Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Before and After: Storage Space for a Fab Family

You know you’re living the dream when you have a storage room in New York City.

So when this busy, working mom called, I couldn’t wait to jump right in. I quickly realized that while the space was fantastic… I mean, a storage room with a window?! It was going to need some work.

First, the family needed to do a bit of purging. Luckily, they handled that process like champs. 

Second, they were going to need some shelving to make the space fully functional. Enter my favorite solution: the elfa system from The Container Store. We designed open shelving along all sides of the room to maximize the space. 

We divided up the two sides of the room with 1) items the family uses on a regular basis on one side and 2) home improvement and renovation items on the other. Success!

Check out the before photos:

And the after:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Guest Blog Post: Tastehunter by Julie Rath

Here's the thing about men and their stuff. They run the extreme. I find that my male clients are either completely obsessed with the detail of their spaces, dislike excess, and generally keep it simple. Or they are the other type of guy. You know, smelly socks and not a care in the world about the state of their space (AKA a hot mess). 

Check out my tips for keeping common guy things organized over on men's style consultant, Julie Rath's Tastehunter blog.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

For a Good Cause: Second Chance Toys

Plastic toys. I know you’ve got ‘em. These sometimes bulky, brightly colored eyesores are covering your living room floor right about now. And don’t even get me started on the action figures. 

This is where Second Chance Toys comes in and saves the day. Founded in 2006, they rescue and recycle plastic toys for children in need by donating them to community organizations. Bonus: Because non-biodegradable plastic is kept out of our landfills, Second Chance Toys is helping the environment at the same time. 

The toy guidelines are simple. They collect:

  • Plastic only 
  • Clean / gently used 
  • No small or missing parts (*Parts that can fit through a toilet paper roll are too small.)
  • Batteries in toys need to operate

There collection areas are New York City, Boston, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and across New Jersey. A full list of donation sites by area is on their website. 

New York City! Note the Kidville donation drive at all locations from May 6 to May 13.

Photographs credits go to Scott Clark Photo via Domaine and 100 Layer Cakelet.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Covetable Closets: Sasha Bikoff’s Tribeca Apartment

It’s not often that you find a closet in New York City where you can curl up and take a good nap. That’s what makes interior designer Sasha Bikoff’s spare bedroom-cum-closet extra covetable.

The dark glossy walls give the room a sophisticated vibe, while the white built in closet system makes her colorful wardrobe pop.

Taking a closer look at the space, I noticed Sasha has implemented my go to clothes organizing strategy – grouping items by type, then color.

Also a favorite strategy, Sasha displays her shoes on open shelving.

The deep storage bins on high open shelving give the space a clutter-free, polished look. Here she’s using the classic canvas bin from The Container Store.

Finally, the low counter space under the window allows for added lighting and an area to store and display the prettiest jewels.

For more background on the beautiful spaces Sasha has designed, visit her website. All photography credits go to Sasha Bikoff Interiors.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Toss It Tuesday

When you gotta go, you gotta go. And these 20 things gotta go…

1. Rusty nails

2. Tools you don’t know how to use or have never used

3. Clothes that don’t fit

4. Clothes that are stained or damaged

5. Old bank statements or income statements you can get online

6. Free giveaways like cozies, pens, or coolers

7. Done having babies? Give away those clothes you’re holding on to.

8. Your pencil collection from junior high (guilty as charged)

9. Your matchbook collection

10. Generally any collection started pre-puberty. 

11. Gear you never use or can rent on vacation. When was the last time you went scuba diving?

12. DVDs of movies you can get on Netflix, I’m not even going to mention VHS.

13. Notebooks with old notes from past projects

14. Kids’ art that doesn’t hold sentimental value

15. Crappy hotel shampoo mini bottles

16. Expired pantry items

17. Mismatched sheets

18. Leftovers from last week

19. Manuals for appliances you no longer own

20. Wire hangers from the dry cleaner. Use these instead.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Goodbye Handwritten To Do List, Hello Todoist

One of my favorite feelings in the world is crossing something off a To Do list. I’ve become so obsessed with it over the years that I never thought I could give up my handwritten To Do lists. But I’ve finally done it!

