Home Staging

Sure, an immaculate, well located home such as this one could easily sell without any staging effects whatsoever, but if only a few simple, softening touches attract more prospective buyers, why not put in a little effort to do so? This wise seller did! I  worked with Operation Organization from Dallas, TX on this home staging project here in SA.  I am so thankful to have been involved in this fun, rewarding project!  I learned so much from Katrina – an expert in all things organizing! This beautiful spacious home will be listed this weekend (April 2018) and I am certain it will not last long! Staging a home prior to listing it dramatically increases the odds of a faster, more profitable sale.  (Thanks to Trader Joe’s for the flowers. They have such fantastic, helpful staff!)

You can easily stage your own home with three main points to remember:

1.) Declutter liberally – Get rid of EVERYTHING that isn’t needed.  If it’s not adding beauty, hide it.

2.) Buy NEW towels

3.) Add Fresh flowers and plants

Happy Staging! Here to help if needed!



Paper Control

Seemingly without exception, the homes I enter have paper piles. Even in our ever-advancing electronic world, we still seem to be inundated with incoming paper (invitations, junk mail, tax documents, bills, magazines, receipts, school paperwork, coupons, newspapers and the list goes on.) Many times, fear  that “I may need it someday” keeps us from letting go of surplus paper.  I believe the reason paper accumulates is because we lead fast-paced, lives leaving little time for the tedious task of paper sifting and sorting and purging.  Sifting through the trivial and worthless papers to find and appropriately place those that are critically important.  Solution: intentionally schedule time to make decisions about each piece of paper.

All incoming paper can be sorted into four categories: Reference, Read, Recycle and Requires Action.

Reference: Reference items are papers that you don’t usually need to frequently access, are important to hang on to, yet should to be easily retrievable when needed. Some examples include: Insurance Policies, Mortgage Deeds, Tax Documentation, Legal paperwork, Titles, Memorabilia, Financial documents, etc.

Read: Items that you intend to read within the next 30 days would fall into this category (magazines, books, catalogs, newsletters, correspondence etc.) Store these items where you would likely read them such as on your nightstand, in the bathroom, or on the coffee table.

Recycle: Completed, graded school paperwork unless it is deemed “keepsake”, junk mail, flyers, advertisements, old catalogs, newspapers etc. Also in this category I include shred items. I burn all my “shred” items in my burn barrel because, it is much easier, time-saving and fun!

Requires Action: Anything that requires you to respond in a timely manner (i.e bills, invoices, invitations, banking correspondence).  Store these items together in a safe, easy-to-access area and schedule time to take action on them this week!

Helpful tips for contending with all that paper:

#1) Stop it at the door. Toss as much as possible in the recycle bin BEFORE it comes into your home. If you know you won’t buy what they’re selling in the next 24 hours, let it go. You will receive another offer to buy from that solicitor later anyway. The key to getting reducing unwanted mail is to get your name off of the mailing lists. Helpful sites: directmail.com Direct Marketing Association Contact DMA via mail at: DMAChoice Data & Marketing Association PO Box 643 Carmel, NY 10512

#2) Put all paper in one location such as a large basket and purpose to go through weekly. Then you’ll know where that invoice or receipt or letter etc. is when you need it. Then once per week, sit down and go through each piece of paper then take action on it, file it or toss it. This idea is explained in greater detail  by Organize365 here: Lisa Woodruff’s Sunday Basket a great resource!

#3) Begin with your current, active paper piles. If you have long-forgotten-about filing cabinets, just abandon the old system and start over with a temporary plastic bin made for hanging files (you’ll use this same bin later for your “achieved files” in step 5). Go through each piece of paper, item by item and begin sorting it into categories. File items according to how you will look for them.

#4) Implement a system to stay on top of your incoming paper. Set weekly file and shred times (i.e. every Tuesday evening).

#5) Reclaim your old, over-stuffed file cabinets by purging out-dated papers liberally and achieving only the essentials into sturdy plastic filing boxes. Lable and stow in an out-of-the-way place separate from your current, active files.

