Posts Tagged ‘organization’

Closet Organization – Tips to Purging and Organizing The Rest

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Do you ever find yourself uttering that classic phrase “I have nothing to wear!” when you stare into your jumbled closet?  Perhaps the real problem is that you can’t FIND what you have and love amongst the chaos.  Since I’ve probably read just about every column/ article/ book I’ve ever come across on the topic, let me share the top tips here and save you some time. Hopefully this will inspire you to get over your fear of the time commitment and effort to finally tackle the project. Remember the final reward: happiness when you look in your closest and drawers!

Tip 1:

Have a good objective friend come over to help you in the purging decision making process.  

We all make excuses why that top from 2006 could come back in style or will fit again after a more dedicated exercise routine. You need someone who can look you in the eye and objectively tell you to let it go because it will never come back in style in the exact same design. If it doesn’t fit NOW, why take up valuable real estate with wishes?

Tip 2:

Divide clothes into these piles: Donate, Repair/Rework, Trash, and Makes Me Look Fabulous So It Stays.

Because really, why hold onto ANY clothes that don’t make us look fabulous?!  My husband always preaches the value of a first impression as the reason you should always look put together because you never know who you are about to meet/ run into.  (Though somehow trips to the hardware store on Saturdays seems to be the exemption to this rule in his mind.)  I’m not the greatest at following through on this as “comfy” seems to be my first instinct when putting together an outfit, but I’m always trying to keep it in mind.

There will be some pieces that need a little tailoring repair or could fairly easily be reworked into a current and appropriate piece. Having a good tailor in your list of resources is key for this. I love NE Tailor on 22nd St &  Johnson St in Northeast Minneapolis.  I trusted him to tweak a Herve Leger dress, need I say more?

Oh, and get those Trash and Donation piles out of the house ASAP to prevent any second guessing.

Tip 3:

Organize clothes and accessories by type and then by color.

Here you can see how a random assortment of clothing and accessories topples out of control on the left without structure.  On the right, all clutch purses are grouped together (by type) then by color (wow, she has a whole shelf of gold clutches!). I like this solution for the always growing stacks of tote bags. Stacking them folded flat so that part of the design is easily visible and by stacking them this way you don’t have to try to keep them from flopping over as they would if stacked upright.

This is the key tip/rule as you start putting your clothes and accessories back into your closet after the big purge. It will make it easier to look at all your blouses and pick ONE and then look at your skirts all together and pick ONE.  Now go to the Shapeware box or drawer and pick the appropriate piece for this outfit. Go to your jewelry area and pick a bracelet or two (depending on the look) and then earrings and a necklace from their zones. See how this sounds much less stressful?

But how do you organize all those pieces? Here are a few favorite organization examples for accessories to inspire you.

Let’s start with handbags. Here you can see how handbags that can stand on their own can sit on a shelf. Clutches are best stacked together since they are slim and when one is removed the rest won’t fall over much.

The larger handbags with unstructured bottoms do well hung from hooks. Don’t try to double up on hooks. It gets clunky when you try to grab one and inevitably both sets of handles won’t fit comfortably on the hook.

For my clutches I use a Real Simple Purse Organizer to take advantage of hanging space in my closet.

Real Simple Purse Organizer

Since they are narrower than handbags they don’t get smooshed under the elastic bands and I can group a few similar clutches together in one section.

Depending upon the size of your jewelry collection and your organizational style (do you like to have everything out and visible at a glance or do you prefer it tucked away with easy access?) there are a number of different solutions.

You could hang necklaces from hooks on the wall and keep earrings and bracelets in an assortment of small bowls and dishes on the top of your dresser (top image).  If you tend to wear a few pieces day after day, keeping them out with a few beautiful items might be sufficient (middle image).  Or you could create a system of organized compartments in your drawers for each type of jewelry so they are organized and still accessible without sitting out and looking cluttered (which is how the first arrangement style would look to some people).


