Monday, December 8, 2014

4 Unusual Things You Can Rent Instead of Buying

ugly holiday sweater

If there's something you seldom use — or plan to use just once — it often makes sense to rent or borrow it rather than buy it. This can save money, and it definitely saves on storage space. Let’s look at just a few of the many things you might choose to rent.

The ugly holiday sweaters from Rent the Runway are some of the most unusual rentals I’ve seen. [via Maria Konnikova and Business Insider]

living Christmas tree being delivered to a home

Don’t want to store an artificial Christmas tree, but also don’t want to go cut down a live one? In some areas, you can rent a living Christmas tree.

Polaroid camera

If you live in the San Francisco area and want to rent photographic equipment — including a Polaroid camera, a Phantom 2 drone and much more — you can do that at Photojojo. Other cities may have similar rental services.

Pley - Netflix for Lego Sets

And then there’s Pley, which lets you rent Lego sets. [via Megan Panatier and io9]

Related Posts:
Renting Things You Never Knew Could Be Rented
Now Where Did I Put that R2D2 Cake Pan?
The Sharing Solution
1 Way to Avoid Future De-Cluttering Decisions: Rent the Wedding Gown
Renting or Borrowing vs. Owning
The Joys of Renting Stuff: Saving Both Space and Money

Friday, November 28, 2014

Non-Clutter Gift Guide: Unusual Consumables

gingerbread dog house

Looking to give gifts that won't become clutter for someone else? Consider experience gifts or consumables. I just wrote about experience gifts at Unclutterer, so let’s look at some consumables, from stocking stuffers to more substantial gifts. I listed some great consumables over at Core77, but here are some more that didn’t make it into that post.

The Solvang Bakery has your normal gingerbread houses — but also gingerbread dog houses, and some houses decorated for Hanukkah. Just remember that gingerbread houses don't stay tasty for too long. [via Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country Blog]

chewing gum - cinnamon and maple

Simply Gum is gum made with only six ingredients, and none of the artificial flavors, preservatives or synthetics included in other gums. It’s available in six flavors. [via Uncrate]

chai pumpkin jam

If you want a whole lot of tempting food ideas, head on over to Mouth, which is dedicated to indie food. This chai pumpkin jam is just one of a huge number of choices.

minted rose lip balm

Of course, not all consumables are food products. This lip balm from Rosebud Perfume Co. got raves from someone on MetaFilter.

mulling spices soap

This mulling spices soap comes from The Vagabond Tabby, which says its products are “crap free, guaranteed.”

organic toothpaste in 3 interesting flavors: eucalyptus, tutti-frutti, and a mint / green tea combo

There are even interesting toothpastes, such as these from Urtekram. There are three other choices from this company, too.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Clutter Avoidance: Resisting Things on Sale

tote bags that say: See. Want. Buy. Happy
Happy Tote Bags — Photo by K.K. Koay, found on Flickr, licensed via Creative Commons

As we head into the holiday season, we’ll all see lots of sales — and those sales may tempt us to buy for ourselves, not just for the people on our lists. But here are some words of caution to remind us that sales aren’t always our friends.

Here’s a user comment on an Apartment Therapy post:
I used to jump on a good deal, but a $7 shirt that I don't wear is $7 wasted.
And here's a tweet from Jane McGonigal as she decluttered a sale item:
Giving myself 5 pts for ditching a Marc Jacobs maxi dress I got for $75 marked down from $1000 that was too big and weird and never wore.
A new daily deal website called Meh says this, explaining its name:
Don’t you feel meh about most deals? You don’t have to buy something just because it’s xx% off.
Trent Hamm at The Simple Dollar has a thoughtful blog post entitled Why Buying Things on Sale is an Awful Way to Save, which includes this bit of wisdom:
When people snap to attention and pull out the wallet when they hear the word “sale” or see a big discount, they’re going at it completely in reverse.

The sensible way to bargain-hunt is to know exactly what you want before you even start looking. If you’ve decided, on your own, that you do in fact want Heroes: Season 1 for your own entertainment, great.

Now’s the time to bargain hunt, with the item you already have in mind. ...

The important part is to put on your blinders and ignore other items. A big sale on an item you don’t really want is still a waste of money.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Meeting the Challenge of Boot Storage

rubber tray for boots

Shoe storage is a challenge for lots of folks, and boot storage has its own challenges. But I’ve got some potential solutions to show you! Some will work well with wet boots; others are more suited for storing those that have already dried out. Some are intended for inside use and others for outdoors. Many of them come from the U.K.

