Archives

Three’s a Crowd: A Single Mom, Her Triplets, and a One Bedroom Apartment

· Children / Teens, Family, Home Improvement / Decor, Makeovers, Paper Organizing, Purging, Spring Cleaning · , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About a year ago, a friend asked if I would consider doing a project pro bono; Lisa Meshulam, a single mother of triplets, desperately needed help with organization of her one bedroom apartment. I was intrigued.

When I saw the apartment, it was piled floor to ceiling with storage boxes on wire racks. Cube furniture was filled with bins, books, and papers. Children’s drawings and photos were taped to the walls, and the kitchen counters overflowed with food that didn’t fit in the pantry. Lisa slept in a bed in the corner of the living room, sacrificing her privacy so the boys could share the single bedroom. While the boys’ room was cleverly outfitted with two bunk beds, it was overrun with clutter. Clothing spilled out of empty cubes and onto the floor.

I immediately agreed to help and started by enlisting ClosetMaid as a sponsor. Then, I assembled my team of organizers, and began operation organize.

Purging
Purging took place over several days. My intuition was that there was so much clutter that Lisa couldn’t possibly know what she had. In fact, as she and I began sorting through the bins, we found many items that could easily be thrown in the trash, recycled, or donated; ironically, she didn’t want most of what she had saved.

In just a few hours, we were able to empty 16 cubes that contained everything from art supplies, schoolwork (much of it years old), books, clothing too small for the boys, and toys and sports equipment the triplets no longer used. Over the next few days, we eliminated boxes of wires, cables, and chargers that were obsolete and emptied two chests filled with empty photo albums and boxes that were serving as coffee tables. We gave away a giant trunk and its contents: home décor items that were cheap, old, and not Lisa’s current taste. We examined boxes of papers to determine what should be saved and created a filing system as we sorted.  We also discarded toiletries and medications passed their expiration date. Lisa purged clothing and shoes in her closets. In the end, we estimated that Lisa was left with only 30% of her possessions.

Furniture and Closet Plan
We decided to use the existing cube furniture (now empty) to divide the living room, so Lisa would have a “bedroom” with some privacy. The cubes would let light through even though they would be in front of the windows, and they would provide storage and places to display decor. We also repurposed two IKEA dressers that were in the hall closet: one was used in the boys’ room for their clothing and the other was used for household items such as tools and batteries.

ClosetMaid generously agreed to donate four Suite Symphony towers with a combination of drawers and shelves behind cabinets, a coffee table, a shelving unit that would be placed in the entryway, and closet components that would be used to maximize the space in her closets.

In Lisa’s clothing closet and hall closets, we raised a shelf and were able to add a second closet rod for double hanging. In one closet, we used a 25 shoe storage unit from ClosetMaid. . In the coat closet, an extender from ClosetMaid provided much needed shelf space for Lisa’s boots.

Organizing
Once we finished the purge and moved the furniture into place, we organized those items that remained: things that were truly wanted and needed. Lisa’s clothing was folded in drawers while the boys’ clothing was hung neatly in their closet. The kitchen was reorganized so that the counters were clear, food was grouped by type, and dishes and glasses could easily be reached. The boys’ art supplies were separated by type and labeled. Lisa’s desk, now a focal point of the apartment, was outfitted with organizers in the drawers for pens, paper clips, and post-it notes. Even the bathroom received a makeover with toiletries placed in a lacquer armoire.

Finishing Touches
Lisa’s interesting and eclectic items of sentimental value could finally be put on display. Sticking to a color scheme of red, gray, and white, we styled shelves with books, art objects, flowers, framed photos and plants. A tray and candle graced the coffee table. A new picture was hung on the wall above the couch. Instead of clutter and chaos, this apartment had finally become a home.

Living Room “Before”

Living Room “After”

With Lisa Meshulam and her triplets (left to right): Lucas, Tyler, and Aidan

 

 

 

Moving Tips

· Moving · , , , ,

After BarbaraMore moves take place in the summer than any other time during the year. In addition to my tips in this month’s issue of Real Simple “How to Move Without Losing It” and on the MakeSpace blog “8 Expert Solutions to Your Toughest Moving Problems,” here are some additional moving tips I’ve provided to clients this month.

Moving With Children

  1. Purge all of the toys they no longer use, anything broken, or missing pieces, AND all clothing that no longer fits or is stain, torn, or beyond repair.  It’s expensive and time consuming to move what is no longer needed or wanted.
  2. Prioritize their rooms first.  Moving can be stressful for children. By setting up their rooms first, the disruption in their lives is minimized.
  3. Create excitement. If you’re moving locally, show them their new room. If you’re not moving locally, share pictures of local attractions, the house, their new room, and school.
  4. Enlist babysitters to keep them occupied the day of the move or possibly for a few days, so you can get settled without them under foot.

