Sell it!

Hi Folks! I’m dialing in from the very chilly, very slushy, always fabulous NYC. Here in the city, aside from fashion and food, the conversation on a lot of lips is real estate. Whether you’re looking to rent a new place, buy your first home or sell your small apartment and upgrade to a new joint, everyone is in the game in some way. Organizing a space is extremely important when it comes to selling a property or renting a listing. Here are some reasons why decluttering your space will make your apartment more appealing to a potential renter or buyer:

 

for-sale-sign

 

  • Your space will look LARGER and LIGHTER!

Whether you’re living in the tightest studio or a five bedroom house, the main thing lookie-loos want to see is the potential of a space. It’s hard to see how roomy a place can be when magazines and books are crammed into a bookcase, dishes are piled in the sink, too many towels are jammed into a linen closet and kids’ toys are littering the living room.  With all that stuff purged or tucked away, your one-bedroom, one-bath will look like a castle. And have I told you about the LIGHT, Sheila? Well! With trinkets gone from window sills and plants contained to one spot, light can flow into a room with the ease of angels. Cue the harp.

  • Your space will be easier to clean between showings!

When you’re showing your home to the public, cleaning is obviously very important. Nobody wants to smell a funny smell or see a year’s worth of grime on a stovetop. They want to feel welcomed and they want to envision themselves living in your space. But it’s a big challenge to dust a piano with 27 framed photos on it. It’s a nightmare to vacuum a guest room with paperwork strewn about and it’s a down right nuisance to wipe down a bathroom counter with a zillion different bottles and jars populating the place. Clear out the stuff and cleaning will be a piece of chocolate cake. Mmm…cake.

  • Your space will be able to show off its goods!

Many homes have special features like crown moulding, hardwood floors and high ceilings. But how can you focus on the beauty of a space when the main focus is all that darn clutter? Clear out that negative stuff zapping precious energy from a home and help direct the attention to the glitter and magic that makes your space shine. Make it sparkle!

 

You can declutter on your own or you can hire a professional like me to help you get your place ready for an audience. It’s worth the effort! Many realtors say that organized listings stay on the market for a shorter amount of time and they get a higher asking price than cluttered spaces. Sell it, baby!

With love, light and less clutter,

Jeni

 

 

 

Renting More Space

Hi Friends!
I’m going to brag for a second…I am lucky enough to live in an apartment that has a huge walk-in closet that feels like an attic. It’s so cavernous that I need a big boy ladder to get to the very back of it. It’s so spacious that I even contemplated renting it out to European travelers on Air BNB but friends convinced me that renting a windowless closet is kind of a cruel trick to play on a sweet, unsuspecting couple from Denmark.

ANYWAY – not all of us are lucky enough to have great storage space like moi. That’s why, after you’ve exhausted your residential resources and sorted through everything in your apartment and you’re not using it as a dumping ground, it’s actually very okay to rent a small off-site storage space. I highly recommend getting a storage space when going through a transition like moving, getting a divorce, expecting a baby, renovating your apartment or dealing with your sports equipment addiction (I’m sure there’s a Sports Equipment Anonymous meeting you should be attending right now). Do NOT use a storage space as a place holder for making real, honest decisions about your stuff but DO use a storage space as a short-term solution that fits into a larger plan.

Feel free to check out this fun little interview I did with Manhattan Mini Storage: http://blog.manhattanministorage.com/a-conversation-with-the-clutter-cowgirl
Enjoy!

With love, light and less clutter,
Jeni

Fresh Starts

Like most of you I spent my summer outside, enjoying nature, meeting up with friends and soaking in the sun (with sunscreen). Summer is great but I’m completely in love with the Fall – maybe because I’ve always considered September to be about fresh starts. My birthday is in September, the Jewish New Year is in September and there is a crispness in the air that clears my brain. And whether or not you have children, the idea of Back-to-School is a concept that never quite leaves the system. It’s a time to learn, to take stock of what we need to do in the next year to succeed, to leave the past year’s flaws at our feet (which is pretty much the idea of Yom Kippur – the Jewish holiday when we atone for our sins and try to make things right with ourselves and our higher power).

