Archive | home organizing

How to get the new home feeling without moving

Moving.

The never-ending sea of stacked boxes..
The stuff you’ve accumulated over the years..
The physical act of moving it all to a new space…

It’s stressful.
In fact, it is listed as one of the most stressful life events right up there with divorce, job loss and death.

It can make you want to hide in a cardboard box like this woman on Twitter.

But moving doesn’t have to be stressful.

It can be an opportunity for a fresh start.
Moving can help you reinvent your space, your habits and lifestyle.
It can give you a chance to make the changes you so desperately wish and maybe even need to make.

Today, I am going to take some of the stress out of your move and show you how to effortlessly set up your new home so you can have the real fresh start you desire.

(Psst… Not moving, but yearning for the feeling of a new home? Not to worry. What I am going to share will help you too. This exercise will show you how to effortlessly refresh your space, without moving, in a matter of 15-minutes.)

Okay. Now down to business.
I have a question for you.

Have you ever thought about how much time you spent in your house before you decided to rent or purchase it?

The truth: Probably 30-minutes. Isn’t that crazy?
The biggest investment of your life is made in 30-minutes.

It’s mind-blowing really.

In those 30-minutes you were probably hyper-focused on your love of the big windows, the neighborhood, the crown molding, spacious kitchen or the dining room and the furniture you could purchase to fill it.

You didn’t think about where the laundry baskets go.
You didn’t think about how you had one less closet in this house.
You didn’t think about where the pile of clothes would inevitably start to accumulate during busy weeks.

That’s what happened to my client, Jen.
Jen and her family moved into their new dream home and a year later felt overwhelmed by dysfunction and mess.

To help her start fresh again we did a house tour.
So what’s a house tour?

It’s basically when you go through your house, room by room and assess what is working for you and what isn’t.

While I took Jen through the house tour to plan her fresh start she had a few powerful epiphanies. She realized in that brief walk thru that she had set up her new home exactly how it had been staged when she purchased it.

She put all the furniture in the exact same places even if it didn’t really fit.
Jen had really just adapted to the house.
She didn’t think about how the house could adapt to her life, her family and their needs.

So what happened after the house tour?
I gave Jen a simple design and organizing ideas and tips she could use to instantly refresh her space.
Here is what she did:

  • Jen changed their dining room into a playroom for her kids. They never used the dining room so this was an easy change. They even made some money from this decision. They sold the furniture and made a couple extra hundred bucks.

  • She lined the walls of the coat closet with hooks. It took the hangers out of the equation and made putting coats away super simple. Random winter coats never ended up on furniture or in piles on the floor.

  • She bought over-the-door shoe organizers and hung them on the back of her kid’s bedroom doors for all their little “treasures”.

  • She also replaced the ugly “builder boobs” light fixtures with more stylish light fixtures which not only looked better but also gave off better light.

Jen told me the best part was that now every Saturday instead of spending the first few hours of their day trying to clean up the mess of the week, they were able to go on a fun new adventure with the entire family.

You can have this kind of fresh start too.

Here’s a 30-minute exercise which will help you go through each room and find quick and easy design and organizing ways to make it feel like home again.

Step one: Get a piece of paper for each room in your house that needs some TLC.  Go sit in each room and make a list of all the changes you want to see in that space. Pretend that time and money are not issues. (Also don’t forget the little things you’d like to fix. If there is a room that needs a new light bulb or your doorknob is loose on your guest bedroom,  write it down.)

Step two: Prioritize the list for each room.  Generally I recommend starting with what bothers you the most, or if budget is an issue, then start with the issue that is the least expensive to fix.

Step three: Prioritize the rooms. While this may feel “pie in the sky,” it’s actually very helpful. This will become your plan of where to focus your attention.

Step four: Start with your first room!  This is not a race, more like a marathon so pace yourself.  And keep in mind the three budgets that everyone has to work with – money, time and energy.

To new beginnings of every kind.

