Jeffrey Phillip
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6 Places To Organize More Easily

Published April 11, 2014 Bathroom,Children,Kitchen,Storage,Toys 3 Comments

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…

  • Junk Drawer – It doesn’t have to be perfect, but a junk drawer still needs to be manageable so you can find a 9volt battery when you need it.  A junk drawer can easily and quickly be organized by dividing it into sections with drawer dividers and keeping similar items together (e.g. batteries, pens/pencils, office supplies, tools, etc.)

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Phillip


  • Photos – I completely agree with Lauren that many of us don’t have time to scrapbook (I know I personally don’t); however, printed photos in a box will never get looked at and they will only take up space.  Don’t even bother printing them.  Drop them into an online photo album that can easily be shared or printed into a beautiful book with the few clicks of a mouse.  The book will take up less space, look great as a decorative accessory and be easier to flip through.


Photo Credit: Moleskin Milkbooks


  • Laundry Room – While we don’t entertain in the laundry room, we do want to make it a pleasant place to be.  After all, many of us don’t enjoy the task of laundry so it’s important to keep the space looking good so that we can keep ourselves motivated and so that there is enough space to work in the room.  Using decorative bins for loose items is a simple way to remove the visual clutter from open shelves.  Tidying up the space on a regular basis will keep the piles of clothes at bay, the dust to a minimum (in what can be a very dusty room) and keep you on top of your detergent and pre-treater levels so you always have back-up supplies.


Photo Credit: Four Generations One Roof


  • Kids Play Area – Organizational skills can be taught at a very young age.  While it is not the end of the world if My Little Pony gets put with the animal figurines, the play space will always become a disaster if the munchkins are tearing about the whole area looking for something that isn’t in its proper home.  Keeping items in their home will make life easier and will teach kids the benefits of organization at a young age.  Keep them involved in clean-up time so they become responsible for being able to find things.  Staying on top of this type of work on a regular basis (even once a week) prevents things from getting out of control later and creating one of the most overwhelming and time consuming sorting and organizing projects you will ever encounter. (Check out my Springpad Notebook “Organize the Play Space” for tips on making over your child’s play space.)
  •  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.


Photo Credit: Obaz.com


  •  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.

Enjoy this post?  Like me on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Springpad to stay connected and to learn more great tips and tricks.


 

The 12th Day of Neatness! – 12 Days of Neat Products for Holiday Giving

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!

-jp.

 


 

The 11th Day of Neatness… – 12 Days of Neat Products for Holiday Giving

Published December 11, 2013 Children,Favorite Item,Gifts,Holiday,Storage,Toys 1 Comment

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!

                        

 


 

Organizing Your Child’s Artwork

Published September 30, 2013 Children,Files, Papers, Etc.,Memorabilia,Storage No Comments

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!

Artkive App


 

Henrybuilt Opencase Wall Storage System

Published May 23, 2013 Design,Furniture,Shelving,Storage No Comments

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?

Henrybuilt Pantry System     Henrybuilt Entryway System     Henrybuilt Wardrobe System


 

Playtime Clean Up is a Cinch!

Published May 6, 2013 Children,Gifts,Storage,Uncategorized No Comments

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!

Lay-N-Go Family PhotoLay-N-Go Demo Photos


 

Katie Couric Comes Clean: A Declutter Makeover!

Published February 25, 2013 Computers,Furniture,Office,Problem Solver,Storage No Comments

Photo courtesy of Disney-ABC

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!

  • Wires – Messy cords are probably the number one kind of visual clutter that stirs up my anxiety like none other.  I see it and feel almost instantly compelled to unplug everything and start fresh with wrapping and bundling.  Cords and wires are a notorious culprit of visual clutter for many people and are actually a very easy thing to neaten up.  With Katie’s cords, all it took were some zip ties (also known as cable ties), a couple 3M Command Cord Clips, a BlueLounge Cable Box (one of my favorite items, which I wrote about back in 2010) and a little patience.  In about 20 minutes we had all the wires rerouted, wrapped up and looking neat.
                                                 
  • Multi-functional furniture – As I mentioned during the makeover segment, multi-functional furniture should almost always be considered for a room.  Finding the right 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 piece of furniture that matches your taste in design can feel like you’ve struck gold.  Pieces like the Safavieh ottomans we found on Overstock.com are great for adding additional storage, an extra seat or a place to put your feet up.  Using two smaller ottomans like we did also allows for more flexibility within the room.  If you have children and want to open up the floor for play time or are entertaining a lot of mingling guests, these are easy to move out of the way to create a bit more space.
                                                                                            
  • Mailboxes – If you are like most of us in America, then you will agree that mail is a huge source of clutter in our homes and offices.  Personally, I have made it my mission to remove myself from as many mailing lists as I can by making phone calls to the various credit card and catalog companies and using services like catalogchoice.org.  While that process does take time, there are more immediate methods to help manage mail such as the sorting system we created for Katie using the Kvarnvik linen boxes from Ikea to help her separate her personal mail from her work mail.  This quick, macro-level sorting allows her to manage her mail more efficiently and avoid feeling too overwhelmed by having it as one large bundle.  

