Closet Organizers – What You Need To Do Before You Purchase


Closet 3

One of the favourite places to start an organizing project is the master bedroom closet. You go in and out of it a few times a day for clothes, shoes, bags and a lot more that you store in there. Many of my clients ask me about installing closet organizers and what I would suggest. There are many different types and styles for many different styles and budgets. Regardless of which style you decide on there are procedures to follow as you start your organizing project.

A picture is worth a thousand words

I like to take a picture of every project I start and then a picture when I finish so I can see the difference. Sometimes it’s difficult to see what you’ve accomplished without having the starting point to refer to. So before everything comes out and the closet organizer goes in, take a picture.


As you follow my blog you know this acronym of SPACE.

S = Sort everything into piles. These piles can be determined by you such as your bags, pants, scarves, etc.

P = Pare down what is no longer wanted or needed. Here is where you need to be tough on yourself. Do you need that many bags? Will you really want that item when you lose the weight? Keep only what you love and that you feel great in or about. A lot of these items would be welcomed by your local charity or gently used clothing shop.

A = Assign a home for what is left. Everything goes back putting like with like. Keep the colors together too.

C = Containerize what you can using clear plastic containers or decorative bins so it’s easy to see or know what ‘s inside.  Labelling is key in this regard. If hanging space is at a minimum, scarves or belts can fit into containers quite easily and some of my clients use clear shoe box size containers to hold each pair of shoes. Shoes stay clean, the containers stack well and you can easily pick out the shoes you need.

E = Evaluate every so often to ensure the system you implemented is working for you and that you’re not accumulating more. Remember the one in, one out rule.

Closet 1

Closet Organizing Systems – do this first!

If you’re putting a closet organizing system in yourself, make sure you have your closet measurements when selecting your closet organizing system. You’ll need the height, length and width and remember to take into account the baseboards and any crown mouldings. You don’t want to have to take a second trip to the store, or worse, be stuck with system pieces that won’t work for you.

Before purchasing any custom or do-it-yourself closet organizer ensure you first pare down and see the complete volume of each category of clothing and accessories you need to include in your closet. Otherwise the system you decide to implement may not be sufficient to functionally and efficiently hold all your items. You may need more shelves and drawers and less hanging room, or vice versa.

Closet 4

Maximize and take advantage of height and ensure you have at least 2 closet rods to double your hanging opportunity and maximize the space. Don’t forget to allocate hanging space for longer items.  Spend the extra few dollars and purchase all new hangers. You don’t want a new closet organizing system installed with a ragged collection of various sized and coloured hangers.

Research the various closet organizing products and systems on the market before you purchase. There are several price points available and all can be very functional for you. You don’t have to spend thousands to be organized.

If you are thinking of installing a closet organizer or having one installed soon, follow these tips to assist you to maximize your space. If you need help with getting your closets de-cluttered and efficiently organized, we at ClutterBGone have helped a lot of clients do just that. Whether you do yourself or not we would love to see your before and after pictures.

How Organizing Your Basement Can Save You Time and Money

By guest blogger, Jon Labelle

Did you know that the average person wastes one year of their life looking for misplaced items in their home? While many of us face problems controlling clutter in our living spaces, it’s difficult to find the time and motivation to organize. To further complicate things, if you have a basement, all of your seldom-used or discarded items seem to accumulate there until you run out of room or it’s time to move.

Home management and organizing services such as ClutterBGone indicate that most Canadian families would like to reduce the chaos in their lives by organizing but often lack the space, planning capabilities, time to do the job or the organizational tools to make a change. Success in overcoming your clutter depends on accomplishing two very important things: establishing your organizational goals and changing your habits.

