5 Key Benefits of Moving To A Condominium

Home Organizing Secondary Page PhotoAs many of us age we find that we’re looking at condominiums as an alternative to owning a larger home or as an alternative to moving to a seniors’ residence.

Condominiums are taking a bigger piece of the real estate pie recently, both with the young and the “not so young”. If you are in this particular category here are some key benefits to condominium ownership that you may or may not have thought of.

Less maintenance

There will be a lot less maintenance owning a condo, not only on the outside but the inside as well. No more grass to cut and trim, no more driveways to shovel and no more repairs to the furnace, siding or other unexpected expenses that come up.

There is much less maintenance on the inside as well due to decreased living space to clean or to repaint. If you love to tend a garden many condos now have roof top garden plots for you to grow your own vegetables or herbs or just to plant your favourite flowers.

Location

Many of us have left the hustle and bustle of the city and moved to a quieter area with a bit of property situated on a bit more than a postage sized lot. As we get older we appreciate being closer to theatres, restaurants and excellent health care. Most condos are now being built in the city within a short distance to all of these must have conveniences. Condos are being built in all areas of the major cities, not just in the downtown areas where all the action (noise) is.

Amenities

How would you like to have a swimming pool, movie theatre, billiards’ room, terrace, entertainment room and gym all in your home? Well, all of these are at your disposal with most of today’s modern condos. If you are worried about not having room for a large group, fear not. Most condos have rooms that you can book for large groups to have private dinners or parties that even have their own kitchens.

So if you love to cook for a large family or gathering of friends, don’t worry about that not being an option….in the new condos it is!

Resale value

It is no surprise that real estate values have gone through the roof over the last several years. What is surprising is that condos are at the top of the list for number of units sold and increase in value over the last year.

Most people just cannot afford a detached home these days and are turning to condos to get their foot into the real estate market.

Affordability

As stated above, most homes have soared in value and selling your current home and purchasing a condo can provide an influx of cash to be added to your current retirement savings. The average detached home price in the city of Toronto recently hit $1 million. The average condo price is now about $400K. That leaves a lot of equity that can be added to your retirement savings.

If you are thinking of downsizing and purchasing a condominium make sure you not only enlist the help of a trusted real estate agent but also a trusted and insured professional organizer to help you with the critical decisions that are required in any downsizing and organizing project and make your move a smooth transition for years to come!

5 Crucial Tips To Keep Your Summer Move Organized

The moving season is slowly upon us, and if you’ve moved before, you know how chaotic and daunting it can be. Don’t panic! You can get organized and eliminate stress before the moving truck arrives. Here are five easy tips to set you up for success and ensure that your move is organized and worry-free.

Downsizing and Moving1. Start Early

Eliminate last minute scrambling and stress by starting to pack early. Start in areas where you keep items that are not used often, such as the attic and garage. Even if you pack a box every other day, in a month you will have packed fifteen boxes!

2. Leave it Behind

It’s expensive, time-consuming, and unnecessary to move things that you don’t really need. If you don’t use the item now, you likely won’t use in your new home either. Before you start packing, get rid of old items such as clothing, toys and anything you no longer need.

Donate anything that can still be used to a charity or if you want to make some extra cash, host a garage sale.

3. Get Some Helpers

Full service movers are great, but not everyone can afford them. Enlist the help of some friends and family, and turn it into a social event with a BBQ to celebrate the move.

And if you have kids who are old enough, get them to help as well! Whatever you do, don’t go at it alone – you will be a lot more efficient (and won’t go crazy) with some friends and family members helping you pack and unpack.

4. Use a Priority Labeling System

Unpacking can seem completely overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Remember, everything you pack does not have to be unpacked right away in your new home.

When packing, use a priority labeling system. For example, if a box contains essential items, such as bedding, label it Priority #1. If the contents of a box are important, but not essential, label the box Priority #2. Other boxes will contain things that you won’t need right away, such as holiday items and out of season clothing. These can be labeled Priority #3.

When you begin unpacking in your new home, you will know what order to tackle your boxes in (#1, #2, and then #3). This is just an example, you can use any method of labeling that makes sense to you.

5. Make a Plan

If you use the labeling tip above, you have already made packing and unpacking a lot easier for yourself, but that’s only part of the hurdle.

Before you actually start packing and unpacking, sit down with your family or helpers and go over a plan.

