Transformation Tuesday: Mins Game Round-Up

How did everyone fare last month playing the Mins Game? 

I started pretty strong, actually setting aside many things for the first week or so. I started with items that I needed to return to people ... the things that had somehow become a clutter "fixture" in the house because I was done reading it or just never used it (we all know how this goes!) so it was a good  time to get these things returned.

Then I went through the kitchen pantry, reviewing duplicates of pans, bakeware, cake decorating items that I just didn't need to keep extras of. After that, I did a sweep of bathroom/travel toiletries, tools/hardware, then the storage unit in the garage.

I wanted to see how long I could play for and it was incredible how all the tiny things added up that were in drawers, shelves, cupboards throughout my home. I made it to about day 26 or 27 before asking my partner to help contribute some items to the purge (mostly the random hardware that I had no idea what they were from/had never used).

 
 

My biggest takeaways were that I need to review paper more often (quarterly at the least) and make a point to not let project donations end up in my home. I work with amazing people who I'm helping through the declutter and reorganizing process. Often times they will offer items they want to donate to me or if I have friends that might need it. Maybe 20% of the time I think "hmm I know someone who might be able to use this" or "this is cute, how could I use it" ... but I rarely end up using them unless it's a consumable or sorts (like paper cupcake liners or a notepad).

By the end of the month, I did experience some purging fatigue - it was harder to look at things with a critical eye and not just start tossing things to meet the number to purge that day. After making it through the month, I'm looking forward to my next challenge - the digital declutter and then emergency action planning.

If you have questions/ideas/comments on either of these topics, let me know! I'd love to hear what tips you have for tackling either of these areas or find out what you'd like to work on - we're in this together, friends!

Transformation Tuesday: Entry Way Closet

I've seen many clients struggle with these hall/entry way closets, laundry storage, and pantry storage - spaces that are supposed to help us contain all the things. Somehow, they turn into the place that you try to close (or shove it close, in some cases) the door on because they get out of control but are still necessary for us to use.

A recent client was dealing with minimal storage in an awesome three story townhouse. The home had a small entry way so this closet needed a serious revamp to better store household goods and tools.

It's hard to tell in this picture but there's a pretty deep, narrow space on the right that was working against us. The cool thing about getting organized is that we so often find other things throughout the home to get repurposed for these tricky problem areas. We were able to use a small utility shelf from the living room and it fit right into that narrow spot. 

 
 

Items that didn't need quick access (like paint supplies) moved toward the back, placed the utility shelf in front with arts and crafts supplies, then reorganized the shelves to hold all extra household items (batteries, light bulbs, paper goods).

We also cleared out/pared down bulky items like excess linens and comforters that were never used but were taking up precious real estate in the closet. In about an hour, we improved the functionality of this little closet!

Transformation Tuesday: Furnishing a Home

October has flown by and I have loved every minute of it! I spent the majority of this month on an interesting, non-traditional project - furnishing a home entirely from scratch! As a professional organizer, I don't often shop (and encourage clients to use what they have at home as much as possible) and this was the ultimate shopping project.

I didn't guide decisions around clearing clutter or haul donations off to Goodwill; instead, I was researching what was needed to furnish a space with all the basic necessities, put my scheduling and logistics skills to work, and got to try my hand at some light interior design.

This project also gave me the opportunity to set up the pantry, closets, and general storage organization tools in place to make everything easy to find and streamlined.

 
 

I learned a lot during this project, namely that ordering furniture generally takes 2-4 weeks so it's best to shop local and find products in store to schedule a preferred delivery date. I added white glove service for assembly/removal of any packaging for the items. I also realized that the lists I created are super helpful if you are moving into a space after high school/college, divvying up items with a roommate when you plan to move other places, or are setting up an Airbnb with all the basics to create a comfortable space for guests.

This was fun for me to see the transformation from a clear space to having some nice pieces to create a comfortable living room. Over time, they'll be able to collect art, add pictures to the walls, etc.

I hope to find more projects like this because it tested my problem-solving skills while allowing me to get creative in different ways from my usual projects.

 

 

Transformation Tuesday: Building a Capsule Wardrobe for Fall

Fall has arrived which means I need to swap out my tank tops and sundresses for navy knits, booties, and cozy layers!

Ever since I started Project 333 to create a seasonal wardrobe, I can grab items from my closet without having to determine what "matches" or worry if I have something dressy enough to wear for an event. Having fewer options takes away so much of the guesswork of how to dress plus I'm always wearing things that fit me well, are in good condition, and are pieces that I love!

