What size truck do you need? How many boxes? Is the old couch coming, too? Better figure it out now.

Properly preparing for any move — whether big or small — is essential for a successful, low(er) stress moving experience.

Assessing everything in and outside your home that you want to take along — and figuring out exactly how you’ll actually get everything on your list into your new space — is essential when preparing to move. Here are three steps to pulling it off.  

Taking inventory

Making a list of all your belongings may be daunting, but it’s necessary for a flawless moving experience. Take comfort knowing that once you commit, the benefits of a home inventory don’t end on moving day.

Sure, a thorough home inventory helps you determine all of your belongings, but an inventory also helps reduce the stress of boxing it all up and moving your (organized!) things into your new home. It can even assist you in assessing your homeowners insurance needs.

Find a home inventory checklist and customize it. Checklists you’ll find online will include an exhaustive list of categories, so look through a few examples and create your own to best fit the needs of your home and family. You may want to try out a home inventory app, depending on your preferences.

Sort your list by rooms, and don’t forget to include hallways. For items of particular value, take photos of or describe the items. Be sure to add items to your inventory list that aren’t physical items, such as copies of all your important documents. 

Don’t toss out your checklist out after you pack up. Save it (and make copies!) for after the move to remind you which items you packed where — as well as to help determine the right coverage for your new homeowners insurance.

Boxing it up

Once you’ve taken stock of what you need to move, the next step is figuring out exactly how many boxes you need to pack up your home — and it can definitely feel like a puzzle to sort out.

Online packing calculators can help you estimate how many boxes you need. These tools generally ask you the number of rooms in your home, along with the number of people living in it. Some even get more detailed by asking if you consider yourself to be a minimalist or pack rat.

Try out a few packing calculators, and you should get a pretty accurate idea how many boxes of various sizes you’ll need. (If you have a serious move coming up and are nervous about properly assessing your moving needs, bring in a professional mover to walk through each room and give you a detailed estimate.)

In general, someone in a small studio may not need more than 20 boxes, while someone in a 3-bedroom may need as many as 80 to 100. 

Of course, typically, the longer you live in a space, the more items you accumulate — and the more boxes you’ll need.

Renting a truck

Just as there are calculators that estimate the number of moving boxes you need, there are also a variety of helpful calculators that suggest the moving truck size that best fits your needs.

A good rule of thumb is to multiply the number of furnished rooms in your home by 150 to get an estimate of the cubic feet of space needed in a moving truck. 

A cargo van may work just fine for a small studio, while a 12-foot truck generally works for apartments and small homes — and a 22-foot truck tends to be best for a three- to five-room home.

Most moving experts suggest paying a few extra dollars for a slightly larger truck to be safe, especially if you’re packing the truck yourself.

Don’t focus solely on the interior of your home when assessing your moving truck size. Consider your outdoor belongings like bikes, sports equipment, and patio furniture, too.

It’s no secret that planning your move in advance is wise, but even those under a tight moving deadline can save time and money — and improve an already stressful situation — by taking a home inventory and researching how many boxes you’ll need, along with the proper moving truck size.

Take care of these three moving musts, and you’ll be sure to have an organized and efficient move.


About the author

Sarah Pike

Sarah Pike is a freelancer, writing teacher, and new homeowner. When she's not writing, teaching, or obsessively organizing her home, she's probably binge-watching RomComs or reading home decor magazines. She also enjoys following far too many celebrities than she should on Instagram. You can find Sarah on Twitter at @sarahzpike.

Get those summer souvenirs in order, and make a plan for handling the new school year's awards and art projects.

These days, our homes seems to be full of more belongings than ever before. Family photos, memorabilia, and collections of heirlooms, glassware, and LP albums can threaten to take over all your available storage space.

To keep these items under control, your camera is your secret weapon. Keep it at the ready to snap photos of your treasured items. Taking photos of your mementos allows you to document and inventory what you have, and provides you with a choice: to keep the item (which takes up more space) or just keep the photo (which takes up less space).


Among the items many people feel overwhelmed by are kids’ artwork, photos and precious heirlooms. Here are some strategies for handling these common memory maker dilemmas.

