Who has been there- school permission slip lost in sea of papers, hats and mittens buried in a pile of miscellaneous clothing, floor so covered in various shades of neon plastic blinking toys you barely remember what colour your area rug was.
For a really long time I lived in this chaos- okay, let's keep it real, I am not out of the organizational chaos that is my house yet. But I am light years ahead of where I was. Being more organized was a big motivation for our #canningreno- and I can honestly say that the steps we've taken to get more organized has ADDED years to my life. I have less aggravation when I am looking for items, I feel more peaceful and more ordered and more in control of my home AND MY TIME. Not searching for things in a lengthy frenzy is just so much better than feeling totally overwhelmed and running late because you can't find something.
In the past when I have worked with clients on full scale projects we have brought in a professional organizer to assist in the process. And I really believe in the process- sometimes you need someone completely objective to kick you into shape.
If you are in need of a kick start- here are 5 shortcuts I have learned via working with professional organizers and dealing with the chaos of 4 kids & 2 adults living in 1300 square feet.
1. ARTCHIVE APP FOR KIDS ART
This is honestly the best invention for space deprived, sentiment filled families! This app allows you to snap a quick photo of your kids' school masterpiece, tag it with their name, age and date, and then puts it into an album for you to "artchive" forever- and even print in an album if you feel so inclined. A clutter-free way to save and enjoy your kids' artwork. I discovered this after I was truthfully fed up with my own sentiment- I had real issues throwing away the adorable pictures drawn by my kids, but just do not have the space for more paper storage. This app could also be used for Christmas cards, post cards, love notes etc. Keep a few hard copy that are really sentimental and frame them- then Artchive App the rest. No need for boxes piled up in the basement!
2. BASKET AT TOP OF STAIRS
I'm trying to keep my main living space toy free. Of course, this isn't really possible as I live in 1300 square feet on my main floor- so during the day the toys migrate in. But at the end of the day- all toys and books etc. go in a massive wicker basket- like big time big, 2' high- and then the basket gets brought downstairs and put away in the appropriate spots in our newly renovated basement (which I designed with wall to wall closed storage). I keep another smaller basket at the top of the stairs for non toy things that belong in the basement- like the screwdriver that ended up left upstairs after building a kids toy, clothes the kids have outgrown that should be put in storage, etc. etc. Pick some pretty looking baskets so they integrate with your decor so even if they are in the space they look seamless.
3. BINDER AT FRONT DOOR
Massive MASSIVE pain point for me is paper. Similar to point number 1- I just never know what to do with it. Mail basically just piled up on my counters- if you opened the top drawer in my kitchen island you probably wouldn't be able to because papers would get jammed. So in a moment of utter desperation- I bought a white binder, some dividers, and a couple of those plastic envelopes that can go in a binder too. And now all papers that come into the house get hole punched and filed. The kids each have a tab for school related things (no more wondering if today is pizza lunch or not). Important receipts, business cards, coupons all go in that plastic envelope. I made a tab for my husband too for important things he needs to address. For my business I did the same thing in a separate binder- so every single piece of paper that comes into my house either from the mailman or from my kids' backpacks is dealt with within 5' of my front door, and within moments after receiving it. This is a massive win for my sanity!!!!!
4. ERRANDS BAG IN FRONT HALL CLOSET
You know when you have to take something to the dry cleaner, or return a library book, or need to match a fabric colour or something so you need to remember to take that item with you? This tip I learned from my organizer Nadia- put a bag that matches your decor- either a reusable shopping bag, or a simple tote bag- and that's where all these little items go. This way these "errands items" don't pile up on the front stairs, foyer table or counter. And you can grab and go without wondering where you put that item, saving you time and stress.
5. THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE TO LOSE BY NOT DECLUTTERING
Again, referring to last week's post on what you have to lose by NOT doing something- if you hang on to that card, if you don't tackle the pile of papers, if you don't address the avalanche in your closet- what do you have to lose? I will tell you: TIME, SANITY, TIME DOING THINGS YOU ACTUALLY ENJOY LIKE HANGING OUT WITH YOUR KIDS, MORE SANITY. And what do you get to gain? You get to actually have a space you enjoy, that helps YOU live a peaceful, beautiful life, a place to create memories with your family. A home you can actually Instagram because it is not covered in crap (lol) !!!!