So, back to my fall capsule ... I'm so excited to bust out my shoes and start wearing socks again, but realized that three pairs need some TLC. I'm taking them to my favorite shoe repair shop downtown on errands tomorrow to get them re-soled and give them new life to carry me through this season.

 
 

 

This fall, I whittled my wardrobe down to about 44 items (I mentioned in a previous post how I don't feel the need to get down to the suggested 33 anymore) and I'm so excited for layers! I was also able to let go of a few items - a Stitch Fix top that needs a long camisole underneath to wear with leggings ... but I didn't want to buy something new in order to feel comfortable in this piece) so off to Goodwill it goes! I also noticed two tops and a pair of jeans that I didn't wear or had a grease stain (boo!) but that I wanted to keep. I decided to launder these and pack into the emergency go bag that I'm putting together (more on this later).

I'm pretty pleased with the final closet of options. This also gave me a chance to do a quick Swiffer in my closet to catch up all the dust bunnies and cleared a few small items out that needed a better home.

I think the one thing I'm missing for fall/winter is a nicer lined coat. Something that's good for rain or (the threat of) snow, that's warm, but still has clean lines/chic. I haven't bought any new clothes since my trip to Hong Kong back in January (aside from some shoes on a recent jaunt down to Portland). If you have suggestions for great coats, I'd love to hear them!

Transformation Tuesday #61: A Basement Work-In-Progress

I posted the other week on my Instagram to show how small steps contribute to the bigger transformation. Most of the projects I work on are over the course of several sessions because there's a lot to sort, review, purge, and reorganize back into a space. 

I've been working with Ariane this summer on different spaces within her home, saving the basement for last. After a few household moves, she decided it was time to get this area in better shape. A lot of items were going to stay down here, but she needed to know what was where.

Organizing is definitely a collaborative process and depending on the project, there are times when I can work on my own. I spent the first two hours getting things grouped together by the categories that appeared - Outdoor Equipment, Kitchen, Games, Books, Pictures, Art, Art Supplies, and Toys. There was a lot of recycling like old, broken down boxes and even empty boxes. This made a huge difference in clearing these out.

 
spruce-with-rachel-basement-phase-1_.jpg
 

The next session, we reviewed the labeled piles to determine what was donate and trash. I was able to get all the "keep" items onto the shelves then start working away on the trickier items - pictures and papers. A lot of these were in half full boxes so I consolidated items and identified the new categories for these: Loose Pictures, Framed Pictures, Mail/Personal Documents, Paper Memorabilia (letters, cards, notes).

 
spruce-with-rachel-basement-phase-2_.jpg
 

With our final session, we went through the piles yet again to pare down further so she only had a pile of mail to sort through. Everything else was left boxed up and labeled. 

Basements (and garages) can be especially hard to work through because there's often times a mix of bulkier items (gardening tools, outdoor gear/toys/equipment, and cleaning supplies) mixed in with forgotten items like old boxes of paperwork. It can be harder to visualize what the space will look like when totally different items are like that are grouped together.

 
 

Once a space has been overhauled, it's best to revisit on a quarterly basis as the seasons change - swap out household decor, move things inside for the winter, etc. It makes it so much easier to find what you're looking for!

Transformation Tuesday #60: Packing Light

This week's transformation is really about a mindset, and not so much the before-and-after (don't worry - plenty of those coming your way starting next week!). I have always struggled with packing for trips because there always seemed to be too many things to plan for. 

As a kid, I was used to schlepping things from my mom's house to my dad's house, so it didn't seem unnatural to haul whatever I could fit in my suitcase to my travel destination. Once I started simplifying my closet, packing became so much easier for me. I still have some challenges with shorter trips (again, what if I need something "fancy" or the weather changes suddenly?). 

For this week's short jaunt down to Portland, I knew I needed to really consolidate because I'll be carrying my bag around for a couple of hours before checking in to my Airbnb. Since I'm using my versatile Topo backpack tote as my purse, this is the perfect opportunity to use my little bag that I picked up at a Monoprix in Paris. 

My tips for packing for short trips:

  1. Stay organized by making a list!
  2. Be realistic about your travel activities - what's the likelihood of needing something for a fancy dinner out? Pick versatile items that can layer and hold up with multiple wears.
  3. Leave space in your bag for any souvenirs you plan to pick up and snacks when you're in transit
 
spruce-with-rachel-packing-light_.jpg
 

How do you keep from overpacking? Would love to hear your tips!

