Bedding protectors are technically overkill

Dear K & K: My mother-in-law is obsessed with those covers you zip on mattresses and pillows to protect against bed bugs and other allergens. I can’t stand sleeping on them because they’re hard and plastic and crunch every time I move. Plus, it’s overkill! I say, replace your pillows every few years and call it a day. Right or wrong? Signed, Righteous in Redding.

Dear Righteous: Well, you’re both right and wrong. If you’re a Classic or a Fun, you’re dead wrong. Protectors are not overkill because you’re willing to do the extra steps they require to be cleaner and appreciate the thrifty aspect of delaying additional bedding purchases. As an aside, bedding protectors shouldn’t make noise. The one pictured above is “soft and silent” as they should be. Buy it here.

Let us be clear, however. No matter what your personality type, if you’ve got children, you need to buy them for all of their pillows and bedding. It just takes your kids first bout with the stomach flu to learn this tidbit the hard way.

NOW, you’re dead RIGHT if you’re an Organic Freedom or Smart Freedom. You guys need to get new bedding when you get to the point that you’re shocked by how gross your pillow looks when you change your sheets. Finally, Organic Structures and Smart Structures will be the wild card. Hope that helps! Katie & Kelly

Best Resource for Closets

Dear K&K: Wondering if you had any thoughts on the best resource for closets. My daughter moved to a new apt in Williamsburg last week. Great space, but bedroom has no closet. It’s not massive… 10×11, if even that. Trying to think out of the box a bit. Do you think there are options outside of IKEA that can work with someone’s small budget? I may help her out but as this is not her last dwelling, something practical would be best! She just moved in last Saturday but is surrounded by boxes. I think that novelty has worn off. Sincerely: Boxes in Brooklyn

Dear Boxes: Of course, we have a solution! Elfa’s basic closets are the bomb. Frankly, I’d probably install them in a permanent home too because they can change easily and I feel like my closet needs never stay the same forever. Anyway, you’d obviously SEE the clothes in her bedroom since she doesn’t have a closet but you could hang a top track on the ceiling for curtains like they have in hospital rooms for privacy.

Go to The Container Store (TCS) with the space dimensions including any architectural details or impediments. Next, tell them what you have clothes wise. I tell clients to literally measure the width (and length) of your hanging clothes to let them know how much long hang and short hang you need and what length each needs to be. Don’t forget to do the same for shoes. The closets are easily installed — I use TCS installation services but technically anyone can install them as it all hangs from one top track. The reason these closets are the bomb? TCS keeps a record of what you bought and when you move, you can easily bring the closet with you. I save whatever crappy closet the landlords had in there under a bed or in storage or back of a closet. After a move, you return to TCS with new closet dimensions and they can reuse a lot of what you already own. Hope that helps! Katie & Kelly

How to Put Clothes IN a Hamper

Dear K&K: How do I get my husband to put his clothes in a hamper. I think he’s a Classic Freedom based on the description on your website. He always puts his clothes on top of hamper or folds them neatly at the foot of our bed in our bedroom. It drives me crazy because it’s not that difficult. Or am I crazy?? Signed: Hampered by a hamper

Dear Hampered: Easy … and we are not trying to be glib … remove the lid from your hamper. You’d be surprised how much that one extra step hampers clothes going into a hamper. That’s step one. Now, if you’re in the market for a new hamper, get no lid hampers such as these Pehr bins. If that doesn’t do the trick? Then take his clothes and put them back in his drawers. Or, do as Kelly started doing when her husband does something similar which is to put those carefully folded clothes IN the hamper. She’s still waiting for him to notice and yell at her but hasn’t happened yet. All our best: Katie & Kelly


Best Storage for Kids’ Crafts

Dear K&K: HELP! We’re having a craft explosion. My kids love doing crafts but they’re always everywhere and a total mess. Any great craft storage solutions? Sincerely, Crafty in Cohasset

