18 Sanity-Saving Organization Hacks Straight from the Pros
Maddie here! Today we’re taking on something near and dear to my heart: organization. As a small-space dweller *and* an avid shopper, it’s kinda key to my sanity to have an organized home, but I find that both my closet and kitchen pantry often resemble a disaster zone. Thankfully, we’re teaming up with Ziploc® and pro organizer Melanie Charlton to share 18 tips to organize these spaces the *right* way, using techniques that will help sustain organized bliss all year long.
Turns out, if you set the right organizational foundation (yeah, that’s a thing), invest in smart storage tools and adopt some healthy habits, your space can stay organized year-round. According to Melanie, “It’s like a great diet and exercise program: It takes some discipline and training before you see the results, but when you do it, it becomes a way of life. This is how getting yourself organized works!” Scroll on for 18 sanity-saving hacks for your pantry and closet, straight from the pros.
Psst: You can save on Ziploc® products at Target with Cartwheel savings! Select items on sale from January 8 through March 11.
1. Move your off-season clothes to storage. Stow away all warm-weather garments in breathable bags. Psst: This is a great hack for those of you with continually teeming closets and too big a love for shopping to live that minimalist lifestyle ;)
2. Go through all of your stuff. Toss anything that’s broken or never used. While you’re going through your closet to stow off-season stuff, make a donate and trash pile. Remember the golden rule: If you haven’t used it in a year, it’s time to part ways.
3. Use the same types of hangers and storage throughout your closet. “The easiest way to give your closet a makeover is to use all the same color and style hanger — this creates order and allows the eye to find your clothes,” explains Melanie.
4. Use Ziploc® bags to organize jewelry. Melanie stores all of her jewelry and accessories in plastic bags to avoid tangling. Pro Tip: Leave the ends of your necklaces outside of the plastic bag, then zip up the mouth around the chains. This will help avoid tangled chains, AKA the time-wasting bane of our existence.
5. Sharing a closet with your partner? Make a game plan before you divvy up the space. “Couples and organization is a very tricky subject!” says Melanie. “It’s important for couples to mediate on their edits and learn about each other’s belongings and *then* come to a decision on who gets what space.” Yep, that means if your main man has way more sweaters than you, maybe he gets that extra drawer. Relationships are all about compromise, right?
6. Vertical space is your best friend. Maximize it! Add shelves to the tippy top of your closet and buy tall and skinny furniture that won’t take up as much square footage.
7. Try Ziploc® Space Bag®! Compression bags are among the greatest inventions we’ve ever discovered, up there with the blow dryer and, you know, the internet. Instead of wasting precious shelving space with piles of spare bedding, stow ‘em in a Space Bag® compression bag. They’re a cinch to use — you can suck the air out with a vacuum or roll the air out by hand.
8. Organize your closet by clothing type and color. This will make it easier to find your garments. Plus, color-coordinated things are extremely satisfying to look at, amirite?
9. Try this genius (and cheap!) hanger hack. Attach two to three feet of chain to an S-hook, then fasten to your closet rod. Learn more about the hack here!
10. Invest in furniture that doubles as storage. If your closet is *still* overflowing and you’re too stubborn to keep purging (we get it), get smart about storage in other spaces of your home. Try a storage ottoman (bonus points if you DIY it!) or living room furniture with drawers.
11. Choose tomorrow’s outfit the night before. To avoid decision fatigue and the daily AM tornado when deciding on your outfit, figure it out the night before. Make the inevitable discard pile on your bed, so you’ll *have* to clean it up before hitting the hay. Smart, right?
12. Live in an extra-small space? You may need to change the way you shop. “Tiny spaces require the most careful edits,” explains Melanie. “They require the strongest need to live an ‘edited’ life, meaning there is *no* room for excess. Your edit will likely require more than the ‘out with the old and in with the new’ mantra: That edit will have to be accompanied with a pared down way of life. Live with less! And keep it that way. In order to do this successfully, you need a plan or style for everything — how you dress, the way you eat and how you shop. It seems overwhelming at first, but to live without excess as a long-term plan actually has been proven to reduce stress! Some work at the beginning pays off big time in the long term!”
