Studio Utility Closet

Here are a few before and afters from last year at a Business' Studio in Birmingham. The pictures are of a utility closet where cleaning supplies, maintenance items, and dog things are kept. I visited the business while in Birmingham a few weeks ago, and it still looks like the finished product!


Bill & Julie's Testimonial

"A year and a half ago, we moved into our house during a crazy time. Julie was pregnant and finishing up a graduate degree, and Bill was working full time. Because of the circumstances, we were not able to effectively organize our belongings. Since we moved in, we worked on organizing bit by bit. In one day, Stephanie helped us organize our master closet, developed a system for us to manage our mail clutter, and gave us great ideas for our office/ play room. She asked us questions to learn about our habits, and tailored her advice to give us a system we could maintain even with the demands of a 15 month old son.  

Thanks to Stephanie, we are finally able to truly enjoy our new home! She was a joy to work with on this project, and we plan on having her back to finish other projects. She was courteous, professional, and enthusiastic. We highly recommend Orderly Manners for anyone who wants to bring peace and organization to their lives!"

Julie and Bill Sorenson- Jacksonville, FL   


The Top 6 Causes of Clutter #6 - Real Simple

#6 “I want to declutter, but I can’t get motivated.”
Solution: This may be due to a phenomenon known as delayed discounting, says Daniel Hommer, M.D., chief of brain imaging at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in Bethesda, Maryland, and an expert on motivation. It works like this: If it takes a long time to reach a goal, you value that goal less than if you could reach it quickly―making it harder to get started. Make projects small and rewards immediate, says Hommer. After you organize a distinct area, dress it up―add decorative paper to the bottom of a now spartan toiletry drawer, for instance. Keep at it and your home will become not only more orderly but also more beautiful.


The Top 6 Causes of Clutter #5 - Real Simple

#5 “If I put the bills away, I’ll never pay them on time.”
Solution: Many clutterers have gotten into the habit of organizing their world visually and spatially, says Randy Frost. They’re afraid that if they put stuff away, they won’t remember it, because they won’t see it. “But it’s a perception of order,” he says, “not real order.” You may initially recall that the electric bill is next to the potted plant on the kitchen counter, but it will soon be buried by other items you need to have in plain sight, too, like invitations and permission slips.

Even hard-core clutterers can train themselves to complete tasks without obvious visual cues, says Frost. For starters, if you’re used to leaving things in piles, designate a logical home for every object. Set up automatic e-mail reminders to help you remember to pay bills. In addition, if you feel as if out of sight is out of mind, make transparency your friend. Take items destined for closets, the garage, or the basement and store them in clear plastic bins so you can always see what’s there.


The Top 6 Causes of Clutter #4 - Real Simple

#4 “I want this chartreuse muumuu to go to a good home.”
Solution: People often want to find just the right place for their belongings. The problem is, trying to find just the right place can be paralyzing, says interior designer Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan. And while you wait, say, for your niece to move into a starter apartment, your old love seat and dinette set gather dust.

To satisfy your desire for perfect placement, look for a charity with which you feel a strong connection―perhaps a shelter for women. To identify a worthy one near you, visit 
charitynavigator.org, a nonprofit research group that evaluates charities based on how effectively they use donations. Go to the Advanced Search page, select “Human Services” charities, and type in your ZIP code. Contact the three- or four-star charities that interest you and ask if they accept donations. If that sounds like too much trouble, call your nearest house of worship and inquire whether it has a clothing drive coming up. Ask if the donation is tax-deductible, and get a receipt.


The Top 6 Causes of Clutter #3 - Real Simple

#3 “But I might need seven sleeping bags one day.”
Solution: Everyone fears tossing something out only to realize―six months, a year, or five years down the road―that she shouldn’t have. Keeping things around “just in case” makes people feel safe. If your main problem is an overflowing closet, try the “packing for a trip” trick. It goes like this: You’re packing for a month’s vacation―you’ll need both dressy and casual clothes, for warm and cool weather, and you can fill two big suitcases. Then take all the other things and place them on a rack in your basement or attic. If you want to wear any of those exiled clothes in the coming days, grab them. But as the months go by, you’ll be shocked at how few of those clothes you need or even think about. From there, it’s a baby step to a Goodwill bag.