The first option is a boot tray of some sort, such as this rubber tray from Ballard Designs.

boot tray with wheels

VivaTerra says this rolling metal boot rack will stand up to the elements.

wooden boot stand

Another option is a boot stand, such as this Welly boot stand from Make Me Something Special.

forged boot rack

For a totally different look, there's the Welly rack from Dean Forge. Another place to get this style is Studio Forge.

wall-mounted Welly rack

A wall-mounted boot rack is another possibility. This one comes from; the racks are available in a range of colors.

wall-mounted boot rack

Nether Wallop Trading Co also has a nice-looking boot rack.

wooden wall boot / Welly rack

And for a different style of wall-mounted boot rack, we can go back to Make Me Something Special.

boot hanger system for a closet

For storage in a closet, there’s the Boot Butler. [via Erin Doland]

Wellington boot box

Want to hide the (dry) boots away? You could use the Wellington Boot Box.

outdoor "house" for boots / wellies

This is The Welly House from Flyte So Fancy. It’s designed with sufficient ventilation to keep any wet footwear well aired.

welly boot storage

Finally, Garden Trading has this Wooden Welly Store.

Want more ideas? See my prior post on boot storage!

Friday, October 24, 2014

7 Questions to Ask While Decluttering

block with a question mark
Question Mark Block: Photo by Jared Charup, licensed under Creative Commons

Ask we look through our possessions as we declutter, we ask ourselves questions — and sometimes you may find a particular question helpful. You’ve probably heard some of the standards, such as: When did I last use this?

Here are some of the many other questions you might ask; pick any that work for you!

1. Would I buy it again today? (from one of my clients)

2. Similarly: Would I replace it if it were broken or lost? (from Gretchen Rubin, via Kathleen Crombie)

3. Regarding clothes: Can I imagine this ever being the best possible thing in my closet to wear? (From Dinah Sanders)

4. I suggest that each item earn its way in. In other words, don’t ask, “Should I let this go?“ Instead ask, “Does this deserve to be kept?” (from Janine Adams)

5. Does this memento prompt any memories? I tend to keep things that seem to be “mementos,” assuming that they have some emotional resonance, but many don’t. (from Gretchen Rubin)

6. Which choice would the person I want to be make? (from Dinah Sanders)

7. Does it spark joy? (from a book by Marie Kondo, reported by Penelope Green, via Eve Glicksman, Liz Jenkins and Farhad Manjoo)

Related Posts:
Questions to Help Eliminate Clutter
Saving Things "Just In Case ..."

Friday, October 17, 2014

5 Money Boxes: Piggy Banks and More

3D-printed piggy bank

Anyone who has loose coins all over the place might want to consider a piggy bank, and I’ve found some very cool ones recently. The one above, called Oinky, is 3D-printed! There are a number of designs to choose from, and the designs come in various colors. [via Erika Rae on Core77]

lacquered wood piggy bank

Newsmakers doesn’t seem to be making its piggy banks (which come in cow, sheep and pig versions) any more, but you can still find them at babatude and Not on the High Street. The banks are made from lacquered wood; the hind end is removable so you can get to the coins when needed. Update on April 17, 2019:  I'm no longer finding these banks anywhere.

green elephant coin bank

The Norsu elephant bank comes from MK Tresmer in Finland, which also has other banks; it’s part of the company’s Palaset product line. The bank is available from My Sweet Muffin in the U.S., Lagom Design in the U.K., and Monapart Living in Barcelona — which shares the story behind the bank:
In 1973 Palaset received a commission from the Swedish Föreningsbanken Bank: a piggy bank for children with the intention of cultivating in them the habit of saving. So far, nothing out of the ordinary, but since the “piggy” bank was so cute, the children did not stop to asking for it, and their parents opened deposits accounts just to get the prized elephant-shaped piggy bank. ... The word spread like wildfire and the precious Norsu Elephant Bank by Palaset soon became an icon in the Nordic countries, and it is still made with the same cast of 70’s and in the same factory in Helsinki.
Update on April 17, 2019: Now I'm finding the Norsu bank at Pop-line in France; the Finnish company also sells the banks.

leather piggy bank

If you really want to splurge, you can get this leather piggy bank at Shinola.

teapot coin bank

Want a coin bank that’s not a pig (or another animal)? Here’s a teapot coin bank. To remove the coins, you pull out the cork and pour. Update on April 17, 2019: I'm no longer finding this product for sale.