After looking at a few apps recommended by other organizers and some tech-friendly friends, I found that I liked the clean layout and functionality of Todoist

I’m sharing some insight on my experience for all you 
handwritten list lovers out there.

Don’t get me wrong, my handwritten process was working, but it was time to embrace technology as I encourage so many clients to become less dependent on paper whether lists, calendars or files. I told myself for years that it wasn’t a bother to rewrite my lists periodically but who was I kidding. Why waste time when there is a better way?

At first it was hard for me to remember to use the app because I was in such a habit of handwriting everything in my notebook. It took about a month to break the habit.

Here's how I'm using the app:
  • I have separate personal and work To Do lists.
  • I created a Client List to manage follow-up and action items for all clients.
  • I'm tracking lists of books to read, shows to watch, and places to travel. Lists don't have to be boring!
  • The app is also a project management tool. We're throwing a party in May, and I've broken down tasks that I need to accomplish week by week.
  • I took extensive handwritten notes I compiled for planning a tailgate, including supplies, amount of food and beverage to buy, and menu selections and created a list so all that information is neatly in one place. It felt so good to throw away that messy sheet of notes.
I feel like I’m just scratching the surface. There are so many different ways I can imagine using the app.

Now here is the deal, I still hand write my daily To Do list. Old habits die hard and it’s working for me. But now I just open my calendar and the app, scan the list and write down my focus for the day. If I have chunks of time available to tackle larger projects, I hold that time on my calendar. At the end of the day when preparing the next day's list, I cross items out in the app.

Basic v. Premium
I’m using the free, basic user level and that provides enough functionality for me.  At this level you can create multiple lists (or "Projects") and schedule tasks to days to create your daily To Do list in the app. It also allows you to add priority levels to tasks and assign tasks to others to aid in delegation.

A yearly subscription for $29 does some fancier things. It allows you to add labels to tasks, which basically allows you to tag tasks (like, all calls). You can add notes and attachments to tasks (great for items you need to review by a certain date), search tasks, and it syncs tasks to iCal.

Do any of you use Todoist? Would love for you to share your experiences or other helpful apps you use to stay organized. 

Image credit: Casa and Company

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

For a Good Cause: Donating Books

When we relocated last year, I made a bold move. Instead of moving all my old books, I decided to take a photo of every book and then I packed them up for donation. 

For hardcore book lovers, I know it sounds crazy, but it was incredibly liberating. I’m definitely a bookworm, and I now have a lasting memory of books I’ve read without sacrificing the space. Plus books are a major dust magnet and hard to clean! I reference the photos when I want to go back and read something again. Of course, this decision was made easier, because I switched to the Kindle several years ago (best idea ever) so it’s not likely that I’d want to read a hard copy anyway. 

When going through this process, I wish I’d known about these organizations that are putting used books to good use. 

Operation Paperback 
This non-profit organization collects gently used books nationwide and sends them to American troops overseas, as well as veterans and military families here at home. It’s really simple: register as a volunteer shipper, and you ship your own books using the addresses that the organization provides. They feature a detailed FAQ on their website that includes tips for how to ship the books most cost effectively. 

Books for America
Founded in 2002, their mission is to promote literacy, life-long learning and understanding by distributing donated new and used books and other forms of educational media to disadvantaged organizations and schools. Items you wish to donate could also be shipped directly to their Used Book Store in Washington, DC or to their Book Sorting Facility in Fairfax, VA. If you are in the Washington, DC metro area, you are in luck! They will pick-up from you directly, and they have book donation bins across the area. 