Dear Crafty: Crafts are like grown up tools. You’ve got to have lots of big containers that also house some smaller containers, i.e., how a tool box also has smaller compartments within it. Our favorite is the Smart Tote from The Container Store. Ziploc bags are good in a pinch and sometimes the best solution. You also need to make sure you’re creating enough ROOM for all of these containers. We suggest trying to create a craft closet — if you’re truly overrun by crafts — or perhaps a storage bench with crafts inside. Maybe you could even reserve a whole cupboard for crafts in the kitchen. Happy Crafting! Katie & Kelly

Raising Boys to Be Great Men

Dear K & K: My young elementary school son has a crush on a girl but she doesn’t like him back. It’s really zapped him of his usual confidence. He wants to give her a birthday present even though he wasn’t invited to a party or anything. This is all new territory for me as a mom. Any advice you might impart to him (or me!?) on how to handle it when your feelings aren’t returned? Worried in Winnipeg.

Dear Worried: Our dad always says to us, “It’s shocking to hear the things you kids remember.” SO, knowing how much kids retain means you can plant some good seeds even when they’re young. This is the best time to lay the foundation for future relationships because they still listen to our advice!

Talk to him about your experiences with boys as a young girl — the good ones and the bad ones. Help him understand when to continue pursuing a girl and when to move on to something else (and why!). Kelly’s eight year old son was astonished to learn that girls feel embarrassed about this relationship stuff just like boys do.

We’d like to pretend that we came up with these great ideas on our own. But, Kelly read this great book called Raising Boys and its advice is worth its weight in gold. Good Luck! Katie & Kelly

How to Get Your Man (or Woman) to Put Things AWAY


Dear Katie & Kelly: I keep a mail bin in our entryway where I put the mail when I bring it into the house and have asked my husband to do the same. But whenever he does it, he puts it next to the bin but not IN it so that the mail starts to go every which way. Is it that tough to put things away?? Help!!

Signed: Aggravated in Atlanta

Dear Aggravated: First, remember this universal truth: old habits die hard. You didn’t mention your personality types and we’re willing to bet good money that he’s not a Classic — the most traditionally organized type. We’re also betting if he can’t manage to put mail in a bin that he’s just as bad about putting clothes IN the hamper. But, we shall focus on solving your mail problem here.

Make sure you ask him WHY he doesn’t place the mail in the bin. You’d be surprised just how many solutions and tweaks stem from simply trying to figure out why a system isn’t working. Next, explain how important it is to you that he places the mail IN the bin. Finally, place the mail bin where he walks in the door and sets things down. If the homes for his things reside right where he naturally dumps them, there is no new habit to learn. Therefore, easier for him to put things away. Also, make sure there isn’t a lid on top of this mail bin as a lid adds an extra step to the process thereby making it harder for him to properly put away the mail.

All our best: K & K

Cheap Date Night Ideas


Dear Katie & Kelly: Money is tight right now but we desperately need a date night with three kids and a lot of stress. Any cheap date night ideas? Sincerely: Broke in Boise

Dear Broke: We’ve all been broke at one point in our lives — or at least we have! At the risk of stating the obvious … have a home date. Since drugging children with Benadryl is probably illegal and a sitter is costly, bribe your eldest to watch the younger kids. If your kids are all super little then wake them up early and put them down early. They can’t read the clock; take advantage of their illiterate years. Then make your favorite cheap dinner, set the table as if you were having guests and after play a board game afterward or cards. As awesome as watching a movie is, it’s not conducive to talking and remembering why on earth you picked this person in the first place. Cheers: Katie & Kelly 

How to Compromise on Family Pets

81f4q3o182l-_sl1500_Dear K & K: My husband wants to get a cat. I don’t. I’m not a fan of the indoor litter box, detest the idea of scratched upholstery with hair and frankly, am not a huge cat lover. We’re at loggerheads over here, and thought some Pixie Magic might help. Signed: Loggerheads in Louisiana.

Dear Loggerheards: First and foremost, you need to find a compromise you can live with AND stay married. Katie’s husband, Walter, wanted cats and she didn’t. She now has two cats. Similarly, Kelly wanted a dog but her husband, Fred, didn’t. He now has a dog. Loggerheads break on the shoals of the “weaker” link.