  1. De-clutter and Discard

Organizing-Your-BasementIf you’re like most homeowners, the basement is a convenient place to stash those rarely used or miscellaneous items. As they’re out of sight, it’s easy to forget about them until things begin to pile up or you try to find something you’re sure is “down there somewhere.” The first step in organizing is to sort through and remove any trash or broken items. Once a garbage bag is full, take it out of the basement to your trash receptacle. After a few bags are gone, you’ll have more space to move around and see what’s left. Next, sort through the remaining items looking for anything you can sell or donate to charity. You’ll be amazed at how much you can make by holding a garage sale or selling your unwanted items online. Now, you should have a manageable pile that you can store for easy access later.

  1. Devise a Plan for Use

Now that you’ve got a better idea of what must stay in the basement, you’ll want to come up with a usage plan for your space. Typically, your basement is used for utility, storage and living areas. Each section may need separate sub-sections to accommodate your personal situation.

Utility – Your household equipment falls into this category and includes your furnace, water heater, sump pump, circuit breaker box, laundry tray and possibly washer and dryer. Whether these items are located in one or several spots in your basement, always make sure there is a clear path for easy access in the case of emergency. Rolling carts or shelves can be used for small storage areas and moved out of the way if necessary. Make sure to keep flammable items away from the furnace and hot water heater to keep your family safe.

Storage – This area will hold the majority of items you just sorted through, so you’ll need to further categorize like items, such as tools, holiday decorations, sports equipment, camping or fishing equipment, food/canned goods, paper supplies, seasonal clothing, extra linens, painting supplies, excess furniture, etc. The key here is to keep similar items together, so you’ll stay organized (put items back in their new location after use) and know just where to look months from now.

Living Space – You may already have a finished area in your basement, or you may just be clearing a space for future use. In either case, assigning a specific use for each area will keep it chaos-free. If you’re handy, set up a workshop space to keep tools within easy reach. Just think about how much time and money you’ll save by doing household projects yourself.

If you have younger children, this newfound space can be the perfect location for a playroom. Just imagine all the time you’ll save putting toys away every day. With plenty of room for a large toy bin or shelving, the kids can clean up quickly and easily, freeing you up for more important family time.

  1. Arrange for Accessibility

organized-bookshelfNow that you’ve sorted through the clutter and established a designated area for storage, you’ll need to make sure you have access to all the items you keep there. Keeping similar items together and being able to get at them are key to keeping the space organized. If you have to rummage through boxes or unload a shelf each time you want to use that oversized roasting pan, the area will soon return to disarray.

To keep the place organized, don’t pile containers too high or deep. If it’s too physically demanding to retrieve items every time you head downstairs, you’ll likely avoid the task. Also, make sure you put items you use most frequently in the front or on top.

  1. Use Proper Storage Solutions

Remember that your basement can be damp and at risk for wall cracks or flooding. It’s critical that you choose the best storage solutions to protect your belongings. There are a number of items that don’t store well in damp or humid places, so take care with papers, books, photos, fabric and cardboard boxes.

The waterproofing experts at Royal Work Corp. recommend using a dehumidifier to remove dampness from the air, make sure your sump pump is working properly and consider adding a battery back-up unit for extra protection.

Plastic storage totes are an excellent choice to keep valuables dry and safe from bugs and rodents. Remove cardboard boxes from the area. Cardboard absorbs moisture and can provide an excellent food source for mold and mildew to grow. Even a small flood will compromise your belongings if stored in a cardboard box.

Keep everything a few inches off the floor. Invest in some freestanding or hanging storage shelves. Make sure you can fit two plastic bins side-by-side for maximum capacity. Use smaller bins for flat, lightweight items that can be easily retrieved from a top shelf without risking injury.

Finally, label and inventory everything. If possible, identify the contents of the container on all sides. That way, you’ll always be able to quickly locate what you need.

Organizing your basement makes a lot of sense. You’ll save time searching for buried items, you’ll save money by not buying duplicates, you’ll earn money by selling unused items, and you’ll gain peace of mind by finally taking back control. It’s time to get started today!

Jon Labelle is an expert in the field of home improvement and remodeling, with extensive knowledge and many years of experience. For more tips related to home renovation and remodeling follow Jon on Twitter.
For more tips on finishing, waterproofing and organizing your basement check out Royal Work Corp. Waterproofing.

