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With the average apartment in Jerusalem measuring about 100 square meters and costing over $200,000, each meter of space costs about $2,000. If you are considering moving to a larger place, enclosing a porch or making some other renovation to give you more space, perhaps you just need some new storage ideas.
Before getting started with storage ideas, let us first discuss getting rid of things we do not need. People store things for all kinds of reasons. People often store all the clothing and personal items of a deceased relative, others will hold onto every issue of their favorite magazines while some hold onto their old clothing even though they have gained 25 kg. and will never get back into those clothes.
Spend a month taking 20 minutes a day going through some of your clutter. Setting a time limit will help if you are the type of person to get easily overwhelmed. Additionally, it can get you into the habit of eliminating clutter even after you are organized. Use the time to organize which of the deceased relative's clothing you can give to charity. Old magazines could be donated to a hospital, school or library. Finally, take a realistic look at your old clothing, and discard anything that does not fit, and you know never will (I should practice what I preach and get rid of my wedding suit from 17 years ago that is now many sizes too small).
Most rooms rarely have anything stored in the top meter of space. This is a great space to use for shelves. Even though they are not conveniently accessible, they can still be reached by using a folding stepstool. This will add a tremendous amount of storage and can be used for neatly folded out-of-season clothing, pictures or any type of collections. Use plastic colored boxes to keep items neatly organized and put these boxes on the upper shelves. If your budget allows, you could even get upper cabinets that will keep all your storage behind closed doors.
One can also build shelves to hold all your DVD's, CD's, VHS and audiocassette tapes. I would recommend not using the standard 30-cm. or 40-cm. shelves; rather, build or buy shelves that are only 15 cm. deep. They will take up very little depth and will fit these items and make them easier to find. These shelves could then be placed almost anywhere, even over a bed.
Organizing a work area is also very important. It is best to utilize a file cabinet to store your important papers. You should also periodically sort through your files and eliminate papers you no longer need. Check with your accountant or lawyer to see how long it is required to save receipts and government required paperwork.
A workspace can also be organized by adding a narrow shelf above the desk for pens, a stapler, a hole puncher and other desk accessories. This will give you more desk space and also give these items a designated place that makes them easier to find. Once you have designated places for these items it is always easier to get into the habit of putting things back where they belong.
In the kitchen, a cupboard that is too deep can have a "Lazy Susan" added to make these areas usable. The open area above many top kitchen cabinets can be adapted to make a "second story" of storage space. I have always liked adding a narrow shelf under the bottom of the top cabinets just to store spices. This way not only are they spread out and easy to find, but there is plenty of space for coffee cups, too!
Not all closets are originally designed in the most efficient manner. There is often only one rod for hanging clothes, when all it would take is to remove a shelf or two and install a second rod, which then doubles your hanging space. A shelf can always be added above the clothing rod.
Using the approach of eliminating clutter and making use of available space for storage will allow you to get organized on your own. If you really feel you need help, there are professionals that assist people with getting them organized.
Emma R. asks: I have your recent Jerusalem Post article on my fridge to remind me of our urgent need to put smoke detectors in our home. I have not been able to find them for sale. A friend told me she was quoted 10,000 shekels to put one in a room, as it had to be routed through her burglar alarm. I just want the battery operated ones we had in England. Could you possibly tell me where I can buy them and what they should cost?
There are many stores that sell smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors (sometimes within the same unit) in Israel. Often you will find them in your local hardware store and at Home Center, ACE or IKEA. However, I recently learned that smoke detectors are available via the Kinyan Hohma School in Ramat Beit Shemesh. This is an alternative Torani elementary school, which follows the edict "chanoch lana'ar al-pi darko," providing a structured framework for intelligent, creative children who are not finding their place in the traditional mainstream schools. To raise funds, they are selling smoke detectors for 54 NIS each. To place your orders, call the school administrator Chanie at 077-931-0139.
Today's Do-It-Yourself Resource is: http://www.mygreathome.com, which has great tips for storage ideas.