You should discuss where things will go, who is responsible for what, and what you absolutely have to unpack the first night. Having a plan in place will help things run much more smoothly.

For most people, moving is a chaotic and stressful process. Starting early, leaving unnecessary things behind, enlisting some helpers, using a priority labeling system and having a plan in place can be tremendously helpful. I hope that these five tips have helped you and best of luck with your move!

If getting organized and packed for a move is just too overwhelming for you, contact me here to learn how we can ease your pain.

5 Reasons Cluttered Homes Don’t Sell

De-cluttered home that sellsThis article was originally published on the Comfree Blog, where I am a frequent contributor. You can view the original article here.

You’ve got several people in line to take a look at your house that you’ve just put up for sale. The lawn is immaculate, the driveway is as smooth as glass, and there isn’t a single wrinkle in your clothes. However, behind closed doors lies a completely different story.

“I know where to find everything in my own house!” you might argue. That might very well be true for you, but what about the couple looking at your home for the first time? Are they convinced?

It turns out that it does matter to other people whether your home is presented as spic and span or as the remnants of a hurricane. The “hygiene” of your house can potentially be the difference between a brief, disinterested house tour and an enthusiastic down payment.

Here are five reasons cluttered houses don’t sell and why you should clear the clutter before putting it on the market.

1. First impressions are critical

From the moment a potential buyer sets foot in the house their opinion on how suitable it is as a home depends greatly on first impressions. It makes sense. Why buy something that doesn’t deliver your specific needs?

It’s critical to ensure that every room conveys its purpose. There shouldn’t be plates in the living room nor should there be newspapers scattered in the kitchen. Only when everything is in its rightful place can a potential buyer assume that the house offers living space appropriate to his or her needs.

2. Potential buyers need to be able to visualize themselves in the home

Not that you need to encourage anyone to make themselves feel at home but if you’re hoping to make a sale you want potential buyers to relate to you as a homeowner. The couple taking a look around your living room should be able to picture themselves sitting on the couch with their feet on the coffee table after a long day.

If your couch is covered in dog fur and your coffee table is littered with old mail, chances are they’re not picturing anything of the sort.

3. Buyers want a home with lots of space to live in

Ultimately, you want to present your house as a place that is suitable for comfortable living. Spaciousness is crucial in illuminating the potential of the house in that regard.

With the right furniture arrangement you can make that effort to appease potential buyers and demonstrate that they too can enjoy living in this very house with as much or as little space as they desire. But of course show them more space as opposed to less and let them see what they’re working with.

4. Your closet says a lot about you

Someone taking a look in your bedroom might like to see how much closet space your room has. Probably so they can know how much junk they can store inside without rhyme or reason.

You should not, however, use your closet that way, at least not during a tour of the closet. Everything inside should be neat and orderly. If you have clothes or other items spilling out, a potential buyer might believe that their own mess won’t fit inside. The trick is to avoid presenting them with a mess in order to show off how much space there actually is.

5. Messy home = messy owners

You know that saying “never judge a book by its cover”? Forget that. Consider yourself judged. How you physically present yourself doesn’t matter nearly as much as how you physically present the house, seeing as it’s the house people are interested in buying.

A messy, cluttered house tells potential buyers that the owners have messy, cluttered minds. If you don’t even have time to wash that tower of plates on the kitchen counter, how is anyone supposed to believe that you have time to clean and maintain facilities within the rest of the house?

5 Tips to Getting and Staying Organized at Home

Getting and staying organized at home is not always easy.  If you want to go from clutter to calm, here are a few inexpensive tips to get you started.

1. An old wooden stepladder is a creative way to hold bath and hand towels in a small bathroom where cupboards are non-existent.  You can event paint it to match your decor!

2. Small empty jam jars are a great way to contain cotton swabs, cotton balls and other essential and small hygiene items.

3. Takeout restaurant menus can be stored in a handy binder rather than clogging up one of the few kitchen drawers you have.

4. A coffee table that can double as a storage bench/ottoman is a great way to store video games and accessories, throws or even board games.

5. Instruction manuals (we all seem to have a lot of those) can be stored in either a binder or a clear lidded bin or basket.  I prefer the latter because then I don’t have to fuss with a binder and can just toss the manual easily into a bin.  How often do you really refer to them anyway? And don’t forget to purge the manuals yearly or when you replace old or broken merchandise.

