Do you find yourself trying to get dressed in the morning, staring at a full closet of clothes and feeling like you have nothing to wear? You are not alone. This is one of the most common conundrums I find with my clients. Closets busting at the seams with clothing and accessories that have seen better days. Only a few items exist that are in regular circulation. The number one question I am asked is:

“How can I make it all fit? Do I need more space? More baskets/bins/shelves/etc.”

My answer nearly every time is:

“NO, what you need is to minimize.”

Having a streamlined closet can save you time, money and frustration. Opening your closet and finding only the items you truly love, organized in a way that allows for space, is a pleasure that you can achieve. But it will take some work.

If you are looking at minimizing your wardrobe and achieving the closet of your dreams, here are a few tips.  

1  Empty it – Take everything out of your closet. Every shirt, pant, accessory, sock, underpant – everything. Then take a look at your naked closet. Inspiring isn’t it? Forcing yourself to physically handle each item is critical in the decision making process. Most of us wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time, and that is about the percentage I want you to strive to put back into your new streamlined closet. 20%.

2  Trash it – I always suggest donating or consigning items that are still in good enough condition to be worn. However, chances are you have some pieces that could just be trashed. Torn, stained, threadbare – you know you have some of these. Trash them. You can also try to find a textile recycling bin or service in your area to dispose of these items. Say good-bye to those undies you save for laundry back-up and just do the laundry more often.

3  Donate it – You know you are holding on to things that you are never going to wear again. Maybe you loved it once and just can’t let it go, even though it looks like you stole it from the wardrobe rack of a Debbie Gibson video. Maybe you have suits left over from your former life before you started your own dog walking business or became a stay-at-home mom.  They don’t fit. You don’t like that color anymore. The trend has passed. Whatever the reason, you have way more than you need. Let it go. You’ll thank me.

4  Hide it – Keep your out of season clothes in another area. Whether you store them in a container under the bed, or in a closet in another room, try to keep them out of sight when they aren’t in use. Test your assumptions about whether or not you can really commit to the minimalist wardrobe. Keep some items in another area for a month and see if you can live without them. I suspect you will be pleasantly surprised, and when you are, get rid of those hidden clothes.

5 Love it – Now it’s time to put things back into your naked closet. There are a few rules you should stick to now. If you do not absolutely love it, do not put it back. Do you have 3 brown belts but only wear one? Keep that one, ditch the others. Do you have 4 jackets but you always reach for one – your favorite? Let the others go to someone else and let them be their favorite. Reduce your need for additional accessories and try to avoid the pressure of trends. Keep it classic and define your own style. What you love is usually indicative of your personal style. Own it.

The capsule wardrobe movement continues to grow and is a bandwagon that I fully support you jumping on. Imagine walking into your closet and loving every single thing. That can be your reality. Do it. You’ll love it.

 

While assisting a client with a bathroom project yesterday, she did something so many people do far too often.  We cleared out the cabinet, she purged things she didn’t need, wiped it down and then rushed to put it all back.  I had to stop her, and address these questions before putting it all back:

1.  Do you use all of these products?

As it turned out, the answer was no.  After a second pass we eliminated about two-thirds of what she kept after the first purge.  I ALWAYS recommend two rounds with the items you are purging.  If you are not getting rid of anything, then you are just cleaning.

2.  How often do you use each of these products?

In order to decide where to put everything, we needed to determine what she uses most often to least often.  Those items that she uses on a daily basis were put front and center, on a tray, easy to access.  Extra products, etc were placed in a clear bin in the back so that she could see them and access them as needed.

I often find that people don’t know exactly how I am going to help them as a professional organizer until this point in the process.  Sure, people love to have me hold their hand and keep things fun while we are purging, but it isn’t until we start putting things away that the true magic happens.  It is my job to teach you how to think about your spaces and how put your things away, so that you don’t need me to come back.

Unless, of course, it’s for a glass of wine.

