Author Archives: Diana Augspurger

A Word About Quality

If I told you that this cutting board is 36 years old would you believe me? I bought it when living in Germany. It was the right size, made of the right wood and the price…not the cheapest but also, not the most expensive. It’s going to last me another 36 years I think as it still looks and performs pretty much like new. I have history with this little board. It sat beneath the chopped Thanksgiving mushrooms in 1978, an apple for my 4 year old in 1981 and under chicken for soup when my favorite aunt died in 1996. I use it nearly every single day and there is no replacement for the simple pleasure of slipping it beneath the blade of my knife.

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I have long preferred to buy something once and buy it well. I’m convinced that this has saved me a LOT of money over the years. Am I occasionally tempted by cheap price? Sure. I have learned to look a little deeper into my purchases though. Some expensive things are just about the label. Some cheap things are simply made to be disposable and that’s ok if you’re buying paper plates and napkins. There are no hard and fast rules. What I do know is this- don’t let your eye drop to the bottom line price and let that be your driving decision to buy. Most importantly, will it give you lasting pleasure because it was made well? Consider the service provided. Look at the durability of the materials. And lastly, ask yourself how long you expect the purchase to last you. One year? 5 years? Twenty years?  Make your purchase accordingly and don’t expect to pay paper plate price for something you want to last like stainless steel.

An inch matters

There’s nothing better than having something fit perfectly when you are trying to maximize space. Whether it’s for a base cabinet rollout or a whole wall unit, measuring exactly is important. So, how is it that often things come back because they didn’t fit?

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You can’t use a wiggly piece of string or stretchy fabric tape when measuring for cabinet things. You need a real tape measure. Look up, down and all around…watching for pipes at the back of the sink cabinet or vents on a wall or how about that pesky window sill that protrudes 1-1/2″ past the window frame. All of sudden..oops! That wall unit doesn’t make it. Watch for wall switches, outlets and ceiling lights. In a cabinet, allow for door hinges and the sink drain. To make your life infinitely easier and keep peace in the house, choose cabinet inserts that screw to the base of the cabinet so you don’t have to shim them out to avoid the cabinet frame.

We know our contractor friends would NEVER intentionally make an a wall crooked. Nevertheless, walls are seldom square so measure above your head and 14″ from the floor as well as in the middle if you are placing something between two walls. Measure out from the wall about 16″ as well to be sure the opening doesn’t toe in or out.

Don’t think I haven’t made these mistakes because, sadly and regrettably, I have. I want to spare you the pain and prepare you for the eventuality that if you are cursory in your measurements in the beginning, you’ll pay the piper at the end.

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Paper Squeeze

We love Saturdays in the store. People come in with napkin drawings seeking solutions for tough spaces. Some break out their cellphone photos in hopes that we can wave a magic wand and make it all disappear. Others come with scaled drawings on graph paper and detailed explanations of how their dream space should perform. Many have nearly lost hope that there’s a solution that will ease their storage pain.

Someone stopped by yesterday asking how we could maximize their home office closet that is filled with paper supplies, DVDs and manuals etc. Can we add drawers or pullout trays? That works if you have a wide door opening but not so much for a closet that is 40″ wide with a 30″ door where the drawers will either smack the door frame or cut off access to the corners.

The best solution sounds awfully simple but it’s the most effective. Your savior will be adjustable shelves…and plenty of them. Yep..not too deep, not too high, just right.. adjustable shelves. Most closets will have 4-5 shelves in them but we’re thinking more like 8 spaced anywhere from 6″-12″ apart. Use a center support on anything more than 27″ wide to avoid bowing. Add bins for small products like boxes of staples or paperclips. Avoid stacking too high – it’s a pain to pullout the bottom item. Use the extra shelves to separate the stacks. With this kind of flexibility, you can flip things around like a giant game of Tetris until everything slips into a spot giving you…. home office nirvana.

So what’s in a name?

