Articles & Advice

Organizing Piles

Dear Kathi,

I seem to spend my time constantly tackling piles around my house. I often get rid of two-three piles a week but when I turn around, another one has suddenly materialized. Nothing I do seems to permanently remove the piles from my life. How can I stop this madness?

Debora, Cardiff

Debora,

Congratulations on tackling two-three piles per week! It appears that you are determined to win in this battle.

Piles beget piles. This means that if we put away everything but one item from a pile, it will reproduce another pile as if by magic. When you tackle piles, do not stop until each and every item has found it’s home.
Clutter always chooses the path of least resistance. When we come home tired and don’t take the time to put away the items we bring into our home, a pile begins.

Our natural tendency is to drop an item beside something else that is waiting to be put away. We rationalize that putting it there will increase the likelihood that both items will be dealt with in the morning. And so begins the pile.

One way to reduce your frustration is to keep two baskets by the front door. One will be for in-bound goods and the other for outbound. When you have a moment, take the in-bound basket on a tour of your home and return each item to its proper space.

The outbound basket will help keep you organized. As you find items that need to leave home like film to be processed or clothing to return, place them in your basket. Before you leave home each day, glance inside to see if you are heading in the direction that any of these items need to go. If so, grab whatever needs a ride and you are on your way to streamlining you errand time.

Make sure your baskets are medium sized (10-12 inches) and you will keep your piles under control and your time dealing with them to a minimum.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
.
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Organizing Collections

Dear Kathi,

like to collect shot glasses and sports memorabilia. My wife is fed up with them lying around the house and is threatening to throw them out if I don’t do something with them soon. What can I do to salvage my collection and keep the peace in my home?

Ed R., Carlsbad

Ed,

Gather your shot glasses and memorabilia together. Take inventories and decide if you need to keep every item. Are some items damaged or in poor condition? Try to let go of the items that aren’t in excellent condition. This will typically make your remaining collection more valuable.

Create or buy attractive storage containers suited for your collectibles. Clear Lucite boxes are manufactured in a plethora of sizes and shapes. Consider showcasing your flat collectibles in picture frames. Shadow boxes will keep your shot glasses free from dust and grouped into one visually appealing space. Use small narrow shelves to display trophies, photos or baseball hats.

Store your beloved items with style and your wife is more likely to appreciate your collections.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
.
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Finding a little black dress that fits

Kathi,

I just graduated from college and I keep hearing that every girl should own a little black dress. I am a size 14 and feel like I will have a hard time finding a little black dress that fits. I have a few events coming up during the holidays and now want to own a little black dress. How do I go about finding this piece?

Jolene, San Marcos

Jolene,

Don’t get alarmed about finding a ‘little’ black dress just because you are a size 14. The majority of women in the US are a size 12 or 14. The idea behind the ‘little’ black dress is that it flatters your figure and makes you ‘look’ little.

The most important feature of your new dress — more important than its designer label or trendiness — is how well it flatters you.
Simple silhouettes like the A-line and sheath are typically the most flattering for all body types. Hemlines that end at the smallest part of your knee will flatter your legs. Not every dress cut will work for your body so you’ll need to do some quick research on your specific needs.

Finding the dress that flatters your figure is as much about playing up your best features as it is about hiding what’s not perfect.
Not sure what your best asset is? Ask a friend or significant other. Or go to a fine women’s clothing store and enlist the salesperson’s help.

The easiest way to look fabulous in your little black dress is to show off your best features. If your legs are spectacular, show them off with a short, fitted dress and stilettos. If you have gorgeous eyes, play them up with off-the-face hair, beautiful makeup and jeweled earrings.
Keep in mind that once you find that perfect dress, you will want to wear it year-round – so buy it in a silk, brocade, organza, or jersey. Fabrics like velvet and satin are best reserved for winter holidays.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
.
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Organizing small closets


Dear Kathi,

I have a really hard time storing my clothes. My closet is very small and I can’t get everything to fit inside. How can I optimize my incredible shrinking closet?

