Love the Earth: Eco-Friendly Products You Need in Your Home

I try to live an eco-friendly life. I recycle, I walk instead of driving whenever possible, I bring my reusable canvas bags when I go shopping, I even bring garbage bags to the beach and on hikes to pick up any litter I happen to spot. But in the design world, it’s hard to put the Earth first. Construction, renovations, and redesigns all result in waste with perfectly good materials being sent to the dump. So I’m always on the lookout for products I can use in my designs that are friendly on the Earth, and my client’s wallet.

In honor of Earth Day, I’m bringing you my favorite eco-friendly products: Read More

Seasonal Style Guide – Welcome Spring Into Your Home With Open Arms

Winter may have tried to hold on for dear life (did you all survive that crazy blizzard last week?!), but spring has finally arrived! Time for flowers, sunshine, flip flops, and skirts! It’s easy to get your wardrobe springtime ready, but what about your home? Here are my 3 favorite seasonal home décor trends to welcome spring with open arms! Read More

Designing Your Own Space in Your Own Style

The internet has revolutionized home decorating. With websites like Pinterest and Instagram, inspiration and design ideas are just a few clicks away. But what happens when your Pinterest boards get out of hand? You think you have an idea of what you want your space to look like, but all this gathered inspiration has you feeling overwhelmed. Well don’t stress! I have 5 tips that can help you design your own space, in your own style, and make it look like you hired a professional. Read More

Woman Crush Wednesday: 5 Designers I Can’t Get Enough Of

In honor of Valentine’s Day and all of the love that’s in the air, I’m dedicating this week’s post to inspirational female designers I love love love. These ladies inspire me in all sorts of ways.  I hope you’ll check them out and get inspired too! Read More

The Hygge House: Simplifying Your Home to Simplify Your Life

Hygge style simple moment flowers mirror artwork

Have you ever adopted a philosophy about how you want to live and you’re sure there must be a word for it but you don’t know what it’s called? This happened to me over the last year. I live in a small space that was beginning to feel claustrophobic. And it’s no wonder: my boyfriend and I each run our own businesses out of a shared, 600-square-foot apartment! Read More

Getting Organized – Using Time Management to Achieve Your Resolutions

Each month I will be bringing you a post dedicated to Getting Organized. This month I focus on how one technique, time management, can help you find the free time you need to fit your New Year’s resolutions into your already busy schedule.

Rock your resolutions mountain scene time management promo

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Looking Back to Look Forward – Recapping 2016 and Things to Come in 2017

Like most people, I make New Year’s Resolutions every year. It’s the usual stuff: eat better, exercise more… all of the promises we make to ourselves and never keep. But last year, I did something different. Rather than making resolutions for myself, I made them for my business.

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GO Month Week 4 – Organizing Your Documents

The number one cause of clutter is paper. It’s understandable; every day paper arrives at your home in the form of mail, notes from school, kid’s artwork, etc. If you don’t have a system in place for dealing with these items immediately, they will quickly pile up and in a very short time, become overwhelming.

If you have endless piles of paper, try tackling one pile at a time. Oftentimes you have to read through, even briefly, the piece of paper before you can decide what to do with it. Commit to one hour at a time so that the task feels more manageable.

Simply follow this 10 step guide to clear your home of all that clutter!

Helpful Tools:
Label maker or labeling system; shredder; file folders and filing cabinet; archival sleeves; digital scanner

1. Analyze – If you have been following my organizing guides this month, you know by now that my first step is always “analyze.” It’s impossible to create and implement an organizing system without clear goals in mind of what you wish to achieve.

Are bills piling up? Are you children wonderful artists, but you’re running out of places to store their drawings? Is your filing cabinet so full that you can’t even close the drawers? Think about what it is you wish to achieve and make note of these goals.

2. Categorize – When organizing documents, there are typically 4 categories:

Archival, Permanent – Documents that are permanently archived are items that you must keep forever, but most likely will not need to access regularly, such as your birth certificate, deed to your house, or a death certificate of a family member. These items should be stored properly, in archival sleeves in a fireproof lock box.

Archival, Temporary – These are items that must be kept for a certain period of time, and once that period has passed, they can be trashed or shredded. This is going to consist of mainly your tax documents. Always consult your account or attorney for the length of time temporary archival documents should be kept.

Actionable – Actionable papers are those items which must be dealt with immediately. This includes bills, party invitations, and permission slips. If you have a large amount of paper to sort through, actionable items should be the first thing you tackle. Actionable items can also include magazines that have articles you want to read but haven’t gotten to yet. Basically any material that will require an action within the next month goes into this category.

Trash – Trash is an easy one. Any item that doesn’t fit into the above categories is trash and should be removed from the home ASAP. Things like junk mail, temporary archival items that you no longer need to hold onto, used envelopes, and old newspapers or magazines.

