Behind door number one

September 3, 2011

When the summer heat occasionally chases me indoors into the A/C, I often get the organizing bug.

A while back, just such a thing happened to me, and I got the brilliant idea to tackle the “office” in my house, and try to make it more functional and inviting as a relaxing den by tucking all the office-y stuff out of sight – but not out of mind.

If you are able to have your home office in a bedroom with a closet, like I was fortunate to be able to do, make the most of that closet. I replaced the standard clothes-hanging bar with more functional shelving. You can do anything from a free-standing shelving unit to an installable, modular shelving system – which is what I recommend. That way, you can move the shelves around as your needs change depending on your office activities/hobbies/etc. I used some Closet Maid shelves to augment the closet layout, staggering the new shelves to accomodate all of my different sized boxes and bins.

When it comes to closet contents, forget about spending a lot of money on pretty containers or making everything look the same. No one sees it but you! I re-purposed a hodge-podge of empty file boxes and storage containers that I already had in the house. The key is to label everything with big, clear labels. I love the 3M or Postit varieties that remove cleanly, because I change out my projects often and re-label my containers.

An outlet immediately outside of the closet allowed me to tuck in the printer, and the 16″ depth was just enough for a lockable file cabinet – great for storing long-term paperwork and seldom-accessed documents (like IDs, passports, favorite momentos, etc.).

The set up is perfect for me – it’s not the type of space I would ever pull a chair up to and be able to work at – but that’s not what I need. I need a place to store things and occasionally access them. This does that for me. and I love that I had plenty of space to tuck my wrapping paper and gift bags/bows/ribbon/etc. (since I do gift wrapping in the den) AND, there is enough space to roll the vacuum cleaner in. Every little square inch of space is utilized without feeling overstuffed.

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Bills and statements and files, oh my!

February 22, 2011

It’s tax prep time which, for a lot of people, means digging through stacks of unorganized papers stuffed into different drawers throughout the house.  If this is you – try to turn this dreadful chore into a productive organization project. Believe it or not, it won’t take you that much extra time, and it will make your life a LOT easier.

And it’s not that complicated. Here’s an easy 4-step process to organize your papers:

  • Gather all of your papers together into one big pile. Seriously. Grab an empty bankers box, a reusable shopping bag, even a laundry basket, whatever you have, and go around the house collecting all of your piles.
  • Sort your papers into four simple categories:
    1. Shred
    2. Throw away
    3. Keep for files
    4. Take immediate action (put all of your tax-related documents in this pile!)

Check out the great Real Simple article, “5 Steps to Simpler Record-Keeping” to learn more about what you should be keeping and for how long

  • After your throw away and shred all of the papers you no longer need, deal with your Action items. Go ahead and separate out your tax-related documents.

You can find free tax document checklists online – H&R Block even has a free simple survey you can take that, depending on your answers, tells you exactly which documents you’ll need to collect.

  • Figure out the right kind of system for keeping your long-term documents. Whether this is a paper accordian file, manilla file folders in a filing cabinet, folders in a drawer, etc. – Make sure you clearly label each of your categorical files (i.e. credit card statements, health records, utilities, receipts, charitable contributions, etc.)

“Purge and Merge” success story!

February 17, 2011

From storage depot to happy home.  Here is a success story from one of my first clients:

After years of owning, but never really living in her property, this client called me to help her transform the condo that she’s been using mainly as “storage” space into a comfy, cozy home where she and her significant other could make a life and family together.  I met with both of them to talk through goals, objectives and the desired end result and I designed a blueprint and worked out a timeline and plan of action that everyone agreed on.

We tackled the WHOLE place – a generous two-bedroom, one bath, with large living, dining, kitchen and a bonus sunny front den, along with basement storage.  Each week we concentrated on a different place in the house and gradually transformed the chaos.

For two and a half months, I worked with the client to sort, group, purge, and re-purpose her belongings in a way that helped her create a new place that welcomed her partner and her partner’s belongings.  Along the way I taught her some tips and tricks for organizing and arranging her space that best suited her needs, so that she could keep it up after I was gone.

Watch the transformation below!

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Client testimonial:

As Jess’ client’s partner, I have to say I was amazed at the transformation of my new home when I arrived with my belongings on moving day.  I could never have envisioned having more than enough space for my furniture, clothes, and personal items just a few weeks before.  But it wasn’t only about creating space – I was thrilled to discover that Jess also has a knack for rearranging rooms and organizing “stuff” into aesthetically appealing configurations that made our home very livable, cozy, and easy to navigate.  In the midst of our hectic and busy lives, we have Jessica to thank for leading and guiding us through a well thought out plan that resulted in a moving and settling-in process that was much more relaxed and easy than either of us could have ever imagined!  



We’ve moved!

July 11, 2010

Well, we finally moved last weekend, on Saturday the 3rd. Thanks to our efforts in being mindful when we packed up our previous house, everything went really smoothly. All of our boxes were labeled with contents and some with rooms, and as the movers unloaded the truck, I stood and directed traffic.

I still can’t believe how much stuff we own though. The truck was packed completely full without an inch to spare. I’m really glad I was able to take the week off of work to unpack and organize, because we were practically swimming through boxes for the first several days we were here. Here are just a few pics:

The moving truck - packed to bursting

Living room and kitchen - front to back

Living room and kitchen - back to front

The soon-to-be office



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