London’s Laundromat – 24 Hours, Not Quite Self Service
When a busy mom of four hired me to organize her townhouse, the laundry room was one of her top priorities. Although it wasn’t the sexiest room in the house, it was a space used multiple times a day.
The laundry room was small but well designed with a sense of humor. A counter ran the length of one wall with IKEA shelves above and the washer and dryer below the counter. The opposite wall boasted a sink and linen closet tucked behind the door. A clothesline that retracted into the wall was used to hang hand washed clothing. The sign painted on the wall read, “London’s Laundromat, 24 Hours, Self-Service.
When I arrived, the counter was completely covered with clothing. Boxes of cleaning supplies and random items such as swim goggles and game pieces littered the space as well. The linen closet was stuffed with sheets, towels, backpacks, and tote bags.
I started by tackling the linen closet because I correctly assumed there would be lots of easy to purge items. For example, crib sheets were comingled with other sheets even though the youngest child hadn’t slept in a crib in at least two years. New sheets had been purchased for all of the beds, yet the old sheets still remained. These were all eliminated as well as those that were mismatched, torn, or stained. Tip: when you buy something new remember to eliminate what you bought it to replace. In order to increase the linear feet of space in the linen closet, I added two extra shelves. Moving forward, bed linens would be stored in the bedroom in which they were used. The linen closet would only accommodate guest sheets, towels, and extra laundry supplies.
Clearing off the counter was simple. Laundry was folded and put away in each child’s bedroom. A cumbersome drying rack was discarded. Random items were put where they belonged or discarded. Glass anchor canisters were used to decant laundry detergent and fabric softener.
Since the cabinets which were from IKEA, I used 10 IKEA white curved bins which perfectly fit the space. Like items were grouped together such as sewing supplies, glass cleaners, floor cleaners, sunblock and insect repellent, batteries, and rags. These were labeled using the @Ptouchessentials label maker. The top shelves which were largely inaccessible were used to store overstock and items rarely used.
Once the space was purged, the counters cleared, and items were sorted, contained, and labeled, the space was so appealing that this client said she almost didn’t mind doing laundry. Almost.
On a sticky Manhattan summer day, I arrived at Wendy Reimer’s home to organize the overcrowded bedroom of her three young girls. The oldest, a pre-teen, was desperate for her own space, and Wendy hoped I could carve out a niche for her in the large bedroom the girls shared.
As a professional, I rarely feel overwhelmed by a room. Yet, here, I had met my match. Three beds lined the perimeter of the room, and there was almost no clear path to walk. Stuffed animals covered every surface, and toys, games, and books were strewn about the room. Drawers were so stuffed with clothing that many could barely be opened. In an adjacent playroom, clutter filled every visible space with an outdoor playhouse taking center stage.
After Adam Keller’s flash mob proposal to Jared Marinelli at Joy Ride Studio (viewed by 14 million people), life changed dramatically for these fitness instructors. In addition to cohosting an online series called “Joy Story” for Hooplaha – Only Good News, they moved to a new home, and basked in an outpouring of affection from the LGBT community. When our mutual friends from Hooplaha told me “the boys” where struggling with a small kitchen, I was happy to pay them a visit in New Jersey to help them manage the space.
While their new home had an extensive yard for them to walk their dogs, the kitchen was a fraction of the size of the one they had left behind. Since this space was limited, they were using the counters to compensate for the lack of a pantry, and the kitchen was overrun by clutter. When organizing the space, I followed my typical approach:
Take everything out of the cabinets
Group like items together
Separate duplicates and purge
Put everything back in an organized fashion
As I cleared everything out of the cabinets, I could see that inside and under the cabinets were not being used properly. To maximize space, I outfitted drawers with inserts to organize utensils, flatware, and utility items (tools and batteries). Items on high shelves were placed in bins, so that they would be accessible, and the surfaces were cleared. Accents in orange were placed throughout, resulting in a charming, cozy kitchen Jared and Adam can enjoy. See a video of the makeover here.
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.
Chocolates, stuffed bears, and roses are all nice Valentine’s Day gifts, but as Marilyn Monroe sang, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” If you’re lucky enough to receive a beautiful bauble this Valentine’s Day, it deserves a proper place to be stored. So, in honor of the holiday, take a look at some of our favorite jewelry storage options that will make you just as excited to put away your jewelry as you are to put it on!
