The Clown Car of Kitchens

· Kitchen / Nutrition / Wellness, Makeovers

Wendy Reimer, the mother of 3 young girls, needed help. The kitchen in her spacious Upper West Side apartment was teeming with clutter. Although it boasted ample cabinet and drawer space, counters and cabinets were so stuffed that meal preparation had become difficult. In Sex and the City, Carrie stored her shoes in the oven; Wendy stored her dry goods in the microwave.

Continue reading “The Clown Car of Kitchens” »

Splurge vs. Steal

· Makeovers

I love a bargain as much as the next person…maybe more.  My husband often jokes that “…we’ll go broke saving money”.  In honor of that sentiment, here are some great organizing/home decor products that are real steals.  Click on any of the pictures if you want to visit the product’s website.  Check them out…

Herman Miller Eames Hang It All Coat Rack



Retro Style Gumball Coat Rack


Mirrored Circles Accent Mirror

Emily Circles Mirror


Vermillion Bryant Frame

Silver Plated Medal with Red Enamel Picture Frame


Hector Serrano Seletti’s Desktructure Organization System

Umbra Skyline Desk Organizer


Desert Modern Woven End Table

Samar Ottoman


Parisienne Chair

Entreat Dining Side Chair in Clear


Amelie Two-Door Mirrored Chest

Hamilton 2 Drawer Cabinet


Lacquer Tray

Format Orange Tray


Cabled Cashmere Throw Pillow


Cable Knit Decorative Pillow




Grey and Natural Zig Zag Pop Throw Pillow

ZigZag Decorative Pillow in Grey


Kitchen Makeover for a Single Dad

· Kitchen / Nutrition / Wellness, Makeovers · , , , ,

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.


Queen for a Day for the “Queen of Clean”

· Makeovers · , , , , ,

This month I was profiled in an article in AARP magazine entitled, “Declutter Your Life – Now! Meet the Queen of Clean”.  While just being chosen for the profile was exciting enough, what went on behind the scenes was truly a thrill for me!  Here’s the article, and here’s what it was really like to be the “Queen of Clean”.

First, I got to work with Jancee Dunn.  For those of you who don’t know her, Jancee has written for every major magazine, covering dozens of celebrities (Bono, Madonna, Brad Pitt, Cyndi Lauper).  The idea that she would be writing an article about me after she had just finished working on a project with Cyndi was just unfathomable.  And, Jancee was so easy to work with and such a lovely person, I enjoyed every minute of my time with her.

One day, Jancee accompanied me to a client’s apartment.  While at first it felt a little strange to be observed, Jancee was just a “fly on the wall”, and I quickly forgot she was there.  Then, she wanted to see my house, so we met there one morning. We chatted as I opened closets and drawers showing her my organizing techniques.  Everything was neat as a pin until I opened my husband’s closet and a yellow promotional bag was sitting on the floor.  To quote Jancee quoting me in the article, I said, “What the hell is this?”  I just love that she included that!

I next heard from AARP when they wanted to schedule a photo shoot with me.  I imagined they would send a photographer and snap a few pictures, but that wasn’t what they had in mind at all!  In early June, I received a “call sheet” listing me as the “talent” and then proceeded to list a dozen other people such as the photographer, prop stylist, wardrobe stylist, and set designer.  I couldn’t get over being called “the talent”.  I briefly wondered if a mistake had been made.  It became more real though as I had calls with the wardrobe consultant about my size and style and the prop master about how I would style a living room.

Then, it was the day of the shoot. I arrived at a sleek, airy downtown loft at 9:00 in the morning ready for my big day.  The photographer and his assistants were setting up their equipment.  Living room furniture had been rented and set up in one part of the loft, and the prop stylists were creating a messy “before” living room (later, I would transform it to the “after”).  Another part of the loft was set up with racks of clothes, rows and rows of shoes, a table filled with jewelry, and a whole table filled with crowns and scepters (for the Queen look).  A make up artist was setting up her brushes near the wardrobe section while I looked around still not quite believing that I was “the talent”.  To steady my nerves, I helped myself to a yummy breakfast which was set up in a back area.


After I had eaten, I had my hair and make-up done by Lauren.  As a person that rarely wears make up, it was fascinating to see how much time she spent making me look my best.   Whenever I thought there couldn’t possibly be any more makeup to put on my face, Lauren added something, smoothed something, and added something more.  Then she worked on making my hair just the right amount of curly for another hour!  I was starting to really enjoy being the talent.

Next it was time to try on clothes.  Jessica, the wardrobe stylist had prepared several looks for me.  The first was a long gold dress with a fur stole.  I loved it, but when the photographer took some test shots in front of the “before” living room, the color didn’t provide enough contrast.  Instead, I wore a long red satin skirt with a tailored white shirt complete with a crown and scepter for most of the shoot.  When the clothing didn’t fit perfectly, they pinned and clipped the side not on camera until it did.