Continue reading “Moving Tips” »

Memorial Day Makeover for Army Veteran

· Makeovers · , , , ,

Last month, I met Sergeant First Class Luciano Yulfo, a veteran who served our country for 36 years. In 2014, he retired from active duty after being injured in Afghanistan. “Louie” wears braces on his leg, walks with a cane, and will most likely face the amputation of his leg in the next year or so. Currently, he lives in Staten Island with his daughter Sonia, 27, who is his full time caregiver. Unfortunately, Sonia herself strugglesMemorial Day Project with health issues, and the burden of caring for her father can be overwhelming. Thanks to an organization called Luke’s Wings, I was made aware of the situation, and teamed up with ClosetMaid and Hooplah to help.

After visiting the Yulfo home, we decided that we would install ClosetMaid ShelfTrack closet systems in the master bedroom, Sonia’s room, and the front hall closet.

Continue reading “Memorial Day Makeover for Army Veteran” »

“I Have Too Much Storage Space,” Said No One Ever

· Makeovers · , , , ,

“I Have Too Much Storage Space,” Said No One Ever… Especially a Fashionista Who Works at Prada

Working in the luxury goods retail market for over 20 years, Bonnie Williams had amassed an impressive collection of designer clothing, bags, and shoes. Yet, her beautiful and expensive items were crammed into closets, overstuffed drawers, and piled from floor to ceiling in her studio apartment. When her closet rod broke under the weight of her hanging clothes, Bonnie knew it was time to move to a bigger space.

When contemplating the move, Bonnie realized that without professional help, her situation would remain largely the same; everything stored haphazardly, only in a larger apartment. That’s when she called me to help with a complete apartment makeover, and I sought out ClosetMaid, a great source of affordable DIY closets as well as a line of storage furniture and closet accessories.

Bonnie and I began by purging; we pulled everything out of the closets and drawers, eliminating duplicate kitchen accessories, unwanted books and cookbooks, clothing and shoes she hadn’t seen or worn in years, financial documents that were no longer relevant, and makeup and toiletries well past their expiration dates. Once we had thrown away, given away, or consigned all that we could, Bonnie was ready to move, and we began designing organizational solutions. With assistance, Bonnie and I assembled the DIY ClosetMaid systems.

Continue reading ““I Have Too Much Storage Space,” Said No One Ever” »

The Kitchen from Oz

· Kitchen / Nutrition, Makeovers · , , , ,

Upper West Side Kitchen

Walking into Holly Merrin’s kitchen is a little like Dorothy seeing Oz for the first time. From the emerald green terrazzo floors to the bold green leather chairs and fabulous views of the Hudson River, this kitchen is long on the wow factor.

The mom of the moment is long on the wow factor too. Petite and pretty, Holly enjoys preparing meals and snacks for her family. A 2015 graduate of The Natural Gourmet Institute, it’s more than a hobby, but not yet a career. Holly contacted Curated Kitchen to tackle both the physical organization of the kitchen and her need to address a wide range of food preferences in the most nutritious manner.

Continue reading “The Kitchen from Oz” »

A Perfect Day to Purge Your Pantry

· Kitchen / Nutrition · , , , ,

Lara Metz and Barbara Reich - Organized Healthy KitchenIs your pantry a disaster of stale cereal and junk food? Do you have multiple bags of half eaten chips left over from the super bowl party you hosted in January? Is there food that has been there for weeks, if not years?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not alone. And, the prediction of 12-24 inches of snow makes today the perfect day to purge and create a pantry that’s well stocked, organized, and filled with nutritious food.

Continue reading “A Perfect Day to Purge Your Pantry” »

Organizing Children’s Artwork

· Children / Teens · , , , ,

Childrens ArtworkA few years ago, my mother decided it was time for me to take possession of my childhood memorabilia. For several weeks, she sent boxes of childhood art, trophies, and yearbooks. While I did save a few college papers I had written, yearbooks, and awards, all of my preschool and grade school artwork went right into the trash. After being saved for 30-40 years, and being moved into 4 different homes, the vast majority of it meant nothing to me. This is what I try to impart to my clients who want to save everything their children create… most of it is not worth saving.

Continue reading “Organizing Children’s Artwork” »

Closet Makeover for Hollywood Life Fashion Director

· Makeovers · , , , ,

HollywoodLife Closet

I first met Katrina Mitzeliotis, a chic and adorable fashion director with Hollywood Life, over breakfast in midtown, Manhattan. Newly married and highly motivated to get organized, Katrina admitted that her clothes were currently in piles on the floor of a spare bedroom in her home in Brooklyn. And, when she said “piles,’ she was using the term loosely.

Piles

Many people would shy away from sharing a “dirty little secret” like a room with clothes and shoes strewn about, but Katrina wanted Hollywood Life readers to know that there’s no shame in learning to be organized. While Hollywood Life often features celebrities and their fabulous clothing and closets, Katrina is relatable and typical in many ways. She has more clothes than she needs, she has no idea how to organize them, and she lacks the closet infrastructure that would make organization attainable. A closet makeover was just what she needed, so I teamed up with ClosetMaid to give Katrina the closet of her dreams. Continue reading “Closet Makeover for Hollywood Life Fashion Director” »