5 Simple Steps To Organize Your Garage For Spring

Garage 2

Ah, spring is almost here! Unless you are an avid winter sportsman, winter can feel almost as long as the other seasons combined. The most popular ritual of spring has to be cleaning off the barbeque and I think the second most popular has to be cleaning out the garage. It’s almost like therapy!

Here is my 5 step simple checklist to help you along in this task.

1) Take a general tour

Start with a general tour of the garage to get an idea of what needs to be done. You don’t want to get started and realize it is a very big job and get discouraged.

Messy garage

Not too bad? Great! Looks like a big job? Enlist the help of your spouse, kids, your neighbor or a professional.

2 ) Give yourself time
Set the time aside. If it looks like just a tidy and upkeep job then set aside an afternoon to get things done. Otherwise plan a whole day to get it done. If you finish earlier, so much the better.

3) Get ready, go!
Get started. Take stock of everything you have and start to sort into three piles – keep, toss and donate. The donate pile is your easiest as most charities will pick up donations or you can drive them to your favorite local charity site and drop them off.

The items designated for tossing must be sorted according to your local trash pick up regulations. Items such as paint, chemicals and fluorescent tubes must be taken to a special disposal site that you can easily find on line. Now we are left with the items you wish to keep. Sort these items into piles – garden equipment, automotive supplies, sporting goods, etc.

4) Determine storage
Determine the type of storage system you require. At the front of my garage I have a resin 5 level storage shelf where I keep my gardening supplies roller blades, automotive cleaning products, etc. I have each shelf labeled so anyone in the house knows where to put things once they have been used. I have even assigned a spot for my husband’s empty bottles…… who wants those old bottles hanging around the house?

Organized garage

All of your shovels, rakes, etc. can be hung on a wall with any one of many systems that are available, or just by using a 2 x 4 strapped securely in place with a few hooks. Just make sure you secure it to studs to prevent them from falling down later.

5) Clean sweep
Get rid of the winter dirt. Now that everything is up and out of the way you can give the floor a good sweeping and cleaning to get rid of the dirt and salt that has fallen from the car over the winter. Hint – unless you want dust kicking up in your face pick up some floor sweeping compound and put it down prior to sweeping. It will help to keep dust from getting in the air and into your home. Some of you may even want to put down an epoxy coat on the floor to protect the concrete and reduce the dust.

Do it again in the fall. Don’t forget to take anything that can freeze out of the garage and into the house in the fall. That is a good time for another cleaning before winter sets in. I know, I mentioned the dreaded W word before it is even over!

I know most men are itching to get back into the garage to clean it up and to get back into their “tinkering”. Follow the steps above to get your garage cleaned and organized for the spring and maybe reclaim some of that space in the basement. If hubby is too busy or is “organizationally challenged” contact us here for assistance.

Storage Locker Organization Toronto

Storage Locker Organization

Not too long ago I was faced with the challenge of organizing two condominium storage lockers for “winter 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 and fishing to mountain biking and more.

Who owns more than one set of golf clubs? We must have hauled four or five sets out of there. There were balls, sticks, skates, bats and every other imaginable type of sports equipment all over the place.

Condo Locker AfterThe main storage locker had to accommodate all the sports gear and they needed something for easy transitioning from one type of sport to another, as well as store all seasonal items. It was quite a challenge but one that I was up for. 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.

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.

Getting Started

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 taking place. He was like a little boy at Christmas, he just couldn’t wait.

We started by taking everything out of the locker and once it was all out I thought to myself “how is all this going to fit back in?” Next we installed shelving along the back wall for ball gloves, shoes and the like. Once we had all of the sports sectioned off onto the shelves we labeled each shelf with the type of sport that belonged on that shelf.

With some inexpensive “S” hooks we hung the golf clubs and skis onto the mesh fencing so they each had a home and could not fall over. From the ceiling we hung a mesh bag and placed the basketballs and volleyballs. Prior to this they were always rolling around on the floor becoming a major trip hazard.

