Downsizing Solutions

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

Serving Northumberland, The GTA, Durham and Peterborough


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

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!


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1 Comment

Reply MagCat
7:29 AM on August 14, 2018