Tag Archives: bedroom

Couples and Clutter: Conquering Stonewalling


Here’s more on the topic of helping couples manage clutter in a shared space using the wisdom of relationship researcher, John Gottman. This time we explore stonewalling and its antidote.

The other 3 culprits we’ve looked at are criticism, contempt, and defensiveness. Stonewalling happens when a person gets so overwhelmed – flooded – by the negativity of an interaction that they shut down. Rather than continue to confront the situation, they disengage completely- becoming unreachable.

Stonewalling is a reaction to escalating negativity. Stonewalling includes not making eye contact, not responding verbally or physically; giving someone the cold shoulder. The shutting down and turning away is a natural protective response to feeling flooded.

Example: Messy Bedroom

Partner 1: You never put your clothes away. I’m so sick of having to walk around your stuff all the time. Why do you have to be so messy all the time? (Criticism)

Partner 2: “I’m not the one who leaves my shoes all over the place. You’re always blaming me for everything” (Defensiveness)

Partner 1: “I can’t believe I’m married to someone who lives like this. You’ve been a mess ever since I met you! What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you get it together?” (Contempt)

Partner 2: Turns away, picks up their laptop and starts doing some project even as Partner 1 continues to try and talk to them. Everything about their body language says, “I don’t hear you and I’m not listening to you.” (Stonewalling)

Antidotes: Timeouts and Self-Soothing Activities

It is important to remove oneself from the interaction, take a timeout and do some self care in order to calm the flooding response. It helps for the overwhelmed person to state, “I’m overwhelmed, I need a timeout.” Take a walk, listening to music, going into a quiet room – anything that lets your body reset and allow you to come back to the interaction with a calmer perspective.

The combination and interplay of criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling are destructive to genuine communication and problem solving. Building awareness of these patterns can lead to healthy interactions and…eventually, to harmoniously organized homes.


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Filed under couples, Decluttering, Perspective

5 Tips for Designing an IKEA Armoire

Here's one kind of "closet" that can be made using the PAX system from IKEA.

Here’s one kind of “closet” that can be made using the PAX system from IKEA. The final product had sliding glass doors. In 2016, this unit cost about $1,700

An armoire is a free-standing closet. If you have minimal closet space or just need more closed storage, an armoire can be a lifesaver. IKEA’s PAX product line is one of the most customizable; it allows you to design the exact kind of storage that you need. Here are 5 useful tips for designing an IKEA PAX armoire:

TIP: Before starting to plan, take an accurate inventory of your clothes. How much hanging space do you need? Are most of your clothes short-hanging (less than 40”) or do you have long robes, gowns or slacks hanging with clips? What kind of folded clothes do you have? Socks, underwear, jammies? Are you going to store shoes in the system or not? At this point you don’t need to know HOW you’re storing everything but you need to know exactly WHAT you’re trying to store.

TIP: Be mindful of prime real estate. When designing your system, know that the prime area of storage is the zone from forehead to hip height. Plan to stow most-used items in this zone.

TIP: You can design the closet yourself using the online planning tool. This tool enables you to drag and drop all the components and features. Is it user friendly? Hmm…you have to be fairly computer-savvy to use it. You can also get help from an IKEA staff person in the store. Some of the staff actually have knowledge of how to build your system.

TIP: These are modular units, but the very first decision you make is what kind of doors you want to use; sliding doors or doors that open out. This is because the basic frame is different for these different door styles. Also, you need to choose the best height for your PAX system. It comes in 2 different heights. Generally, you want to maximize your vertical storage (the taller option) if your room can accommodate it.

TIP: You can save money by going full DIY including pulling all the pieces from the warehouse and assembling yourself (2 people required) or you can get IKEA to help as much as you want. With your design, the IKEA staff can gather the components, deliver it to your house and install it.

* Note: If you are going to purchase their installation, it is important to know that you are responsible for removing the baseboards in the area you want the armoire installed so the IKEA installers can attach it to the wall.

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Filed under Bedroom, children, Closets, Decluttering, General Organizing, Living Room, organizing, Products, Storage

5 Organizing Gifts

Stuck on what get that special someone for a gift this holiday season? Here are a few of our favorite organizing gifts in no particular order:


Purse Organizers

These handy bags are ideal for the organized person who likes to use different purses and bags. It sits inside a satchel, keeping items separate and lifts out easily to transfer contents to another tote. They come in a variety of colors that appeal to both women and men.

 Purse Perfector®

InBag handbag organizerInBag® Handbag Organizer


Label Maker

Labeling containers makes knowing where to put things back clear and easy. Don’t forget to include batteries and label tape! Label tapes come in ¼”, ½”, and ¾” widths. The 3/4″ width tape is our favorite for large containers…and the tapes come in a variety of colors!


         Brother P-Touch®

Charging Station

There are many different styles and sizes of these. They can really help to minimize device and cable counter clutter. Consider purchasing short charging cables that stay with the station and save the long ones for travel.


Griffin® PowerDock-5

Bedside Organizer

These are a handy way to keep nightstand clutter down. They’re also available for couches!

Richard’s GearBox


Clip and Keep Sofa Organizer

BONUS! Stocking Stuffers


gift-GuardYourIDPLUS brand GuardYourID Roller: An easy way to get more paper clutter into recycling instead of keeping a pile for shredding…


Post-Its® Super Sticky Pads are fun for the whole family!

Belkin® Cable Ties are handy little chaos-tamers

We hope this helps stimulate your brainstorming while shopping for the best gifts for your friends and family.

Next week, we’ll showcase some consummable presents we think are pretty special.