13. Streamline your pantry with uniform containers. “I keep my sugar, flours and dry goods in Ziploc® plastic containers,” explains Melanie. “I love using the same containers in every space I organize, as it helps me find what I’m looking for much easier! It’s a basic merchandising tip I stole from my professional life prior to starting my own business.”
14. Put the everyday-use stuff in the front. This one may be a no-brainer, but it’s worth reiterating. Stow your most-used foods and condiments in easy-to-reach places to avoid messing up your pantry.
15. Organize the rest by food type. Pantry shelves tend to be deep and short, which maximizes storage but makes it difficult to see the contents. If you organize your food by type (just like grocery stores do), you’ll know if you’re short on pasta — even if you don’t have a clear view of every product.
16. Instead of stocking up on dried spices, keep fresh herbs in plastic bags in the fridge. “I use Ziploc® bags to organize all my regularly used fresh spices and herbs from my herb garden,” says Melanie. Instead of stocking up on dried herbs and spices — and then promptly forgetting about them — use fresh herbs for cooking. Plus, pros say that dried herbs and spices should be replaced every six months! Yet another reason to go for the fresh stuff (bonus points if it’s homegrown).
17. Schedule a bi-monthly pantry clean-out. Every two months, go through your cabinets and toss what’s gone bad or stale. Make a donate pile for canned goods you’re probably not going to use. Chances are you’ll create a ton of new space!
18. Keep your pantry in mind when you hit the supermarket. Do you *really* have room for that jumbo bag of cereal, and are you *really* going to eat it all before it goes stale? Take advice from Melanie: “Once you edit what you have, then you make a list of what you need. Next, plan how to organize it, then shop! This order of operations will help you keep your pantry in tip-top shape.”
Have any awesome organization hacks to share? We wanna hear ‘em! Tweet us @BritandCo to share your tips.
Artist Dev Heyrana On How Bravery, Resilience and Sunshine Influence Her Work
Ever meet someone who you feel immediate kinship with on a deep almost spiritual level? That is legit every person's experience upon meeting Dev Heyrana, the star of this edition of Creative Crushin'. A fine artist, hip hop dance teacher and constant collaborator, Dev's particular brand of creativity is one-of-a-kind. She manages to be warm, welcoming and woke, with a focus on inclusivity, social justice and motherhood that comes through in every piece of art she creates.
Anjelika Temple here, co-founder of Brit + Co and one of many humans who has benefitted from Dev's boundless generosity and kindness. We first connected at a launch event, then I asked her if she and her family would like to model for a B+C shoot (they did!), then months later, I asked the IG universe if anyone would be down to co-parent with me for a day so I could speak at a conference. Dev said yes! And for those that know her, none of these serendipitous moments are surprising.
Now it's time to delve more into Dev's story, her creative inspiration, her thoughtful approach to parenting and what makes her more passionate than ever about bringing her point of view and artistic voice into the universe.
Anjelika Temple: First, foundations. Where did you grow up? What is your heritage? What did you study in school? Where do you live now?
Dev Heyrana: Born in The Philippines and immigrated to the U.S. when I was 9 years old. Me and my family are from the island of Cebu and I'm a proud Cebuana. My childhood in the Philippines felt like freedom. I had my swimsuit in my backpack for whenever we decided to swim and I biked everywhere.
Immigrating here at 9 yrs old was a transition, to say the least. My parents had big dreams but the move was heavy on them. It wasn't easy. I had to grow up fast. I took care of my sisters while my parents worked night shifts. By the age of 12 I would cook dinner and get my sisters ready for bed. Something I didn't realize was that kids my age didn't do those things until I got older. We would play these make-believe games to make, in hindsight, our hard situation brighter.
I think this is really when art played a big role in my life. It was something I could escape in and always felt healing.
