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.
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.
I first met Katrina Mitzeliotis, a chic and adorable fashion director with Hollywood Life, over breakfast in midtown, Manhattan. Newly married and highly motivated to get organized, Katrina admitted that her clothes were currently in piles on the floor of a spare bedroom in her home in Brooklyn. And, when she said “piles,’ she was using the term loosely.
Many people would shy away from sharing a “dirty little secret” like a room with clothes and shoes strewn about, but Katrina wanted Hollywood Life readers to know that there’s no shame in learning to be organized. While Hollywood Life often features celebrities and their fabulous clothing and closets, Katrina is relatable and typical in many ways. She has more clothes than she needs, she has no idea how to organize them, and she lacks the closet infrastructure that would make organization attainable. A closet makeover was just what she needed, so I teamed up with ClosetMaid to give Katrina the closet of her dreams. Continue reading “Closet Makeover for Hollywood Life Fashion Director” »
Recently, I was asked to participate in a web series for Hooplaha, a fabulous network whose mission is to inspire, uplift and make people happy. In this series, I’ll be providing free organizational makeovers to those who can’t afford to pay for a professional organizer. In short, this is my opportunity to give back to the community and improve the quality of someone’s life. In the premiere episode I meet the McLeod family. Mike McLeod is a thirty-five year old single father of two young sons, Kiing and Hova. Not only does he work two jobs (finding housing for the homeless and acting as a basketball referee), but he’s also very involved in his community. His lack of time has made it difficult for him to get ahead; he was in desperate need of a kitchen organization makeover.
Upon arriving at the McLeod apartment, I noticed that the kitchen space, although extremely cluttered, was also the heart of the home. I learned that Mike loves to be in the kitchen cooking healthy meals for his sons, he has a penchant for buying too many spices, and he’s a saver of empty boxes and containers that take up unnecessary space. With the help of my team, we got to work using my four-step method of organization (purge, design, organize, and maintain).
First, we purged everything the family didn’t need or want. We sorted everything so that like items were together and we could see which appliances and kitchen tools were duplicates. Then, we used our organizing tools to design the space. We used OXO canisters for the dry goods such as flour and sugar, and we used Linus Pantry Binz to organize spices in the cabinet and excess toiletries. We also used drawer inserts to create organized spaces in the drawers. The next step was to organize everything that would remain in the McLeod’s kitchen. We were able to clear off the table and give the family a place to eat meals, do homework, and spend time together. To help Mike and the boys maintain order, we labeled everything using a Brother P Touch label maker.
It took us about 3 hours to transform this room from a cluttered mess to a functional organized space that was cozy and efficient. It was a great day and a lot of fun for everyone!
Click here to meet Mike and his boys and watch the McLeod kitchen makeover.