The other option is to take books to a Goodwill or Salvation Army near you. If you’re in New York City, all Housing Works take book donations and many are directed to their bookstore cafe downtown. Proceeds from sales at Housing Works go to support programs for those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. 

All worthy causes and a fantastic way to declutter and help others.

Image Credit: Better Homes and Gardens

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Toss It Tuesday

When you gotta go, you gotta go. And these 20 things gotta go…

1. Broken, unusable electronics

2. Collectibles you no longer enjoy or collect

3. Bunches of packing materials for those packages you might send one day. I’m looking at you, bubble wrap roll.

4. Silver holiday tinsel

5. Books you’ll never read again. I know, sounds crazy, but do it.

6. Underwear and socks with holes

7. Shoes that make your feet hurt, like real bad

8. Home decor accessories that no longer work for your space

9. Love letters from exes

10. Anything from exes, actually

11. Itchy sweaters

12. Any kitchen utensil you don’t use regularly (i.e. weekly or monthly, depending on how much you cook)

13. Gifts you didn’t love when received

14. Excess or worn towels. (How many you actually need, according to Unclutterer: House residents + Guest bedrooms) x 2 = Sets of bath towels and washcloths.)

15. Tax documents from before 2007

16. Broken toys or toy sets with missing pieces

17. Mail you’re never going to open

18. Random ass keys

19. Expired beauty products. Hint: If you can’t remember when you bought it, then it’s gotta go.

20. Above hint also applies to bras, ladies.

This list could go on and on. Oh, how I love a good list! I think I’m going to do this again next month. Stay tuned. Now get to tossing the above.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Organizing Obsession: Cynthia Rowley for Staples

Fashionistas and style lovers of the world are getting ready for New York Fashion Week, and I have my eye on high fashion, too. The high fashion of office supplies, that is.

Fabulous designer Cynthia Rowley has designed a line of office supplies for Staples. With a mix of floral and gold abstract designs, she’s proving that your desk doesn’t have to be boring.  

My favorites to keep you organized include her magazine file boxes, document boxes, and desk organizers.

But that’s just the start. The line also includes everything from your basic supplies like this hot gold stapler, binder clips, notepads, scissors, and even my personal favorite, clipboards. Yep, cool clipboards! 

Image credit: Staples

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Label Love

The final touch to any organizing system is the label. It’s that last step where all the pieces come together, and I leave the client feeling confident that everything they own has a home.

An organizing project without labels feels unfinished to me. Like getting dressed in your favorite outfit but leaving off the accessories.

And much like accessories, labels should be fun. That brings us to five crushes in my love affair with labels. 

1. Good Ol’ Adhesive

The most traditional label does have some drawbacks. They are great on glass containers and plastic bins, but not so much on fabric. BUT, now that they make erasable and chalk options, I feel like these labels are so much more versatile. Love this option for labeling toy bins.

2. Tie On

These are so versatile and great on almost any type of container or bin. Inside tip: gift tags double as tie on labels.

3. Label Holders

When you’re feeling fancy, label holders are awesome. I am a big fan of Martha Stewart’s line, sadly no longer carried at Staples, but I found them on Amazon. Score!

4. Clip On

Some bins defy adhesive and tie on labels, and that’s where we get creative. I love to use a clothes pin, cool binder clip, or these basic silver clips for a simple, sophisticated label solution.

5. Pocket Labels

This option is also adhesive, so it works best on plastic storage bins, perhaps in a garage, where the front of the label provides a brief description and the back can be used for a detailed list of contents. Since the label is slipped into the pocket, you can easily pull it out to refer to it.

I'd love to hear from you! What are some of your favorite labeling solutions?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Covetable Closets: Nina Holst from Stylizimo

This is the first post in a regular monthly series featuring some of the most amazing closets out there. Thanks for reading along.

Today I’m spotlighting a beautiful, simple space that’s both closet and dressing room in one. It’s the design of Nina Holst, founder and blogger at Stylizimo, a site for the home décor community to share tips, get advice, and seek inspiration.