I witnessed racism towards my family and didn't know how to make sense of it. These events left a mark. I was a quiet kid and observed everything and everyone around me. I think about my grandparents, Lolo Jose and Lola Rita, a lot as I walk through life. When I make decisions. As hard as it feels, you have two choices, do you let it take you down or take it one step at a time forward. I kept going and it really shaped me as to why I am the way I am today.
I studied Fine Arts at The Corcoran in DC. I owe that decision to my art teacher, Mr Giles, in High School. He was retiring and wore a Hawaiian shirt every day during my senior year. He was a curmudgeon and I felt incredibly special since out of everyone in the school he really believed in me. As grumpy as he seemed to the class, he would tell me things like "Go into the other studio and break some glass, then put it on a canvas." He's the reason why my abstract pieces have elements like clay and sand in them.
I've had incredible mentors and all were teachers. Mr. Giles in High School and Christine George in College. Christine was the one who told me to go either to New York or San Francisco because "D.C. is no place for an artist like you." She told me to not listen to anyone, how I can still paint, be a graphic designer, and, if I choose to, have a family. I've never had anyone tell me anything like that before.
I took a chance because of her. Moved and went to Design School in 2006 and I've stayed in the Bay Area ever since, raising two girls with the love of my life.
Anj: You are one of those magical human beings that has figured out how to be a full-time artist. What was your career path like before you were able to dive fully into your creative passions?
Dev: The most radical thing I could have done in my family, I did, I went to college for Fine Arts. A mix of being so young and having to do it on my own, I went with the school that gave me more scholarships. Even then I worked three jobs to be able to get through it. Hard work is ingrained in me.
With my sculpture background, I fell in love with Print and Packaging and why I came out here to San Francisco. I appreciated the security of having a career in Graphic Design. I also learned how to work with clients and the business side of things. Even then, I never stopped painting.
A few years ago I went through a pretty hard time with my health. I dealt with six surgeries in one year and I still have to do some follow-up ones. That experience almost broke me and what got me through was my family and painting in bed while I recovered.
When I finally got back on my feet, my heart just wasn't in Graphic Design anymore. So I made a two year plan. With a toddler and a mortgage, I wanted to make sure my steps were thought out. I put myself out there as an Artist while I still worked in Design. After a year I worked part time as a Graphic Designer and stepped down from my Creative Director position. I loved it, to be creative as an Artist and as a Designer. I looked at 2018 as my year to make the jump. If my work as an Artist balances out with my salary then I would quit in the Summer of 2019. And so here we are. I also am sharing a studio with my good friend, Naomi PQ, and I feel like my creative drive is just beginning.
Anj: What do you love about painting? How do you feel when you're in a creative flow state?
Dev: Like every part of me is free. Free to express myself through the stroke of my hand. How all of it leads back to my heart. These elements I use to paint have a mind of their own and how I need to respect the process.
It centers me and reminds me that the process is just like the life we lead. I know I still have so much more to learn but while I'm painting no matter how it's going, I'll embrace this moment.
Anj: You reference your roots quite a bit in your work. Talk to me more about how your roots inspire your work.
Dev: One of my earliest memories is of my Lolo Jose teaching me how to water mango saplings. He converted to Buddhism when my mother was young, so he viewed the world with love and kindness. I didn't realize it then but watering those mango trees were life lessons. We need to take the time to nurture, practice patience, and respect all living things. I still imagine him walking beside me often, carrying his teachings as I find my way in this world.
Nature and the Sun drive my pieces. My abstract works are fragments of moments. Like the sunset I grew up with when I was seven years old in the Philippines, like how I saw the water in Cebu when I dove in as a young adult, and like when I saw the redwoods with my children for the first time.
I see earth in our skin and especially when I paint people. How our mango trees grew and blossomed because the dark earth was rich with nutrients. I imagine the Sun piercing through these women I depict. I paint their love and bravery because their resilience cannot be contained. I want to celebrate all of it.
