For many people, the new year represents a clean slate and brings a renewed sense of possibility and enthusiasm. It’s a wonderful time to get your home organized in anticipation of the busy months ahead. Effective storage solutions and organization systems will enable you to enjoy your home to its fullest. Here are some tips to put you on track for an orderly and productive year.
Learn to let things go
The first step in any organization plan is purging. This can be the hardest part, but it is also the most rewarding.
Don’t keep things that aren’t functional or don’t bring you joy. Also remember that something you let go of might make someone else very happy.
If you’re not sure you can part with an item, store it in a box and see if you miss it or need it. This is a great litmus test for what’s truly necessary. If you don’t miss it after a set amount of time, donate it!
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good
Any organization effort is better than no organization effort. It’s best to approach a behemoth task like organizing your entire home in stages.
The house provides us with natural barriers. Think of each room as its own project and it will begin to feel more manageable.
And remember that it gets worse before it gets better, so don’t feel discouraged early on. Organizing is not something that happens in one day – it’s a journey and a state of mind.
Think outside the box store
A trip to your local organization store can be fun, but unorthodox storage solutions make for a more interesting space.
Beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces can be highly practical and help make your home more functional. Make use of available and affordable materials, when possible, to stretch your home organization budget. You can craft solutions yourself or revitalize secondhand pieces that fit with your style.
This bookcase was made out of old wine boxes and then stained a dark walnut color.
The three Bs: bins, buckets and baskets
Oh, and jars. (But that doesn’t start with a B.)
Once you’ve whittled down your belongings to favorites and essentials, you’re going to need somewhere to store them. Baskets and buckets have a wonderful visual impact in a room – filling nooks, resting against chairs and adding texture and color.
They are also highly functional for storing everything from toys and blankets to magazines and shoes. Keep an eye out for unexpected vessels, like this gigantic industrial mixing bowl that is now a great solution for avoiding entryway clutter.
Using jars in the kitchen to store dry goods can make open shelving a lot more appealing. Bonus: By keeping healthy ingredients in plain sight, you’ll probably end up using them more often.
Use your vertical space
If your home doesn’t have a huge footprint, vertical solutions are essential for staying organized. These can be implemented in a more practical manner – like stacking bins and boxes under your bed or in your closet – as well as through design decisions.
Capitalizing on vertical space draws the eye to different parts of the room and creates a sense of balance, in addition to saving important real estate on the floor.
This curio cabinet makes excellent use of a corner that might otherwise be neglected. A hanging light above has a nice visual impact and doesn’t take up any additional space.
The best reason to get and stay organized? You’ll save yourself valuable time – which means you can focus on doing things that really matter to you.
A 226-acre ranch in Jackson, WY, that includes a recently completed “architectural masterpiece” is this week’s most expensive new listing on realtor.com®. The prestigious property hit the market with an asking price of $35 million.
Formerly known as Puzzleface Ranch, the property was purchased in 2010 for $7.8 million, which represented a huge price cut. The property originally landed on the market in 2006 for $25 million, according to local news reports.
The buyer was reported to be Fintan Ryan, who proceeded with plans to build a massive mansion on the Puzzleface plot.
However, Ryan ran up against local officials and county regulations with his grand plans. Teton County initially approved his project—but then objected to the elevation and size of the home. With its fully finished basement, the residence measured in at nearly double the size that is locally allowed for a single-family home.
Eventually, Ryan won permission to build, and now the enormous 18,321-square-foot home sits in the heart of Jackson Hole. “You can never build anything like this again, ever,” says listing agent Tom Evans of Sotheby’s International Realty.
Although the home was just finished and built exactly to his specifications, Ryan has moved out of state for work reasons and placed the property on the market.
With seven bedrooms and 11 bathrooms, the huge layout features nine fireplaces, an elevator, a four-car garage, and multiple patios. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow for abundant light and bring the natural beauty of the outdoors inside.
With so much indoor and outdoor space, “It’s almost like a country club,” Evans says. “It’s a building where you can entertain many, many people.”
Other luxe features include a movie theater, wine cellar, gym, large kitchen, and living room centered around a glass wood-burning fireplace.
Each of the three bedroom suites includes two baths and a private living area. The finished basement boasts a wet bar. Smart home features allow for remote operation of heating, lights, and drapes.
The spread also includes a caretaker’s home, two barns, a workshop, and a toolshed.