Transformation Tuesday #59: Kitchen Clean-Up

Whoops, summer happened and I haven't been keeping up with these transformations! Don't worry, I have plenty before-and-afters to inspire you this fall when the weather turns and you don't mind organizing as much because you aren't missing out on great weather :)

This week's transformation Tuesday is brought to you by a lovely new client who wanted some help finding homes for things in the main floor of her home - living room, dining room, and her recently renovated kitchen. I am in love with this kitchen! She knocked down a wall and was able to expand the storage so she had plenty of cupboards and drawers to store everything (and soft closing drawers to boot!).

Most of the people I work with need to edit their collections to make space or at the very least, make things fit in their current space. This client has the opposite problem - with newly available space in her kitchen, she hadn't decided where to store things so the long counter tops attracted most of the clutter.

She has all these deep drawers that can store most of her kitchen appliances so I started with clearing those away, except for the juicer and coffee maker that get used on the regular. Then I focused with getting all similar dishes, food storage, spices, etc grouped together in the space they get used the most. Spices and cooking oils stay near the stove, baking items are in a cupboard above the oven, consolidating all the food storage containers with foil, plastic wrap, lunch bags.

Spending a little extra time to decide where things go allows you to start putting things away. You can always adjust and fine-tune as needed! 

 
 

Transformation Tuesday #58: Another Detached Garage!

I wasn't kidding when I said it was garage season ... this was another fun organizing project working with my lovely friend Wendall. She uses this space for additional storage for her home and plans to create more of a work bench space where the main shelving lives. 

I snapped this picture before we started - from here, you can't see the work bench area she wanted to create. We came up with a plan of clearing out large items that needed to go. Extra tools, paint buckets, empty boxes - they all needed to go.

 
 

What a difference a few hours can make! We organized all the like items together (tools, paint supplies, gardening supplies, seasonal decor) and moved any items to sell/return to others toward the front of the garage. Now she has the space to set up her work bench on the shelving next to the door. 

I filled up my CR-V with donations and she rented a UHaul van to cart away trash and recycling. It can be so deceiving, but items can find their way into the nooks and crannies of a space. Until we start to clear it away, do we realize how much can hide away!

Have you started on your garage clean-out? I'd love to hear your tips and tricks in the comments below.

Transformation Tuesday #57: Garage Clear-Out

It's GARAGE SEASON, Y'ALL! I've been organizing several garages and basements this spring and summer and absolutely loving it. 

I got to spend a morning with a dear friend working on her detached garage. This is an area that's so easy to forget about because it feels very "out of sight, out of mind." My friend has been on a purging journey this year and it was time to finally tackle this space together.

 
 

We used the carport as the staging area for trash, recycling, and donation items. We worked through the garage clockwise, separating larger items to create more space before we began sorting through various tools, cleaners, and outdoor toys.

We were able to clear away two carloads worth of donations by the time we were done! There were several toys the kiddos had outgrown, furniture items like a rolling cart, lawn chairs, an old high chair, multiple BBQ grills - you name it, we found it! This was an opportunity to "shop" the garage for the "best of" items so that we could give away the duplicates.

 

A quick sweep and it felt like a new space. Sweeping is serious business. Now that several large items were removed, we could stack the bikes alongside one of the walls and create better accessibility with the industrial shelving. 

 
 

So satisfying to open up a pathway in this space! Spending some extra time to thoughtfully edit your garage or basement will free up your schedule in the future - no more hunting for tools or cleaning products. When you know where things belong, it's easier to put things away and stay on top of the maintenance of the room.

Transformation Tuesday #56: Reading Nook

Sneaking in this transformation before the day is over! I've been working with a lovely client on several spaces within their home got a chance to organize this little reading nook.

We had already done some paper purging and furniture-swapping in the study and guest rooms in our previous organizing sessions. They had a few chores they needed to tackle around the house so I asked if I could work on this space.

It's a great space situated off a hallway between a couple bedrooms. I love these projects because they are a great confidence-builder for those who feel overwhelmed with spaces like a bedroom closet or a basement.

In these areas, start with items that don't belong - remove any trash, recycling, dishes, laundry. After that, it's a just a matter of straightening up the books, art, and display items.

 
 

What are some of the "easy" areas you like to cross off your tidying to-do list? Let me know in the comments below!

Transformation Tuesday #55: Spring + Summer Capsules

Wow, it's been awhile since my last Transformation Tuesday post ... two months to be exact! I guess I needed a break. I've had a busy year and am still figuring out keeping myself organized when it comes to scheduling my own self-care, personal organizing projects, creating a content calendar, etc etc. That list seems to never end!

I enjoy sharing the process every season when I update my capsule wardrobe. My little organizing mind loves to keep track of how much I have, identify patterns in usage and what my aesthetic is leaning toward that season, and "breaking the rules" a little bit. I talked about this a little bit in January's capsule-building post. I feel way more comfortable picking the items that work for me vs. sticking to exactly 33 items.

