One-day home makeovers look easy on “Queer Eye” and “The Oprah Show.” In the real world, it takes a lot of time and energy — not to mention significant cash flow — to pull off a full-scale redo. Armed with a few old tricks and some cool new products, though, consumers can create a new spring look or at least conquer some of the clutter they created in the first place.
Way before the Fab Five hit the airwaves, Julie Morgenstern has been helping consumers clean up their act, at least externally. The key to successful organizing is to analyze, strategize and then attack, says Morgenstern, author of “Organizing from the Inside Out” (Henry Holt/Owl Books, 1998). Many of us skip the first two steps, and just dive into the piles.
Before you attack the piles, analyze how each space is used and what should be stored there, recommends Morgenstern. “People tend to stash things where they fit rather than where they are used,” she says. Flip around the equation and “look at where the piles are and create storage there,” she suggests.
“Items should always be stored at the point of use,” says Morgenstern, who has appeared on the “The Oprah Show” many times and writes a column for “O, The Oprah Magazine.” For example, if you read in the bedroom and the living room, have book shelves in both places rather centralize your library. If you have a home office and notice mounds of paper on the kitchen table that’s probably because you work or store files there. If this is the case, empty out a kitchen cabinet filled with old appliances and store these files in the kitchen.
After you’ve analyzed the space, a simple way to pull together a new spring look is invest in some beautiful containers, says Morgenstern.
Contain your stuff
These days, there are more containers on the market than consumers have space. One stop shops, such asDallas, Texas-based containerstore.com and Richmond, Calif.-based stacksandstacks.com, stock thousands of fun, useful containers and add many new ones each month.
At stacksandstacks.com, new products for the spring include the galvanized aluminum flower buckets — a perfect receptacle for all those April flowers. Each bucket costs $11.99 and comes in white, blue and lime.
Lined Makati baskets are among the new products at the containerstore.com. The handcrafted baskets, made from the bark of the Abaca tree, can be used to stash incoming mail on a countertop or organize socks in a drawer or closet. The small basket costs $24.99; the large sells for $29.99.
And then there are the new trendy spots, whose streamlined, mod designs appeal to a slightly different aesthetic and generally, a bigger budget.
Build your nest
Nesting products are big at westelm.com, a division of William Sonoma that launched in April 2002. The housewares shop targets Gen Xers or consumers who are typically short on space but have some cash to spend. That is, West Elm carries products that are a “step up” from Ikea or Target but not as pricey as other high-end design shops.
A set of three acrylic nesting boxes at westelm.com run $49. The sleek set, available in translucent amethyst or kiwi, can be used to store bath products in the bathroom, stockpile office supplies in a home office or even serve snack foods, such as nuts, chips and M & M's, suggests a company representative. The small box measures 4-by-4 inches, medium 7-by-7 inches and large 10-by-10 inches.
On a larger scale, the set of four stackable nesting tables, $179, can be used as individual tables or stacked as shelves.
Cyber shoppers can shop by room or items at westelm.com. Rooms are divided into areas called “chill,” “indulge” or “retreat,” which corresponds to places where one lives, eats and sleeps.
Storage solutions are also plentiful at Design Within Reach, another Left Coast shop that focuses on design. The Web site is organized by genre, by room and by designer — complete with black-and-white photos and short bios.
Versatile storage solutions
Consumers can define their own space with some of the more versatile products at dwr.com. For example, the Cubitec shelving, made of injection-molded, nontoxic polypropylene, contains 18 panels to create six cubic shelves. The cubes can be arranged horizontally or vertically in a symmetrical or asymmetrical pattern. The modular unit, priced at $175, comes in dark brown, a brownish orange and translucent white.
A new product with versatility at dwr.com is the square slot CD storage unit. Mount the brushed aluminum wall unit with slots vertically or horizontally. Each slot is designed to hold 12 CDs. The small CD rack, $100, has three slots and holds up to 36 CDs. The large unit, $135, has five slots and stores up to 60 CDs.
Neaten up the computer area with a CPU trolley or skateboard from offi.com, an Emeryville, Calif.-based home furnishings shop that also focuses on design. The trolleys or skateboards, essentially platforms on wheels, are designed to fit a standard CPU tower. As any home computer user knows, the advantage of a mobile CPU is to easier access to wires, ports and cables and the ability to clean underneath.
The CPU trolleys/skateboards come in four styles, made from different materials. The first model, made of silver vinyl, was the simplest to execute and proved out the concept, says Eric Pfeiffer, vice president of design at offi.com. Suggested retail price is $109 or buy it for less online at ylighting.com for $95.
Other models include a molded plywood skateboard with clear casters, $99 online to $109 in-store; a crystal acrylic skateboard with clear casters, $129-$164; and a perforated metal version, $155 to $197.
“The Perf Metal version was intended to create a strong graphic and hide the ugly CPU's out there,” says Pfeiffer.