Compliments of landexter via Flickr

I was recently asked how I “containerized” my home. Although I didn’t purchase many tools, the ones I do own provide tremendous utility. For starters, I now have six new garment bags (four clear plastic suit bags in my master closet, and two canvas floor length in other areas). What I find is that these bags delineate my space, protect my clothing, and force me to keep only the suits that look good.

New arrivals are not introduced unless something I currently own is discarded. Before hanging my bags I conducted a massive purge (with the exception of specialty garments, clothing you haven’t worn in the last six months can probably find a home elsewhere). I tossed rusty hangers and outdated bags where I’d previously stored seasonal apparel. Sara Ban Breathnach argues that all of our clothing should both look good and make us feel great.

The plastic makeup organizer tray necessitated a similar purge and regrouping of products. Suze Orman (financial mogul), urges women to toss broken down tubes and makeup clogging their drawers. All my makeup is now housed in one tray. I can see what I have, I use what I see, and it’s neatly sorted into delineated compartments.

The drawer next to my makeup holds two plastic containers – one for skin care, the other for dental hygiene. I love how the inside of my drawers now look. With the possible exception of contact paper, I can’t envision changing a thing.

Scarves can be handled in one of two ways: with a diamond organizer, or with a hanger that has specially punched holes. I opted for the former option. Instead removing the contents and rifling through a disheveled assortment (and having a disorganized mess greet me when I open the drawer) I can now quickly see my belongings.

Diamond organizer

I also purchased a reinforced box to house old photographs. In between each picture I used specially treated paper. Some photos stuffed in boxes are earmarked for a digital frame.  Note that a space you enjoy is one where you’re surrounded by good memories. A continual display of things past which evokes pleasure sets the tone.

Lastly, a label maker is an organizing essential. How many anonymous food items do you have hiding in your freezer? Identifiers save you the step of opening the lid, sniffing, and making an educated guess as to the contents.

Although no new containers were purchased for the purpose, in my “spice” cabinet like items were consolidated, and those that had clearly outlived their shelf life were eliminated. Emeril Lagasse explains that spices over time lose their potency – a reality that forces us to periodically reexamine our inventory.

The same advice holds true for your medicine cabinet. Have you looked at the expiration dates on your apothecary items? Have you purged nondescript pills with an inexplicable purpose? Paring down to the essentials lets you know what you have, and better focus your future purchasing efforts.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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