What about sentimental items?

When Marie Kondo came on the scene a few years ago, lots of people were talking about her decluttering mantra: “Keep only things that spark joy.” It makes sense. Why hang on to things that aren’t making you happy (or serving a practical purpose in your life)? It seems like a straightforward concept until you get to those boxes in the attic full of childhood toys and memorabilia. The wedding album tucked away in the closet. Your great grandmother’s jewelry, passed down through the generations. Marie’s “joy” principle becomes a little more challenging once items have sentimental meaning attached.

Keepsakes, photographs, family heirlooms, and gifted items are harder for people to let go due to the emotions and memories that go along with them.

Does that mean those things are immune to decluttering? Apologies in advance to anyone who isn’t ready to hear this, but the answer is NO. Just because an item has a happy feeling attached to it doesn’t mean you need to keep it forever. (The same applies to items that have been gifted to you.) Eventually, those items fill up boxes and dusty corners of the basement, only to get looked at once every few years. Sure, you may feel happy when you do decide to take those items out, but are those few moments of joy worth all the wasted space they are occupying?

A few tips for anyone who has trouble letting go of sentimental items:

  • Keep only the things that are really important to you.
  • Take pictures and document the rest. The memories are what often holds meaning, not the physical item itself.
  • Transfer photos/papers to digital files. You can still hang on to them this way, but they won’t take up as much physical space.
  • Donate items to other family members who may want them. (This way, you can still keep things within the family, but can take the responsibility off yourself.)
  • Don’t feel guilty. At the end of the day, it’s just stuff. You are not obligated to hang on to every item that comes across your path. Getting rid of something doesn’t mean you love a person, event, or memory any less.

Budget Organizing Hacks!

Professional organizers hear many different excuses for clients’ clutter and messy habits, but mostly, we hear the same two over and over again: “I don’t have time” and “I can’t afford it.” Since I frequently harp on the subject of creating time (even just fifteen minutes!) to organize, I thought I’d switch gears today.

What do you do when you want to become more organized, but are on a tight budget?

There’s lots you can do! Believe it or not, organizing doesn’t have to be about pretty, expensive baskets and sets of matching bins. With a little creativity, you can come up with all sorts of clever home hacks and dollar store ideas that will make your home feel more put together. Here are a few of my favorite ideas:

  • Command hooks/strips – There is SO much you can do with command hooks/strips: Put a few hooks on the wall to keep your necklaces from tangling or use them to keep cords in place. Stick some hooks on the back of cabinet doors to arrange utensils, pot holders, and dish towels. Put command strips on the back of clothespins to hang recipe cards and spice packets. The possibilities are endless.
  • Wire baskets – Mount cheap wire baskets on the backs of cabinet doors to hold cleaning supplies, cutting boards, mail, and hair styling tools
  • Cheap drawer organizers – Use small, plastic organizers from the dollar store to keep cords, pens, keys, jewelry, cosmetics, and other small items from shifting around in drawers. Silverware organizers are great for this purpose, also!
  • Shoe organizer (over the door) – Those over-the-door shoe organizers are good for more than just shoes! Use them to organize extra towels/linens, medicine cabinet supplies, clothing, and children’s toys.
  • Clothespins – Mount clothespins on wire, with magnets, or command hooks and use them to hang towels, jewelry, photos, mail, hair ties, belts, etc.
  • Mason jars – I love using mason jars in the bathroom for cotton balls, Q-tips, hair ties, etc. They’re also great for storing arts & craft supplies, cords, and dry goods in the pantry (just make sure you get ones that are food safe).

A great place to find cheap organizing supplies is Target. (Anyone else obsessed with Target? lol) Check out some of the cute dollar section trays I spotted at Target recently. These would be great for stashing all kinds of small items around the house!

Challenge Wrap Up

It’s hard to believe that this is the last day of the New Year, New Habits Challenge already! The first weeks of the year have flown by quickly. Whether you took part in the challenge or just made the decision to start your own organizing journey this year, I am proud of you. The decision to make important life changes and those first few (scary) steps are HUGE. Even if you tried the challenge and it didn’t quite go as planned, I hope you give yourself a pat on the back for even trying.