 

Basement Reno Completed!

FINALLY! The day has come when I can say that our basement renovation is done!!! To say that I’m relieved is an understatement. In my last blog post about this project I mentioned that the painters had to come back to repaint the entire basement. Well, believe it or not, after I wrote that post they had to return on 3 more occasions to finish spots and whole sections that they missed or failed to follow the instructions provided by the contractor. In addition, the contractor has to send his foreman back a couple times to correct some pretty poor workmanship. I remain astounded by this but realize it’s time to move on and put this behind me. With all the other outstanding issues now taken care of, its time to put our basement back together and set up the spaces in a functional, efficient and organized manner.

First came the workout area with the placement of our equipment and accessories all on one side of the back room with everything easily retrievable. Second came the playroom/tv room. I gathered all the toys we have for our visiting little ones (all contained in clear bins for easy identification) and they are now situated in that section of the basement. We are still deciding on whether we will purchase a cubby type wall unit for storage of the toys or whether we will simply leave them in the bins for the time being. For now a simple arm chair serves as a comfortable seat for anyone who wishes to “chill” down there. The third area to tackle was my husbands computer area where he checks emails, downloads all sorts of things and syncs his various technology “toys”. We placed an “L” shaped desk unit that we previously had in an enclave area of the basement which is the perfect niche for him to work in. The final area to tackle (and the most challenging at this point) is the workroom where we keep tools, household maintenance items, gift wrap, etc. and which we determined was also going to contain my organizing tools and accessories for the business. If you could only see the size of this little space – it is definitely a challenge.

At the moment everything is on shelving, but not yet organized. When we have a few hours to spare we will begin to organize that final space, using the organizational principle of SPACE (sort, purge, assign, containerize and evaluate). I’m just itching to get that done but my clients come first at the moment and I know that there are a couple of days vacation I will be taking in a couple of weeks when we will definitely get this basement organized completely! For now we live with it and function as best we can. The reality is we can only do so much in the little time we have available. Prioritize, organize and saturate your space with the things that make you happy and enjoy life!

Creative Office Organizing

Sometimes when we’re organizing offices we need to be creative.  It may be because of a lack of space, needing the area for a multiple of purposes and activities, or simply because of the way our client’s function in the space.  For this particular project it was the latter.  Many of my clients are challenged with ADD and ADHD.   Although smart as a whip, our client is challenged with ADHD and therefore paperwork organization was difficult for him. Running a very successful business from home can have it’s drawbacks.  One of those drawbacks is that it can be overwhelming to keep up with all the paperwork that comes with the business. I can certainly attest to that in my own home office. Organization is really the key to maintaining any successful business.  Otherwise things gets lost through the cracks, including cheques!

I thoroughly enjoyed working hands on with this particular client.  He has an amazing sense of humour which can be very helpful for everyone when sorting through papers. Typically, when organizing business documents and paperwork we use file folders.  However, with this particular client, file folders was not a workable solution for him and his way of thinking and working in his space. At least not for his accounting paperwork.  He had already tried to organize with baskets and bins, however the system was not working because pieces were missing from the set up. Working with him we created a bin system of filing accounting papers as well as one special bin strictly to contain papers for filing when he just did not have the time to deal with it. This particular client was not fussy on fancy labelling or worried about aesthetics.  He simply needed a functional system for organizing his papers.  Here’s what we created and what now works efficiently for him:

System for organizing office papers

This may not be a workable solution for everyone but it proves that every client is different and we need to customize our solutions to fit our client’s needs, no matter how diverse. A simple and effective solution to organizing papers for easy filing. No fuss, no muss! What kind of filing system do you use?  I’d love to hear your creative ideas.

 

Gift Wrapping Centre & Craft Storage Organization

So many of my clients request a wrapping centre and craft storage that I thought this would be a good opportunity to share what we did to organize one of our client’s storage rooms. With limited space, wrapping paper and craft products are often relegated to a closet making it difficult for clients to access and find what they need for wrapping or creative ventures.  This client in particular originally had quite a bit of craft and scrap booking products, as well as a large amount of gift wrapping and party items which needed to be contained and stored for easy access and return.  Budget played a major role in this re-organization and we were able to utilize the client’s existing storage units which is always a bonus.

It was essential that the storage was contained within a closet in the finished basement.  Hereare a couple of photos of the closet before we started the project.

