German Students Begin Two-Week Exchange Program in Arlington

A group of high school students from Germany have arrived in Arlington, Virginia to start a two-week exchange program that will cover cultural visits in D.C. and New York.

Arlington high school students will host the guest teenagers and their adult chaperones until the last three days of their stay in the U.S., which they will spend in the northeast touring the Big Apple.

The program is part of Arlington Sister City Association’s (ASCA) series of exchange programs between Arlington and its five sister cities around the world. Besides Aachen, they are Coyoacán, (Mexico), Ivano-Frankivsk (Ukraine), Reims (France), and San Miguel (El Salvador).

Info Session on Reciprocal Visit to Germany on October 17th

All ASCA exchange programs are reciprocal. As such, a group of high school students will go and visit Aachen between June 20 and July 8 next year. The independent nonprofit, operational since 1993, will hold an information meeting about that trip at 7 p.m. on October 17 at Arlington Mill Community Center. The center is at 909 S Dinwiddie Street.

The planned trip to Germany will include cultural and historical sightseeing in both Aachen and Berlin, the German capital some 400 miles away to the northeast of the country where it borders Poland.


The 17-day trip to Germany is open to high school students between 15 and 18 who reside or attend high school in Arlington.


There is also an exchange trip from Arlington to Aachen for elementary school students. As part of that particular program, a group of 5th graders accompanied by at least one of their parents will travel to Germany next April.

A Relationship for Over a Quarter Century 

The sister city relationship between Arlington and Aachen is almost as old as ASCA itself. It began with the signing of a sisterhood protocol in 1993. Ever since, hundreds of students from both Arlington and Aachen visited each other’s cities and participated in as many out-of-class activities.

ASCA has a board of directors comprised of an executive committee and representatives from each of Arlington’s sister cities. There is also a corresponding committee of volunteers who actively work on promoting exchanges between Arlington and those five cities. Board Member Heidi Addison is in charge of the organization’s flagship cooperation with Aachen.

ASCA is a member of Sister Cities International, which President Eisenhower founded in 1956 to promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation. Today, its network unites tens of thousands of citizen diplomats and volunteers in nearly 500 member communities with over 2,000 partnerships in more than 140 countries worldwide.


Walk in Closet or a Built in Closet – What to Choose and Why

Storage is an area of home improvement that has taken a life of its own in recent times. Once seen as a mere utility and something to be tucked away from sight securely, storage solutions are now getting a lot of attention — and for good reason. Today, a chic closet is much more than a practical addition to a house: it is a style statement.


Now, we all know an efficient storage plan can alleviate a lot of stress from your day to day life. Not having to look for our socks every morning is a luxury that only a few of us experience if our closets are not organized properly. That’s what makes storage such an important yet underrated part of any home. It streamlines your life and gets rid of any unnecessary energy leaks. The question is not, “Do I need to update my closet?”. Chances are, your storage space is insufficient for your needs and needs to be organized properly, and that is why you are here, reading this. The better questions to ask are: Which one should I choose and why? Should I customize it? Should I just buy a built-in one?


We are going to answer some of these questions and help you make the right choice.



Choosing the Right Closet


In 2019, we are seeing an influx of inspired designs and styles in the storage world. Whether it is a monochromatic and minimalist design for a master bedroom or a superhero motif for the kids’ rooms — there are a lot of options available. You can blend the storage areas into an overarching theme or vice versa too; it’s completely up to you.


Related: Easy Storage Ideas For Every Room In Your House


Walk-in closets, built-in closets, armoires, pantries, linen closets, utility closets, etc. are some of the countless options in the storage world. The preference for these depends both on style and purpose.  For this article, we will be talking about the fundamental differences between a built-in and walk-in closet, what makes each of them unique, and how you can get the most out of either of them.

Walk-In Closet


A walk-in closet is the king when it comes to storage solutions.

As is obvious from the name, a walk-in closet is essentially a small room that you can walk into. Typically starting from 6.5 feet in terms of depth, there is no upper limit to the size of a walk-in. In fact, those with a passion for fashion, have been known to have closets that are bigger than a standard master bedroom.

The only limitation when you choose a walk-in closet is that you need to have some extra space for it. However, in our years of service, we have found that a significant majority of people who can afford the extra space go for walk-in without a second thought. That is to say, that walk-in closets enjoy a lot of popularity among those who want to add a personal touch to their closets.


