Time to Digitize

For years I have been helping clients around the Los Angeles area get rid of the clutter and belongings that no longer serve them. But what about personal keepsakes that could still bring joy but are inaccessible and unusable, specifically, the videos and photos rendered obsolete by our fast-moving technology?

Some of you may know that my sister is not well. Her battle with cancer has been devastating, and she will never be the same again. I don’t want to live in the past, but I desperately want to watch the home video of us from when we went to Hawaii. Of course, it is a VHS tape and I don’t own a VCR anymore. I know why I’m keeping it, even though I cannot watch it, and that is the spark for this blog post.

This is where Jeremy Suede from I.O.Solutions comes in. I know Jeremy from NAPO so it was a no-brainer to use his services. Here’s what he did for me:

1 - Converted all VHS tapes into iMovies on my external hard drive.

2 - Transferred all CDs (old photos and headshots) and DVDs (old short films from my acting days) onto my external hard drive.

3 - Transferred all items on my big, old, heavy hard drive to my sleek, new, mega-memory G Drive, then cleared the antiquated device so it could be donated.

I now have all my “stuff” in/on a 4.33” x 3.23” x 0.43” box/hard drive and can access it anytime I want.

 Jeremy and I at NAPO-LA’s Monthly Meeting.

Jeremy and I at NAPO-LA’s Monthly Meeting.

How it works…I called Jeremy and he met me at a Starbucks in the Valley, (which was closer to me then his office), where I handed over my precious items. I have to say, when he was walking away with all my memorabilia I had a pit in my stomach thinking, what if he never comes back?!

To put my ‘fear of lack’ to bed, Jeremy did in fact return 2 weeks later with all my “stuff” on my G Drive. I paid him a very reasonable fee through Venmo and we parted ways.

As soon as I got home I plugged my hard drive into my computer and cried like a baby watching the video of my sister and I from over 20 years ago. I couldn’t have been happier.

 My sister and I in Hawaii, early 90’s.

My sister and I in Hawaii, early 90’s.

Cautionary tale: Jeremy told me that had I waited any longer, the tapes could have deteriorated and the footage would have been lost forever. I am so grateful I have a physical reminder of a magical memory with my sister.

If you have memories that brings you joy, I urge you to digitize. Whether via hard drive or uploading to your cloud, you can keep more stuff in less space, and have it in a vastly more accessible way. Less clutter, more joy. Win-Win!

I’m thinking this would be a great gift this holiday season: a gift certificate to I.O.Solutions!

Don’t let the past clutter up your present.

I hope you create new wonderful memories this holiday season with your family and friends.

Happy Holidays!

4 Piles to Pitch: Win Back Your Storage Closet

Yes! Clean out that storage closet once and for all. I just helped a client do this, and I want to share a few things that might be useful for the closet you have been ignoring... and the skeletons inside.

My client had recently moved, and didn't have time to purge or organize before transitioning from old place to new.  As a result, her storage closet was riddled with random items (because it had a door to close and hide it all behind). Sound familiar?  Well, it happens all the time. Time to reclaim your space!

To get started, take everything out of the closet. As you remove items, sort them into piles with similar types of items - put like items with like items.

With my client, as with most clients, the piles looked something like this: the first pile was composed of packing supplies, including empty boxes, bubble wrap, tubes for posters, etc.  A second pile contained decor items that worked in her old place but didn't work in her new home, including items that needed to be returned. Off to the side, we had a pile of stuff that was to be sold on eBay and Craigslist, and finally, my favorite pile, the bag of bags. Over 90% of my clients have at least one of these piles:)

We also had piles of old makeup to go through, bedding to make decisions on, and office supplies to sort. However, the 4 piles I want to focus on are the four piles mentioned above: packing supplies, things that aren't working, stuff to sell, and the bag of bags. By just dealing with the items in these four piles, you will reduce clutter by half.  So, in no particular order, give yourself permission to let go of ---

1 - Items that are not working in the new (or current) space. This is often a frustrating endeavor, but it's time to realize that even alternative facts won't make your drawer organizers from your last residence fit your new space, and those pictures that looked great on your former living room wall don't catch the light in the same way in your new (or now) house. Yet, these items get tucked away in the storage closet in hopes you will find someone to give it to or eventually sell it. A big crutch in the letting go process is the "waiting to give it to someone who will need it" crutch. We always want to help someone out (or in some cases, pass the obligation of the item onto someone else), but then the unwanted item ends up chewing up valuable real estate in your space for way too long. So go ahead, give yourself permission. Donate it. And those things that need to be returned that didn't work for the new space that got shoved in the storage closet to collect dust and be forgotten? Put them in your car with the receipt and make sure it gets returned before it's too late.  Or donate them. 

2 - The eBay and Craigslist pile. My client had fancy and pricey dresses; some still had the tags on them, plus other items she thought could be worth selling. Of course, I'm all for donating it. Too often the ideal amount you think you can get for a given item is a lot more then what you can actually get for it. With my client, we started looking up how much similar dresses were selling for online and found that they were going for $20 or $30, and some were being stolen at $10. So I ask, how much is your time worth? $10/hr? $20/hr?  Because the time you use listing the item, the time spent in sale limbo/haggling with a stranger, the time and energy physically exerted in shipping the item... is the sale really worth the trouble and your time?  I suggest establishing a minimum listing item price of $50 or more to make the listing worthy of your time. If you can get at least $50 for an item, then list it.  If not, donate it.

