I first met Melissa Meyers (@MelissaMeyers), The Glow Girl, when we were both mothers of young children in NYC. Over the years, we’ve worked together, collaborated together, and even carpooled our children together. When Melissa moved to the west coast, we stayed in touch, and I was thrilled when she contacted me this summer for help with a challenging project. Her daughter, Rachel (@rachel.leigh.meyers), an influencer, would be moving to NYC and trading her spacious two-bedroom apartment in LA for a Tribeca apartment with a “cozy” (read small) bedroom and an even “cozier” closet. Thus, Rachel would be experiencing one of the great paradoxes of New York City. Fashionistas flock here. Yet, like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City, the closets are often so small that shoes may be stored in the oven.
Rachel’s optimism, chill personality, and flexibility were the key assets to making her room work. Prior to our first meeting, she sent me photos of the space, so I could do some advance planning. My first suggestion was that she have the closet professionally outfitted. While this may seem frivolous in a rental apartment, adding additional shelving and hanging cost a fraction of the monthly rent and was necessary for her clothing to fit in the space. I also insisted that Rachel replace her mismatched hangers with uniform ones to eliminate the visual noise in her closet (critical in a small space).
Rachel and I met three times to get her bedroom and closet in working order. And, while we were able to leave her oven free for cooking, I did need to get creative in using every inch of space to properly accommodate her extensive collection of clothing, shoes, and bags. Here are pictures of Rachel’s bedroom and closet from beginning to end.
Tips for Organizing a Small Space
When I first arrived at Rachel’s apartment, there were piles of clothing everywhere (even outside the door to her room).
Once I folded all of the clothes, I was able to organize them in the dresser. A tray on top of the dresser holds frequently used items.
After measuring the width and depth of a quirky corner, I had floor to ceiling shelves built to store bulky sweaters and sweatshirts.
Initially, Rachel’s closet only had a single hanging rod.
The revised closet has a lower bar (same amount of hanging space), shelves for sweaters that Rachel can reach, and space for out of season shoes and bags on a higher shelf. Light clothing is on the left, dark clothing on the right.
Although blocking her windows with a high headboard wasn’t our first choice, it was the only way to avoid walking into the bed when entering the room. It also enabled us to take advantage of a cut out in the wall where we placed her dresser.
The two drawers at the end of Rachel’s bed are handy for her in season bags and pajama sets…two categories of clothing she reaches for daily.
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.
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” »
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.
Moving can be a stressful time. In fact, a move is considered the third most stressful life event, following death and divorce. While you can’t completely eliminate the stress involved, follow these tips for a move that’s organized and well thought out:
File your change of address with the post office before your move. Send out address cards or an email informing friends and family of your new address.
When you purchase moving boxes, be sure to get assorted sizes to accommodate all your belongings. Don’t use an enormous box for school supplies if you don’t have so much, and then mix it with pillowcases. Separate the items and pare down into smaller boxes so everything is truly separated by item.
As you pack each moving box, keep a list of what you are placing in it. DO NOT ASSUME YOU WILL REMEMBER. When the box is full, place this list on the top of the box before sealing, so that when you open it you have a table of the contests, and no rummaging is necessary.
As you pack up your belongings, be sure to think carefully about whether you really want to bring everything with you. If you can downsize as you relocate, your new home will have that much more space and organization!
Make sure the contents of each box are labeled on all four sides. A heavy box might be pushed up against a wall, and if only labeled on one side, the contents might be unknown.
The day before your move, pack a kit of immediate toiletries for the first night in your new home. You don’t want to be hunting for necessities like toothpaste, toilet paper, or shampoo when you’re exhausted from a day of moving.
Give each child a small bag with all of their necessities: a change of clothing, a snack and some small toys, to keep them occupied throughout moving day.
All valuable items – passports, certificates, money, jewelry, electronics – should be put in a folder and transported by you. Don’t forget to take phone and computer chargers with you as well!
Have your new home cleaned thoroughly before you move in. If need be, stay in a hotel one night so that the job is done right and you move into a perfectly clean new home.
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!