Advantages of a Walk-In Closet


  • A walk-in closet can double up as a dressing room most of the time.
  • Some people use ironing boards in there; so you can iron, fold/hang and store your clothes — all in one place.
  • Walk-in closets provide ample storage. Shoes, jewelry, make-up, clothes — everything can be found at the same place at the same time.
  • A walk-in closet helps in removing clutter from both your bedroom and the master bathroom. Since you can get ready in the closet from start to finish, the bedroom is left untouched by the morning chaos.
  • By relieving your bathroom from the pressure of hair and make-up every day, a walk-in closet indirectly reduces the workload of cleaning up a bathroom.
  • A large enough walk-in can incorporate an island in the middle, which can be used as an organizer or even an ironing board.

Who Should You Choose a Walk-In Closet?


The biggest hurdle on your path to a walk-in closet is space.

In most of the major cities where real estate prices can give anyone a heart attack, a walk-in is seen as a luxury add-on. So, the first thing you should ask yourself is, do you really have the space to accommodate a walk-in closet?

Another factor to be taken into consideration is utility. If you don’t have enough clothes or accessories, it might not really be a necessary addition for you. If you live alone and do not really plan on starting a family, a walk-in closet can be overkill. On the other hand, if shopping is your go-to stressbusting activity or you have a family, it might be worth considering.

To put it concisely, if you have the space AND the items to fill the said space up with — go for a walk-in closet. In some social circles, it is even a brag-worthy addition and can add some extra oomph to your house. It is certainly a very luxurious buy, so make sure you make enough space and budget for it beforehand.

Making Up Your Mind About Walk-in Closets


The question of unnecessary opulence is a valid one, but let’s be honest. Who doesn’t want a private closet space that you can walk in and use as a trial room?  


If you decide to get a walk-in closet, make sure:
  • the space is not being used at the expense of any other important household project.
  • you have ample lighting inside the walk-in closet.
  • there’s ventilation in the room so that it doesn’t feel claustrophobic.
  • you resist the temptation of using the walk-in closet floor as a laundry basket.
  • everything is well organized. Since there are a lot of different items a walk-in closet would have to support, it is fairly easy for everything to go south and turn into a cluttered mess.



Built-in Closets


A worthy alternative to walk-in closets, built-in closets are perfect if you do not want to waste any area for a “storage room”.

You cannot walk into a built-in closet, and that lack of extra space is perhaps the only difference between the two.

However, built-in closets are equally favored as walk-ins if not more. They do not take a lot of space and are overall more efficient. Walk-in closets can feel like a waste of space after a while, especially since their size makes them prone to cluttering and chaos. That’s where the ease of maintaining a smaller closet comes out as the winner.


Why Should You Choose a Built-In?


If you live in a small house or a tiny apartment, utilizing every available square inch of space should be your top priority.

Built-in closets, if organized properly, can bear the weight of your entire wardrobe quite easily. And just like a walk-in, they reduce the clutter from the bedroom.

Even if you do have the space for a walk-in closet, you need to consider if you actually own enough things to have a separate room for those. With a walk-in closet, people tend to hold on to things they no longer use, just because they have the space to do so.

If you don’t have space, or want a low maintenance storage solution — built-in closets are the way to go.


Advantages of a Built-In Closet


  • Built-in closets force you to be more minimalistic and purge your wardrobe of anything you don’t absolutely need.
  • They are cheaper, easier to install, and easier to upgrade. You can swap the panels out if they get too old or outdated easily. Whereas renovating a walk-in can be a costly affair.
  • With a built-in closet, nearly everything you own will be in plain sight; as compared to walk-ins where things can get lost in a nook or a cranny if it is left unorganized.
  • Built-in closets are amazing for using the available space frugally. There are several add-ons available in the market which dramatically increase the capacities of a built-in closet like shelves, hanging rods, etc.
  • You can have a mirror stationed at one end or behind one of the closet’s door, thus doubling it up as a dressing space.


Making Up Your Mind About Built-in Closets


If you do not have space and/or enough items to fill up the said space, go for a built-in closet. They are cheaper, easier to maintain, compact, and even a little prudent when compared to the excesses of a walk-in closet.


Make sure you take into consideration the following points before you buy a built-in closet:
  • Built-in closets will naturally have less space for storage as compared to walk-in closets; so you must be willing to give up stuff you don’t need or use infrequently.
  • Although not as much as walk-ins, built-in closets do need some space to be installed or built. If you are extremely low on space, consider freestanding wardrobes or armoires instead.
  • Do you plan on staying put in your house, or do you plan on moving once the family expands? If you plan on staying put, it would be wise to think ahead and design the place in a way that it can sustain your future needs. If you feel that your storage space might become insufficient in the coming months, it may be better to go for a walk-in closet instead.