3 - The pile of packing supplies. It will be easier to let these items go when you realize you are donating most of the stuff you thought you were going to sell. The act of breaking down empty boxes from deliveries alone (ahem...amazon) will reclaim a significant amount of space.

4 - The bag of bags, or should I say the whole closet, considering how they seem to fill up space like some magic growing jello. Like many people, my client was keeping every bag that was ever given to her, and all the ones she paid for like the ones from Ikea, etc. We looked through them all, and kept a select few that were in good shape.  We used some to bag donation items, and, get ready, donated the rest.

How many shopping bags does one household need? If you go shopping and use about 5 recycled bags, then keep that amount in your car, and get rid of the remainder.  Rest assured, more reusable bags will come into your life; someone is always giving away a free bag. Oh! And if you get paper and plastic bags every time you go to the grocer's and keep them for trash, then take one bag and fill it up with other bags; whatever doesn't fit in that one bag, you recycle. You will keep getting more every time you go shopping; have faith that you will not run out.

By focusing on items in these 4 piles, and not worrying about the organizing part yet, we saw a huge difference in reclaimed closet space. My client even had drawers in the closet that (I didn't know she had) she could never get to, now ready to be filled with items worthy of storing. 

So, what can you donate today to win back your storage closet?

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Tools to Organize the Kids' Craft Closet

With the summer just around the corner and school letting out, it's a perfect time to get the kids' craft closet/area in order. There is nothing worse than knowing you have projects to entertain the kids for the afternoon, but can't find the things that go together: you located the paint but not the brushes, you have the glitter but no glue, you have all-the-beads-in-the-world but no string. 

I was helping a client get organized in Malibu this week, and came up with some tools to get organized that will work for any child's craft closet:  

  • Plastic Bins, with or without lids
  • Modular Drawers with inserts
  • Stackable Paper Drawers
  • White Dry Erase Clingboard

I'm always at The Container Store where there is a plethora of plastic bins. I picked these basketweave bins in white because the size and style worked for this project, and I needed vertical clearance in order to store larger craft items. I used the 6.5 qt bins with lids to house the sidewalk chalk and other outdoor toys. Bonus with these bins: if you leave them outside it's okay; they're waterproof...as long as the lid is put back on;)

The second tool, modular drawers, are fab because they are sturdy, they come in many different sizes, and can be arrange in a variety of ways. I added small and medium inserts to these drawers to better organize brushes, scissors, sticks etc. 

Stackable paper drawers make the list because they are perfect for craft paper, tape, glue, stamps and stickers. I like that the drawers easily come all the way out; you can take the whole drawer with you to the craft area! When crafting is complete, everything goes back in the drawer for easy clean-up. Another stackable version that click and stack are great for pens, pencils, crayon and markers.

The fourth item I added for fun...well maybe fun for me, because I like making lists.  How often, when it comes to craft time, you're not sure what you have?  You forgot what you bought and now the babysitter is here, and you need to rush off to an afternoon appointment, but can't remember what to tell the sitter? With the dry eraser board, you write down the fun craft projects as you buy them, before storing them. Creativity can be more impulsive when you know what you have and where to find it!

To finish up the Malibu craft area, I labeled all the drawers with a p-touch label maker...I'll talk about how to make labeling fun in my next blog.

Did you find this helpful? 

I'm passionate about organization! I'm always interested in new ideas; what do you do to keep the craft area in order?

 

 

3 Ways to Organize Baby Clothes

For new and expecting moms, it can be overwhelming with all the baby items that come into the home. Many of the items are baby clothes. You see cute outfits at the store, or there was a great sale and maybe they're four sizes too big, but you get them anyway because they'll eventually fit, right?! And it's not just you, friends and family give baby clothes as gifts or bags of hand-me-downs that can range from all different ages. But what do you do with the clothes in the meanwhile? For this blog we are going to concentrate on clothing storage solutions for newborn to two year olds. 

I've found the best way to get started is to make piles of clothes by size. We know the first two years are broken down into newborn and/or 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-12 months, 12-18 months and then 18-24 months. First we separate, then we decide what we want to keep. Even if that skull-and-crossbones onesie was a gift for your darling Penelope, or the threadbare hand-me-down was given by a cousin you don't see enough, it doesn't mean you have to keep it. Focus on what serves you, and what will be right for your child.

Now that we have our "keep" piles, separated by size, we can decide how we want to organize the clothes. You can use one or a combination of these ideas, but I like incorporating all three.

  • Baskets with chalkboard labels.
  • Dividers for hanging clothes.
  • Clear airtight plastic storage bins with labels. 

The baskets with chalkboard label method is great if you have a lot of shelf space; I encourage storing the baskets on the shelves in a closet or bookshelf. Pro Tip: Don't forget to measure your shelves before buying any baskets to make sure they will fit properly. Adhere chalkboard labels on them if they don't already come with them.

