November 16, 2012
by Susan Hunsberger

A Gift Wrapping Station

PROBLEM: I love to give gifts. Part of what I enjoy is the process of wrapping them. However, I often don’t even end up giving the gift because I can’t find my wrapping supplies.

SOLUTION: Find a way to consolidate your supplies. Bring them together either in a bin, on a cart, or in a drawer. And keep your supplies simple.

Owner, Lisa Roberts, shows us how they have done this at Rock Paper Scissors in Ann Arbor. They have a cart that holds four colors of ribbon, bags that are of one color, a few kinds of wrapping paper (including neutral brown), tape, and scissors. Lovely!

HINT: If you prefer to use re-usable cloth bags or re-use wrapping paper, the same idea applies. Bring the supplies together, keep the ones that make the process simple, and give them a home.

October 19, 2012
by Susan Hunsberger

What about the Sides of Your Shelf?

PROBLEM: Space is at a premium in our tiny house with two adults and two kids. We need some more storage.

SOLUTION: Hang things from the external sides of your shelves. You can install hooks or hang wall file holders for papers. Owner Chrystal Metzger of Lexi’s Toy Box in Ann Arbor shows us a wonderful example of how she uses the sides of a shelf.

QUESTION: Do you have an example of this idea working for you?

October 12, 2012
by Susan Hunsberger

Break Up the Shelf

PROBLEM: Things get scattered around on my shelf, so I can’t find what I’m looking for.

SOLUTION: Anderson Paint in Ann Arbor has the perfect solution. Find a way to divide your shelf into smaller sections. You’ll notice that they have four different products on the shelf, but each is housed in a container. These containers make it easy for both the customers to find things and the staff to put things away. Thanks, Bob, for the example!

HINT: Notice how the container allows you to stand things up that might otherwise fall down.

September 28, 2012
by Susan Hunsberger

Floor to Ceiling Shelving

PROBLEM: We have a lot of stuff and I want all of us to see what we have. I also want everyone to be able to easily put things away without confusion.

SOLUTION: Lisa, owner of pot&box of Ann Arbor, brings us a solution. First, build a wall of sturdy shelves. Then put alike things together on the shelves. You’ll want to consider the frequency with which you use the item and its weight when deciding where to put it. Beautiful organization, Lisa!

HINT: Have a sturdy ladder that is easily accessible and either a person to take things from you, or a bag to put things in, as you climb down the ladder.

September 19, 2012
by Susan Hunsberger

You know the saying…”A place for everything and everything in its place.”

PROBLEM: I need a visual to help me remember the notion “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

SOLUTION: The Lunch Room food cart of Ann Arbor has the perfect visual — the sectioned cafeteria tray. With a cafeteria tray, there is a specific place for each object/food item, and the space matches the size and shape of the object. In this example, the long narrow space in the cafeteria tray is for silverware or carrots. By virtue of its shape, this long narrow space may even entice us to put our silverware (or carrots) in their place.

HINT: The bottom line is the cafeteria tray helps us visualize clarity and definition. This can be helpful when organizing.

September 14, 2012
by Susan Hunsberger

Up, Down, Up, and Down

I need more space in my cupboards and on my shelves.

Downtown Home and Garden in Ann Arbor  has just the solution, flip every other item – up, down, up, down. This frees up space. Here are some other examples of this technique from their store.

You can use this “up down” method for anything where the top and bottom are different in size or shape to each other – for example, socks, tools, or kitchen utensils.

June 14, 2012
by Susan Hunsberger

An Unlikely Combination: Drop Ceilings and Sports Equipment

PROBLEM: My kids play a lot of sports, and they have all these long awkward sticks around the house. What do I do with them?

SOLUTION: Alex Dombroski, owner of Red Belly Board Shop in Ann Arbor, has a creative idea. Take out your drop ceiling panels and rest the skateboards and sticks (lacrosse, hurling, ice hockey) on the metal grid. What a wonderful way to store long, awkward sports equipment and it looks cool too.

HINT: You can take out all the panels or just some of the panels where you want to put your equipment.

June 8, 2012
by Susan Hunsberger

Organize Loads with a Ladder

PROBLEM: I have an old ladder. I really like the way it looks. I know that there’s got to be a way to use it to help me organize my stuff.

SOLUTION: Claudette Jocelyn Stern, owner of Metal in Ann Arbor, shows us some great ideas. She’s propped the ladder against the wall and hung some tools and a light. So nice!

HINT: More ideas for ladders:
•Other items to hang from narrow steps – books and magazines.
•Things to place on wide steps – towels, throw blankets, and candles.
•Ideas for either narrow or wide steps – scarves, jewelry, and lamps.
•If you are willing to hammer a nail or hook in the ladder – pots and pans, tools, or pictures.

May 25, 2012
by Susan Hunsberger

Necklaces, Bracelets, and Dog Collars

PROBLEM: My necklaces and bracelets are in a big knotted ball. I can’t see them much less untangle them to wear.

SOLUTION: Alice Liberson, owner of Dogma Catmantoo in Ann Arbor, has an idea. Hang them on a cylinder of some sort. In the picture, Alice took a plastic cylinder, and using clear string, attached the cylinder to the shelf. In this example Alice hung collars, alternatively, you could hang necklaces and bracelets. Great idea, and way to recycle Alice!

HINT: A paper towel tube could also work.

May 18, 2012
by Susan Hunsberger

Take the Doors Off

PROBLEM: I’m a visual person and I forget what I have unless I see it. If there is anything behind a door, it is gone from my consciousness.

SOLUTION: Owner Mary Cambruzzi of Found Gallery in Ann Arbor, has a great idea. She takes the doors off of some of her cupboards in order to make the contents visible. Does this solution seem like it might work for you?

HINT: Taking the doors off the cupboard above your refrigerator is especially helpful. This cupboard can be hard to access and by taking the doors off, it can become a place to display pretty pitchers or bowls.