Until next time, Live Simply…

 

 

This past weekend was a fun and exhausting whirlwind, chatting with people about custom organization solutions for 3 days.  I loved the process of creating my booth, and had so many compliments that it made it all worth it.  Plus it was a super comfortable space to hang out in with the other exhibitors.  It was a true family affair that would not have come together without my amazing husband executing my vision and building an outstanding space.  I was quite pleased with the outcome.  We used hollow core doors for the walls (which we got for free on craigslist), painted them and hinged them in the back.  The couch was a $40 craigslist score as well and proved to be a popular spot with my fellow exhibitors.  I used a projector to trace my logo and hand painted the sign, and my husband made a frame for it.  The frames, the tables and the decor all came straight out of my house.  The foam mats for the floor was the most expensive item, and was absolutely necessary to keep my feet and legs from hurting.  All in all it was a great experience!

IMG_3207IMG_3197IMG_3195   IMG_3231IMG_3255IMG_3239

Last weekend I chatted it up with plenty of locals at the first farmer’s market in our town.  It was fun and I scored some great jam, soap, tea, granola, and best of all – clients!  New people with new organizing quandaries that I can help to live simply.  Check out my “booth.”

10404503_10153148326484882_5811423230624123631_n

With the help of my ridiculously talented friend who just so happens to be a graphic designer, I had some pretty sweet marketing materials.  I make my client’s homes look amazing, and she makes me look amazing.  You should seriously hire her if you need some kick ass design work.  Check out her talent.

11044622_10153148269549882_7820557468186316805_n

I definitely couldn’t have pulled this off without help from my other friend who just so happens to be a marketing pro.  I would love to post a picture of her, but we failed to take one.  Rest assured she is adorable and kicks some marketing butt.  I’m so lucky to be surrounded by such talented people willing to help me for free!  Don’t worry guys, I won’t forget you when I have my own show on the OWN network.

Until next time, Live Simply!

GET CREATIVE!

Sometimes when you’re organizing, you have both a short term and a long term goal. You know you want to remodel the ______ (kitchen, basement, bedroom, bathroom…), but you need a solution to keep you organized until you can afford to / have time for the remodel. This is when it is time to get creative and keep your eyes on the long term. Avoid buying anything that you can’t repurpose after the remodel.

For example:

CLOSET: In the short term, just buy hangers and shoe boxes. You’ll use those once you install a new system and they will make your life a little easier in the short term.

MUDROOM: Use hooks and boot trays in the short term. Baskets can also be a great way to keep kids shoes contained without overrunning your house.

KITCHEN: I know, you don’t have enough space and need to remodel! The cabinets are 70 years old! I get it. In the meantime, use shelf risers to optimize space, bins to corral items and airtight containers to keep bagged snacks under control.

Until next time, Live Simply.

One of the best things about being a professional organizer is that I get to go shopping with my clients.  It’s a pretty sweet gig to get to go to Ikea to help people design closets and shop for storage items.  Trust me, I KNOW how lucky I am.  Don’t hate me because my job is awesome.

However, SOME of the time, my clients are not quite as enthralled with the idea of entering the vast minefield that can be Ikea.  The mere thought has made people I’ve worked with overwhelmed and temporarily shell shocked, and that’s before we even get to the store!  More often than not, the response to the suggestion of an Ikea trip is met with a gasp.  Since I have come to realize that not everyone shares my excitement for a gigantic warehouse with 2 floors, loaded to the brim with items you can only read if you know swedish, I would like to share with you how to SURVIVE IKEA.

First and foremost, if you have never set foot in an Ikea, DO NOT go it alone.  I have taken many an Ikea virgin to the land of cinnamon bun smelling bjursta desks, poang chairs and laack tables.  What I can tell you is that having a guide makes it a much more pleasant experience.  My first trip to an Ikea included a guide and it is how I learned to navigate through the shortcuts, avoiding the pitfalls of getting lost in a sea of fabric or light fixtures.  I have paid this forward tenfold.  (Thanks Melody Lacey, you’re the original Ikea navigation guru.)  Your guide can help you understand that Ikea is actually an example of genius engineering in moving people through a store.  It’s impressive.

Secondly, know your plan of attack.  WHY ARE YOU GOING TO IKEA?  Are you going to look around and get ideas?  Then only visit the gallery on the second floor.  Don’t even think about stepping foot in the marketplace.  You won’t be able to get that 2 hours of your life back and you’ll wonder why you can’t stop craving cinnamon buns and how on earth you spent $200 on things you can not pronounce and don’t know how to use.