Related Posts:
A Piggy Bank Menagerie
What a Pig! Piggy Banks and Money Boxes Worth a Look
Beyond the Piggy Bank: Tzedkah Boxes
Today’s Top 10 Piggy Banks
Piggy Banks: A Home for Your Spare Change
A Place for Your Coins: Piggy Banks and Money Pots
Organizing Products Inspired by Sheep

Friday, October 3, 2014

Tape Dispensers: Whimsical, Colorful, Practical

tape dispensers shaped like bunny rabbits

I’m always interested in the many ways something as basic as a tape dispenser can be designed to be more interesting. For those who like whimsical, there’s the desk bunny tape dispenser from Qualy in Thailand, also sold by design3000 in Germany and Molly & Fred in the U.K.

tape dispenser, two rolls, looks like an owl

The owl tape dispenser from Mustard is currently out of stock there, but you can find it at mzube in the U.K. — and there are a couple available on at the moment.

tape dispenser with gel base to stay in place

Want a tape dispenser that will stay put? The Stickit tape dispenser from Chris Hardy of Design Ideas has a “sticky polyurethane gel base” to keep it in place — but you can gently peel it up when you need to move it. It’s available many places, including See Jane Work, SmartFurniture and Fab. It comes in a range of colors.

tape dispenser with suction cup feet

Another stay-in-place tape dispenser (with a very different look) is the Bigfoot from the MoMA Store, with its suction cup feet.

blue tape dispenser

If color is your main consideration, head over to Poppin; you’ll find tape dispensers in 13 colors.

wood tape dispenser

This tape dispenser from ScanWood in Denmark places the tape flat on the desk, rather than in the upright orientation we’re used to. Hand-Eye Supply in Portland, Oregon carries this one. [via Better Living Through Design]

aluminum tape dispenser

Finally, let’s admire the Notchless Tape Dispenser, which has a special blade designed to give you a straight line when you cut the tape. It also looks pretty stunning.

Friday, September 12, 2014

For Vinyl Record Lovers: 3 More Ways to Store the LPs

storage cubes for vinyl LPs
Photos of Simple Wood Goods by Steve Paszt, Paszt photography

Vinyl lovers are always looking for good ways to store the LPs, so I’m glad to have a number of new options to share. While none of these are intended for huge collections, they can work for those with more modest needs. (For those with the huge collections, see the related posts listed below.)

First, let's admire these stackable storage cubes from Simple Wood Goods, hand made in Cincinnati, Ohio.

storage cube for vinyl records, with lid down

The cubes come in eight colors; custom wood stains are available, too. The acrylic lids can be kept up (for easy access) or down (for less dust, a cleaner look, and easier moving).

apple crate storage for vinyl records

Plantabox provides personalized record storage crates, made from sustainable FSC pine. The boxes are available in the pine color, or with one of seven stains. You get them directly from Plantabox, or through Not on the High Street. [via Retro To Go]

leather vinyl record storage box

TukTuk has leather record boxes, lined with cotton, in two sizes: 7-inch and 12-inch; there are five color options. Each one holds about 60 records. [via Retro To Go]

Related Posts:
Storing the Vinyl Record Collection: What to Do with the LPs
Record Album Storage: A Stunning Cabinet and Other Options
Storing the Vinyl Records: Options for LP Collections of All Sizes
For Vinyl Record Fans: 6 More Options for Storing the LPs
For Those Who Love Their Vinyl: LP Record Storage

Thursday, September 4, 2014

2015 Wall Calendars for Animal Lovers

cat and dog photos from 2015 calendar supporting animal rescue

You may not be thinking about 2015 calendars yet — but if you love cats and dogs, I’ve got two calendars you may want to look at now. Both raise money for rescue operations, and at least one of the two is available in limited quantities.

The calendar above comes from Castaway Animal Rescue Effort (C.A.R.E.), and I think the photos are stunning. C.A.R.E. is a “nonprofit 501-C (3) no-kill animal shelter and sanctuary that specializes in rescuing sick, injured, and abused animals in the Ozarks.”

Jan 2015 page of calendar supporting animal rescue - cat photo

The pages have some minimal advertising — one small ad at the bottom of each month — which doesn’t seem too obtrusive to me.