3. Empty – Now that you know your categories, empty that overflowing file cabinet or inbox or whatever area it is you are currently using as your paper catchall. It’s important to empty it completely so that when it’s time to re-file everything, you aren’t mixing organized papers in with clutter.

4. Sort – As you empty, sort each item into a new pile under one of the above categories. If you sort as you empty, the organizing process will go much faster.

Try not to completely read every item. Just skim through until you know what it is. For example, when you come across your child’s birth certificate, it might be tempting to read the entire thing, reminiscing on such a special day. However, imagine if you did this with every piece of paper you come across? It would take you all year to get organized! Move quickly through the items to get them sorted efficiently.

5. Decide – This might seem like an easy step, but it’s the one that most people struggle with. Your home has a limited amount of space for storing important documents. So when you must make decisions on things like your child’s artwork, it can be hard to let go. Especially if you know you just don’t have the room to keep everything.

Luckily there is a wonderful website that lets you save the artwork in one easy place: Plum Print creates books from your child’s artwork, allowing you to keep it all in the bookcase, instead of packed away in a box.

For other items such as tax documents, consult your accountant or attorney.

6. Store – Once you have (finally!) finished sorting through all of your papers, decide which system of storage you want to use.

Many people are switching to digital storage as an easy way to keep needed documents without taking up any space in your home. Keep in mind that for some items, such as birth certificates, you must hold on to the original documents. For these items, invest in acid-free archival sleeves and a fireproof, waterproof lock box.

7. Organize – After you have selected the right storage solution for you, begin to organize your documents. If using a file cabinet, keep actionable items in the top drawer, where they are easy to access. Temporary archival items can go in the bottom drawer, along with other items like your lock box and label maker.

8. Label – Be sure to clearly label all of your folders (physical or digital). Use a consistent system so that you will be able to quickly locate what you need. For example: tax documents for 2014 would go into folder: “Temporary – Taxes – 2014.” This system of labeling is “category – type – year.” Create a system that works for you and that you will stick with.

9. Shred – This is probably the most satisfying step of all the organizing processes. You get to destroy that clutter called the “trash” pile!

What goes into the trash pile? ANYTHING with your name on it, even junk mail, which you are 100% sure you do not need. In this day and age of cyber-crimes and stolen identity, it is very important that you shred items instead of just throwing them into the trash.

I strongly recommend investing in a shredder of your own. You will never have to deal with the clutter of a discard pile if those items are getting shredded on a daily basis.

If you don’t already own a shredder, and don’t want to invest in one for the home, keep in mind that most communities have a shredding day. Check with your town to see when this is. In some areas shred day happens once a month, but for others it may only be once a year.

10. Analyze… Again – Once you have organized all of your paper, create a daily system for tackling any new paper that comes into the home.

The idea with preventing clutter is to only handle it once (the OHIO rule). When you bring in the mail, sort it immediately into actionable, archival, or trash. This way the clutter won’t have a chance to build up again.
After one month, analyze the system. Are you sorting items into the actionable pile but never getting to it? Is your “to shred” trash pile starting to build up? Make adjustments to the system as needed so that it works for you and your family.

The most important thing to remember is that your home will only stay organized if you are using a system that work for YOU. Don’t follow the latest craze just because it is claiming to be “THE” solution to getting organized. If a system isn’t working for you, change it until it does!

Have you read all of the GO Month articles but still feel overwhelmed? Call or email today to set up a consultation and I will help you and your family figure out the right solution for YOU!

GO Month Week 3 – Organizing Your Time

I can’t believe we are already half way through GO Month! Time is flying by and it just so happens that Time is this week’s topic.

Time tends to be a difficult thing for people to organize because it’s not tangible. You can’t touch or weigh or move an hour. This is probably why so many busy moms (and dads) constantly feel like they are running in circles trying to keep their family schedules straight. The same can be said in the workplace, where it feels like there is always more work than hours in a day.

If it seems like you are always playing catch up, these 10 tips will get you back on track.

Helpful Tools – Post-Its, blank paper, colored pencils, and a weekly planner with appointment slots or a digital calendar system such as Google or Outlook.

1. Analyze – Analyze your goals for the family. Do you want to be able to have a family game night? Does one of the kids want to add another sport to their already packed schedule? What items are getting pushed aside? Think about an ideal week for your family and write it down.

Org Time 1
2. List – On separate Post-Its, list all of the activities your family is involved in. From work, to school, to chores, to sports, even any upcoming birthday parties, write it ALL down. Don’t worry about when these activities occur, just be sure to each one gets put onto its own Post-It.

3. Categorize – On a piece of blank paper create columns with categories for each of the activities listed. The categories can include work, school, social, chores, family time – whatever categories work for your family. Take your activities post-its and place them each under the appropriate categories. You can color-code each of the categories as well. Ex: black = work, red = errands, blue = sports

4. Label – Label your categories into three types: Set Activities, Must-Do Activities, and Flexible Activities. Set Activities are the items that must be done and cannot be moved to a different time of day such as work or sports practice. Must-Do Activities are those things which must get done, but when is not as important. This includes things like errands and household chores. Flexible Activities are those fun to do things that are optional and may or may not make it onto the calendar.

