Category Archives: Get Organized

Before & After: Master Bedroom Closet

Before & After: Master Bedroom Closet

This shared master closet provided a lot of space, but it was not functional due to an odd layout, very high ceilings, and inaccessible shelves and hanging space. We were up for the challenge to make this a practical (and pretty) closet!

Our client had already decluttered her clothing and worked with a stylist so her wardrobe was in check, but her husband’s side needed a major overhaul. Once he decluttered his side, we were ready to go!

We first had to decide what went where. We had a ton of storage, which was great, but because so much of it was not easily accessible we had to make sure that the items accessed everyday were in reach.

The shelves were tall but not very deep, so instead of stacking items we stocked the shelves with labeled baskets.

We then stored out of season clothing and items not worn often on the higher shelves in decorative boxes.

This client now has and beautiful and functional master bedroom closet!

Pro Tips for Packing & Unpacking

Pro Tips for Packing & Unpacking

Spring and Summer are the most popular months for home sales, which means lots of people are moving. Whether you’re moving down the street or across the country, there are things you can do to make the process more efficient and less stressful.

Love it or Leave it. There is no better time to declutter then when you are preparing for a move. If you are unsure  of what items to keep, before packing them, ask yourself, “When is the last time I used this?”, “What would be the worst thing that would happen if I got rid of this?” and “Why am I keeping it?” Anything that you no longer want to keep should be donated, sold, or trashed depending on the condition and the value. By taking the time to pack only what you need and use, you’ll save time when it comes time to unpack. Frequently we are contacted by people who moved into their home years ago and still have boxes that are not unpacked. If you are taking only what you need and use, you won’t have to worry about stacks of unopened boxes. This is the perfect time to sell or donate all of those wedding gifts you never used, but felt you should hold onto!

Purposeful Packing. Put like-items together and label boxes clearly with the contents. It will save you time when unpacking to label boxes Kitchen, Garage, etc. For those items you’ll need right away, write OPEN FIRST on the boxes. Too often when we unpack clients we see lots of things haphazardly thrown into boxes either by the client or the movers. You would be shocked at how many times we’ve opened boxes that are filled with trash. We are also frequently contacted by people who moved into their homes years ago and still have stacks of boxes in their garage that have yet to be unpacked; when we do finally unpack them are almost always filled with items that the client no longer wants.

Tools of the Trade. To be most efficient you’ll need the right packing tools.

-Durable packing boxes
-Quality packing tape
-Packing Paper
-Color Coded Labels

At Reclaim we’re busy working with clients to help them pack and unpack. We are currently working with two families, one packing and one unpacking. The family that we are packing is moving into temporary housing before their new home is ready. We are decluttering room by room and then packing items into two separate categories–storage and apartment. This will make it easy for the movers to know what goes where. In one three-hour appointment we decluttered and packed two rooms. With a trunk full of donations, a handful of items to sell and five bags of trash, we’re off to a good start!

We are also working with a family to unpack and set up systems in their new home. This is another situation where a family was in temporary housing. When we arrived the bonus room was filled with boxes from storage. The contents were unknown, so we dug right in. In just two hours we went through all of the boxes and put the items in their appropriate places. 75% of the items were trash. The client also found several items she had been searching for for the past three months. We are now going room-by-room, perfecting each space so that everything has a home.

Are you moving or still have boxes that have yet to be unpacked from a past move? We can help!

Before & After: Kids’ Cabinet

Before & After: Kids’ Cabinet

There is no question that kids require a lot of stuff. When doing meal prep for the little ones, whether it be a snack or dinner you’ll want to be able to easily access the necessities and not have to navigate through overstuffed cabinets.

We first pulled everything out and removed the items the client no longer needed. In this case, the client had already done a great job of decluttering, so with only a few things left to discard we had to get creative by maximizing the little space we did have. We put like items together and used white mesh stackable shelves to separate stacking items so that everything is easily accessible.

You’ll see that the upper cabinet was home to a pile of plastic ware. A frequent problem our clients have is dealing with heaping piles of mismatched plastic ware. Our all-time favorite plastic ware is Easy Find Lids by Rubbermaid. The lids snap right on to the bottom, taking up less space while being able to keep matching sets together.

Before & After: Her Closet

Before & After: Her Closet

Your bedroom closet should have one purpose and that is to store you clothing, shoes and accessories. This closet was also home to an entire bookshelf of schoolwork. With a spare bedroom closet available, we decided it was best to store the bookshelf there, freeing up an entire wall for shoe storage.

We first decluttered. Getting rid of 12 large garbage bags full of clothing! We not only decluttered the closet, but two large dressers as well.

This is just a sneak peek at the decluttering process. Creating piles for what stays and what goes was no small task, but necessary to ensure that only things that were going to be worn were kept.

Once we knew what was being kept we purchased a few items to maximize the space in the closet. We used slimline hangers to make the most of the hanging space we had available.

We used purse boxes for large purses and pull down linen shoes boxes for small clutches.