 

 

P.S. Need a one-on-one reinvention intervention? Get 10% off my design and organizing services until July 31st at midnight! Book your session HERE.

What my mother taught me about creating an organized home…

 

My mother made our house a home.

She made every inch feel comfortable and warm.  She is the one who transformed the rooms, walls and space into an ideal place to grow, learn, dream and become.

With Mother’s Day right around the corner, I can’t help but think about all the lesson’s my mother has taught me over the years about creating an organized home.

She truly taught me how to make any space a sanctuary.

It would be impossible for me to pick one lesson, and say this is the one that changed my life. However, today I’d love to share one lesson she taught me, that as an interior designer and organizer, I’ve used in my clients’ homes and my own home to INSTANTLY create more space without spending a dime.

For those who don’t know, I grew up in a traditional four bedroom home in Michigan. There was plenty of room for our family of six, but that didn’t stop my mom from constantly finding better ways to organize the space we had.

My mother is and was an innovative soul. Money was not abundant growing up, but instead of complaining about the lack of resources my mother got creative.

She started organizing.

She started thinking outside the box.

She started by creating a sweater closet.

There was a linen closet between our bedrooms. It was filled with towels. My mother moved all of the towels to the bathroom vanities.  Instead of folding the towels she rolled them up tightly so they would all fit. Then she filled the empty linen closet between our bedrooms with our sweaters.

I loved this sweater closet.

My mother and I were able to easily share sweaters, which was so much fun, and it also INSTANTLY created more space in our bedroom closets. I remember being surprised that this one act, the invention of the sweater closet, could change the way our home functioned.  

I have to say, my mother didn’t stop with the sweater closet. She took the doors off a closet in the laundry room so she could easily hang clothes fresh from the dryer. She made a space for me and my sister  in our bedrooms to blow dry our hair, so four kids never had to battle over the one bathroom.  When we started to move out, my mother turned one of the small bedrooms into the walk-in closet she had always dreamed of having…

In these moments, my mother didn’t just teach me to be resourceful. Really what she taught me, was to never wait for the perfect circumstancesShe taught me that nothing was perfect and that imperfection wasn’t a tragedy – it was an opportunity.

She taught me your home can be anything you make it and it doesn’t require a thousands of dollars, a complete redesign or drastic move to a bigger home.  

Sometimes, it just requires a creative eye.

In honor of Mother’s Day I am offering 10% off my 2-Hour Initial Consultation (through the end of June). If you want someone to help you create more space in your home, book a consultation here with me today.

GET STARTED.

Or if your wife or another woman in your life could use a creative eye and a little support with organizing, spread the love.

GIFT IT

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Don’t Host Thanksgiving Without Doing This To Your Kitchen

Don't Host Thanksgiving Without Doing THIS to Your Kitchen! Sara Eizen - Seattle Interior Designer

Can you believe it’s already mid-October? That means Thanksgiving is coming up next month, and all of the big gatherings, meals, and celebrations that come along with the holidays.

As much as I love fall weather, cozy sweaters, and family meals, I want to be clear on one thing: I’m no Martha Stewart!!

I don’t think you need perfectly folded napkins, place cards, handmade crafts, and artful holiday décor in order to make a holiday special.

I think all that really matters is bringing together the people you love over a good meal.

But here’s the thing: If your kitchen is cluttered, makes you stressed, or is filled with bottlenecks and confusion, you’re going to spend more of Thanksgiving hunting for things and running behind than actually relaxing and enjoying this special time with your friends and family.

So if you’re planning on hosting a big Thanksgiving meal this year, don’t do it without doing this first:

Declutter and organize your kitchen!

Take a look at your kitchen now and resolve to do some serious decluttering before you jump into hosting a Thanksgiving meal.

I’ll give you two big reasons why:

First, you shouldn’t have to worry about where to find things when you’re trying to focus on your friends and family. You should be able to relax and simply enjoy the time together.

And second, if your kitchen is organized and not too cluttered, it will be much easier for your guests to move around in the kitchen and help you cook and clean up – major win!

