CSO Book Club: Martha Stewart’s Good Things for Organizing
My mother was an English teacher and it seems like almost every room in her home has a mini library collection. Books line most of the walls, are stacked on the bedside tables, and it is pretty rare to leave her house without a book in hand that she has perfectly chosen for you. Needless to say, every time that I visit, I often end up perusing her shelves, and on my most recent visit I found an old Martha Stewart hardbound book called Good Things for Organizing.
I pulled down the slim book and opened to the first page. I read through it for the rest of the afternoon. Martha Stewart is one of my idols, legal troubles and tarnished reputation aside, and I find her home projects and organizing skills to be a great source of inspiration. I’m sure this will not be the last time that I reference her on the blog. As I turned from page to page in this book, I noticed the complexity of several of the projects Martha Stewart was highlighting. Some of the ideas she displays in her book you would have to be a skilled carpenter with a team to be able to execute them, which of course, she has. Even though many of the ideas in Good Things for Organizing were too much work to ever really consider completing, there were a few tips that I gleaned from it that I wanted to share with you. The following tips from Martha Stewart are clever, but not too complex, which is how I think organizing should be.
A great way to give your home some new space for organization without having to spend any money is to repurpose. You’ll see an item you already own in a completely new way by using it in a new setting. Martha Stewart exemplifies this idea with one furniture piece: the armoire. Instead of only considering an armoire for clothing storage in the bedroom, Stewart has shown several other ways to use this single furniture item:
- Kitchen/Pantry Storage
- Use an armoire as a baking center, as a storage chest for table linens, or as an addition to the pantry to contain spices and ingredients.
- Craft Closet
- For all you crafters out there, you know how important it is to have ample storage for your supplies. Consider using an armoire as your command center for your crafting, and use small bins and baskets to divide by category within it.
- Gardening Shed
- This one is probably not great if you have a furniture piece that you want to protect and preserve, but otherwise you could use an armoire in the garage or garden shed for all of your tools and seeds.
- Why not give an armoire new life in the living room or dining room by turning it into a bar? Use the shelves to store glassware, cocktail books, and your tools for mixing drinks. Keep your go-to liquors on hand so you are always ready to entertain.
Space-Saving Tip Next to Your Bed
Don’t have enough space for a bedside table but don’t want to have your things on the floor? Consider wall-mounting a shelf next to your bed. It won’t have the legs of a nightstand for a tight space, but will provide the surface that you need to keep the essentials only such as an alarm clock, your book, and water glass within reach.
Digitize Your Recipes
I’m all for digitizing and getting rid of paper clutter of any kind, and Martha Stewart has a great reminder to digitize your recipes as well. You can group folders on your computer by appetizers, entrees, and desserts, or by cuisine type such as Italian, French, or Chinese. Then you can refer to the recipe on your phone laptop or iPad in the kitchen, or to avoid your devices getting dirty or splashed with oil, just print the recipe you are using that day and recycle it when you are done. It’s as simple as that. The other benefit of digitized recipes is that you can search within them, instead of having to flip through countless cookbooks to find what you are looking for.
A wonderful Martha Stewart decorating tip, plan a grouping of pictures on a wall by tracing each picture frame in paper so you have the size, then use low-stick painter’s tape to map them out before you make any holes on the wall. You can play with different groupings this way, and see how they will relate to one another before you hang them. You can even measure where the nails would go by pulling the wire taught and making a mark on the paper, then once you have the arrangement how you want it, you can hammer right through the paper on the wall.
This is an old trick but always a good one. If you have organized your basement, garage, attic or closet with opaque boxes or bins, it is hard to remember what is in them. Even if your boxes are labeled, often the labels are vague with descriptions like “memorabilia” or “children’s toys.” Martha Stewart proposes the easy fix of taking a photo of the contents of the box and then attach it to the outside as a visual reminder of what is actually in there.
Share Your Favorite Organizing Book
Hopefully these few tips from Martha Stewart have provided a little inspiration for thinking about organizing in new and useful ways. I find the more I read about organizing, the more I can share with my clients and have the right solution for any organizing challenge. It constantly encourages me to try new organizing strategies in my personal life as well, which I love. If you have an organizing book that you’d like featured on the blog, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to include it next time!