Because we had limited shelving space, we needed to create our own. These hanging cubbies were the perfect solution.

Lastly, the shoe wall. This Chrome Metal 10-Tier Rolling Shoe Rack fits up to 50 pairs of women’s shoes fit perfectly.

School Daze

School Daze

If your schedule is jam-packed with everything from soccer practice to school orientation, you’re not alone. Back-to-school time often means being on the go 24/7, which can be fun yet leave busy parents frazzled. Here’s your homework: make sure you don’t lose track of all of your children’s school stuff amid all the coming and going! Instead, use these practical tips to get an “A+” in organization, and the coming school year is sure to run that much more smoothly.

Head of the Class

With Art Do You Part: It’s tempting to want to keep all of your child’s artsy creations, but over time, they can make a bigger mess than spilled paint. Keep everything in check by starting a keepsake box that can house all of the art assignments throughout the school year. At the end of each year, review and keep only those that are truly special. As for the rest? Take photos and create a special scrapbook that you and your child can cherish in the years to come! (Even better, take photos of and recycle all of the assignments, and start fresh with the keepsake box next year.)

In It To Win It: Permission slips, forms, and tuition bills, oh my! Don’t let the paper trail lead you astray—you can keep everything centralized by setting up an inbox for school items that require parental attention. Depending on the volume of paper and nature of the correspondence, set aside time at least once a week to deal with these pending items.

Making It Easy: Though rewarding, homework, extracurricular activities and other commitments can leave your children—and you—feeling overwhelmed. Simplify the chaos by creating checklists and a shared family calendar that will keep you and your little ones in sync. (If doing it digitally, try a service like Famjama or Cozi, both of which get high marks from PC Mag.)

Home Base

Home Base

Every home has a “command center”— the place where all the action happens, from paying bills to jotting down reminders to dashing off notes to other family members. Unfortunately, without an organized system in place, your home base can easily become a magnet for heaping piles of stuff that make it nearly impossible to find anything. Use my secrets for creating ease and efficiency, and soon your command center will be worthy of commanding respect!

Hitting an Organizational Home Run

This Side Up: One of my golden rules is to go vertical. So many of my clients tell me that they need to see things in order to remember them; ditching the piles and hanging visual reminders can be a great cure for losing the physical—and mental—clutter.

Start by hanging a bulletin board where everyone in the house can see it; this board will house important documents that need to be referenced often. Next, install wall pockets for more transitional items (such as mail or bills) or pending to-dos; this will keep them within easy eyesight while staying neat and contained. And, for notes, consider using a dry-erase message board. The Container Store offers a great variety of boards for all needs.

Purge Those Piles and Make Efficient Files: Repeat after me: “Vertical is visible, and horizontal is hidden.” It’s incredibly easy for a pile to grow out of control and enter the zone of overwhelm. Follow the above rule, and use an upright file organizer for any files that need to be easily accessed on a regular basis.

Go Digital: Nothing feels better than purging paper and saving files electronically. You’ll feel lighter, more organized, and ready to tackle the day! (Plus, you can access needed items on the go.) To keep track of your ever-evolving to-do list, try a checklist app like Wunderlist; for other points of reference, consider using a cloud-based storage system such as Evernote.

Need some inspiration? Check out my Command Center Pinterest board!
On the Road Again

On the Road Again

Did someone say “vacation?” With summer staring to sizzle and the kids out of school, chances are you’ll be hitting the open road sometime soon. Time to give your car an organizational tune-up! Keeping your car neat and organized will make your travels that much more enjoyable, so use these tips to get your wheels turning.

Too much junk in the trunk? Get it under control with a folding trunk organizer. Not only will it keep your items in order, but you can fold it up and store it when not in use. This handy item will keep your trunk from becoming a catch-all for unnecessary items and lighten your car’s load (saving you gas mileage!).
Keep crumbs at bay. Any road tripper is bound to get a few snack attacks while spending hours on the road, but don’t let your car pay the price. A small trashcan will keep your vehicle clean—and blissfully free of wrappers and food remains. Try this one, or this one.
Kid-proof your car with the right tools. Idle hands are no bueno when it comes to maintaining a clean car, so keep the kids clutter-free and busy with this useful backseat car organizer. It allows you to easily compartmentalize everything from games to snacks, giving your kids distractionswithout the dirty mess.
Safety first. Make sure you have all of the essentials in case you hit a bump in the road! Tops on your packing list should be: emergency flares, jumper cables and cell phone chargers (plus AAA on your speed-dial list).
Spring into Spotless

Spring into Spotless

The seasons, they are a-changin’, and hopefully the arrival of spring has put you in the mood for some old-fashioned spring cleaning. Now is not only the perfect time to do a deep clean of your home, but also to streamline your space with de-cluttering and organizational efforts. Put your home in full bloom with these helpful hints! ~Allison

Spring Cleaning R/x:

Start over fresh. Whether you’re de-cluttering a basement, bookshelf, or closet, it’s often helpful to remove everything and start with a clean slate. This will force you to evaluate each individual item and answer those tough questions like, “When is the last time I used this?” Will I ever need it again? What would be the worst thing that would happen if I got rid of this?” The answers may surprise you.

