Organizing for Spring

Organizing for Spring
Organizing for Spring

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring Cleaning and Organizing

I’ve had several friends ask me to share some tips about organizing your space and Spring cleaning, so here goes:
First of all, it isn’t easy for many of us.  Sometimes we’ve let it get away from us, and we’re looking at years of accumulated stuff stuck in closets, drawers, under the bed, or covering a countertop or desk.

·         Make a list of small tasks that need to be done.  If you have lots of do prioritize the list by asking yourself what negatively impacts your daily life the most and do that first.  If you have a laundry room, office and several closets to clean and organize, make your list about the space you’re tackling first. 

·         Think about your most productive time of day.  For some of us, it’s first thing in the morning, but for others, it is late morning, early afternoon, or evening.  Utilize that time so that you’re at your most productive.

·         Get some fresh air into your space by opening a door or window to outside.  If it’s not practical because you have allergies (ah-choo!) or it’s too hot or cold outside, at least give yourself a bit of air by opening a window 10 minutes before you begin.

·         Make sure the area you’re working has good lighting so you can easily see what you’re doing.

·         Wear a bright color: fushia, red, orange, yellow, or bright pink infuse a person with more energy.  Wear something short-sleeved so your sleeves don’t get dirty or get in the way.

·         Start small: One drawer, or one cupboard rather than the whole garage or the whole office!  When you’re done, check your time and see what’s remaining. Do you have time for another?


·         As you complete each small task, check it off your list.  (I sometimes add some things I’ve done that weren’t on my list that I realized needed to be done- helps me feel a sense of accomplishment!)

·         Clean as you go, so have your rags, cleaning products, vacuum, and such close by so you can easily grab it when you need it.

·         Get a garbage bag ready for trash and another for a charity that takes gently-used items, whether it’s products from the bath, clothes you no longer wear, etc.

·         Put on some up-beat music- something that makes you feel like dancing!

·         Get a giant bottle of water to re-hydrate.

·         As you work, take everything out of a drawer or cabinet and clean the space.  Then assign each item to go back into the original space, go into a different appropriate space, the garbage or donation bag.

·         Sit down for 10 minutes when you’re feeling tired.  Drink some water.

·         Eat some protein and a piece of fruit if you need energy and are feeling hungry.

·         When you’re done with your small task, ask yourself if you feel better for accomplishing this task.  Are you ready for more?

·         Keep one more thing in mind:  you will find that over time, you will have to repeat this process, just like when you clean your home, it won’t stay clean and organized forever.  It’s normal, and just knowing that you’re not uniquely just messy helps me accept that I’m not a pig!  

The Ch'i (or energy) in your home can flow more naturally and freely without clutter in your spaces.  It helps you be more productive, think more clearly, and feel more... energetic!  Once you start this process and can see your progress, see if you don't feel more like doing more organizing and cleaning within your space.  I know I do!
I want to credit Karen Kingston, author of Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui for some of these ideas.  I’ve kept my list of things to do to clear your clutter for several years, but was inspired by Karen in an online conference interview with her.  If you want more info on her, just input her name into your internet source- she’s well-represented on the web.

What questions do you have related to this?  I’d love to receive your photos of your organized drawer, closet, or a purged desk that you completed.   Check out my website at if you need help with your space.  I always have time for my readers.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Adding an Accent Wall

Ready for a décor change, yet are short on time or money? Adding an accent wall enlivens a room's style. Often the wall is chosen because of its features, such as a fireplace or window. An accent wall can help bring together the colors of other walls and furnishings, enhancing a room's character and charisma.

What is an Accent Wall?
An accent wall is one wall within a single room that is markedly different and more interesting than the other walls in the room. It’s probably the color you love but would be afraid to use throughout the entire room because of its intensity. It’s also possibility the color that your spouse, roommate, or significant other would never use throughout the space, but will accept as a part of the color scheme.

Big Statement with Little Investment
The accent wall is an easy painting project. It seldom takes more than a couple of hours; it requires only requires paint, a roller, and painter’s tape; and can even be done in apartments because it’s easy to undo when you move. Unless you’re planning on purchasing a myriad of new accessories and home goods, try to find a bold color that already exists in your rug, window coverings or pillows to use. Bring the paint sample home and look at it in the light that exists in your space to get a true idea of what the color is going to look like once on your wall.