Here is an example of a vanity with clear organizers in the drawers to separate jewelry by type and style.

You can also see this style of organization in Gayle’s revamped closet design above.  Notice that all her workout gear is grouped together (top right image) apart from general t-shirts and pants.

What do I use?

I like a mix of organization style 1 & 3. Key items out and visible, less frequently pieces organized in a closed drawer.

My favorite necklaces are out and visible (and organized by type) on this jewelry stand by Umbra.

My earrings are organized by type (studs, fancy long earrings for parties, hoops, blue earrings, brown earrings, etc.) in small bowls on top of my dresser for quick access in the morning. If I put the fancier items in a drawer I’d probably wear them less frequently. Seeing them out reminds me to wear something a little more punchy day to day.

The rest of my jewelry is either hanging on hooks on the inside of a door or in an assortment of small boxes and cutlery trays in a dresser drawer that was suddenly empty after a purge when we moved into our new house last year.  I could eventually upgrade to prettier organization pieces, but they are pricey, and these work just fine. I like having the 2 cutlery trays stacked because I get more function out of the drawer depth.






Above: the drawer of necklaces, bracelets, pins and rings. Very special occasion pieces are kept in closed boxes.

Above: the lower cutlery tray of necklaces and bracelets.

Finally, shoes.

If you collect shoes as works of art, perhaps displaying them in a case like this would allow you to appreciate their beauty even when you aren’t wearing them.

Is space limited? Utilize wall space by hanging them on the wall.

Is your collection substantial? Organize them by type in standardized boxes with photos on the front.

Do you store your shoes by the front door so you aren’t tracking dirt into the house?  I loved this tradition in Japan, and since space is at a premium there, I frequently saw this style of shoe storage there.  You can find these at the Container Store.

There are a million different styles of organization tools out there to suit your habits. The key is to purge to what you love and looks good on you first. Don’t buy any organization bins, etc until you’ve completed the purge and know what you REALLY have left.  Be creative with what you already have and live with those solutions for a bit to see how they work before investing in more.


I hope this has helped demystify the process for you! And if you need help, don’t be afraid to email or call me!



Photo credits:

1 & 2 & 7 – Oprah 3-12,

3, 5, 12 & 13 – Lucky 3-12

4 – Bed, Bath & Beyond

6 – Unknown

9, 10 & 11 – Fox Interiors

8 & 14 – Container Store


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Reading List: Organizing

Friday, March 16th, 2012

It’s another record setting beautiful weather day in Minnesota, and it’s Friday, so needless to say I’d rather not be sitting in front of  a computer. (76 degrees in March? It’s beyond fabulous!) So I’ll keep this short and sweet for everyone’s sake.

I just finished reading “Organizing” from the Best of Martha Stewart Living collection, and I found it really inspirational.  So if this warm weather makes you want to fling the windows open, dust off those blinds, and do a little spring cleaning/ organizing, this is a great new resource for you.


This slim reference book covers the key spaces in homes most in need of organization:  Entryways, Kitchens, Bedrooms, Closets, Bathrooms, Kids’ Rooms, Home Offices and Utility Rooms.

The kitchen section has great examples from past featured kitchens as well as Martha’s many kitchens. But it also combines some top tips from over the years.  I’ve been using the “Spice Jar Reminder” idea for years, and I remember the first time I saw the “Helping Hands” tip. Now that I have large drawers like that in my kitchen and a kiddo on the way, I’ve already started looking at how I can rearrange my kitchen cabinets to accommodate a drawer like this for the kid’s plates, bowls, bottles, etc.

Toy storage is always a challenge (with kids of all ages), so I appreciate all the detailed thought that went into this toy chest. Having “parking spots” for the cars could help interest a kid in actually putting his cars back in the proper place.

There are plenty of other creative and less complicated ideas for kids’ rooms as well.