Cathy O, Cardiff

Cathy,

Use as much vertical space as possible within your closet.
Maximize your overhead closet space by installing a long shelf just above the clothes bar. If you already have a long shelf, see if there is enough space to add another above it. Use shelf dividers to keep your piles neat. Baskets also keep items separated and tidy. This is a smart spot for jeans, sweaters and bulky wardrobe items.
Stack 2-4 shoe shelves next to your closet to free up the interior shelf space. If you have a large vertical area just outside of your closet, consider adding a tall bookshelf.
Increase the use of your new exterior shelves by adding pre-made drawers or shallow boxes that fit on each shelf. These lightweight drawers are handy for delicate items. If you are on a budget, you can use shoe or gift boxes. Simply apply a coat of bright paint that coordinates with your room colors and you have a well put together look. If you wish to camouflage your shelved items, hang a piece of fabric or a roll-up blind to fit the front of your shelf.
Install a few hooks strategically on the inside walls of your closet to stow your pajamas and other daily wear items.
Use the back of your door to add space to your closet.
Install a thin drapery or towel rod on the inside of your closet door to hang folded scarves & belts. Gloves & other small items can also be kept here with shower curtain clips attached to the rod.
Remember, most importantly, purge your wardrobe as you are optimizing your closet. Keep in mind that you probably only wear 20% of the clothes that you are storing. Releasing clothing items will make your usable space much more rewarding.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

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Recycling Old Paint Just Got Easier!

 

 

The days of opening up your old cans of paint and waiting months for them to dry out before you can toss them into the trash is over. There is a new solution in town ~ Paint Care!

Here’s the skinny, taken directly from their website”

PaintCare, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, was created by the American Coatings Association (ACA), who, working with state and local government stakeholders, passed the first paint stewardship law in the United States in the state of Oregon in 2009. This legislation provided for a pilot program for an industry-led program to manage postconsumer (leftover) paint. The program in Oregon was made permanent in June 2013.

PaintCare has also set up programs in California and Connecticut and is planning programs for four other states that have passed similar legislation: Rhode Island, Vermont, Minnesota and Maine. We expect similar legislation to be introduced in several other states in the next few years.

Prior to PaintCare, the best options for residents to recycle or dispose of unwanted paint were government-run household hazardous waste (HHW) facilities and special one-day “round-up” events with limited days, hours and locations. In states with PaintCare, many new paint drop-off locations are established, mostly at paint retailers who volunteer to take back paint. These retailers take back paint during regular business hours making paint recycling and disposal much more convenient for the public.

In parts of the U.S. that previously instructed people to dry out old latex paint and put it in the trash, we now encourage people to take it to a PaintCare drop-off site so we can sort it and recycle more paint. Post-consumer paint can be collected for reuse, recycling, energy recovery, or safe disposal, but doing so requires public awareness and a convenient and effective infrastructure that exceeds local government budgets and capacity in many parts of the United States.

Click here to find your closest donation station.

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A Messy Pantry Gets Organized

Pantry Before

Before:  A mother asked for our help when she became fed up with her disorganized pantry. Her 3 kids would make a mess every time they went in there, so we needed to develop a system that everyone would understand and follow.

 

Pantry After

After:  We created zones and made better use of the can stacking device and lazy susan that were underutilized in the space. The can stacking device, which was pushed in the back of the pantry is now front and center. The lazy susan is in the back corner housing sauces and other liquids, and a quick spin keeps anything from getting lost in the corner.

Pantry After

We also moved all of the kids’ favorite foods to 2 shelves that they can easily reach. The kids’ section is in the back of the pantry rather than right by the door so that if they do make a mess, the rest of the pantry is still accessible. We containerized the kids’ snacks, bread, and sandwich ingredients in clear plastic double shoeboxes. We also put cereal into tall, clear plastic containers. This eliminated stale, unsealed cereal bags and empty boxes from going back on the shelf.

Pantry After

The shelves near the entry of the pantry are now used for Dad’s supplements and bars as well as canned and dry goods that the kids don’t use.

We also made a zone for baking items like sprinkles, food coloring, etc and those are now in a lidded container behind the more often used items, to be pulled out when needed.

Pantry After

We containerized medicines, separated by type so they can easily be found when needed. We also made room for sodas which use to live outside the pantry.  We made sure to keep them in a plastic container as they had leaked in the past.

Finally, we labeled all containers so there is no question as to where things belong. This is a very important step when you need everyone in the family to work together to keep an area organized!

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Organizing toys

Dear Kathi,

I have five kids and their toys have taken over my house. How can I handle storing my children’s toys and keepsakes without sacrificing my entire home?

