Downsizing Solutions

Catherine Hawley, Certified Professional Home Organizer
Call for Your Free Consultation:  905-375-6542

Serving Northumberland, The GTA, Durham and Peterborough


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Do you want to get organized for the long haul, but don't know where to start?:

Posted by catherine hawley on February 3, 2016 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (1)

Recently I heard someone (who is not in the business of organizing) telling a group that the best way to get organized is “to try to get rid of one piece of paper or one item every day.”

I disagree wholeheartedly: If you only want an insignificant change in your home or office, then by all means do it one item a day. But, here is my opinion: You will accomplish very little. If you truly want to make a dramatic change that will last a lifetime you must make a dramatic effort.

Whether you live in a house, condo or a dorm room, it is YOUR HOME. It should (and can) be the place where you feel peaceful, relaxed and content.

Join me as I work my way through a client's home: The approaches I use work in any room, but there will be specific tips for every room that will help you make  changes that will be the most valuable for you. And these steps are equally useful for people starting into the downsizing process. Everything below will make your move easier to manage.


My first advice is: Slow down.... Breathe deeply.... Make a plan.

Multi-tasking? Rushing around trying to do 5 things at the same time isn’t the answer. Give yourwelf a few extra minutes. You will regain them. I promise. Slow down and focus on one thing at a time. This will get any task in your life done better and faster. Every project I tackle starts with a plan: deciding which rooms are the priorities, what each room is used for, and who uses each room the most. This  helps to determine what items really belong there and how they can be managed too.

When you open your door do you think: “Oh God, what a disaster!” or “ It feels so good to be home?” Your needs and areas of concerns are unique, so start your process by making a prioritized list of which rooms create the most negative emotional and physical impact on your energy and well-being. This is your plan!


Start with storage!

Step 1: Start with creating areas for ‘gathering’ and storage. This is essential to get you started. It can be the basement, a spare room, the garage, a closet or even one corner of a room. Every time you happen across something that doesn’t belong in any given room take it to the gathering spot. You will deal with it later. Often a messy space is, in part, the result of not having enough storage room, so let’s fix that:

How can you create more storage?

Getting organized, for good, isn’t about just de cluttering. It’s about making a place for everything, and allocating things based on what you use daily, weekly, monthly and only occasionally.. Most of us have more space for storage than we realize.

Go vertical whenever possible: Using shelving, armoires and book cases for everything from toys, books and shoes to seasonal decorations and infrequently used items can triple your storage space. It’s even better if they have doors because that reduces visual distraction, and has a calming effect. A two tered shelf for shoes can go under the long clothes.

Raising the rod in a closet by about 8-10 inches will leave room to add a second rod, which doubles your space for hanging clothes: blouses, sweaters, shorts, pants etc. You can leave a smaller area on one end for full length items. Use hooks on the back of closet and bathroom doors for hanging housecoats and other daily use items. Place them lower so kids can use them too.

Use clear stackable containers in various sizes suitable to your needs. Being able to easily identify what you are looking for saves time. When you can see what’s in them you will know immediately which one has what you are looking for and you’ll save endless time. Bonus: you won’t end up with ‘other’ stuff all over the place after the hunt.

Stack those sseasonals and infrequently used items. For seasonal items such as Christmas decorations, Halloween costumes, patio decor items etc., you can use ‘same size’ cardboard moving  boxes because they stack better, cost less and you can put a large label on each to indentify contents easily. Put boxes on 2X4s so air can circulate and they won’t get damp.

Wire stackable shelves can double your space for kitchen dishes: large plates on the main shelf, smaller plates on the wire shelf above; mugs on the main shelf and on the wire shelf; larger bowls on the bottom, smaller on the wire shelf; These work in the bathroom, kids’ rooms, office and laundry room too.

Always, always, always empty bags and boxes when you bring anything home. If you can’t see it you can’t find it quickly and easily. And you may waste money and time replacing something you already have, simply because you can’t see it.

So get started and see how much storage you can find.

Next  we will tackle the front and back entry areas and living and dining room of a client's home See you soon!


Need some helpful hints to get organized or to downsize?

Posted by catherine hawley on January 24, 2016 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (1)

Here we are: almost the end of January. Has your resolution to finally get organized already fallen by the wayside? Don’t feel badly: You have plenty of company!

Most of us have a burning desire to have a well organized, tidy and comfortable home. But it’s not always easy to achieve. I get lots of emails and messages from people asking how and where to even start to get their house in order, what to do before they list their house, how to help their senior parents or grandparents with downsizing, best storage products and more, so I decided to share some of the questions and answers in a weekly blog. And please, feel welcome to message me with your own questions!

Most of my clients lead busy lives, juggling a variety of jobs and responsibilities. Rarely are they lazy people. Rather, the demands on their time keep them crazy busy! When I start a downsizing or organizing project, or preparing and staging a home for sale, the mission is that the end product must be sustainable for my clients. It has to be simple, logical and meaningful for them. Whether it’s one room or a whole house, it always starts with a plan! So this year I'm going to share some of my ‘profession organizer’s best practices.’ And SIMPLE is key.