This is the beauty of Art, I am able to paint exactly how I see it.
Anj: Motherhood and your daughters are also central themes in your work. How has motherhood changed your approach to creating artwork?
Dev: Everything. I was still deep in my Design Career and I would paint at home. One day Quinn, who was 3 years old at the time introduced me at the park to a mom. "This is my mom, she's an Artist." It struck me that my toddler knew who I was more than I knew myself. That's really when I really owned it. I am more fearless because of my girls.
I own my body, I thank people when they compliment me, and I am selective but fearless when I use my voice. I am more in tune how I speak about myself because of them. When I paint these women I want to celebrate them. I notice how I embrace myself is translated in my paintings.
Anj: What advice can you give to parents who are trying to tap into their kiddos' innate creativity?
Dev: I don't have a lot of guidelines set up. I'll say "Let's draw the biggest fish we can draw" or "how many silly lines can we make" and I let them lead me. They ask me questions, show me things, and I sit there with my coffee watching their eyes wide with excitement. Watching them in their creative process is pure joy for me. Those silly lines can turn into a dragon or waves and next thing we know, we're drawing a big beach scene. My advice would be that you can suggest something to start it off but be open to how they take it. It is such a beautiful window into their minds.
Anj: Shifting gears to HIP HOP DANCE! Talk to us about his component of your creative expression.
Dev: I loved the Hip Hop scene in DC and discovered how much fun the clubs were in college. My friends told me about this Hip Hop Crew I should try out for, I was so scared because I've never taken a dance class in my life. I got in and it was like having another family. We competed all over the East Coast, it was a blast!
I found hipline when I started my first Design Job and needed an outlet. It was exactly what I needed and one of the owners asked if I was interested to teach. I've been teaching there since 2009 and am still going strong. It's a wonderful community of women. Now we're virtual and reaching clients all over.
Anj: What does a typical [pandemic] day look like for you? How does it differ from your rhythm before COVID?
Dev: I've been practicing being kinder to myself lately. Both me and my husband work full time and so having the girls at home is a challenge. Some days we are amazed by how smooth it went and then there are others where if the girls are clean and bellies are full, it's a total win.
Now that we're on month 8 our rhythm before covid felt more chaotic to be honest. I felt like we were always rushing out the door while carrying so many bags. Now my husband and I try to have coffee together, if he has a break from his meeting, and we sit with Quinn before school to see what she has to do for the day. Rowan's preschool closed down but we were able to find a wonderful speech therapist for her and she has an Adventure Pod we go to two times a week.
The one thing we really try to do is go outside once a day. Have some magic in their childhood no matter how small. It could be just going up for a hike by our home and picking up leaves, riding our bikes, or watching the sunset from our window. Seeing how the girls' react to these adventures we have is pure magic.
Anj: When you get creatively blocked or burnt out, how do you reset? Do you have tips you can share?
Dev: I go outside. I go out for a hike or go to the beach. Even if it's 15 minutes, something about grounding yourself in Nature is really healing. I also do exercise where I doodle for two minutes because it feels doable. Judgment-free doodles, always opens the doorway to more.
Anj: I know firsthand that community-building is huge for you. Tell us more about what your support system and creative community looks like.
Dev: I feel a lot of love and strength when I think of my community. My relationship with my sister led the way what women supporting women looks like. It's listening, asking questions, remembering, cheering for all the wins, being there even if it's hard, and taking time to invest in them. The way me and my sister show up for each other is why I have these amazing women in my life. I can talk to them about my family, motherhood, and we're all trying to balance it all while sharing my most recent project. I feel really blessed especially looking back in my college years where I don't know where Art would take me.
Anj: When you need to give yourself a pep talk, what does it sound like?
Dev: I usually take a deep breath then say or think "One step forward". Most of the time, I'm scared (as shit) but the thought of not trying scares me more. That one step forward can be hard as hell and maybe even heartbreaking, but I have to try.