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Posts Tagged ‘organizing’

lingerie 1

When we reach a certain age, our lingerie drawer suddenly becomes an unrecognizable mess of fun and function; we lift, we tuck, we squeeze, and we spend a ridiculous amount of time rearranging ourselves into all sorts of things to make us feel pretty, and, dare I say it, youthful.
It’s just not as easy as it used to be, and whereas some days make us imagine we could be Dita Von Teese (or is that just me?) others find us reaching for the vast sea of elastic beige that Bridget Jones regretted wearing on her first date with Daniel.

With these dilemma’s comes a new sort of organization; one that says we are grown-ups, and that maybe it is time to go through our drawers before we sort through our closet. What we wear underneath is just as important, so let’s get rid of what doesn’t fit, what is hanging by a frayed thread, and throw away the sad, dull colors from years ago. Having everything that fits, and does what it is supposed to do, saves us a ton of time, and makes us feel better knowing that our underneaths are just as lovely as our outside.

One of my favorite things to do is to ditch the traditional tiny drawer at the top of your dresser; the one that is supposed to be for your underwear. I use that for my earrings and tights instead, which leaves the larger one below for lots of underwear, and plenty of space to stack my bras upright. Stacking bras vertically makes it easy to see what I actually have, and everything seems to keep their shape.

If you like to match all of your colors and styles, there are wonderful, inexpensive drawer dividers that slot right into place; they help us to keep everything separated and organized with barely no fuss at all. Many of the generic organizers used to be a bit small for the curvy figure, but fortunately manufacturers are becoming more aware of different sizes, so there are far more options than there used to be; these foldable drawers (above right) are one of my favorites.

Lingerie chests originated in the 1700’s, and will take your organizing to an entirely different level (actually seven levels, one for each day of the week) and they can still be found, old and new, very inexpensively.

If you are lucky enough to have oodles of space, then hanging your bras in the closet is even better, and will keep them from getting smooshed and damaged.
Use a
 men’s tie rack, or find coat hangers that have little clips on either side. I even found this sock dryer that I think would easily hold bras if you had the extra space to hang it; kind of like a bra chandelier.

For special occasion pieces, I would store them in a separate place, just to keep the specialness of them. Some can hang on lingerie clips, or, for mere mortals like me who have limited space, a beautiful fabric bag is just enough. If you love vintage, then an old hat box or vintage train case could be perfect, or, if you prefer something new, check out the selection of decorative containers at your nearest home or craft store.

With those other necessities that are more functional than fun, I would treat them just as well as the pretty things, but hide them in the back somewhere; no-one wants to stare at their Spanx every time they get dressed, reminding us that perhaps if we didn’t love ice cream so much we wouldn’t feel compelled to buy them in the first place. So, fold them up sweetly, and put them in a small box in the back of your closet for the next time you need a little extra bit of emotional reinforcement.

Organizing our underthings doesn’t seem like a big deal, but once we do it we are left with a lot more time (and space) for fun, function
and frippery ….

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Photographs from Bloglovin (lingerie and slippers) Lovetheedit (drawer organizers) Horchow (lingerie chest) and Pinterest  (train case) and Aliexpress (sock dryer)

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shoes in fridge

Even though it is cold and rainy outside, I am optimistically determined to get my clothes ready for Spring.
With a closet that is smaller than most American refrigerator’s, I have to be organized; my mom will tell you that it is the excessive amount of clothes that just makes my closet appear to be smaller than it is, but I am sure she is wrong, and have convinced myself that if it looks neat then I obviously don’t have a problem.
Anyway, with Spring here, I wanted to share some easy ways to get you and your small closet ready for any new season.

  • It seems obvious, but take out everything that you probably won’t be wearing for the next three months (eg. heavy sweaters in the Summer and string bikinis in the Winter).  Store these in airtight boxes, another room in your home, under the bed, or in the least accessible part of your closet (if you need them, you will know where they are, but they won’t be taking up important real estate).
  • Do the same thing with your dresser drawers, coat closet and shoes, making sure to clean and repair shoes, coats and string bikinis before you store them away. (By the way, I still haven’t got my favorite pair of boots repaired, so I spent all Winter trying to avoid puddles and changing out of wet socks).
  • While you’re at it, check for items that are worn, don’t fit, or you just don’t like any more; throw out anything that is damaged beyond repair, and donate the rest.
  • Place the clothes you love and plan to wear the most, in the most convenient spot of your closet (usually right in front of you, at eye level). The fancy and rarely worn items should fan out to the left and right, according to how often you reach for them (it is silly to be pushing aside your ball gown every week to reach for your denim jacket)
  • Swap around your coats and shoes too; if it is Spring, make sure your light jackets and sandals are front and center, easy to get to, then plan out the rest according to when you think you might need them. (If your boots will be retired until Winter, then tuck them away in a corner underneath your wool coat).
  • If you want to really go the extra, buy huggable hangers – these will double your small space, and the consistent color and style will make everything look a hundred times more neat.
  • A hook or two, on the inside of your door, is handy for storing belts, scarves, necklaces, tomorrow’s outfit etc.
  • It seems a bit contrary, but if you can, try to leave the floor or shelf of your closet empty – some empty space creates the illusion of calm (and makes you feel impeccable organized …. even if you’re not)

    Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

Photograph from: Pinterest

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junk mailLots of people I meet have a hatred for the mail; it’s shoved in drawers, overflowing from plastic bags, or abandoned in boxes for days on end. But my daughter and I actually fight to see who goes and collects the mail. We both rummage through, it as we slowly walk back to the step, seeing if there are postcards for her, or magazines and catalogs for me. Occasionally, there is a real letter, but sometimes it is just a few, official looking envelopes, screaming out for our attention, when they are merely clever impostors, pretending to be far more important than they really are.

We look at them together, and I roll my eyes at the credit card invitations, while she is excited at their promise of (seemingly) large amounts of money coming our way. I rip the plastic off the magazines, scan the headlines, and try to guess who is the latest beauty on the cover. I briefly believe them when they say that the new hair cut will make me look young and slim, then I put it carefully aside, coveting its promise for an indulgent, quiet read later on.

Getting the mail is a game to us, and I realized yesterday it’s because our focus isn’t on the bills and thoughtless, shiny pieces of advertisement (I always mean to take up the coupon crusade, but I just can’t seem to do it). These, we can’t avoid, but in the middle of the necessity is the fun of always having something unexpected to look forward to.

Yes, it may be setting the bar for enjoyment pretty low, but we never know what is going to arrive. Like everyone, I have had my fair share of devastating envelopes, but amidst the fear and breathlessness the garden catalogs continue to arrive, and the fashion magazines still sweetly call my name.

I know we are supposed to cut down on clutter, and unsubscribe to everything, but I don’t want my world to be that sanitized and pared down to exactly what I want. I control enough in my life, without knowing (and dreading) exactly what I will see every day. I like to be surprised; to have my eyes opened to something different, and to be allowed to wonder why on earth I have just received the latest bass fishing catalog …..

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

Photograph adapted from Martha Stewart

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shoe cabinetIf I had lovely feet, I would display my even more lovely shoes in a glass cabinet! Actually, even with my average feet, I would be very happy to display my average shoes in this gorgeous vintage cabinet.

To me, it is far more sensible to store them this way than cramming my size 11’s into those hanging shoe pockets, or balancing my coveted Doc Martin’s onto a wobbly wire shelf that is only a few inches deep. And, it is so unexpected, that it would always be a joy to put them away. It would be my own version of art; not quite Alexander McQueen status, but easy art in a tiny house.

Shoe pockets are absolutely great for everything – except shoes. I used them for toys when my daughter was younger, for craft supplies later on, and now, for jewelry, things that smell good, and accessories. Somehow, they never quite worked out for my shoes.

When I need extra storage, I always start with what I need, before going to the store. I wonder about whether or not I want to show the world what I have, or tidy it away somewhere. Do I need it to be perfectly organized, or can I settle for good enough?

Then, I shop my house to find out what I am bored with, and what do I want to see more of. It’s like a game to me; last year, my fancy china (never used, and didn’t really like) got stored away, and replaced with my crazy doesn’t-match-in-any-way dishes. At first glance, it may not be as pretty, but it is definitely more practical. And, more importantly, pulling open a keyed glass door, to get a 25 cent flea market plate, makes me smile every single time.

Using (and enjoying) what we have should be a priority, so why not display your shoes in a glass cabinet, or keep your favorite perfume in a shoe pocket?

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

Photograph borrowed from I Love Design UK

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Image

 

Years ago, I asked a friend for a phone number, and she immediately opened her kitchen cupboard. Inside, was what appeared, to me, to be a giant mess of business cards and notes. Not wanting to be rude (but wondering if she was a little disorganized) I asked why she had them all in her cupboard; I was used to seeing nice, empty wooden doors, not ones littered with phone numbers and pieces of tape. But, when she explained, it was one of those crazy light bulb moments, and I totally understood….

 

Do you know what actually happens to all those business cards and small notes that we need?
a. Neatly transferred into a notebook (3%).
b. Kept in our wallet (16%).
c. Put on the fridge (25%).
d. Thrown away (7%).
e. Somewhere, until we need them, then we forget where they are (49%).