Finally, I’ll leave you with editor Kevin Sharkey’s utility room/ closet.  Compared to the entire building Martha has at one of her properties for cleaning supplies (see this past post), Kevin lives in a NYC apartment where storage is at a premium. He cleverly transformed a coat closet into a very functional and organized laundry room with a place for everything.


Here you can see the right side of that closet (the end of the dryer is in the corner of the top left picture above). I love the grid of cleaning tools hung on the inside of the door.  All the different types of hooks and baskets he utilized allow each item to hang properly without having to be wrangled into place. Now don’t we all want that? Who likes to fight a broom back onto a hook after sweeping?

Be sure to pick up a copy now since it is for sale at local bookstores and drugstores (most places you buy magazines) until April 30th, or they run out.  At only $9.95 it’s a steal.

Now go out and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. And maybe organize a drawer or shelf while you’re at it.


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Hot off the Press – Martha loves kitchens

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Usually it’s the September decorating issue that seduces me into buying a copy of Martha Stewart Living at the news stand (or the grocery store since we don’t really have NY style news stands here).  But a cover like this with such a bright cheerful kitchen and the promise of more great kitchens inside?   I give in.

But this issue isn’t just about great kitchens.  In fact, my husband stole it before I could even sit down!  He declared it a great purchase because there are also articles on sandwiches (his favorite food group), and topless terrariums (my new dining room table is quickly being taken over by his growing plant collection).

You know my love of organizing runs deep, and Martha’s does too.

Not only does she have great tips in her classic “Good Things” column, but she also has a multi-page article on creating a room just for her cleaning and organizing supplies!  (see below) Holy moly!

I have nice 36″ wide drawers that are perfect for storing pots and baking dishes, but if I had to organize them in a traditional cupboard I like this solution above.

Hanging the cleaning bottles on a tension rod under a sink is brilliant. It looks so tidy plus you get bonus space underneath them if the bar is set high enough.

I won’t make you green with envy by showing the photos of the giant room she has for her “homekeeping” supplies, but I like these detail shots showing how she groups supplies by function. I don’t think I need to stockpile 3 bottles of each of her cleaning line for Home Depot, but the bins work well for grouping smaller collections of similar cleaning supplies. Imagine all your different wood polishing creams and tools in one convenient place for the Saturday you decide it’s time to oil the teak and polish the walnut?  Ahh, the joys of organization geeks are endless.

I’m not a knitter, but these knit stool slipcovers are brilliant!  I have a pair of plain Bosse bar stools from IKEA from our previous home that I was planning on hacking into counter height stools until I can pick the perfect stools (which of course means I have to decide on chairs for the dining room since they are right next to each other, so this will take a while. See my previous post on the issue for the full story.)

BOSSE Bar stool, birch Width: 15 3/8 " Depth: 15 3/8 " Height: 29 1/8 " Seat width: 14 1/8 " Seat depth: 13 " Seat height: 29 1/8 "  Width: 39 cm Depth: 39 cm Height: 74 cm Seat width: 36 cm Seat depth: 33 cm Seat height: 74 cm

Here’s the Bosse stool.  Now look at the examples above. I think I could shorten the legs, paint the ends an accent color and add a nubby knit topper and have a completely reinvented stool for a tiny amount of cash!    Too bad I don’t knit. Any volunteers?

As for another kitchen? Well, here’s another sneak peak to entice you…

Isn’t the pop of bright green wallpaper on the back of the open kitchen shelves wonderful? Not only do the colorful dishes stand out against it, but so do their white bowls.  The rest of the finishes are classic neutrals, allowing the bright accents to shine.   Making a commitment to color this way doesn’t have to be scary. This could easily be updated with another wallpaper or fabric covered panels down the line when you want a new look.

Thank you to the Martha Stewart Living team for another inspiring issue!