We don’t mean to disparage either of you. By weaker, we mean, okay, weaker BUT weaker argument not person. For example, we both have pets now, despite different stances, because we each found a realistic compromise by getting to the root of the real impediment and the other’s real desire for a pet. For Fred, it was daily dog walks, for Katie, it was shredded upholstery whereas for Kelly and Walter, it was a childhood pet for their kids. As Kelly and Walter’s reason was stronger than Katie and Fred’s impediments, and we were all willing to compromise, pets materialized in our lives. The compromises? Fred doesn’t walks the dog unless Kelly has a fever and Katie’s cats live on one floor of their house.

Most importantly, here are some ideas for you to break your loggerheads. First, get a hidden litter box that’s in a room or bathroom you don’t use. There’s a cool undersink one at Wayfair. Second, if it’s shredded furniture, consider an invisible fence. Use them to keep pets out of certain areas of the home or inside a yard.  Finally, ask him why he needs a pet. Maybe you could get a different kind of pet or there is another solution entirely. Good Luck! K&K

Lending Money to Friends

Photo from: USN's 4 Steps to Take If You Loan Money to Friends or Family

Photo from: USN’s 4 Steps to Take If You Loan Money to Friends or Family

Dear Katie & Kelly: A friend of mine is going through a hard time financially and asked to borrow some money. It’s a lot of money to my friend but not that much to me. I’m worried she might not be able to pay it back and what impact that might have on our friendship. Signed: Worried in Wyoming

Dear Worried: Lending money when you’re not an actual bank is tough. Frankly, lending money when you ARE a bank is tough. Even if you could run her credit report and look at her past five years of income, there is still no guarantee that she’ll pay you back. If you’re okay with this possibility then it shouldn’t be too much of a burden on your friendship. Give it and forget about it. If you’re not okay with it, then you have your answer.

There are other pitfalls in lending money besides not being paid back. I always advise Classics not to lend money to a friend (or family member) because it might negatively impact your relationship even if they pay it back. Here’s why, Classics, a handful of Funs and probably a couple of Organic Structures can’t help judging how other people spend their money if it seems unwise or isn’t the way they would do it. Yes, this is even when they’re not lending it to those people!  If you disagree with this stereotype that’s because it’s a stereotype, not 100%. Also, more introverted types probably don’t share these judgements. Our point is that if you can lend the money to your friend not only as a gift but as a gift without judgement, go for it. If you can’t? Well then, there’s your answer again.

If it’s a go, then tell your friend, “It’s a gift. You pay me back or you don’t. No questions asked. No expectations and no judgement.” If it’s a no go, then tell your friend, “I REALLY want to lend you the money but I don’t want it to get in the way of our friendship and I fear somehow it would. Our friendship means too much for me to risk anything happening to us.”

The photo in this article is from a great US News & World Report article on how to go about lending money to friends & family (or not!) Good luck! Katie & Kelly

Two Ways to Have a Tidy Coatrack


Defend your coatrack!

Dear Katie & Kelly: Our coatrack in our mudroom always looks like a jungle. How do I keep it from being a disaster? I’m afraid the coat rack is going to fall off the wall … because it DID once! Signed: Tarzan in Topeka.

Dear Tarzan: You tame the jungle by taming the “beasts” who make it so. Remind people to put their coats in the actual closet and be mean about it. Seriously, the coatrack is one of the most abused pieces of furniture in every home. Defend it! The only way our clients have been able to keep coatracks clean is (1) a One coat/One hook policy or (2) labeled personalized hooks. The former is the best way to go if being “mean” comes easily to you. Had a bad day and come home to a jungle? Unload your furious roar and eventually they’ll adhere to the One coat/One hook policy to prevent future tirades and you’ll get your aggression out for the day. Two birds, one stone. If that’s not your groove, then go the latter route. Labels help you see who is good at adhering to direction, who is not and frankly who is the “beast” to blame for the jungle. This way you can focus all of your efforts on them. All Our Best! Katie & Kelly P.S. Next time your rack falls down — Rome wasn’t built in a day — use glue and nails when rehanging.