Ask an Organizer: Kid Edition 2!

I’m back with more of your burning kid-related questions and a handpicked team of home organizing experts. You can meet the experts below, but first, let’s dive into the first question:

Q: Any tips for affordable AND stylish toy storage? Ideally something my toddler could easily access on his own.

Practically Perfect joins Shira Gill's Ask an Organizer series.


Practically Perfect: We love that you want your toddler to be independent! We positively love this bookshelf. It’s just the right height for little ones to reach into, and you can outfit it with any storage baskets/bins that fit your home design preferences – here several suggestions to get you started (option 1option 2option 3). Please be certain to safely secure the bookshelf to the wall, in case your little one loves to climb!


Simply Spaced answers questions about home organization on Shira Gill Home.

Simply Spaced: I am a big fan of soft oversized baskets and bins. It really depends on what kinds of toys you are looking to store, but for soft items like stuffed animals, a storage ottoman is great too. If you are looking to store small toys like cars and figures, I use plastic containers quite a bit because they are safe and easy to label and carry. These white Nordic baskets from the Container Store are a favorite because you can get them with labels.


Cathleen Simmons of Assembly LA answers questions about home style and organization.

Assembly LA: I’ve always been a huge fan of Ikea when it comes to storage. They have lots of options for simple designs that can be perfect for kids rooms, and you can usually customize pieces (sizing, colors, shape of storage unit…etc.) making it just right for a toddler.



In our Ask an Organizer: Kid Edition 2! parents will learn how to organize art and toys in children's rooms.


Q: I have a fifth grade girl who writes and draws like…she’s running out of time. Some stuff is complete and other stuff is part way finished. She wants to hang onto most of it, and frankly, having had a mother who didn’t (hang onto things) I’d like to have it for when she grows up. My problem is where/how do I store her day-to-day work? Neither of us are big on executive function. She often complains she doesn’t know where to put it. Help this messy shelf mommy.

Practically Perfect joins Shira Gill's Ask an Organizer series.Practically Perfect: How wonderful that your daughter loves to create!  We love utilizing magazine files like these to corral paper collections.  Try purchasing a few and labeling each one purposefully – “works in progress” and “keepsakes.”  This way, your daughter will have quick access to the projects she wants to work on as well as a safe place to file away her completed masterpieces.  When the keepsake file fills up, either transfer the creations into a larger box/bin or, if your daughter is willing, consider digitizing them and creating beautiful books (we love Artkive!)


Cathleen Simmons of Assembly LA answers questions about home style and organization.Assembly LA: As a fellow mom, I know it’s hard to let go of precious artwork that our kids make, however, not having a home for it turns it into forgotten clutter real quick. I have two suggestions that can work sort of hand in hand, depending on what you’re really looking for. The first suggestion is finding a medium sized file box and keeping the volume limited to just that box for all her recent work to look at and come back to. This box can be for the month, for the year, however much she is turning out. Once you two decide on a time limit for that box, or once it gets full, things need to be decluttered together, but they can still be saved by using–the second suggestion–an app called Artkive, where you snap a picture of every piece and you can keep them safe electronically. Not only can you make real, hard cover books out of all your images, but they also offer a concierge option, where you can send the art to them, and they will combine in printed books for you. It’s a win-win!

Simply Spaced answers questions about home organization on Shira Gill Home.Simply Spaced: We are all about honoring kid’s art, but it is also important to set limits on what you keep. If you keep everything and deem everything important, you’ll be buried in papers. Allocate a box for each child for the year. You determine what size is appropriate for a year, and label it 2017 art. You and your daughter get to keep that much and when it’s full, you can evaluate which pieces are the best, keep those, and recycle the rest. That way, you’ll always have at least that box full, which will be plenty, and you can feel better about letting go of the overflow. You can also create a simple kids’ art wall like this for temporary and alternating works or purchase some easy snap frames like this one from Target that can be changed out easily and frequently. We are also big fans of the Artkive App for storing kids’ art digitally with the option to make books from the best of it. Check out our post on the books we made here.

Love these ideas so much and three cheers for crowd-favorite Artkive! If you have a burning question or organizing dilemma for the team, please email, subject: Ask an Organizer to have your question selected for a future feature.

Meet the Experts

Assembly LA  is a home and office organizing company based in Los Angeles that helps you simplify your life so you can focus on the fun stuff.

