This time of year always finds me with mixed emotions for the season change. I adore being outside and scoping out new hiking spots, or heading to the ocean. Which translates to not being a fan of the outdoors once those temps hit below 30.
As a professional organizer all of the amazing spaces I get to work in, and even the great space I live in, recently got me thinking about how much square footage and living space we actually need to be comfortable in. I suppose it depends on the family size of course, and factoring in how much stuff we've manage to accumulate throughout our lives beyond the essentials. In the basements, shoved into drawers and cornered into closets are years worth of clothing we no longer wear, grandma's holiday dishes we feel compelled to keep and piles of junk we haven't looked at in years. Where is the line drawn between the extras, what we hold onto and the necessities? According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average home size in the United States was 2,700 square feet in 2009, up from 1,400 square feet in 1970, despite a decrease in the size of the average family. The numbers don't lie. We love to buy stuff. In most cases that leaves us with less space, even though we purchased more of it, and less time to enjoy it provided we have to work harder to maintain it. Yikes. Not to mention how this is hurting our environment in terms of wasting energy and resources. It requires more land, energy, building materials, and appliances to build larger homes. There is however a shift happening. Some are opting for a more simplistic lifestyle and one that promotes and supports sustainability. Think less stuff, more living, less space, more life. It's more than a movement, or a passing trend. It's a truly a remarkable way of life.
Enter TINY HOUSE NORTHEAST. They design, build and outfit environmentally sustainable tiny homes as well as offices throughout the Northeast. THNE is founded on the formula of sustainable development, with social responsibility and caring for the environment at the forefront. In some cases the houses are as small as 20-ft, pictured here which was featured at the recent RIBA Home Show, a bit of a downsize from 2700 sq feet of space. But don't let the size fool you, these are highly efficient dwellings.
Most tiny houses are designed to have everything a modern person needs to live. They include a kitchen, a bathroom, a living room, storage and some even sleep up to four people. While this may not be the typical dream house for some, those seeking simplicity and a simpler way of life have found their version of it. I first spotted a tiny house while scrolling through Pinterest and immediately became fixated on how incredibly resourceful they were as well as magical looking. Most were nestled beneath the woods and resembled something similar to a fairytale setting. Cozy, compact and planet friendly. Literally everything you need in one space. That's when I decided I wanted to learn more about tiny houses.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Isa, the project manager, GC and design leader at TINY HOUSE NORTHEAST. Isa has a masters degree in sustainable development, and filled me in on her day to day as well as provided me with so much insight into the world of tiny houses. Her passion for conserving resources and vast knowledge of what goes into building a tiny home was impressive and admirable. When she isn't spending time speaking with buyers of tiny homes, or volunteering her time to help she is working on resourcing the environmental friendly construction materials needed as well as finding builders, who are always experienced carpenters.
Isa spoke about the main reasons people are opting for tiny houses. Financial freedom is one. While there are multiple factors in determining the cost of a tiny home it is considerably less money than purchasing a larger home. The extra cash and time you have, due to less maintenance of your home, can be spent traveling or simply enjoying activities you love. There is also the aspect of enjoying the great outdoors when living in a tiny home. Organic and sustainable gardening, farming and essentially using the Earth as your source of food and relaxation beginning at home is a lifestyle change that those looking to purchase a tiny home are yearning for.
Typically when your living space is tight quarters you want to get outside, get some fresh air and as Isa so eloquently put it "the outdoors becomes your living room".
From a planning perspective there are many angles to take into consideration. Isa explained the many layers of the planning process that go into the purchase of a tiny home.
- Very little closed storage available is a huge consideration. When limited storage options exist what furniture to purchase and the placement of it is very important, the pairing down process truly becomes all about the essentials.
- Zoning in on the buyer's habits also is important. Do they have pets? How much time do they plan to spend outside?
- The type of tiny house also varies for each buyer. The 3 types of tiny homes to choose from are turn-key wheel houses, weelshells and foundation ready. All dependent upon the needs of the buyer.