In addition to all the psychological shifts this season brings, let’s figure out what this upcoming time of year means for you when it comes to getting organized.

Clothing:
Now that summer is over, there are accessories and seasonal pieces that will need to be packed away. Please take an hour and evaluate the quality of your bathing suits, beach towels, sun dresses, sandals, sunglasses, flip flops and any other items that scream Summer to you. If any of these have seen their last hurrah, say good-bye and be grateful that you’re saving storage space by getting rid of these pieces. Now you can pack away the keepers in a labeled bin in the back of your closet and have them ready and available for next year.

Food:
As the seasons change, so do our choices in fresh foods. Take a half an hour to clean out your fridge and weed out any funky fruits and veggies that didn’t quite survive to see the Fall cycle. It’s time to restock your supply with Fall-centric foods. Wipe down the fridge, toss any unused leftovers and take a mental note of what did and didn’t get consumed by you and your family.

Shelter:
As it’s still quite beautiful out so use this fantastic in-between weather to do any home repairs that require you to be exposed to the elements. Roof issues (including gutter cleaning), terrace repair, autumn gardening efforts and anything that requires preparing for cold weather treatments while it’s not yet too frigid out.

These are just a handful of areas where you can use this shift in weather and sensibilities to get back into swing of things after your summer vacations and retreats. What else comes to mind when you think of Fall?

With love, light and less clutter…
Jeni

Mail Mania

Despite the popularity of email, texts and Facebook messaging, we all still get paper mail on a daily basis. Most of my clients complain about how much of their mail seems to accumulate without them even realizing it. I made a fun and quick VIDEO highlighting my easy 3-step mail wrangling solution F.A.R.: FILE, ACT, READ.

 

FILE   Only file things that no longer require your attention but you know you need to keep for the long-term. Apartment leases, birth certificates, job reviews, love letters and notices from the state lottery informing you that you’re a millionaire are a handful of examples of FILE-worthy items.

 

ACT   These are pieces of mail that still need attention: bills to pay, your cousin’s neighbor’s dog’s birthday party invite to reply “NO” to, fruit-juice-of-the-month subscription to cancel. Anything that needs immediate action are things that go in the ACT pile.

 

READ   When you receive a magazine or catalog in the mail, leaf through it. If know you want to give it a more intense look-see later on, pop that sucker in the READ category.

 

When you tackle your mail on a daily basis and stick to these very direct and basic steps, you can save so much precious time and finally be able to enjoy more stimulating activities, like catching up on all 47 seasons of Dancing With The Stars. I won’t tell you who won.

 

With love, light and less clutter,

Jeni

Being Selfish Will Help You Get Organized!

Most of us consider selfishness to be a horrible flaw, a dent in our character and a trait we’d use to describe our worst social enemies on Facebook. But, in reality, when you’re setting out on your organizing project, it is imperative that you remain focused on yourself and nobody else.

Here are two examples of how being selfish will help you to get organized:

  • You say: “But my Aunt Rita bought me all of these Lenox porcelain figurines! I have to display them in case she pops over.”

First of all, why is Aunt Rita popping over unexpectedly? That’s rude! But more to the point, this is your house, you pay the rent or the mortgage and Aunt Rita does not. When your home is a reflection of who you are, and everything has a purpose and a place, it is a haven. You will feel embraced by the energy your home emits every time you walk through the door. There is no way you can feel that loving vibe if your home is a guilt trap of gifts that you trip over every time you turn your key. This doesn’t mean you can’t have tokens in your home that remind you of the gift bearer, please just make sure they’re not piles of junk and clutter that get in the way of a functioning, lovely home.

  • You say: “Oh, an umbrella, my friend Shirley said she needed an umbrella, I’ll give this to her.”

Hold up, Senator. You’re telling me that Shirley is a fully grown woman walking around the city without an umbrella? I guess that’s one more issue for Shirley and her shrink to work out. But here’s my real problem with this…are you planning to see Shirley tomorrow? No? Okay, then this umbrella with one busted metal leg is going in the trash.

