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.
Continue reading “An Empty Nester “Upsizes”” »
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.
The apartment filled with boxes.
Once the boxes were emptied, and the items were sorted by category, the fun began. We used two X-frame bookshelves (previously split between Rebecca’s dorm bedroom and the dorm shared living space) to flank the media stand, creating a wall unit with these versatile pieces. These shelves provide ample room for Rebecca’s books as well as candles, photos, and artwork. The drawers of the media stand store cords, chargers, and notebooks while the shelves hold fun books and games.
ClosetMaid bookshelves flank the media stand.
A new couch by Best Choice Products was selected for its clean and modern look as well as its ability to convert to a bed. The coffee table with shelves, taken from Rebecca’s dorm room provides useful storage. A tray corrals the remote control for the television, and games for small gatherings with friends are stored on the handy shelves.
Couch with ClosetMaid coffee table and art work by Romi Tannenbaum
The end table with a shelf, placed in between two faux leather accent chairs and styled with dried flowers, a candle, and a game, provides more decorative storage.
Artwork by Romi Tannenbaum (Romi Jill Art) completes the apartment with sophisticated splashes of bold color.
Picture by Romi Jill Art
For more organization and lifestyle tips, visit blog.closetmaid.com.
More moves take place in the summer than any other time during the year. In addition to my tips in this month’s issue of Real Simple “How to Move Without Losing It” and on the MakeSpace blog “8 Expert Solutions to Your Toughest Moving Problems,” here are some additional moving tips I’ve provided to clients this month.
Moving With Children
- Purge all of the toys they no longer use, anything broken, or missing pieces, AND all clothing that no longer fits or is stain, torn, or beyond repair. It’s expensive and time consuming to move what is no longer needed or wanted.
- Prioritize their rooms first. Moving can be stressful for children. By setting up their rooms first, the disruption in their lives is minimized.
- Create excitement. If you’re moving locally, show them their new room. If you’re not moving locally, share pictures of local attractions, the house, their new room, and school.
- Enlist babysitters to keep them occupied the day of the move or possibly for a few days, so you can get settled without them under foot.
Continue reading “Moving Tips” »
I was profiled in this month’s AARP magazine, and the article talked about helping seniors downsize. Here are my top 10 tips and a link to the article (http://www.life-organized.com/images/aarp-august-2014.pdf).
- Other people’s memories are not your responsibility. If your great aunt’s sterling silver tea set has become an albatross, it’s time to donate it or sell it. If your children are grown, it’s time for them to start storing their own childhood artifacts. It doesn’t mean you love your family any less; it’s just not your burden.
- Work in 2-3 hour blocks of time, focusing on one area at a time. More then that can be overwhelming and you won’t be as productive. Don’t try to tackle the whole house, but instead tackle a desk drawer or a closet.
- Use your new space as a guide. Measure how much storage space you’ll have, and let that dictate your decisions. If you’re not going to have room for something, you simply can’t keep it.
- Keep “maybes” to a minimum. Touch it once, make a decision, and move on. Moving items in and out of “maybe” piles is emotionally draining and time consuming.
- If a memory is worth preserving, treat it as such. Random boxes of pictures aren’t compelling; an album of pictures (whether digital or a book) tell a story that can be enjoyed.
- Group like things together. It’s the only way you’ll know that you have 4 hammers, 3 spatulas, and 6 boxes of staples (5,000 per box). Donate what you don’t need and keep the best of the rest.
- Discard what’s expired. This includes that box of muffin mix that you’ve had since 2009 and the 10 pack of pain reliever you bought on sale that’s long since past its “use by” date.
- Ignore sunk costs. What you paid for something has no bearing on whether it should have a place in your life. Whether you love it and want it is far more relevant.
- Your clothing should reflect your current life, not the life you used to live. If you’ve retired to Florida, you don’t need a closet full of business suits, whether they still fit you or not. If you’re no longer a size 4, you don’t need a wardrobe of small clothes to remind you that you’ve gained weight
- 10. Your possessions should reflect your current life, not the imaginary life you hope to lead. If you haven’t built a dark room yet, it’s time to stop storing all the items you would need just in case.
In a May 2020 interview with Dumpster.com, I shared my downsizing tips. It’s been six years since I wrote these tips, but not much has changed. See the article here.
As Valentines Day approaches, couples everywhere contemplate taking their relationship to the next level. In some cases, this means moving in together, a big step worthy of celebration…and logistical concerns. Whether you’re moving into a new place together, or, moving in with your partner, follow these guidelines, and cohabitation will be smooth as can be.
1. Adhere to the 60/40 rule. If there’s a male and female involved, the woman automatically gets at least 60% of the closet AND drawer space. I hate to be sexist, but if you want this move to go smoothly, do as I say.
2. Divvy up the drawers. Each adult needs at least three to four drawers in the bedroom. One for undergarments, one for socks, one for sleepwear, and possibly one for gym clothes/shorts/swimwear. Anything else can be folded on shelves.
3. Dump the duplicates. You don’t need two sets of dishes, two cheese graters, two sets of steak knives…You get the picture. Pick the best, give away the rest!
4. Expel what’s expired. Prior to the move, you both need to discard any medications, sun block, and prescriptions that have loitered past their expiration dates. This will free up space in the soon to be shared medicine cabinet.
5. Banish the books. Books are heavy to move; don’t move a book unless: it’s a favorite, it’s a good reference book, or it will look nice on a shelf or coffee table.
6. Limit the linens. You only need two sets of sheets per bed, and 4-5 towels per person. Discard any extra sheets that don’t fit a bed you’ll currently be using. This may be a good time to give away the sheets you used on your dorm bed in college.
7. Set the table for two, and enjoy a romantic dinner!