Tuesday, October 20, 2009


You have decided to sell your house and want it to look it’s best for your Open House. So where do you start?

Having a clean home is very important but it’s only the beginning. You need to be able to step back and see your home through the eyes of a buyer. That’s not very easy to do if you’ve lived in your house a long time and have become attached. There are probably a lot of memories in your home. But you have to remember, they are your memories and not a potential buyers.

This is the perfect time to get the help of an “outsider” to help you with organizing, de-cluttering and staging your home for a sale. Someone that is not “attached” to the house can give you an honest opinion on what needs to happen to get your house ready for potential buyers.

Staging is not “interior decorating”…. it is the art of making your home look its best to show off the features that can really sell your home.

Before you start the actual “staging” you will want to simplify, de-clutter, clean and fix anything that is wrong with the home (painting, fixing loose tiles, replacing missing light switches, replacing missing light bulbs…..). You probably won’t want to start any major renovations at this point. It all depends on your budget or time frame, but fixing the little things that you’ve let go for the last ten years is a “must do”.

De-cluttering is a must. Remember, not everyone is a collector of dolls or salt-and-pepper shakers. You will need to box up your collections and put them in storage.

Basically, and I know this will “hurt”…but you need to remove anything that is “you”. It’s not an easy thing to do. You need to stop thinking of the house as “yours” and start thinking about it as “someone else’s house”. Remember, you are trying to sell your house. It’s not about “you” anymore.

Since you are moving anyway start boxing up as much of your personal items as you can including all of your family pictures. Just think about the time you will save by doing this now instead of waiting until you actually move.

Remove everything from the top of your dressers. Take down any personal items that are on the wall. Have your children take down all of their posters and any certificates or awards that they have hanging up.

Wallpaper is very “personal”. If you can take it down it’s recommended. If you can’t do it yourself and its cost prohibitive to have it done by a professional, see if you can paint over it. Check with a professional first, but there are ways to seal the paper so that you can paint over it and still have the walls look good.

Make sure that the wall colors are neutral. Black walls or dark or vibrant colors will turn off potential buyers that can’t see past the orange walls.

Freshen up as much of the house as you can with new paint. It’s an inexpensive way to make your home look inviting.

Clean your house from top to bottom. Yes, those dust bunnies must go! People do not want to see dust bunnies, dirt and bathtub rings when they are looking at your house. Make sure that there are no fingerprints on the cabinets or the mirrors. Empty the wastebaskets in the bathrooms. Get a cleaning service if you don’t want to do it yourself. This is not the time to scrimp on cleaning.

Also, before your Open House have your carpets professionally cleaned. I bet you didn’t know that your carpeting was actually blue and not brown!

When you have your Open House turn on all of your lights (and please make sure they all work) and show off each room in the best possible light.

Now to the actual “staging”. You need to be sure that each room does not have “too much” furniture in it to make it look crowded. You want to make each room appear as large as possible. That might mean putting some furniture into storage.

Be sure that any furniture that you have in the room is clean and in good condition. Slip covers might be an inexpensive option for a worn couch if you can find one that looks good and not like a slip cover! If not, remove it.

Rearrange your furniture so that the room functions for it’s intended purpose. If you’ve used your dining room as a toy room for the kids, now is the time to turn it back into the dining room.

If you’ve turned your living room into an office, playroom and game room….now is the time to turn it back into a living room.

If you have children….be sure that all of their toys are put away and out of sight. You might turn off potential buyers if all they can see is kiddie clutter.

If you have pets….clean out their litter box and put it away for the Open House. Never have any pets around for the Open House or you will turn off potential buyers who can’t get past the fact that the dogs probably peed on the carpet!

The exterior of your home. Not only is the inside of the house important but so is the outside. That will be a potential buyer’s first impression. Make sure that the grass is cut and the weeds are non-existent. Trim any overgrown shrubs and bushes.

Add some inexpensive plants for a splash of color so that the outside will lure potential homebuyers in.

Staging is a “process”.
Remember, you want to sell your home, so don’t forget to add a professional organizer and a stager to the list of people that will make that a reality.

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, October 19, 2009


An organized closet does more than just look good. It serves an important function. Yes, it holds all of your clothes. But it does more than that. It keeps you organized. Or it should.

