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Organizing Your Car

Organizing Your Car

Keep your car items organized and find them easily

Keep your car items organized and find them easily

For those of us who spend a lot of time driving, have children and/or work out of our car, we can find it challenging to keep a car organized let alone clean. A cluttered car can be a source of embarrassment especially since people can view right into this “home” on wheels and cast aspersions.

So, what can be done? As in the home, so in the car. It’s a small space and, like all small spaces, they can fill up quite easily, especially if we are on the road, grabbing take out food, leaving wrappers, garbage, kid’s clothes, toys and other artifacts in the vehicle. We need a system to manage this area so our car doesn’t become a moving flotilla of junk.

For business people who call on clients, some need a mobile office in their trunk with documents, order forms, product, samples and the like. It’s imperative in this scenario to establish a working system so these items can be easily located as well as remain clean and undamaged. Clear file boxes that hold hanging file folders with easy to read tabs manage paper and other docs. Samples can be kept in clear bins and grouped together so they can be easily used and viewed by clients.

Within the car itself, make sure it doesn’t become a moving garbage can and remove all paper, wrappers and food items upon arrival home. Keep kid’s toys to a minimum and a container within the car so they are easily managed and used as needed. Keep things you use a lot in a prescribed location, also contained such as hiking gear and sunscreen, a gym bag if you work out regularly and your grocery bags so they are always available when you are at the store. I have many clients who keep their bags in the house so they rarely get used since they often forget them. Keep things where you use them and need them.

Our cars provide useful and functional help for keeping us mobile in our busy lives. They can also be organized and not a trash can for our discards. Keep an eye on what you have and make sure you have only what you need in this space and remove the rest.

If you should need help with car organization, give me a call at 510.501.1213 and let Creative Space Organizing get your vehicle together today!

How To Manage Your Garage

How To Manage Your Garage

Clear your garage and find what you need

Clear your garage and find what you need

The garage has been an area Americans have felt they’ve had permission to dump all their unwanted items as well as things they need and use, feeling justified in having a disorganized wasteland. Mounds of discarded toys, broken auto parts, tools, camping gear, holiday decor, and unwanted clothes are just a few things people store here. Having this highly useful and much needed storage area often gets used only partially and often becomes a place of embarrassment and frustration at lost items that can’t be found.

So, how can we more effectively manage this area and perhaps, actually park a car in here? The first step is ensure you have the proper infrastructure so that you have a place for kept items to be stored. Without this, items will be stacked and piled atop each other and more chaos ensues. Depending on your budget, you can install closed cabinetry or heavy duty free standing shelving so you can see what you have and like items are stored together.

We need to sort through these many items, ridding ourselves of things no longer needed or useful and donating or recycling said stuff. Things to be saved need to be sorted into groupings and contained–not in cardboard boxes, since cardboard breaks down and acts as a wick for moisture and dust. Clear plastic bins that fit the size of the items work best. Group like things together and create a zone of those things. Labeling all the bins is a huge help and larger placards can display a specific area.

Once these things are contained, then place bins rarely used either up top or down low and leave the middle areas for things you use most. Think of these areas as real estate and the more valuable the items should go in the more important and easily accessed places.

It’s important that as things are used, they go back to their designated home so they can be used in the future with ease. As new things come in, make sure you have the space for them and see if there are older items that can be eliminated or changed out. Some people hold onto broken items with the hope they will fix them “one day.” If they’ve been sitting here for a long time, good chance they won’t be repaired. Either hire someone to fix them or donate, recycle or landfill them to clear out the area.

Managing the garage, once the order and infrastructure are in place, isn’t a big job. A highly used area such as one with kid’s sports or with a lot of car repair, crafting or machining, requires more attention to how tools and pieces are being used and maintained. Keep focus on what’s projects overtaking the space and affecting other storage areas.

If you should need help with this area of the home or another, please call 510.501.1213 and let Creative Space Organizing get you organized today!

 

Designing Our Spaces to Reflect Our Tastes

Designing Our Spaces to Reflect Our Tastes

Our homes and office spaces serve as outward reflections of ourselves. They can and should tell others aspects of who are we, what we like, and what interests and engages us. Yet for many of us, we don’t know the most effective way to tell this story about ourselves and instead say very little–bare walls, for instance–or furnishings and decor that have no individual style or flair.

The first key is knowing what you like and then finding ways to demonstrate this externally through artwork, items picked up traveling, photographs, books, collections of things you’ve saved along the way. Do you love travel to exotic locations and gathering pieces from locals? Are you a sports fan? Do you love color? Do you have family mementos or items of historical value that you treasure? These are the things you want to show and share so guests can visually see who you are.

Be Selective. Most of us have limited to space to share all of ourselves so picking out the best pieces to represent you is key. Many of us have photographs galore and not the wall space to accommodate them. And rather than spreading them all over a room on any/all horizontal surfaces, a photo wall of key pictures creates a story and interesting relationship between the photos. Choosing frames that relate as well as contrast adds to the storyline. If you have traveled extensively and feel compelled to purchase art and artifacts, then pick the best works for display. Also, don’t be afraid to rotate pieces and keep the look fresh and interesting. Many people set things in place and never consider revisiting them and changing what they have.

Clear the clutter. I find too often, too much stuff piled and layered on top of each other so nothing can be seen or appreciated. Grouping like things together creates a story, like a collection of vintage perfume bottles, or a wall of antique egg beaters or a shelf of Buddha heads in varying shapes, colors and sizes. These items speak about you and tell others what interests you. When you have photos, vases, wind up toys and what have you, the uniqueness gets lost and you can’t appreciate what’s there.

Not everything has to match. Too often we feel compelled to match our furnishings, floors, wall colors and artwork so it all “blends” together. Mixing things up by varying textures, contrasting colors, sizes, shapes and materials, creates a far more engaging visual palette while having items relate and interact with one another.

Think of a room as a piece of artwork that you want to reveal about yourself. Show off the interesting aspects of yourself by using things you love and treasure. And if you don’t have anything that does this? Then start looking and collecting these items so you can have the space that reflects your unique taste. If you should need help with this, call Creative Space Organizing & Design at 510.501.1213

5 Tips to Moving

Make Moving Easy
Avoid the stress of moving

5 Tips to Moving

Moving is often fraught with challenges and frustration when your entire home is turned upside down and you are under deadlines to pack and move by a certain date and then unpack and set up a new home often in the same breath.

Moving challenges us because we have to uproot ourselves, pack our belongings, make decisions about things we’ve let sit for years in various places and then find places for our objects and items so we can access them when needed.

The First Tip to moving is if you don’t need it, don’ t pack it. This is often easier said than done especially if the move is sudden and you don’t have the luxury of time to sort through clothing, kitchen items, camping gear, holiday decor, children’s items and the like. If you can do ANY type of sorting, do it. Many people will find they sort on both ends, packing things they think they want and then decide, once moved, they don’t need or want these things after all. Some items to purge: clothes you haven’t fit into for years, outdated magazines and old books you’ll never read again, kid’s toys they’ve outgrown, furniture that has outlived its usefulness, can be donated or recycled.

The Second Tip is pack smart. Personally, I prefer small and medium sized boxes which makes it much easier to manage, lift/carry, especially for books, records, papers and any dense-dead weight items. Things like comforters, pillows and large, light, bulky items can go into heavy duty garbage bags rather than boxes and are packed last, thrown on top of heavier items or to fill in any gaps in the truck or car. Make sure you mark at least the top and one side of the basic contents in each box (two sides is best). You can also code the box with a bold letter in color for the specific room it was intended (ie, K for Kitchen, MBR for Master Bedroom, etc). Important Note: DO NOT pack items you  need access to such as important documents, electronics, etc. Keep these aside so you can find them and use them.

Tip Three: pack boxes with as much stuff that relates together, such as all bath items in one, kitchen in another, which makes unpacking that much easier. I prefer bubble wrap layer on the bottom or packing paper to cushion any thing that is breakable. Stand dishes upright on end. There is much less chance for them to break rather than piling all the weight on top. Keep plenty of paper on hand (or bubble wrap). The goal is for things not to shift and move. Fill in the top layer with more paper to support the box top from added weight of other boxes and to maintain a strong cushion all around.

Tip Four is packing the truck so heaviest boxes on bottom with lighter and more fragile items on top, ensuring they don’t have room to shift and fall. Again, packing clothes and bedding around fragile items serves as a cushion and adds extra protection for breakables.

When moved to the new home, Tip Five helps us get all the boxes to their respective spaces. If you didn’t get to do any or only some purging on the front end, now is the time to revisit these things and let go of more, especially if you are downsizing to a smaller space. We will be forced to keep just what we need and to eliminate the rest. Make sure each storage area has specific zones for things, containing smaller like items together so they can be easily found and utilized. Boxes and paper/bubble wrap can be put on Craigslist and Freecycle for others to use.

Ensure a smooth move with organization and order. If someone is helping you unpack, make sure you are directing where things go and you know where things are so you can find them as needed. If you’re getting help packing, hire organized and experienced packers so your treasured things arrive in top condition. If you should need help, call Creative Space Organizing at 510.501.1213.

Interior Design: Mix & Match

Interior Design: Mixing and Matching Styles

eclectic-living-roomAn eclectic room comes to life with the play of different styles, creating visual interest and engagement. When a Tuscan urn sits atop a stone pedestal next to velvet drapery we may find ourselves intrigued with the ancient and rough hewn nature of the urn juxtaposed with the soft, furry surface of velvet. Mixing and matching marries differing eras, colors, finishes, textures and sizes and shapes to create cohesion, unity and harmony. So how does one go about doing this effectively?

Too often what I see is clients purchasing table top decor, lamps, artwork from a variety of big box stores and throwing it all together or putting so much of it in one area that it ends up competing and detracting from each other and cancelling the other things out. It ends up a hodge podge of dreck.

Let’s start with the walls. Picking the right paint color is essential for the furniture and furnishings you have. Too often people think they have to match everything together from the walls to the sofa to the area rug. Not so. This just creates a bland palette of the same. What makes a painting or photograph interesting is contrast in value, ie, how much light or dark exists. When all the values are in the same range, you get a washed out feel that looks unappealing and uninviting. Contrasts are key for the colors and values you have in a room. (One note about light and dark colors–dark colors absorb light while lighter ones reflect it). A dark brown leather sofa against a dark brown wall does nothing for either. In this situation I used lighter artwork and colorful, patterned pillows, area rug and a throw that broke up the dull brown on brown palette and created a warm and inviting feel. I also added off-white drapery with a textured fabric and put a mirror in the corner and uplight that brightened it up considerably.

Next we need to create relationships with the pieces so they relate and interact with each other to create cohesion. Just like for humans, relationships are essential for furnishings to fit and work together. When items in a room don’t work it’s because their relationship to each other is disharmonious. For an instance, imagine an oversized brown leather sofa, coffee table and club chair crammed together while sheer curtain panels hang limp behind them and random prints dot the wall. The furniture pieces are too large and don’t fit the space, the curtains can’t hold their own with the furniture and the artwork has no relationship between each other. By resizing the pieces and finding a more substantial fabric and connecting the artwork, the area starts to work as a whole unit and not disparate pieces.

A key component in mixing and matching is editing, learning to pare out what’s not needed and keeping only the essentials.  Too often people have a mixture of things that don’t work together and often too much of it. Editing requires a razor eye to make decisions about the most desired and key pieces of one’s collections. You may have a trove of travel treasures yet you don’t have the space to display them all. Rotating items on a regular basis keeps visual interest and keeps you from getting bored at looking at the same things. Editing means you look at what you have critically and decide the look and feel of what you want to create and then keep only those items that space permits. Grouping like items, such as a collection of antique glass bottle stoppers or a grouping of family photos makes a story unto itself rather than having them spread among other things and creating a dissonant look.

Mixing and matching works best when you have a vision of the look and feel you want to create in a space. By pulling together disparate pieces, you can create a harmonious and engaging room that speaks to your unique style and interests. If you should need help with this and other interior design needs, call Creative Space Organizing at 510.501.1213.

The Power of Incompletion

Cohen Utility drawerWorking in the field of organizing, I deal with many clients who have left things sit, pile up, gather, collect. There are undone projects, decisions left unmade and areas of the house where items have gathered and amassed to the detriment of their health and mental, emotional and physical well being. My job is to get them into action to start completing these things so they can both move forward with their lives and a space in which they can live.

Incompletion zaps energy. It saps our vitality and impedes our progress to live fuller lives. What is incompletion? It shows up as piles of unopened mail often hidden in boxes and bags or scattered across counters and tables. It appears as an impenetrable garage filled from floor to ceiling and front to back where the owner has no idea the contents or how to find anything she needs and wants. It can be a room that becomes a holding tank for everything we don’t know what to deal with and creates a sense of anxiety upon entering. The list is endless.

The places we’ve left incomplete, such as a college degree never finished, an application for a new job left partially filled, ending a friendship or relationship with words left unsaid, all drain and keep us from living fully present now. Some part of ourselves lives in the past and keeps pulling on us until we do something about it.

When working with clients and their clutter, my goal is to help them make decisions about their things and to eliminate what they no longer need and make room for what they do. I help inspire and motivate them to clear a pathway through the overwhelm and dread and to make choices about this stuff so it no longer controls them. Incompletion disempowers us from feeling fully alive and free. It detracts from having the life we want to live now because some part of our energy is tied up with the unsaid, undone project from another time.

So, what’s the way out? The way out is to address what’s in front of us. Do you have unpaid taxes? Do you owe money to someone or an agency? Do you need to complete a relationship that weighs upon you? Do  you have a desk full of papers that gets shuffled from one place to the next? When we assess where we are and assess what’s in front of us, we can make decisions about the situation at hand. We gain clarity as our minds have freedom to see new options. We experience a sense of relief, a wave of lightness that moves through us. We are empowered when we finish something from the past, allowing us to more fully engage in our lives now.

Take a look at where you may need to complete something left undone. Clutter in our living and work spaces is just such a need as is a room needing a paint job, an outworn couch that needs to be given away and a new one to replace it. If you need help with such tasks, call Creative Space Organizing at 510.501.1213 and let us help you live more creatively and productively.

Spring Clearing is Here

With Spring in full force many people think to clearing what they no longer want and need, and having their homes and offices free of clutter. All the things that have accumulated in the past year(s) that need addressing as to what to keep and what to eliminate, now is the ideal time to do something about it. Spring energetically lends itself to clearing away the old and bringing in the new as it reflects that in new growth all around us.

So, how do we start? Take stock of the problem areas that need attention. Create a list of said areas such as garage, kitchen cabinets and drawers, office, bedroom closets, linen closets, craft/workshop areas. Begin with the low hanging fruit–the obvious items to eliminate such as plastic bags, cardboard, garbage. Then progress to the items you no longer need or use, that are broken/worn out and either recycle, donate or trash. With the items you are keeping, decide if there is enough of a grouping or category and group those things together–whether its computer paper, paper clips, nuts and bolts, fabric swatches, Tupperware lids, etc. Using an appropriate size container to hold these things is key. Too often people throw a variety of items into a plastic bin and call it “organized.” Well, it’s not. Make sure the bin/container is appropriately sized for the items so they can easily be contained and accessed.

Continue in this way so the assortment of items are contained and labeled. For instance, a client I am working with has a combination office and bedroom and everything was jumbled together and she couldn’t find what she needed. Now we have bins for cards received, new cards to give, photos, writing, artwork, art supplies, gift wrap and office supplies. She was actually able to go to her “cards to give” bin and pull one out to send and was thrilled at how easy it now is to use.

Finding a place for all these items is essential so you can find them and use them and put them back when done. Having a dedicated home for your items is key to Spring cleaning to create an effective system to retrieve needed items and return when finished. Often people need additional infrastructure in their drawers, closets and cupboards so as to maximize space and to make retrieval of items easier. Simple items such as drawer dividers/containers and free standing shelving makes a huge difference in the process. It doesn’t work to have things in bins and then stacked five levels high, having to remove other bins to get to the lower ones. Shelving saves a lot of extra moving and shifting of items.

Lastly create “zones” or target areas for groupings of items so you know what lives where and you can easily find those things on command. As much as possible, move items to areas where they are used to eliminate extra moving and carrying of items. Things used seasonally or rarely, can live in longer term storage, living higher up or lower down and farther back on less accessed shelving.

Spring cleaning can set you on the path to having a home and office that functions more efficiently as you keep only the things you want and need and have a place for all your desired items. If you should need help, call Creative Space Organizing at 510.501.1213 and let’s get you organized.

Personalizing Your Space

Interior Design BRPersonalizing a space is essential in creating an environment and atmosphere that reflects an outward expression of ourselves. Yet too often I see spaces that have been copied out of catalogs or are a hodge podge of assorted items that don’t work together let alone belong together. The goal is to create a home and office that shows who you are. Many clients struggle to find an identity in their surroundings by using furnishings and decor that don’t relate to one another and to which we don’t have a personal connection. Our spaces outwardly reveal ourselves like the pages in a book reveal the characters. When we don’t have a sense of our personal tastes or can’t convey that externally, our surroundings suffer.

With the availability of interior furnishings at our fingertips, we can get lost in choosing the right look that shows who we are. It is the same with someone who doesn’t have a fashion sense and who doesn’t know in which clothes and colors they look best. The fabrics, textures, color shades don’t jive and work against the person, detracting from their appearance. When we don’t have a sense of the same concepts in our home, we lose our way with mix of fabrics, textures, colors and scale that compete with each other and don’t create the necessary harmony required for a cohesive space. There is many a straight, single male who will default to choosing a black leather couch to sit in front of his big screen TV and think that’s styling. I beg to differ.

Mood, harmony, and function are 3 key ingredients we need to make a space work effectively. What’s the feel we are going for? Many don’t even consider the mood or tone they want in a specific space. This critical piece of the puzzle is either totally ignored or nominally considered. How do we want to feel when in our living room? What’s the mood of our home office, kitchen and family room? These questions need to be asked and answered so we can gather the materials to best reflect that. This will significantly impact the choices we make regarding our furniture  and accent choices.

Harmony, another key element, lets us know if the pieces we’re choosing work together and support the overall mood as well as if they work in concert with each other. I often see a variety of pieces and accessories that were purchased on a whim or because they were on sale. This approach cheapens the feel of the space as these misaligned components detract from the space and don’t harmonize it. We try to make them work yet they end up working against each other instead. And other times I’ll see decor piled atop of other decor that detracts from the space instead of enhancing it.

Third, we consider function. How is the space meant to function–how are we purposing the area, what activities will occur there and who will be using it? Are we creating an eating area that will double as the kid’s homework area, mom’s planning space and the mail drop off? Then we need to consider the furniture that can be used for high traffic as well as flooring and have the right storage solutions to handle the workload. We also need to consider the scale of the furniture of the area in question so it fits the space and doesn’t overpower or look too small in a large room. And are we purposing an area for too many activities? Do we need to cut out some of those and move them elsewhere, if possible?

Consider creating a space that accurately reflects you as well as creates the feel you want in that area. Edit and delete what you don’t want and need and create a space that shows off you. If you should need help, give us a call at 510.501.1213.

Making Color Work for You

Don't fear picking the right color

Don’t fear picking the right color

Color is a personal choice. It evokes particular feelings and creates a sense of place for us. For some color can cause people to recoil in fear and panic and lead to paralysis. They can feel overwhelmed when faced with a palette of 500 choices and default to beige, white or some other neutral because they fear they’ll make the “wrong” choice. Calling on a trusted professional to help guide them to that best choice helps simplify and demystify the process.

When I am working with a paint consultation, I take into consideration the existing colors, if they have any ideas about what they want, the light of the room and the existing furnishings. We all have our favorite and least favorite colors. When I ask clients any colors they like or don’t like, I am whittling down the choices to hone in on a specific area of color. Bright, saturated colors are generally an easy one to eliminate unless we are painting a kid’s room. And dark, moody tones aren’t a general choice though, in the right room, can be striking and dramatic. By doing my initial investigative work, I can cut away a large selection of colors so we can get closer to our choice.

Next, I explain about light and light reflective values in paint. Light is constantly bouncing off of surfaces and an East, South or West facing window will naturally have lots of light entering at specific times of the day. We get natural light from the sun and outside world as well as from lighting inside that creates reflection and light to bounce off various surfaces. White paint has the highest reflective value and derivations thereof. The more white the paint holds, the higher the reflective value and as you move down the paint strip, the light value decreases whereby light is absorbed. What that means is if the room is already naturally bright, the room can take a darker shade or lower light reflective value which helps ground the space and helps balance the light intensity. Conversely, a naturally dark room, say a northern facing room that gets little natural light, needs the light values increased to help brighten the area and alleviate an oppressive feel.

As we start to focus on specifics, I have card with a square cut out of it which I use to isolate the color so the client will look at only that space. It works as a sort of view finder. I can hold the swatch and compare it to the existing color as well as add in accent colors or other colors we are considering as a process of elimination. It will show the light value and the undertones of another color that weren’t previously visible–one off white will look more yellow or more pink when compared to another. Clients are consistently surprised at this. We then check the colors to ensure they work with the existing furnishings and the room overall.

I then will guide clients to accent and trim colors to complete the space. Many default to painting trim and ceilings white because we think that’s what they are supposed to be. The ceiling, by the way light reflects off of surfaces and onto that space, is a naturally lighter surface. By painting the ceiling a lighter shade of the color used in the room or something that complements it in a lighter value, the ceiling becomes a part of the whole concept and isn’t this white patch that doesn’t necessarily relate to the room as a whole. A room with a 7′ ceiling needs a lighter shade to help lift it and keeps it from feeling like it’s closing in on us. A higher ceiling, say 10-12′, can take a darker color to help bring it closer to us and help the room feel more intimate.

Choosing colors can be tricky yet with many paint companies providing matching color combinations, it can help reduce the guess work. If you are feeling stuck with color specifics and need interior design help in Oakland, Walnut Creek, Marin, Berkeley and SF, call Creative Space Organizing at 510.501.1213 to help you choose the right color today.

Organize Now!

Organizing your home

Organize your space for Spring

With the turning of the season, as we awaken from our winter doldrums, we may have noticed an accumulation of things cluttering our spaces: piles of old papers, documents needed for taxes buried under old mail, clothes that need mending, bags of holiday wrap and a host of miscellaneous items strewn on the dining room table. Now is the time to address those things.

Clearing space clears our minds. It gets us out of the groggy spell which clutter induces. We can redirect our energies to putting our time and attention on the things we need  by getting into action. Where previously we’d face this accumulation of stuff and want to go back to sleep, when our areas are cleared, we have the freedom and choice to make new decisions. We become energized and motivated as we reclaim trapped/blocked energy.

So how do we get there? We got to this point by not making decisions and not paying attention to our things. We habitually piled things in corners and on tables and, over time, the piles grew and became more unwieldy and unmanageable.Procrastination was our friend and it supported us in waiting until “tomorrow” or “later”. Yet tomorrows came and went and the piles grew bigger and more unmanageable until we could no longer get into our garage or close a cupboard door.

So how do we get out of it? It takes one paper at a time, one pile, one box and bag, and to continue sorting and making decisions of what to keep and what to discard. Do we have designated places for what we’re keeping? Do we have places that can take these items and do they make sense for holding such things? Is our space too small for what we have? Do we need to eliminate more? Are we using the storage space to the best of its abilities? Can it be used better and more effectively? Why are we keeping piles of old magazines? Are there clothes, tools, kitchen items that have outlived their usefulness? Make those decisions and the clutter dissolves.

So how do we maintain it? Maintaining our spaces requires new habits and  new behaviors. If we keep throwing our mail onto the dining room table, if we toss our clothes onto the floor, if we keep saving boxes, plastic and paper bags then we will quickly revert to where we once were. Only by instilling new behaviors can we change the outcome of the space. When mail comes in, we make an immediate or near immediate decision about what’s recyclable, what’s to shred and on what’s to take action. When we undress, dirty clothes enter the dirty clothes bin and clean ones get rehung. We make decisions in the moment so the lapse of time doesn’t create another cluster of things. New behavior leads to new habits. It takes less time to put the item away in the moment than to handle it multiple times and never reach resolution.

With the arrival of Spring, what a perfect time to address problem areas and get clarity and order restored to your home and office. Start making decisions about your things so they don’t rule you and your space. Creative Space Organizing offers professional organizing  and interior design for Oakland, Marin, SF, Walnut Creek and Contra Costa and the surrounding area.