Now, we were ready to start the shoot.  Chris, the incredibly talented photographer, taught me how to smile on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 is no smile, 7 is a big smile) and everything in between.  I posed leaning back, moving my shoulder down an inch, my arm up an inch, turning the scepter up and back and turning my head this way and that.  During all of this, Lauren and Jessica would periodically stop to arrange my clothes, fix my hair, and dab my makeup.  The photographers and the technician would crowd around big screens scrutinizing the photo angles and the colors.  Who knew being a model was so complicated?

After a few hours of posing, we stopped for lunch and an outfit change.  My next ensemble was much more like what I would wear on a regular day: jeans, kitten heels, and a blazer.  Chris took pictures of me in front of the set, and then the real fun began.  While Chris directed, a time lapse video a time lapse video of me organizing the set was taken.  I worked with the prop stylists from top to bottom and left to right.  We arranged the books in color and size order, we alternated between horizontal and vertical displays, used props of every type, and even put pictures on the mantle.  It took us about 30 minutes in real time, but the video speeds it up to a minute!

As it approached the late afternoon, we needed to hurry a bit, so we didn’t lose the light.  I had one more outfit change (jeans and blouse), and posed with different organizing tools like the Brother P Touch label maker, bins, and folders.  By this time, I was an old pro, and could smile and position myself easily into whatever poses Chris thought would work. There were a lot of laughs at the end as we wrapped the shoot.  Admittedly, I was a little sore the next day (from using “modeling” muscles never used before), but what an experience to be queen for a day, the Queen of Clean!



The Organizer’s Secret Weapon – The Label Maker

· Makeovers

You finally did it: you organized the pantry, that dark, ominous corner of your closet, and the “miscellaneous” toy box in the playroom. Now comes the next step…maintenance. Is there a secret weapon when it comes to keeping things under control? You bet, and it comes in the form of the label maker. My favorite is the Brother P-­Touch D200 label maker because there is no end to the multiple uses for this lean little machine in the quest for organization.  Here are just a few.


Designate Spaces and Places: When you move into a new home, a label maker is a must have for establishing specific spots for all of your belongings. Be smart: choose locations for items near where you use them.  For example, place drinking glasses near the refrigerator and keys by the door. Label the bins, boxes, or shelves where you place these items, and you’re one step closer to ultimate organization.

Enjoy Uniform Visuals: Select uniform containers to avoid visual clutter, and go a step further by using identical labels which are much neater than handwritten ones. Apply the same principle to your office files. The visual of typed labels on identical containers and folders will be an instant inspiration to maintain the organization you have achieved!

Downsize Toys: Post­-holidays, purge the bulky packaging on toys and games, and corral puzzles, legos, and blocks into labeled containers that take up less space, and are easier on the eye. Once you’ve downsized the toys, don’t forget to label the playroom shelves, so everyone knows which is home to the puzzles and where the games belong.

Identify Yourself: Before embarking on a trip, or sending the kids off to school with new gear, put a label on it! Label everything from lunchboxes to suitcases, phones, tennis rackets and hockey sticks! This won’t stop your family from losing things, but will help others to find what they’ve lost!

Create Kitchen Calm: Before storing that Tupperware in the freezer, add a label specifying the contents and the date to eliminate food gone bad and mystery meals.  Use canisters that are labeled for dry goods like flour and sugar and marvel at how much better your pantry looks.  Label your pantry shelves and their contents so everyone in the family knows where to find their favorite foods.

Corral Cords and Chargers: Label chargers and cords according to what they are or who in the household uses them.  This helps eliminate fights about whose charger it is and lessens the confusion about which charger goes with which camera.

Remember Notes to Self: You may forget the size of the shoes stored in the closet, which box houses Halloween decorations and which houses the Christmas lights, or the flavor of those coffee pods. An extra detail on the label will give you a little more information and keep chaos at bay.

Label Everything! It’s the only way to maintain an orderly home, and that is a “Label of Love”!

For more inspirational uses of the label maker, check out “25 Days of P-touch Labeling” at!

Happy labeling!

*”I am excited to be an official part of the Brother P-touch 25th anniversary celebration. While I am being compensated, this is a product I have loved, used and recommended for many years.”

Cheap Organizing Tricks

· Makeovers

Here are my best organizing tips utilizing items you already own!

1. Peel off the labels of baby food jars and use them to hold paper clips, safety pins, buttons, and keys.

2. Use up all of the half full toiletries in your bathroom such as shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and sunblock. The fewer products you have to store, the neater your bathroom will look.

3. Stock up on storage containers from your local dollar store. As long as all of your containers are uniform, they don’t have to cost a lot of money.

4. Use push pins on a bulletin board to hang costume jewelry like necklaces and bracelets.

5. Clip barrettes and bows to a wide piece of colorful ribbon.

6. Instead of having loose change all over your house, corral your currency in a mason jar.

7. Place a tray on a coffee table, entry way table or bedside table. Remote controls, cell phones, and car keys will look stylish and chic when contained.

