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Creating Clutter Free Closets

One of the first things buyers notice in a house is space. We’re talking about not only square footage, but closets and other storage. Remember how spacious everything looked at the model homes in your first assignment? You want to create the same feeling in your house because a buyer wants space. You may be wondering if the actual size of the closets is notated on the listing, what is the problem if you leave your stuff stuffed in there? Visualization – that’s the problem.

You need potential buyers to think you have the World’s Largest Closets. Of course, making the closets physically larger isn’t normally an option, but you can make them appear larger. Again, visualization is everything. The buyer has the dimensions, but the eye is the real measure. How does one accomplish this optical illusion? By making it appear as if your closets have plenty of space still available to be filled.

Your Assignment

Today you will be decluttering your closets. It may sound like a lot, but by approaching the decluttering with a plan, you can get it done. How? Well, as hard as this may seem at first, the plain fact is you will need to get rid of your stuff.

Of course, I’m not asking you to throw away anything. If you want to keep that old bowling ball, go right ahead. If your collection of old picture frames makes you happy, then by all means keep them. But you have to get it all out of sight while your house is on the market.

This may require some pre-planning on your part, depending on how much stuff you have to stash. Perhaps you will need to stock up on boxes or plastic bins. I’m not suggesting you spend a lot of money here, but you will need something to put your stuff in. A popular place to get good sturdy boxes that are the right size to handle easily is at a liquor store. They are free and small enough to lift and move around.

Once you have the boxes, you will need a place to put them. If you have storage that’s convenient, use that. A temporary storage unit may be worth the few dollars it costs in return for a successful sale. If you have one spare room, a pile of boxes hidden behind a decorative screen is less distracting than a pile of junk stuffed in a closet taking up precious space.

Now that you have something to store your stuff in and somewhere to put it, it’s time to get cracking. Start with the easiest closets first. How about the entryway closet? When you get done decluttering it, your entryway closet should have nothing more in it than a couple of seasonal coats, a pair of boots or two, some accessories, and a few nice looking hangers. Nothing else. Be sure the floor is practically bare and you can see all four walls and the ceiling.

The less stuff in your closets, the better. It’s all about s-p-a-c-e. If you have linen closets and utility closets, repeat the same process as you did with the entryway closet. Sort out anything that is not absolutely necessary and store it, leaving lots of room in the closet.

It’s time to move into the bedrooms. This will be a bit more difficult. Here you need to take everything out – everything. Reduce your clothing down to about a dozen outfits. Match them up and hang them up neatly on matching hangers. Yes, make your clothes sparse and match the hangers. Seem silly? It won’t to a buyer. Box up anything and everything that is not being worn currently. Extra clothes and shoes need to go away. The out-of-season wardrobe items and any of those clothes you won’t wear in the next several months need to be boxed up. The shelves can have a few boxes and the floor can have a few pairs of shoes, but when a potential buyer opens the door, they should be able to see all the surfaces, walls, and ceiling.

What you are trying to accomplish with this clean sweep is to give the buyer a good look at the size of your closets. Make sure each closet is no more than half full. You want to create the illusion of space. If the buyer sees how much MORE room you have to fill-up, they will instantly feel the closets are spacious. If the buyer opens a closet door and the contents are bulging right out into the room, they will know immediately that they will never get all their stuff in that space.

So, box it up and get it out of there. Your closets need to scream “Look at all the room in here!” Without that, a potential buyer will walk away and never look back. Get busy and get this very important decluttering chore done today so you can move on to the next step. See you tomorrow!

Why Should I Organize?

Do you walk in the house after a long day at work and just sigh at your cluttered house? Have you planned to organize one morning but do not know where to start or are just not in the mood? Are you caught in a vicious cycle: as soon as you organize one room another one has turned to chaos? Maybe you just need to prioritize, find motivation, and ask for help. Easier said than done?