I recently read a book in which the author details (for many, many pages) the perfect way to fold everything from sweaters, socks, underwear and pyjamas to tablecloths, towels and facecloths, so you can stand them on their edge rather than stacking them. Seriously? I spent 40 minutes trying to master her folding procedure. Unsuccessfully. Things kept falling over, it wasted a lot of vertical space, and it wasn’t any easier to locate items quickly. She also recommended pulling everything out of the cupboards, drawers and cabinets, then picking up each and every piece, speaking to it and waiting to see if it moves you.... It doesn’t have to that complicated. Honest!

Your home should be the place you love to be in, where you feel your very best; A place of peace, and calm and serenity. So whether you are looking for some tips about how to organize one room or a whole house, or if you are thinking of selling your home to downsize or to upsize, I hope you will find some solutions, much encouragement and a good deal of motivation in the coming blogs.

Stand by!



Live Your New Life Now!

Posted by catherine hawley on March 7, 2011 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Downsizing, especially for seniors, can be a daunting prospect.  

You’ve been looking at condos and retirement centres. You can see yourself in that new lifestyle, trading all the work and concerns of a owning a house for more freedom. Freedom to travel, make new friends, pursue new interests. And you want the decision about moving to be on your own terms. But you’re worried about how to make it happen.   If you’re putting off the decision because you don’t know where to start, Catherine Hawley and her Downsizing Solutions team have the answers..

“We’re the bridge between where you live now and where you want to live.

Trying to do it yourself can be an overwhelming process. Many owners simply don’t have the time. Some aren’t physically able. Others don’t want to burden their kids. For still others, their grown children may be inclined to take over, sometimes dismissing what is really important to an older relative. Working together, I help our clients make their decisions. After that, I take care of the work and the details.  My goal is to take the stress and worry out of the project, providing a seamless, smooth transition. ”  

Over the years, the last three in Northumberland, Hawley has managed projects from two to nine days, working either alone or with a small team.  Following a complimentary consultation she provides a detailed, individualized and guaranteed quote and contract. She starts with getting a home well-prepared, before listing it for sale. Creating a streamlined, well-organized house that makes its best first impression is invaluable.  Showing more space and more furniture placement options for buyers can help sell the house faster and for a better price.  Once clients make the choices about what they most want to keep, Hawley helps them determine what will fit into their new smaller space.  Systematically working from room to room, basement to attic, the work usually goes quickly. Providing the moving supplies, doing the packing, scheduling movers and hosting contents sales are all part of her repertoire. She also does the unpacking, setting up the new space and much more. “One of the greatest things about this business is that I can adjust what we do to suit the situation the circumstances.  Almost anything a client wants is do-able.” There are emergency options too. For bereaved families or folks who need to relocate to a nursing home quickly, time is crucial.


“My work requires earning great trust. I insure that clients are treated as I’d want to be treated: with courtesy, respect and honesty. My team is always experienced, mature and bondable. Every circumstance is handled in a confidential, sensitive manner. Each client is unique, so the time and costs vary, but quite frequently it is less expensive than people expect and most clients put great value on not having to lift a finger.”

Hawley will get you across the bridge and living your new lifestyle.

Contact her at: 905-375-6542,



Northumberland Today Business Beat: Downsizing Solutions

Posted by catherine hawley on March 7, 2011 at 9:12 PM Comments comments (0)

We’re the bridge between where you live now and where you want to live,” Says Downsizing Solutions owner  Catherine Hawley. “Downsizing, especially for seniors, is a daunting prospect. Even when you’ve found your dream condo or retirement home, the details can be overwhelming.  Peace of mind is the most important value we provide throughout your experience.

Our Complete Move Management services are tailored to help with each individual’s needs. We’ll guide you through deciding what is most important, what fits in your new space, and what will contribute to your wellbeing. From preparing a home for sale right through to the packing, moving and unpacking details, with courtesy, compassion and respect, Downsizing Solutions will attend to any and every detail, providing a seamless transition and eliminating as much stress as is possible.

Estate/ Contents Management for bereaved families includes documenting and photographing contents, distributing specified bequeaths to heirs and charities, conducting in-house contents sales and preparing the home for sale.

If crisis strikes and someone must go to long term care, we can most often provide complete service within 24 hours. 

Streamlining Services are also available for busy lifestyles. If you simply don’t have the time or the energy to restore order, we’re the bridge between how you are living now and how you want to live. We make clutter and chaos disappear.

For your complimentary consultation, or to receive a detailed brochure and references feel welcome to contact Downsizing Solutions

Phone:  905-375-6542



Hawley Creates Harmony Where There Was Chaos

Posted by catherine hawley on March 7, 2011 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (0)

She loves a chaotic, disorganized, jumbled, cluttered house.  Who is this mad woman? Meet Catherine Hawley of Downsizing Solutions.

