Tips on packing for your next trip

One easy way to pack light is to pack some staple pieces and then pack accessories to change up the looks. This is a perfect example of a black faux leather moto jacket that can be dressed up with a skirt or worn over a dress. Or you can wear it with jeans or leggings.

You can really change the look of the outfit just by changing the scarf and earrings. Scarves and earrings don’t take up much room in a suitcase and can really help you create so many more outfit combinations! So get creative and have fun with your wardrobe!

The benefits of Shopping Secondhand

Shopping secondhand may take time but there are so many advantages to it!  After years of helping women with their closets I can honestly say there are so many clothes out there that are in new or like new condition that end up at consignment or thrift stores.  Taking items to consignment is a way to make a little money and pass your items on in a responsible way where they don’t end up in the landfill.  If you aren’t worried about getting any money back for the items then there are so many great thrift shops that support wonderful causes  that you can donate to.   And the best part is  that someone else benefits from something that was just taking up space in your closet and never being worn.

What are some of the biggest benefits of shopping secondhand?

-You can try a variety of brands all in one place and you may even discover brands you didn’t know about.

-Once you identify the brands that fit you best you can look for those specific brands in the future.

-If you have an item, style or brand that is no longer made sometimes you can find these gems hidden at consignment and thrift shops.

-You have the opportunity to buy brands that are higher end and better quality for a fraction of the price.

-If you need some transitional pieces for weight fluctuations ( as many women struggle with, myself included) then you can buy some staple pieces at an affordable price.

-If you have a special occasion that requires an outfit you are not likely to wear often you can buy secondhand to stay within a budget and not have to spend money on something new.

I hope these tips helped and you are inspired to buy secondhand or at least do some  browsing! Its’ fun to see what you might find!

Some of my favorite local shops are:

Pennies for Change Thrift Store, Durham, NC

My Secret Closet, Hillsborough,NC

The Stock Exchange, Chapel Hill, NC


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.

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?

Simplifying your mornining routine… start with the bathroom

Organizing can sometimes seem daunting especially if you have limited time. However, an area that can have a huge impact are bathrooms. Products can pile up quickly and pretty soon cabinets and drawers are overflowing.  Counter tops end up  covered with things that just landed there.

After years of helping clients I have noticed almost everyone buys products that they don’t always end up liking. Because they spent money on that magic hair serum or beauty product they feel guilty getting rid of them.  But why should you keep things if they don’t work for you??

Take time to remove the products from your bathroom that you will never use. If they are practically new then you could give them away to a friend, family member or a charity that can give them to someone in need. If they are old or expired then toss and don’t look back!

Remove travel size items and store them in a bin out of the way as well.  Next time you pack for a trip you can go to the bin to replenish your toiletry bag.

If you buy extras of your favorite products then designate a place for “extras”. Either a linen closet or put away in a cabinet so they are not in the way of your daily routine.

Keep only what you use daily out on the counter in a small basket or a nearby drawer or shelf. This will keep your morning routine simple and quick and make cleaning your counter a breeze!

Summer vacations are around the corner…

summertravelSpring is flying by!  Has everyone finished their spring cleaning??  I am sure many of you are thinking ahead to the summer months and planning your next vacation.  There are many things you can do now so that your next trip is easy and you don’t  have all those last minute things to do.

Summer travel checklist:

-Go through purses, tote bags and luggage and make sure they are all empty from last trips.  Donate any pieces that you no longer use.

-Go through your toiletry bag and throw out and old expired products.  Refill travel shampoos and soaps. Make sure you have what you need for your next trip.  Make a list of anything you are missing and buy ahead of time.

-Go through your medicine cabinet and throw out any expired medications.  Make a travel first-aid kit with pain and allergy medicine, band-aids and any other travel necessities.

-Make sure your car and health insurance cards are current and keep in your wallet or car.

-Make a copy of the contents of your wallet in case it is lost or stolen.  Keep the copy in a secure place so you can access in an emergency.

-Stock your car with an umbrella, extra jacket, sunglasses, kleenex, hand sanitizer, a few trash bags and anything else you may want on the road.

-Stock your purse with a few snacks in case you get stuck somewhere and need a boost.

-Make sure your phone contact list is updated with important numbers such as doctor, vet , pet sitter, etc. in case you need to call from the road.

-Create a checklist for your next trip so you don’t forget anything.



“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…