Remember those days of luxury when you lived by yourself and had total control over every inch of your space? It may or may not have worked for you, but you were the only person it affected. But now you find yourself sharing space with your honey…and crap is everywhere*? &#! If you find yourself doing battle around the clutter in your shared home, remember these three tips:
#1 Neither of You is “Right”
When we choose to share space with others we give up some of those rights of autonomy in exchange for having to compromise and make the home livable for all who use it. Negotiate change from a perspective of how spaces need to function, not who is right.
#2 Allow for Personal Spaces
Whether it’s a single drawer or cabinet or an entire room, it’s helpful for each of you to have some space that only you oversee and get to keep however you want. Have clear boundaries about who is responsible for which spaces. And decide which spaces are managed jointly. Good fences make good neighbors.
#3 Manage Your Own Mess First
It’s so much easier to see where the other person has a problem. But step back and take stock of your own clutter collections first. Managing your own messes will help disarm your partner and show them you’re committed to making the home better for both of you.
Easier said than done, of course, and sometimes these conversations get waylaid by emotional charge. Tackle one small area at a time to build up the communication skills and get help if you get stuck! An objective party – a trusted friend, therapist, or professional organizer – can help you separate out and solve the practical issues of decluttering. Remember your goal: creating a home that nurtures your relationship and life together. Co-managing a home is one way to show love and respect for your sweetie.
Sale runs into February…
It’s that time of year again. Your closets are bursting, drawers are overflowing, and this is the year you are finally getting organized. You’re in luck, the elfa® shelving sale at the Container Store® is underway!
Why do we love elfa® closet systems?
- Esthetically pleasing
- Completely changeable
- Reasonably priced
- Easy to install
CLEAN LINES, VARIETY OF LOOKS
There are several different finish options for your closet system – a ventilated wire shelf in white or platinum with optional wood edging, solid shelves in many different veneers…the variety means their systems fit lots of different tastes. See examples of the different styles on their best-selling solutions page.
PRICED TO FIT ANY BUDGET
Closet pricing can vary from a few hundred dollars up to several thousand depending on the size and complexity of the design.
- A standard 6’ closet outfitted with one clothes rod and two 6’ shelves prices out at around $200 (during the sale!) — mind you, that doesn’t include their fantastic drawers or gliding shoe shelves
- “Décor” edging and shelving, drawers, shoe shelves, tie racks, hooks, bins, and other accessories will add to the cost
- The ventilated and solid melamine shelving are the most economical
Master closet right after move-in
This plan uses solid front drawers
NOT JUST FOR CLOSETS
The variety and adaptability of this shelving makes it perfect for many spaces – they also have free-standing elfa® units if you don’t have available wall space:
- Garage, basement & attic are great places for shelving
- Create a wall-mounted desk with shelves above
- Kitchen pantry
COULD IT BE ANY EASIER TO INSTALL?
The design of the system makes installation super simple.
- The whole system hangs from a single bar they call a top track. Once you get that installed securely, there is no further need for tools or the help of your handyman
- It usually takes about an hour to install a basic 6’ closet
- We must say that the Container Store’s® installers are friendly and quick. They can handle demolition of the existing closet and can handle any adjustments needed for unexpected glitches in the planning process
- If one is only installing a single closet system, the installers are a little pricey (they have a $180 minimum) so take advantage of this sale – installation is also discounted
BUT WAIT! Closet design isn’t the starting point.
How each closet functions is an integral part of how a whole house stays organized. Before you invest in a makeover of any one closet be sure that you’re storing what you really need and that you’re storing it in the appropriate location…should your boxes of photos and memorabilia really live in the master bedroom closet?
We offer closet and storage assessments to advise on how to maximize space. If you want help figuring out the best closet solutions for your needs, contact us!
Do any of these feel familiar?
- Things are getting done but feels like it’s only by blind luck or chance rather than design
- You’re barely treading water with all the tasks, apt, obligations on your plate
- You fantasize about more time for leisure or healthy habits like yoga, meditation, exercise?
- You feel like a fraud? You hold it together in your professional life but fear if people saw how you managed your home or your personal life, they’d be shocked?
- You say “no” all the time and it still isn’t enough?
If the list above feels familiar, stop and reflect on how you are already accomplishing a full and active life.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do critical items such as bills and deadlines mostly get handled?
- Are your kids going off to school fed and clothed?
- Are your kids’ interests being supported?
- Do you move your body or do some form of physical activity?
- Do you maintain regular contact with your friends?
- Do you show up to work regularly? Are you doing an okay job at work?
- Is your home functioning to support your basic living needs?
True, there’s always room for improvement in some or all these areas but we often see people measuring themselves against a completely unrealistic standard of what they think they are “supposed” to be doing. Holding onto unrealistic expectations is setting yourself up to feel perpetually overwhelmed and underachieving.
In our modern world, with access to unlimited information and means to acquire things, many of us have raging expectations — wanting our homes to look like a magazine — wanting our bodies to age without showing — wanting our relationships to look perfect — wanting to avoid making mistakes — wanting to give our kids every opportunity for enrichment and advancement.
So, ARE you disorganized?
Like most of us, probably a bit. But it’s possible you’re being unrealistic and not appreciating how hard you’re working and how much you’re accomplishing every day.
Take a step back and savor the life you have, accepting what you have is “good enough.” You can still dream for “more and better.”