1. Best Multi-Purpose Jewelry Box: Grand Lacquer Jewelry Box from West Elm: $219.00
This jewelry box contains three levels of jewelry storage with top sections that flip out for easy access to what’s below. It’s roomy enough to fit all of your jewelry needs, with a specialized cushion area for rings and earrings. When closed, its simple exterior and shape will match almost any décor and surface. An added bonus is that it can be monogrammed.
2. Best Modular Jewelry Storage: Stackers Premium Stackable Jewelry Boxes from The Container Store: $29.99-39.99
These stackable trays are available in three colors, three sizes and many different interior configurations. You can choose which tray style you want based on the type and amount of jewelry you have, and you can add trays as your jewelry collection grows. One of the variations is a lidded tray that can be placed on top of your stacks, so when the top is closed, It gives the appearance of one coherent jewelry box.
In the 22 years that I’ve been married, my husband has given me many gifts. While I certainly love getting the occasional extravagant gift, the one I appreciated most was definitely the least expensive and possibly the most boring. It was a stationery embosser with beautiful paper. Romantic? No. Practical? Yes. Do I still have it 15 years later? Yes.
Selecting the perfect gift can be highly stressful; there’s the discomfort over what to buy, how much to spend, and whether the gift will be appreciated. Recent research out of Indiana University Kelley School of Business and the Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business suggests that while “givers are drawn toward surprising or entertaining gifts that are fun in the moment of exchange…they underestimate how much people typically appreciate practical gifts.” If you want to be sure that your gift is one that “keeps on giving,” try these helpful hints.
When my twins were born 17 years ago, we received not one, but two decorative, monogrammed seesaws…from one store. It’s difficult to imagine that the store wouldn’t have told the second person ordering this “gift” with the same names and delivery address to select something else, but that’s another story. Suffice it to say that I was stuck with two seesaws that were, in my practical mind, a waste of space and a silly gift. So, I did what any self-respecting professional organizer would do and put them both out on the curb the next morning.
Although this can be difficult for some people, never feel compelled to keep a gift you don’t like. It will end up taking up space in your home and your psyche for what is often literally years. To avoid this, consider these tips
The time between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve can be the most festive, but also the most stressful time of the year. Between holiday parties, work events, shopping for gifts, eating too much and spending too much, sometimes we wish we could skip the entire season. But since that’s not an option, here are some guidelines to help you feel more in control this holiday season.
Say no. You don’t need to attend every party to which you’re invited. If you don’t go, you don’t need to find a babysitter, pay a babysitter, find something to wear, or purchase a hostess gift. Think of all the time you save.
Buy multiples of the same gift for as many people on your list as possible.
Have hostess gifts on hand. Whether it’s a bottle of wine, a candle, or chocolate, prepare in advance.
Purge your playroom. You have more leverage now than at any other time during the year. Tell your children you can’t buy them any new toys if there’s no space on those playroom shelves. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to donate what your children truly don’t use.
Get gift cards in a variety of dollar amounts. These take up almost no space, and are great for when you forgot about a last minute gift you might need.
Plan a go to outfit that you can wear to multiple parties. A simple black dress and a pair of black slacks and heels can take you through a variety of parties from business casual to more formal.
Breathe deeply and engage in some form of mindfulness each day.
From CEO’s to soccer moms, we’re all overwhelmed by the volume of emails received each day. Studies show that the average person checks a device approximately 150 times during waking hours. Still, it seems that we can never catch up. If you feel stressed just thinking about your inbox, here are some tips to tame the email beast.
Create a digital filing system. Filing emails reduces visual noise and eliminates wasted time re-reading emails already opened. It also facilitates emptying your email box on a daily basis (getting to “in-box zero”).
Search messages by name. Using the search box, type in the names of your boss, important colleagues, and frequent correspondents. This will help you categorize and file emails in a meaningful way. Most emails more than a week old are probably irrelevant and can be deleted.
Don’t save emails as a visual cue to take action. Unless you have white space on the bottom of your computer screen, a saved email is just clutter.
Touch each email only once. Avoid opening emails multiple times without responding. Make a decision about how it will be handled (delete or file) and move forward.
Any time you receive an unwanted email, take a few seconds to unsubscribe so you never see it again.
Over the past few months, I’ve had a number of clients ask me for help organizing storage units. Some clients have multiple storage units and some have just one. In some cases, the storage units are complimentary perks that come with apartments, and, in other cases, exorbitant fees are paid. Sometimes, the client knows exactly what’s stored in the unit and wants to make it less cluttered or more appealing. And sometimes, the items have been put away for years, and the client has no idea what s/he will find there. While I generally believe that a client is better off purging and living within his/her space means, here are some instances when a storage unit is a good idea: