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.
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.
Allison didn’t mince words. Apparently, my end tables “were so horrible she couldn’t speak” and a custom wall unit I had designed in 2002 was “a complete embarrassment, dated, and should be used as firewood.” She also thought the furniture could use a little rearranging.
As I considered her comments objectively, I conceded that the end tables and wall unit were dated. The issue was that, although dated, the wall unit had tremendous storage capacity. Its many shelves and cabinets were packed with photo albums, sentimental items, board games, books, and even a few hundred CD’s in drawers built to their specific size. Allison was unfazed. “You’re an organizer, you’ll pare down and find other places for those things,” she told me as we approached Parc Monceau, a cozy furniture/home goods store.
At Parc Monceau, we ordered upholstered stools and a drink table. New pillows were selected from Gracious Home in New York City, and a burled wood console with ample storage was purchased to take the place of the wall unit. I was ecstatic, but Allison wasn’t finished. She thought my existing chairs looked “a bit tired” and suggested I reupholster them in leather, remove the skirt, and add nail heads to better complement the new living room.
Three weeks later, a handyman disassembled the wall unit (with its pared down contents), and the rugs and new furniture were delivered. Existing furniture was rearranged including the newly reupholstered chairs that were relocated to create a new seating area. The console was placed on the wall previously occupied by the wall unit. New pillows were arranged on the couch and chairs.
As I surveyed the room, I saw that what was once traditional and dark had been transformed to a space that was chic and light. With the addition of some pillows, a rug, and some well-placed accessories, I had achieved a stylish new look without spending a fortune. And, after much cajoling, Allison agreed to join my team at Life Organized.
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.
Our featured client this month is Samantha, the mother of three young children and the matriarch of a large extended family. This hostess extraordinaire often cooks for 30 family members and friends to celebrate Shabbat each weekend. In addition, Samantha maintains toys for every possible age group to ensure that even the youngest guest has appropriate entertainment. Over time, though, her home has become the self declared “weigh station” for toys, clothing, books, cookware, and furniture for relatives and friends with younger children, ones who have yet to have children, and even those who are not yet married.
Like many women who hire us, Samantha’s organizational skills are the envy of her friends (“why do you need an organizer,” is a popular refrain she hears). Yet, Samantha felt that she needed expert advise in how to streamline her life to entertain and function at a higher level. She knew it was time to take back her home – it could no longer be a proverbial ‘candy store’ for children and adults alike – and she needed our help.
Like most of my projects, this one started with a phone call. There was a townhouse and two dads, two kids, two dogs, and way too much stuff. Could we help? Of course.
At the first appointment, we met Bill and Alvarro, two busy dads at their home in Brooklyn Heights which was beautifully decorated yet warm and child friendly. From the basement to the office on the top floor, we could see the evidence of a well lived life. Gifts, souvenirs from travel, photos, school projects, and books could be found in boxes and piles throughout the house. Bill and Alvarro craved better organization so that they could live with less clutter and less stress. After a walk through of the house, we made a plan: we would meet once a week, and tackle one room at a time, starting in the kitchen.
About a year ago, a friend asked if I would consider doing a project pro bono; Lisa Meshulam, a single mother of triplets, desperately needed help with organization of her one bedroom apartment. I was intrigued.
When I saw the apartment, it was piled floor to ceiling with storage boxes on wire racks. Cube furniture was filled with bins, books, and papers. Children’s drawings and photos were taped to the walls, and the kitchen counters overflowed with food that didn’t fit in the pantry. Lisa slept in a bed in the corner of the living room, sacrificing her privacy so the boys could share the single bedroom. While the boys’ room was cleverly outfitted with two bunk beds, it was overrun with clutter. Clothing spilled out of empty cubes and onto the floor.
I immediately agreed to help and started by enlisting ClosetMaid as a sponsor. Then, I assembled my team of organizers, and began operation organize.