I am pleased to report that my own challenge to do the dishes every night before bed went extremely well. I will be one hundred percent transparent with you: As someone who worked in the culinary field for several years, I loathe doing dishes. I have often viewed dishes as a “chore” and would avoid doing them for a few days at a time. When multiple people live within your household, however, ignoring the dishes for a couple of days can add up and create a lot of visual clutter in the kitchen. Going into this challenge, I decided that even on days where I really didn’t want to do the dishes, I would force myself to do them anyway.

And you know what?

It wasn’t that bad! Doing the dishes every single night was actually way easier to maintain than doing them every other day. By keeping up with them more regularly, I cut down on the amount of time I would normally spend washing dishes. As I’ve mentioned before, getting in the habit of doing something for just fifteen minutes a day can make a huge impact on your day-to-day routine. The best part of the challenge was waking up every morning to a completely clean, empty sink!

I have loved receiving pictures and hearing about your own organizing challenges! If you haven’t done so already, leave me a comment or send me a message on social media to share your own challenges with me! 🙂

Stylish Home Organization Tips

Recently, I came across a comment left by someone in a Facebook group that confused me. This particular person said they didn’t want to hire a professional organizer because they don’t want all those “ugly plastic bins” in their home. Clearly, this person needs to scroll through Pinterest more often, for there is an entire world of classy and stylish home organization awaiting them.

One of the many things I love about home organizing is all the fun possibilities! Just as everyone’s home is different and unique, everyone’s organizing style is different and unique, also. There is no reason that your system can’t reflect your personality. Here are some ways you can maintain a chic look while creating a less cluttered life:

  • Matching baskets/fabric bins – Baskets and fabric bins are going to give you a more stylish look than plastic ones. Nowadays, you can find pretty much any color, shape, and size basket on the internet. They even make ones with pretty patterns, like these ones from Target, so you should easily be able to find something that matches the interior of your room.
  • Have a color scheme – Having a color scheme will help things look cohesive and be more aesthetically pleasing. Having tons of different colors will stand out much more and create visual clutter in a room. Personally, I am a big fan of white and neutral colors. Even if when have different types of products, sticking with this color palette still keeps things “clean” looking.
  • Trays – Organizing trays are a nice way to keep items together, while still looking cute and decorative.
  • Open shelving – Utilizing wall space with open shelving is a great way to display your items with style and intention. You can also incorporate decorative pieces or artwork to reflect your personality. Something that I really love about open shelving is that it pretty much forces you to keep things tidy since there are no doors to hide everything. The kitchen is particularly great spot for this type of shelving.
  • Find the right furniture – Find furniture that reflects your personal style and get creative with it! Instead of commercial drawers or shelving units, check vintage stores or find used furniture that you can repurpose. Take the drawers out of an old dresser, add some glass or plywood to make shelves, and paint it a fun color. Voila. You now have a fun kitchen hutch to display your dishes. (Recently, I took an antique magazine rack and turned it into a stand for my house plants.) The options are only as limited as your imagination. Another great option is to find furniture pieces that have hidden storage built into them!

The Weight of Disorganization

Failure. Guilt. Shame. Did you know that these are common feelings among people with super cluttered homes? In a society that encourages rampant consumerism and materialism, areas of our homes can easily become dumping grounds for gadgets, toys, and clothing that we’re pressured into buying. All of that stuff, on top of hectic work schedules and endless hours of parenting, can start to feel incredibly burdensome when we are faced with the dilemma of how to keep it all organized.

As a professional organizer and fellow human being, I understand the overwhelming emotions that can stem from a messy home. I have been a victim of embarrassment, anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy, all because my home wasn’t as clean or tidy as I wanted it to be. And while most of us could probably benefit from learning to cut ourselves some slack, if the same stressor continues to make an appearance and wreak havoc on our emotions, shouldn’t we learn to tackle that, too?

YES.

Change can be daunting, especially if you’re already stressed. However, many people find that once they begin the organizing process those feelings of being overwhelmed start to fade. Organizing will help you regain control of your life by giving you back all the time and energy that gets lost among the clutter. You’ll also gain a greater sense of peace and satisfaction with your surroundings, thus making “home” a place of comfort once again. Don’t you deserve to be happy in your own home?

The answer is YES. Now, let’s make it happen!