Practically Perfect is a Los Angeles based company devoted to constructing creative and functional organizing solutions that simplify daily activities, maximize space and exemplify practicality.

Simply Spaced is an organizing service and lifestyle company focused on transforming cluttered minds and spaces.

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Ask An Organizer: Kid Edition!

My new series: Ask an Organizer launched last month and was a huge reader hit so we’re back to answer more of your burning questions. This post will feature a roundup of questions related to the unique challenges that come with parenting and raising kids. I’m thrilled to be collaborating with some of my favorite organizers, and parenting experts, who will provide answers, tips, and resources just for you.

You can meet the experts below, but first, let’s dive into the first question:

Q. I have 3 children, 2 school aged. There is a lot of accumulated art, “treasures,” birthday party favors, school work, and toys/games/books.  I feel pretty clear about giving away items that they no longer use, but I’m wanting to involve them in the process so they learn the skill (spoiler alert: I never learned it as a kid) of letting go, minimizing belongings, and prioritizing what they keep. Do I purge with or without them? With them takes time and has mixed outcomes, without them risks them feeling like they have no input or control.

The Home CapsuleThe Home Capsule: Slowing down what comes into the house is a bigger teachable moment then the act of getting rid of items. For birthdays and holidays, make it a family value to prioritize experiences over things, and ask if the school can email you their flyers instead of sending home paper ones. Make scrap books or take photos of favorite art each month before it becomes a giant project. Come to a compromise of what they can keep from party favors, before they even exit the car. Making those daily decisions will teach value, and care for the items that child chooses in the present, and in the future as a consumer themselves.

Sparks Joy HomeSparks Joy Home: One of my favorite strategies is to have children choose their favorites from the category that is being worked on.  For children, it’s easier to think about what their favorites are and to focus on the positive – what they really love and can take care of. It’s less time consuming and a simpler way to include them so they can be part of the process. Ultimately, the best way to inspire the skills is to practice them yourself, lead by example and eventually they will follow.


Q. My kids come in from school with so much stuff – homework, shoes, backpacks, library books, etc. We have a small home with no entry closet or mudroom. Where can we put all of the stuff that comes in? Thank you!

The Home Capsule offers decluttering advice for families on the Ask an Organizer: Kid Edition!The Home Capsule: Historic homes (I live in a 1923 colonial) often pose design challenges, but don’t let that discourage you. Think about what space you have first, and then plan on WHAT you can realistically put where. A small console table with a drop bin, tray, or basket for incoming papers is everything. Hooks on the wall for seasonal outerwear, backpacks stored by where homework is done or lunches are packed, shoes come off and live in a basket by the door, and library books go straight to the bedroom nightstand. Get the kids involved, and set up to succeed, by having clear destinations for each and every item.


Q. Our playroom always seems to be a chaotic mess. Any tips for setting up better organization and systems that our kids can maintain so I don’t have to clean up every night?

Sparks Joy Home offers amazing family-friendly organizational tips in Shira Gill Home's Ask an Organizer: Kid Edition!Sparks Joy Home: Decluttering is key. Let go of about half of the toys and books, and then put half of the ones you keep into a toy/book “library”. Then, rotate the toys and books in storage monthly or as needed. Having less to mess with is a good start. Anything not kept in the “library” should have a specific home to which it is returned after use. Help kids clean up as they go and expect to have to guide them in cleaning for a while – until they are mature enough to be self directed and the routine is established.


Smart Playrooms gives some children's organizational advice in this Kid Edition!Smart Playrooms: We see so many chaotic playrooms every year, and here are our top tips for you!

1. Less is More: Declutter the playroom and evaluate the toys. Are they age appropriate? Are the kids interested in this toy? If not, those toys need to be removed from the playroom. (Stored in a closet or donated).

2. Sort! Sort each type of toy into a clear or open container. (We love the Container Store containers!) and label these containers.

3. Designate each type of play into a separate area in the playroom. This will help contain the same toys to the same space. Different zones may include building/block play, pretend play, art area, physical play area, etc…

4. Parent involvement is necessary for clean up in the beginning… kids will respect the toys and space if it is inviting and functional when they enter the playroom. Eventually, the kids will start to clean up if parents have prioritized expectations and helped the clean up along the way.