Why Paint an Accent Wall?
Since this is usually the first wall that you see when entering a room, this wall can help to draw the eye to what you want noticed. In an open concept dining and living room combination, it can help to anchor or define a separate area. The accent wall almost always highlights a large focal point such as bed, fireplace, or window on or near that wall. Be sure that every other element in your room coordinates, but isn't "matchy-matchy". Supporting elements should carry out the accent color's hue and value. If there is no thought of coordination and balance of color throughout the room, your accent wall will look like an irrelevant, disconnected color. Think about coordinating pillows, upholstery fabric, drapery, and a rug that pulls the color together. If possible, try to find these items before you buy the final accent wall color. Trying to find accessories and home goods to coordinate with that very specific shade of turquoise you selected will prove to be a nightmare. Again, this goes back to a color's undertone. Color matching paint value to a shade from your rug or window covering fabric is easy, but nearly impossible when it's the other way around.

Selecting Colors for an Accent Wall
In most cases, an accent wall is a bold color against neutral walls. A different version is a vibrant shade against other walls of the same shade. For example, a rich brown against other, very pale tan walls. An accent wall doesn't mean you throw color coordination out the window. Tying the room into the accent wall, with coordinated pillows, drapes, and upholstery is vital when making an effective decorating scheme. Remember, too that wallpaper, which is back big time, and that tile in a bathroom can also make an accent wall, not just paint. The main point is that the accent walls color should attract the eye, and therefore be bold.

Selecting The Right Wall
Remember, an accent wall needs to be clustered around some kind of dominant focal point. There is nothing more dominant than a fireplace. After all, beds move, bookcases move, TVs move--but fireplaces, and windows, are there to stay. Look for a wall seen from an adjacent room. The color will perform double duty if you can also see it from other rooms.

 A great way to make a change in your home is to infuse color into your home. Think about an accent wall. It’s quick and easy! Questions? Write back and I’ll try to assist you with some more ideas. If you need more design help, check out my (newly designed) website at for more ideas and inspiration, or to contact me for an appointment.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Hiring An Interior Designer

Have you ever been inside a stunning hotel lobby, a fashionable meeting room, or perhaps some other interior space that really felt just right for its purpose? Do you think all of the design elements of the space occurred accidentally? Doubtful - in almost all instances a professional interior designer was hired to create the space, select the furniture, finishes and fixtures as well as to determine the color scheme.



We have all been inside someone's home that was a design nightmare.  Maybe you even consider your own home the "Design Disaster" poster child!  You might be saying, "Not everyone has the ability to spend tens of thousands of dollars on interior design." Often you can often spend less and get highly desirable results. Think: it is worth $200-300 to find out what it might cost to redo a room or perhaps an entire house? You might be able to get an interior designer to come and consult with you for just an hour or two for this amount of money. You might be surprised by what you can do! There are affordable alternatives that many designers know about.

New Construction

Are you thinking of building a new home soon? If so, you really need to get an interior designer involved early in the planning process. This individual will add lots of expertise to your design choices, and the result will be worth every penny you’ve spent.

Designers often work with architects. The combination of talents can produce spectacular results. Interior designers can offer much with respect to the final fit and finish of rooms and how they relate to each other with respect to color and texture. Try your best to budget in some money for the services of an interior designer on your upcoming new home project.


Decorators - Not the Same as Designers

Be careful to make a distinction between decorators and designers.  Decorators can be very talented. Many have experience with colors, wallpapers, and other finishes used to decorate a house. These are fine qualities.

Interior designers take these talents and enhance them using their training, usually having college degrees in design. A decorator rarely - if ever - has the extensive training that accompanies an interior design degree.  If you just want help selecting throw pillows for your sofa, then you might do fine working with a decorator. However, if you want to make structural changes, or even create a balanced and inviting space for your flooring, furniture, wall treatments, lighting, paints, interior trim, etc. into a cohesive space, you’d better hire a designer!


Lighting is often an afterthought- we expect light, but it’s certainly not a given.  Light fixtures and the quality of light they produce have a direct and dramatic impact on the rest of the room. The lighting of items in a room is important. Lighting can make or break a design, so be sure to look at a project at different times of day. Some of the basics of lighting is considering the foot-candles, the beam angle, the CRI (color rendering index) and lumens.  All of this takes the professional advice of a good designer, in cooperation with lighting professionals.

Be Honest

When you get ready to work on a project, be honest with yourself and the designer. If you don't get along or feel that the designer's approach is too radical or too conservative, then speak up! After all, it is your space and your money, and you’re the one who will reap the result of the interior that you are changing.

You need to respect the designer’s education and experience, but you don’t have to feel like you have to “go with” every one of the designer’s selections if you don’t share the same opinion of those choices. Go slowly at first to make sure you have the right pro on your team. Once you feel comfortable and everyone knows the plan, move ahead! 