                                             

  • Frames – A large part of Katie’s home office makeover was her photo collection.  There were framed photos on the wall and on the shelves, as well as several unframed photos in various drawers and piles around the room.  Katie was definitely on the right path with her photo gallery wall by using uniform frames to create a visual story; however, it was upstaged by too many differently framed photos on the dresser in front of it and the two large lamps.   Photo gallery walls are tricky because too many frames on a wall and in one place will start feeling cluttered and can make it harder to enjoy the special memories each picture holds.  In Katie’s case, our solution was to simply move the photo gallery wall from the space above the dresser where it was harder to see to a space above the sofa where it became more of a focal point in the room.  The wall above the sofa provides more breathing room for the photos and are now the first thing her eyes see as she walks in.  We kept continuity throughout the visual story by using frames that had a similar color tone, like she had initially done, however we used frames with a darker wood to create a softer contrast with the red wall.  By mixing the espresso multi-mat frames from Pottery Barn with some non-matted espresso toned frames from Hobby Lobby we were able to add some variation while maintaining a unified look.
                                                       
  • Desktop – One of the initial things I noticed when walking into Katie’s office was the size of her desk.  The antique desk is beautiful, but it is very small and had a limited amount of work-space due to the papers, notes, random items and more photos that were covering the surface.  Since we didn’t want to replace the desk, I wanted to open up the surface space and allow her to view her photos and other special items at the same time.  To do this, we had a piece of quarter inch glass cut to fit the top of her desk exactly.  Then, since I also wanted to lighten up the space and bring some texture and dimension to the desktop, we cut a piece of linen to place between the desk and the glass.  We cleared off the top of the desk, laid the down the linen, neatly placed our special photos and notes on top of the linen and gently set the glass on top.  This simple update opened up the desk’s work surface, updated the look of the desk, lightened up the area, and was completed for less than $150.  Katie loved it!
                                                                                  
  • A Little Pop – There is something about a little pop of color or special design detail that can sometimes bring a smile to a person’s face.  It’s a treat that brightens the day and in some cases, even helps to incentivize organization.  If fighting clutter is not something that comes naturally for you, try adding some flair and style to the area to keep it neat and tidy.  You’ll visually appreciate the styled space more and have more of that incentive to keep it put together.  We used this technique in Katie’s desk drawers by lining them with a fun, bold-printed wrapping paper which we found at Paper Source.  Once we cut and laid the paper in the drawer, we then outfitted them with clear drawer dividers that we found at the Container Store.  We chose clear dividers so that the bold colors from the paper could shine through.  Now, not only are Katie’s supplies organized, the extra pop of color helps to make it worthwhile to stay organized.

                                               


 

How to Organize Your Pantry with Sara Jane Mercer

Published August 15, 2012 Kitchen,Project,Storage No Comments

CLICK TO WATCH “HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR PANTRY”

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.

CLICK TO WATCH “HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR PANTRY”


 

Superior Canvas Baskets for Storage

Published July 9, 2012 Storage No Comments

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

 


 

Protecting Your Winter Wears

Published May 2, 2012 Closet,Clothing,Seasonal,Storage No Comments

Richards Moth Away

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

  1. Launder or dry clean all garments, blankets and linens to remove dirt, stains and to ensure there are no moth larva in the fibers
  2. Place the cleaned and neatly folded items into a garment box or bag.  Wool, cashmere or garments containing a blend of either fiber should be placed in sealed plastic bags or bins to prevent unwelcome guests from dropping by over the summer.  Cotton and other fabrics should be stored in containers that can breath to prevent trapping any moisture, which can lead to mildew.  If you are using a cardboard box, you also want to be sure there is no acid or coloring in the cardboard that could possibly ruin your items during storage
  3. Place a moth repellent item such as cedar blocks, a cedar sachet or my personal favorite Moth Away in the storage container
  4. Store your protected items in a cool, dry location such as the top shelf of a closet

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.


 

Get Your Tote Bags Organized

Published August 15, 2011 Gifts,Kitchen,Storage No Comments

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?


 

A Place to Sit & Store Your Shoes

Published April 25, 2011 Bedroom,Closet,Fashion,Furniture,Shoes,Storage No Comments

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.


 

The Go-To Shelving, Closet & Drawer System

Published January 16, 2011 Children,Closet,Drawers,Office,Shelving,Storage No Comments

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!

Example of a walk-in closet solution with double-hanging for clothes, drawers for shirts, sweaters and undergarments, and top-shelf storage for purses and seasonal items

The jewelry tray component allows you to keep earings, pins, rings and clips separated and visible

The pull-out tie rack component allows you to keep your ties organized and easily accessible

Two different shoe components allow you to maximize storage for both high heel shoes and flats

Several shelves create a simple storage solution for a home office closet

The Container Store’s Elfa Shelving & Drawer Storage System

 


 

Holiday Storage: Start Prepping Now

Published December 2, 2010 Holiday,Seasonal,Storage No Comments

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.

Snap N’ Stack Ornament Storage Box

 

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.

Wing-Lid Light Storage Box

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.


 

A Versatile & Portable Shelving Solution

Published October 13, 2010 Shelving,Storage No Comments

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.

The iLean Store