If your closet is organized correctly it will save you time and money. Time – because you will be able to find things easily. And money – because you won’t be buying clothes that you don’t need because they are already in your closet and now you can find them.

But remember, a closet has to work for you. Not me. I designed my closet to fit my wardrobe. I wore only suits so I needed lots of space for skirts and jackets. I never wore pants or dresses to work so I didn’t need any space to hang long things. But that’s me.

In designing your closet space you have to look at what types of clothes you wear. Don’t just accept the closet space that you inherited when you moved into your house or apartment. It’s probably totally inefficient. So why do you think that you should be stuck with it? Even if you are in an apartment and are not allowed to “build out” your closet there are plenty of options that will work to make your space more efficient.

First, take everything out of your closet. Sort your clothes into piles. Don’t analyze each piece at this point. Right now you just want to put everything into the proper pile.

* Keep pile : wear regularly (at least in the last 6 months) and it fits
* Haven’t worn in the past year
* Doesn’t fit
* Needs to be repaired
* Donate
* Garbage

Next, go through each pile and make the next decision.

Keep pile : wear regularly (at least in the last 6 months) and it fits
* It’s still in style > keep
* It’s out of style > put into the Donate pile

Haven’t worn in the past year
* Haven’t worn it because you didn’t know you had it > put it back into the Keep pile
* Haven’t worn it because you don’t like it > put it into the Donate pile

Doesn’t fit
* If in good condition put it into the Donate pile
* If you have a tendency to go up and down in weight frequently you might want to keep a few basic items in another location should you have another weight change (but only a few items). Please do not torture yourself and think that you will go back down to a size 2 “one of these days” – donate the item – it’s been 10 years!

Needs to be repaired
* If it can be repaired and fits & you will wear it > fix it and then put it into the Keep pile
* If it can be repaired and doesn’t fit > fix it and then put it into the Donate pile
* If it can’t be repaired > put it into the Garbage pile

* Things that you will not wear or haven’t worn or are out of style
* Be sure to keep a list of donated items

* Anything that can’t be fixed

This is the time that you will need to decide on the type of storage accessories that you need for your particular space. Do you need more hanging space? Do you need more shelf space? There are many options for shelf dividers. Do you need more space for shoes?

There are many inexpensive options available and this is where a professional organizer can help you make the right decision so that you can get the most use out of your closet.

After your closet has been re-designed to accommodate your lifestyle it’s time to put your clothes back into the closet. Neatly and folded ! You will be amazed at how much more room you will have.

Organizational Consulting Services

Saturday, October 10, 2009


It seems like an impossible task – getting your kids to be more organized. But it all starts with you !

Kids learn from watching their parents. So if you aren’t organized, your children won’t be.

Maybe now is the time to start changing the way you do things so that you can set a good example for your kids.

Let’s start with breakfast. I’m sure that you’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I know that for a lot of families it is also one of the most stressful times.

The kids get up late. They can’t find their homework or shoes. You can’t find your car keys. There is no time for breakfast much less packing lunches. Everyone is yelling. And you are ready to pull your hair out.

Let’s take a deep breath and see what we can do to rectify this situation.

First, we rewind the clock and go back to yesterday. Let’s pretend the kids did their homework. Then they put their homework into their backpack and put their backpack in a designated spot, maybe near the door.

Then, they get their clothes ready for the next day. No more trying to find the “right outfit” at the last minute in the morning. If anything is missing you have time to hunt down the missing socks or shoes before you get ready for bed.

After their homework is done and put in the appropriate spot and their clothes are all laid out for the next day, they have time to make their lunch for school.

Give the kids some responsibility. Expect them to be responsible. This should start at a very early age. Even if they can’t get their clothes ready on their own or make their own lunches yet….this is the time to teach them. Help them decide what to wear (but as the mother of girls…don’t pick their outfits…or you’ll be up all night because they can’t possibly wear what their mother picked out). Let them help make their lunches if they are too young to do it on their own. This is the time to guide them in the direction of “good food choices”.

If you don’t expect the kids to help….they won’t. If you don’t expect the kids to pick up after themselves…they won’t. If you don’t expect the kids to make good choice…they won’t.