Storage area Before OrganizingStorage area Before Organizing

As you can see, there was little organization and the closet was in a state of chaos.  Although the closet went quite deep under the stairwell, there was no access without moving everything out and then back again.  This system (or lack thereof) was not working.  After first sorting and editing the items we were able to see exactly what the client had to store in terms of volume.  With input from our client we were able to create a vision and solution that was workable for the way our client functioned within the space.  She specifically requested that her gift bags were hanging so she could quickly view and pick the right one for the right occasion.  Here is a photo of the closet after our re-organization. The gift wrapping centre storage unit is on the left and the scrapbooking storage unit is on the right. The second photo shows another angle so you can see how access to under the stairs is now possible.

Storage Area After OrganizingStorage Area After Organizing

Finding space can be challenging but with a little creativity, a vision and the right process of organization a workable system can be created and maintained.  Our client can now easily open these drawers, locate what is needed and return items with ease.  Don’t forget to label your drawers so that others in your household can also easily use the new system too!

My Fave 5 Organizing Products

There are certain organizing products that I find I utilize more often due to their functionality and efficient use of space.  I thought I’d share my favorite five with you today, in no particular order.

The first is the NEATKIDS Closet Max Organizing system by NeatFreak.  It’s designed specifically to hold kid-size items, is a very functional, hanging closet organizing system that’s fun, affordable  and even more important, it can grow with your child.  It’s made of durable nylon strapping, has two different patterns to choose from, there’s no tools needed for assembly and it`s super quick to put up, hanging from your existing closet rod.   You can customize and mix and match your pieces. You can check out their website and other products at www.neatfreak.com.

Next on my list is a 6 shelf hanging sweater organizer.  This product hangs from your existing closet rod and is made to hold sweaters neatly in your closet.  However, I like to use it in entry hall closets to hold dress boots.  It keeps them in good shape & off the floor. Retails for approximately $ 24.00 and is available at Solutions – Your Organized Living Store.  www.solutions-stores.ca.

I also love the DAY JA VIEW Recurring Events Calendar.  This calendar won the 2011 Parent Tested, Parent Approved Award. Based on a school year, it’s great for a busy family to track recurring events, activities,  appointments, meeting and projects in minutes and is easy to use for the whole family. Retails for approximately $29.00and is available at www.mydayjaview.com.

The RISE AND HANG Action Pak Duffel Bag by Rise Luggage is an amazing new invention which you will likely hear much more about in the coming months. I’ve talked about it before in one of my earlier blogs.  Born out of the frustration of keeping organized while travelling and not wanting to put clothes in a hotel dresser for fear of germs, bed bugs or mold, the Rise and Hang system effortlessly keeps clothes where they belong.  Shelves within the luggage hold all your clothes organized and in separate compartments and the bottom can be used as a hamper for dirty ones. Normally priced at $59.99, it is currently available at Evex Luggage,Mississauga, Ontario or available at www.riseandhang.com.There is an even better deal as well: On April 29th at the Stouffville Stilettos & Sneakers fundraising event, as a show special they are providing me with a number of these bags for sale for $49.99 so be sure to stop by and grab on.  At this price they will go pretty fast!

And then there is the CLOSETMAID closet storage components. I use these products frequently in closets. Especially the 2 shelf horizontal organizer which is great for organizing shoes on the top shelf or floor of a closet to maximize the use of vertical space. This particular item retails for about $17.00 and can be found at Solutions – Your Organized Living Store.  www.solutions-stores.ca.

I’d love to hear about some of your favorite things you use to organize spaces in your home or office.  Tell me about your creativity! Send me a message and share your stories.

Top 10 Paper Items To Keep Indefinately

Whenever I’m working in offices, whether home or business, the question always arises as to what to keep and for how long. Most people know that for income tax audit purposes you need to keep your tax returns and related papers for seven years.  But what about some of those other papers?  Here’s my top 10 paper items to keep indefinitely.