When Organizing Meets Interior Design

· Makeovers

Although we’d all love our homes to look like those pictured in magazines, not everyone has access to fancy decorators, spacious layouts, and expensive furniture.  Yet, there are many stylish solutions for your organizing dilemmas that are as practical as they are pretty.  Here are a few of my favorites…

Organizing Dilemma 1: My Bedroom Looks Cluttered

While I can’t comment on the piles of clothing, work projects, or toys you may have lying around, I can promise that white bedding will make any room feel more peaceful and calm.   Make your bed with white sheets and a white coverlet, and your room will instantly be transformed to a Zen oasis. To add pizzazz, use brightly colored pillows and a colorful throw folded along the bottom of the bed.  Keep in mind that you can change those pillows and throw blanket to get a different look any time you feel the urge.   Try dark colors and heavy fabrics like velvet and corduroy for the winter months and lighter fabrics and colors for the summer.


Organizing Dilemma 2: I Don’t Have Enough Storage Space

When you think you don’t have enough storage space, you’re probably correct.  The good news is that many manufacturers are designing pieces that look great and provide ample storage as well. So, say no to nightstands with nary a drawer or shelf.  Instead, look for nightstands that have multiple drawers, particularly if you’re a “collector” of stuff (see picture on the left).   The piece pictured on the right has flip down drawer fronts to accommodate a cable box or DVD player (or books as shown).

Design Studio of Somerville, 908-685-1921,


Organizing Dilemma 3:  I Have Piles of “Stuff” on My Counters

If you’re prone to piles of random stuff, corral your clutter with a beautiful tray.  Add a framed picture, candles, or a vase, and your remote controls, keys, spare change, and books become a fashion statement instead of a declaration of your mess.  Place these trays on your dresser, night table, or coffee table, or wherever you stash your stuff, so you’ve displaced the mess.  You’ll even have incentive to put items where they belong.

Design Studio of Somerville, 908-685-192


Organizing Dilemma 4:  There’s No Room on My Nightstands for a Tray

When your nightstands won’t accommodate anything other than a lamp, move the lighting onto the wall by installing sconces.  Purely practical, but sconces also provide an opportunity for a fashionable décor statement.


Organizing Dilemma 5: There’s No Room in My Kitchen for Large Pieces

Large serving pieces can make beautiful focal points for your kitchen.  Instead of storing a large bowl, fill it with fruit and center it on your kitchen table.  Instead of cramming that large pitcher in the bottom corner of your cupboard, put it out on display in a corner of your kitchen.

Do you have any ideas that merge organizing and decorating?  If so, I’d love to hear them!

Must Have Home Cleaning Products

· Makeovers

Even with all of the organizing systems I have in place, I often feel like keeping my house neat is a never-ending job.  That’s because it actually is a never-ending job.   Every time the laundry is done and put away, more laundry appears.  Every time the dishwasher is emptied and the dishes are put away, there are more dishes to load.   That’s just the way it is when you’re running an active household.  Yet, here are a few simple shortcuts and must-have products that I love…


  • Downy Wrinkle Releaser is a huge time saver when you don’t have time to iron. It can be used on clothing, or even wrinkled sheets and bedding.  You just spray on the wrinkled area, tug, and smooth.  Not only does Downy Wrinkle Releaser smooth wrinkles, but it leaves clothes and bedding smelling great.


  • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is the perfect fix for marks that appear on hard wood, tile floors, or walls. The Magic Eraser is safe to use on most surfaces, and also removes built up grease on stoves and soap scum in sinks.  It also works wonders on leather sneakers.  When my children come home with dirt on the toe of their Converse sneakers, a quick rub with the Magic Erase, and they look brand new!  The Mr. Clean Magic eraser will leave your home a brighter, fresher space in no time at all.


  • The Tide Stain Stick is a great on-the-go, carry-in-your purse type of item.  Accidents happen, and when they do, just rub the Tide Stick on the problem area and the stain diminishes.  While not all stains disappear completely, the Tide Stick does keep the stains from becoming permanent.


  • The Swift Sweeper is the most efficient way to pick up dust, pet hair and dirt.  It requires minimal maintenance—just grab from the closet and sweep!   Because the Swift Sweeper has a swivel head, you can reach in small corners and underneath tables, couches, or beds.  You can purchase scented or unscented dry or wet cloth wipes for your sweeper, and just toss the used wipes in the trash.


  • The Black & Decker CHV1510 Dustbuster 15.6-Volt Cordless Cyclonic Hand Vacuum is a must have for any busy household.  Who wants to drag out a heavy vacuum cleaner for every little spill or pile of dust bunnies?  Just grab your dustbuster and watch the mess disappear!



What products do you swear by?  Share your housekeeping tips and favorite cleaning products with me.  I’d love to hear from you!