So here's how it went these last two seasons:

April 2017 / Spring Capsule

I somehow managed to not take many pictures! Eek. I did clear out my closet like usual and it was a good reminder to swiffer the floor in there. I also invited my friend Maria over the following day because I needed my own spruce assistant to talk me through a couple items. I was on the fence on a few tops and cotton dresses that I couldn't seem to let go of. I would end up wearing them once in awhile and didn't know exactly why I wasn't ready to donate them. 

Maria asked me about when I liked to wear them and we discovered that they ended up being "work" clothes for basement/grungy days. They were all cotton, stretchy, comfortable yet cute. I was ok with getting them dusty and they were comfortable for the demands of crouching, kneeling, and all the bustling around of working on a basement. She suggested I create a mini capsule of just my work clothes. This was genius! I hadn't thought of this before and now I have about seven items in my work capsule, that I only wear for basement/garage days.

 
 

July 2017 / Summer Capsule

I actually found some time on July 1st to spend some time going through my clothes and it felt so good! In less than 45 minutes, I pulled everything out of the closet, dumped it on my bed, and started my review. I feel like I really love where my wardrobe is at. I usually treat myself in July to a birthday Stitch Fix box but I think I'm gonna skip it this year, mostly because I don't want to make more decisions about what to swap in new items for! 

This time around, I made a list of where I started and found it was easy to go in this order:

  • Outerwear
  • Pants / shorts
  • Sweaters / cardigans
  • Long-sleeves / 3/4 sleeves
  • Tees
  • Dresses
  • Tanks
  • Shoes
 
 

I'm pretty pleased with the 42 items I picked out. I'm very excited to break out the flowy tank/sleeveless tops and lots of cotton dresses!

What are you excited to wear in this summer's capsule wardrobe? 

 

Transformation Tuesday #52: A Year of Sprucing

I'm excited I have hit the one year mark of full-time organizing, decluttering, simplifying, and transformations! I honestly didn't know what would happen over that year. I continue to love this work more and more, if that's even possible. From blogging about organizing, to tracking business expenses, to the hands-on work with clients ... I am thrilled that I call this my job.

There are days when I question how I can sustain this. Where's my next project coming from? Am I setting the right expectations for my clients? Do I really know what I'm doing? While I will always have these nagging questions floating around my brain, seeing how I've impacted another person's life through simplifying their space is worth it and why I keep at it.

With that said, today isn't a fun before and after (don't worry, there are more to come!), but a round up of donations that have left the homes I've worked in this past year.

 
 

These pictures represent all the stuff donated to Goodwill, Interconnection, Seattle Recreative, and Second Use. What you don't see:

  • 46 trips to Goodwill
  • 2,687 miles traveled
  • 25 happy clients living lighter with less stuff

I'm excited to see what this next year holds for me and this little organizing business. Let me know what your favorite transformation has been or if there are certain spaces you'd like to see a before and after of!

 

 

 

Transformation Tuesday #51: the Mom Cave

In a recent organizing project, I had the pleasure of working with a fellow small business owner who wanted support in refreshing her home office, also known as "the mom cave."

She had great ideas about what she wanted for the space, and even had a framed peg board, ready to be adorned with all her arts and crafts supplies. The space had so many great organizing solutions - clear bins, industrial post shelving, small plastic drawer caddies ... but nothing was really working the way it should.

We spent two half-day sessions working on this space. We started here:

 
 

The biggest problem area were the large plastic tote bins. They were towering on the shelving unit, hanging off about six inches. These held all her work supplies and needed to remain on these shelves. We spent half of the session editing these down so we could consolidate as much as possible. We emptied a few bins/containers that she could repurpose elsewhere in the home and made a list of what we needed to finish up. We decided on the smaller Samla bins from Ikea and color-code the labels; this makes it easier to know what's what at a glance.

We decided that all craft supplies would live on the peg board and used the hooks she had in place, picking up a few buckets from Michaels to store all the paint brushes, pens, markers, pencils, etc. This is definitely my favorite part of this room and I would call this a Pinterest win!

We swapped out the DIY work station for a proper Ikea table (shout out to another client for selling it to us). Puzzle and paper storage moved away from behind the office door to under the table.

 
 

This was an incredible transformation and it was just a few adjustments and designating homes for items that made the difference. What's your favorite organizing tip for a work-from-home or office space?

Transformation Tuesday #50: Get Your Garage Ready for Spring!

As I've mentioned before, the garage is that critical space that most people pass through everyday, but can't seem to get a handle on keeping organized. Some people struggle with being able to park their vehicle in the garage. Oftentimes when that happens, the garage starts to accumulate more stuff from empty Amazon boxes that you don't have time to break down, to friends or family needing a "quick storage spot" and leaving their stuff for safekeeping.

