The Valuation Of Possessions …

There is a difference between the value of an object and how it actually fits in your life. One of the challenges that I face when working with my clients is their idea of what is valuable.  This usually occurs when we are paring down possessions and a client is hesitant to let something go because of what he or she paid for it and what it was worth in the past.    For instance, I have a client who is holding onto a very old dining room set she and her ex-husband acquired over 25 years ago. Their marriage ended 12 years ago and she has since moved to a much smaller home in which this dining room set is much too large for the dining room itself.  In fact with the set in the room there is actually no room to move around so the room and the set are effectively unusable. In addition, she identified that she dislikes entertaining and having people over for dinner so to have a dining room set does not even fit into this client’s life.

The space could be better used in a way that reflects her lifestyle. Yet she does not wish to let go of this set because she paid over $20,000.00 for it in 1988 and it is still in very good condition.   If you ever find yourself saying “hey, I paid a lot of money for that” you are evaluating the object based on its past value, not the present value.  If the item is of no use to you now and not important to your present life, the fact that you paid a lot for it doesn’t change the fact that it is taking up valuable real estate in your home and actually costing you more in terms of time, energy and space to store, clean and maintain.  Why do this when you get no benefit from it when you could actually sell or donate the item to someone who could benefit from it.


What are you holding onto that is no longer a benefit to you?

Paring Down Your Vases?

How many vases is too many vases?  I have been in client’s homes assisting with their organizational needs and it never fails that we come across vases in the kitchen, in the dining room, sometimes even plopped down somewhere in the basement.  We all have received them for birthdays, get well’s, anniversaries etc. yet we rarely go through them all to determine what to keep and what to pitch.  Of course, my clients are often surprised by just how many they have when we actually put them all together on a table.

I recommend to my clients that, depending on how often they receive and display flowers, they keep anywhere from 3 to 5 maximum. Remember that many vases can serve a multitude of purposes.  Also remember that if you don’t have the perfect vase you will likely have something else in your home that you could use as one.  For instance, a ceramic or glass water pitcher or cylindrical pot can work just as well.

Vases take up alot of precious space. When paring down your vases, donate those that you rarely use & don’t really like.  We all have those favorites that we continue to use time and time again.  Ideally, you want to keep a small, medium and a large in a shape that can be multifunctional. When a new one comes into the house, don’t feel obligated to keep it.  Decide if it should stay and if so, which one of your existing vases it should replace. If you never display flowers, that’s okay too.  Then perhaps you need only keep one that is multifunctional for that special occasion.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much space you have freed up!


Spring Cleaning – Storage Locker Organization

As you know from my previous post, I was faced with the challenge of organizing two condominium storage lockers for “spring cleaning”.  It was quite a challenge as the owner of the lockers, as well as his two sons, are sports enthusiasts and involved in everything from hockey, lacrosse, golf, fishing to mountain biking and more. The main storage locker had to accommodate all the sports gear for easy transitioning from one type of sport to another, as well as store all seasonal items.  As you can see from these photos, the locker was an obstacle course and in a state of disorganization making it virtually impossible to maneuver and reach anything without tripping and falling over stuff.

Storage Locker Before OrganizingStorage Locker Before Organizing

Faced with two concrete walls and two wire grid walls, being creative and having a vision was essential to be successful in this project.  Most condominiums have very strict rules regarding storage lockers and what you can and cannot do.  Utilizing new storage shelving, re-configuring the space and sectioning off parts of the locker into specific zones for sports and seasonal holiday items was the most efficient and functional way to work through this project without breaking any condominium rules. My client was so excited about this project that within 30 minutes of starting the final organization and set up session, he actually sent his girlfriend down to see what was happening with the space.  Then not long after that he came down himself, on 2 or 3 different occasions, to “nonchalantly” check it out and see the transformation take place. He was like a little boy at Christmas, he just couldn’t wait.  When I completed the final touches and he came down for the big reveal, he was in fact thrilled with the outcome.  Here’s the picture I took after the project was completed.

It was a challenging experience and the outcome was a successful transformation into a fully accessible, safe and functional space. Look! You can even see the floor! What’s your next challenge?









The Upside To Downsizing

Believe it or not, there is an upside to downsizing.  In addition to the benefits of getting organized in general, such as:

  • Reduced stress and frustration
  • Improved quality of life
  • Increased energy & productivity
  • Paying your bills on time

there is also an opportunity for you to start a more secure and socially active way of life with more free time and the ability to do more of the things you enjoy and things that are important to you.

When you downsize you reduce the amount of stuff you own.  In doing so, you may also find you have more space.  For example,  wouldn’t it be great if you could actually store your car in the garage! I can’t tell you how many clients I have that are simply unable to do that because of the all the “stuff” currently situated in that space.  Imagine that! Actually putting your car into a garage!