Prioritize. As with most goals in life, you want to strive for progress and improvement, not perfection. Most of us do not have time to achieve perfection in everything we do and still live a happy, fulfilling life. When you set goals, make them achievable, attainable. When you make that progress, create a visual way to track it or remind yourself of all you have accomplished (i.e. stickers on a chart, a check list, a flower/penny/or other item to represent each task you have completed). Since we will never have more than 24 hours in a day, we may have to say “no” to some activities and tasks. As you list each goal, task, or activity, ask yourself if it is necessary, if it supports my ultimate goals, or if any other activity or person will be negatively affected if it does not happen. You may see your list shrink before your very eyes. If you are not sure how to narrow your list, search the internet, ask a friend, or consult a professional organizer (we help with both the tangible and intangible).

Motivate. Do you start the day with the best of intentions to declutter the “bathroom” only to loose your drive because it is “just not worth it”? What is worth it to you? What do you value? Why? These questions may not seem to have much to do with organizing, but they can be the key to your motivation. How much time do you spend on activities that relate to your values (i.e. spending time with family, exercising, eating healthy, etc.)? Most of us would probably answer “not enough”. Then why would you ever spend time on an activity not related to you values, such as organizing? The answer: organizing allows you to focus more on your values. Organizing means less time searching for the other shoe, fewer arguments over who last used the scissors and did not put them back, less time cleaning around the clutter . . . With less time wasted, you have more time to be with family, exercise, eat healthy, and pursue those life goals that really matter. The next time you wonder why you would ever make time to organize, remember that organizing can be a means to an end. If you find a task that seems pointless, ask yourself how that task can bring you closer to what means to the most to you. It is amazing how a change in attitude and knowing what is “in it for me” can motivate.

Ask For Help. Even if most of your chores and daily tasks are “value added”, they are not always fun and often too much for one person. Solution: spread the responsibility among the whole household. What is boring to one person may be fun for another. One person’s weak spot may be another person’s strength. Some people have time in the morning to help everyone get ready for the day, and others have more time at night to help everyone get ready for bed. When you do ask for help, just remember to be specific or be prepared for “not exactly what you expected”. Letting others pick what they want and find their own way, within reason, may even make them more willing and productive.

 

Who Has Time To Get Organized

School activities, work, social events. Who has the time or money to organize? YOU DO! Organizing does not have to take forever or cost money. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.

How much time do you have to organize? A half a day or whole day or a week would be great, but most of us are not that lucky. If you want to get organized as quickly as possible, it is worth setting aside a large chunk of time to achieve that stress relief. To get twice as much done in the same amount of time, enlist a friend, family member, or professional organizer (bonus: experience, ideas, answers). If that much time is not a possibility (at least at the moment), then utilize pockets of time. Do you watch TV, watch commercials, ride the bus, wait at the doctor’s office, take car trips, wash the laundry, arrive early for meetings, lie awake at night, etc.? If so, take a reading file with you, sort a drawer, go through your magazines and catalogs, clean out the refrigerator, go through your CDs or videos, sift through your closet, clean off a shelf, go through a pile, empty a box, go through your shoes or purses, sort your computer or email files, pick out your favorite recipes in a cookbook, sort some of your pictures or compile one album, go through a file, or find something else small to organize that is quick and will give you a sense of accomplishment.

Not enough money for a custom closet system, garage system, pantry, etc.? Go shopping, in your house. Do you have wood scraps from previous projects? Use three pieces to create a free-standing shelf to better utilize wasted shelf space. Are your hair accessories a jumble? Use a ribbon, old belt, or something similar that hangs to clip your barrettes and keep them separated. You can even use an extra hanger to separate ribbons. Do you have random screw and nails? They make great hooks for light weight items. Are there empty baskets, containers, or shoe boxes? These can function as low-cost pull-out drawers. Would you like to find something in the junk drawer? Create drawer dividers with cardboard, wood, empty plastic containers, checkboxes, etc. .

If I missed the area that is frustrating you the most, email or call for some creative ideas. If you would like quick, easy organizing solutions, let a professional organizer help you. If you want your organizing finished yesterday, contact a professional organizer for an extra set of hands, focus, and a wealth of ideas and solutions.

Get Organized Secrets

Check out this list to help of get organized secrets to help you get started.

  1. Tell yourself that no matter what, some level of clutter with a child is going to happen.
  2. Begin with messes and clutter that you see every day. Get organize your kitchen, garage, and family room before your hallway closet.
  3. Use drawer dividers for socks, underwear, lingerie, and tiny items, to keep them separated and organized.
  4. Use this same principle to organize your silverware, with clearly defined places for every fork and knife, or drawers for ties and socks or, underwear. Think in this same way for every aspect of your home. This will save many hours of searching for things. It will dramatically cut down on the clutter of items left out “for now” or “until I find a place for it.” Develop a new mantra: everything has its place and a place for everything!
  5. Allocate everything in your house a place. This way your family will know exactly where to find it and where to put it away, when they searches for something they need.
  6. Keep items that are used frequently in places where you can reach them without stooping or bending, and store them close to the place they will be needed.
  7. Establish one defined place in your house for storing library books, and end a house-wide hunt when it is time to read or return them.
  8. Hang hooks for your keys and purse at the entry to your home, so each time you walk in, you can hang them up.
  9. Get rid of all junk drawers, or allow yourself just one that you clear out once a week or more. When you establish certain items are being used repeatedly, designate a drawer for those.
  10. Enlist a new rule: throw out one old thing for every new purchase that enters your home.
  11. Make a mental note to observe what things pile up in your house and where they cluster, and then come up with a place nearby that becomes the official home where those things will reside. For this purpose baskets, shelves, and folders will work well. Set aside one basket for you and your partner for incoming mail, bills, and receipts and letters.
  12. Never go up or down empty-handed when using stairs. Always grab some items that belong to upstairs rooms and quickly put it away while you are there.
  13. Create a number of brightly marked folders for discount coupons, invitations and directions, and other time-sensitive papers that just clutter your counters.
  14. Things you don’t need any longer:
    • Expired medications
    • Clothes you no longer wear
    • Extra paper or plastic grocery bags
    • Makeup and samples you have never worn
    • Sunscreen that’s expired or more than one year old
    • Organize your coupons and throw out all that have expired
    • Cookbooks you rarely use. Cut out your favorite recipes only
    • Magazines you meant to read but have never taken the time for
    • Stuff your crumpled plastic bags from your grocer inside a cardboard roll like a hand towel roll. Keep under your sink.

You will free your mind to remember your daily chores by getting rid of your clutter and organizing your home top to bottom. Be vigilant about cleaning about once a month and you will find it much easier to keep up, week-by-week.

Keeping Kids’ Rooms Clutter Free

What’s the one room in your home where you just want to close the door and not look? For most families with kids, the answer to that is definitely the kids’ bedrooms. They are catch-alls for toys, games, clothes, school work, musical instruments, and everything else that kids seem to collect, no matter what their age.

Keeping kids rooms neat and clean might seem like a never-ending battle, but putting a solid organization plan in place can help.

Clothing

Overflowing dresser drawers and jam-packed closets not only contribute to clutter, but they make getting ready for school in the morning a real challenge. Keeping all that clothing organized might seem impossible, but a simple schedule can turn a day-long job into a quick task.

While your kids are younger and growing rapidly, it can help to evaluate each piece of clothing every time you fold laundry. This might mean simply asking yourself if the item still fits. If it does, it goes back in the drawer, if not, donate it. In addition, check for stains, tears, and other damage that can’t be hidden or fixed, and toss those items that are no longer wearable.