  1. Birth certificates
  2. Deeds for burial lots
  3. Inventory of household goods, updated periodically
  4. Divorce agreements and Decrees
  5. Citizenship papers
  6. Adoption and custody records
  7. Wills and Powers of Attorney (ensure someone knows where these are)
  8. Death certificate
  9. Record of Employment
  10. Insurance records for claims and payments made

Items that you do want to keep indefinitely should be stored in a safe environment, such as a safety deposit box. Safety deposit box rentals are often difficult to get from financial institutions because of the sheer demand.  Something new is on the horizon for the storage of your valuables.  Essentially a very tiny condo (square inches instead of feet) and fairly expensive, very soon you will be able to purchase one of these units to call your own. Complete with security and even your very own parking space, these mini condo safety deposit units will be on the market to purchase soon. The first one I am aware of is currently being developed in Markham, Ontario.  I’m sure many more will be developed as the demand arises. Will you be one of the first to buy your very own safety deposit unit for your valuables?

 

Storage Locker Chaos

What I love about working in this field is not only the variety of people I get to meet and help on a daily basis, but also the challenges of working and organizing in many different spaces.  I’ve recently began a project for a friend of mine organizing his condominium storage locker.  Two lockers, actually.  One was a very small unit, and the other was a much larger unit.  For those of you who don’t know, the majority of walls in a storage locker are made of a network of wire grids.  In some instances you’ll find these similar to that of a chain link fence, and in other instances, the wire is thick, heavy duty, with no flexibility, similar to that of a dog cage. In this case, it is the latter.

My friend generally uses the smaller storage unit for long-term storage items, such as antique furniture pieces and memorabilia, but other items were thrown into the mix. When sorting through this unit , we found snowboards, old hockey bags, old jackets and a bunch of other “stuff”.  When we pulled everything out of the unit were we amazed at how much was actually packed into it.  Problem was, you couldn’t see most of it so there were some surprises for my friend.   Two of the items in this unit are wood storage trunks.  Inside the trunks we found very old record albums in green garbage backs dating back to early 1900’s.  Unfortunately, there was an extensive amount of mold damage, much of which was apparently pre-existing before even being placed in the trunk many years ago. Storing these trunks in the underground storage locker may or may not have contributed to the problem.  Although the locker did not feel as if moisture existed, it’s generally always an issue because of the concrete floors which tend to pull moisture up from the ground.  We ultimately had to dipose of many of the albums but were also able to save several. Once the moldy albums and bags were removed from the trunks, we had some new-found storage space within the trunks themselves which we utilized to the max.  Keeping in mind the ultimate purpose for this particular unit, we removed any items for which access would be frequent and designated them to the larger locker.   We even freed up space so that infrequently used items currently in the larger unit were assigned to this long term space.

Moving on to the larger storage locker, we sorted all the items into categories, such as sports gear, household items, automotive items, etc., and were then able to see exactly what needed to be contained in the space. Everything was put back in the unit on a temporary basis and in a temporary fashion pending the purchase of the organizing products and accessories needed to properly set up the space.  With a fairly low budget I headed out to shop. This was more of a challenge than sorting through the two units combined. The unique challenge in this case was finding the appropriate hooks in the right size to hang sports items up on the grid wall system without alot of trouble.  “S” type hooks are the quick fix option but they tend to flip right off the grid wires and get lost.  Carabiners can be helpful but only if the opening is large enough to easily hook onto the item that needs to hang.  I needed at least a 5″ carabiner to do the job.  If my client has to struggle to get a heavy item on or off of a hook or fastener, then that’s not a very good option as it will not only be frustrating but potentially dangerous as well. During my shopping extravaganza I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t getting frustrated at the lack of appropriate fasteners for the job. Perhaps this is a sign that I need to invent something!

Being inventive and creative in this industry is a necessity as we are frequently called upon to “create space” where none appears to exist. One of my colleagues had a great idea for creating storage in a locker such as this. He once used the frame of an old Ikea bookcase (shelves removed), raised it off the concrete floor to protect it from moisture, and inserted hooks on the top and sides of the bookcase framing to hang up items in a storage unit.  He then drilled holes through the framing and securely fastened the framing to the wire grid wall with wires. It’s not “pretty” but it’s functional because it made it possible to securely hold fasteners on which sports gear could be hung, which is ultimately what his client wanted.

The idea of using the frame of an old bookcase is a good option for some people, although not one that would work for my friend.  So after over 2 hours of scouring the major, and some smaller, hardware and big box stores, I came back to my office with a large assortment of hooks and fasteners, satisfied that I had gathered every possible option.  Ultimately I know that I”ll be returning some products, but at least I will be prepared. I go back to perform the final organization and set up of the locker on Saturday so I’ll let you  know how it turns out and post some pictures as well. Wish me luck!