If coordinating a donation to a friend takes more time than you can afford, please skip it and say good-bye to the item. REMEMBER: Getting organized needs to be all about you and figuring out how to streamline your efforts and how to make your space work for you. If you came across Shirley’s birth certificate in your files (why that’s there, I don’t know), then sure, pop it in the mail. But be selfish and discerning about the efforts you make when you’re purging items from your home. Sometimes the garbage, not Shirley’s house, is the best receptacle for unwanted stuff.

 

 

 

Let’s wrap this up. Can friends benefit from your organizing efforts? Absolutely! Can you sprinkle visual reminders of loved ones throughout your home? Absolutely! But when you focus on your time, your energy and your project, you will reach your organizing goals with more speed and agility than an Olympic luge racer. And when you keep to this rule of thumb about putting yourself and your needs first, you’ll be able to maintain the work you’ve done for a whole lot longer.

 

What items are you holding onto because you don’t want to offend the gift giver? What’s in your outbox to give to a friend that can, quite possibly, be tossed in the trash instead?

 

With love, light and less clutter,

Jeni

 

 

Love & Clutter

A friend of mine recently wanted to purchase my organizing services as a gift for his ex. “He’s never going to meet anyone with all that crap in his apartment!” As dire and dramatic as that sounds, my friend has a point.

 

I’m a big believer in the Feng Shui principal of nurturing and curating your home to allow for good energy to flow into your home and heart. When a bedroom is loaded down with papers, a bicycle, old food containers, dirty laundry and an overflowing closet, how sexy of a message does that send? It’s not only giving out the attitude that the bedroom (and other parts of the home) aren’t alluring to a potential partner, they’re not putting you in the mood for love because you’re overwhelmed and embarrassed by your mess.

Here are a few simple tips you can use to invite the idea of more love into your life:

  • When you can, set up your home office outside of the bedroom. I know how limited square footage (especially in big cities) can be. Having an office in the bedroom reinforces stress and reminds you that there’s always work to be done and it allows paper masses to migrate into the space meant for love and relaxation. If you have the room in your kitchen for a mini-office or a corner in your living room, consider setting up shop there. The bedroom should be for unwinding and for tickle fights.
  • If possible, remove any exercise equipment from your bedroom. These big, obtrusive, ugly machines tend to gather dust and they become a repository for sweaters, jackets, shopping bags and many other unromantic items.
  • Use lighting that is pleasing to the eye. Any lamps or overhead lighting need to be fully functional – no bulb-less wonders or broken pieces for you! Also, clean the lamp shades to let as much of that beautiful light into the room. Dusting will remove harmful allergens and it will create better mood lighting for all that canoodling you’ll be doing.
  • Position your bed so that you can move around it freely. Make sure to have a bedside table on each side of the bed: one for you, one for your partner. If you’re not currently in a relationship and hope to be, this sends out the universal invite that there’s room for someone in your life. A simple basket for magazines, books and bedtime materials can live under each table so that the top of the table can remain clear.

There are many other small and big changes you can make to your space. What changes will you make today?

Please feel free to click on the VIDEO link to check out my organizing tips for your sock drawer, if you have not already done so: VIDEO

With love, light and less clutter,

Jeni

Daylight Savings Time – a great reminder to get organized

This Sunday is Daylight Savings Time! While it’s a lovely opportunity to show up too late or too early to appointments, it’s also a good reminder to get some bi-annual organizing jobs done around the house. With super quick projects, you can make the most out of your Sunday even with an hour less in your day. 
 