Have you heard that old saying “How do you eat an elephant?” the answer is, ” One bite at a time.” And I would say that is also the answer to managing paper. Focused, consistent time each week is all you’ll need to get it under control. Or you can hire a professional organizer and get in all done in a weekend! To get on the “fast track” to Paper Control, please reach out! Sometimes, to regain order, we just need a little focused attention and a bit of direction. Here to help when you’re ready. All the best!




Kids Room Organization

The singular most important thing you can do to keep your child’s room tidy is to get them to own it! Tell your kids their room is like their own little apartment. It is.  It is their personal space and if they can take ownership, I believe it will be a game changer!

They will better care for and respect their belongings if they are allowed the freedom to choose what stays and what goes and even how to arrange and decorate their room. The more “power-to-choose” you delegate to them in the area of their personal belongings, the more, they’ll actually want to maintain order.

That’s exactly what happened for me with my middle child. He is creative and inventive and actually likes order but was consistently struggling to keep his stuff off the floor. Suggesting the idea of his room being his “little apartment” seemed to help him take pride and ownership of the appearance of his space and his floor has been clean and clear!

In every kid’s room I have seen, the common denominator is the fact that kids simply own too much stuff! Their room is overflowing with all kinds of toys, books, clothes, shoes, accessories, collections and just plain trash! Often there is a mix of clean and dirty clothes on the floor along with a mixture of all the items mentioned above. If their room is in chaos and disorder, they won’t want to spend any time in there and neither will anyone else. I suggest using the furniture in the room to create physical boundaries for their items (i.e. when the lid on the toy box no longer closes, it’s time to get rid of some things and no new toys can enter the room).

The last thing they need is MORE. But I’m going to suggest it anyway! I recommend adding three things to your child’s room if they don’t already have them: A trash can, a laundry basket, and a donation box for items they no longer want. Don’t worry! we’ll find a place to put these potentially bulky items, once we purge!!

Clothes: Get all the dirty clothes out. Pile all the clean clothes on a clear “palette” (the bed). Sort through each article and make a decision. If it fits and if it loved, place it in the “keep” pile; If not, toss into their donation box. Don’t get hung up on how much you paid for it; it no longer works for this child so it must go. If possible, hang all shirts and tops. It is helpful for kids to visually see everything they own if it is hung. Smaller items can go in labeled drawers.

Toys, books, games, shoes: working with one category at a time, put all items in a pile in the center of the room and quickly sort: donate, trash, keep. Anything that is broken, has missing pieces, is outgrown or unloved has to go. Only keep what is loved and used. After this big purging process, your child will find it much easier to care for the remaining items and keep the room  tidy.

Paper: most paper in the child’s can go straight to “file 13”; trash (read recycle). There are those “treasures” however, that they’ll want to hang onto. We do two things with the “keep” papers. We’ll hang them or put  then in their 3-ring binder of keepsakes. They choose what is kept and whether it is displayed or stored. The wall space acts as a natural boundary limit. If there’s no additional room to display, then something needs to come down.

Bottom line: get your kids to “own” their space and give them freedom to make decisions about their stuff. Give them guidance and boundaries using existing furniture in the room to set physical limits and “maximum capacity” for their stuff.

And lastly, give grace. Progress trumps perfection. The goal is to empower our kids not to control them.

Happy organizing and happy parenting!


Who hires a Professional Organizer?

I am frequently posed with some variation of the question: “What types of organizing projects have you worked on?” or “Who hires a Professional Organizer”? When I first began this business, my first several clients contacted me out of sheer desperation! Their stuff had infiltrated their primary living quarters and had become overwhelming. This is still a common reason I am called-in to help. I’d like to share a few true organizing stories with you. Although the circumstances are real, the names have been changed.

