As we reach the end of July, many of you are looking forward to at least another month of summer vacation.  My kids go back to school at the beginning of August, because they’re on a modified year-round schedule, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not still summer in my mind!

Today I want to share a few things that I do every year, without fail, to make our home run more smoothly during the not-very-lazy days of summer.

First, I organize our pantry and fridge so that it’s easy to grab snacks and drinks. In the pantry, I like to use baskets, either wicker or wire.  My kids tend to be pretty healthy eaters, so I don’t worry too much about treating them with the occasional carb overload.

Organized lunchbox items in pantry | 11 Magnolia Lane

In the fridge, I use clear plastic bins with chalkboard labels so they can grab a quick snack before ballet or pack their lunch for camp.

Lunchbox items organized in refrigerator | 11 Magnolia Lane

If space is at a premium, this chip rack that I DIY’ed for under $10 is a great way to use the vertical space in your kitchen or pantry. See the how-to’s here.

In our garage refrigerator, we store drinks–lots of bottled water and seltzer, sodas, and beer and wine for the adults.  That way, we’re always ready for guests to drop by.  A few boxes of popsicles in the freezer insure that our younger guests have a treat, too.

Red, white, and blue ice pops in galvanized bucket--4th of July

Inside, I set up our mudroom drop-zone to be ready for summer, with room for lots of beach towels, hats, sports equipment and sunscreen.

DIY closet turned mudroom for renters | 11 Magnolia Lane

The downstairs linen closet gets a lot of the overflow from this area, so I try to make it as organized as possible as we begin the season.  A conveniently located dirty clothes hamper or basket is key for wet towels and swimsuits–otherwise you might find them later sitting on the carpet!

Hooks are a great solution for wet towels and duffel bags, although they still wind up on the floor from time to time.

If you live in a sandy area, a shoes-off-inside-the-house rule is a lifesaver.  When we lived near the beach, we used a tank sprayer filled with water to rinse sandy feet outside {details here}, and I’m convinced that it saved my sanity.

Since dirt and sand make it into the house during the summer despite my best efforts, I like to buy machine-washable throw rugs.  This black and white rug has been through the wash more times than I can count.  Tip:  many rugs say that they’re not machine washable, but they really are.  While I wouldn’t throw a costly rug in the wash unless the care label told me I could, I’m willing to take the chance when they’re under $20 or $30.

This faux-sheepskin rug also gets washed every week or two.

We also have several cut and bound rugs from Mohawk in our home; they allow us to customize our space without committing to wall-to-wall carpet.  Their Smart Strand Forever Clean carpet features All Pet Protection and Warranty and has lifetime, built-in stain protection {read more here}. Having lived with this rug for several years now, I have to say that it releases spills like a dream and is still completely stain-free, despite all the kids and dogs who share a roof with us!

If you have hardwood floors in your home, then I can’t say enough about my battery-operated stick vacuum for dealing with everyday dirt and pet hair.  I follow up with my spray mop, and the hardwoods are back in perfect condition.

Our summers are busy these days and it seems like everyone is coming and going in different directions (it’s not much different from the rest of the year, actually!).  If I take the time to get us organized at the beginning of the season, then things seem to run so much more smoothly.

Enjoy your last few weeks of summer, and thanks for stopping by!

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Final New Christy headshot 2015
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