The big reveal!

When I completed the final touches my client came down for the big reveal and was thrilled with the outcome. He now had an organized space where he could store all of his sports equipment where it would be easy to retrieve and not be in danger of falling over. He even had room for all of his Christmas decorations, which again were labeled on the shelves.

Before I left we reviewed exactly what had been done with his two sons so they would know where their sports equipment was to go when they were done with it. Based on my client’s reaction to our project I know he will be staying on top of the kids to ensure an organized and safe space.

It was a challenging experience and the outcome was a successful transformation into a fully accessible, safe and functional space. You could even see the floor! What’s your next challenge?  If you require assistance give us a call by contacting us here.

These Dollar Store Items Will Help You Get Organized

I have purchased a lot of organizing products over the years and the dollar stores are one of the best places to buy organizing supplies. You would be surprised at what you can find in these stores at very affordable prices. You can find items to help you organize your kitchen, your bathroom, your closets, your garage – even your vehicle can be organized with supplies available at most dollar stores.

Many of the organizing products found in dollar stores are actually of decent quality, which makes these stores the first place you should check when you want to get organized. Not all organizing supplies are created equal, though.

Here are 9 of the best organizing products available at dollar stores:

Baskets & bins

Baskets & bins are some of the best organizing tools that you can use to get organized, and dollar stores sell them for a few dollars or less.

They are available in a wide variety of sizes, colors and designs, so you are sure to find some that fit your style. Besides the plastic bins, some dollar stores also carry fabric baskets, wicker bins and metal shelves.

Drawer organizers

When you open your drawer are you able to easily find the spatula, pen, food item or other item that you need? If not, your local dollar store carries drawer organizers that will help you get all kinds of drawers organized. Organize your cutlery, your small kitchen tools, clothing, toiletries, office items and more!

Desk supplies

You can find a lot of office organizing supplies at dollar stores that you will help you to organize all of your office supplies. Look for pen and pencil holders, in trays, file folders and much more at great prices.

Bathroom Supplies

Keep your bathroom organized with a few simple items from the dollar store. They carry toothbrush holders as well as small plastic containers that can be used to hold your make up in a drawer instead of all over the counter.


Jars are a fantastic organizing tool, and dollar stores have many of them.

Image result for organizing jars

Use them to organize spices, food, craft & scrap-booking supplies, ribbon, small items (nails, screws), markers or crayons. The possibilities are endless!


When it comes to getting organized, hooks are inexpensive and easy to mount almost anywhere. Use them for scarves, jewelry, mugs and almost any other item you want up and out of the way. Dollar stores have a wide variety of them available. 3 hooks placed strategically can even be used to hold your pot lids on the inside of a cupboard door!

Shoe Organizers

Shoe organizers can be used for so much more than just organizing shoes! I have clients that use these to keep small packets of food inside their pantry. Others use them to sort and store kids gloves, socks and a lot more. You can also use them to organize cords, toiletries and craft supplies. The list is endless.


Not many people give a lot of thought to hangers and use pretty much any kind they come across from the store or the dry cleaner. Freshen up your closet with new identical hangers and you will be surprised at how organized your closet can look.

Use a hanger that is appropriate for your clothes and toss those wire hangers into the recycle bin. Most dollar stores have a great selection.

Organize Kids School Supplies

Many of you went to dollar stores prior to the start of the school year for binders, pencil cases and other items that kids need to stay organized during the school year. You can even use a lot of these items in the house. I use a binder in the kitchen to hold recipes with dividers for main dishes, appetizers, etc. I also use a binder for instruction manuals – easy to find and retrieve.

Stores dedicated to organizing supplies do carry a wide range of items but sometimes they can be pricey. It really all depends on your budget. For the simple budget conscious jobs a dollar store will do just fine to find some inexpensive items to help you get organized.

Let us know what your favorite organizing item is from a dollar store. If you need help with any of your organizing projects contact us here for a no cost chat.