Ready to get started?

Here are some of my best kitchen decluttering tips, just in time for Thanksgiving:

Brighten up your cabinet interiors

As the skies get darker and stormier and the days get shorter, a bright, warm kitchen can become a cozy oasis for your family and your guests.

This fall could be the perfect time to brighten up your cabinet interiors. Try painting only the interiors with a fresh coat of paint in a fun color like light turquoise. Or maybe it’s enough to simply clean the grime and dust that builds up in the interiors and get them sparkling a little bit. Or, what if you even remove the cabinet doors completely? That way you can let your prettiest dishes and glassware do the work of brightening up your kitchen, without having to tackle any painting projects.

As an added bonus, having bright, friendly, and well-organized cabinet interiors will make it easier for guests to serve themselves when they need something or help you set the table. The more help you get, the less time you have to spend running around in the kitchen and more time you can spend relaxing (and eating) with family and friends this Thanksgiving.

 

Make sure you can easily access crucial cooking tools

Besides the turkey, baking sweets is probably the most time consuming aspect of the Thanksgiving meal. To help all the baking and cooking go smoothly when you’re crunched for time, it is crucial to make sure all your most-used cooking tools – including measuring cups, measuring spoons, mixer attachments, and even cutting boards – are easy to access and organized beforehand. I love to hang hooks on the inside of a cabinet doors to hang these items up so you don’t have to dig for them. I’ve even seen people use desk organizers to hold cutting boards on a cabinet door. Brilliant!

Maximize your counter space

When you’re hosting a Thanksgiving meal – even a small one – you’re likely going to be dealing with a lot of different dishes coming together right before the meal. This is true whether you’re doing all the cooking yourself or if you’re doing it potluck style.

And that means you’re going to need as much surface area and free counter space as possible – more than you normally need for your everyday uses right now. So here’s what you do: put anything non-essential away. Since a lot of kitchens are already short on storage space, this could mean making the most of all your vertical space in creative ways. You can even put items that you’re unlikely to use for Thanksgiving or holiday meals on top of your cabinets – or, if there’s enough space between the cabinets and the ceiling, you can even add a second row of shelving.

Organize your plastic Tupperware

Leftovers are one of the best parts of the Thanksgiving meal. But getting stuck with all the leftovers can be frustrating, right?

After all, pumpkin pie is great, but no one wants to eat it for 3 straight days, or have mashed potatoes as your side with every meal for the rest of the week.

My favorite trick is to send my guests home with the leftovers. That way, everyone gets to enjoy a bit more of the Thanksgiving meal, but no one has to live off of it all week. That means now is the perfect time to organize your Tupperware drawer or cabinet. Find all of the cheap plastic Tupperware that you’re okay with never seeing again and make sure it is ready to go on Thanksgiving.

If you’re extra sneaky, you can use this golden opportunity to get rid of Tupperware that no longer fits its lid or doesn’t have a matching lid, because you can simply cover the tops with plastic wrap for your guest’s ride home.

Source: The Kitchn

Source: The Kitchn

Separate and organize your pots, pans, and lids

We often try to keep pots pans and lids together in the kitchen. Make sense right? Keeping like things together? But the truth is there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to get a dish started and having to dig around to try to find the right pot with the right lid to match it. And since you’re going be cooking so many simultaneous meals on Thanksgiving, now is the time to get organized with your pot, pans, and lids.

I recommend separating them simply because they’re all such different shapes. Use a shallow drawer for lids only, or attach a small towel rod to the inside of a cabinet door to hold the lids. You can stack pans on their own or even pick up a simple wire pan organizer to keep your pans organized and easy to access. That way you can grab one pan without disturbing the other ones.

Source: The Kitchn

Source: The Kitchn

Source: The Kitchn

Source: The Kitchn

Source: The Kitchn

Source: The Kitchn

If you’re ready to take things to the next level with your pots and pans – and kitchen organization in general, you have to check out one of my favorite tools for kitchen organization: Shelf Genie! They make these amazing custom-designed pull-out shelves that can really transform the way you store things in your kitchen – and help make the most of your space.