Are you going to design a kitchen?  A closet?  Here’s a tip:  design it online first.  This will help keep you on task when you go to the kitchen or closet section to get a feel for the products themselves and make your final decision.

Are you making the trip to find a specific item?  This is where it can get a little tricky.  What type of item is it?  Most decorative and household items can be found pretty easily in the marketplace in their respective household department.  However, if it’s furniture you’re looking for, you may have to venture up to the gallery to find out where it is in the  dreaded SELF-SERVE AREA.  *GASP*  This is where people often get lost, so let me make it simple.  Try this method, and hopefully you will find yourself loading up that storage unit in no time.  (Leaving you a few minutes to enjoy a $1 soft serve ice cream cone.)

  1. Take a picture of the item you saw online with you to help you remember it.
  2. Grab the map at the bottom of the escalator or elevator when you ascend to the gallery.
  3. Follow the map to your designated area based on your item.  Do NOT stop in other areas of the gallery if you only went in for the one piece.
  4. When you find the item, write down the information on the Self-Serve tag.  Or, you can do what I do and take a picture of it.
  5. High tail it out of the gallery straight to the self-serve area.  (You’ll be able to do this because you have the map and the guide.)
  6. Pay.  Eat an ice cream cone or cinnamon bun.  Go home.

See?  Ikea can be fun!  You got this.

Until next time, Live Simply.

 

Organizing is not one size fits all.  You should know that before reading further.  One of the greatest services a professional organizer can provide for you is a custom tailored plan for your specific situation.  When I get to know a client, I am not simply assessing their mess and offering the same old cookie-cutter solutions that I offer everyone.  Instead I get to know my clients, what motivates them, what aesthetic they are drawn to, their learning style and the factors standing in their way of an organizing system that is maintainable.  Consequently, no two clients are the same and no two action plans are the same.

Although the solutions may not be the same, there are certain tips that apply to almost every organizing project.  Whether it be a kitchen pantry, home office, closet, kid’s room, attic, etc., there are approaches you can follow to help you along with the process.  So, with no further adieu, in honor of Get Organized Month, here are my Top 5 Tips for Any Organizing Project:

1.  Love it or Leave it.IMG_4824

The first step in nearly every organizing project is to purge.  Many clients have the misconception that I will come into their home and force them to clear everything out.  Not so.  In fact, my rule of thumb is that you can keep anything as long as it doesn’t steal your time or joy.  When you are deciding what to keep and what to let go of, ask yourself “Do I love it, need it or use it?”  If the item doesn’t fit in to at least one of those categories then it’s time to say goodbye.

2.  Get it Off the Floor.

This is important and often overlooked.  When things are on the floor it draws your eye down and makes it feel like the room is smaller.  It feels like a weight.  Simply looking up and using wall space can make the space feel less cluttered and lighter.  Hang bikes in the garage on hooks.  Use shoe bins to get them off the floor and hidden in the mud room.  Trade in your clunky filing cabinet for hanging file holders.  Use a low shelf with even an inch of space above the floor in the pantry to get those bulk items off of the floor.  Use shelves to get the storage bins off the floor in the basement.  You can even hang musical instruments to get them off the floor and create a cool look in your living room.

IMG_48203.  Miscellaneous is Not a Category.

Everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING, fits into a category.  Paperwork, toys, pantry items, items stored in the basement, garage or attic, all of it can find a category.  Even if you end up with only one or a couple of things in a possible category that is okay.  When I find myself leaning toward a miscellaneous file, I take a short break so I can come back refreshed and ready to be creative with my categorizing.  Resist the urge to categorize anything as “miscellaneous.”  You CAN find a category for everything.

4.  Think Outside the Box. 

This is where it gets fun.  Since you already know that organizing is not one size fits all, then it should come as no surprise that where your items are housed is dependent on your area and items.  Maybe you’re having a hard time finding a spot for your boots, but you have extra hanging space.  Use boot hangers!  Hang buckets on the wall for art supplies.  Hang clipboards on the wall to keep your paperwork that needs to be addressed in plain sight.  Use baby food jars for small craft supplies or nails.  If you’re feeling extra ambitious you can even say goodbye to all of your paper files and go electronic with all of it.  Boxes and bins are not the only way to get the job done.