5. Block – Now go to your chosen calendar system, and start blocking out the family’s set activities. Some items may overlap in the time slot, such as work and school. To help prevent confusion, put each family member’s name next to their corresponding activity.

Org Time 3
6. Decide – In the remaining time slots, decide when your must-do activities can be done. Try to keep the must-dos in the same time slots each week. This will help the whole family stick to your new system.

7. Schedule – Once your Set and Must-Do activities have been added to the calendar, look for empty slots for scheduling family time and flexible activities. It is important to always have at least one night a week for family time. It can be game night or movie night, something that allows the whole family a chance to be together for some quality time.

8. Ask – This is a family calendar, so the whole family should be involved. Ask everyone their thoughts on the new schedule. Kids will be much more likely to participate when they had a hand in creating it. Be sure each family member’s needs are met.

9. Implement – For the first month, strictly follow your new system. This will get the family settled into the new routine. It also provides a chance to review the system to be sure it is working for everyone. Do not overbook during this first month. If there isn’t room on the calendar, it can’t be done.

10. Analyze… Again – At the end of the first month, have a family meeting to discuss the new schedule. This is the time to do any tweaking and get it just right. Even if the new time management system seems to be working, it should be revisited as the start and end of every school year. As the kids get older, their school and sports schedules may change and adjustments to the calendar will be needed.

GO Month Week 2 – Organizing Your Spaces

It’s week 2 of GO Month and it’s time to talk space organization. Organizing spaces is difficult because often times you have to work around the furniture already in the room. It isn’t always feasible to replace items you already have, so it’s a “work with what you’ve got” scenario. Don’t stress, there is hope! These 10 tips will walk you through organizing the most chaotic spaces, using the existing furniture.

Helpful Tools – Before you begin, gather some graph paper for diagraming, plain white paper and markers for making signs, garbage bags and boxes.

1. Analyze – Take inventory of everything in the room. Seating, shelving, tables, lamps, even art work. Before you can create an organizational plan for the room, you need to know what items will be in the space. This is also when you create the list of goals for the space. How will the room function? What activities will take place here?

2. Diagram – Draw up a simple flow plan for the room. Knowing how people need to move through the space will determine where the furniture can be placed.
Org Space Flow Plan

3. Zone – After diagramming the flow, create the different zones. For example, in the family room there may be the reading zone, the play zone, the TV zone, and the craft zone. Block out on your flow plan where each activity will take place. Look for opportunities to create double duty zones. Maybe the craft table you use at night can be the kids’ coloring table during the day. Double duty pieces make organizing and staying tidy that much easier.

4. Empty – This is where the first 3 steps begin to be put into action. Empty the room of every last item, furniture, area rugs, etc. It is much easier to work with a blank canvas than to have to organize around piles of stuff.

5. Sort – As mentioned in last week’s post, my favorite system for sorting is the “Friends, Acquaintances, Strangers” system created by Judith Kolberg. Your “Friends” pile should be the items you absolutely love, cannot live without, and use on a regular basis. Your “Strangers” pile is all of the items that are so old and unused you completely forgot you even owned them. Anything remaining goes into the “Acquaintances” pile. These are the items that you may not use often, such as a fold-up table, or items you aren’t quite ready to part with, such as the antique side table from your grandmother.

6. Sort… Again! – Take that “Friends” pile, make a sign for each zone you created in step 3, and sort your items out into more organized piles. In order to determine storage container needs, you need to see what exactly goes into each zone. Never purchase storage containers until you know exactly what your needs are. The last thing you want is to create more clutter from unused containers!

7. Box and Donate – Any “strangers” that are in good condition can be donated to your local charity. As for the “acquaintances,” those items can be boxed up and put into longer term storage in the basement, garage, or attic. Revisit those items when you need them (such as holiday decorations) or in 6 months to 1 year. After this time, if you haven’t used any of the items, consider donating them as well.

8. Arrange – Now is the time to start adding everything back into the room. Start with the largest items, such as area rugs, furniture, and storage shelves. Following your zone and flow plan will make this process go quickly.

9. Label – Label storage containers as needed so the family knows where to find all of their items such as DVD’s and art supplies. Having labels also insures that the system you have put in place can be followed. A place for everything and everything in its place helps prevent the buildup of clutter down the road.

10. Analyze… Again! – Anytime a new system is implemented, it’s important to be sure it is working for everyone. About 1 month after organizing the space, analyze how it is working for you and your family. Is everyone sticking to the zones that were created? Are the children able to use the space as easily as the adults? This is a good time to tweak any areas that don’t seem to be working. Keep in mind, even the most well organized space should be reanalyzed once a year to be sure the room is adapting as your family’s needs change.