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the gifts in our lives. We often talk about the benefits of getting organized, but you can reap those benefits without a major life overhaul. Here are some simple real life examples of gifts that organizing brings:
- Getting ready for company was easy! I had people over without having to stuff all my clutter in paper bags in the back room.
- Reorganizing the living room allowed us to host a game night with neighbors
- I’m on time to work because I have a dedicated place for my keys and work bag.
- Getting kids off to practice is far less stressful now that their sports bag is the home for their uniforms and supplies.
- My kids are drawing and creating art now that the crafting supplies are sorted and accessible.
- Now I have room on my counters to bake cookies and pies for the holidays.
- I knew I didn’t need new towels…when I got organized, I found 15 hidden in the back of my closet.
- Reorganizing my kitchen let me donate lots of useful items to my niece who just got her first apartment.
- I was able to plant a garden with my kids because we organized all our yard supplies and gardening tools.
- I’m riding my bike to work now that I can easily get to it in the garage.
What has organization made you grateful for? Share it with us!
And have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
As Professional Organizers, we meet people who are anxious about what to give their loved ones that are personal, valued and “green.” One solution is to give “consumable” gifts. The advantage of a consumable gift is it gives the recipient a special experience, doesn’t take up any room and doesn’t leave behind any clutter.
Edibles and Drinkables
- Gift baskets of food – nice fruits, cheeses, nuts, chocolates. Who wouldn’t want to try a variety of yummy foods put together by you…or from your favorite vendor? The SF Bay Area is home to many artisan chocolate and food makers; a basket of local treats makes a personal touch.
- Your parents might appreciate a gift certificate to your favorite restaurant or one you think they’d like.
- Gift an invitation to dine out with you at the hot new restaurant or a known old favorite – your treat of course!
- Teens love gift cards to Peet’s, Starbucks, ice cream, lunch food.
- How about a wine or beer club membership?
- Consider an outing to an Escape Room – a group game in which players solve a series of puzzles and riddles.
- Tickets or gift certificates to movies, dance, theater, museums or sports events can be prized by people who can’t seem to justify frivolous expenses.
- How about Poetry by Request? My colleague, Claire Tompkins brings her trusty Royal typewriter to events and creates personalized poetry on demand.
- Subscriptions to entertainment services such as Amazon Prime or Netflix can provide easy access to movies and entertainment at home.
- Gift of a special outing with you: ice skating, a picnic in the park, a visit to a children’s museum, the zoo or an amusement park.
- Annual pass for a ski resort or for a fun place like Six Flags Magic Mountain.
- Lottery tickets make great stocking stuffers!
- Did you know that AirBNB offers gift cards?
- Get cooking! Kitchen on Fire offers a variety of classes. Cooking lessons are fun to do with a group or with one special friend: either at a store, a cooking school or in your own kitchen.
- A stack of specialty magazines on gaming or weaving or architecture – whatever they’re into – are a treat!
- Would your giftee love an art or other adult education class? Offer to take it with them!
- How about a subscription to a meditation website such as Headspace – a gym for your head?
- A block of classes at the local pilates or yoga studio can inspire them to get going on their health goals.
- Sign them up for a historical tour of a local hot spot
- Massages, facials, and nail services are always welcome treats
- A thorough and expert housecleaning session is great for folks who always do it themselves
- Hot tub session at a place such as Piedmont Springs
- Do you know someone who complains about the state of their closets, garage or playroom? Give the gift of a session with a professional organizer!
- What do YOU do well? Offer a session with your loved one sharing your skills and time with them: interior design help, personal shopping, gardening, back rubs, clutter-clearing, cooking a meal or teaching a cooking technique, a personalized sight-seeing tour, iPhone instruction-sessions…the sky’s the limit!
Remember to follow up with your giftee. Sometimes people forget about gift certificates. Put a reminder in your calendar for a couple months in the future to touch back with your recipient. Re-invite them to take you up on your offer of a fun experience or remind them of the gift certificate you gave them.
Have a great consumable gift idea? Share it here!
Halloween approaches and, as with any holiday, it’s an opportunity to revisit how you organize all the supplies that go with it. Drag out all the bags and boxes where your Halloween stuff is lurking and give it a fresh look!
- Set aside outgrown kid costumes to hand-down to friends & family or donate.
- Repair or discard damaged/broken props and costumes.
- It can be useful to separate small props/accessories from larger costume pieces.
- Ziploc bags or smaller boxes within a larger container are helpful.
- Give your future self a gift and label all containers.
It’s a good idea to keep décor in a separate container from costumes. It makes decorating easier and you may need costumes for other parties/occasions/general dress-up play. It makes sense to have them live in different locations.
There’re basically 2 options for Halloween specific party stuff– keep them with other Halloween supplies or keep them with other party supplies.
- Halloween friends: Sometimes these end up stuffed into the same box as décor. That can work if you don’t have that much but do yourself a favor and at a minimum use large Ziploc bags to keep paper goods separate from house décor.
- All party friends: Store all holiday/party specific paper goods in a container together but keep them separated by holiday/event within that container.
A word about containers…
Don’t forget the concept of container as limiter! What containers you choose depends largely on where you decide to store Halloween supplies and how much room you’re willing to give over to it. Lidded tubs are great because they’re deep and can stack and be labeled easily.
Some décor (such as giant inflatables and yard props) are too large to contain in a tub and must have some shelf or floor space. Remember, you get to choose how much is enough in each category – contain it appropriately then live within.