One Small Change at a Time

You’ve finally jumped on board: You’re ready to get more organized and stop letting clutter disrupt your life (That’s amazing!), but where do you even begin? I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who feel like a deer in headlights when they finally decide to tackle their messy demons.

The first thing I tell clients is to take it one step at a time. You don’t have to tackle the whole house at once. In fact, I sincerely discourage you from trying to do that. It’ll will only lead you to become even more overwhelmed. The best approach is to take things slow. One room. One drawer, cabinet, or corner at a time.

Here are some easy places you can start:

  • Expired food items (pantry/fridge)
  • Plastic grocery bags
  • Expired/unused medications
  • Chipped dishes, mugs, or glassware
  • Clothing that no longer fits (or hasn’t been worn in 6-12 months)
  • Worn out clothing, blankets, and towels
  • Expired cosmetics
  • Damaged (or neglected) toys

Evaluate what’s in your home and figure out which things are no longer serving you properly. Do they really need to continue taking up space in your?


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Causes of Clutter

Last week I talked a little bit about the steps of organizing on social media. The first step (and most important!) is to simplify, purge, edit, sort, etc. Whichever term you want to use for it, the principle is the same: Pare down the excess. Having extra stuff, that you typically don’t need, makes the rest of the organizing process difficult. Technically, you can organize and store said stuff, but why would you want to? Isn’t the whole point of getting organized to make your life easier and to get rid of the things weighing you down?

After making my post about simplifying, I started to think about the reasons so many people let clutter accumulate in the first place. It’s important for people to understand their behavior and the underlying causes if they want to make true changes in their lives. So, let’s discuss some of the possible causes for all that extra stuff that’s been piling up.

  • Sentimentality – Some people have a hard time letting go of sentimental items. But those drawings your kids made in first grade, the dress you wore on your first date, the tattered cookbooks that belonged to your grandmother add up over time. There’s nothing wrong with having a few keepsakes around if they have personal significance to you, but it’s important to keep them to a minimum and just hang on to those few really special ones.
  • FOMO – “But what if I need it later?” We hear it over and over again. Lots of people hang on to items that they no longer need or use due to fear that they might change their mind later. In this case, a good rule of thumb to follow is this: If you haven’t used/worn it in 6-12 months, it’s not serving an important role in your life and you don’t need it.
  • Being overwhelmed – If you’re battling a lot of clutter, trying to tackle everything at one time can be incredibly overwhelming. For some, those feelings of stress and being overwhelmed can make them feel helpless, so, rather than organize at all, they just put the task off until later. But if it’s stressing you out that much now, is it really going to be different later? Rather than try to organize your entire home at one time, it’s best to start small and chip away at it. Doing a little at a time is better than nothing at all!
  • Fear of change – A lot of people simply hate change! Even if their current system (or lack of) isn’t working, the thought of changing things feels even more daunting.
  • Habits – It’s always easier to continue doing things we’ve done for a long time. It’s instinctual and doesn’t require much effort, right? Once you start creating good habits (like putting your shoes away, rather than leaving them on the floor), they will become just as easy to keep up with.

‘Tis the Season

Now that Halloween is over (*sniff sniff* 😥 ) it’s only a matter of days until everyone starts talking about Christmas. Regardless of which holidays you celebrate, there is no denying that all those decorations, festive table linens, wrappings, and other seasonal goods can take up quite a bit of storage. Here are a few storage ideas that may come in handy later, when it’s time to take the tree down and stuff if back in the garage:

  • Large storage bags are quite handy for storing all types of seasonal items: Out of season clothing, extra linens or blankets, holiday lights, larger decorations, etc. They even make storage bags with small compartments, specifically for keeping ornaments safe.
  • Worried that artificial tree is going to get ruined out in the garage? Try storing it in a waterproof bag or inside a large trash can to protect it from the elements.
  • Clear plastic tubs are great for larger seasonal decorations and fragile items. They work well for ornaments, string lights, strands of garland, your collection of Halloween skulls (or regular skulls. I’m not here to judge.), and candles.
  • Create a wrapping station. If you’re one of those people who loves to wrap presents, why not create a designated spot for all your paper, ribbons, and cards? A cute little rolling cart could help keep your items transportable and easy-to-access. You could also repurpose an old dresser and keep your supplies hidden in the drawers. If you don’t want to create a special station, you can still make sure to keep your supplies well organized with a compartmentalized bag that you can tuck away in the closet.
  • Wrap those string lights around recycled cardboard tubes (from your wrapping paper station!) or pieces of cardboard so they don’t get tangled in a ball.