5 Smart Solutions to Organize Your Family Sports Gear

Although winter is upon us, there are many sports teams in full swing.  With that often comes chaos with so much gear to not only store and keep organized, but also to retrieve and return easily.  Here are 5 smart solutions to organize your family sports gear.

hockey storage lockersPick a spot

Choose a spot where all of the sports equipment in your house can fit, whether it is Dad’s golf clubs, your son’s football gear or your daughter’s baseball equipment. No one will waste time looking for something as you head out the door if it’s all in one place.

Storage pieces

Regardless of where you store your equipment you don’t need to spend a lot of money on storage pieces. Sturdy plastic shelving and bins will do the trick.

pallet sports equipmentI recently saw this and thought what an inexpensive and smart way to store hockey sticks, baseball clubs, lacrosse sticks and many other things without tripping over the fallen ones in the garage.

Balls galore

If you have a lot of balls that get used (soccer, football, volleyball, etc.) then there are a couple of good options. Hang netting from the ceiling and keep all of the balls inside the netting, again saving trip hazards over loose balls.

Or, use plastic containers the size of recycling totes that can be attached to the wall or placed on a shelf.

Hockey, eh?

Hockey equipment is probably the toughest challenge. It’s so easy to toss the equipment into a bag and forget about it until the next game. Have you ever smelled the inside of those duffel bags?

hockey rack drying treeGet those pads out of the bag and hung on the wall or on strong hangers to air them out and get the skates put away for airing out as well.

Socks, jerseys and the rest go straight into the wash but I’ll leave that challenge to you!


Footwear folly

Don’t forget the shoes and boots. All sports have their own special footwear and a wall mounted shelf or a multi tiered tray will contain all the shoes for the entire family and should be kept right next to the equipment.

However you decide to store your sports equipment you can store them inexpensively with a little imagination and handy work.

ClutterBGone has a lot of experience in helping sports minded family’s get organized and ready for the sports seasons. To learn more about how we can help you organize your sports chaos, contact us here for your free 10 minute telephone consultation.

Organizing a 2 bedroom home – Part 2

Misc_UnderSinkMessy1Following my last blog post we continue with organizing our client’s small 2 bedroom apartment. Our first working session began a week after the initial consultation and needs assessment.

Storage shelves start us off on the right foot

We started with bringing in three 5 shelf storage units to be used in the storage/dryer room.  We then pulled everything out of the room, uninstalled the existing shelf and rod and then erected and placed our new units along the perimeter of the room.  This was an instant facelift with 8 times more storage capability than previously available. Once the items we pulled from the room were sorted and pared down, then set up specific zones on the shelves for different categories.  As our client was a sports enthusiast, we had a category for swimming gear, camping gear & general sports, as well as zones for cleaning accessories, kitchen overstock, footwear, paper goods and laundry.  We also installed hooks on the available wall space to hang up other sports gear, chairs and sports bags.  In a tiny room such as this one, making the most of every inch of available wall space was critical.

We made sure to have a few empty shelves as well in order to accommodate other items we knew would be moving into the storage room as we processed the rest of the house over the ensuing weeks.

Lastly, we dealt with the tangled mess of brooms and other cleaning equipment by installing a compact broom holder on the open vertical space on the wall, discarding the unused items and hanging up all the cleaning equipment, off the floor and within easy reach for the client.  No more frustration with retrieving a Swiffer mop and having a bunch of other items fall down!

Kitchen ware was excessive

The kitchen was next on the agenda.  Notably, our client had not really been cooking in her kitchen due to the lack of available space and cooking area.  This was a major concern for her so our goal was to ensure that once we were done she would be in a great position to begin cooking once more.

Over the past couple of years Ms. E. has accumulated an excessive amount of dishware that was kindly handed over to her from others.  Without being able to say no, her cupboards were overrun with duplicate items not needed and never used.

As we sorted all the dishware into categories the duplication was evident and this made it much easier for Ms. E. to make decisions as to what to give away for donation.  Often times if we can’t actually see displayed in front of us how much we have of one item we don’t realize the excess. With our methodical way of processing a room our clients are able to make clearly informed decisions.  We came armed with boxes and clear bags for donation and they were quickly filled by our client as we moved through the items.

