Whether you live alone or in a crowded house filled with family, there are times when you must open your home to houseguests for an extended time. From a college-aged child home for a year-long break, to an old friend looking to relocate to Chicago, extended-stay guests offer the perfect opportunity to get organized, declutter and store unneeded items.
From the entrance of your home to the guest bathroom, a few simple and smart storage and organizational tips will keep your living space tidy and clutter free while helping your guest feel right at home.
Whether you have a large house on North Shore Drive or an apartment downtown, the first step is weeding out your belongings to decide what should go, what needs to stay and which items can go into storage.
What can go
First, go through your belongings to decide which items can be donated, recycled or thrown away. A good rule of thumb is the 'Rule of Six.' If you haven't used or worn an item more than six months, consider whether you really need it.
If you find you have larger junk items - particularly those made of aluminum or copper - in your basement or garage, you might be better off sending them to the recycler. There are several recycling companies that can help you with this, including:
In a town like Chicago where the weather can fluctuate wildly between frigid winters and steamy summers, seasonal storage is key. With average temperatures ranging from 31 degrees in January to 84 degrees in July, consider seasonal storage for clothing, sporting equipment, holiday items and other items.
Whether you enjoy summer sports and boating on Lake Michigan, or if you prefer to take advantage of Chicago's many ice rinks for skating and hockey, rotate your sports equipment seasonally to free up space. The same recommendation holds for seasonal clothing - after all, you will likely have little use for your down ski jacket while walking through Lincoln Park in June.
Chances are an unexpected, long-term houseguest will mean storing furniture as well. When moving larger items, be sure to select a Chicago storage facility that offers security and climate control or ventilation. Use thick moving pads to protect antiques or other valuable pieces of furniture and be sure to remove any drawers or shelves during the moving process...
It may seem trivial, but making some savvy storage decisions will actually make your guest feel at home. Take an hour to review your whole house, from your front entrance to the back door and everything in between. You might be surprised at how much extra space you can find.
Create a welcoming feeling for your guests the moment they step into your home by redesigning your entryway. Add storage with a dresser, cabinet or wardrobe to store shoes, mittens, gloves, hats, area maps and more. Even if you have a closet, this addition instantly freshens up the space while providing you with additional storage space.
Better Homes and Gardens suggests making your guests feel welcome by providing amenities they would find in a hotel. Use a corner of a closet to install a mini refrigerator stocked with juices and water. Place a coffee pot and fresh coffee packets on top. Finally, put a basket of indulgent bath products in the bathroom.
Make guests feel comfortable by providing them with ample storage space. If your guest room is a bit small, a little creativity goes a long way. A bench with hidden storage space for extra linens can double as a suitcase stand. Choose a bed with built-in, slim-line drawers. Offer plenty of empty hangers, hooks and canvas bins for extended stay guests.
When family or friends come for an extended visit, take the time to reorganize your home a bit. You'll end up with a clean, clutter-free house and guests that feel welcomed. If you need to make space for them, sort through your belongings and store them safely in a local storage unit.
HGTV, "Storing Seasonal Clothing" http://www.hgtv.com/homekeeping/storing-seasonal-clothing/index.html
Chicago Recycling, "A to Z" http://www.chicagorecycling.org/atoz.htm
Furniture Physicians, "How to Safely Move and Store Furniture" http://www.furniturephysicians.com/New_How_to_Safely_Move_and_Store.pdf
Seattle Times, "Purge and Organize your Self-storage Unit" http://seattletimes.com/html/homegarden/2011122314_storage19.html
BYNC, Home Page http://bync.org/
Lush Home, "8 Modern Home Ideas Entry Hall" http://www.lushome.com/8-modern-home-ideas-entry-hall-stylish-redesign/10936
Chicago Tribune, "Guest Rooms" http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2002-01-27/news/0201270358_1_guest-room-palm-beach-designer-cecil-hayes