5.  Label It.IMG_4808

Every organizer loves their label maker.  Most of my clients love their label makers too!  I even have a client who has multiple label makers for multiple uses!  Labeling is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the success of your new organization system.  If you can not maintain it, then it was all for naught.  Labeling helps remind you (and those you live with) where things are homed, and retrain your habits to put things back in their new homes.  This can be especially useful when you have non-family members managing items in your home on a regular basis.  A nanny, a personal assistant in a home office or a housekeeper will also be able to put things back in their homes and maintain your new system.

Now that you have your ground rules, get cracking on your projects!

Until next time, Live Simply.

 

It’s that time of year.  If you’re like me you actually find it kind of obnoxious, the sheer number of messages we receive every January promising that we can once and for all _________ (fill in the blank).  However if you are really like me, then you choose to ignore these messages while secretly declaring to yourself, and a few choice confidants, that you plan to give it a go to once and for all ________ (fill in the blank).  I realize the contradiction here.

I also have another secret to reveal to you as my choice confidant.  One of my “resolutions” this year is to get my OWN office organized.  Hard to believe isn’t it?  A professional organizer whose office is not organized?  Preposterous as it may seem I am an organizer who lives in the real world just like you, and in my world we have been playing musical rooms.  We have 3 bedrooms in our home that have been in limbo since we moved in over 2 years ago.  I have painted, moved furniture, decorated and re-decorated, pulled up carpet, etc. more times that I wish to remember.  Consider it an occupational hazard.

The time has now come.  After everything has been shifted out of the other rooms into the room destined to be my office, it is time to purge, sort and organize.  The final frontier.  Luckily, “I got a guy.”  In this case really, “I got a girl.”  And it’s me.  Here are some before shots.  I know.  It could use some TLC.

Office before 1 Office before 2 Office before 3

Here is the simple plan of attack:

  1. Purge.  See all that stuff?  All of it will find a home, but not necessarily with me.  Whether donated, sold, repurposed or tossed, it will all find a home.
  2. Sort.  Everything will be grouped into a category, and there will be no “miscellaneous” category.
  3. Organize.  Furniture, wall hangings, supplies, files, paper clips… it will all have a home.

Sound easy?  Or too good to be true?  The truth is, all organization projects start right here with this simple approach.  Once I have worked my magic, I’ll post an update with all of the gritty details of the execution, so stay tuned.  Be patient though as I still live in the real world.

Until next time, Live Simply.

 

 

 

Hello there inter-webs!  My name is Amanda and I am a professional organizer, wife, mother and small dog owner.  I also love the color orange, dogs and chocolate.  Here on my blog you’ll learn all kinds of interesting things.  Organizing tips, the current haps at Live Simply, LLC, the things that inspire me, compelling stories of living with a messy family, and maybe even a witty quip or two.  Have I enticed you to read more?  Of course I have.

This is a picture of my logo with a link to my website.  Notice the orange that I mentioned?  You may also notice that it is on the top of the page there.  See?

 

cropped-LS_logo1.jpg

 

This is a picture of my family.  Remember when I mentioned my love for dogs?  He’s pretty cute isn’t he?  He’s kind of a jerk though.

 

familypic

 

So “why should I read anything that this girl has to say?”, you may be asking yourself.  I don’t know, why have you read this far?  I’m going to guess it has something to do with the fact that I’m kind of funny and my family is so adorable it’s nauseating.  I mean, look at that kid!  Modeling material, I know.  Adorable family aside, I would also suggest you check back from time to time to hear about my adventures in organizing.  As a child my favorite pastime was arranging my chatchkes on my dresser for hours and hours at a time.  Then I would arrange my clothes by color, and make sure that all of my little ponies had an equal and fair amount of space on their shelf.  Once when I was eight, I asked for a comforter for Christmas.  I did not receive said comforter and as you can see here, I never forgot.  You could say this is a solid indication that I could use some therapy, OR you could say I was born to organize.  I prefer the latter, and I truly do love helping people release themselves from the clutter in their lives, sort what remains, and make it pretty.

If you want even more of me, you can always like my Facebook page too.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/You-Can-Live-Simply/124886227695?ref=bookmarks

I look forward to “meeting” all of you lovely inter-web people and sharing my adventures with you!  Until next time, LIVE SIMPLY!