I spent a half day with a client going through her garage so that we could make room for her car. We spent about an hour sorting through, box by box, grouping into these categories:

  1. Trash
  2. Recycle
  3. Donation
  4. Keep - store in house
  5. Keep - store in garage

After an hour of sorting, I started moving the categories of items around. It happened to be trash day (yay!) so clearing that out helped free up floor space. All the items she wanted to keep in the garage didn't take up that much room, so I was able to stack a few bins alongside the wall. This is a great opportunity to grab a broom and clear out the cobwebs.

 
 

I moved donation items to my car so I could haul those away then spent the rest of the time putting various household items back inside. This is what takes the longest, but after seeing a newly cleared space, should give you a little boost of energy so you can finish out the project.

Are you ready to work on your garage this spring?

 

 

Transformation Tuesday #49: that bathroom drawer again!

In my sprucing adventures last week with my mom, she found she had all kinds of extra little clear containers which I decided to repurpose for this week's project: that bathroom drawer.

I think this is my third iteration on this drawer but now I feel like it's just how it's supposed to be, know what I'm talking about?

My mom gave me a larger clear container that I turned sideways so I could shift things around. Also, since I recently cut my hair short again, I could move the hair ties and bobby pins toward the back (always good to have a few of these around). 

If you need a quick tidiness/happiness boost, here's how to conquer the toiletries drawer:

  1. Empty the entire drawer and wipe it down
  2. Have your cat join you for moral support (Archie just stared at me the whole time)
  3. Replace like items back into containers (hair, skincare, makeup, dental care, etc)
  4. Toss anything that's expired and donate unused shampoo, toothpaste, lotions, etc (or partially used, depending on the charity - the Ballard Food Bank accepts half used toiletries)
 
 

And voila! A quick tidy up can save you a little bit of time when you're getting ready to head out or when you're sleepily washing your face before  you crash for the night.

Transformation Tuesday #49: Basement + Laundry storage

This is a particularly fun transformation post because I did this with my mom, the person who taught me to be organized, respect my things, and keep small spaces tidy!

She and my stepdad moved to LA two years ago for his job and she wanted to go through some of the bins that she had hurriedly packed away during the move. She's no stranger to tackling these projects on her own but I offered to help because I knew that with our powers combined, we would be pretty speedy. Plus I was helping haul away all the donation items.

First, we started with the laundry area. We started with the way back and went bin by bin. Our goal was to clear out trash and donations, then repack items for storing. This was mostly fancy dishware, my stepdad's jam-making paraphernalia, and a few odds and ends. In two hours, we filled up the recycling and trash bins, and had tower of four or five empty storage bins. We got rid of about half the stuff that was stored down there!

 
 

Mom would have kept going but I forced her to take a coffee break. We needed to re-energize with some lattes and shortbread.

When we got back to it, we worked on the storage underneath the stairwell. This contained clothes, outdoor gear, and my mom's house decor (Christmas and other seasonal stuff). We pared down quite a bit here as well - maybe about a third of the stuff went away. Although my mom is still hanging on to my First Communion dress and veil (which is 25 years old, btw). Since she purged so much other stuff, I told her I would not judge her for hanging onto this!

 
 

After all was said and done, Mom said she felt good about having me there to speed up the process, help make decisions, and of course, clear stuff away so that it wasn't sitting around the house.

These projects are so much easier with a buddy! What kind of home projects do you like having a friend or family member help out with?

Transformation Tuesday #48: Where It All Began

I was racking my brain for ideas on transformations to post about when I stumbled across pictures of my own home improvement. I was kind of shocked to see the before picture because I really don't remember what my living room used to look like!

This was the moment that I realized "it all begin here" ... meaning, the decision to save up (in cash, no less!) for bamboo flooring in my little condo was the moment where I decided I wanted to really love my home. I knew I was going to stay here for a while and my partner had moved in a few months earlier. There was a need to make the space our own.

This project paved the way for all the organizing projects I've done since - you know things are going to get worse before they get better (having tools out everywhere during construction or pulling everything out and sorting when purging). That feeling when everything is back where it should be is priceless. Once we completed installing the new flooring, it was easier to maintain (we have cats) and we slowly started updating our furniture, piece by piece.

 
 

It was fun to look back and see how dramatic the change was from darker furniture, lots of dark chocolate browns and light cream accents to neutral blue-gray tones with pops of color. 

What's the biggest transformation that you've made in your home? Has it changed how you treat your stuff/maintain your space?