Question: What one thing might you do today to bring order to your home? Love to know in the comments below!
I have always said that faucets are like jewelry for kitchens and bathrooms. It's the bling and detail that I argue can make or break a space in terms of how custom or high end it feels. As I talked about in my guide to buying appliances, decide where faucets lie in your priorities list. In almost all cases in a kitchen / bathroom renovation I think faucets should be top tier.
Faucets have come an incredibly long way in terms of design. Pull outs, like this Delta model going in my basement, are practically seamless. You can hardly tell they are even there.
Again, like many aspects of the interior design process, there are so many options for faucets. I would say typically faucets can be broken down into modern, transitional and traditional. If you need help determining your style try this quiz out here. In terms of finish, black is super strong in mainly modern contexts (but can totally work in a traditional space too), and brass or champagne has had a huge resurgence in the last few years.
A feature that I thought may have been someone superfluous- and now I am totally converted on- is touchless technology. I've had this Brizo model in my kitchen and it is pretty darn convenient. When you have raw chicken grossness on your hands or you've just cleaned up peanut butter your kids spilled all over the floor (happened to me today!) it's pretty convenient to turn on the faucet with a single tap. And it is just pretty fun to do. My kids call it the magic faucet : )
Bottom line, faucets make such a decorative statement- the same way a great bracelet can make an otherwise simple outfit really shine- pick something you love.
Thanks to Delta & Brizo for partnering with me on my house. For more from this series on shopping for items for my #canningreno check out my recent shopping trips here, here and here.
I have 4 children. Under the age of 5. I run a business. And I attempt to fit in hobbies and personal time. I am exhausted just writing that. So running on empty is a feeling I am regrettably very familiar with. Last week I shared how 2014, while an incredible year, was one so full to the max I had hardly any breathing room. And I am determined to make changes to enjoy more balance and happiness this year.
But inevitably, there comes a time when despite your best efforts, the season of life you are in is super challenging. Right now, all 4 of my kids are sick (AGAIN). I will spare you the incredibly horrific details but tons of bodily fluids are involved. And of course they often pick the middle of the night to take shifts. This leaves a really tired mom during the day and a feeling of desperation so deep I could cry.
Today was one of those days for me, where I kind of felt like giving up on everything, where every single task felt insurmountable and where I felt like I could not survive the day. Have you felt like this before? Kids or no kids, I am sure I am not alone in this feeling.
If this is a familiar feeling to you too, here are some strategies on not only getting through the day, but filling your tank so you can indeed thrive, not just survive (to borrow from Crystal's book title).
1. CLEAN SOMETHING
This is such a simple task, but the reason why I think it's effective is because of the instant gratification that comes with one clean space. It's like you're one step closer to a cleaner house, which means order and sanity. And when you think about it, a messy room is really just 20 small "somethings" to clean. So do it. Clear off a counter, organize one drawer, purge one spot of your closet. You'll feel good, and it's instant, I promise.
2. DRINK SOMETHING
Preferably water. There are so many proven benefits of water- I am no nutritionist but lots of experts talk about it's efficacy. I now keep a pitcher of water with lemon slices in it on my counter- and basically force myself to drink the whole thing in a day. I still need a better strategy for drinking water on the go (it's probably as simple as reusable water bottles- I just don't have any?). If anyone has a great strategy for remembering to drink water while out and about please share.
3. MAKE A GOAL LIST
As part of Michael Hyatt's Best Year Ever Course I made a pretty epic goal list over the weekend. Like crazy epic, crazy good. And the exercise of getting the jumbled mess of thoughts in my head in an organized fashion was such an accomplishment. I felt an instant surge of confidence, and regardless of how daunting (great goals should be kind of scary!) the act of organizing the goals, writing them down with some semblance of a plan attached is an immediate mood lifter.
4. PUT ON SOME MAKE-UP
For my fellow moms out there that feel like you are in an endless cycle of diapers, spit up and mess, you know how good it feels when you put your face on. So do it. Put on a TV show for the littles, and take 15 minutes even if you have no where to go. As my friend Donna Bishop says, vanity can be a great motivator. So glam it up.
5. THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE TO LOSE BY NOT DOING IT
This is a total mental shift strategy, one that again Michael Hyatt's course helped me to learn. As part of the goal setting exercise, he asked us to consider what is at stake, or what might you have to lose by not accomplishing your goal. This kind of thinking can be applied to the big stuff- for example- why blog 3 times a week? What's at stake if you DON'T blog 3 times a week- you won't be consistent, which means you won't build a loyal audience, which means you have less of a chance of sharing your message and helping people, etc. etc. This is also totally applicable for the small things- what is at stake if you DON'T empty the dishwasher, or put away the laundry right now? Your kids won't have clean cups to drink out of, you'll be scrambling for clean socks when you are in a rush later, etc. This simple shift in thinking helps keep me motivated and especially where laundry and the dishwasher are concerned, it helps me get mundane tasks done that feel insurmountable at times.
How do you "fuel up" when running on empty? Love to know in the comments below.
Kitchen renovations can be pretty daunting. There are just so many decisions and many of them are permanent, and a big time investment. From doing this with so many clients, and last year on my own house with my #canningreno, I know how difficult the decisions can be.
So here's a guide to help you with one aspect (perhaps a series of posts on this to follow?)- buying your kitchen appliances.
1. DETERMINE WHERE APPLIANCES FALL IN YOUR PRIORITIES LIST
When I work with clients I try to get them to group various aspects of a reno into tiers- A, B and C. A being top tier- what do you not want to sacrifice on and you'll pay top dollar for. B being middle of the road- ok with purchasing off the rack and C being third tier, can be very flexible with selection and price (PS- tier C does not mean ugly! It just means you make decisions that make sense for your priorities). How these are classified will very much depend on your overall budget (BIG ONE), timeline, esthetic, upbringing, attitude towards money, propensity to risk, how long you plan to be in the home, what you consider luxury, etc. etc. When I do consultations with clients I ask dozens of questions to help clients figure out these priorities. Here are a few things to consider in a kitchen reno- where would you group things?
- major appliances
- cabinet hardware
- lighting (under cabinet, island pendants)
- backsplash tile
- dining seating / table if applicable
- small countertop appliances
- dishes, cutlery
- window treatments
- baseboards, trim, mouldings
In my own home, appliances fell into group B. I wanted pieces that looked great but were sensitive to my not unlimited budget. So when I stumbled upon the Whirlpool Black Ice collection I knew I had found a great fit for my house.
I wanted the appliances to feel built in, but not incur the cost of built in paneled appliances (which would have been more than twice the price). The black blends in with the cabinetry I selected, creating a streamlined esthetic. In a kitchen as small as mine, I wanted as few sight line interruptions as possible. Black is an elegant alternative to stainless steel and in my home Black Ice was the perfect fit.
2. FRIDGE OPTIONS- FRENCH DOOR, SINGLE DOOR, BOTTOM FREEZER OR SIDE BY SIDE FREEZER, WHICH IS BEST?
This one is very much about personal preference but it is also very much reliant on space. In my tiny kitchen, I simply did not have room to open a full size door. On past client spaces I have recommended the French door option in tight passage ways, opposite the kitchen island, essentially wherever space is really limited. The french door refrigerator I selected (30"- the narrowest fridge available and basically the only thing that would fit my kitchen given my space limitations!) has pull-out drawers I love and tons of door storage. In short, space is probably the most important consideration in what type of fridge to select.
3. RANGES- GAS OR ELECTRIC, SLIDE-IN OR BUILT-IN, SINGLE OR DOUBLE OVEN
Again, let's get space restrictions out of the way. I probably would have done a double oven as with the number of people in my family, and how much we like to entertain, I could totally use it. But space just would not allow me that luxury here. So consider space- I think if you cook enough and your have the square footage built-in double ovens are pretty awesome.
Now for the gas vs. electric option- I guess you could call me a foodie, but that really only pertains to when I dine outside the home. When at home, time often only permits me to make quick, efficient meals. Basically, I'm no chef- but I LOVE food and the communal act of eating. So I kind of was intimidated by gas ranges and thought it should be reserved for "cooks." Never had it growing up, never understood the appeal. But at the rental we had for four months while our reno was in full tilt, I cooked on gas and was totally converted. It's instant heat, consistent heat, and food just tastes better in my opinion. And did I say faster? So much faster.