Boots …such an unattractive and broad name for the part of our wardrobe that can either protect us in a monsoon or make us the sexiest gal at the party. Ankle or knee high, rubber, leather, vinyl, suede…(be still my heart)… riding, walking, sailing, gardening, construction, military…all still called boots but by any other name would conjure a better image.

So when we offer our Boot Shaper for storing said boots, you must consider that most of those boots don’t need (or could care less about) shaping. However, for those that flop on the floor like an exhausted mother at the end of her day and begging for a hand up, we have a solution making your closet neater and your boots more desirable than ever.

Watch your boots stand like soldiers awaiting orders, prepared for emergencies, locked and loaded for your next foray out. A simple squeeze of the shaper releases it from it’s captor, the boot. Included is a hanger which now ranks the best of your fine boots worthy of affiliating with your coats and jackets rather than being relegated to the floor with their lesser counterparts – the mukluks and galoshes which simply get kicked aroundBoot Shaper. And while fashion trends have convinced us that all boots are created equal and can be worn in any setting, we’re still squeamish about showing up at Sunday dinner with Saturday’s mud underfoot. All boots may be road worthy but some simply cry out for attention more than others. Far be it from us to ignore their pleas.

So What About Clutter?

I’d like to say a few words about clutter. I worked in my kitchen today and looked for a small tool, not often used, called a bean slicer. My mother tucked it into my Christmas stocking some 25 years ago and there is nothing else like it. It does one job and one job only- slices beans into french cut. It’s invaluable for those gardeners who inadvertently allow their harvest to over-mature yielding big, heavy, woody beans. The result is tender, succulent green beans that you might have otherwise considered tossing out.

Professional organizers will tell you that you should throw out anything you haven’t used in a year. If that were true, my little bean slicer would be long gone. The fact is, I don’t grow green beans every year but when I do, I’m one of those people who gets busy and all of a sudden my green beans look like something from Jurassic Park. I would be lost without my slicer.

I’m a little tired of this new “minimalist” attitude where we are made to feel guilty if we keep things on hand that we don’t use routinely. Now, it’s true that women with 100 pairs of shoes only wear about 20 of them on a regular basis. It’s also true that we get sentimental about things and find it hard to let them go. But part of my job as a manufacturer of storage systems is to help you find the space to keep the things that you do use, even if infrequently. I don’t want you to have to rid yourself of everything that you ever bought, loved or valued just because you didn’t use it in the last 365 days. Tomorrow, you’ll be looking for it and I’m sure I can find the space and make a perfect spot for it so when you need it, you can find it.


Think Ahead

Life is about stages, isn’t it. This is not a question. It’s a statement. At each stage our interests are piqued and driven by events around us. What was a focus at 25 is likely not a focus at 50. Sometimes we give something up to make room for more pressing issues and then come back to it years later. Sometimes we never come back to it at all. Maybe it was a trend or perhaps we just lost interest. For me, sewing is a good example. At one point, I sewed clothing and pajamas for my children because I found nothing warm and cozy about flame retardant fabrics regardless of what the ads said. My head is in a different place now. I rarely sew anything of consequence. I’m more of a mender. The machine is there, just not up front and center.

This is why adding flexibility to your storage system is so important. It’s also an example of why a good designer can add value to your design process. Their exposure to the various stages of life through their own customer base is invaluable. They can envision how the space may be used years later and guide you to making choices that will add longevity to it’s value.

I will never sew as I did. My children are gone and I don’t have the time at home anymore but my sewing area still functions for gift-wrapping and craft projects that engage me so much more now. I’m glad I didn’t build a sewing center that was so dedicated to the one hobby that it limited my use later. May the projects begin!

