binder that's already set up, and start filling in the information, you could consider the one from My Medical Matters.

And Jacki Hollywood Brown reminds us that we need similar information for our pets; she writes about organizing horse health records.

Related Post:
Medical Records at Your Fingertips

Monday, February 11, 2013

Have a Heart: Magnets for Valentine's Day 2013

colorful felt heart-shaped magnets

Valentine's Day — or any day, really — is a good time to remember those we love. So here are some heart-shaped magnets for those who use refrigerator doors or magnetic boards as an organizing tool. Let's start with the wonderfully colorful heart-shaped magnets, made of felt, from Jessica Ramirez. Update on Jan. 29, 2013: Jessica's Etsy store no longer sells these magnets.

vintage-style heart-shaped magnet

Créations d'Antan has a number of vintage-style fabric hearts; each has a strong magnet on the back.

red and blue heart-shaped magnets with a dinosaur in the center of each

And there's something about these heart-shaped magnets with the dinosaur in the center that delights me.

For more cool magnets, see these related posts:
For Valentine's Day 2009: Yet More Magnets
For Valentine's Day 2010: Magnets Full of Hearts and Love
For Valentine's Day 2011: Magnets with a Heart

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How Long Should I Keep My Medical Paperwork?

hospital bill from 1964

How long to keep paperwork is something almost everyone struggles with — and medical paperwork is no exception.

In a recent online discussion among professional organizers, Connie Johnson of Routine Matters offered her suggestions — and I thought she did a great job summarizing the primary decision criteria for those living in the U.S. I know and respect Connie, and she's agreed to let me quote her — so here's Connie explaining how she walks her clients through the decision process for various medical papers:
The questions I use to guide the decision:

1) Do they support deductions on a tax return?

2) Is there any pending issue with the provider or the insurance company? (e.g. a dispute of fees, diagnosis or treatment, or reimbursements)

3) Is there any medical history information that would benefit the person or other family members that would not be available if these were destroyed?

If the answers to all are no, then I think they can safely dispose of them. If there is sensitive info — like a social security number since insurance companies used to (may still?) use that for the membership ID — I shred.

If the only one that has a Yes answer is #1, I suggest they get a retention guideline from their tax preparer. (My preparer recommends saving supporting docs for 7 years, but they should do what they believe is right.)

If 2 is a Yes, then they need to keep until everything is resolved.

If 3 is a Yes, then I suggest this be a project with a completion deadline.
Connie also mentioned that, for those who are anxious, they might scan the documents into Evernote so they will be searchable, and then let go of the hard copies.

Other organizers have noted that they've experienced delayed billings or insurance snafus related to services rendered as long as seven years ago, and having their medical paperwork helped clear things up. So if you want to err on the side of caution, you might want to keep records for a while even if they don't meet the logical criteria that Connie listed; again, you can keep them in digital form if you don't want to keep the paper.

Want some more perspectives? An article in The New York Times said basically the same thing as Connie did. You can also read the advice from the AARP, which includes a recommendation to shred any records you dispose of that have any personal information, including your health insurance ID number, to help avoid medical identity theft.

One final thought, regarding Connie's third question: I'm a huge advocate for having your medical information and history pulled together and readily available for yourself, your family and your doctors. There are many ways you can do this — but that's a topic for another blog post.

Credit: Photo by Wendy Diedrich, found on Flickr, licensed through Creative Commons.

Monday, February 4, 2013

How to Hold the Hair Care Appliances

caddy for hair care appliances - dryer, curling iron, etc.

I don't own a hair dryer, curling iron, or any other such products — but I know many people do, and storage can be a challenge. So let's look at some of the more interesting products designed for storing these hair care items. And let's start with countertop caddies, like the StyleAway, shown above, which comes in black or ivory. It's designed to hold most heated appliances, and it will hang over a towel rack as well as sitting on a counter.

rattan holder for hair styling equipment - hair dryer, curling iron, brushes, etc.

Kangaroom has a hair styling station in rattan, with ceramic interior liners.

hair care products organizer, with storage for dryer, curling iron, brushes and more

PBTeen has a hair accessories organizer made of MDF; it has a lacquer finish.

holder for hair dryer and curling iron

For yet another look, there's the Polder Style Station, made of stainless steel mesh and plastic. There's a "high heat silicon inner base pad" to "allow hot items to safely cool when stored." This one, like the StyleAway, can also hang from a towel bar. The Polder Styling Station is a smaller version of this product.

Hair appliance holder with canvas carrying pack

And then there's the Hair Doozy - a countertop product that comes with an optional canvas carrying pack.

hair care equipment caddy, iron, wall-mounted
wall-mounted hair care caddy with dryer and curling iron

Wall-mounted products are another way to go. The most interesting one I found is the hair care caddy from Ironworks; there are six designs available.

hair appliance holder - table top or wall-mounted

The appliance holders from Salon Made can be used on a countertop or they can be wall-mounted.

cabinet for hair care products - dryer, curling iron, etc.

And then there are the wall-mounted cabinets, like the Style and Go Hair Care Valet. It seems to be sold out at the minute, but you can sign up for the waiting list. It's sold through HSN.

cabinet for hair care appliances - dryer, curling iron, and more

Another such product, with a different look, is the HairCare Hideaway.

wall-mounted holder for hair dryer, curling iron, etc.

Finally, there are the products from Pojjo, sold on its site, through Home Depot, and through — and brought to my attention by Debbie Wolfe. There's the wall-mounted holder, available in a number of finishes.

vanity pullout designed to holder hair dryer, curling iron, etc.

But the company also makes this vanity valet pullout — and a number of other interesting options for a vanity.