On a sticky Manhattan summer day, I arrived at Wendy Reimer’s home to organize the overcrowded bedroom of her three young girls. The oldest, a pre-teen, was desperate for her own space, and Wendy hoped I could carve out a niche for her in the large bedroom the girls shared.
As a professional, I rarely feel overwhelmed by a room. Yet, here, I had met my match. Three beds lined the perimeter of the room, and there was almost no clear path to walk. Stuffed animals covered every surface, and toys, games, and books were strewn about the room. Drawers were so stuffed with clothing that many could barely be opened. In an adjacent playroom, clutter filled every visible space with an outdoor playhouse taking center stage.
In between his full time job, volunteering in the community, and taking care of his two young sons, Mike McCleod, Jr. had little time for himself or for organizing his small, but cozy home. As a result, the kitchen, where the family spent the most time, was overrun with food, appliances, and the debris of daily living. His kitchen table was literally on its last leg and in such poor condition that it could no longer be used for meals. When Mike reached out to my friends at Hooplaha, @onlygood.tv for help, I was happy to spearhead his kitchen makeover.
When I first met the McCleod trio, they were excited about the project on hand. Kiing and Hova, Mike’s sons, greeted me at the door, and as they showed me around the apartment, I could see that the kitchen was not functioning at all; instead it was weighed down with clutter. Yet, I was also pleasantly surprised to see several areas where overflow from the kitchen could be stored.
After Adam Keller’s flash mob proposal to Jared Marinelli at Joy Ride Studio (viewed by 14 million people), life changed dramatically for these fitness instructors. In addition to cohosting an online series called “Joy Story” for Hooplaha – Only Good News, they moved to a new home, and basked in an outpouring of affection from the LGBT community. When our mutual friends from Hooplaha told me “the boys” where struggling with a small kitchen, I was happy to pay them a visit in New Jersey to help them manage the space.
While their new home had an extensive yard for them to walk their dogs, the kitchen was a fraction of the size of the one they had left behind. Since this space was limited, they were using the counters to compensate for the lack of a pantry, and the kitchen was overrun by clutter. When organizing the space, I followed my typical approach:
Take everything out of the cabinets
Group like items together
Separate duplicates and purge
Put everything back in an organized fashion
As I cleared everything out of the cabinets, I could see that inside and under the cabinets were not being used properly. To maximize space, I outfitted drawers with inserts to organize utensils, flatware, and utility items (tools and batteries). Items on high shelves were placed in bins, so that they would be accessible, and the surfaces were cleared. Accents in orange were placed throughout, resulting in a charming, cozy kitchen Jared and Adam can enjoy. See a video of the makeover here.
I met Carol Becker in early 2020 after she won a two-hour organizing consultation I had donated to the Park Avenue Synagogue benefit. Carol was planning on putting her apartment on the market the following summer and wanted assistance purging and organizing prior to the move. We started with her home office, and then in subsequent weeks tore through closets, pantries, and drawers at a rapid pace, each week giving away, selling, donating, or discarding bags of unwanted items. Organizing can be an intimate journey, and there were many stories Carol shared as we sifted through 20 plus years of memories and forged a friendship along the way.
Like many of my clients, Carol is a busy overachiever with a passion for life. In addition to owning the iconic William Greenberg Bakery, she is a biker, golfer, traveler, marathon runner, sports enthusiast, philanthropist, board member at Syracuse University (with a dog named Boeheim), die hard New Yorker, and a lifelong learner who will celebrate her bat mitzvah this spring. She’s also a single mother to Emily and Alison, both in their 20’s, and a warm and devoted friend to many.
1) How can I store sweaters on hangers without stretching them out or damaging delicate knits? I suggest using the children’s sized nonslip velvet hangers in the same color as the full sized hangers being used in the rest of your closet. This will ensure visual symmetry and the shoulders won’t get stretched. Of course, truly delicate sweaters shouldn’t be hung, they should be folded.
2) What is an easy, visually appealing way to store scarves? Use skirt hangers and organize by color. Or, install a towel bar (or two or three), and hang scarves over the bar by color.
3) How can I keep my (and the kids) gloves from losing their pair? What is a clever way to store them in a closet? I store gloves in the pockets of the coats. It becomes rote for you and your children to always put the gloves in the pocket when taking them off. You’ll save space (no need to allocate closet space to gloves) and time (no need to search for “matching gloves”).
