Kitchen Pantry Project adds function

Recently, I helped a client with a modest kitchen and no separate pantry get organized. It was tricky for the home owners to take advantage of sales on non-perishables, for instance, because there was insufficient space in the kitchen to store things until they were needed. However, the kitchen opens on to the family room and this provided a good solution.

I suggested we modify the broom closet in the family room, mere steps from the kitchen. This was a good sized space with a bi-fold door and many shelves — but the shelves were just a bit difficult to reach to be practical on a daily basis. [Read more…]

Easy Organizing Tips for your home #6

I’ve written several blogs about easy organizing and I hope that my good ideas aren’t falling on deaf ears! Below is an excerpt from an Australian blogger named Marissa Roberts, and she  says a lot of what I’ve told you. Sometimes it’s more memorable if it comes from an exotic source, and Australia is rather exotic, so here goes:

“I’m going to show you the little trick I use to declutter my house simply & effectively.

It has nothing to do with how much time you have or the amount of ‘stuff’ in your home.

It’s all about the emotion behind the activity.

Something I hear over and over from clients is that decluttering is too hard because it takes a long time – but most often, the truth is it takes a long time because it’s hard to decide what you should keep and what you should throw out or give away (don’t worry – I’ll show you how to do this with little stress and heartache).

If you want your home to run smoothly, it needs to be clear and well organised.

You’ll be amazed at what decluttering your house can do for you:

1) Physically: You’ll have space to put things away quickly and easily, making cleaning much easier as well

2) Emotionally: You’ll LOVE living in a house with more room, more space – you’ll truly feel a weight off your shoulders and your home will become your haven.”

In Marissa’s blog, she links emotions to the act of decluttering and the result of decluttering. One of her tips is a technique I’ve used for years, but no one’s heard of me! I collect stuff from, say, the clothes closet, and put it in a bag with a sticker on it, saying the date I bagged the clothes. I keep it in our garage or basement storage or the guest room closet. A few months later, if I haven’t gone looking for any of those clothes, they are HISTORY! If I haven’t wanted to wear something during the appropriate season, i.e. a summer dress during the summer months, then I either don’t like it that much or I’ve gained or lost weight or I have something else I prefer. That bag can be opened quickly to double-check the contents, and then it’s donated to charity.

This works beautifully with books, clothes, shoes, bric-a-brac, and general household items. There is ALWAYS a good charity that can use your donations. Personally, I go back and forth between Cerebral Palsy and my church’s ‘Nearly New Sale’, spring or fall. And if it’s wintery stuff or anything Christmassy, I donate it to my church to sell at the Christmas Bazaar.

This is a common-sense way to clear your home, whether it’s just for daily living that you’d like more space, or because you’re planning to move. For more practical organizing tips, please contact:


Easy Organizing Tips – #5

Happy New Year! We have another fresh start! So let’s start it as well organized and clutter-free as possible…

Whether you’re selling your home or continuing to dwell there, a tidy place helps enormously. I love to be able to find something the moment I need it. I don’t like to spend tons of time dusting. I like my “stuff” to be in good condition and usable when needed. Maybe I’m just impatient, but this is what works for me, and it’s what will work for you when you’re putting your home on the market.

I read a great article the other day in the community newspaper, Vistas, about recycling.  [Read more…]

More expert tips for easy organizing

Another bunch of great tips from Canadian Living magazine! Let’s make our households work better!

  1. Remove any lingering leaves from the lawn before the snow comes to stay; leaves can form a matting and smother the grass.
  2. When organizing appetizers on a plate or tray, the secret is to include a variety of colours, shapes, textures and flavours.
  3. Banish summer and fall clothing and gear to the basement (if you have one) before winter stuff moves in. You don’t need 4 seasons’ worth of things cluttering up your entrance area.
  4. Store wet hats and mitts in a mesh storage basket or a rolling cart placed above the heating vent in your front entrance. Helps ’em dry quickly.
  5. Deep-clean your refrigerator every 3 months. Remove all food from the fridge; wipe out the interior with a solution of 4 cups of hot water and a 1/4 cup of baking soda. Rinse with a damp cloth, and dry with a clean towel.
  6. Always measure the distance between the chair seat and the tabletop when you’re combining a mix & match dining set. Aim for clearance of about 10 inches.

Easy Organizing Tips – #4 – Marie Kondo’s ‘life-changing magic’ – Easy Organizing

Have you read Marie Kondo’s book yet? It’s called “the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing”. It’s taken over the non-fiction best seller lists. It’s a little book, only 206 pages long, but full of interesting ideas; in fact, it’s her whole philosophy for organizing, de-cluttering, and beautifying not just your home, but your state of mind!  Videos about her book are all over YouTube.

She has some great ideas and, of course, I like the ones that back up what I’ve been saying for some time.For instance, in my blog dated 11 Jan/15, I said to take everything out and put back the things you love and the things you use. Marie counsels we take everything and put it on the floor, and put back only the things that give you joy. Pretty close to my approach! [Read more…]

Easy organizing tips – #3

I love “O” magazine! The spring issues are especially enjoyable for me. It’s always great when experts share their thoughts, and you realize that you’re on the same page. The March 2015 issue has useful ideas on decluttering your space, so I recommend you check it out. At the same time, it will cheer you up to see the gorgeous colours, hot pink, citrus shades of orange, melon and lemon, and yummy turquoise. [Read more…]

Easy Organizing Tips – #2

The new year always seems to bring out the desire to change or re-invent ourselves, our homes, our spouse or partner, our wardrobe , our weight, you name it. It must be hard-wired into our brains that, in the cold, dark days of January in Ottawa, seeing as we’re already miserable because of the weather, we may as well find fault with something else.

Sometimes a little change is enough to distract you, and the next thing you know it’s February. If you’re feeling restless in these post-celebration weeks, and you’re not about to head south, you can make some small changes to your home that won’t break the bank or over-tax your exhausted brain. Let’s try a little exercise to flex your organizing muscles a little bit:

Pick a room in your home that you’re not in love with at the moment, and take as much out of it as you can without a helper.

Let’s say it’s the kitchen. Remove everything from the counter tops, the table top, the cook top, things stacked against the cabinets, things on top of and stuck to the refrigerator, the little stacks of mail, coupons, grocery lists, reminders, the vitamin supplements, etc. Isn’t it stunning how much there is?

Now look at each item.  Ask yourself three questions:

Do I use this item frequently?

Do I love this item?

Is this item making my life work better for me?

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the questions, put the item in the ‘safe‘ pile.

If you answer ‘no’ to ‘Do I love this item?’, is it possible to replace this indispensible item with a reasonably priced version that is in a colour you love, or that doesn’t make as much noise, or works faster? What has to happen for you to love this thing? Or is it something you only need temporarily? So use it and get it out of your way! Or put it where it would make more sense in your home, like the tool box or your son’s bedroom or the recycling bin. Just get it out of your way. If it’s not making your life work better for you, you have the right to get it out of your way.

This easy organizing process of asking 3 little questions can be applied all over your home. Even if you end up keeping 3/4 of the things because you have to be practical and you need them, think of that 1/4 you gave the boot! What a great feeling. You should feel proud of yourself.

And in the cold, dark days of January in Ottawa, that little change in your surroundings that makes you remember that you are in control, that you can make a difference, may be all you need to get you through to February, which is, thank goodness, a short month.


Room Makeover Extraordinaire: Scrap-booking Paradise

Room Makeover Success Story

Elegant Strategies has just completed an enjoyable collaboration on what I would call “a scrap-booker’s paradise”, a room which my client said would henceforth be her “happy place”. Making the most of her existing space and transforming existing furniture has changed this spare room from a little weary to wow. [Read more…]