Favorite Closet Storage

We can’t all be lucky enough to have a giant closet. These days all you see on social media are these beautiful dream closets with floor to ceiling storage and gorgeous chandeliers. However, many of us (myself included) have to make do with an average size closet. Over the years I have lived in many different style houses. I have to say my husband and I love old houses with all the charm but none of the closet space!

Therefore, I have had to learn to get creative to max out my storage space. Also, I have learned that you don’t need as many clothes as you think you do! Weeding things down to what you truly love and wear is half the battle of having an organized and streamlined closet.

I wanted to share one of my absolute favorite storage solutions for a small closet. It is truly a game changer! I have used this in multiple houses for my own closet and used for clients as well.

It is called the Elfa Start a Stack and you can find it at the Container Store. There are a few different versions once you start looking at Elfa but one of the things I like about the start a stack is that it is a freestanding tower of drawers. It is perfect for rentals and small spaces. So if you are someone that likes an easy solution that can be assembled in less than 30 minutes then this is it! It does come in a few different widths so you want to measure your space but I have found the depth perfect for a small closet and the height as well. It slips perfectly under your hanging clothes so that you basically have a built in dresser under there maximizing all that space.

I actually do not own a dresser anymore and use these drawers for anything I don’t want to hang. Leggings, workout wear, pajamas, casual tees, scarves, lingerie, lounge wear…It makes putting away your laundry a breeze! I file fold or roll most of my stuff so that it is easy to see and grab.

These also work great in kids closets! And there is a taller version you can buy and use to max out that wasted vertical space. You can also use it to store kids clothes, toys and craft supplies. The best part is the kids can easily find things and easily help put them away.

The start a stack is such a multipurpose storage solution. It’s great in any closet, pantries, laundry rooms, craft spaces, kids homework spaces.. the possibilities are endless. If its a little over your budget just keep an eye out for the Elfa sales which run multiple times each year!


Some organizing tips for sharing a small space

living room

Sadly, I have not written a post in awhile and we have all been in this crazy pandemic life for almost a year now. Wow… it really has felt like a long year.  I think we can all agree we will never take those small things for granted again. The pandemic has made many of us really evaluate what we do truly miss and what we are actually happy has changed. Many of us have slowed down from our busy schedules and realized this slower pace is kind of nice. So it’s not all bad, right?

The new norm right now has become lots of people working from home and many kids doing remote learning. When the whole family is home the majority of the week and you are all sharing a space it can get tricky. Balancing work with school and making sure everyone is set up for success in whatever space you have available.

This brings me to the question of “How does your house make you feel?” If you are constantly stressed out and tripping over each other and piles of stuff then something needs to change. Your house should support you and be a space you can relax in. ( I’m not saying you will never be stressed but at the end of the day you should be happy to wind down in your space. So what can you do to make small changes that will make a big impact on how you view your house? The key is to set up systems that work for your family and are easy to maintain.

Start by making everyone responsible for their work space. If you or your spouse have a d home office or desk set up somewhere then set boundaries that no work is allowed on the kitchen table. If you have to use the kitchen or dining room table as a temporary workspace then set a boundary that by dinnertime the space needs to be cleared each day. This will work as well for children that are using it for remote learning or homework. Getting them a little utility cart or small bin for all of their supplies will make it easy to clean up and find things the next day.

Set up a drop zone somewhere in the house where items land on your way in or out of the house. If you don’t have a large mudroom or designated space you can create one easily with a little table, bookcase with cubbies (like the IKEA Kallax) or a bench with storage. This is where shoes, keys, phones, purses,dog leashes, masks and hand sanitizer can land to avoid cluttering up other surfaces. Hang a decorative hook on the wall for keys and masks or set up a bowl or tray to keep them in.

Keep the family room as clutter free as possible by using baskets and other storage to hide blankets, remotes, kids toys, etc. There are so many great pieces that double as storage; like coffee tables and ottomans. The biggest mistake I see is when parents let the kids treat the family room as their playroom. This space should be for kids and adults. If the kids want to have some toys or games in here then do a toy rotation. That way the majority of their stuff stays in their rooms or playroom. At the end of each night or beginning of each day have them help you put things away.

Lastly, this is an important one…your bedroom is not a dumping ground for laundry and odds and ends. I hear clients says all the time that no one sees it so it doesn’t matter. YOU see it!!!! So it does matter. More on this soon…

So ask yourself what you can do right now to make your home feel better and be easier to maintain?


Spending more time at home?

Most of us have been spending more time at home whether we like it or not. Since the stay at home orders due to covid-19 we have all been feeling a little cooped up. This brings me to the big question of how do you feel about your home environment? Does your home make you feel stressed? Is it full of clutter, piles and unfinished projects? Or does you home feel a little blah and unfinished…no art on the walls, no color, no finishing touches? Or is your home almost the way you want it but it feels like it is missing a little something? It just doesn’t feel like you and your style?