Having a routine is crucial. It not only teaches the kids responsibility it also helps to reduce your stress as a parent.

Now back to breakfast. Maybe you might want to set the breakfast table the night before to give yourselves a head start in the morning. Or you might want to pack a quick “take along” breakfast that the kids can eat in the car or at school before school starts.

It is much cheaper and healthier to make your own breakfast at home. You can make a nutritious breakfast in less than five minutes at home. Try cutting up an assortment of vegetables ahead of time and putting them into a tupperware container for use later in the week. Pop a couple of slices of toast into the toaster. Heat up a skilled and throw in a spoonful of vegetables. Stir in an egg and in a couple of minutes you have a nutritious breakfast. Add a few slices of fruit and it gets even better.

The trick is to have everything prepared ahead of time.

My husband makes the world’s best pancakes (just ask the kids!). When he makes pancakes he usually makes up a huge batch and puts two at a time in individual freezer bags. When the kids were younger they just took a bag out of the freezer, popped it into the microwave and in a couple of minutes had a hot and delicious breakfast.

It’s all about planning. That’s what being organized is all about. Planning ahead to make things easier in the future.

The more organized you are now….the less stressed you will be later.

Teach your kids when they are young and it will become a part of their lives.

It’s not an impossible task. And it all starts with you.

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, October 5, 2009


Three D’s that can not only make your home more livable and function better but it can also be a godsend to other people.

People downsize for a variety of reasons – economics, the house is too big after the kids leave or a spouse dies, they want to spend less time cleaning a big space or yard, they want a different lifestyle.

Downsizing can also be “freeing” – both financially and emotionally. If you have less space (or things) you have more time for yourself and time to pursue other activities (hobbies, volunteering, school….).

Do you really need a 3,500 square foot house if you live alone? Do you really want to spend all of that time cleaning rooms you never use? And what about the mortgage? Wouldn’t you rather spend that money elsewhere? Like your retirement?

Downsizing is not a “bad” thing. It doesn’t mean that you are “poor”. The word should actually be changed to “right sizing”. What was “right” ten (10) years ago might not be “right” for your today.

If you always wanted to live in the city and be a part of the hustle and bustle and in the center of all of the culture….maybe now is the time. If your kids are grown and you don’t need a four (4) bedroom house in the suburbs why stay?

Change is hard. But once you jump in and “right size” you might wonder why it took you so long.

De-cluttering. Not only will you gain space you never knew you had in your home but you will be able to find things more easily. Saving you time and money. Think about the repercussions of not being able to find things. What happens when you can’t find your keys and are late for work? You could possible be fired.

What if you are running late for your child’s play rehearsal because you can’t remember where you left your purse? You are probably screaming at your kids, running around the house looking for your purse and they are crying because you’re yelling at them. Whose fault is it that you can’t find your purse?

De-cluttering brings about “order”. It reduces stress – because now everything has a place and you aren’t searching for things.

Do you really need to keep bits and pieces of toys that you can’t find? Do you really need to keep toys that don’t work? Or your children have outgrown? Do you really need to keep clothes from when you were 20 something ? Really ? Like you actually believe they will come back into style? Before you’re 50 ?

LET GO! It’s a hard concept for most people. It’s mostly psychology with a bit of nostalgia thrown in. What if you “need” (insert whatever you are keeping). What if ?

Now take a deep breath and say to yourself “I can live without (insert whatever you are keeping) “. Put it into a garbage pile or a donate pile and move on. Don’t think about it too long or you might try to fish it out.

Soon you will have de-cluttered an entire room and when you look around you will have so much more space you might think you’re in the wrong house!

Donating. Not only are you “recycling” your household items and helping people that don’t have the money to buy new things, but you are also getting a tax write-off. Be sure to keep a list of exactly what you donate, date, amount, value and where donated. Be sure to get a receipt for your taxes.

We keep a “donate box” in the garage and make it a habit to go through our closets and cupboards every few months to get rid of things that we’ve outgrown or haven’t used in a long time.

Then when the box gets full we drive down to a donation center and drop off our box.

It makes us feel good that we aren’t just throwing things out that others can use.

Organizational Consulting Services