"I love what I do! Helping people improve their living space enhances other parts of their lives too. It can be challenging, but for me it's also deeply rewarding. What better work could there be?" she asks,

Why hire a professional organizer? Because there's never enough time and energy!  Singles and couples have huge demands on their time. Job requirements, driving kids, managing house chores and protecting family time is all-consuming.

"Living with chaos and confusion creates stress and thwarts harmony. It undermines enjoyment of life. As I get a home completely organized, I create a maintenance system, too. Clients start living better immediately, with a clean slate," Hawley says.

"Transforming a home into a peaceful, orderly environment is exciting. Seeing people emerge more confident, relaxed and happier is a powerful experience."

Hawley's been organizing since the 1990s when her mother moved from house to apartment.  "Choosing what to keep, sorting lifetime treasures, contents sales, discarding, packing and hiring movers -- all had to be done. I loved the process," Hawley says.  Soon friends were hiring her for moving or re-organizing.

For many seniors, downsizing to smaller homes or retirement centres, preparing a home for sale, is a huge undertaking, especially without family to help. Physical limitations and vulnerability may add to the obstacles and concerns. They can be comfortable with, and trust, Hawley to do it efficiently and at a fair price.

She creates the best first impression for a house, giving it that extra edge.  "Streamlined, organized and inviting, inside and out: that's essential to attract buyers. Vital. Properly prepared homes command better prices and faster sales," she says.

She's worked for law firms and estate executors to facilitate house sales.  "From sorting and clearing out personal items, meticulous pre-listing cleaning, and pre-sale set-up, indoors and outdoors, I love rolling up my sleeves and working hard," Hawley says.  "There's little I don't do, but for those tasks I have excellent, reliable trades people to call in for repairs, painting and maintenance projects. It's fun, rewarding, and I love the great reviews!"

For years she commuted to her business in Toronto from Quinte.  "And then life changed. Fate led me off the highway two years ago. It drew me to a new home and a new life in Port Hope. I love this area, although it's challenging to reestablish, both in business and socially," she says.  "It's a slow process and hard work to connect with people. Writing this column, and meeting the "Women Without Offices" has been a gift, she says.

"My dream now is to transition Downsizing Solutions to Northumberland completely and stay forever."

Catherine Hawley, freelance writer, operates Downsizing Solutions from her home in Northumberland.

For a complimentary consultation to discuss your unique organizing needs, call 905-375-6542 or e-mail

Home Organizing Services: Helping Seniors Be Safer At Home

Posted by catherine hawley on March 7, 2011 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Seniors frequently have life-altering accidents in their own homes. These are among the most common causes of seniors having to relocate to nursing homes. Many of these occurrences are avoidable.

According to Catherine Hawley of Downsizing Solutions, "Tripping on bedspreads or floor mats often results in broken hips, requiring hospitalization, even surgery. Falling over excess furniture, boxes and laundry, or reaching for out-of-the-way items, often results in other serious injuries. Injuries can mean an end to independent living for otherwise healthy, happy and capable people. Recovery can be limited, sometimes requiring nursing and personal care. Rarely is there enough help available to remain at home. Seniors may be at even greater risk for having an overcrowded, unsafe living space. It can become a dangerous circumstance very quickly."

Since relocating her business to Northumberland several years ago Hawley, an experienced organizer, has been helping people get their homes streamlined and made safer.

"My mother set me on this path. While arranging her move I was shocked by how much she had accumulated. Electrical cords were dangerously placed. Heavy objects were stored too high. Closets and drawers required too much bending and reaching. Her home was over-full and hazardous. Together we made certain her next space was thoroughly organized and safe."

Hawley begins by helping clients sort their possessions, decide what they most want to keep and what they can give up. Discarding anything can be stressful She encourages donating, making the task easier to cope with.Next, Hawley arranges the remainder safely and systematically.

"Clients make the decisions. I do the work. No one should have to stand on a chair to reach things off top shelves. Reaching across a burning element or a crowded counter, two other danger zones, are accidents waiting to happen," Hawley said. "I situate items by how frequently they will be used."  Daily-and weekly-use items must be closest at hand and easily accessible.

Once closets and cupboards are purged and provide easy access, she places furniture for safe passage.

"Those who use walkers or wheelchairs, or are sight impaired, need wider and more open space to safely navigate their homes," she said.

Many people are physically unable to remove even clean trash such as bags, boxes and broken household goods. That, too, is dangerous, and even a fire hazard. Hawley's  Downsizing Solutions plans even include transfer of these things to landfill or recycling depots, and delivery to charities.

"For seniors, hiring someone may seem an extravagance. But the reality is that there are complex reasons why they have been unable to do it themselves," Hawley said.

"My goal is to help seniors remain in their own homes safely for as long as they possibly can. Downsizing Solutions makes that happen with affordable pricing, a one-hour free consultation and speedy, compassionate, non-judgmental services.

"I treat seniors in the very manner I'd have wanted for my mother if had she needed to hire help."

For more information contact Catherine Hawley and Downsizing Solutions.

Phone:  905-375-6542