  • In my first fun Clutter Busting Tip VIDEO you’ll see how simple it is to organize your sock drawer. I suggest taking care of this twice a year so you can say good-bye to any worn out items, items that don’t apply to your life anymore and items that might remind you of an ex. In the length of one TV commercial break, you can neaten this area and have an easier daily routine each morning as a result. The only supplies you’ll need are clear plastic shoe boxes or just regular shoe boxes. If you’re feeling crafty, feel free to cover the shoe boxes with your favorite wrapping paper.  
  • Clearing out your medicine cabinet is another quick and easy task that can be done during Daylight Savings Time. Get rid of outdated medications. Be realistic about the make-up you keep in there and toss anything old/crusty or not a good fit for you. Get strict with yourself about hair care products. What are you really using? Is that anti-frizz spray really working for you? Wipe down the shelves of the cabinet and put back only the items that you use every single day. Less frequently used items can be stored in a non-central area.  
 
  • Gym clothes are the most aggressively used apparel in your wardrobe (if you’re actually hitting the gym – no pressure). Do yourself a quick favor and evaluate the functionality of these clothes. How is the elasticity of your shorts? Are the previously white t-shirts now completely yellow? Do the sports bras fit/support you? When you’re working out, you deserve to look and feel hot to trot at the gym (you never know who you’ll run into!). So feel free to turn that sad t-shirt into a cleaning rag. There are plenty more free charity t-shirts coming to you in your future. Now, each morning when you’re pushing yourself to go work out, you’ll be able to grab what you want and run out the door with ease. 
 
 
 
What other areas of your home can you wrangle in a short amount of time this weekend?
With love, light and less clutter,
Jeni

Happy New Year! January is “Get Organized Month”!

Congrats on committing to Getting Organized as one of your New Year’s resolutions! But do yourself a favor and ease into it. The most important part of my philosophy with clients is to work in baby steps. I schedule appointments in 3 hour blocks because when we organize, we stir up a lot of energy, emotion and actual stuff.

Just like weight loss (another uber-popular new year’s resolution for many), organizing is a gradual process. Starting off the new year with an enormous, unrealistic push to organize your ENTIRE house or apartment is setting yourself up for disappointment. So take it slow.

Here are some ideas on how to get started gradually without a big burn out: 

  • Make a list of the projects you want to tackle. Now cut that list in half! You’re not Martha Stewart, there is no need to be the First Lady of Organization. Relax and just set out to be more functional and comfortable in your space. Doesn’t that feel better already? When you have a list, you have a starting point. Congrats!
  • Clear as many surfaces as you can in one hour and then stop. When you solely eliminate surface clutter, you can literally see your furniture better and your space will feel bigger. Your head will be clear and your eyes can rest without looking at a dozen tchochkes on one tabletop. This simple beginning gesture will motivate you through the process when you start up again as it’s a great reminder of how you want your space to feel and look. Plus you’ll be able to easily invite people over without wanting to screw it all and buy a new apartment just for a lunch date.
  • After a shopping trip, discard/donate the exact number of items of clothing that you just purchased. For one thing, you won’t need more hangers because you’ll have just vacated the amount of hanger you’ll need for the new duds. When we buy new clothes, we are reminded of our current style and preferences and it’s easier to clearly see what we no longer like to wear. It’s a come-to-Jesus moment only with Bloomingdale’s as your spiritual guide.
  • Create email folders for current projects and delete outdated emails and corresponding folders from old projects. This can take as little as 15 minutes. It’s very freeing and there’s no paper to shred when you’re done. Bonus!
  • Enlist a friend to help when you first get started. If you’re not yet ready to hire a professional organizer (me), get  your kindest, most focused friend and ask them to help you clear some brush in your home for an hour or two in exchange for dinner. It’s less emotional and less taxing to go through some of the hard stuff with a caring partner in clutter crime. They have a perspective you don’t and will make the purging of files or dumping of old VHS tapes a shared experience. You might want to have some wine on hand for a more enjoyable organizing session.

 

Good luck, Happy New Year and feel free to share your New Year’s goals and resolutions in the comment section!

With love, light and less clutter,

Jeni

 

Greatest Hits: Your Collections

Well, hello there! Happy post-Labor Day, end-of-Summer, current back-to-school, pre-Jewish Holidays, post bbq season! That’s quite a collection of celebrations. Speaking of collections (nice segue), let’s talk a tiny bit about how to manage them. While visiting our dear dad this summer in the Catskills, my sister and I marveled at his beautifully displayed camera collection.