Still have separation anxiety? Box up the stuff you’re not quite able to part with and write on the outside, "Open in August 2011"―or whatever date it will be one year from now. Then tuck it away in your basement, attic, or storage facility. If a year from now you find that you didn’t miss the items, it will be much easier to part with them.


The Top 6 Causes of Clutter #2 - Real Simple

#2 “I think this brooch/chair/ugly knickknack might be valuable again.”
Solution: When you hear the appraisers onAntiques Roadshow say that someone’s grandmother’s old Bakelite bracelets would now fetch $500, it’s easy to wonder whether your vintage piece might be worth a bundle. Stop guessing and find out what the item in question is truly worth. Take a 10-minute spin on eBay, searching for an item similar to yours. (Click on “Advanced Search,” then “Completed Listings Only.”) If the sale prices look promising―or if you can’t find equivalent items―consider having the item appraised by an expert. Many local auction houses will do this for free in hopes that you will sell the item through them later. (Google “auctions” and your city to find an auction house near you.) For the greatest certainty, hire an independent appraiser through the American Society of Appraisers (appraisers.org) or the Appraisers Association of America (appraisersassoc.org). Be sure to ask for an estimate first.

Remember―for something to be considered valuable, it must be in tip-top shape. “People think their old baseball cards or 
National Geographics are worth money,” says professional organizer Caitlin Shear. “But that’s true only if they’re packaged in a Mylar sleeve and in pristine condition.”


The Top 6 Causes of Clutter #1 - Real Simple

For the next week we are going to focus on the reason clutter exists in our lives. Each day, we are going to focus on the top excuses for not killing the clutter bug, using an article by Real Simple. By the weeks end we will have a better idea of where our clutter comes from and how we can rid our lives of it without guilt. 
#1 “If I get rid of this wedding vase, I’ll feel guilty.”
Solution: People feel a responsibility to be good stewards of things, says Randy Frost, a professor of psychology at Smith College, in Northampton, Massachusetts, and a coauthor of Buried in Treasures ($17, amazon.com). Especially items they’ve been given by or inherited from a loved one. Getting rid of a present feels like disrespecting the giver. But remember the true meaning of gifts.

“When you receive a present,” says Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, an interior designer in New York City and the founder of 
ApartmentTherapy.com, “your duty is to receive it and thank the giver―not to keep the gift forever.” That goes for items you inherit. “Ask yourself, ‘How many things do I really need to honor this person’s memory?’” says Frost. Select a few objects with strong associations to your late grandmother, say, and keep them in places where you’ll see them. Let the rest go to people who want them more than you do. Likewise, don’t be shy about admitting a mistake you made and moving on. The $120 pair of heels you bought last spring that pinch? Cut yourself some slack and give them away.


Client #2 Testimonial

This morning, I received a testimonial from Client #2. You will see in her writing how very precious and big-hearted she is. She is one of the few people I have had the pleasure of knowing that is pure in heart. She loves her family and Jesus more than anything in her life. What a pleasure it was working with her in her home. One day when I was scheduled to come over, she had a surprise birthday breakfast at her house for me! The kind of love and joy she has is contagious. Here is what she had to say about Orderly Manners:

"Working with Stephanie was a complete joy, somehow I was even changing into a nicer person to live with, I don’t know if this was because the chaos was leaving my life or because I was spending so much time with Stephanie – she is beautiful inside and out.

Before Orderly Manners, I believed I was organized and that my house had become messy because that’s just the way busy people’s homes are.  I believed that homes with young children, and especially homes with recently added new babies like mine were destined to stay in chaos until the children moved out (and not because they need some focused attention and decluttering). I changed my opinion of this after viewing the changes in the rooms of client #1. The hours spent in organizing my space taught me some valuable lessons, 1. my way wasn’t working 2. a house doesn’t have to contain everything you’ve ever purchased or been given. My way of organizing was, books go here, movies go here Stephanie’s way was…inspirational books go here, parenting books go here, the husband’s books go here and movies go in order of their type, children’s here, parent’s movies here– I realized this method worked - I could get rid of some items because I had excesses in several categories. Stephanie’s way of organzing helps you see the clutter and get rid of it.