For older kids, you won’t have to do this with each load of laundry, but you should do it at the end of every season. When you put away the summer clothes as you prepare for back to school, look at each item and ask yourself if it will still be wearable in the spring. Make a donation pile for those items that won’t be useable. If you can use the items for younger children later, then sort them by size and store in clearly labeled bins, ready to pull out when they’re needed.

Toys

If there is one thing kids have more of than clothing, it must be toys. Preventing your home from turning into one big toy box sometimes feels like a full-time job, but it doesn’t have to be. You can even get the kids to help keep their stuff picked up, if you make it easy and fun for them.

Pretty baskets or colorful plastic bins make it easy for kids to keep their toys put away, and even help you teach them valuable skills and habits along the way. You can make a nighttime routine of picking up all the toys and putting them in the appropriate basket just before bed. If more than one child shares a room, or if you have a lot of toys (and who doesn’t?) you might have different colored containers for each child or for various types of toys. Billy’s toys are in the green container, while Randy’s are in the blue, for example.

Homework and Other School Supplies

Is there anything worse than scrambling to get ready for school and not being able to find that math homework that’s due today? Well if you make it a habit to keep school supplies and homework organized, you’ll rarely have to worry about missing the bus.

Start with a designated place where all homework is stored. This might be an “in” basket on a desk, or a small box or basket on a shelf, but the point is, when your child comes home from school, everything he or she brings with him goes there. During homework time, he’ll know exactly where to look for the necessary books and papers, and when he leaves for school the next day, he’ll know just what he needs to take along.

Here’s a critical tip for this system, though: Nothing that is NOT homework can be kept in the homework box, and homework can never be left anyplace else. That way you will always know that whatever is in that spot must go to school, and that if the box is empty, all the homework has been turned in.

Keeping kids organized can seem like an uphill climb, but by setting up some easy-to-follow (and fun) systems and enlisting their help, you’ll not only have a much more organized home, but you’ll also have far less stress. Plus, you’ll be teaching your children how to live a clutter-free life, and that will serve them well over the years.

Five Things You Should Put In Storage While Selling Your Home

When your home is on the market but you are still living there, you can’t very well make it a model show home. Still, there are a few things you should think about putting in storage while selling your home in order to make it as appealing as possible to buyers. Here are the top five things you should consider putting out of sight.

Excess Family Photos & Personal Items

Buyers want to picture themselves in the house, and a slew of family photos hung all over the place can make that difficult. If all they can see is you and your family, they won’t be able to easily envision their own family there. You should also look around for personal items, i.e., religious items, collectibles, etc. While these things are important to you, they are personal to you and may create a barrier for a potential buyer to envision themselves in your home.

Your Liquor Cabinet

A nice wine rack or a few bottles displayed near the wet bar are fine, but if you keep a lot of liquor in the house put it somewhere out of sight. While it may seem illogical, buyers who share different lifestyle views might be put off by it.

Your Pet’s Toys

Chewed up tennis balls, smelly stuffed animals, and half-digested bones are part of life with a dog, but people coming to see your house will find it unattractive. It will also tell them your pet has the run of the house, and they will wonder what damage might have been done.

Signs Of Repairs

Put away the plunger and similar items when you are selling. It will prevent buyers from wondering if something is wrong with the plumbing, even if you only keep it around as a precaution.

Storage boxesAnything That Clutters A Room

So the extra bedroom is used as an office/exercise room/guest bedroom? Versatility is great, but all that stuff in there will just look like there isn’t enough space in the house for everything you-or a buyer-needs. Get rid of the exercise equipment and the desk, and leave the guest bed. Extra bedrooms are more of a selling point than an office or exercise room.

It might be annoying to have to put some of your personal items away while you sell your home, but it can mean a faster sale and a larger profit. Buyers need to see a home as a place where they can live, not the place where you live.

Next Steps

If you find preparing your home for sale overwhelming, you can check our resource directory for a professional organizer that might be able to help you. And when you are ready to list your home, please let us know.