Last week I was scrolling through my Facebook and I came across the Good Housekeeping article – “6 Places We’re NOT Organizing Anymore.” Naturally, it caught my attention and I, of course, quietly gasped. What areas could they be talking about? I asked myself. I immediately clicked on the article to see what over 1,000 people “liked.”
As I read the article it all made sense and I knew where the author, Lauren Piro, was coming from. The areas she confronted are a constant struggle for many of us so I completely understand sending up the white flag. And, to Lauren’s credit, leaving these areas disorganized is not going to prevent you from reaching your ultimate goals in life. However, as the person who comes in when these areas become overrun with clutter and cause daily frustration, I can attest to the fact that some level of organization is necessary. After all, organization is about making your life easier by living lighter and more efficiently.
All of this got me thinking… maybe we need to address some of these areas in a more simplistic way and just get real about the level of organization needed to make life easier and not add more work to the to-do list.
So, here’s what I have for those who would still like to have a little order to their chaos…
Nail Polish – Sorting through 10 or 15 colors every time you paint your nails can be annoying to say the least. I’ve witnessed many of my friends’ and clients’ chaotic drawers/bins and the process they go through to find the color they want. Keep the colors neat and tidy by taking a Q-tip and dabbing the color on top of the lid. This way you won’t have to pull out every single nail polish to find what you want and you’ll easily be able to keep the colors in order.
Serving & Cooking Utensils – Purging is always helpful, but even after a purge you may still be rifling through things to find what you want. Using drawer dividers, split the drawer into sections to easily organize the items you use on a regular basis (if you have more than one drawer, use one for baking utensils and one for cooking utensils). Then, put the once or twice a year items in a canister that gets stored in the pantry. After all, you don’t want to be without that turkey baster come Thanksgiving.
ON THE TWELFTH DAY OF NEATNESS…
Well, here we are. The 12th Day of Neatness and it’s from one of my most favorite companies around. I’ve been a huge fan of Bluelounge for a long time and am always excited to see what new neat product they’ve put to market. The Sanctuary 4 caught my eye and it easily checks off several boxes on my neat-products-must-have list. Check this puppy out.
The Sanctuary 4 is a home docking station capable of charging several combinations of some of your most used electronic devices all in one go. The dock packs a 4-amp power punch to bring renewed life to 2 iPads, 1 iPad and 2 iPhones or 4 iPhones all at once while simply looking fabulous.
My favorite part: cord clutter is no where to be found! And let me tell you, nothing gets my eyes twitching quite as much as when I see a nest of tangled cords. Whether they’re in your office, your kitchen, your bedroom or your living room – messy cord chaos is usually among the first things I abolish when I start a home organization project. Cord clutter is my archenemy number one and I routinely lean on the folks at Bluelounge for their unbelievably smart, clean and thoughtful approach to eliminating messy cord catastrophes.
The Sanctuary 4 can do just that for your home all with a brilliant, compact and simple docking station that looks as good as it performs. I truly can’t think of a better, more appropriate way to end the 12 Days of Neatness than by encouraging everyone to bid adieu to their own tangled messes and give a quick power punch to those tech devices we love and adore so much.
I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed these 12 Days of Neatness and had as much fun reading them as I have had writing them. I look forward to a bright and exciting 2014 with all new, innovative and, of course, *neat* products and wonderful gift ideas to share with you along the way!
Until then, Happy Holidays and Merry Neatness!
ON THE ELEVENTH DAY OF NEATNESS…
In all the neat gift recommendations over the last couple of weeks, I have yet to bring you something just for the little ones. Well, today is the day! On the eleventh day of neatness, I give you the treat for the most spirited recipients of all. Actually, it’s even a little bit of a two-fer since it’s a gift from LEGO® and a great storage solution from The Container Store.
The famous interlocking LEGO bricks have been around since 1949 and have been entertaining young, creative minds for decades—mine included. The most advanced set we had growing up in the ‘80s was LEGO® Airport, which must be why I feel qualified to scrutinize the layout of JFK terminals…but I digress.
The LEGO Group has consistently pushed the envelope of creativity by developing themed sets throughout the years, even launching several fantasy and sci-fi partnerships with Star Wars™ and the Lord of the Rings™ franchises, among several others. My absolute favorite, however, is the LEGO® Architecture theme they have on the market. They have taken the building and construction of LEGOs to an entirely new level. Now, kids can build everything from their very own Sydney Opera House™ to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater® estate. Kids can even build their very own miniature LEGO New York City, with cityscape themes of the Guggenheim Museum® , the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center® and even the United Nations Headquarters!
And for the extra special creative kid, this summer they released the brand-new, all white LEGO® Architecture Studio that ignites creativity and lets kids decide just what kind of buildings are possible. It’s an incredibly fun, challenging and always classically good time playing with LEGOs.