I wish all photos could be displayed because the most magical transformation occurred in my bedroom, sadly though we jumped in and completed the task prior to getting any photos taken. After working in my bedroom a wonderful peace and tranquility occurred, you should have seen my happily surprised husband – he got to see the wow factor at least. With my room clutter free and organized I was then able to credibly say to my daughter clean up your room.  Prior to Orderly Manners my bedroom contained volumes of movies, bins of old papers, a messy bookcase, scattered clothes piles and these were just a normal part of living life and we were constantly loosing items, misplacing them and never knowing where things were because of it. NOT ANY MORE - THE CHAOS IS GONE my house stays clean because without the clutter and designating a place for everything, it just doesn’t have to be a mess.  Warning – it can be addictive – since Stephanie’s help I’ve organized my kitchen and almost every other drawer in my house. Living chaos free is the life for me. THANK YOU ORDERLY MANNERS – THANK YOU STEPHANIE YOU ARE A DREAM."


Client #2: Live Oak, FL

The last few months have been a bit busy with summer here. So many friends have been needing extra help with big events in their lives (moving, weddings, having babies, etc.). However, I have managed to get a few pictures together from a client - we will call her Client #2 - to show you some current work of Orderly Manners.

Client #2 has a few hours, one day a week, to work on organizing her home. She and I took four separate days, totally about 10 hours to complete these projects over a couple of months. While we do have a few spaces not pictured, because I couldn't control my urge to organize long enough to get those must have before pictures. (You know how moving one object, just leads to another object being moved, and before you know it everything is perfect, but there aren't any wow pictures to show for it.  I hate it when that happens.) We also, have at least one more closet to organize, before this house is completed. I will be posting those pictures, as soon as we get back together.

This house is also a good example of organizing on a budget. We did not purchase anything new to get these projects completed. When we were in need of something for a room, we would "go shopping" in their house to find it elsewhere. I really enjoy looking around homes to find objects to repurpose, its fun and is easy on family budgets. More than that, when we were in the middle of a project and saw something that we absolutely needed, especially working within this client's time restricted schedule, I left the client with homework. One of her assignments was to get a few baskets for under her bathroom cabinet. We didn't have them on hand when these pictures were taken, but since then the baskets have been purchased and the items placed in them. 

Pictured in this post is Client #2's Daughter's Room, their Master Bathroom, and a Hall Closet that we have since labeled the electronics/luggage closet.

Daughter's Room: We decluttered quite a bit and organized many smaller things that most little girls have these days, but unfortunately can't be seen in the pictures: Nail Polishes, Sand Art, Webkinz, Polly Pockets, Littlest Pet Shop Pets & Accessories, Jewelry, Hair Accessories, and all the items you see below. This little girl LOVES stuffed animals. She was in school when we worked on her bedroom, so we couldn't declutter her space without her final word. There is a blue tub and storage box in the pictures near her dresser. They were filled with part of her stuffed animal collection. Her Orderly Manners homework was to decide which plush friends she was keeping and which she was going to bless others with. I've heard from her mom that they both went through her collection once more and have decided to bless others with a lot more than her homework required. I'm so proud of this little girl. 


Master Bathroom: We made the place more functional for this couple. While keeping in mind their already set morning/evening routines, we tried not to move too much around. We did organize every drawer and cabinet (sifting through old products that weren't being loved anylonger), cleaned up the counter space, so there wasn't so much going on,  and were able to move their coffeemaker and such things out to their master sitting area for a coffee bar to allow morning and evening conversations between the two.

After - Coffee Station Now in Master Sitting Area in Bedroom

Hall Closet for Electronics & Luggage: This was a closet that I wanted to organize. We did it in about an hour. This closet is now where the family goes to charge and store electronic things, like portable DVD players, cameras, camcorders, etc. They sort of used this closet for this purpose before, along with housing other things that weren't being used, so we cleaned it up to give this closet purpose and easier access. The closet is also being used to store luggage and bags. The daughter stores her daily school things in here, too, since its right across from her bedroom and on the way out the door.  Our idea for the future of this closet is to get some shelving put up for the storage bins and the luggage, but for a one hour project, it now functions and looks a whole lot better.



