Organizing Your Home Library

One of the most powerful symbols of accomplishment in our lives is the books that we’ve read and the library we’ve built. Most of the people I work with view their literary collection as the physical manifestation of their intellectual lives and experience. It is deeply important to them. At the same time many of my clients struggle to keep this collection organized and manageable over time. Many of you can relate and are probably faced with the question:  how can I possibly part with any of my books? If you have the space, you don’t necessarily have to purge, but there are steps you can take to keep your collection organized, compact and visually appealing.

If you do find yourself in a position to purge your collection, it is important to recognize that this can be a highly emotional task. Take your time and set aside an hour or two on your weekend when you can have peace and quiet to evaluate what books are ready to leave your home.

In our condo my husband and I have two large Ikea bookshelves with doors for books.  I use these two bookcases as the guide for how many books are appropriate for our house.  Once we begin growing outside these bounds my husband and I know it is time to reassess what we have.  I recommend the same idea to clients all the time.

Identify the bookcases or locations that you will be storing or displaying your books and use this as a guide to the volume of books you will be keeping.

Start with a quick scan of all of your books.  There are usually a few things in everyone’s collection that they can pick out right away that can be donated and appreciated by someone else. Pull these and bag or box them immediately.

Next go through and select your absolute keeps. Set your timer and work in 15 minute chunks placing these books on the shelf.

Home Library organized by colorI personally like to organize by subject on my shelves: business, fashion, literature, mystery novels, travel books, etc.  Clients typically choose this simple method but some people find alphabetizing to make the most sense.

Books have been used by creative and design loving people for decades as décor.  So for clients who value creativity and whimsy over ease of identification I can embrace your desire to make a display out of your treasures – go ahead and sort by color if you must! It really can look stunning in a living room but take my word for it – the search for a specific book can take an epically long time!

Finally, you will need to go through your question mark items and make decisions.  This is the tough part for most clients and sometimes even for me. You likely have gift books in this pile as well as books you always intend to get to but never have. If you are tight on space, let them go.  If the idea of the book is more appealing to you than the time it will take to read, let it go.

As an organizer I’m always going to advocate for donation over selling things.  It’s simpler, you can take a tax write off and quickly remove items for your home.  You can make a little money back and feel good about sending these valuables to a new home where the can be loved twice over by another reader by selling on Amazon. Reserve a shelf for these books and track them in a spreadsheet with the price you’re asking. Keep a small set of padded envelopes, tape and address labels, and set aside time on your Saturday morning to take sold books to the post office each week.

Stand back and take in your beautifully organized books!

Happy Reading from TWOW!

Claire Kurtz Organizes Her Closet: A Follow-up Post

As a follow-up to last week’s post, I’d like to share my own seasonal closet changeover experience. After all, I wouldn’t be the Well-Organized Woman if I didn’t follow my own advice! It’s really taken an unexpected turn towards arctic temps this week here in Georgia, so I knew it was time to dig in – out with the old and in with the warm and cozy, I say! And yes, ‘arctic temps’ is a slight exaggeration.

Sandals to Keep

I started the closet rotation by gathering my summer clothes and shoes and sorting into my store, donate and trash piles. Decisions for what to keep are usually pretty easy for me, so I was able to quickly gather and bag these items for storage. These silver sandals were my only question mark for the keeps.  I like them but I’ve owned them for two summers and have worn them once. I’ll give them one more summer, and if I don’t wear them again, they’re out!

I like to cycle things in and out of my wardrobe, so donate and trash piles are not too much of a struggle for me, either. However, I still like to give them a little thought. I picked out a summer dress, a black lace cami and a pair of shoes to donate. The dress is a color I like but it requires a cami under it and a shrug over it, and I’ve never felt great in it. It’s still in good condition so off to Goodwill it goes! I purchased these shoes on sale while shopping for boots. I’ve worn them once, they hurt my heels and aren’t even my style so….Goodwill for these, as well. And finally, this black lace cami is still in good condition, but I no longer like it so that was a fast drop into the donate pile.

Cami to Donate

Shoes to Donate

Dress to Donate

Yesterday I grabbed my trash items quickly. A few undergarments went right in the trash, of course, and then I said goodbye to this comfortable but shapeless sleep shirt and this well-worn work shirt.

Shirts for the Trash

I have to place an online order for basic camis and tank tops first, and then all of the old versions are into the trash, as well. (I’m very hard on my clothes!!)

Our Home Storage Unit

At home, my husband and I use this 9-cube organizer in our closet to store all sorts of clothing: in winter – sweaters and work-out clothes and in summer – shorts, work-out clothes and tanks. Clients may recognize this organizer as the one I recommend for virtually any room! From playrooms and craft rooms to closets and kitchens, it’s a great multipurpose storage item.  It is now empty and ready for our trip to storage this evening to retrieve our sweaters and winter work-out clothes.

Ready for a trip to storage!

We love living in Midtown Atlanta, but the trade-off for city living in a condo is, of course, space!  Our solution is a storage unit nearby that holds our off-season clothing, large luggage and various holiday decorations.

Every seasonal closet rotation or decorating spree requires a quick trip to the storage space where we pull out the new season’s needs and pack in last month’s goods until next year.

And with that, I’ll wish you a happy weekend!

Get Your Closet Organized: The Seasonal Changeover

The leaves are changing, the air is crisper and the mornings are cooler, which means it’s time to get your closet organized for the fall and winter seasons! It’s time to say goodbye to summer dresses and linen pants and hello to cashmere sweaters and wool trousers in just a few simple steps. Let’s organize your closet!

First, remove all distinctly spring/summer items from your closet and dresser.  This is the perfect opportunity to weed out the things you no longer want/wear from the things you’ll need to clean and store. Make three piles: Store, Trash, and Donate.

Store Pile: these are the clothes you will wear again next year when warm weather returns. Clean these items first. It may seem like a lot of effort, but you’ll be glad you did it when you can pull them straight from storage and into your closet!

  • Decide what vessels you’ll use for storing the clothing and designate a place for them to live. This is a good time to use those hard-to-reach shelves at home since you won’t need to access them for months.
  • We recommended Spacebags for traveling, and we also recommend them for storing clothing efficiently. Rubbermaid and Sterilite tubs are also a good storage solution.
  • Consider including anti-moth/anti-insect solutions in your vessels, such as non-toxic, chemical free Moth Away or Cedar and Lavender Moth Balls.  Try to avoid storing clothing (or bedding) underneath the bed.  This is a great place to pick up unwanted pests.

Trash and Donate Piles: Separate those items you’ll donate from those items you’ll simply need to throw away. Example: white tees with stains should be trashed, whereas the trendy romper you bought for only a season can be donated to the Goodwill or Salvation Army.

  • Send your trash pile to the garbage. You can also cut up certain items to use as household and garage rags.
  • The items you’ll be donating should be cleaned as a courtesy to the charity receiving your used items.
  • Make an itemized list of the number of shirts, pants, skirts, shoes, etc. you are donating. You’ll need this for calculating tax deductions for next year and for your receipt from the donation center. Here is the Salvation Army’s great online donation valuation list to help you get organized.
  • Place the cleaned and folded items in bags and take them directly to the trunk of your car. This will ensure they’ll actually make it to the Goodwill, rather than pile up in your home. Furthermore, set a date on your calendar for drop off to ensure they’ll make it out of your trunk, as well!

Second, you’ll need to remove fall/winter items from your storage containers. Here is another great opportunity to assess what you’ll need for the season and what you’d like to get rid of from last year.

  • Repeat the Trash/Donate pile process from above with your fall/winter items from last year if you find any clothes your style has outgrown.
  • Separate those articles to hang in your closet from those to be folded in your dresser.
  • Whenever I work with a client to organize a closet, we group items together by piece and use.  For example, all suits are hung together; all dresses grouped by cocktail, work and casual styles; all dress pants, all casual pants, all denim, etc.  It may sound a little exacting to the free spirits out there but it really works to help you to see what you have and what you need.
  • In your dresser, I recommend designating a drawer for each category. For example, tees and tanks in one; socks and undergarments in another and workout gear in another.  I recently used these great Dream Drawer Organizers for a client’s t-shirt and shorts drawers and he loves them.  We were able to utilize his limited drawer space more efficiently and divide t-shirts and shorts into everyday and sports-oriented uses.
  • Once your items are hung or folded in front of you, take note of what is missing that you’ll need for the season.
  • Make a list and a plan for shopping — that’s the best part!



Power to the Purse: How to Keep Your Handbag Organized

As a follow-up to our last post, Pack it Up, Pack it In, it seems only fair to address a piece of luggage that is near and dear to every woman, every day — her handbag! A woman’s purse can be a form of self-expression and creativity, yet it can also be one of the most disorganized areas in her life. Personally, a messy bag makes me feel, well, messy! Stress and discombobulation creep into my day when I cannot find what I need, when I need it, in my purse. And what woman has time for that??

Below are our tips for keeping your handbag beautiful, organized and efficient. When your purse works perfectly for you and your lifestyle, your image gets just the boost it needs to get you through your busy day with confidence…read on!

*The key is to “re-set” your Wicker bag round each night so that you can pick up and go every morning. You can make this a nightly ritual, so that it feels like a special activity that is just for you.

  • Remove receipts and used napkins, corral loose change, replenish business cards, medicines and tissues.
  • Make sure your lipgloss, wallet, keys and mints are in the bag, as well — you don’t want to be caught without these important items.
  • Remove your or your kids’ half-eaten snacks and re-stock those items if needed for the next day.
  • Wipe down your bag with a soft cloth – it was an investment, so treat it with care.

*I often find it helpful to change bags every few days. Try it. You’ll feel like you’re making more of an effort with your wardrobe choices and you’ll be forced to constantly reevaluate what goes into the bag, what goes into the trash and what goes back on the shelf.

*Use a bag organizer like the Purse Perfector – it has many pockets for everything you need to carry, and you can easily remove it and place it directly into another bag or tote.

*Create a list of the items that are allowed in your bag, and stick to the rules.

*Assign designated areas that are easy to reach for each of your most important items.

  • Cell phone in phone pouch (most bags have them now).
  • Lipgloss, keys, pen and business -card holder in interior pocket.
  • Wallet in large bucket of purse, makeup bag, notebooks, flat shoes, etc. in the main pouch of the bag.
  • Receipts should have a designated area, as well, but make sure to clean that out every 2-3 days. Paper and wrappers are one of the biggest sources of handbag clutter for me!

*To cut down on the number of items in your bag:

  • Go paperless! Use a calendar app for your phone instead of carrying a paper planner or use a notes app instead of carrying an extra notepad.
  • If you commute on public transportation, decide whether this is a music day or an e-reader day and choose which item you’ll take in your bag. Don’t weigh yourself down with both.

And lastly, here’s a list of recommended items to fill your bag.

Lightweight Lugger:

  • Lipgloss
  • Gum
  • ID, wallet, money, credit cards
  • Phone
  • Pen
  • Keys

Heavyweight Handler (add these):

  • Notepad
  • Planner
  • iPod/iPad/Kindle
  • Flats
  • Business-card holder with cards
  • Makeup bag

Enjoy the power of the purse!

Prepping for the Holidays

The Well-Organized Woman talks about prepping and organizing your home for the holidays in Atlanta INtown newspaper this month. Check out the article for ideas on getting ready for entertaining and creating a calm, organized living space!

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