Now, to keep your living room floor from becoming littered with a thousand pieces of plastic imagination fuel, The Container Store has a fantastic solution ready to go! The fun LEGO® Head and LEGO® Brick storage bins are a great way to keep all those themed sets of LEGO bricks together in one place, plus they look really cool on a toy shelf!
School is back in session and soon your home will be filled with tons of your child’s beautiful artwork. Start saving special items and keeping them organized this year with Artkive! You’ll never have to feel bad about throwing away one of their precious works of art ever again. Plus, you can make calendars, books and even share the artwork with friends and family with just a couple swipes of your finger!
Check out the new Opencase wall storage system by Henrybuilt – it is gorgeous! This brings versatile, exposed storage to a whole new level. I love its warm, organic look & vast flexibility. While open storage can be difficult to keep looking neat, a system like this certainly helps make it a bit easier. How do you feel about open storage?
Playtime clean up has never been easier than with the Lay-N-Go. An activity mat with a built-in drawstring, the Lay-N-Go makes it easy for kids to spread out over a 5 foot area to play with their favorite toys. When they are done playing, all you need to do is pull the drawstring tight to close the storage sack. Once closed, the Lay-N-Go is completely sealed and won’t let any pieces slip out. Sound too good to be true? Watch it in action – here is a short video the Fazackerleys (creators of Lay-N-Go) made to show you how quick and easy playtime clean-up can be!
Several weeks ago I received a call that actually made me jump out of my seat – an opportunity to be a part of Katie Couric’s daytime talk show! When the discussions began, I had no idea that I was going to have the honor to work with Katie herself and makeover her very own home office. Needless to say, as more details came in about the project I got more and more excited. The planning for the project was fast and the turnaround time for the installation and the shoot were even faster yet. Six hours to do a total declutter makeover?! That’s unheard of! However, by combining my team with hers it was a task we were all ready to roll up our sleeves and take on.
The entire project was an incredible experience and I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. Katie’s team truly helped to make the experience a memorable one. I am not only grateful for having had this opportunity, but I am deeply indebted to Katie and everyone who was involved.
It has been 20 days since we began this journey and today I am super excited for America to finally see the product of many hours of hard work. I hope that everyone finds our tips to be easy and helpful. Since not everything could make it into the show, below are some additional thoughts and tips that I thought I’d share from the transformation. Enjoy!
If you like to cook, or dream of cooking more often, having an organized kitchen is imperative. By keeping your kitchen and pantry organized you will have the proper foods and tools more accessible, which will ultimately lead to a healthier diet and greater ease moving around your space while you’re slicing, dicing and sauteing.
I recently had the opportunity to work with my friend, whole living guru Sara Jane Mercer, to help her organize her pantry. Since Sara spends a large part of her day in the kitchen creating new recipes and discovering ways to help her clients eat more healthfully in an easy and simple way, having the right foods easily accessible is very important to her.
After spending some time sorting, editing and labeling, we were able to create an organizational system that allows Sara to always see what she has on hand; saving her time and money (no more buying unnecessary duplicates). To learn about the great tips and tricks I taught Sara and see the changes we made to improve her pantry, check out our quick and fun video.
A sturdy, well-designed and reliable basket or bin is a invaluable asset around the home. Whether it is used for laundry, sports paraphernalia, blankets or bushels of stuffed animals, it seems as though you can almost never have enough of these storage solutions.
Several months ago, one of my clients introduced me to the highly reputable, family run Steele Canvas Basket Company based in Chelsea, MA. Established in 1921, this family run business makes some of the toughest, most superior baskets around… and they are all made in America.
Available in various sizes and styles (carry baskets, wheeled baskets, covered baskets, even tote bags), these customizable solutions are stylish enough to use in your home and sturdy enough to use in your garage. You can even order them in a waterproof, anti-bacterial fabric that is tear-resistant and just as tough as canvas.
Some great examples of what they can be used for are: blankets, toys, stuffed animals, hampers/laundry, tools, sporting equipment, sports balls, firewood, picking fruit/vegetables, pool toys, beach toys, the list goes on and on… what will your use be?
Available from: Steele Canvas Basket Company
Despite having a glorious 90-degree day in March this year, we can now confidently say that the warmer, summer weather will soon be here to stay for the season.
While you begin to slowly transition your wardrobe from winter to summer, give some consideration to properly storing and protecting your winter wears by following the steps below.
Steps to Safely Storing Your Winter Wears
By following these simple steps, your cold-weather comforts will be clean, fresh and ready to go when the winter season hits.
P.S. – Moth Away has quickly become one of my closet staples. This all natural repellent not only protects your clothing, but it keeps it smelling fresh. The peppermint, rosemary, thyme and clove combination smells wonderful and provides a burst of calming scent every time I open my storage containers.