Annie, Del Mar

Annie,

Start by sorting through your toy collection. Gather your children and have them group all of their toys together into separate piles. Each child can then choose what toys and keepsakes they wish to keep. You will be surprised how fast and decisive they are at clearing out their clutter. Children are normally much less sentimentally attached to their belongings than adults.
Hold a toy garage sale to get rid of the cast-off toys. Let your kids keep the profits. If a sale is too time-consuming, donate. Help your children select the local charity where they will donate their items. Take them with you when you deliver the donation. Being a part of this process, your kids will learn about giving, feel a sense of accomplishment and will more likely be willing to help on the next clearing spree.
When you have successfully cleared the old abandoned toys, take action and create a separate holding zone for each child’s toys. A large container works well because it creates a physical limit on the amount of toys each child can own. If your child wants a new toy, he/she will need to give away an item to create space within their bin for the new toy. Let your kids know that they are responsible for returning their toys to their individual storage containers before bed. These excercises will teach your children how to remain clutter-free throughout life.
Have a permanent donation box set aside in your home for unwanted items. Your family will soon develop the automatic habit of releasing old and unwanted items on a regular basis. As the “donate box” becomes a permanent part of your life, you will happily and easily clear at least one box of old possessions every month!
For the remaining keepsakes, put a trunk at the foot of each child’s bed or use an under-the-bed box. As they grow, you can add items to it and than send it off with them when they leave the nest.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

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Keep bathroom countertops clean and organized

Dear Kathi,

My bathroom makes me want to scream. I hate trying to find my makeup and cleaning the counter and sink area is terrible. What can I do to make it better?

Josie, Lake Hodges

Josie,

It sounds like you have too much makeup for your counter space. Keep your daily-wear makeup in a pretty bowl or basket on the counter. A basket contains everyday makeup items in a snap and looks organized even when your items are tossed in as you rush out the door.

This would be a good time to clear out your make-up clutter. The more make-up you have, the less likely you are to use any of it. Use the year-after-purchase rule: toss anything half used. Once your collection is downsized, you are ready to create new storage areas.

Hang a shoe organizer on the back of the door. Fill the pockets with your extra make up, hair ties and barrettes. If you don’t have the door space, consider hanging a few small box shelves on the wall by your mirror. These shelves will combine functionality with organization. Use smaller containers within the shelves to group your lipsticks, makeup brushes and eye shadows together.

Your bathroom will be much easier to take care of if you keep your other loose countertop items i.e. shave crème, deodorant & hairsprays together in a basket or ceramic container. When you clean, simply move the container & wipe the counter with one motion.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
.

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Purchasing quality shirts

 

Dear Kathi,

I am getting ready to restock my dress shirts. In the past I have always just bought whatever shirts were on sale. Now I would like to buy better quality shirts but need some details to make an informed decision. Do you have any tips about finding the best quality?

John, Cardiff by the Sea

John,

As you restock your shirt collection, look for pearl buttons. All quality shirts will have mother of pearl buttons. These buttons wear longer than manmade buttons that tend to crack & discolor after a few visits to the drycleaners. Verify that buttons and buttonholes are sewn tightly, with no unraveled thread. In general, the more buttons a shirt has, the higher quality it is; spare buttons are an added plus.

Inspect fabrics to make sure patterns line up at the seams especially at the shoulders, collar and sewn-on (patch) pockets. When purchasing striped shirts, make sure the buttonhole is running right through the middle of the pattern or lying plumb between the center of the two stripes.
Verify that all stitches are secure and straight. You should see about 8 to 12 stitches per inch. Examine hems, which should be nearly invisible. Hemmed bottoms should hang straight and not curl or pucker.
The seams on a good shirt will lay flat and the extra fabric will be minimal. Confirm that patch pockets lie perfectly flat against the cloth, with no space between the pocket and the front of the garment. While holding the garment upright, make sure that the pocket doesn’t hang away from the front.

Try on a shirt before buying it. Button it fully, making sure that buttons are placed well so that the shirt doesn’t gape open across the chest.
Good shirts, while more expendable than suits, are worth the money they cost, within limits. No shirt, unless it’s made-to-measure, is worth more than $150. If you’re going to spend more than that, have it made for your body.

As an aside, it’s always good to wrap your buttons in tin foil before dropping your shirts off at the cleaners and always ask them to scrub the collar. Good luck and happy shopping!

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
.

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Organize and Prioritize

Dear Kathi,

I am determined to use my time more effectively this year. I often have too many tasks to complete with not enough time. I constantly have to make choices and am often at a loss with which tasks to postpone until later. Help!
Bernie, Del Mar

Bernie,
You will do well to prioritize your list of tasks at the beginning of each day. Time is your most precious resource. It cannot be replaced but it can be optimized.

The very act of taking a moment to think about your time before you spend it will begin to improve your personal time management instantly.
As you go about your day, reallocate activities of lower value to activities of higher value as you complete the highest priorities on your list.
Be diligent and reshuffle your priorities as needed. The best schedule is one that is flexible and able to seize the golden opportunities as they present themselves. Have a fabulous 2005!

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com 
San Diego Professional Organizer

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