They showcased one of my own clients in one of their promo videos – I love that it made such a difference for her!

Store platters and trays vertically

When you stack platters and trays on top of each other, you’re going to have to mess up the pile every time you reach for the one that you want. But if you grab a few cheap tension rods and use them to make vertical dividers in a cabinet or shelf, you can organize platters and trays to stand on their side. That way you can easily grab one without disturbing the whole pile, and you can also easily see all of them at once, which is nearly impossible when you’re looking down on them piled up in a stack.

Source: Bev Cooks

Source: Bev Cooks

Get your pantry in order

This is a crucial step this time of year because during the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, we often find ourselves digging around for spices and ingredients that we don’t often use – such as pumpkin pie filling, condensed milk, certain spices, breadcrumbs, and more.

The pantry is one area of the kitchen that can spiral out of control really quickly. So if your pantry is a little crazy right now, you’re not alone! Get organized in the pantry before the big meal, so that you don’t have to stress when it comes to finding the things you need on the day you do all the cooking.

I love using an over the door shoe organizer on the inside of the pantry door. This is a great way to store little things without taking up valuable shelf space. You can also use a Lazy Susan to store things like spices and canned food so that you can easily see and access what you have on hand, rather than letting the more seldom used cans and spices languish in the back of the pantry.

All of these tricks are easy, affordable, and can be done quickly. Perfect for tackling on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Just make sure you get them done before company comes!

Spring Cleaning in Action!

Spring is the season for renewal, so as you begin to take on those home projects and spring cleaning, I encourage you to think about not only what goes into your home, but also what comes out!

With spray bottles and cleaners in hand, you are ready to tackle! But wait — how can you get to those surfaces that need cleaning if there’s stuff in the way? Yes, my friends, this is your handy dandy list for what to do with those no longer needed items.

Whether it’s something valuable that you want to sell, clothes that you no longer need, or electronic waste that you just want to get rid of (safely), this list should have some great resources for you. And if you need a little more help, don’t forget, I’m just a phone call or an email away!

Sell It
If what you have is something worth any value, you might be reluctant to simply toss it or donate it. By now, most of us are familiar with Craigslist, but there are other options, including local consignment stores. Take a look around your area for the consignment store that will fit your needs, or revisit this post for a list of my favorite consignment stores in the Seattle area.

A friend recently introduced me to OfferUp, which is very similar to Craigslist, but all done via text messages and photos taken by your smartphone, and especially important – all local! One of the things that really impresses me about this company is their TruYou, a method of validating sellers and thereby adding a bit more trust into any transaction.

Home Building & Renovation Materials
As you’re tackling those home remodeling projects, consider donating reusable building supplies and fixtures to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Second Use or The ReStore. All of these organizations take those fixtures that you no longer want in your own home and either donate them to needy projects or sell them in their stores to raise money for needy projects. Added bonus: those items are diverted from the landfill!

 

Donated Home Goods and Clothing
If you have items for around the house, such as linens, pots & pans, furniture, etc. consider donating to The Sharehouse. This organization takes those items (in good condition) and gives them to families and individuals moving from homelessness into housing. For a complete list of acceptable items, please check out their website.

Clothing and other material items can always be taken to Value Village, Goodwill, etc. Some schools in the area also host clothing drives sponsored by organizations such as Clothes For A Cause. I also especially love Free The Girls – an organization that accepts gently used bras and gives them to girls and women getting out of the sex trade!

Electronic Goods
It is impossible in this day and age not to have at least a few no longer needed electronics laying about. If that is you, take a look at Total Reclaim and 1 Green Planet. Eco waste continues to be a growing strain, so responsible recycling is a must. Some companies, such as Apple, have take-back programs to recycle outdated components, from iPhones and iPods to computers.

©2017 Sara Eizen, All rights reserved.