Over the past several years companies have done an excellent job of taking the eco-friendly, reusable tote bag and making it not only functional, but stylish and fun too. However, these must-have, useful bags can very easily become a cumbersome mess as you start to collect them. The colorful collection you accumulate as event gift bags and from different stores, typically end up getting tossed around your car or your cabinets – you may even frequently forget them when you walk out the door.
Lucky for us, Julie Zizka seems to have had similar frustrations and has created the perfect solution – The Tote Buddy. This super simple product allows you to organize and neatly store your tote bags so they will no longer be a cluttery mess, and will always be ready for your trip to the store. The Tote Buddy works with a various size totes and is available for purchase on the company’s website.
Now, why didn’t I think of that?
Accentuated by the bright and bold colors they are known for, Lilly Pulitzer will be debuting a home furnishings line with HFI this Summer. The line will consist of 200+ pieces and one amazing Shoe-Storage Ottoman, which Real Simple just noted as “Destined to be a Classic” – I couldn’t agree more! The ottoman should retail for around $599 and will be a great addition to bedrooms, walk-in closets and those compact New York City studio apartments where you can never have enough shoe storage.
As a professional organizer, there are certain products and services that I consider my go-to resources – my tried-and-true favorites. Resources make my list for reasons such as quality, efficiency, ease-of-use, value and company customer service. For the past several years, one of my favorite products on this list is the Container Store’s Elfa shelving and drawer system.
From creating a versatile closet system to a functional home office work station, there are endless possibilities for this system. The various Elfa components allow you to create customizable solutions to fit your closet, kitchen, garage, pantry, office and playroom. Whether you are looking for drawers to house snacks in the pantry, or racks for shoes in your closet, Elfa has the answer to help you get your belongings more organized. In addition, the versatility of the system will allow you to continue to edit your storage solution as your needs change. Maybe right now you need a system to organize all your children’s toys, but in the future you will need it to organize their clothing… not a problem. You can reconfigure the components you already have (including bringing pieces back to the Container Store to have them cut to fit) and you can buy new components to add-on to your current system. This makes Elfa a great value solution, as you will be able to continue to benefit from your investment for years to come. You can even take the system with you if you move into a new home and reconfigure it for the new space. So while it is built to look like a permanent system, its semi-permanent nature will allow you to easily take it with you so you can continue to keep yourself super organized.
From the beginning phases of designing your solution at the store to the installation in your home, the experience is seamless. I strongly recommend that you check out Elfa to help you get organized in 2011. Plus, if you shop before February 15, you can save 30% on your system and installation. A deal that only happens once a year!
While I know that most of us are just starting to pull out our holiday decor to decorate our home and tree(s), I want talk about packing it all away. Yes, that is right. I want you to think about the end of this wonderful holiday season and the dreaded task of de-decorating.
Now, I am not trying to rush to the end of the season due to a lack of love for it; after all, this is one of my favorite times of year. However, I want you to think about the end of the season so you can start prepping for it now in order to save time and make things flow more smoothly in the future.
While you are unpacking your ornaments and holiday decor this year, take note of the condition of your storage containers – What is broken? What needs to be replaced? What needs better moisture protection? What valuables could be better protected? Make a list and start shopping for these items and containers as you are doing your holiday shopping. Since you will already be out shopping or flipping through catalogs, it is the perfect time to gather the new ornament boxes, light boxes, wreath boxes, etc. that you will need to store your items safely at the end of the season. Starting to shop for the items now will save you time and prevent you from making special trips in the future, which will make the de-decorating process much easier and ensure there are no excuses not to have the proper materials to pack away your holiday decor in an organized manner. Plus, if you start gathering the storage items now, it will give you ample time to watch for sales on the items that you need and allow enough time for delivery on the items that you order online or through a catalog.
To help you get started, here are a couple of products that I love for holiday storage. I recommend trying to purchase any storage items in the appropriate holiday colors to make it even easier to quickly identify your holiday items within your storage area.
The Snap N’ Stack Ornament Storage Box helps keep your ornaments safe and easily accessible. The separate snap-on layers allow you to access each layer of ornaments independently so you don’t have to worry about taking all of the ornaments out from one layer before getting to the next (as many other storage containers do). These boxes also serve as great storage solutions for ribbon, bows, gift tags, and other small holiday items.
The Wing-Lid Light Storage Box allows you to not only keep your lights safe from breaking, but it more importantly keeps them tangle free! The container comes with four, plastic Light Cord Wraps that allow you to easily store your lights at the end of the season and quickly pull them out to begin decorating next season. These containers also serve as a great storage solution for holiday garland.
Here is a new product that I am very excited to try – the iLean. It is one of the easiest to use and most versatile shelving/storage solutions that I have seen. The iLean is portable, requires no assembly and seems to have an endless number of uses. It can be used at home, the office, outside… even at a tailgating party! The iLean can transform from shelving, to a desk, to an easel with just a few simple adjustments. It is great for anyone who is looking for a flexible, semi-permanent solution.