Two additional adjoining parcels include a three-bedroom guesthouse and an “unimproved building site.” The grounds offer wide-open spaces with ponds, a variety of wildlife, and Grand Teton and Snake River Range views.
Not enough for you? Additional development rights are available to build two more homes of up to 8,000 square feet each, Evans says.
And it’s not the only impressive area mansion on the market. Earlier this fall, a similarly priced property in Jackson also topped our weekly look at pricey properties. That luxury home on 118 acres is still available for $33.9 million.
For wealthy clients in the search for the perfect place in Jackson, opportunities abound. Just make sure to pack your wallet.
The home-buying season used to kick off sometime in spring, as the snow began to melt and people tried to plan for a summer move-in. But in recent years, the limited supply of homes for sale has spurred buyers to start their hunt earlier and earlier—and now, they’re jumping into the market en masse in January, according to a recent realtor.com analysis. Happy New Year, now start house hunting!
In about 20% of the nation’s largest housing markets, January was the month in which buyers logged the most listing views, the realtor.com team found. The analysis looked at the number of monthly views on realtor.com from 2015 to 2019—and discovered the extent of spring market creep, as buyers try to get ahead of the competition for the few homes on the market.
The number of properties for sale dropped 9.5% in November compared with a year earlier, according to the analysis—and the shortage was already bad a year ago. But even worse for cash-strapped and first-time buyers was that the number of homes priced below $200,000 fell 16.5% over the same period.
“As shoppers … [navigate] a housing market that has become more competitive due to rising prices and low inventory, the search for a home is beginning earlier and earlier,” says realtor.com’s Senior Economist George Ratiu. And as more homes aren’t expected to go onto the market anytime soon, ”we expect to see this trend continue into the new year.”
January 2019 was the busiest month for listing views on record for home buyers in the Seattle metropolitan area, which includes the surrounding suburbs, towns, and smaller cities. The number of property listings near the home of Amazon was 31.7% higher in the first month of this year than the next highest month, which was April, according to the analysis.
The median list price in Seattle was $580,000 as of Nov. 1, according to realtor.com data.
Many Seattle house hunters are moving from other parts of the country to take jobs at tech giants like Amazon, Google, and Facebook, says Seattle real estate agent Marlow Harris of Windermere Real Estate. Buyers want to find a house early so they can move over the summer, when the kids are out of school.
“During the holidays, everyone’s so busy,” Harris says. “But in January, it’s a new year and people are starting to make plans.”
The rest of the metros where January was the top month for home shoppers were all warmer weather climates, where buyers don’t have to trek through a snowstorm to visit an open house.
Want to settle in a new city? Then consider Topeka, KS. Although it might not be the top dream destination on your list, a new program will pay you up to $15,000 to move there.
The program, Choose Topeka, hopes to attract young professionals to live and work in this Kansas capital city. Forty to 60 residents will be eligible for this award, which gets distributed only after you’ve been living there one year (to ensure you don’t just take the money and run).
Renters are eligible for receiving $10,000, while those who put down deeper roots by buying a home get showered with $15,000.
So far, Topeka’s sales pitch seems to be working: Since launching last week, hundreds of applications have reportedly rolled in from across North America (and even from Europe, Asia, and South America).
Granted, if you’re selected as a lucky winner, much of that reward money will go straight to covering moving expenses. The average professional interstate move costs around $5,630 (that’s for 7,100 pounds of furniture).
Still, whatever money you’re paid to move there is just the beginning of your financial gains, since the cost of living and housing is also low there. Here’s more of Topeka’s sales pitch, and whether it’s worth it to make the leap.
Should you choose Topeka as your new home?
Topeka isn’t the first city to try this tactic by a long stretch. A variety of locations across the U.S. have offered to pay new residents as an incentive to move there. They include Tulsa, OK; Baltimore; New Haven, CT; and the states of Vermont, Nebraska, and Alaska.
The main goal for all of these programs is to provide a much-needed boost to the local population and economy. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Topeka, about 125,900 in 2018, fell 1.4% from 2010.
On the bright side, Topeka does boast some large companies, including AT&T, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Goodyear, Frito-Lay, and Washburn University.
“Topeka has some great companies that employ a huge number of people in banking, financial, and manufacturing industries,” says local real estate agent Chen Liang.