This method is great because as your child grows, you can easily swap the sizes. The baskets in the picture below did not come with labels, so I purchased chalkboard gift tags from The Container Store, trimmed them to the shape I wanted, and used this double sided tape to attach them. Personalize it: there are oodles of baskets and labels to choose from, so you can add your own style to your organization endeavors.

The hanging clothes with dividers method is terrific if you have lots of hanging space. You can use clothes dividers, pre-labeled by month/size, or use plain ones. With the latter of the two, using a label maker or chalkboard labels for each divider, allowing an easy change of the sizes as your child gets older.

The third method works for the months to come. The labeled, airtight storage allows for long term keeping, and knowing your baby's clothes are staying clean, and bug and dust free, is especially great if you are storing in an attic, basement or shed. This is also wonderful if you plan on having more children. When you are done with one size, replace it with the next size up, and the first size goes into storage.

 

The picture of the shed is from a client that has four boys. We wanted to keep all the hand-me-downs organized, so when she is ready for the next size up, she knows exactly where everything is. We also did bins for shoes for the kids by size. 

Did you find this helpful? Comment below with your thoughts, and I would love to hear how you organized your children's clothes!

 

A Few Ways to Store Your Purses

Living in Los Angeles, I get to work with a lot of opened minded clients, that let me try different organizing ideas to discover what works best for them. After I finished organizing this client's closet, the last thing to consider was her many purses and bags. 

It would have been fine to keep the bags neatly on the top shelf of her closet, but I was concerned about the dust and not being able to see the purses that were in the duster bags.  For me, out of site, out of mind; I forget I have, and I feel this is the same with my clients. 

So, off to The Container Store I went, in search of a solution to the problem of dust, seeing all the bags, and time ... I don't want to spend the time looking through duster bags to find a purse for the evening.

I don't know why I find such joy out of using an organizing tool for something that was actually designed for something else ... anyway, I found sweater storage bags, small PEVA Chest Clear 12" x 9" x 6", just big enough for one or two purses, and the storage bags can be stacked; I love it when you can use more vertical space. 

Ok, that works, right? Well ... now you can see the bags but all the black and brown ones look the same. So, I went back to the old picture trick. It works great for shoes, and now I will be using this for purses as well. I don't have a polaroid camera anymore, but I did have 8168 shipping labels. I took pictures of all the purses on a white background, printed them out on the labels and cut them with a paper cutter for a straight edge. They stick on really well, so no peeling corners over time.

What I also like about the pictures, is if you want to store the purse in the duster bag that it came with, you can and still know what is what in your closet. 

Of course, there's not only one way to organized purses. Here are some other tools to use. I like these Cubbies that are made for shoes and purses, as well as Hanging Canvas Shelves; these are great for clutches.

Like these tips or have a great one to share? Let us know in a comment below. 

If you have a storage dilemma, I can help! Email me at info@spacetolove.com. 

Slim Down your Closet for Summer

Decisions decisions...What gift should I buy for the graduate? What to get dad for father's day? What am I bringing for the 4th of July picnic?  

Anybody want to add, What clothes to keep in my closet? to that list?

While shopping for the perfect gift and making fun summer plans with your family and friends is not a chore, I don't think cleaning out your closet has to be either. It can be fun and really rewarding. It's like giving yourself a gift and everyday you get dressed will feel like a holiday.

All you have to do is ask yourself a few simple questions about the clothes that you have in your closet.

Of course, if you don't like the garment anymore, just donated it. However, not all pieces of clothing will be that easy to decide on. 

Below are three questions to ask yourself. 

1. Does it fit me? Right now? Today? Not two months from now or two months ago.  

2. Am I holding on to it out of obligation? If someone bought it for you and you really don't like it but feel bad getting rid of it. 

Also, I didn't say in the video another thing about obligation, is when you paid a lot for clothing but don't like it. You had a bad day and went out and bought an expensive outfit, harmless. Now, a year later, it's still in your closet with the tags on it. You know you're never going to wear it. You've even tried it on a few times hoping it will look as good as it did in the store but it just doesn't work. However, you won't let it go because of the money. If it makes you feel guilty or bad it's still costing you.

3. Have I worn this in the past six months? Did I wear it this past season? Every new season is a new opportunity to purge.

Bonus tip...I would wear it but I need to get them fixed first. They need to be hemmed, the button fell off or it needs to be taken in. Any unfinished project is unnecessary clutter for the brain. Put the items in a bag by the door and set a day with in the next 3 weeks to get it done or off to Goodwill it goes. You will feel so much better either way.

I added before and after pictures from a past client for some motivation. 

So, if you're feeling motivated, the way to start is by taking everything out of your closet and before you put the items back ask yourself the questions above. If you're keeping them put them back in the closet. If not, have a bag ready for donations and another for mending. It also helps to have a "maybe" pile, something you're not sure you want to get rid of yet. If that is the case, you can give yourself more time to decide at the end.

I always say, "if your not wearing it, it's best to give it to someone else that really needs it".

Also keep in mind, as you're slimming down your closet, you're making room for new and better things to come into your life.

It's a win win!