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Hot Off the Press: Martha Stewart Living September 2010

Monday, August 16th, 2010

My passion for all things domestic was fueled in my teen and college years by the infamous Martha Stewart. Back then no other magazines had multi-page spreads on the amazing creations possible with a variety of cake pipping tips or gorgeous photograph composites of bowls of spices.  I even started a Martha Stewart fan club in college (really an activity group to do crafts together) to get my fix of craftiness.  I’m pretty sure I had the only dorm room with cafe curtains made from vintage napkins picked up at an estate sale and trimmed with ribbons.

So even though I don’t read every issue of MSL anymore, her annual Home Issue is a favorite of mine. And when I saw it mentioned on one of my favorite blogger’s blog (she was featured in “100 Great Finds for Every Room of the House”) I popped out to Barnes & Noble to pick it up.  It’s not my favorite home issue to date, but it still has plenty of useful tips and good photography.

While I enjoy beautiful gardens, I leave the gardening work to my husband and mother.  However, I do have favorites in the garden, and sedum is a key one. I love the diversity of colors, textures and shapes sedum is available in.  They are often a key component in the mix of plants used on green roofs (roofs covered in plantings to absorb rainwater and minimize runoff).

I liked this layout with its mix of natural materials and clean lines. The brackets for the shelf would look too fussy if they weren’t paired with that rustic wood shelf.

Now this article filled with Martha’s advice on kitchen design and organization takes me to my happy place.  Drawers neatly organized by function. Cute containers to achieve proper containment and separation. AND kitchen tools?!  (My love of kitchen tools and gadgets comes from my mother. Do YOU have an angel food cake cutter? I do.) It’s too much goodness in one place. I just wish I had that many drawers to begin with!

This party layout is at the end of an article about the condo of Kevin Sharkey, the executive editorial director of decorating. The decorating of his condo has been chronicled in previous issues, and this is the grand culmination showcasing how it all came together. It looks nice, but I actually loved the party photos best. They have a great energy and lightheartedness that’s not often found in MSL party articles. An oreo cookie “cake”?  Ping pong is a condo filled with expensive furniture and large mirrors?  A faux frame drawn on a mirror? Love it. The balloons photo reminds me of the end of the movie 13 Going on 30. (There’s a large scale photo shoot for a magazine with balloons and good looking people smiling and having a good time.) 

Besides these articles there are also a number of helpful articles that you should be sure to check out. There’s a great feature on how to layout a large wall installation of personal photographs, with step by step instructions, “Walls That Talk.” If finding the right product to clean and repair all the different surfaces in your home is a struggle, be sure to read “Furniture First Aid.” 



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I “heart” Orange

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Ok, so I’ve been told that all that floorplan and elevation talk the past couple of weeks was a bit heavy.  So this is a sunny breath of fresh popping color to break up the floorplan talk and make you smile (unless you hate orange, like my mom). 

It all started with the receipt from my neighborhood dry cleaners (1).  I loved that it was bright orange, therefore easy to spot the pick up reminder on the fridge, but also just so darn peppy! 

That got me noticing all the other orange items I surround myself with, and quickly realized how much it has become my go-to accent color for personal accessories.  So here is a detailing of some key orange items I use on a daily basis.


(2) My favorite pencils ever!  These are orange, have a pattern, sharpen easily and the eraser actually works. Amazing.  I love the size & dimensions of the coordinating notepad. Great for my to-do lists (which keep each day in order). [Source: Office Max DiVoga line]

(3) Next to my desk is a tall file cabinet. I love these hook magnets in orange for keeping my frequently used tools within easy reach. I literally have a pair of these little orange scissors in every room of my house. They are perfect for everything from cutting off price tags (bedroom) to cutting out furniture templates (office), etc.  [Sources: Mini Spot On Magnets - Container Store, Scissors - Target]

(4) I couldn’t resist the opportunity to add color to my CPU. [Source: Dell]

(5) Since I’m always on the go, having my files with me and handy is essential.  But the nice compact jumpdrive I have is easy to forget when it’s hanging out in the CPU down by your feet as you are getting ready to leave.  So I added this ribbon to make it easy to spot in my computers, my purse, and to ensure I never leave it behind again!