Basically, all of these problems are caused for the most part by indecision. Yes sometimes it may be a lack of money or time but most of the time we get stuck living with the way things are and accept it. For example, I had a client one time who I was helping de clutter and stage her house to sell. When I opened the door to the small closet in the kitchen that should have been the pantry I was shocked. The client was using this closet for coats and then she revealed that canned goods were stored behind the row of coats and completely inaccessible and out of sight. I asked her why she had never made this a pantry and she didn’t really have an answer. She set it up that way when she moved in and got used to the challenge of it and accepted it as her only solution. Once I suggested we move the coats to the appropriate bedroom closets and purchase a small coat rack for the front entry she was excited to design the space as a pantry. One call to a handyman and wooden shelves were installed in the back with narrow shelves on the side for cans and condiments. She was thrilled with the transformation and only wished she had done it in time for her family to enjoy it more. Although, it did help the house sell!

A common theme with clients moving and having their houses staged is why did I not do these things sooner? I love the way my house feels and functions so much more now. Years ago I attended a seminar and one class completely stuck in my mind. The class was called “the eyes of a stranger”. The concept is a fairly simple one. Walk in your front door as if you are a stranger seeing everything for the first time. You would be amazed how you notice things differently.

During this crazy time with all of us spending more time at home try to look at your house through the eyes of a stranger. Sometimes the smallest changes can yield the biggest results and really change the way you feel about your home.

The icing on the cake…

I have to say organizing and design go hand in hand as far as I’m concerned. I love to help clients with refreshing and styling their spaces.  Once a space has been de cluttered and organized, the design touches are the reward and the icing on the cake! ( and for those of you who know me well then you know that icing is one of my favorite things).  Without these added touches the room doesn’t feel finished,  or new or revitalized.

I guess you could say its one of my favorite parts of my job. I love taking a space and giving it a whole new look.  A space that was once neglected and used as a storage area is transformed into one of the happiest spaces in the house.  Taking a clients vision or “wish list” and giving a space a whole new purpose is so rewarding.

The question is do you have a room like that in your house??

Maybe now is the time to tackle it…

Why buying in bulk does not always save you money…

Lately, I have had quite a few situations with clients who like to go to Costco or Sam’s Club to buy in bulk and save money. There are also many clients who have embraced Amazon’s auto ship policy. But is this really saving you money??

As a professional organizer I have to say more times than not buying in bulk only creates a new set of issues.

The reasons I do not agree with bulk purchases:

-Some houses just do not have the storage space for bulk purchases. Especially cases of paper towels and toilet paper.

-If storage space is limited then these bulk items have to either be shoved into a space, left in garage or maybe even scattered in different places throughout the house.

-If items are scattered throughout the house then there is a good chance you will forget what you have and buy more.

-These bulk items also steal space from the items that you need on  a regular basis.  Making it much harder to find what you use daily.

-Haven’t we all gotten on a health kick with a certain new protein powder, vitamin, or snack that we really wanted to love? But with adults and especially kids we go through phases and may grow tired of a certain product.  Then we are stuck with cases of something we no longer eat.

-Plain and simple, food has an expiration date.  If you stock up on more than you can possibly eat before the item goes bad then the food is wasted.

-Once you tire of an item then it is much better to donate to a food pantry than to just let the item gather dust and expire.

-If you are about to run out of an item there are so many websites and stores at your disposal.  With one click of a button or a 10 minute drive to the store you can replenish in no time.

I know there are situations where a bulk purchase makes a lot of sense.  For example, you need to take snacks for your child’s classroom, you are hosting a party or maybe making holiday gift baskets for your neighbors and friends.  This is the case where you may save some money.  But again how much is that annual fee to keep your membership? And when you go to buy in bulk are you tempted to pick up other items that were not on your list?

Next time you are tempted to stock up on something ask yourself these questions.  Do you really have a place to store these things? Do you really need such a large quantity? How much are your really saving?  How much time will you spend trying to find a place to store the items?

The life-changing magic of tidying up


I just finished reading “the life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo.  The book has gained such popularity that of course I had to see firsthand what it was all about.   I do have to say that out of the many organizing books that are out there this one is worth picking up.  While I won’t spoil the whole book for you here are a few of the major points.

Sort by category, not by  location:

The general theme behind her book is to gather all the like items from your house and sort by category not by location/room.  For instance, if you are going to sort your medicine then gather it from all areas of the house-the bathroom, kitchen, linen closet or wherever and organize it at once.  I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree with this method!  This is the best way to organize and makes it easier to find items when they are in one general location instead of scattered all over the house.

“Does this spark joy?”

Her main mantra is ” does this spark joy?”  She believes that every item you own should spark joy.  I think this is a good way to gain a different perspective while tackling the organizing process.  It really makes you think hard about whether or not to keep something.  However, I do have to say that not EVERY item in my house sparks joy.  Most of us have cleaning products, first aid supplies, laundry detergent and other necessities that we need to run a household.  So while this philosophy works great for clothing, artwork, decorative items, books and other miscellaneous categories that are more personal it does not apply to everything in my opinion.

Never pile things: vertical storage is key.

Marie believes that everything is much more functional stored vertically.  I do have to say that this works great in dresser drawers.  Rolling or folding your shirts, leggings and other items makes them so much easier to see and access when they are stored vertically and each one is visible.  And the best part of this system is that it is a real space saver!