Much of the food had expired

Once the dishware had been processed we placed items back in the cupboards in a more organized and functional fashion based on how the client moved throughout the kitchen performing various tasks.

Next was the food pantry and cupboards.  As it was been quite some time since our client was able to cook in the kitchen, it was not surprising that a number of food items were well past the expiry dates.


Much to our client’s horror we also came across a good deal of mouse droppings evidencing a mouse issue.  Some holes in the cabinets were located under the sink where the mice were coming in.  Using some steel wool and some laundry dryer sheets (mice don’t like those) we temporarily plugged the hole until the landlord could deal with the issue.   Many food items were tossed out into the trash and any unopened items that had not expired but that the client no longer wanted were placed in donation boxes.  Once this step was completed we purposefully took all the trash outside together with the recycling and then placed all the donation items into our client’s vehicle so that the next time she was in her car she would be compelled to drop off the donations at her charity of choice.

Viola!  Empty shelves!

The next step in this process was to determine our method of containing some of the food items in the pantry.  Taking a cursory review of what was left I made a list of the organizing products that would be useful to maximize Ms. E’s pantry and cupboard space. We then organized the food into the cupboards and pantry and Ms. E. was quite excited to see that she actually had some empty cupboard space.  With this session nearing an end, we took our list and completed shopping of the items at our client’s request and on her behalf.

Just before I left our client’s site we discussed waste management in the kitchen.  This was important because the current method of garbage collection was taking up space on her floor and her counter top.  I suggested some cost and space efficient methods to contain compost, recycling and trash in the kitchen and included these items on our shopping list.

This way when we came for the next session we would be fully equipped with all the products needed to finalize the kitchen set up.  In the meantime, we left Ms. E. with a fully functional kitchen with plenty of space to not only store dishware and food items but also to cook.   She was so thrilled to be able to cook her first meal in a long time in her newly found kitchen space and that very night she did just that. In just one session we were able to make a huge change and began to transform her life.  Her smile said it all.  Stay tuned for what happened next.

Organizing And Downsizing With Seniors – A Case Study Part 3

Organized_office_roundedIn my last post being Part 2 of this case study, I talked about how the organizing projects I do with my clients are like Disneyland for me.  I get quite excited going through the various spaces with my clients knowing that the changes we make will be transformational.

Continuing with the tour

Moving along with our tour of the issues of concern for my clients, the third room was a spare bedroom that had been taken over with a variety of household items. This room had become a dumping zone.  It’s not so unusual that, after getting home from busy day you drop items off wherever you happen to be and then forget about them.  The issue is that if this is done repeatedly over a long period of time, a space can slowly fill up to the point that you cannot even clean the room, dust or vacuum.  This then becomes a health issue.  This is especially true if you suffer from asthma or other respiratory issues. My clients wanted this room to be able to be used for grand children when they visited however it was absolutely impossible at the moment.  Clutter and dust littered every surface.

Safety issues are a real concern

Next up on the tour was the basement.  Going down the stairs we had to be careful because items had been placed on the sides of the stairs.  This is a real safety issue, particularly for older couples that may be challenged with mobility issues.  Tripping and slipping on items is a real concern.  Mrs. X. stayed upstairs while I toured the space with Mr. X.  There were pathways in which to make your way around the congested finished basement area however it was often necessary to step over items and manoeuvre.  It was evident that the basement project alone was a large undertaking, one that I was excited to dig into.

So the tour of the spaces was completed and we settled back up on the living room to talk about time estimates, costs and next steps.

Next steps

The scheduled session to begin the project focused on the closet space with the overflow pantry items.  During the consultation, in my mind I had estimated 3 hours to complete the organization of this space.  However when I returned for the actual session and opened the closet it seemed to me that there was at least another foot of items piled on top of what had already been there.  Either that or I had forgotten exactly what it looked like, which is entirely possible.  Often times I take photos of the space we are working on, not only for my own reminder purposes but also for education and training for my staff.  In this instance our client had asked that photos not be taken so we of course honored and respected that request.