4) How can I best store bulky winter boots in a closet space? Limit the number of bulky winter boots to one or two pairs per family member. Often, clients will store these on the floor of the closet, but another alternative is to put them on a high shelf. Boots are light and easy to grab when they’re stored on a high shelf, and they’re also typically not worn often (unless you live in a place where it snows often).
5) Is there a way to save hanging space with bulky winter coats? If you have a number of short coats, the best space saver is having double hanging (two hanging rods). You literally double your hanging space.
6) How can I store throw blankets in a closet without creating a blanket avalanche every time I try to remove one? If you have multiple throw blankets in a closet, consider how many you really need. If you have no more than 4, they shouldn’t topple. Throw blankets are meant to be thrown over the side of a couch, chair, or bed. Blankets that are stored should be folded to the same width with the fold to the outside and stacked by color.
For her junior year at Washington University, my daughter, Rebecca, moved into an off-campus apartment. Lucky for her, ClosetMaid had provided furniture for her dorm room the previous year that could be repurposed and paired with some new pieces to create a mature and modern space.
When we arrived in St. Louis, the living room in the new apartment was filled with boxes. Some were filled with items that had been ordered or shipped from home. Others were packed by the school when the pandemic shut down colleges the previous spring. Armed with box cutters, the first four hours in the new apartment were spent emptying boxes and moving them out of the apartment. Continue reading “Versatile Furniture from ClosetMaid Goes from Dorm to First Apartment” »
One day, as I sat in my living room answering emails, I realized that I couldn’t stand my rug. Over the course of that afternoon, I became obsessed with replacing it. Immediately. So, I raced to the D&D building in NYC, selected three potential rugs, and brought samples home to review in the space. While none of them seemed right, and all of them cost more than I wanted to spend, I’m a sucker for crossing things off my list. So I called my dear friend, Allison Peyton, for help making the decision. Allison, who has phenomenal taste and is trained as a designer, has strong opinions that she finds difficult not to express. In other words, the exact reason we’re such close friends. When I texted photos of the rugs I was considering, she let me know she “hated all of them,” and I would need to clear my calendar in 3 weeks to spend the day with her.
On the appointed day, I took an early train to meet Allison in Connecticut. Our first stop was the Elizabeth Eakin sample sale in Norwalk. When the doors opened, we burst inside, and 45 minutes later I had purchased two rugs that cost a fraction of what I was going to pay for just one rug a few weeks earlier. Feeling excited about my new purchases and the money I had saved, I asked if she thought I needed anything else. Continue reading “Living Room Facelift” »
Any home improvement project entails compromise, and the recent renovation of my kitchen and dining room was no exception. In order to enlarge the dining area in the limited confines of my New York City townhouse, I took my formally spacious laundry room and made it half of its former size. Fortunately, I knew how to maximize storage capacity and organize this smaller space to meet my needs. Here are the steps I took:
Purge After careful consideration, I decided to eliminate anything that wasn’t necessary for cleaning clothing, floors, or surfaces. This meant that I moved light bulbs, dog grooming supplies, tools, and other home maintenance items to other areas of my home.
Design With small spaces, it’s important to think vertically. I started by replacing my washing machine and dryer with stackable models. I then designed high shelves around the perimeter of the room, installed a rod for hanging hand wash (a towel rack repurposed and hung from the underside of a shelf), and created space for a vacuum cleaner, and laundry baskets. A pocket door saved additional space.
Organize I used white Nordic Storage Baskets from The Container Store to store cleaning products, laundry products, microfiber cloths, sponges, floor cleaners. Frequently used products such as laundry pods, fabric softener, and microfiber cloths were decanted in clear acrylic canisters. A horizontal desk organizer was used to hold pens, notepads, a folding board, and a scissor.
As we endure the 7th week of sheltering at home, many of us have become pyschologically fatigued. In order to remain productive and upbeat, check out my 5 tips for staying productive while staying at home.
1. Make your bed. As Charles Duhigg notes in his book The Power of Habit, “making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity [and] a greater sense of well being…” Completing one small task paves the way for larger accomplishments during the day.
How much is too much? What is the “right” amount of something to have? As an organizer, these are questions I’m frequently asked, and the answer is different for every situation. It depends on three factors:
How much space do you have?
How much money do you want to spend?
What do you realistically use?
I recently found a stockpile of brand new socks that my husband, Jeff, had stored between two stacks of sweatshirts. I was horrified. And, when I opened his sock drawer to put them away properly, I was even more horrified. There were piles and piles of socks… So, I asked Jeff to explain. Here’s how our conversation went: