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Organized For Summer

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Sunshine has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest! It was a looooong, wet Spring but it looks like the season has finally turned and that means it’s time to get organized of all of the delights that summer has to offer! When I think of summer I think of time spent outside with friends and family, in and out of the water. I think of kids coming and going, taking advantage of the freedom they have to make their own schedules and plan their own activities with friends. I think of alfresco meals on the patio or deck and getting creative with summer-specific cocktails. I also think of time wasted trying to find the gear you need that is buried somewhere; bits in the house, lots in the garage, nothing within easy reach so you can get on with your day of swimming, boating, camping or having friends over for a meal.

I realize that the holiday season is WAY in the rearview mirror and this point in the year, but I’m going to take you back there for just a minute. The holidays have more definitive punctuation points that mark the beginning and end of the season; Thanksgiving at one end, New Years at the other (I realize that some people keep their trees up way past New Years but for the purposes of this post let’s assume that the trees come down when they should, right at the beginning of January.) Think of decorating your house for the holidays: you very likely have all of your décor in a specific storage spot (basement, attic, garage, off-site storage) and it’s probably fairly organized in bins that are loosely categorized. After Thanksgiving you haul out all of your decorations, enjoy them for a month and then pack them back up and stow them in their designated spot where they stay until next year.

Summer shares some of the same characteristics as holiday, namely the presence of items that are specifically needed for the activities we enjoy during the warm weather months. Yes, the focus is different. For holiday the items we need are things to display inside or on the exterior of our homes, for summer the items are associated with activities that mostly happen outside of the house and often need to be toted to the intended destination. Yes, summer has a more nebulous beginning and end that is weather-driven. But in both cases having the season-specific items organized and stored properly, in a designated spot where they can be easily accessed makes life easy during the transition time and most certainly adds to the in-season enjoyment.

However, what I find most often with my clients is that the summer gear does not get the same treatment as the holiday decor and most are scrambling to find things when the first opportunity comes to go to swim team practice, take the boat out, have a barbeque or take off on a camping trip. If this is the case for you I’m going to break down some key categories into lists. Everything on the list (plus any other misc items I’ve missed) should go into a bin together when you finish the season. The ‘family’ of summer bins should have a designated spot in your garage or other storage area so it’s an easy go-to next year when summer rolls around again.


Whether your kids are on a summer swim team or not the pool supplies should be together. You should have a tote bag with all of the essentials: goggles, swim caps, noodles, sunscreen & towels. I’ve also found hair essentials like a comb/brush, ties & rubber bands to come in handy. In season all of this stuff stays in the tote in your mudroom or other handy area, ready to be grabbed as you come and go to practice, a meet or just a fun day at the club. Off season everything but the towels goes in a plastic bin with a snap-on lid labeled ‘Swim’.’


If you have a big boat with a cabin you can store most of your gear in the boat during the off season. If you have smaller boat with less storage the gear stays at home and you bring it with you every time you take the boat out. You may have a specific cooler that you use for the boat, plus life vests, a First Aid kit and sunscreen. Add to this list a Bluetooth speaker, covered tumblers, towels and any tow toys you use and you are ready for a fun-filled day on the water. Just like your swim stuff the boating accoutrements need to be housed somewhere convenient during the summer, ideally in a bin labeled ‘Boating.’ When you are headed out just grab the bin and the cooler and go! When the season is over everything but the towels can stay in the bin and it stays in the same storage section as the swim stuff.


My family is not a camping family but I have many friends and clients that are. Camping gear is bulky, which generally makes it easier to find in the depths of a cluttered garage but I maintain that life will be easier if everything is stored together with the smaller items in a bin labeled ‘Camping.’ In that bin are things like lanterns, eating utensils, Rumpl blankets (if you don’t know what these are you probably don’t camp, but FYI they are amazing and have many uses beyond camping!), bug spray, water bottles, flashlights and backpacks. A small investment of time to gather all of these items together saves you a lot of scrambling prior to departure for each outdoor adventure. Keep the bulky items like tents, inflatable mattresses, sleeping bags, cook stoves plus the ‘Camping’ bin together in the same area of the garage as ‘Swim’ and ‘Boating.’


Summer entertaining is such fun! I like everything from casual barbeques to more elevated alfresco dining. And I love adding summer cocktails to our usual offering of craft beers. You can be a lot more spontaneous with your plans when you do a little up front seasonal organization. The first tip is to keep a clear bin (noticing a theme here?) labeled ‘Entertaining’ with all of your disposable serving ware: paper plates, plastic utensils & cups, napkins, wooden skewers, etc. It should be a one-stop shop for when you are throwing a casual party with a lot of people who won’t be sitting together at one table. Also in this bin should be any seasonal, re-usable decorations (e.g. July 4th flags) that can be brought out again next year. A second category, likely in its own bin is your melamine plates & bowls and acrylic glassware that you use for outdoor dining. You may have room in your kitchen or pool house cabinetry for this category but if you don’t it can live in your Summer section alongside its friends ‘Swim’ ‘Boating’ and ‘Camping.’

You have hopefully already begun your summer fun and done the work of finding the gear you need for each activity. Great. Now I ask you to take a few minutes and peruse your main storage space, likely the garage for where you will set up your ‘Summer Section’ of bins at season’s end when you are in the process of packing things away. That small time investment (and maybe some help from your spouse or an organizer if things need to be moved around) will pay off when next summer rolls around. I t will feel a bit like Holiday, when you know exactly where to go to get everything you need for the season. Summer deserves the same treatment, doesn’t it?

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