Fast and furious to sort and categorize

I knew I had to work fast to completely empty the closet, sort and categorize all the contents and then work with the client to make decisions on what was to stay and what was to go. I worked crazy fast that day wanted to ensure I was out and finished in 3 hours as scheduled, but as I plowed through more and more items I discovered there was a bevy of alcohol bottles hidden on shelving so I had to move carefully.  When I reached the bottom of the closet several pop bottles and cans had leaked and burst so there was quite a sticky mess on the floor.

I’ll carry on with this case study in my next post and will talk about the final stages of the closet project and where we went from there. Stay tuned!

I wonder if any of you reading this post have every discovered a wet mess on the bottom of your closets?  Write in and let me know how you handled it.


A Case Study of Motivation For Getting Organized and Downsizing

Sidebar_foyerI’ve started a new organizing and de-cluttering project with a wonderful couple in their mid to late sixties. They called me because the state of their home is straining their relationship of 40 years.    It’s not at all unusual that disorganization and clutter in a household can cause stress and tension between couples no matter how long they have been together.

When I first drove up to their home in an older, established neighbourhood I noticed that there were some minor repairs and maintenance needed to the exterior of the house.  Not at all uncommon for an older couple.  It can become increasingly difficult to maintain a home if there are physical restrictions or limitations those individuals may be challenged with.

The initial consultation

Upon entering their 4 bedroom home it presented as very well kept, tidy and clean.  During our initial consultation and needs assessment we all sat in the living room as I jotted down information, inquired about any health issues I would need to be aware of and went through my in depth assessment in order to be able to understand how they function within their home and what their requirements and concerns were.

It was not too long into the consult when it became evident that the wife was not at all pleased with the state of certain rooms in the house and expressed a significant amount of blame and anger with her husband. She was extremely embarrassed to have anyone over to her home, including myself, and was very concerned about what her neighbours might think.  This is fairly common as there seems to be unfortunate negative connotation to being disorganized and bringing in the “big guns”.  Why not bring in a professional if your home is not functioning as well as it should? The thing is the majority of homes I work in are not in the state of clutter that you see on those television shows about hoarders. In fact, when you first walk into the homes we work in most of the disorganization is hidden behind doors and cabinets and not necessarily in plain view.

Tension in relationships

In any event, with these clients the tension was palpable and there were at times some harsh glances between husband and wife.  Mr. X was quite soft spoken and although not in denial about his part in the disorganization, he used humour as a defense to the allegations and stress expressed by his wife while also acknowledging her concerns. At this point I had not taken a tour of the home or seen the clutter that was disrupting their relationship and their life.  Although there was a great deal of tension between them it was also very clear that they loved each other dearly and that Mr. X was willing to do whatever was necessary to make things better both in their home and in their relationship.

In my next post I’ll continue with this story of motivation, support and facilitating change with these great people.

Downsizing: Tips To Be A Minimalist In Your Home

Minimalist home organizationMinimalism.  Living more simply. Streamlining.

We hear these words and statements more often now, especially because so many people are downsizing their spaces.  I work each week with space-challenged clients to solve their organizing problems and I think that makes me somewhat of an expert on the issue.

Of course there are many advantages to being a minimalist.  Less stress, more time (less cleaning), less frustration, and no need to find a home for the stuff you really don’t need.

You can easily downsize with style by identifying your priorities and with effective use of accessories, lighting, artwork and colour.

Think about secret spaces for extra storage.  Hollow architectural columns are perfect so you can add shelves or a door on one side.

For flexibility when downsizing stick with a bed that doesn’t have a foot board. Transform end tables into coffee tables by simply cutting down the legs.

And don’t forget to de-clutter clear surfaces and have a place for everything.

This cool Infographic below, courtesy of The Picket Fence, is a visual look at minimalism.