What seasonal items do you find most difficult to store/organize?

Linen Closet Makeover Tips

I put a question out to my Instagram followers recently, asking what types of organization topics they might like to learn more about. One of the most common answers was linen closets.

Closets can be challenging to organize, especially linen closets. Items stored in linen closets tend to be on the bulkier side, meaning they take up a lot of physical space. That’s okay though! No space is too impossible to organize. Follow some of these tips and tricks the next time your linen closet is in need of a makeover.

-Get rid of old towels/linens – Say goodbye to items that are faded, frayed, or have holes in them. Step one of the remake process is to discard (or repurpose) things that are no longer serving you properly.

-Roll/fold towels to save space – Larger towels and hand towels can be rolled and stacked horizontally, or stored vertically inside baskets, to optimize storage space. (The only time I avoid doing this is when towels are really thick. In this case, it is typically more efficient to fold.)

-Group by category – Keep matching towels and linens together. This not only makes it easier to find things when you’re looking for them, but it’s also more aesthetically pleasing.

-Leave wiggle room – This goes for most organization projects. Stuffing any cabinet/closet to the gills won’t look neat, nor will it be efficient when you need to take something out. (The goal is to simplify!)

-Contain small items – Put small items and cleaning supplies together in bins or baskets. Over-the-door storage racks can be great for this, as well.

– Contain large, bulky items (like comforters and pillows) in storage bags or laundry baskets so they aren’t spilling off your shelves.

– Fold sheets and matching pillowcases together into bundles

-Remove packaging from toiletries and store in clear canisters or wire bins for a neater, more stylish look.

Don’t forget to hit the “Follow” button or find me on social media (@theremakestudio) for more ideas on home organizing!

Home Organization in Fifteen Minutes

“I don’t have time.” We’ve all said it at one point or another. (Yes, even you, shaking your head as you read this.) It’s the number one excuse organizers hear from clients. And, trust us, we understand. It’s always easier to just put things off and use lack of time as an excuse when we are feeling overwhelmed. But that’s why you need us, isn’t it? To come into your homes and show you that getting more organized will actually create more time for you in the long run.

If you’re busy running the kids around all week, working a full-time job, and putting dinner on the table every night, the thought of trying to squeeze in time to remake your pantry probably sounds exhausting. There are only so many hours in the day, right? Exactly! And that’s why you need to create habits that will allow you to make the most of your precious time.

Realistically, organizers don’t expect you to start skipping work or abandoning little Jimmy at soccer practice so you can declutter. But what if you set aside 15 minutes every day? Fifteen minutes isn’t that long. You probably spend more time than that mindlessly scrolling through social media when you want to unwind. If you can find a way to sacrifice 15 minutes a day, I guarantee you’ll notice a difference by the end of the week. Choose what you want to focus on during that time: If you always feel like you’re drowning in dishes, take 15 minutes every evening to work on emptying and loading the dishwasher. It beats having a meltdown on Thursday because it’s dinner time and there are no clean plates in the cupboard. If you’re dreading that huge pile of mail that’s been slowly building on the counter, see how much of it you can tackle in 15 minutes. Make separate piles – throw away, file away, and action. Even if it takes you a few nights to get everything sorted, by the weekend you’ll be ready to tackle each of those piles with ease because they’ll already be categorized. Tired of tripping over your children’s toys all day? Take 15 minutes before bedtime to put toys away in their respective places. You can even get the kids involved and make a fun game out of it.

By focusing on one project or area of the house at a time, you’ll start to realize that organizing doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It only gets overwhelming when you try to do everything at once. Once you get in the habit of regularly putting things away, you’ll notice how much easier it is to manage your home. (Habit is the key word here. You can’t organize once and it expect it to stay that way forever.) Come up with a weekly schedule, if that helps you. Or put a “to do” list on the fridge. There is no right or wrong way to spend those 15 minutes, as long as you’re actually being productive. Hopefully, by the time the weekend rolls around, you’ll have checked enough off your list that you’ll find yourself with time to spend doing things you actually enjoy. 🙂