Kids’ artwork and school projects

Often, parents (especially moms) are more attached to their children’s creative collections than the kids are. Evidence of students’ creativity comes home from school in the form of oversized artwork with cotton balls, glitter, Popsicle sticks, and tree bark glued to paper. Storing all these works of art can be challenging.

If this is the case in your home, try this systematic approach to taming the collection.

  1. Give each child one “art bin.”
  2. Fill the bin, and at the end of the school year (or even during a holiday break), ask your child to select her favorite pieces to keep.
  3. After your child has selected her favorites, it’s your turn to pick your preferred pieces.
  4. Make a decision to keep 10 to 20 pieces of art per year and — gulp! — toss the rest.
  5. If it pains you to throw out the other items, your camera can help. Snap a photo of those pieces before tossing them out, and you’ll always have the memory — without the hassle of storing all that artwork.


Photo organization projects are the most thought-about, yet most procrastinated projects many people encounter. How do you tackle this assignment? Here’s one strategy.

  1. Before you begin your photo organizing, decide how you and your family like to view photos. Some people enjoy looking at photos on a computer or TV screen, others want a meticulously labeled photo album, and still others love dumping a box of random photos onto a table and looking at them in no particular order over afternoon coffee. Once you understand the kind of viewing experience you enjoy, then you can build the project from there.shutterstock_91592297
  2. Whether you are organizing photos electronically or manually, define your photo categories. This helps in the sorting process, and lets you know how many albums, boxes, bins or baggies to have on hand for the project. You can organize photos chronologically, or group them by the people featured (such as friends from your book club), geographical location (your trip to Boston), or events (Halloween).
  3. Keep it simple. Once you have defined your categories, only sort photos into the categories you’ve created. If pictures don’t fit into your current categories, hold those pics aside and just deal with the ones you know. This will allow you to finish the project, even if it’s not perfect. You’ll need to go back to the project at another time, and you can repeat this process then.


Sadly, heirlooms have become less important to us now than in the past. We live in an age that prizes new, pretty, and sparkly.shutterstock_282448391

If a loved one gives you an heirloom you really don’t want, you don’t need to condemn yourself to storing the items out of guilt. Be honest with yourself about this, and then take a couple of actions to honor the person who gifted the item to you.

By simply taking a photo of the item (or you with the item), you can “bookmark the memory” and pay homage to the story behind it. The photo allows you to keep the memory alive, tell a story about the person who gave it to you, and feel like you’ve placed some importance on their precious heirloom.

Once you’ve taken these actions, the guilt often lifts, allowing you to give the item away to a good home or sell it.


About the author


DorothyTheOrganizer (Dorothy Breininger) is America’s most innovative organizer and can be seen weekly on the critically acclaimed, Emmy-nominated show “Hoarders” on A&E. She also appears on The Doctors, The Dr. Phil Show and The View. Creating organization solutions that change people’s lives is her passion. Follow DorothyTheOrganizer on Facebook and Twitter.

Can you tell an arch from an arbor, from a trellis, from a pergola?

Trellises, arches, arbors, and pergolas: These four garden structures are often confused.

After all, each can be used to give your outdoor space privacy, shade, and filtered light, as well as serve as a support for climbing plants.

If you have a hard time remembering which structure is which, here are mnemonics to help you:

  • Trellises are for Training vines, and they stand up straight like the letters ‘lli’ in the middle of the word ‘trellis’.
  • Arches and Arbors are the two words that start with the letter ‘A’, and they both form an ‘A’ shape that you can walk under.
  • Pergolas have four Posts, cover a Patio and often need to be installed by Professionals.

Can you tell that that the author of this article has been watching “Sesame Street” lately?

Now that you have a general idea of which garden structure is which, you can decide which structure is appropriate for your garden.

A trellis is for training

Let’s start with the trellis. A trellis is an easy and affordable addition because it’s really nothing more than a vertical screen on which plants can climb. You can make one from scratch, buy one from the hardware store, or pick up a tacky plastic one from a local big-box retailer.

Use trellises to serve as focal points, disguise unsightly areas, and support climbing vegetables and flowers. Place multiple trellises side by side, or space them at regular intervals to create a garden wall.

