Tuesday, July 30, 2013

a secret about your things

I loved this passage from the book Clutter Busting by Brooks Palmer, so I thought I would share.  He titled this section "The Secret".
Things will not make me happy.  Repeat this phrase many times.
We try to give our lives significance by filling them up with things.  But it just doesn't work.  You never feel there is enough.  By discarding things that are important to other people but not to you, you start to live more spontaneously, and your natural joy comes through.  Now is the time to be self-reliant.  Now is the time to let go.
Hanging on to things is a way to avoid change.  Change is inherent in every cell of your body.  It occurs every second of your life.  Nothing stands still.  You can pretend change is not happening by distracting yourself with things that don't matter.  But that doesn't suit you.  You've been anesthetizing yourself with things to create a false sense of stability; meanwhile, change is going on inside and around you all the time.  
When you begin to let go of the old useless artifacts of your past, you accept change, and you discover a profound peace of mind because you are going with the flow of life.  There's momentum and power in that.  That feeling of personal mightiness replaces the need to acquire things.  Many of us own things to suppress feelings that we find difficult to face.  But you cannot permanently suppress them.  Now is the time to let those things go.  The world misses you while you're in hiding.  Come out.  It is safe. 
Do these words resonate with you?  I have been working on looking critically at my belongings and hanging on to only those things I find beautiful or useful (see my posts on my recent Purge Project).  I had no idea the extent to which my "old useless artifacts" were holding me to my past.  The wedding dress I wore nearly a decade ago has been following me around for years, reminding me of a marriage that failed.  Many of the decorative items in my home came from a different decorating taste and period in my life, and I am loving the empty space I've created by letting some of them go.  It's amazing how a white wall is so much more inspiring than a painting I didn't love, and a clear tabletop is so much more attractive than one covered with knick-knacks I would never choose.  We may not acknowledge it often, but the stuff we surround ourselves with has a profound impact on the feelings we experience in that space, and clearing the clutter provides wide open spaces for new possibilities.

Monday, July 29, 2013

quote of the week - July 29, 2013

Staying organized is like gardening.


You are constantly weeding, it's part of your routine.

~ Peri Wolfman ~

Thursday, July 25, 2013

SORTed lives ~ woman's closet

 Disclaimer :: these aren't the greatest of pictures, and thye certainly don't do justice to this closet makeover.  I was just so excited about getting everything sorted that I guess I wasn't focused on capturing our transformation on film!

Here's the closet BEFORE.  The client had already done quite a bit of work on her own.  She went through all of her clothing and purged about 4 or 5 bags of items to be given away or donated.  Much of her "keeper" items were stored in a closet in a different room.  The client complained that the closet was too jam-packed when all of her clothing was in there.  She had some products in place to help maximize space, but they weren't really working for her.  In the picture on the left, you can see a double closet rod was added below the shorter hanging items, but it was wobbly and not very functional.  There was an obvious need for some kind of shoe storage as well.  One huge structural plus to this closet is the built-in shelves, which were being used to store cleaning and toiletry supplies (the closet is off the master bath), but they were clearly under-utilized.
What made all the difference in this project was adding some space-maximizing products.  Here are the products we used, all purchased at Bed, Bath, and Beyond or The Container Store.

Our main goal in this closet was to increase the hanging "real estate" so that clothing would not be wedged in too tightly.  We used the products pictured above to accomplish this goal.  Previously, the client had all of her t-shirts on hangers.  Instead, we used labeled canvas bins (1) to sort her t-shirts into categories and placed them on built-in the open shelving (see AFTER picture below).  We used more open canvas bins in various sizes to containerize bulk cleaning supplies, handbags, leggings, scarves, camisoles, and even boots!  (For the record, I love open bins
 . . . here's why.)
Bulky denim jeans were also taking up a lot of the hanging room, so we folded them down and placed them in short stacks below this expanding closet shelf (2).  On top of the expanding shelf we placed more canvas bins, making better use of the closet's vertical space.
To increase hanging space even further, we added this double hang closet rod (3) and utilized a variety of hanger types (4-6) to increase vertical hanging space versus creating more side-to-side bulk.
Instead of taking up shelf space for shoes, we added this shoe rack (10) on the ground, then used shelf dividers (9) to organize sweatshirts on the shelf above the client's athletic wear. 
It's not visible in the AFTER pictures, but this awesome little cart (7) fit perfectly into the awkward space betwen the open shelving and the wall (the cart is only 6 3/4" wide!).  It holds the client's bulk toiletry items, as well as bath and body products she saves to give away as gifts. 
The cleaning supplies remain on the open shelving towards the top, and we added this turn-table (8) to make items in the back more accessible.
Here's a glimpse at the results!