Particularly Picky

I threw an Oktoberfest party 2 weeks ago. I had bid on the catering at a charity auction so half the work was done for me. The fun part was choosing the menu. I asked for bratwurst from a local German market, apple strudel from a local German restaurant and De Maas Oktoberfest brew from the Community Beer Works, a local brewery. Homemade German potato salad and German chocolate cake (what else?) completed the selections. The caterer would not have sourced all the products from those particular provisioners. She told me so and added that, of course, I need to have things just so. She wasn’t trying to pigeonhole me as being picky. She was more admiring that I am particular…and I am. The good news is that same level of attention spills into every corner of my life including the details of jobs I design for my customers. It doesn’t do to waste 6 inches of space in a pantry if I can put a compact folding ladder there. I will sweat out how to use every last inch in a closet, manipulating the components until every last wardrobe piece is accounted for. I am concerned about how things line up, meet in corners and maximize the use of space. I demand it for myself and I demand it for my customers. Why settle for mediocre if we can have exceptional? Nope, I’m not picky, I’m just particular and it shows…in every installation we do.

Sending a Spice Rack into your Organization Battle

It’s always a source of incredible inspiration to us to see what alternative uses our customers can come up with after an installation. As clothes and accessories get shuffled, re-shuffled, organized, settled and re-settled into their most ideal location THEN arranged by color, shape, size preference and availability, creative re-uses begin to show themselves:

Pants racks become accessory racks, drawer organizers find their way into every nook and cranny, and perhaps something we’re MOST excited about these last few weeks: the spice rack makes its way into your closet’s organization battle for the WIN!

While it may seem like we’re giving these little shelves more credit than they’re due or reading into things too much, just take a moment to think about spice racks with us for a moment.  Now, usually, these are decorative shelves which hang in your kitchen.  As such, manufacturers have gone above and beyond to give them a little extra design attention to make sure you have lots of options and that they’re something you’ll be proud to add to your kitchen walls.  This is no less important as the spice rack maneuvers its way into your closet: the well-designed little shelves will never detract from your prized accessories. 

As for use, you could hardly find anything more ingenious to help put the finishing touches on your closet organization.  The first things that came to mind when imagining the ideal alternative contents were nail polishes and make-ups, but why stop there?  Belts and brooches could be organized on one shelf.  Use another row to organize clothing emergency repair items like clothes pins, clips, threads, needles and buttons via clear shot glasses or votive holders.

 Back to the ideal contents, we’re convinced that a spice rack is the secret ingredient in packing for college when room sharing is imminent.  What better way to maximize your tiny sink space in your cramped dorm room then by getting a slew of your daily toiletries up and off the counter?  Get those nail polishes, make-ups, lotions, cu-tips and other daily necessities organized for a quick start the morning after a long night of studying and it will never be a struggle to dress and impress on those important presentation days. The campus is yours.

In summary: the lean profile of the spice rack and the plethora of uses it provides may make it the prefect finishing touch your closet has been looking for.

Mobile Soles gets Mobile Organization

We’re always looking for our unique selling proposition. That’s sales speak for what makes us different from our competition and why should you place your trust in us. If you follow us on Facebook, you may have noticed the post about Mobile Soles. This is a fledgling business who came to us to outfit their tricked out UPS truck with slatwall panels and fixtures for displaying shoes and clothing accessories. Yep, Mobile Soles is sort of a Lord and Taylor on wheels.

The truck was scheduled to make a public appearance for a marketing gig in New York City on Friday. The owner planned on leaving Buffalo for the drive to New York at 2:00am. The company providing an exterior wrap ran into problems and while we should have been able to install for her late Thursday afternoon, she couldn’t get the truck to us until 10:00 that night. I’d like to tell you that management held staff over to complete the installation but in fact, the employees who got the call made the decision that they should wait until the truck could arrive so the owner could make her marketing gig.

Long story to get to my point. At Creative Storage, all the staff are empowered to make decisions that will lead to your being happy and satisfied. No one needed to call and ask about being paid overtime or charging extra for our inconvenience. There is no such thing as our inconvenience. I love that everyone at Creative Storage lives and breathes that mantra. That’s our unique selling proposition. Buy with confidence because you will never, ever be left unhappy.