When choosing a trellis, take into consideration its ability to hold up under the weight of plants, heavy winds, and the ravages of time. Wood trellises are the most popular choice because they have a classic look, and are relatively affordable, readily available, and easy to replace.

Walk through your arch or arbor

An arch is essentially a trellis that continues overhead to make — guess what? — an arch. Arches are more expensive than trellises and take more time to install, but they are worthwhile additions.

Erect an arch to frame a view, or use it to mark the transition from one outdoor area to the next. Place one at the entrance to a vegetable garden, in an opening between hedges, or at the beginning of a path. Give visitors a reason to explore beyond the patio by constructing a freestanding arch that can be seen from a distance.

A close cousin to the arch is the arbor. Like arches, arbors are used to cover a path, provide a focal point, frame a view, or serve as an entry point to an area of the garden. Like arches, they usually have trellises to either side for climbing plants.

Plant fragrant flowers or interesting climbing veggies and fruits at either side to create a tunnel of fragrance or hanging produce within easy reach.

Pergolas cover patios

A really large arbor that covers an entire seating area, on the other hand, is considered a pergola. Pergolas require more time and money to build than their smaller counterparts, but they add lots of value.

Usually, pergolas are supported by four big posts at each corner and topped with an open latticework. If you have the space, use pergolas to create a seating area away from the house. Most people, however, place pergolas against the house to cover a patio or deck.

The main disadvantage of a pergola versus a roof is that the open latticework leaves the seating area more exposed to the elements, but this could be to your advantage because filtered shade creates a more open feeling and lets more sunlight into the house.

Pergolas usually do not have trellises attached, but are often still used as a support for wisteria, trumpet vines, hops, clematis, and bougainvillea.

How to choose plants for your garden structure

When choosing plants for your trellis, arbor, arch, or pergola, avoid those that will either outgrow their space, weigh down the structure, or make maintenance a nightmare. Also consider the attachment method for each plant.

Avoid vines like Virginia creeper or ivy that attach directly to surfaces and can lead to rot. If you are choosing a weak-stemmed and rambling plant like a climbing rose or bougainvillea, help the stems attach by loosely tying them in place as they establish.

To prevent rot and keep structures standing strong, choose a weather-resistant wood and sink the posts into concrete footings that slope downwards so moisture doesn’t collect.

Trellises, arbors and arches can be a weekend job, but consider getting help for larger structures like pergolas. Remember, the letter P in Pergola is there to remind you to Possibly Ponder a Professional.

Top image from Zillow listing.



Arrange it on paper, move it once! Get tips for creating expert furniture arrangements in any room.

Staring at the blank walls of your new home and trying to envision where furniture should go can be overwhelming. But while each space is different, there are guidelines that can help you make the most of your space.

Let’s take a look at the most common ways to arrange furniture in each room.

First, sketch it out

Make a sketch of the room on graph paper so you can experiment with different arrangements before moving heavy furniture. Note entrances, exits, windows, heating vents and other elements that cannot move and need to be worked around.

Next, take stock of your current furniture. A measuring tape will be useful here so you can map out what might fit where.

Consider furniture size in relation to layout. Pencil them in on your sketch, and move things around on paper again until you find an arrangement that seems satisfactory.

If you’re stuck, try some of these classic furniture arrangements or ideas for tricky spaces.

Living room

The living room is one of the most used spaces in your home, and creating a space that’s conducive to conversation is important.

The most classic living room layout is an L shape, created with a sofa and love seat. Place a coffee table in the middle, and arrange the furniture toward a focal point, be it a television or fireplace.

Another classic arrangement is a sofa flanked by two comfortable chairs. The chairs can face the same focal point as the sofa or turned around to face the sofa. This arrangement welcomes a large coffee table, ottoman or two small side tables beside the sofa.

Regardless of your furniture arrangement, keep these guidelines in mind: Make sure no seats are more than 7 to 9 feet apart, and try to leave a pathway of 3 feet between all furniture pieces.

Traditional living room with neutral color scheme
Photo from Zillow listing.

These may not work for all spaces, but they are certainly worth a shot. If you have a tricky living room space, try these ideas.