In conclusion
Questions?  Respond and I’ll try to assist you with some more answers. I’d love to hear from you in writing about your design successes, (ideally with pictures) as well as your challenges!  Check out my newly designed website at if you need professional help in designing your space.  Remember, we convert ordinary spaces into extraordinary places!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Nine Tips for Small Space Decor

Whether you’ve been considering downsizing into a smaller space, you’re buying a condo in the city, or you are renting an apartment to be close to all the action, furnishing a small space can present challenges.  
Accompanying the new season of Spring, that brings with it warmer days and nights, you may be wanting a new look for your surroundings.  Here are some suggestions for all of us to consider in order to create a new feeling in our spaces.  If you’ve downsized into a space that’s smaller than you imagined it would be, here are some ideas to make it feel lighter, more spacious and welcoming.


Set Your Priorities:

Because small spaces are very limited, you need to figure out your priorities and allocate accordingly. Some people need a desk area, but not a dining area. Some people want a living area and would prefer a media room to a dining room.  Make the space work for your needs and don't hold yourself to what is traditional in a home. It's your home.


Think in Terms of Zones:

Ask yourself which activities need to happen in a room (weighing their relative importance), and then allocate an area- sometimes separate, sometimes overlapping other areas- for each activity. Say your family room will serve as TV lounge, casual dining spot, homework center and craft space (in that order of importance). To create a feeling of separation between zones, erect visual barriers between them.  A long, low cabinet, a sofa or a set of chairs, or even a row of tall potted plants can create a border between spaces without blocking light or making a room feel carved up.  Open shelving, decorative screens, carved wood panels and salvaged windows suspended from the ceiling can break up a space without totally closing it off.  Folding screens act as mobile partitions to hide a messy corner workspace or obscure the view of your exercise gear, and they can be folded flat and set aside when you don't need them.


Strive for Stylistic Unity

Stick to a unified vision for an entire room. A cohesive color palette, design style, wood tone or fabric can pull everything together and preserve a sense of spaciousness in a room that serves multiple functions. Look for furnishings that allow rooms to transition from one function to another: a coffee table that raises to dining height; a lidded ottoman that pulls quadruple duty as a coffee table, footrest, storage bench and extra seating; a shapely stool that also serves as a side table; a handsome secretary with a fold-down work surface for your laptop.  Portability is important, too: put double-duty pieces on casters so you can move them around easily.


Use Your Wall Space

Stretch bookcases, cabinets and open shelving to the ceiling to supersize storage space and visually enlarge a room without cutting into its footprint. Vertical storage also helps maximize floor space, so affix slender shelves or display cubes to walls instead of using floor-hogging furniture, and don't overlook the storage potential above a door or a window, which can be a perfect spot for a substantial shelf.


Furniture Scale

Your small space will probably feel and look better with moderately-sized furnishings, as it's all about scale. The apartments that actually look bigger with the furniture in them are those where the furnishings fit the space and yourself.  Just as you want to avoid furniture that's massive and overstuffed, avoid furniture and accessories that are too small. Even in a tiny space, it's important to consider functionality and good looks. To make a realistic furniture plan, use masking tape on the floor to lay out the ideal size of each piece, and then buy.


Add Some Curves:

Because most small abodes are made up of a series of boxes, it's great to add some curves. Round tables, chairs with a curve and rugs that are either in shapes or adorned with shapes like spirals and dots help to soften the box-like feel of an apartment.



Add up lights, down lights, and all around to create interest and the feeling of space.  Lights are the most amazing way of making a space feel warm and hospitable. Using several lamps throughout a space creates a warm glow in the room.


Combat Clutter With Hidden or Attractive Storage

If you're lucky enough to have a closet or a pantry, invest in an organizing system that will eke every available inch out of those spaces.  (Remember that clear/transparent storage in closets or a pantry help you see what’s in the bin without having to open it.)  If not, purchase furniture that will house all your needed supplies in style. Coffee tables, ottoman pieces and other double-duty items offer hidden storage options. Attractive baskets, bins and cloth-covered boxes on shelves or in cubbies keep everyday supplies handy without adding visual overload for the eyes.  I can’t emphasize enough the importance of this paragraph to help your space feel and look more spacious.


Dress Up Utilitarian Fixtures and Furnishings

Create clever disguises for unsightly but essential fixtures such as a water heater, utility boxes, a washer and dryer or a mountain of computer equipment.  Hang a homemade art canvas in front of an electrical panel or fuse box, or use a folding screen to cordon off a utility or exercise area. Hide the washer and dryer behind a curtain or a set of bi-fold doors.  Drape decorative cloths over office equipment in a guest room when visitors come to stay.


Have ideas to add to these nine guidelines?  Have questions about what I’ve shared?  I’d love to hear from you in writing about your design successes, (ideally with pictures) as well as your challenges!  Check out my newly updated website at if you need professional help in designing your space.  Remember, we convert ordinary spaces into extraordinary places!