Easy Ways to Declutter and Organize Your Garage

There was a time when life was simpler: When things were used for the purpose they were intended for.  So, a kitchen was for cooking, the dining room was for eating and the garage, well, for cars.


But look at how we complicated our lives!!


Chances are, if you go check 10 homes, more than half of them can barely fit a car in their garage. At some point, the humble garage becomes our favorite ‘dump yard’. From memorabilia that dates back to the 60s to the treadmill-you-will-never-use — everything that the house discards, the garage accepts.


Until it cannot anymore. 

Which is when you begin to wonder, “How did we get here?”


Well, we don’t know what to tell you — except we have been there too. But don’t worry! There are some very simple tricks that can help you not only overhaul your garage but also substantially increase the storage space inside it. You can still hoard goods — they will just be more organized.


Related: Easy Storage Ideas for Every Room in Your House

Prepping for the Garage Decluttering Process


To get started on the overhaul process, make sure you have the weekend for this job. You cluttered your garage over decades, the cleaning part deserves at least a weekend! Do it calmly, study things you will need and devote time to it. It can also be a good way to invite some friends and discuss design ideas with them over a beer or two if you want some company.


To begin, take everything out.

No more closed boxes and an unkempt hoard of stuff in corners you never reach. It is only when you see the complete scale of your problem will you understand the gravity of the situation! This is not only important to understand how much stuff you have, but also to gauge how much storage you actually need.



Plan How you Space the Place


If you do keep a car in the garage, there is only so much space that is left. So, start thinking about how you can best utilize it.

Do you have a garage with a high ceiling? Then high shelves can help. If you have a low-roof garage, storing the stuff vertically will make more sense. If you do not have a car and the garage will be turned into a complete workshop/storeroom, the storage solutions will change accordingly. You might have to make space for new heavy machinery and tools, for example, if you wish to build something in your garage.


Discard, Donate or Keep


Every product you have in the garage will fall into the above three categories. We all know that not everything in the garage is junk. Your child’s first cycle may not be useful now, but it might be a beautiful memory. But there will also be a tonne of stuff that you will never pick up or use again.

To Start, pick all the things you simply cannot do without. Keep them on one side. Then, get on to the stuff you have no use for but will surely help someone else.

Chances are, when you clean your garage you will find a lot of things that are almost as good as new. An old music player that you bought on a whim? A garish yellow jacket which is ugly but very warm? A bicycle you bought but never used? All such items are begging to be used.

And by donating them to a charity, you will only make someone happy. Nowadays, there are tonnes of local apps that can help you donate all you want without much fuss.

And in the last row, keep the things that are absolutely hideous. Throw them and never look back.



Organizing Your Garage 


1. Look Up: How many people stare at the roof of a garage? None, we would imagine.

But there is great potential there. Overhead storage is a great way to store big, flat items like ladders. You can use re-engineered wood or even laminate to build these overhead shelves. It will also work as the perfect place to keep old doors which you might have a use for at some point.

Just remember to keep enough space so that the garage door can be opened without any issues.


2. Shove it up a Shelf: Remember, this is a garage, not your guest room. Go for function over appearance and stay away from installing expensive cabinetry unless you have the money, in which case, by all means — indulge!

Instead, use the trusted old wire and wood shelves to store as many items as you want. They can be built very cheaply, especially if DIY is your thing.

Also, open shelves remain open — thereby keeping you on your toes when it comes to keeping things tidy. You can see everything you leave unattended, so you will eventually attend to it. Trust us, this is a great long-term strategy to keep things organized.


3. Pegs to the Rescue: Hooks and pegs attach to a pegboard are a smart way to store lightweight things. This system is not only sturdy, but it is also easy to rearrange and they remain one of the best ways to most efficiently utilize space in a garage.


4. Hang Heavy Items: After Cars, the most common item in most garages tends to be a bicycle. But bicycles, especially burly mountain bikes, can take up a lot of floor space.

The best way to keep them is to hang them, parallel to each other, by the wall. There are tonnes of rack solutions available for bikes so pick the best one for you. Or, if you are still bitten by the DIY bug, you can also build yourself a custom bike rack.


Related: Custom Cabinetry Vs Off the Shelf — Is There Really a Difference?

Happy organizing!