Sam’s Story
Sam called me and shared his challenges: Time constraints, recent move, many boxes to go through, too much paper and family coming to visit. We decided that the “weekend fast track” was the best option to quickly bring order to his home! I learned that many items still remaining in boxes, belonged to his recently deceased mother therefore, understandably so, he was unwilling to part with most items. My response was, “please show me where we can put it all, if purging is not an option.” He showed me to an outdoor storage shed. “You are just going to have to trust me, but I will need to start three steps back from your primary goal”, I advised him. I then quickly emptied the entire contents of the shed and then heard thunder!  Looking up at the darkening sky, I started praying!!  I mean, after I had just told him to trust me, now we’re seriously facing a possible rain storm!? I picked up the speed, moving all the “keep” items from the house into the back of the shed for long-term, safe-keeping. Long, funny story short,  the rain held off and sixteen hours later, the kitchen, living room and dining room were all “clean and clear”‘!  His storage shed was arranged with frequently-used items located at the front. An indoor office area was tidied and set in order, making a home for incoming paper.  Sam was breathing a sigh of relief and was ready to receive his guests!

Mary’s Story
On the other hand, when Mary called me, I knew her organizing goals would take longer to realize. Her challenges included: over abundance of possessions occupying all areas of her large house, unable to find things so would re-buy multiple items which exasperated the problem, and a large shipment of more than 3,000 pounds of more household items would be arriving soon. It was decided that we would take the “slow and steady” path to achieve lasting order. And we would begin with the most urgent need of clearing out the 3-bay garage to make room for the scheduled delivery of “more”.  Over the course of several months, each area of the home was worked through.  As chaos and clutter left, the entire atmosphere changed! Mary’s autistic son, who thrives on order, was perhaps the primary beneficiary!

Jackie’s Story
Jackie called me two years ago. The initial phone assessment left much untold. Vickie mentioned she hadn’t always been a “hoarder.” Depression had settled in and taken over her thoughts as a result of her mess. She had resolved to “reboot” her life by moving back to her home-town as a solution. She contacted me because she couldn’t do all the work required in the time she had to be moved-out of her apartment. When I arrived, it was evident Jackie was apprehensive and embarrassed to let me into her world. I wouldn’t dare have told her, it was possibly the worst conditions I had seen up to that point in my career. What wasn’t shared over the phone was that she hadn’t set foot into the kitchen in six years and hadn’t been into the bedroom in 3 years because of a rodent problem! This was the largest project I set foot into but by God’s grace we were able to not only clean and pack the entire place but we were able to get her deposit back, which is the greatest miracle I’ve encountered in my organizing career! From that which began slowly and methodically by simply creating a pathway from the front door, momentum was gained, the floor was discovered and packed boxes began to emerge and accumulate, replacing the complete chaos and clutter. Countless trash bags were taken out, a donation pick-up was scheduled and packing materials were brought in. Only days later, Jackie was ready for the movers! As I bid her farewell and wished her great success on her “fresh start”, she said, ” I wish I had called you sooner!” I smiled and replied, “Me too!” I kept in touch with Jackie after her move. She is doing great and has proudly shared pictures of her new place. She resolved to never let things get that bad again!

Allie’s Story
I ran into Allie, an old acquaintance, at a coffee shop. At one point in the conversation, she mentioned her storage units (plural) were a source of stress for her and her husband. They wanted to be rid of the high rental costs but the sheer volume of stuff contained within the space was overwhelmingly daunting. Allie welcomed my offer to help and a date was set!  Allie, her husband, their adult daughter and I, spent two 8-hour days emptying, sorting, purging and condensing.  Due to a recent, hurried move, most of the boxes contained various, unrelated items.  Each item identified as “keep” was re-packed according to category and labeled.  At the end of the project, an entire storage unit (the size of a 2-bay garage) was now empty! Reducing by half, the overall storage Allie and her family needed…..now that’s what we call success!

I am so privileged to be welcomed into others lives and to be a part of their success stories! So, who hires a Professional Organizer? I have found it to be a vast array of individuals; people like you and I who may have busy lives and too little time. People who have come to a point of desperation, are met with serious time constraints, have company coming over, are going through a major life change, are moving or people who just need a little help.

If you find yourself in one of these situations, please reach out! Everyone needs a bit of help now and again and could benefit from having a hard-working, non-judgmental, positive encourager on their side to reclaim their space and sometimes even their sanity!

I’d love to hear your story!