In this Ask an Organizer: Kid Edition! a few organizing experts share how to keep your home filled with kids clean and without clutter!

Love these ideas so much! If you have a burning question or organizing dilemma for the team, please email, subject: Ask an Organizer to have your question selected for a future feature.

Meet the Experts

The Home Capsule is an organization lifestyle brand, committed to design as an expression of feelings: about self, home and family.

Sparks Joy Home Founder Christine O’Brien specializes in helping parents simplify and create home environments that inspire connection and positive behavior from their children.

Smart Playrooms (based in NY and CT) merges organization and design to create unique play and learning spaces for children and teens.

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Three Easy Hacks to Keep Your Car Organized

I have a friend who has been requesting a post on car organization. I just bumped into her and she reminded me that it was way overdue. So, Sarah, this one’s for you!

Cars tend to be a magnet for clutter, especially when kids are involved. Our family of four has decided to only own one car, and between my decluttering missions, family road trips, and weekend plans, it gets a lot of action! Here are the three simple hacks I use to keep our car organized and clutter-free:

Stash Your Trash

Most cars are littered with wrappers and trash simply because there is no designated place to dispose of it. Enter the leakproof hanging car trash bag. This simple solution has been a real game changer for us. Our family takes a lot of road trips and our kids used to toss trash, tissues, etc. on the floor. No more! Now they each have their own trash bag conveniently located right in front of them so they can easily dispose of their own trash and our car can stay clean and clutter-free. Some of these bags also have storage for tissues, water bottles and other common supplies. Brilliant!

Keep your car clean and organized with these simple ideas from Shira Gill Home.

Bins Are Your Friend

What to do with items like motor oil, paper towels, emergency kits, first aid kits and all the other provisions that float around most cars?  I like using a crate or bin to corral all of these items in my trunk so they stay contained and leave plenty of room for groceries, gym bags, work supplies, and suitcases when we travel. I also have had great success placing a small bin between my daughter’s car seats to contain books, games, toys and snacks when we take road trips.

The Everything Out Rule

This is the most important one, so listen up! Even if I’m tired, even if I’m toting a purse, a work bag, a water bottle, and a trunk full of groceries, I take everything out of the car when I get home. I also make sure my kids do the same, even though it requires regular reminding. They are responsible for taking anything they brought into the car out of the car. It’s just that simple. This rule has a compound effect – the little effort it takes to remove things each day, ensures that your car will never be overflowing with random misplaced items.

How do you keep your car clean and clutter-free? Please share your tips and ideas in the comments below!

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Fewer, Better Favorites

Happy Spring! This is my favorite season and I always feel especially inspired this time of year. I’m still experimenting with a very streamlined wardrobe and doing my best to shop less, but splurge on a few high quality items that I truly love. Here are a few fun things I’ve been eyeing this season.

Fewer Better

(1) So feminine and lovely, no? // (2)  A chic leather bag in a lovely neutral color for spring. // (3)  For fresh, dewy skin // (4)   Because who doesn’t like a little metallic star? // (5)  So cozy and a perfect layer for spring. // (6) – Dreamy and feminine!

I’m embracing the concept of the French Five Piece Wardrobe System where you invest in five non-basic pieces each season to elevate your wardrobe and keep it fresh and fun. So far, I bought myself this Cuyana bag and sweater for my birthday and am taking it slow with the other pieces.

I do love that by being very intentional with my purchasing, I can invest in higher quality items and really feel good about my spending. No more impulse buying for me this year!

What about you? What do you have your eye on for spring? What would elevate or enhance the wardrobe you already own?


How I Prep For a Busy Day

So, I’m a person who really likes being busy, but recently my days have been so packed that important things have gotten lost in the shuffle. And I’m a professional organizer! So, I’ve been trying out a few strategies and wanted to share them with you so you can make sure to set yourself up for success when your schedule feels overwhelming:

Prioritize First

I don’t know about you, but when I get super busy I start feeling overloaded and overwhelmed. The first thing I do is write down everything that’s in my brain. This can include appointments, phone calls, school forms, errands, blog ideas, etc. I get everything on paper so I can see what I’m dealing with. Then I look at the list and note anything that can be postponed, eliminated, or delegated. I take the remaining items and list them in order of priority. Just doing this already makes me feel more clear headed and in control of my day.

Don't let a busy day get the best of you! Learn how to organizer your day-to-day with tips from Shira Gill Home.

Design Your Day

I use Google calendar to manage all of my appointments and meetings and I always include the address and phone number in the appointment for easy reference. Once I have the framework of my day in, I look where I can add in other things like exercise, grocery shopping, and errands. I write everything I plan to do on a white index card (I learned this from my Dad!) and I toss the index card in my purse for easy reference throughout the day.

Pack and Prep

When my husband is out of town or I anticipate an unusually packed day, I do my best to prep and pack as much as possible the night before. This includes packing up lunches and backpacks for my girls, selecting and laying out clothes for the morning, and even setting up a simple breakfast and laying out cups, bowls and spoons. Every second counts! I’ve recently also started packing up energy bars, nuts and dried fruit so I can have healthy snacks available throughout the day. I also make sure to fill up my favorite water bottle so it’s ready for me to grab and go when I head out the door. These small efforts go a long way in keeping me sane when things get hectic.

How do you prepare for a busy day? Please share your ideas in the comments below!

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New! Spring Cleanse Mini Retreat

The Closet Makeover Workshop sold out in record time, but not to fear! I am thrilled to be partnering with The Mobile Mat to bring you a brand new offering for spring. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and want to treat yourself or a loved one, this one day mini retreat is designed to renew your body and mind, and simplify your life.

Shira Gill is partnering with The Mobile Mat to offer some home organization help at their Spring Cleanse Mini Retreat. The Details:

Date: Sunday, April 30th  2017 9:30am – 2:00pm

Location: Berkeley, CA

Investment: $149 includes 90-minute morning yoga refresh with The Mobile Mat, catered lunch provided by Whole Foods Market and refreshments, organizing presentation and Q + A with Shira Gill Home, and gift giveaway sponsored by Todos Organics.

**This event will be booked on a first come basis and is limited to 20 participants. Email: for more details and to reserve your spot.

Can’t wait!

New Series: Ask An Organizer

I’m so excited to introduce you to my new series: Ask an Organizer! You’ll send in your burning home organizing questions and I’ve assembled an amazing team of experts who will provide answers, tips, and resources just for you. The first questions were submitted via Instagram. Keep an eye out for yours on an upcoming post!

You can meet the experts below, but first, let’s dive in to the first question:

Q. What do you do with the clothes you take off at night that aren’t dirty? I don’t like to put them in the closet, with the clean clothes, so they usually just end up on the floor.


Practically Perfect joins Shira Gill's Ask an Organizer series.

Practically Perfect: Try selecting a few beautiful hooks, like these, that are intended for exactly this purpose. We each have a few extra hooks hanging in our own closets, and we love to install them for our clients. It’s quick and easy to drape clothing on them, and it’s far less committal than re-hanging the clothing on hangers. If you have the space, placing a valet in your closet, bathroom, or bedroom is another great way to store those in-between clothes.  Functional and stylish… practical and perfect!



Jen Robins of Life in Jeneral answers questions about home organization.


Life in Jeneral: We do a couple of things depending on the closet’s space: We either add hooks somewhere (doing our best to keep them somewhat hidden) so those items can be easily hung up, or we designate a small hanging space (not near the other clothing) for the purpose of hanging those transitional clothes. Works like a charm!



Cathleen Simmons of Assembly LA answers questions about home style and organization.

Assembly LA: Great question! How about looking into adding a small hanging area behind a door or in a corner by your closet? You can build your own with pipe and flange from The Home Depot so it’s the perfect size. Unfortunately, to keep clothes off the floor, there is no escaping hanging them! Clothes get lost if they are tossed into something like a basket or drawer.




Simply Spaced answers questions about home organization on Shira Gill Home.

Simply Spaced: This question just came up with a client. Allocate a few command hooks (or nicer ones if you want) inside your closet so you can easily (and quickly) hang in-between clothes up and away and off the floor. It needs to be just as easy to hang them up as it is to drop them on the floor, so make the hooks accessible and high but tucked out of sight. Designating a small tucked away basket can serve the same function if you have more floor space than wall space. I have a small cloth-lined basket that tucks under my bed for this very purpose. It’s also a great trick for PJ’s which often fall into this category.


Love these ideas! If you have a burning question or organizing dilemma for the team, you can email it to, subject: Ask an Organizer for a future feature.

Meet the Experts

Assembly LA  is a home and office organizing company based in Los Angeles that helps you simplify your life so you can focus on the fun stuff.

Practically Perfect is a Los Angeles based company devoted to constructing creative and functional organizing solutions that simplify daily activities, maximize space and exemplify practicality.

Simply Spaced is an organizing service and lifestyle company focused on transforming cluttered minds and spaces.

Life in Jeneral is based in Los Angeles and specializes in developing sustainable organizational methods uniquely tailored to each client’s needs.

Interview with My Minimalist Brother

A funny thing happened. I realized recently that while I strive to embrace minimalist principles, and experiment with capsule wardrobes, my brother, Max, is a real life all in minimalist. Everything he owns can fit in a single backpack. He wears a basic uniform every day. He travels often. He doesn’t let stuff distract him. I wanted to know more and he agreed to be interviewed. Here we go!

SG: Tell me everything you currently own.

Minimalist Max: Lots of black: a dozen or so black t-shirts (Uniqlo), one pair of black jeans (Levis), one pair of black shoes (New Balance), one pair of black boots (Red Wings), a black beanie (some fancy French brand I can’t remember), one pair of black sunglasses (Illesteva), one jacket (Vintage), one black hair tie which essentially functions as a wallet for cash and cards, a backpack (Topo Designs), an iphone, a Mac Book, and a few paper notebooks from Japan.

SG: Wow. So, what happens when you need to exercise or go somewhere fancy? What would you wear?

Minimalist Max: Truth be told, I avoid the formality of both those instances like the plague. Exercise comes in the form of frequent exploring and occasional hiking both of which i’m happy to do in “the uniform.” Fancy restaurants are a much more common occurrence for me, but I can almost always get by with all black fit for that as well. Despite how casual it feels for me at this point, it’s still importantly devoid of branding, distracting (or tacky) design, clean, and always has a vague air of seriousness that gets me by without a jacket and tie. Worst case scenario is that I’ll cobble something dressy together from a friend, but those situations are so wildly infrequent for me it hasn’t seemed like a necessity to own that sort of outfit yet.

SG: Is there any downside to wearing the same thing every day or do you love having a daily uniform?

Minimalist Max: It feels almost monastic to wake up each morning and have a uniform of sorts. There’s no thinking or decision making because what I’ll be wearing is already established. It works when I’m in the kitchen, it works if I have to take a meeting, it works when i’m going out; and it’s so comfortable for me at this point that it’s also what I want to lounge around in at home. No sweatpants, never sweatpants. The only downside that comes to mind is that on a weekly basis I’m mistaken for an employee of literally any given establishment due to my all black uniform.

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SG: Do you ever get bored or crave more variety? If so, what do you do?

Minimalist Max: I really only look for a couple of accessorizing black pieces every now and again. There are a couple of designers, Rick Owens and Yohji Yamamoto, whose whole collection are focused on simple, clean, monochromatic pieces that feel very timeless and wearable. They’re fairly expensive and I usually contemplate them for a while and end up investing in one special item every two years or so. I’m also keenly aware these items hold a high secondary market resale value so even if I were to change my mind I could easily sell them and get my investment back, sometimes even more.

SG: When you do splurge, what do you splurge or invest in?

Minimalist Max: Almost all of my money goes to food. My life revolves around making food and eating food and spending time with the culinary community at large. I probably eat out 5 days a week, both high-end and low-end, and not just dinners. Travel is the only other constant in my life, but travel is also entirely predicated around eating. Just the other weekend I met some friends in PDX where we squeezed fourteen meals into 3 days–those valuable “pre-dinners” and “first-dinners” and “second lunches.” Also, very high-end whiskey, wine, and beer. I’m obsessive and nerdy about booze and have definitely been using some discretionary funds to purchase pre-prohibition rye whiskey, esoteric white burgundies, and decades old lambic to make meals even more special and memorable.

SG: You used to have a lot of clothes and shoes. What prompted the transition to such a minimal lifestyle? How has living with less changed your life?