Long, narrow spaces

Break up the floor plan so the room doesn’t feel cramped. Instead of a few large pieces of furniture, try smaller pieces that create individual seating areas and various angles that help the room feel less narrow. Use rugs to create smaller spaces within the long room and break up the length.

Square spaces

It can be easy to place all of the furniture against the walls to create a boxy layout in a square living room. Avoid this by floating all of the furniture off the wall.

Add a console table behind the sofa for additional storage. Use curved furniture to add visual interest to the room. Be sure to add height with bookcases, shelves and art on the walls.

Open spaces

An open space may feel difficult to fill, but there are many options. Create small seating areas around a main focal point so everyone can feel involved in one activity or engage separately. This may mean having more than one coffee table.

You may also try a small sofa surrounded by comfortable chairs instead of a sectional. Look for versatile pieces that can be moved as the situation warrants, since open spaces can be multifunctional.


While you’re more limited by plumbing and electrical features in the kitchen, you can still maximize the space to make it work for you.

Gray and white modern kitchen
Photo from Zillow listing.

The work triangle

Workflow is key in the kitchen. Place the sink, refrigerator and stove in a triangular arrangement. This is considered the most efficient way to work in any kitchen space. This may mean removing or adding a kitchen island, moving the refrigerator or moving a seating area.

Kitchen islands

Islands should be easily reachable from the sink or stove so you can work on both surfaces at the same time. A good rule of thumb is at least 3 feet of space on each side of the island to prevent a crowded space.

Seating areas

If you’re adding seating to a kitchen island, consider knee space. Stools should be a foot lower than counter height. If you have a 36-inch counter, look for 24-inch stools. Place stools on the opposite side of the the cooking area for safety.

Dining room

All dining rooms serve the same major purpose: Create a space that provides a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere to eat and entertain.

Traditional dining room with neutral color scheme
Photo from Zillow listing.

Table shape

The main choice for a dining room layout is table shape and size: a square, rectangular or round table. Round tables are familial, but they take up more space and accommodate fewer people.

Square tables are comfortable, and many have leaves that can be added for additional guests. You can store extra chairs in a closet or along an empty wall in the dining room.

Rectangular dining tables are great for formal entertaining, but they can be a bit intimidating for everyday dining.


The classic dining room layout features a large table in the middle of the room, centered under the main lighting element. Make sure there is at least 3 feet, preferably 4, between the back of a chair and the wall so guests have enough room to comfortably get in and out of chairs.

A sideboard or china hutch on the longest wall is another traditional dining room element. These should be narrow enough to allow the 3-4 feet of access behind chairs.

If your dining space is too small for a sideboard or hutch, consider a small bookshelf or bar cart to hold dining accessories.


While it is tempting to overfill your bedroom with dressers, side tables and other furniture, it’s important to remember that “less is more” when creating a relaxing space.

Start by deciding where you want to set up your bed, and then arrange the rest of your bedroom from there.

Traditional bedroom with neutral color scheme
Photo from Zillow listing.

Positioning your bed

A traditional bedroom layout features the bed in the middle of the wall opposite the entryway. This allows the headboard to be the focus of attention when you enter the room. But not every bedroom will have a long enough wall — or wall space without windows, doors and heaters — to use this arrangement.

In that case, the bed can be placed diagonally for a dramatic look in a corner, or against any wall long enough to accommodate it. Positioning a bed on the wall between two windows is ideal.

If you must block a window, choose one that can be centered behind the bed and not frequently opened.

Fitting furniture

Nightstands typically go on each side of the bed, and a chest of drawers on a side wall near the bedroom (and bathroom, if there is one). A sitting room is a nice finishing touch for any bedroom if there’s room. Place it in a corner at an angle, with a small reading table and lamp nearby.

No matter the size or configuration of your space, there’s a layout that will work. Keep trying different arrangements, both traditional and nontraditional, to create a space that works for your lifestyle.

Top image from Zillow listing.


About the author

Natalie Wise

Natalie Wise, M.A., covers real estate and celebrity real estate for Zillow.

99 bottles of wine to store, 99 bottles of wine .... Here's how to keep them.