(6) I was frustrated with my previous tape measure which never locked in place (I think I would need to be a big burly construction worker to break that one in!) Since this is a key tool in an interior designer tool kit, that just wouldn’t do. I spotted this in a bin at Home Depot recently and loved the functionality, color and ease of use, and the bonus low price (I think it was under $3!) [Source: Home Depot]

(7) I picked up this cart at IKEA years ago (probably at the Chicago store, before Minnesota even had an IKEA) and it fits a variety of storage needs and has evolved nicely with my needs from back when it primarily held sewing supplies to now storing my less frequently accessed office tools.  [Source: IKEA, no longer available]

(8) Even my wallet is orange! [Source: Target]

(9)  I still like to sew occasionally, and this is one of the pouches I’ve designed and utilize to keep all my odds and ends organized and easily accessible. This one holds coupons for groceries, another holds all the coupons for clothing stores, and I have two small ones in my purse that have cough drops and Werthers hard candies in them, respectively. They are all in different bright, fun patterns that make me smile.

(10) Finally, this is my water bottle that helps me keep hydrated while running around town picking up tile samples, returning fabric samples, visiting construction sites, etc.  I confess I’m a water-aholic … I think I drink between 8 – 12 glasses a day, on average.  This was a “free” gift with a donation to WWF (one of my husband’s favorite organization to support) and was thoroughly broken in on our trip through Japan last summer.

So those are my orange accessories, I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into my office and purse!  So my question to you is – what’s YOUR go to color? What colors always draw your attention flipping through magazines, catalogs, browsing at shops, watching other people?  I know my mom’s partial to purple, and my friend Kate can always be spotted holding at least 3 things that are bright green.  Where do you use color in your life to express your personality? 


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Organizing inspiration for the new year

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Organized Closet - from House Beautiful Storage Book

I’m an organizing nut and have been for years.  I don’t believe that being organized means you have a minimalist looking home without piles.  As long as the piles are a system that works for you, and you can easily access everything, that’s what’s important.  My husband still thinks piles = mess, but it’s the way my brain works and he’s adjusted.

With the start of the new year, and fresh resolutions in many people’s minds, I figured I wasn’t the only one looking to purge and start fresh.  So with that in mind, here are some inspiring images of organized homes, beautiful built-ins, and tidy spaces.  

Some quick suggestions for lightening the load:

 -  Join a group like “freecycle” in your area to find a good home for your unwanted (but still in good shape) items.  You’d be amazed at what people post!  Craigslist also has a free items section.

 - Donate items to Salvation Army or Goodwill

 - Hospital waiting rooms could always use an infusion of magazines

Remember the cardinal organizing rule:  get rid of the things you no longer need or use BEFORE buying new storage containers because you don’t know what you’ll need to store until you’ve completed the shedding process. 

Kids' playroom - from Cottage Living

I like this room’s use of wall space over the TV for additional storage.  Notice that the furniture is all at the kids’ scale, including the TV stand/storage piece.

Children's bedroom with integrated storage

I think the long bed made from two twin mattresses is a great design solution, whether it’s a big bed for one kid who likes to have sleepovers, or it could work as a guest room/den solution. The storage below the bed and on the wall takes advantage of often wasted spaces.

Entry organization - cubbies

Entry ways are always a challenge, no matter how much space you can allocate to storage. I like this example’s mix of cubby sizes and use of baskets – 1 per family member or type of goods (ex. mittens and scarves vs. sports equipment) tends to work well.  

Kitchen Pantry with Reclaimed Door - from Eat In Kitchens by Leone

A well organized pantry (and spice rack) is my idea of happiness! I love this creative use of a shallow space to create a lot of functional storage while utilizing an interesting old door to add personality to the room.

I hope these images have inspired you to add a little more organization to your life and home. 



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Fox Interiors Chair