Minimalist Max: A few years ago I started traveling all over the world all the time and never wanted to be encumbered by a suitcase or a even a backpacking pack. My goal was to streamline what was in my possession down to what could be carried in one backpack, but without feeling like i was giving up anything I truly needed. It turns out, when I really started assessing what was a necessity a lot of things could be cut. Almost everything could be cut, truthfully. Living with less has made living on the road thoughtless, effortless, and completely flexible. When I do occasionally put down roots here and there for 6 months or a year I get to start fresh every time and continuing cataloguing what does and doesn’t work for when I inevitably have my own proper home in the future.


After talking with Max, I felt so inspired to lighten up that I edited my closet again with fresh eyes. I love the idea of a daily uniform and can’t wait to explore it more! What about you? Have you experimented with living with less?

Put Your Money Where Your Values Are

Question: Is your spending aligned with your values? I’m asking this because I recently realized that my finances and current spending patterns did not reflect my deepest values at all – unless my deepest values are eating sushi and pretty woven baskets! The reality of my spending came as a quite a shock, especially since I think of myself as a pretty self-aware and intentional person, so I decided to create a plan to be more intentional with my finances. See below for my tips on how to create a values-based spending plan.

Clarify Your Core Values

A value is defined as a strongly held belief about what is valuable and important. Take some time to reflect on what you deeply care about. Jot down any words that resonate with you (i.e community, philanthropy, creativity) and then narrow it down to your top 3-5 values. If you’re stuck, here is a great list to refer to for inspiration.

Reality Check

Now that you have defined your core values, ask yourself if you are honoring those values with your spending. If not, look carefully at where you are spending your money. Most of us fritter away a good percentage of money on things like lattes, snacks, and impulsive shopping. When I looked at my spending I was shocked to realize how much I spent on dining out and how little I devoted to things I deeply care about like creative workshops and travel. So, look at your values list and examine your budget thoughtfully. Where do you want to invest more of your money? What areas can you scale back on?

Spend your money with intention -- on things that matter the most to you!

Get Intentional About Your Spending

Make a realistic budget which includes your monthly fixed expenses – i.e rent or mortgage, utilities and groceries.  Mint is an excellent free resource for helping you account for everything if you need help. Subtract your fixed expenses from your monthly income and you’ll have a realistic sense of what is left to play with. This money should go towards your current core values, priorities and goals. Goals could include paying off debt, buying a new car, traveling more or philanthropic giving. Whatever it is, put it in your budget and spend with intention!

 Keep Yourself Accountable

You know how when people want to get more intentional about their eating they start a food journal? Why not start a spending journal? Writing down every time you spend money will make you much more conscious about your financial habits and will help you honor your values-based budget goals. If you have a big goal like a trip around the world or a new home, try setting aside a fixed amount each month in a separate account so you can be proactive about making your most important goals a reality.

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How to Shop Like A Professional Organizer

Hello, friends! I recently spent an inspiring week at Alt Summit in Palm Springs with an amazing group of professional home organizers. We talked about everything under the sun, and of course, all things organizing. One of the things many of us had noticed was that most of our clients had purchased organizing supplies and home decor that just didn’t work out. Has this ever happened to you? If you want to shop like a professional organizer, and ensure you’ll avoid this common pitfall, follow the steps below:

Edit First

Before purchasing anything, make sure you have done a thoughtful edit of your space. Once you eliminate clutter you will have less to store and you may even find the perfect bin or basket when you review your belongings. I can’t tell you how many times a client has hired me to purchase storage solutions and by the time we are done editing and organizing we find that they already have everything they need!

Make a list

I have a rule that I can’t enter the Container Store without a list. Here’s why: All of those bins and baskets and organizers are so shiny and exciting! They beckon to us “buy me!” and it’s far too easy to get carried away. Instead, once you have edited, assess your space to see exactly what you actually need, then make a concrete list to shop from and stick to the list. A typical shopping list for a kitchen will look like this: x12 glass jars for food storage, x2 utensil drawer dividers, x1 spice organizer and labels, dish soap dispenser.

Shop like a professional organizer with these helpful tips from Shira Gill Home. Measure

This is crucial. It’s a real pain to trek out to the store, shop, and return home only to realize that your drawers are only 2″ deep and your 3″ tall drawer organizer won’t fit. Save yourself the hassle and measure shelf and drawer width, depth, and height so you can ensure that the products you buy will fit just right.

These simple steps truly don’t take much time or energy, and will spare you from having a house packed with storage solutions you don’t need and can’t use.

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