And let’s face it.  Many seniors need room to move around in a space.  Too much stuff creates barriers to safe living.

If barriers exist due to excess furniture and belongings, you’ll need to downsize your living space to reduce the amount of furniture in your home.

But scaling down from many rooms to just a few is a massive job.  What’s really important is the type and amount of furniture that will fit in your new space. There will be instances where some spaces may have to do double duty.  For instance, in your new home the living room may also have  to serve as your office or your craft room. This means looking for items for your home that are multi-functional, such as a console/sofa table that you can also use as your desk. You’ll need to be creative.

When it comes to downsizing, start with a single step.  If you love it, keep it, if you don’t, use the opportunity to let it go.

 Ultimately, downsizing is also the process of sorting through all kinds of stuff to determine what is most meaningful and important. By removing the clutter, the treasures that are most meaningful will have more space so they can be treasured EVEN MORE!!!



Many are doing it for a better quality of life.  So can you.  Are you up for the challenge?

Organizing a Pinball Workshop

This has to be one of my favorite projects to work on.  This wonderful gentleman with a great sense of humour called to say he really needed my  help with his workshop.  As a pinball hobbyist in his spare time he fixes and refurbishes pinball machines back from the time when I was growing up including the newer models of machines.  When I visited his basement workshop to assess the project, there were literally hundreds of tools and miscellaneous items strewn throughout the shop, various pinball machines in different stages of repair (or disrepair as the case may be) as well as tons of little parts, glass templates, schematics, and various household workshop items. It was virtually impossible for anyone to work in the space or let alone find anything.

Workshop Entry View Before Organizing

 As we began the process of sorting items, we came upon dozens of items for which there were doubles, triplicates and more.  All  because this gentleman couldn’t see what he owned, so he just kept buying more of what he thought he needed. I’ve never seen so many utility knives and screw drivers in one workshop before!  By the end of our project, my client had generously donated literally hundreds of dollars of tools to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  Of course, part of this process of sorting and categorizing provided me with a pretty good education in  pinball machine parts one could only dream of.  In fact, I dreamt of pinball flippers, thumper bumper parts, coils, bulbs, fuses, ball bearings, springs and more! Of course, the goal for this project was to have every item sorted, categorized and contained so that my client could see exactly what he had for tools, parts and accessories. This took a lot of planning and a clear vision for the outcome.

The end result was pretty spectacular given that we were working within a budget and making every attempt to use containers that were already available to us in the space.  We did need to purchase shelving for the shop as well as a number of specific containers, but overall cost for products was less than $250.00.  At the end of  the last session when I was completing the final set up, my client asked that he be led into the room with his eyes closed just like on television. Upon entering the room and opening his eyes his reaction could not have been any better.  After a couple of  “omigods” and “wows”  from both him and his wife, they could not seem to believe their eyes. Workshop After Organizing

 This was the first time I actually received goosebumps from a client’s reaction.  Maybe I should have them all come in with their eyes closed! It was great and they are thrilled.  And even better than that?  He invited me to play a game of pinball on one of his refurbished machines.  I scored over 100,000 points (probably not too exciting for most people) and it brought me back to my teenage days. And today he sent me an email saying he was moving into his workshop he loved it that much! Goosebumps, pinball, happy clients…..what more could I ask for!?  When was the last time your clients gave you goosebumps?

Downsizing for Seniors

Downsizing is a tough process in and of itself. For seniors, taking the plunge is even harder. One thing to make it easier it to remove the guilt factor. Although you may feel you’re the one who has to be the keeper of all heirlooms in the family, there are other options. Perhaps there are other family members who would like some of the heirlooms you are closeting in your home, especially if you are in fact storing them as opposed to using them. In sharing with other family members you can feel secure in knowing that they really want them and will be the one to inherit them. I recently did this myself with some items that my father had given to me before he moved back to Amsterdam. I no longer had a physical place to store them, and knowing that they always have a place in my heart made it easier for me to share the items with others in the family who would be in a position to enjoy them more. And remember, the item is not the memory. The memory lives within you, not in the item itself.

Downsizing And Discovery

If you’re downsizing as a result of an impending move, and you’ve lived a long time with plenty of space, when you sort through and begin culling your belongings it might well become a trip down memory lane. Many of my clients find unfinished crochet or knitting projects, unused art supplies and such along the way. This often provides inspiration to return to hobbies that have been lost. When this happens, I suggest that you create a special nook just for your hobby, such as finding a place for your easel or weaving rack in your new home. Bring these wonderful creative activities back to a place of prominence in your life by giving them a prominent place in your new space.