Are wine bottles starting to accumulate on your countertops, refrigerator shelves, and in your pantry?

That’s a tell-tale sign that it’s time to think about creating a long-term wine storage solution. Whether you’re a budding connoisseur or a seasoned wine veteran (aka oenophile), the options for storage are almost as varied as wine itself.

Wine ages best when stored in conditions that mimic traditional wine caves (think: ancient French and Italian cellars located beside scenic vineyards), so cool, humid, and dark spaces are recommended.

Building a temperature- and humidity-controlled wine storage space is not feasible for everyone, but creating an aesthetically pleasing one is within any collector’s means.

Wine collectors on a budget

Many wine connoisseurs tuck away their bottles in dark basements, but a growing trend is to flaunt wine collections inside main living spaces such as dining rooms, says Erik Kuehne, a regional manager at Wine Cellar Innovations, which specializes in storage.

For a beginning collector, this could mean using a few simple storage cubes with an X-rack in the middle to stash bottles horizontally. Beginning at around $50 each, the cubes can be stacked in any configuration, with the possibility to purchase more as a collection grows.

An abundance of furnishings, from sideboards to cabinets, are made specifically for wine storage.

Wall-mounted wine racks save on space but add a wow-factor to your room. Photo from Zillow listing.

Preconfigured wine shelves that fit in a corner or on a wall are another relatively inexpensive option for people who want to show off their wine but don’t have room for more furniture.

Mid-range storage solutions

Oenophiles who are ready to take their wine storage to the next level should consider keeping their collection refrigerated. This will increase the price of the storage solution, but really helps to keep wine in top condition, according to Kuehne.

When kept at approximately 55 degrees Fahrenheit, wine will age more slowly, peak longer, and decline at a slower rate. Storing it in a humid environment — 70 percent is ideal — will prevent ullage (loss of liquid through the cork).

Wine coolers built into a kitchen island. Photo from Zillow listing.

Refrigerated cabinets that achieve these conditions can be freestanding, or seamlessly integrated into a kitchen.

Wine refrigerators come in a wide array of sizes — holding 12 to 100 bottles or more — and range in price from $100 to over $2,000 for customized coolers.

Another option is to create a miniature wine room in a dining room or other living space to showcase your collection. Build out a small room (or transform a closet), set up a wine cooler unit, install racks, and enclose it behind a glass door.

True oenophile wine cellars

The sky is the limit for those wanting to install a truly state-of-the-art wine room. Prices begin in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Art nooks, humidors, expensive wood, lacquered racks and displays for a collector’s best bottles bring up a wine room’s panache — and price tag — several notches.

A contemporary take on a high-end wine room. Photo from Zillow listing.

So does expanding a wine cellar for an ever-growing collection. “We’ve done 3,000-bottle cellars and gone back in three years and knocked out walls and put in 5,000 more bottles,” Kuehne remarks.

If your budget allows, build a wine room for the collection you will have, and not just for the one you currently have.

One British company, Spiral Cellars, specializes in narrow, room-height cylinders that are inserted underground and lined with wine racking and a spiral staircase.

The units hold more than 1,000 bottles, and open up into a kitchen or other space via a trap or retractable door in the floor.

Underground storage is ideal if you have the space. Courtesy of Spiral Cellars.

This is a great option if you have the cash (on the order of tens of thousands of dollars) but not the square footage for storing a large wine collection.

Although most of his custom jobs start at the $50,000 mark, Kuehne has one important piece of advice for wine connoisseurs at any price range: Do it right the first time.

“A big part of my week is troubleshooting,” he said. For example, if certain molds or substances that affect the air quality are introduced, it can impact the integrity of the wine. Naturally aromatic cedar, oil-based stains, and glue-filled plywood can all affect a wine’s flavor.

Proper wine storage helps collectors not only protect their investments, but also ensure a top-quality wine when it comes time to pop the cork.

Top image from Zillow listing.


About the author

Becca Milfeld

Becca Milfeld is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist. U.S. history, travel and France are among her favorite things. Her dream home is an 18th-century U.S. farm house... or a French castle. Connect with her at @becca_milfeld.
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