Nina’s sophisticated Scandinavian style translates into this space, which, get this, was designed on a budget incorporating many solutions from IKEA. She’s proving that it’s possible to create a stylish closet on a budget.

Now, let’s take a closer look at this shoe storage solution. What a brilliant use of wall space!

Plenty of drawer space to keep items tucked away.

I’ve digging the use of a basic towel bar for accessory storage as well. S hooks are a great insider organizing trick to keep things accessible.

And, last but not least, a vanity area fit for a star!

For more background on Nina’s budget friendly, covetable closet, please visit her blog. All photo credits go to Nina, of course.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

For A Good Cause: Donating Kid Stuff

This is the first in a regular monthly series highlighting lesser known organizations in New York City and beyond that accept donations and pass them along to those in need. This is a topic I feel so passionately about: decluttering and helping others. I'm happy to finally share my insight with you. Thanks for reading along!

You might be surprised to find how difficult it can be to donate kids’ stuff. Often charities like Housing Works and many thrift shops won’t accept these items. I’ve found two worthy organizations that make it easy to declutter and streamline all your kid gear.

Room to Grow

This organization has a mission to enrich the lives of babies born into poverty throughout the critical first three years of development. In addition to the main programs that give developmental information and customized support to families, they also ensure that families have all of the needed baby items to ensure a healthy start for their child.

With programs in New York City and Boston, they accept donations of baby items, provided they are in excellent condition. See a full list of what they do and don’t accept here. For a tax-deductible fee they will pick-up items or items can be dropped off at their location near Flatiron. 

Baby Buggy

This organization, founded by Jessica Seinfeld (that’d be Jerry’s wife), works with networks of community-based organizations across the country to distribute new and gently used baby essentials. Baby Buggy’s product distributions are combined with comprehensive social service assistance, such as job training, financial literacy classes, and parenting support.

They accept donations in New York City and Los Angeles. Check out the full list of items they do and don’t accept. In New York City, you can drop off at their location on West 37th Street or you can arrange pick-up for a tax deductible fee. In Los Angeles, you can schedule a pick-up or make a drop off at locations across town.  

If you aren’t in NYC, LA or Boston, I encourage you to check with local religious groups and other community organizations. There are so many people doing this good work in all parts of the country.

And don’t forget to save those donation receipts for your tax deductions!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Organizing Tips Featured on Luxury Listings NYC

Whether you live in a luxury apartment or a cozy studio, the rules to cut the clutter are the same. Less is more! 

This month, we're a featured expert contributor to Luxury Listings NYC, a magazine that provides a cheat sheet on the latest trends, priciest sales and rentals, celebrity moves and new buildings that keeps readers up to date on what’s happening in their neighborhoods. 

Check out the full article with tips from US here

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Toss it Tuesday: New Rules for Electronics

Things I occasionally sit around and think about: mounds and mounds of old electronics piling up in landfills. Imagining it totally stresses me out. But there's good news. NYC is taking a step in the right direction…

As of January 2015, electronics can’t be discarded in the trash.

This includes:

So, what to do with all that stuff? Here are some options:
  • Retail drop-off programs are the quickest solution. Take electronics to any Goodwill, Salvation Army, Best Buy or Staples.
  • If you live in a building with more than 10 units, enroll for the Department of Sanitation’s e-cycle program for free pick-up in your building.
  • For working electronics, especially computers and laptops, consider donating to a charity you support.
  • For mobile phones, recycle using any of the options above or you can also take them to a wireless service provider.
  • Most appliances and housewares are metal or rigid plastic so can now be recycled with other rigid plastics and metals. Just be sure to remove any batteries first.
If you're not in the NYC area, I encourage you to look into rules in your local community for discarding electronics.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Organizing Obsession: Land of Nod Bins

My quest for perfect bins continues. One of my favorite bin sources for any space is Land of Nod. You’re thinking, that’s kid stuff. I’m here to tell you that their bins work on so many levels.