A few other philosophies….

There are also many other philosophies shared throughout the book.  Some of these may not be for everyone but it definitely makes for an interesting read.  For example, the fact that your socks need a rest after being worn and should always be folded flat.  Or that you should thank each item you own on a regular basis . Another one is that you should remove all soap, shampoo and conditioner from your shower after each use and wipe them down and store in the bathroom cabinet.  The thought process behind this is that it keeps your shower much cleaner and the items from building up a residue.  While this is a great thought I find it totally impractical for most people.  If I did this I would find myself in the shower and wet with no soap or shampoo!

Those are just a few of the highlights so if you are up for some organizing or “tidying” inspiration I would recommend the book.  You don’t have to agree with all aspects of the book to still enjoy it!



New Year, New Resolutions…

Well, it’s appropriate that my last blog entry (in October) was about procrastination and now we are only days away from the New Year!  Yes, I am also guilty of having the best intentions and not always staying on track.  Who isn’t, right?  Although I do try to stay organized as I instruct my clients to do, I can sympathize with their anxiety when they put off tasks that they feel less confident in tackling.

I started this blog to try to share some of my insight and experiences from my 8 years as a professional organizer, however I often feel that my greatest strength is not as a writer. That would be my husbands talent!
His advice was that I should just share some thoughts, and to remember that I’m not trying to write a novel.

I suddenly realized that I am not so different from a lot of my clients who struggle constantly with organization, especially clients who have “Type A” personalities and will either do something 150% or not at all.  There is no middle ground!  Sound familiar?  We are all so afraid that we won’t do something perfectly that we sometimes do nothing at all.

To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing.  ~Eva Young

Compare and Contrast

In my last post I mentioned that many, if not most people are collectors.  The process of collecting things comes in many forms, and often people aren’t even aware that they do it, or don’t consider themselves a collector in the traditional sense.

Sometimes people just like to bring home souvenirs from places they’ve been: spoons, shot glasses, refrigerator magnets, etc.  Other people take their collections more seriously and usually have a lot more of these types of things: antiques, record albums, books, toys and similar items.

Many people collect clothes, shoes, handbags, etc., and even though they don’t consider themselves to be collectors, they are, in the sense that they are constantly adding, but never get rid of anything that they don’t need anymore, thereby making themselves collectors.

And it’s not that collecting things is necessarily bad.  It’s how you manage and maintain your collection that becomes important. After seeing the season premier of A&E’s Hoarders, I was struck by the way that different people manage their collections, and this Hoarders episode seemed like the perfect example to illustrate the point.

This particular episode highlights a couple who have spent years collecting so many toys and games to the point that it has taken over their home and their lives.  Their collection is piled up in every room, taking up every available space to the point of hoarding; The process of collecting has become the focus, not the collection itself.

Now contrast this with an example from my own family.  I have a relative who lives in a small town who has been collecting dolls for years. Thousands of dolls, of every type and kind that you can imagine.  Antique baby dolls, action figures, Barbies, even Pez dispensers.  The list goes on and it is quite breathtaking to see in person.  The difference?  She has had a small house (dollhouse?) built on her property, with shelves and display cases to organize and display her vast collection.  She is proud of her collection and maintains it accordingly.  It is in fact, a small museum.

I realize that not everyone has the luxury of constructing a building to display their collections, and that many collections are just fine displayed in the home.  But the larger point I’m trying to make is that how you maintain your collection is as important as the collection itself.  Is it something that you are proud of and keep organized and well maintained, or is it just a big collection of stuff that is taking over your life?

“Too Much”

These days we all have too much.  Too much comes in many forms:  I sometimes laugh when working with a client because everyone is different and we all have our collection of something.  What is your collection?  I have seen mountains of T-shirts saved from events but never worn, shoes, shoes and more shoes… you women know what I am talking about!  With kids it is stuffed animals and collections of tiny items like legos and stuff from the last birthday party favor bag!  With hoarders stuff may come in the form of recycling or trash or rotten food.

We all have a relationship to our stuff and that is why we organizers have a job!  Do you ever think what it would be like to be free of it all?  A few clients have joked that if they lit a match and started over it might not be a bad thing.  But have you really put yourself in someone else’s shoes and thought about what it would be like to just have the clothes on your back?

I always find it helpful to get a fresh perspective.  The other day when working with a client we were talking about donation and places around town.  Everyone is familiar with Goodwill, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Kidney Foundation and so many others but sometimes I wonder who are we missing?  When my car is loaded down with a donation to take to Goodwill for a client, I find myself thinking I wish I could take this to someone in need right now and go right to the source.  Now I am certainly not saying that these organizations are not worthy and a great place to donate to.  But I would love to know that today or tomorrow someone has a clean shirt and new pair of shoes or a coat on a cold winter day because of me or one of my clients.

Did you know that the Charlotte Men’s Homeless Shelter houses over 500 men who would otherwise be out on the street?  Next time you are struggling with cleaning out your husband’s closet or stressing over how much money you spent on that coat that was hardly worn think about how your “TOO MUCH” can be the one cherished item someone else truly needs…