And for some definitions incase you're still confused- built in ovens / cooktops fit directly into the millwork (cabinets) or cabinets, and often a custom application must be employed (although some off the rack cabinet manufacturers make built in oven cabinets but you usually need to trim it out to look really polished). Built in microwaves are installed under a short cabinet usually on top of your range with a built in exhaust fan to blow air outside. And dishwashers are most usually built-in. The toe kick (piece of material that runs under all the cabinets) is installed under it. Slide-in ranges do just as they say- slide in to place ; )
4. WHY EVERYONE NEEDS A DISHWASHER
Ok so everyone does not need a dishwasher. But I lived without one, with 4 kids, for 4 years and my goodness having one has streamlined my life. It's like magic. You put in dirty dishes and they come out sterilized, sanitized, food free with little effort- allowing you to get on with life and spend time with the people you love. I love products that are easy to program, easy to use, and make my life easier. This dishwasher does just that. Super easy to program with consistent results.
Keep in mind- dishwashers can be a bit tricky to spaceplan for in a tight floorplan such as mine as you have to ensure the door has enough room to open fully, and plumbing and electrical need to be connected.
My recommendation on selecting appliances is most importantly to look at your priorities. Appliances eat up a chunk of a kitchen budget so you want to make sure you're selecting something right for your family. The Black Ice collection has been a great fit for mine.
Thanks to Whirlpool for partnering with me on my home renovation. For more info on my #canningreno click here and here.
This year I am determined to make some changes. 2014 was a wonderful one for many reasons- we underwent a huge renovation, work was plentiful and rewarding, and my husband started a new job that has blessed our family immensely.
But 2014 was also very challenging. The reno was taxing, a new job means new routines to learn, and lots of work for me means lots of juggling. Balance kind of went out the window for me in the last quarter of 2014 and I am determined to gain it back through new habits and better planning.
Here are a few really simple tools that I have found extremely helpful. Best part about them- they really are simple and from personal experience super effective.
1. Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life by Crystal Paine.
I plowed through this book in about 48 hours while up at a cottage over the holidays. What Crystal suggests in her book is not rocket science- but the principles, while simple, can have life altering ramifications. The best takeaway for me was going through an exercise examining how I use my time- and identifying some pretty serious time wasters. This book is great for moms raising families and entrepreneurs alike. I highly highly recommend it.
2. 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt
No secret I am a big fan of Michael Hyatt and gained quite a bit from his Platform conference. So I had a feeling his "Best Year Ever" program would be pretty helpful too. And sure enough, it has been. Through video lessons and poignant questions for discussion he encourages you to dig deep and really examine. My husband and I have been doing the 5-part video program together and discussing the questions out loud. The questions are fun as they aren't typical- fav question so far is if you had to describe last year as a movie genre what would it be? Bonus- Michael is hosting a live webinar open to anyone this Wednesday- totally worth checking out if you're interested in the course.
3. Making time for Reflection Using Apps
So basically every year I make the resolution of making more time for prayer, quiet and reflection. And every year I try but don't really make a plan- and then get discouraged that I have not made the goal. So I am using technology to help in this process and downloaded the Bible in One Year App by Alpha International. What I love about this app is that it tracks your progress really easily and the plan is essentially made for you. And if you find the Bible challenging to read Nicky Gumble's very easy to comprehend commentary puts the Scripture into context. With the help of this app I find I am craving this time- rather than struggling to find the time to pray and reflect.
4. Evernote and Trello
I am still a newbie at note taking and archiving software Evernote, but I have been sold on its benefits by too many people I respect. However, as with every new tool there comes a bit of a learning curve. I'm using Brett Kelly's Evernote Essentials to learn how to best maximize this tool. And Trello, oh dear Trello– it's a task manager that is essentially virtual post it notes, perfect for visual people like me who love to see tasks completed and filed away. Trello is also shareable- so your family or your team can be on the same page. You can use Trello to mange a grocery list or plan a huge corporate event- I love love love it.
5. Purge daily
For every day of 2015 thus far I have purged an area of my house. Closets, drawers, toys, shelves- I am refusing to feel conquered by my clutter and am so committed to purging on the regular. I love this infographic on wardrobe editing, and I think a series of posts on this topic alone is coming soon. Hold me to it- because it is making me feel more peaceful, more simplified, with each drawer un-junked.
What are you doing to start this year off well? How is 2015 going to be your best year ever?