In the entryway storing shoes, umbrellas and gym bags...

In the closet for clothing and accessories...

In the kitchen to store all your pantry supplies...

Ignore the toys here, this is pretty storage for dirty laundry...


Mind blowing!

Of course, the toy storage options are fantastic. They can work with so many types of décor, and most are designed to work with your décor as your little ones grow. They also make some pretty great options for desk and art supplies.

Two more major positives:
  • They are always designing new bins. It’s like Christmas when I haven’t checked the website for a while and see new arrivals.
  • These bins are tried and tested, but don’t just take it from me. As I was reviewing the website, I noticed that almost all the bins have a top star rating.
To learn more about my obsession with bins, head over to my Pinterest page for an entire page dedicated to “Bins I Love.”

Image Credit: Land of Nod

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Battle of the Boots

Welcome to the frozen tundra we call January around most of the country. While boots pile up in entryways across the city, I’m sharing tips to help you beat the boot mess. You know what I’m talking about… That gross mix of dried snow and salt that coats your floors throughout the winter.

First, if you don’t already have a doormat, get one. Next, demand nicely that all your loved ones wipe their shoes before entering. You can take it one step further and keep an old towel tucked in a neat bin or in the closet for those especially messy days. Give those boots a good wipe.

Now, boots have been removed and piled. How best to proceed? Here are some options.

1. Tray - The rocks are an added touch to drain melted snow. 

2. Shoe Rack – Wall mounted to free up floor space.

3. Pegs Something so forehead smacking simple about this option.

4. Bin – Tried and true. Has the bin ever failed us? I’d go a step farther and line the bottom of the bin with a mat to make clean up easy. This is also a great option for kid shoes.

Any of these options could be installed in an entryway coat closet. Another simple tip, line the floor of the closet with these affordable IKEA mats for an added layer of gunk protection. You won’t feel bad about tossing them come spring.

If you don't have a closet, install one of these options in your (most likely) small entryway space. In New York City, the mudroom is an urban legend. Check out this entryway making it happen. The tip: camouflage storage options with pretty décor or under an entryway table. 

While you’re at it, check out last year’s post on Huffington Post’s blog with tips to organize all that other winter gearStay warm, friends! 

Image Credit: Martha Stewart, Real Simple, Not the High Street, Martha Stewart, The Curtis Casa

Friday, January 9, 2015

New Year, New Focus

I never thought I would take a year off from blogging. As an organizer, you can imagine, I like routines. I like to know what tasks I need to complete each week and get them done. Crossing “blog post” off my list made me feel good – until it didn’t.

Here’s why… Last year, we moved and now live part time in Cincinnati, Ohio. I still spend a portion of every month in New York City working with clients and growing the business, but life as I knew it changed totally in 2014. And so did my routines.

It took me a while to figure out a rhythm and schedule to my “new life.” And after a year, I think I’m finally there. Yes, it took a year.

It hit me as I was reflecting on 2014 work that this is so often what I see with clients. Life changes like a new baby, marriage, divorce, death, and even a new job, a move – all these things effect our routines and, therefore, our organizational systems. Things feel out of whack and all the priorities from before just don’t make sense. We have to figure out a new way to live and work.

For me, 2014 was a year of wiping the slate clean and letting things go. I reevaluated the tasks related to my work and figured out how best to spend my time so that my business can continue to grow. It’s been a totally eye opening but painfully slow process.

Lesson learned: We can go it alone and figure it out eventually. Perhaps after a year, like me. But why not ask for help? Why not depend on others for support and advice? I realize now that I should have leaned on others a bit, and this transition could have been so much easier. More simple. 

That’s all the deep thoughts for now. Thank you all for reading along. Here's to a happy 2015!


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year

Here's wishing you a happy, healthy and ORGANIZED 2015! 

All the best,