The calendars will be available in the organization’s Missouri adoption centers in the fall and winter, but perhaps (with a proper donation) they could also get mailed out. They're only $10 each. I don’t know the photographer’s name, but I'm asking — and will update this post when I get more information. Update: The photographer is Susan VanDoren, who donated her time to put together the photo shoots and the calendar.

And then there’s the celebrity pet adoption calendar from Anne and Will Wheaton. You get one when you make a donation of $40 or more to support the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA through its fundraising effort, the Wiggle Waggle Walk, held on Sept. 28. The calendars are limited to one per household.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

One Anti-Clutter Strategy: Buying Quality over Quantity

Flour sack dish towel that says Buy Things You'll Love Forever
Flour sack dish towel from The Heated

We opt for more instead of better. Better is better than more. — Seth Godin, via Minimal Mac by Patrick Rhone

This post was inspired by my wallet. It’s a basic black bifold wallet, with four slots for credit cards, a coin pouch, and a divided currency well — thus no photo, because there's no way to make it look interesting. But what does make my wallet interesting is that I bought it in 1997, and it’s still in good condition.

Now, I got it in Italy, at a reputable leather goods store. I don’t remember what I paid; it was probably on the expensive side, but not extravagant. And every time I pull out that wallet, I’m reminded of a wonderful trip (hurray for practical souvenirs) and how often it makes sense to buy less, but buy well.

Yes, we’re all working within budget constraints. But sometimes to have good stuff we just need to make purchasing trade-offs. Allen Tucker wrote a wonderful essay entitled Pay Too Much, which Nancy Friedman pointed me to; I recommend you go read the whole thing. It concludes with this:
My favorite pair of jeans gets worn 10 times more often than my other jeans. If I did away with the other jeans, I could afford to buy more of those things I really love. What if all of our stuff was mind blowingly awesome, even if we had way less of it?
And I see I’m not the only person writing about the joys of a good wallet. Here’s part of what Randy Murray wrote in his blog post called Just A Bit Of Luxury: Make Life Better Without Drowning In Stuff (found via Patrick Rhone):
I buy the cheapest printer paper, but I carefully select my notebooks and pens. Even when wearing my worn cargo shorts I carry a finely made leather wallet. And I’m replacing the stacks of disposable razors for single, finely made, double edge safety razor. Both the wallet and the razor are of such exceptional quality that they should last for generations (the wallet is guaranteed for 100 years!).

I’ve heard it said that you don’t own things, they own you. Owning fewer, better quality things makes my life easier and more enjoyable.

Friday, August 8, 2014

5 Ways to Store Shoes on the Wall

wall-mounted shoe rack, wood

Way back in 2008, when I wrote about 15 Ways to Store the Shoes, I didn’t make much mention of wall-mounted options. But a number of these have appeared over time; here are some of the more interesting ones.

The rack above comes from Mitz Takahasi of Montreal, who works mostly with recycled wood (and other recycled materials).

wall-mounted shoe rack for stilettos

I’ve mentioned the shoe racks from J-Me before, but this one designed specially for stilettos is new.

wall shoe rack for children's shoes

And J-Me also has a new wall-mounted rack for children’s shoes.

wall-mounted shoe rack, metal

This shoe rack is also available in a square version which holds four pairs. It comes from The Metal House, and is also sold by Bouf.

wall-mounted shoe storage - single pair of shoes

Finally, this rack comes from LoCa, in Denmark; it’s part of the Knax product line. You can find it at the Knax Shop or at Smow — or, in the U.S., at

Related Post:
Storing Shoes of All Shapes and Sizes

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cool Jewelry Stands for Necklaces, Bracelets and Earrings

steel jewelry stands for necklaces

I've written about so many jewelry organizers, but sometimes I still find something new — such as this steel moose necklace hanger from DesignByThem, available in four colors. Update on August 8, 2019: I'm no longer finding this product on the company's website.

bamboo jewelry stand for necklaces

Another interesting option for necklaces is this jewelry stand from GioGio Design, made from bamboo.

bamboo jewelry stand for earrings

GioGio Design also makes this two-tiered jewelry stand for earrings.

3-tier bracelet stand

And finally, let's consider bracelets. The Woodshop's Daughter has one- and two-tier bracelet stands, but will also make custom orders that are larger. You can also get an add-on peg to hold rings.