Monday, July 22, 2013

quote of the week ~ July 22, 2013

Start by doing what's necessary;

then do what's possible;

and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

~ St. Francis of Assisi ~

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

30 day Purge Project wrap up

As of today, my 30 day Purge Project is officially over.  I started out posting daily about what I was purging and why, but after about 20 posts I decided I didn’t like the way the posts were cluttering up my blog, so I removed them and decided to do one final post when the whole thing was over.  Here’s what I purged in the process:

Monday, July 15, 2013

quote of the week ~ July 15, 2013

A man can succeed at almost anything


for which he has unlimited enthusiasm.

~ Charles Shwab ~

What goals do you hope to achieve in the next week, month, or year?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

SORTed lives ~ garage

This lucky home owner has a large, walk-in closet with ample shelving located in her garage. . . perfect for storing holiday decorations, luggage, camping and skiing supplies, hardware and tools.  The family had like items grouped together on this open shelving, but the lack of clear boundaries and insufficient storage containers made it hard to maintain order. 

Garage Shelves :: Before
Garage Shelves :: After

We started by removing everything from the space and grouping like items together.  Some items, such as a few rogue holiday decorations, already had a home elsewhere in the garage.  These items were returned to their true homes.  Everything else was grouped into categories, and we used post-it notes to name each group.  Once everything was cleared out, we gave the shelving a quick wipe-down.  Then, we began the task of choosing containers for each category based on how much we had of that item and when/how it is used.  Closed containers with lids hold less-often-used supplies, helping us to take advantage of more of the formerly wasted vertical space.  Open containers were used for more frequently used products.  These labeled bins act as drawers, so homeowners can pull them out to see all the contents inside.  Once everything was sorted, we no longer needed the large space-eating bins on the left in the "Before" picture, which opened up quite a bit of floor space and made the shelves more accessible.

Garage Shelf :: Before
Garage Shelf :: After

This shelf just outside the kitchen door holds flower pots, glass vases, kids' art supplies and toys for the pool. In the "Before" picture, you can see that lots of vertical space is lost on the vase shelf, and lack of boundaries makes other items hard to access. Overflow items end up on the floor or wherever space can be found.

Again, our process involved removing items shelf-by-shelf and grouping like items together.  The homeowner decided to purge some of her vases and flower pots.  Once we identified the items to keep, we decided that flowerpots would remain on the top shelf. On the second shelf, we added a shelf extender, which decreased the surface area needed for vases by almost half. We then sorted children's art supplies and grouped them in bins and large 12x12 sterilite drawers. On the bottom shelf are pool toys and a pot too heavy for the top shelf, and underneath that are coolers and potting soil.  Everything is much more visible and accessible, and we added storage to encourage putting items back where they belong.

Here's a close-up of the art supply shelf:

Monday, July 8, 2013

quote of the week ~ July 8, 2013


In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.

~ Bill Cosby ~

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

SORTed lives ~ medicine cabinet and kitchen drawer

Medicine Cabinet

Today I helped a dear friend sort a medicine cabinet that, according to her, has been accumulating for 20 years(!).  This medicine cabinet is large and deep, which is a luxury, but a lack of containers meant a loss of vertical space and made it hard to see the contents, especially towards the back. In addition, this woman and her husband travel internationally for mission work several times a year, and there are special toiletry items that they use only during these mission trips.  We knew we needed to create some boundaries by grouping like items together and containing them in a way that made them easy to access.

We started by taking everything out of the cabinet and sorting it into categories.  We threw out anything that was expired or not likely to be used.  Once we could see how much of each item we had, we chose the appropriate containers for each group.  Adding clear plastic drawers and open baskets (all labeled) makes it much easier to find what is needed. We sorted the contents into categories such as Cold & Allergy, Pain Relievers, Bandaids, Vitamins, etc. We were able to utilize the whole depth of the closet thanks to these awesome extra-deep baskets and drawers from The Container Store.  The AFTER picture shows how much organization a few containers added to this space.  Voila!

Kitchen Drawer

This extra-large kitchen drawer holds large grill tools, meat forks, and hot plate holders.  The home-owner admits that this is the least organized part of the kitchen, in large part due to the large size and awkward shape of many of its contents.  Adding customizable clear acrylic drawer organizers makes it easier to see and find utinsels, as well as making it safer to reach into this drawer of sharp objects.

Monday, July 1, 2013

quote of the week ~ July 1, 2013

When we throw out the physical clutter,

we clear our minds.

When we throw out the mental clutter,

we clear our souls.

~ Gail Blanke ~