 

With limited space, the genius Brit decided to use the unused 14-inch gap between his kitchen cabinets and the ceiling as his museum space. The cameras looked fantastic and quite regal perched up high and out of the way. Dad has quite a few more functioning cameras stored in temperature-friendly closets but these old-timey gems are the real conversation starters and they force us to look up, which is also a nice way to make a room look bigger. See for yourself:

 

 

 

Closer inspection:

No shelves needed to be installed and the kitchen at Dad’s (as in most homes) is the most populated room in the house. More viewing equals more oohing and aahing.

We all know that collections need to be seen in their best light. You wouldn’t go to the Met and see oils and pastels and tapestries piled on top of each other so that patrons were forced to lift one out of the rubble to admire it properly. Whether you devote your attention to art or figurines or sports memorabilia, treat the collection with respect by curating it every couple of months. Rotate pieces to show them off in themes, like a Greatest Hits album. You can have more than one group of Greatest Hits (just ask Eric Clapton). I have a lovely new client with a fairly large doll collection. She has decided to display her largest and most valuable pieces hanging on the wall of her craft room which doubles as a guest room. She knows that spreading the entire collection throughout her comfortable but limited apartment would be overkill. Think of how often you’d have to dust an entire collection! Think of the dusty dolls’ feelings! Sorry, it was a long bbq season.

 

Collections are meant to be seen and adored so take some time and care and show off your goodies in a creative and original way. You’ll be glad you did.

 

What are some of your collections and how do you display them?

 

With love, light and less clutter, 

Jeni

Eye of the Clutter Beholder

The very start of my relationship with any new client begins with a phone consultation. This is the time where we talk about the client’s project, what area of the home is suffering the most, what the client’s goals are and what level of clutter is plaguing them. I lay out my methods and we agree on an appointment date and time and go from there. When I get to the part about their “level of clutter”, I always politely but directly asking them if they’re a hoarder. As discussed in a previous post, hoarding is not my area of specialty.

 

I recently had a new client referred to me by a friend. “You’ll love her, she’s so lovely and sweet, one of my favorite people.” When we had our phone consultation, the client proclaimed over and over again about how embarrassed and stuck she was feeling. I asked her if she was able to move about her home freely or if clutter was blocking any necessary entrances, windows or the use of furniture. She said that she was able to move around. We set a time and she told me how relieved she was to even just set up the appointment to finally tackle the mess.

 

Before arriving at her apartment, I didn’t know what to expect: she claimed she was messy and bogged down by clothing but she didn’t sound like a hoarder. She opened the door and I was greeted by a petite older woman, neatly dressed inviting me into a beautiful, expansive loft with high ceilings and, to my eye, not one ounce of clutter. After she offered me tea, I asked her to show me her bedroom (where her clothing “problem” lived). She opened her closet and, to my amazement, everything was arranged perfectly, not one piece of clothing was on the floor or stuffed onto a shelf, her five pairs of shoes were neatly lined up on the floor, the hangers were all lined in the same direction, there was room to move each item on the clothing rod.

I had to be completely honest. “I’m a bit baffled, where is your issue?” She told me she had too many pants and I suggested we start going through her items. We discussed each piece, she tried on the questionable ones and I encouraged her, gave my advice and “granted her permission” to donate the items she no longer liked. After two hours, we had filled a garbage bag with pants, sweaters, some costume jewelry and expired make-up from her vanity. The client could not stop thanking me and was so grateful to have that task completed. After she assured me that the session was of huge value to her, my normally 3-hour long appointment was cut down to 2.5 hours, we had a warm hug and I went out into the morning sunshine feeling productive and of service. This client taught me a valuable lesson: clutter does not have to be an obviously overwhelming mountain to someone else, it’s what the clutter represents to the individual. This lovely client was bogged down by having too many pairs of black pants and needed some help. It was not my job to diagnose if she needed my help or not because from her standpoint, she did need help. I felt grateful for the new perspective, which is what organizing is all about.