What are your favorite practical holiday gift ideas?

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Filed under Decluttering, Holidays, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

Organizing as a Gift

Give your sweetie (or yourself) the gift of a clutter free space

Give your sweetie (or yourself) the gift of a clutter free space

If you feel like you want to celebrate – with a partner or yourself – it can be hard to figure out a gift, especially if you pretty much have what you need.  What do you give somebody who has everything? What about the gift of time and space?

Sharing space with someone can be challenging, especially if you have different comfort levels with clutter. Consider giving an organizing gift to show how much you care:

  • Tackle that chair in your bedroom which always has at least a week’s worth of your clothes laying on it
  • Straighten up the dresser top – get a small container for loose change, organize the jewelry, put away everything else that shouldn’t be living there
  • Take out the backlog paper recycling…and include the extra stacks of magazines, catalogs, and charitable solicitations
  • If you have stuff stored in the garage that prevents your partner’s ability to use the space – clear it out
  • If your partner has a hobby they haven’t had workspace for, clear out some of your things to make space for it
  • Give a gift certificate for organizing services

But don’t get confused… if there’s some area of the house that really bothers YOU but doesn’t bother them, organizing it isn’t necessarily a gift to them. Make sure you are tackling your own clutter – not your partners. The exception would be if your partner has already expressed a desire for help with something of theirs. Keep in mind that a gift has to be something they want.

If you don’t have the bandwidth or skills it’s a perfect time to hire an organizer or ask a friend for some support in getting it done. Check out our post: Asking for Help.

Where is your clutter bothering your partner?

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Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, Perspective

Decluttering for Guests

Prepare for house guests & accomplish your declutter goals

Prepare for houseguests & make progress on decluttering

Do you dread the thought of family or friends coming to visit because your spare room (if you even have one) is overloaded with “stuff” you’ve been meaning to deal with?

You’re not alone.  We estimate that 75% of families with spare rooms have no capacity for hosting spare people.

If you want to make a room usable in a short amount of time, you can employ some basic organizing strategies.

Your guest room is a jumble, where do you start?  Many people load up paper bags and stuff things in closets.  There may be a better way.  It involves changing your mindset from immediate gratification to long-term goals.

As you approach a pile of unrelated stuff, notice that there are usually distinct categories of things in the piles.

  • Clothes and bedding
  • Craft supplies and tools
  • Paperwork
  • Photos/Memorabilia
  • Dishes and Decor

Do a “rough sort” with the things in the room using broad categories.

Determine if some of the items just need to be donated or if there are homes for them elsewhere in the house (is there room in your linen closet for those extra blankets and comforters, for example?)

Once you’ve decided what you’re keeping, procure banker’s boxes or plastic stackable bins—just enough for this project. Consider buying a couple shallow bins (usually 6” high) for storing things under the bed.

Fill the bins with “like” things.  Label them – noting the category of items stored, the location where the stuff came from and the date it was packed.

Use space under the bed and in the closet. Or dedicate some space in the attic, basement or garage.

If there is no extra storage space, you can employ the pop-up credenza technique.  I’ve made some make-do credenzas with bins filled with off-season clothes, boxes of books, trunks full of sweaters … even masses of canned soda cartons!  The credenza is created when an attractive bedspread, tablecloth or piece of fabric is draped over it and tucked in as if wrapping a package.

If you have no room for a credenza, you may have a free corner to stack boxes.  Use a folding screen to hide the stack.

Space bags can be very helpful when you have lots of fabric/bedding.  It can be put into a large bag and, with the air vacuumed out, it takes up a third of the space.

In any case, while preparing for guests, you’ll be halfway through organizing your stuff.  After your guests have left, pull out the bins and begin making those postponed decisions.

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Filed under Bedroom, General Organizing, Holidays, Strategies

Moving Back Home – decluttering the past

What will you  hold on to from your past?

What will you hold on to from your past?

Laurel recently graduated from college and shares her story of refreshing the room in which she grew up.

“Where am I going to fit all this stuff?” I wondered, thinking of the eight packed suitcases that were scattered throughout my parents’ house. When I graduated from college last month, I knew that it signified the end of an era. For all of my memorable years, I had been a student, and for the previous four years, all of my trips home had been temporary.  I’d never brought home more than a couple of suitcases at a time, but suddenly the belongings I had accumulated while I was away at school needed a home in a room still full of remnants of my childhood.

I spent the first days of my last summer vacation cleaning out my bedroom. I donated boxes of clothes I hadn’t recently worn and a dollhouse I’d forgotten I owned. I recycled old papers from high school whose grades no longer carried the weight they once had. When I came across items with sentimental value, I asked myself, “Will I bring this to my first apartment?” If my answer was no, it was put aside to be donated or gotten rid of.  If I wasn’t able to part with something I discovered, I vowed to revisit it when the time came to move out on my own. I saved pictures and other memorabilia, but limited myself to a single box. After two days of purging and cleaning, there was empty space on my shelves and room in my dresser, and the unpacking finally began.

The process of moving back home after living on my own in college was made easier by the reclamation of my space. I revitalized old picture frames with recent photos, parted with stuffed animals no longer in need of my love, and made my bedroom feel like home again. Receiving my diploma was not just the commencement of my life as a college student, it was the start of a transition to a new phase. When I do move out on my own, I will be grateful to be surrounded only by things that I will be glad to have come with me. Nobody dreams of moving in with their parents after college graduation, but at the very least I won’t be living with the past 20 years of my own life as well.


What do you own that you are glad to have with you?  What about the rest?

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