The cost of living here is also 10% below the national average. The average monthly rent will run about $762, while the average cost of a single-family home is only $125,000.
“Our homes are generally lower priced than our surrounding towns’,” says Michelle Aenk, a real estate agent with Realty Professionals of Topeka.
Homes are so affordable that, according to Justin Gilbert, a real estate agent with GreatMoveTeam Topeka, it’s possible to live a “high-quality lifestyle with a medium income or extremely grand lifestyle with an upper income.”
What life in Topeka is like
So what exactly would this “grand” lifestyle in Topeka look like?
For starters, Topeka’s downtown area is “up-and-coming,” with fine dining restaurants, an arts district, a retro arcade bowling alley, and (last but certainly not least) the Evel Knievel Museum. If you’re the outdoorsy type, you can enjoy more than 100 parks, 30 miles of paved bike pathways, and 27 miles of hiking trails. If you’re a beer aficionado, you can imbibe at no less than five breweries that call Topeka home.
“We are big enough for big-city amenities, but small enough you can help in the community, build relationships, and make a business impact,” Gilbert says. “It’s easy living.”
And as for your life at home? Check out some homes currently for sale below to get a sense of what your money can buy there.
This 1,600-square-foot classic home in the Elmhurst neighborhood was built in 1927. The four-bedroom, two-bathroom features kitchen and bathroom updates, an enclosed front porch, and back deck. It’s priced at just $43 per square foot.
Located in Central Topeka, this three-bedroom, two-story was built in 1928 and features hardwood floors and an updated kitchen. It has a private backyard with a deck. Right across the street is Gage Park and the Topeka Zoo. The nearly 1,700-square-foot home is $59 per square foot.
This new-construction, ranch-style home is located in a popular school district, Washburn Rural Schools. It’s a spacious 3,200 square feet and has five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a three-car garage, and an open kitchen.
This three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in the Oakland neighborhood was built in 1925. It has refinished hardwood floors, refurbished kitchen, and newly landscaped yard. The home is nearly 1,700 square feet.
This fall, millions watched riveted as American planes dropped bombs on a prosperous, black community in Oklahoma, and a white mob fired upon unarmed citizens. Businesses and homes exploded as men, women, and children fled, some engulfed in flames. Countless people lay dead in the streets. And all of that was in the opening sequence of HBO’s just-wrapped, superhero hit “Watchmen.”
But while the series—a continuation of the iconic and beloved 33-year-old graphic novel—was full of bizarre sci-fi moments involving teleportation, clones, and space squids, every brutal detail of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre was all too true.
“Watchmen” shed a light on this dark and largely forgotten moment in American history, the annihilation of Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood, commonly known as “Black Wall Street.” At its height, it was one of the country’s most prosperous African American communities.
Despite the odds, Greenwood was rebuilt after the massacre—only to be ravaged again by the forces of urban renewal and the changing times. Now local leaders are hoping that the mass exposure from the show, along with a new history center, are enough to save Greenwood once again.
And this week’s discovery of two mass graves where victims of the massacre may have been buried thrust the community back into the spotlight.
“The story of Greenwood is about resiliency,” says Freeman Culver, president and CEO of the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce. “Maybe ‘Watchmen’ can bring some more light on what’s going on and bring some more resources to the area.”
Today, a highway cuts through the area, and most of the businesses are gone. The stately, brick mansions, once owned by black bankers and lawyers, have been razed to make way for a university campus. And while black families still live in some of the surviving, modest, one- and two-story, brick and wood homes with porches out front scattered throughout the area, only one block of historic Greenwood remains. The boundaries of the rest of the roughly three dozen blocks have shifted and now bleed into downtown, University Park, and North Tulsa.
“Greenwood today is just a shell of its former self,” says Kavin Ross, a local historian and a freelance writer and photographer at the Greenwood Tribune. “During its heyday, before and after the massacre, there were businesses and homes all along the corridor. I’m saddened that it’s not like it was. The businesses are no longer there. We have boarded-up houses.
“It’s almost like somebody came in and destroyed it once again.”
Median home list prices in the ZIP code that includes historic Greenwood were $399,900 as of Nov. 1, according to realtor.com® data. But that ZIP also includes swaths of pricey downtown. The median list price in the ZIP just above it, which includes the top portion of the community as well as much less well-off North Tulsa, were much lower, at a median $159,000. (Citywide, Tulsa’s median home price was $264,000.)