Busy Making Life Orderly for Others

I haven't found the time to post a new blog in almost a month - yikes! I have been busy getting my sweet family and beautiful friends' homes organized for better family life.

In these pictures, you will see one such project I have been working on with the homeowner. The first room is a Utility Room, where the family does laundry, stores home-repair/maintenance items, keeps their deep freezer and extra countertop kitchen appliances that they don't use on a regular basis. This room, for the last few years, was hard to get around in due to the lack of working organization. It was burdensome to do laundry in because of all the miscellaneous "stuff" laying about and getting to the freezer was pretty daunting before, as well. The homeowner and I spent 2 hours a day for 5 days on this room decluttering, finding homes for everything inside it and creating a working system to maintain order and peace in their home.

The second room is the Hobby/Play Room, where the family keeps games, hunting gear, sewing items, party/event goods - they host and help with parties very frequently - floral decorations, and the grand-childrens' play area.  This room was a storage room before, but over the past 5 years had become such a catch-all that it hadn't been assessable in well over a year. From the pictures, you can see that the room was filled to the max. There was not even enough room to open the door fully, because things were stacked so high. The homeowner and I spent 3 hours a day for 3 days on this room. What used to be chaos and a property loss, is now a place where children can play in safety and items can be stored systematically and in a easy to locate manner.

We had so much fun getting these rooms in order, that we couldn't stop organizing the rest of their home. In a little less than two months, working only a few hours a week (usually about 2-3) we have the entire home in perfect order. The homeowners now know exactly what they have, where it is located, and can easily tell anyone where to find anything they own, as well! This was definitely not the case before, as we discovered on day one, when we continued to find multiple items of so many things. Before, when they needed something they owned, but couldn't find it, they would buy a replacement, because it was easier to buy another than to spend hours searching for it in their home. This home won't be needing cleaning supplies (located above the washer & dryer) for a very long time : )

One of my favorite things about organizing is the before and afters. Its amazing what a few hours of focused work can do for not only a room, but for the lives involved.  I love that by simply repurposing things the homeowners already had (they had plenty of storage solutions, but had not put the time or effort into using them), we were able to get their home in order. Now they can keep their doors open to visitors, be better stewards of what they have been given, and they have acquired the joy of giving what they didn't use to others in need. How wonderful to minister to families in such a practical yet life changing way.


Get Organized with Women's Health Mag

I was reading through Women's Health Magazine, while at the Gym yesterday morning. There is an article on how to get "Energized - in 60 Seconds or Less!" in this month's issue. Of the 5 Tips they mentioned, Tip 3 was "Break Your Hoarding Habits"

Here's what Brigid Sweeney of WHM had to say, "A messy desk or kitchen counter can be a serious drain. 'The reminder of everything we haven't gotten to yet really drags us down,' says Emily Wilska, founder of The Organized Life, a professional organizing company in San Francisco. If you don't have time for an overhaul, simply filing loose papers into folders can clear your mind. Wilska recommends using a tray for critical items, so you can remove them from sight without worrying they'll be forgotten."

Here are some trays that I would recommend for this simple, energizing project:


Towel Name Tags

Do you ever get frustrated when your spouse, sibling, or roommate take your bath towel? It normally leaves me stranded, soaking wet without a towel, if I don't notice mine is missing before getting into the shower. I always return my towel to the towel rack for drying, so I know my husband has taken mine when it isn't there.

I came up with an idea last week on how to help prevent this towel confusion from happening (leaning towards the idea that the towel thief is clueless that they are in fact stealing another person's towel and there needs to be better communication).

Tonight, I introduced my idea to real life.

This is what I did to make my towel name tags:
1) Printed on white card stock my name & my husband's name, using the computer
2) Cut our names out of the card stock leaving them each in a box shape
3) Taped the front and back sides of each name tag using clear packing tape, so they would be waterproof
4) Cut the excess tape from around each name tag
5) Pinned a large safety pin to the corner of each tag
6) Safety pinned the name tags to the outer corner of each towel, so they wouldn't get in the way during dry-offs.

Hopefully, these tags will fill in the communication gap and I won't be left scurrying to get a towel, soaking wet again.