I first reached out to Elizabeth Sutton in December after seeing her posts on social media. Recently divorced with 2 young children, Elizabeth had experienced a tragic loss: while displaying her works at Art Basel, two of her employees, also dear friends, were in a devastating car accident. One did not survive, and the other was seriously injured. In dealing with the aftermath of the accident, all of her artwork in Miami was haphazardly packed and shipped to her studio in Long Island City. In the process, many paintings were damaged, and she herself felt emotionally damaged.
When Elizabeth and I spoke, she talked about a feeling of chaos, both in her personal life and in her studio. And, she knew that the chaos would increase the following month when she would be closing a pop up store in Soho and sending all of the art and supplies there to the Long Island City studio.
Elizabeth also expressed how her art studio, once a place of great inspiration, was now filled with sad memories and completely disorganized. That’s when Resourceful Consultants got involved. Our goal was not only to organize Elizabeth’s Long Island City studio, but also to create a hip, fun vibe that would match the mood of the vibrant pop art that is Elizabeth’s signature style.
Elizabeth and I met in her studio the following month. We talked about the organizational challenges she was facing, and how Resourceful Consultants could help. Elizabeth demonstrated how labor intensive each of her paintings was by crafting a single butterfly, gorgeous and glittered, while we watched. We met her team in order to understand how they worked together and separately, so that we could determine how best to organize the physical space in the studio.
Last month, I met Sergeant First Class Luciano Yulfo, a veteran who served our country for 36 years. In 2014, he retired from active duty after being injured in Afghanistan. “Louie” wears braces on his leg, walks with a cane, and will most likely face the amputation of his leg in the next year or so. Currently, he lives in Staten Island with his daughter Sonia, 27, who is his full time caregiver. Unfortunately, Sonia herself struggles with health issues, and the burden of caring for her father can be overwhelming. Thanks to an organization called Luke’s Wings, I was made aware of the situation, and teamed up with ClosetMaid and Hooplah to help.
After visiting the Yulfo home, we decided that we would install ClosetMaid ShelfTrack closet systems in the master bedroom, Sonia’s room, and the front hall closet.
“I Have Too Much Storage Space,” Said No One Ever… Especially a Fashionista Who Works at Prada
Working in the luxury goods retail market for over 20 years, Bonnie Williams had amassed an impressive collection of designer clothing, bags, and shoes. Yet, her beautiful and expensive items were crammed into closets, overstuffed drawers, and piled from floor to ceiling in her studio apartment. When her closet rod broke under the weight of her hanging clothes, Bonnie knew it was time to move to a bigger space.
When contemplating the move, Bonnie realized that without professional help, her situation would remain largely the same; everything stored haphazardly, only in a larger apartment. That’s when she called me to help with a complete apartment makeover, and I sought out ClosetMaid, a great source of affordable DIY closets as well as a line of storage furniture and closet accessories.
Bonnie and I began by purging; we pulled everything out of the closets and drawers, eliminating duplicate kitchen accessories, unwanted books and cookbooks, clothing and shoes she hadn’t seen or worn in years, financial documents that were no longer relevant, and makeup and toiletries well past their expiration dates. Once we had thrown away, given away, or consigned all that we could, Bonnie was ready to move, and we began designing organizational solutions. With assistance, Bonnie and I assembled the DIY ClosetMaid systems.
Walking into Holly Merrin’s kitchen is a little like Dorothy seeing Oz for the first time. From the emerald green terrazzo floors to the bold green leather chairs and fabulous views of the Hudson River, this kitchen is long on the wow factor.
The mom of the moment is long on the wow factor too. Petite and pretty, Holly enjoys preparing meals and snacks for her family. A 2015 graduate of The Natural Gourmet Institute, it’s more than a hobby, but not yet a career. Holly contacted Curated Kitchen to tackle both the physical organization of the kitchen and her need to address a wide range of food preferences in the most nutritious manner.