In the southern portion of Greenwood, near downtown, new apartment and condo buildings are going up, luring recent college grads and young professionals. Businesses are moving in. The new, six-story headquarters for Vast Bank is almost completed, a coup for the community. But the northern swath is a mix of older homes in need of repairs, recently remodeled abodes, and scattered new construction.
Locals are hopeful that the exposure from “Watchmen”—and the construction of the 7,000-square-foot, new history center, Greenwood Rising: The Legacy of Black Wall Street, breaking ground next month—can pull off a victory worthy of a superhero. The center is slated to open in 2021, 100 years after the massacre. As part of the $26 million project, the existing Greenwood Cultural Center will also undergo a renovation on the same campus, and a historic walking path will be created to reconnect the old district.
We hope “businesses will return and make this a thriving, entrepreneurial, African American community again,” says Phil Armstrong, project director of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission. The commission is overseeing the project.
The rise—and devastating fall—of America’s ‘Black Wall Street’
Greenwood got its start at the turn of the 20th century. It was an appealing destination for African Americans who were eager to own their own land and escape the Deep South. But in an ironic twist, Greenwood’s success was largely due to the racist Jim Crow laws, which cut off the black community from its white neighbors.
Since segregation prohibited blacks from shopping or dining in the white part of town, they were forced to create their own establishments. So they did—and they prospered. Greenwood was so successful it became a model for other black communities around the country, says historian Shirley Nero. Between 8,000 and 10,000 people called Greenwood home.
In the early 1920s, there were about 20 restaurants, shops, hotels, movie theaters, and at least 30 grocery stores in the roughly 36 blocks constituting Greenwood, according to the Washington Post. There was also a hospital, good schools, and two black-owned newspapers. The most affluent citizens lived in multilevel brick mansions with red-orange clay tile roofs just outside the commercial hub along Detroit Avenue.
“There were doctors, lawyers, bankers,” says Lynda Ozan, Oklahoma’s deputy historic preservation officer. The larger homes were built surrounding the commercial area, where the more blue-collar, one- and two-story, wood or brick homes with front porches were farther out.
Their success didn’t go unnoticed in the white community. Race riots, lynchings, and massacres were erupting around the country. All it needed was a spark. In Tulsa, it was provided by a white woman who falsely accused a young black man of rape. Tensions between the two communities heightened after he was arrested. And on June 1, 1921, the massacre began. The governor declared martial law.
The HBO show “surprisingly and eerily very accurately depicts the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre,” says the commission’s Armstrong. He’s thanked the producers for the international attention they’ve brought to Tulsa’s darkest history. “This really did happen on American soil. It was devastating.”
Within 24 hours, Black Wall Street was no more. It’s not known how many people perished, because many were buried in mass graves. Estimates range between 100 and 300 victims. The only thing left standing were two of the brick walls of the New Vernon AME Church, says Armstrong. No one was ever charged in the murders.
Losses were estimated at anywhere from $1.5 million to $27 million. With inflation that would be between $19.4 million and $374 million today.
Insurance companies blamed the annihilation on “riots,” a classification that meant they weren’t on the hook to pay out a dime. White city officials passed local ordinances designed to make it too expensive for residents to rebuild their homes and businesses.
But the community persevered. Lawyers contested the ordinances, taking their case all the way to the Oklahoma Supreme Court—and won. Within a year, nearly all of the homes had been rebuilt and the community was once again beginning to thrive. It reached its peak two decades later, in the mid-1940s.
“To this day, the families and businesses could never receive payment for their losses. They could not file claims,” says Armstrong. “The fact that these black citizens were able to rebuild, and rebuild bigger and better than it was before, is a story of the enduring human spirit and the spirit of resilience.”
Greenwood decimated a second time in the name of progress
That resilience couldn’t save the neighborhood from the mid-1960s: the end of Jim Crow and the acceleration of urban renewal. The forces at work were beyond the powers of even Dr. Manhattan.
With segregation outlawed, blacks were finally free to spend their money in the white community that had been off-limits to them. And they did, withdrawing their support from the black-owned businesses in Greenwood.
Around the same time, the city officials decided to put a highway straight through the middle of the neighborhood. All over the nation, urban renewal projects, often called “urban removal,” were breaking up lower-income, minority communities, which didn’t have the political and financial means to fight. Tulsa was no different.
Construction on Interstate Highway 244 split Greenwood in half.
The final nail in the coffin was likely the local children who went off to college—and became doctors, lawyers, and bankers elsewhere. With no one to pass on the family businesses, many closed.
“The real tragedy is the fact the businesses and land owned by African Americans is minuscule in relation to what it was,” says Oklahoma state Sen. Kevin Matthews. He also chairs the 1921 Race Massacre Centennial Commission. “What happened is a shame.”
Greenwood’s third act?
The Greenwood of today doesn’t bear much resemblance to the Black Wall Street of yesteryear. Just two buildings, both of which were rebuilt after the massacre, remain of Greenwood today. They house the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce and a few black-owned businesses on a half-block of North Greenwood Avenue.
“As soon as you cross the railroad tracks now from downtown into historic Greenwood, you come into a lot of new developments,” says the commission’s Armstrong. “There’s the [minor-league] Tulsa Drillers‘ baseball stadium, which started a lot of development. There’s an arts district that’s popped up. There’s a slew of eateries. There’s a lot of small businesses.”
New apartment and condo buildings have sprung up along with office buildings, eateries, and other businesses.
The Tulsa branches of two college campuses, Oklahoma State University and historically black Langston University, now occupy swaths of the neighborhood. The state university now sits where many of the neighborhood’s mansions once stood.
Middle-class, wood and brick one- and two-story homes still dot the community. But the farther north folks go, the worse off the neighborhood becomes as it blends into poorer North Tulsa. The latter area is known for its high crime rates, dearth of grocery stores, and dollar stores and fast-food chains.
Without a team of real-life superheroes to save the day, Greenwood leaders and residents are relying on the success of the new center—and the buzz created by “Watchmen”—to breathe new life into Black Wall Street.
“The biggest impact [of ‘Watchmen’] is bringing attention to Tulsa and what happened here,” says Matthews, the state senator. “People are now looking into that story and learning more about it.”
The commission’s Armstrong would agree.
“[We want people] to come to Greenwood and learn about this rich history and be a catalyst for tourism and economic development for the district,” says Armstrong. “We want African Americans and minorities to feel empowered to … reinvigorate the entrepreneurial spirit of Greenwood.”
Kylie Jenner may be the world’s youngest billionaire, but that doesn’t mean she shuns a bargain. Want proof? Check out how she’s decorated her house in holiday wares from Target.
Jenner revealed her Target run in a recent YouTube video where she toured her home, pointing out how she’s decked the halls almost exclusively in stuff from this store.
“I just love traditional, little Christmas things,” she shares.
Want to capture the same yuletide vibe as Jenner? Check out the decor items she chose and marvel at just how little it all costs.
Frasier fir candle
Most scented candles smell up a room—not in a good way—but this pick actually evokes a freshly cut pine ($30, Amazon). And if you’re putting up a fake tree this year, a fragrant fir candle will give you the scent you crave, without all those needles on the carpet.
Top your kid’s bed or guest accommodations with this fun Christmas phrase. This pick is sweetly designed with script letters and made from fabric that supports a nonprofit working toward sustainable standards in cotton farming ($30, Pottery Barn).
These cute houses are so affordable you can pick up a half-dozen and still have money left over for a piece of garland to drape among them. Add LED tea lights inside each for a soft glow, and then arrange your Christmas town on a hutch or foyer shelf ($2 each, Target).
A tiny Prancer, Dancer, and Vixen are the lovely addition to your Christmas table ($7 for three, Target). Or use them as stocking stuffers for a dollhouse-loving kid or cake toppers on a holiday buffet for an upcoming party.
Elf on the shelf? Nah, choose a Santa to scale your tree or stair railing instead. He’s helping you decorate and entertaining the kids as he climbs the ladder, over and over ($45, Target).
How many days until Christmas? This timeless tabletop Christmas item can be used over and over, and it’s healthier than the calendars that hold a piece of chocolate for every day of December ($30, Target).
Kylie has several Santas set up in her home, including this ornate version ($164, Target). Try this Father Christmas in a hallway, on your front steps, or in a bay window overlooking the yard.
Start a tradition by collecting ornaments every year like this nutcracker that’s stamped with “2019” ($10, Target). This sparkly version is ideal for a table centerpiece or as part of a group of nutcrackers along a staircase.