Wipe out, then wipe down. Once you’ve cleared the area in question, it’s time to clean it! After all, there’s no better time to do a deep clean than when a space is completely empty. So roll up those sleeves and get that dirty work d-o-n-e!

Set the stage. Now that your space feels shiny and new, keep it that way by continuing your organizational efforts. Create a dedicated staging area where you can center all of the de-cluttering action, with sub-areas such as “Trash,” “Recycle,” “Donate,” “Sell,” and “Keep.” Another secret to success: put trash and donations in solid black plastic bags—out of sight, out of mind.

“Keep” it together. Once you know what you’re going to keep for each room, take the organization a step further by creating “zones” for grouping similar items. That way, you’ll be able to see everything at a glance—allowing you to further narrow down your belongings and make sure there are no unnecessary duplicates.

Pave the way for an organized future. The key to staying organized? A system that’s easy to maintain. Set yourself up for success by making everything easy to see and access. (It’ll make things much easier on you next spring!)

Contain Your Closet

Contain Your Closet

Rejoice! The long, cold winter has finally made way for some much-needed sunshine, and it’s now time to make way in your closet for spring/summer style. As for me, I personally couldn’t be more thrilled that spring has sprung—I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to switch out my winter clothes for my warm-weather wardrobe. This month’s newsletter is devoted to making that transition a seamless process for your seams!

Allison’s Tips for a Streamlined Spring
Love it or leave it. On the fence about whether to keep something in the fold? If you’re having trouble deciding about a piece of clothing, chances are you no longer need it. Keep only the items that you look and feel good in, not the “10 pounds from now” jeans or those ancient T-shirts. (If you’re really having trouble parting with those sentimental T’s, consider combining the best of both worlds and commissioning a T-shirt quilt.)
Don’t get out of sorts. Categorizing your closet is a simple and effective way to whip it into shape. Sort clothes by style and color for easy one-stop shopping and outfit coordination.
Get real about “vintage.” Fashion may be cyclical, but will that crushed velvet halter or that pair of stonewashed jeans ever be resurrected? We’ve all found ourselves holding on to certain pieces because we’re convinced they’ll come back in style, but even if they do, that’s likely to be a long time from now. So save that precious closet space for the things that matter today.
Tag! You’re it. Confession time: how many pieces in your closet still have the tags on them? If you’re guilty of repeatedly buying items that you never end up wearing, it’s time for some closet rehab. Too often, people let these pieces languish in their closet, but the smart move is to return it and get your money back. Otherwise, it’s just taking up space in both your closet and your bank account!
Sell, sell, sell. One person’s trash is another’s treasure—and that applies to clothes, too. Make money off those designer duds you no longer wear by cashing them in at a local consignment store, on Ebay, or on websites like Twice and Thred Up.
Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect

Don’t let your Kodak moments turn into clutter—after all, boxes of old photos stored around the house are no way to preserve your precious memories. Proper organization can help you easily access and enjoy your photos any time you want to take a trip down memory lane. Not sure where to start? No need to worry… with the right tips and tools, getting things in order is a snap! 

Allison’s In-Focus Tips
Get savvy with storage. The art of printing photos may be nearing extinction, but that doesn’t mean your accumulation of treasured photos has to be. Preserve your prints with acid-free storage boxes and/or albums—it’s the best way to protect pix and make sure they stay intact over time. Try these plastic photo boxes from the Container Store and/or these albums from We R Memory Keepers. (And be sure to store them in a cool, dry place in order to prevent damage.)
Drill down your digital collection. Having hundreds (or, let’s be honest, thousands) of digital photos may not seem like clutter since they’re stored out of sight on your computer or phone. However, digital photos can consume a lot of needed disc space—eating up memory and causing your devices to run slower. Solution: delete unwanted photos from your camera/phone before syncing, or do a thorough review after upload to save only the best ones.
Create online albums. Staying on top of digital photo organization will ensure that your photos don’t gradually get lumped together into one massive, hard-to-browse area. Creating online albums or dedicated folders will help you easily locate the photos you’re looking for and keep photos in their proper virtual place. (For annual events or gatherings, use one central folder or album, with sub-folders by year.)
Have a back-up plan. Anyone who’s dealt with a crashed hard drive and no backup knows the pain of having precious documents and photos wiped out—don’t let that happen to you! The key is not only being organized, but also smart with storage; otherwise, you could lose all of your precious memories. For safe, smart backup, use either an external hard drive or cloud-based service (see below tip for ideas).
Fly the friendly skies cloud. Cloud-based services aren’t just a great means for backup; they’re also a useful way to free up space on your computer. Plus, you’ll be able to access the photos from anywhere with an Internet connection. Not sure which software works best for your needs? Here’s a handy list comparing and contrasting popular software picks.
For more of Allison’s photo organizing tips, check out this article in U.S News & World Report.