- Location and the setting of the home are discussed as well and buyers must adhere to local zoning laws and regulations. Then of course there is electricity, sewage and water to take into consideration.
- The planning page on the TINY HOUSE NORTHEAST site can walk you through getting started. Any questions from weather related concerns to the cost of a tiny house are answered over on the FAQs page of THNE site. THNE truly provides such an expansion of knowledge for those looking to purchase a tiny house, even for the DIYers, and offers classes to educate those who are interested in committing themselves to a simpler life.
As we are slowly depleting our natural resources at a much faster rate than we can replenish them, continuing on and building larger homes is unsustainable and comes at a significant financial and environmental cost.
So what does the future of tiny house living look like in terms of the benefits it provides our one precious home, Earth, and even our well being? As we are slowly depleting our natural resources at a much faster rate than we can replenish them, continuing on and building larger homes is unsustainable and comes at a significant financial and environmental cost. Utilizing natural sustainable resources to build a home that takes up significantly less space is not only protecting our home but I believe is providing others the opportunity to be more present as they live their lives with intent. Instead of becoming consumed with stuff, it is allowing others to have the resources to travel, garden, enjoy the outdoors and live simply. I have always believed that the spaces we live and work in have a deep connection to the way that we feel. Tiny homes may appear small but the impact they have on those who are committed to embracing the lifestyle is massive. Less is always more, don't you think?
"Half of what makes pretty look good is order, so start by decluttering. And then relentlessly organize. Honey it's hard for style to dwell amid chaos" Designer Elaine Griffin
I had the opportunity this past week to be one of the 3 x 3 speakers at the PVD Lady Project Clothing Swap here in Providence. Also in attendance was Big Brothers and Big Sisters of RI, who generously gathered up the clothing that was left over and will use them as donations towards their programs. I've always loved the concept of a clothing swap. You're taking the time to clean out your closet, make choices on what stays and what goes and making room for new items. Then you get to shop for free! A clothing swap will also give you the opportunity to completely re-evaluate what's happening in your closet. The good, the bad and ugly. Since I'm always preaching the one in one out rule, this was the perfect example of how that concept does work. Making space for something new that will replace an item you feel is no longer bringing you joy is much more powerful of an action than you may realize. When anything in our lives no longer brings us joy releasing it immediately tells the universe that we're ready for something new. It's a very powerful way to invite in positive change. All that goodness from just cleaning out a closet!
As a 3 x 3 speaker at the swap I had 3 minutes to talk about what I do as an organizer and also give tips on how to keep your closet organized. I could talk about organizing for 3 hours so I wanted to make sure that I gave my best tips for keeping your closet tidy and a place you love to visit and shop in. Drum roll please...my top 3 tips below...
The hanger police has arrived
1. I am the hanger police and I'm ok with it. We have to ditch the wire and plastic hangers once and for all. Space saving hangers are going to streamline your closet instantly, keep your clothing from landing on the floor and give you at least 30% more space. If this is the one and only organizing item investment you decide to make within your closet it's a good one!
Your Closet is a Boutique, and Has Your Name Written All Over it
2. Take your name and add boutique at the end, so in my case my closet would be named Lauren's boutique. Think about what a boutique named after you would look like in terms of what's available for purchase. It probably wouldn't include shoes with broken soles, shirts with holes in them or that pair of jeans we literally haven't worn since high school. It would be filled with clothing, shoes and accessories that we absolutely love! Anytime you open those closet doors feel as those you walked into your boutique, and the moment something isn't making you happy let it go. Think of your items you don't love as moving onto the sale rack, it's time for them to no longer be front and center and add in something that gets you excited to get dressed.
Like Items Like to Live Together
3. Pants with pants, short sleeves with short sleeves, heel height together. Opposites don't play well together in your closet. You get the idea. While it may seem over the top to keep things so organized, it's actually saving you time and money. When you get dressed you can find what you need, and when you shop it's pretty clear how many black dresses you already own. Keeping like with likes also keeps you from wasting time when getting dressed. Last time I checked time is something very precious to all of us!
I'm on a mission to help you find clarity in your space, and believe it's achievable. By adopting these 3 simple tips you will be on your way to living a little lighter this spring. Stay tuned for more posts and workshop announcements for the Organized for Life series Live Lighter this Spring!
Interested in having Organized for Life visit your home to help make your closet fabulous? I'm offering 30% off this spring to celebrate 3 years in business! Contact me here or grab the phone and give me a ring @ 401-369-2311.
Thanks for reading, your simplicity expert
This is Patsy and I standing in front of her newly organized closet. Patsy is a dear friend who I met through PVD Lady Project, she also happens to love to celebrate. In fact she loves to celebrate so much she has created an inspiring and beautiful blog around it, & Celebrate (you will want to click on that link to see for yourself). This goes far beyond birthdays, graduations and wedding celebrations. Her motto is to stop limiting ourselves to the big moments of celebration in life because it truly is the little moments that find us there. Finding magic and something to celebrate on a daily basis is truly a wonderful way to approach our lives. Makes so much sense doesn't it? I'm in the business of celebrating your space, and Patsy is all about celebrating life. This Sunday funday afternoon spent organizing, simplifying and embracing the beauty of loving your space truly was reason to celebrate.
Her motto is to stop limiting ourselves to the big moments of celebration in life because it truly is the little moments that find us there.
In addition to this incredible message she is spreading with her blog, Patsy has also created a greeting card line, Say it With Shoes. Blank inside so you can create your own message the cards are the perfect way to send some love to someone whether for an occasion or just because. Be happy, be free, be comfy cozy, all adorned with the images of shoes. The best part? With each box you purchase you are providing a pair and a half of shoes to someone in need. 10% of the sales are donated to Soles4Souls, a global nonprofit dedicated to fighting poverty through the distribution of shoes and clothing, www.soles4souls.org. I know, it's all so awesome and I am so honored to be celebrating Patsy today on the blog! Below are a few shots from the final project and how we celebrated getting her closet organized.
Her greeting card line is entitled Say it With Shoes, so I really wanted to display her favorites front and center. The sparkle in the black pair and gorgeous pop of red in the heels are the first thing you see when you open the closet door. Reason enough to celebrate! Showcasing your favorite dress, jewelry, shoes or bag in your closet is a reminder of the things that we love to wear, that make us feel happy and bring us joy.
I can say one of the best moments for me to celebrate is witnessing the excitement of others when I help to simplify their lives a bit. Watching the transformation from holding onto things just taking up space and then physically feeling that lightness in the air when all that remains is what is useful, brings joy and worth celebrating. Those are moments that add up to so many amazing things. Freeing up space to invite in whatever we'd like to celebrate. I challenge all of you to embrace Patsy's message, & celebrate...
I have heard the phrase many times, "please don't get nervous when you see my home". I'm here to tell you that I will not be nervous. I will never feel a sense of overwhelm or judgment. There are times when I think to myself when walking into a home that the disorganization is actually a beautiful thing. Yes every bit of it. Absolutely beautiful. Why? Every opportunity for transformation is beautiful. I know what waits on the other side and that once I complete the project it will feel like a new space. Every time I meet a client and walk into their home I have been given the opportunity to take a space that is not functioning well and breathe new life into in. The space to me is so much more than just disorganized or messy. It's lived in, it's loved, it's full of memories old and new. The first thought that crosses my mind is how I'm going to take everything in this space and create some clarity and breathing room. How I can help remove what is no longer working or useful, and I'm going to make sure every bit of it looks peaceful and calming. The truth is our spaces are meant to be lived in and there will never be enough hours in our day to allow for perfection. What we can do is embrace the imperfections, remove what is no longer serving us in the space and decide to create function and clarity.
If you are ever struggling with the idea to hire a professional organizer but hesitate because you feel it may be difficult to let go of things or you may think they will never understand the mess, think again. I welcome the mess and the confusion of it all. It's why I do what I do.
After leading a workshop over the weekend and walking away feeling so in alignment with my message and the importance of spreading it, I knew it was as equally important to share some of the content here on the blog. The more I share in my message the better I feel!
I started Organized for Life not only to help others become organized but more importantly to re-frame their relationship to stuff. Why does it accumulate? Why do we struggle with letting go of things? How can we adopt new habits to invite in a more simplistic and meaningful life? The answers to these questions require patience, truth and the willingness to embrace a new way of being. What is on the other side of your stuff can be the answer to making room for so many of the things you want to transpire in your life. Below is a recap of what clutter is and what it isn't and how you can begin to clear space within your life.
What is Clutter?
"Clutter is not just the stuff on your floor- it's anything that stands between you and the life you want to be living" Organizational expert, Peter Walsh
What Clutter Isn't
Clutter isn't anything you truly love or use regularly. Clutter is not the items you cherish that make you come alive.
There is a distinct difference between the items that we invite into our home that we know and love and the items that begin to accumulate that do not serve any other purpose than taking up space. Clutter IS the junk mail piled up on the counter, the clothing sitting in the closet you haven't worn in over a year. Clutter IS NOT your favorite books, your child's favorite artwork from school. You can feel the difference when you see it and touch it. But how do we ensure the items that we do not consider clutter don't end up being displayed in a way that feels cluttered and unmanageable? This is where clearing space is an important tool to begin to let go of the items we do not want, and invite in the objects we know and love so that they are surrounding us. It's about embracing your space.
Ways to clear space
- Start with a vision for the space and audit your home accordingly.
- Remember that everything in our home is there with our permission.
- Use the 1 in 2 out rule.
- Zone in on furniture placement and eliminate anything that blocks flow in the space.
- Honor the memory and let go of the object for items that stir up nostalgia.
- If you are going to have less things they have to be great things.
Once you begin decluttering, you may find yourself unburdened by heavy emotions and will begin to feel lighter, more at ease and have a greater sense of happiness and personal well-being. This will carry into your day and also bring a happiness into your home.
Letting go- the essentials and the non-essentials that live in our space
The difference between the essentials and the non-essentials in our lives that we can let go of all depend on how much we value certain things. For instance you may see your iPad as an essential and the shoes in your closet that you don't wear as a non essential. If you struggle with what to let go of and what to keep here's a little exercise you can do to get started.
- List 5 essentials in your life that are things that you can let go of because you feel they no longer serve you.
- List 5 "non essentials" in your life that are things you can let go of because they are taking up space.
- List 5 “essentials” that you can keep.
Asking yourself these questions gives you the opportunity to dive into your relationship to your stuff and become honest with yourself about the process of decluttering.
Freeing ourselves of emotional clutter, physical clutter and what no longer serves us is one of the most freeing journeys we can take in our lives. Start with a simple step. Here's to making the spaces we live and work in a little brighter, a little lighter and full of love.
If you are selling your home, fall in love with the space one last time. Think of your home listing as a property where prospective buyers are going to decide from the doorway whether or not they love the space, so decide that you love it to. They are going to mentally begin to move in as they start the tour or feel as though they can't imagine themselves living there. Remember what you loved about the home and accentuate those details beginning with the front yard. Trim the hedges, clean the deck and plant some flowers should the season call for it. Invite them in and allow them to feel at home. Once inside read on for tips on creating balance, flow and simplicity that potential buyers will not forget. First impressions are everything. Create a calm environment that is free of clutter from the moment they walk in. This entryway has a simple but elegant table and a few decorative pieces to add some interest. Arranging items in ones and threes is rule of thumb as it builds progression and flow in any space.
Be mindful of not having any personal items such as family pictures and heirlooms covering the walls and shelving. Remember clutter eats equity! It also will make rooms appear smaller. Declutter, simplify and bring in accent pieces that accentuate the homes color scheme. Rearrange furniture to create open walkways as well. Take a test drive through your home and see if there are any awkward furniture pieces in the way. Removing them is an opportunity to pair down before your move.
Fresh flowers and inviting seating add warmth and a sense of calm to this living room space below. The seating is arranged in front of the window which overlooks the backyard, but it does not obstruct the beautiful view. If you have hard wood floors it's a great idea to show them off but having area rugs as well will balance the room and bring in color. For focal points in a room such as a fireplace, make it the focal point! Declutter the mantle, keep it clean and add in some interest with accent pieces of varying heights. This will make for a great design and draw the buyer's attention to it. If the focal point is a window keep the window sill clutter free and open the blinds or window treatments to allow natural light to flow. Lightning is important in any room of the home.
Furniture and lighting placed evenly on either side of a larger piece balances the space and actually creates feelings of harmony, stability and wellness. Those are feelings you want potential buyers in your home to experience and remember when they leave. The room below is a great example of creating balance and simplicity. Hard and soft lines in a room should compliment each other similar to the couch and round chair below. Squared off tables and end tables balance the lines well.
Setting your kitchen table as if you were ready for a dinner party will allow the buyer to envision entertaining within the space, however going overboard may deter them from looking at the rest of the kitchen. Keep it simple and light. Stick to a color scheme that works within the space. Leave some breathing room on the table as well, as with most flat surfaces in the home less is more! Key words for table staging- entertain, relax and enjoy.
Clear those kitchen counters and leave one or two essentials. A bowl of fruit or lemons and some flowers are just the right touch. Clear counter tops will give buyers the opportunity to see how much prep space they have and will allow the kitchen to appear larger.
Less is best when staging your home and getting it ready to sell. The time you put into the details and finishing touches will certainly go a long way, and is so important to consider for a quick sell!
For inquiries on how Lauren can help you become Organized for Life head to the contact page!
All photos courtesy of Organized for Life clients and permission is needed for use. All Rights are Reserved.
I admit I am a chronic furniture re-organizer and a compulsive re-decorator. From the moment I was old enough to move furniture I started rearranging my bedroom. For me it's about editing, redefining the space, breathing new life into it and creating a new look without spending a dime. There are times that the $5 perfectly matching candle I found at Pier 1, that is tucked away on a shelf, may constitute an entire living room furniture rearrange. I love to witness moving a picture from one wall to another and see the transformation take place. The colors in a photo can appear differently in its new home depending on how the light hits it during a certain time of the day. All of the decorative accents surrounding that picture might even have colors in them that really come through, all because of moving one photo.
"Sometimes there are pieces we would love to highlight in a space but they have gotten lost among clutter and lack of flow. Edit the things that aren't working"
Changing the layout of a room and recreating a space can be just as exciting as heading to the store and purchasing a new furniture set. Clear out the space completely, sit in the middle of the room and close your eyes. Take a moment to decide what isn't working in the space, decide on how you want it to function, more importantly how you want to feel, and then slowly move the pieces back in. Sometimes there are pieces we would love to highlight in a space but they have gotten lost among clutter and lack of flow. Edit the things that aren't working. They may function better in another room, or they may be the perfect item to let go of.
Clearly defining how you wish a space to function is the key to a successful furniture and decor rearrange. Deciding on the focal point in the room will allow you to determine where the furniture will be best placed. Always avoid overcrowding and blocking entrances. Think simple and light. If you have made a decision to embark on a journey of rearranging and redecorating chances are there is something lacking in the space for you. While it may never be perfect, it will absolutely offer up feelings of calm and peace of mind as it gets closer to functioning the way you want it to.
There are endless benefits to rearrange, redecorate and edit our homes. You will always benefit from having a new and fresh perspective. When moving one piece of furniture or wall art to another room it shakes up the design and the urge to run out and buy something new fades away. Redefining a space will re-energize you and bring a fresh outlook into your new space. It does impact your mental health in a positive way. So when the urge to rearrange and redecorate hits you I say go for it. It will take you on a journey of rediscovering your space, falling in love with its potential and embracing your space in a new way.