The inside of our kitchen cupboards is actually found Real Estate; prime space for all sorts of things that we need to remember. With a roll of tape, and a few minutes, you will be more organized than you could ever imagine. Phone numbers and notes will be right where you left them, and all you have to do is change them as needed. No damage to your cabinets, no chalk paint, corkboard or fancy systems, just a roll of tape.
Whether you line them up alphabetically, sort them into categories, or plonk them on higgledy-piggledy (my method of choice), they are always there.

I admit, it takes a few days to get used to the inside cupboard door clutter, but you are the only one who knows it is there…….sweetly hidden, just waiting for you to find your favorite phone number!

p.s. No actual surveys were consulted in the writing of this blog (percentages were totally made up).

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

Photograph from House Beautiful

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DM_Altes_Main

Well, I finally took down my Christmas Tree, and a small part of me was glad to see the house back to normal. For most people, normal means a house without a Tree is less cluttered, but for me, it means several hours of rearranging and hanging pictures, just to end up with a home that is once again filled up with stuff. I like to say that it has personality, which is kinder than having to explain why I accumulate lots of random bits and pieces.

It’s not that I don’t like minimal spaces, I do, but they just seem to work better in other people’s houses. It is lovely to help someone sift through what they have, change the way they see their home, and discover a wealth of space that they didn’t know they had. I completely understand; I will happily sort through the knick-knacks, control the growth of family portraits, and create beautiful, wide open living spaces. Just not in my own home.

No matter how much I organize what I have, I am constantly drawn to the details that make up my life; the tiny glass ladybug that a friend gave me years ago, some seaweed from a recent walk along the beach, and a piece of ribbon that someone once tied fondly around my hair. All are precious, because they remind me of people and places that I love.

I don’t know why, but I often have a need to see and touch these things, as if I worry that my mind is never quite enough. I am fascinated by words, images, and the way in which the world is composed. A jam jar of pencils will have my mind wandering into a pile of curiosity; why is each yellow so different, is it one person who thinks up the names of the colors or an entire team (and how long does it take?), should my pencils be facing up or down, what pencil should I sharpen so that I can make a cape for my Matador, am I too old to have colored pencils on my desk, and why can I never sharpen the green one to a nice point without it breaking?

At this point, you may be thinking that this is all a little crazy, but it is actually a wonderful contradiction; wanting to see and appreciate what is there, but often needing order and function in order for it to be successful. How we decide to combine life into our design is entirely up to us. The trick is in finding what works, what we need to make us happy, and unashamedly accepting that part of who we are.

Of course, I am not suggesting that filling your home with a lifetime collection of seaweed, ribbon and pencils is perhaps the best idea, but surrounding yourself with what you are truly comfortable with is always a good place to start.
If seeing too many bits and pieces scattered around makes you feel untidy and claustrophobic, then please don’t do it; enjoy the calm quiet of your home, organize what you have, and have fun storing it in drawers, cupboards and boxes. (Be secretly glad that I will always envy your restraint, and that you weren’t the one who packed the stinky seaweed inside your new pair of shoes).

But, if you are like me, and need to see the colored pencils, the seaweed and the ribbon, accept the clutter, smile at the memories, and let them be your decoration; pop them in a jam jar, sit it on your windowsill, and watch it puddle into a favorite bowl….

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com

Photograph borrowed from the talented and funny Marta Altes

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possibilities1

 

Sometimes, I write a blog, and never publish it. I read it, and it sounds boring, or too personal, or too big, or too much like a decorating lesson. That’s what happened this week; I wrote two, and I liked them, but they just didn’t feel right. It was a Goldilocks moment.

I’m not silly, I knew why nothing was working; it was because my office was a diabolical mess. Motivated by the conference that I attended a couple of weeks ago, I had decided to reorganize. What began as a simple clean out, turned into this avalanche of ideas scribbled on bits of paper (lots of them, that I didn’t even know I had) countless pages torn from magazines, files that no longer made sense, two old keyboards, a small television that I had forgotten about in the closet (don’t ask – the box isn’t even opened) and a pile of cardboard airplanes from when my daughter was in pre-school.

Impatient to get going, I did the classic mistake of trying to do it all at once. And, I got distracted. Opening a drawer revealed a pile of decorating goodies that I didn’t even know I had, and more notebooks than I could count (well, there were nine actually). They are very pretty, but I tend to use the same, spiral-bound 79 cent notebook for most things; I like it’s size, the space of the lines, and the ease of turning over the pages. In this case, function trumps beauty, and I know the pretty notebooks would be happier living somewhere else.

It’s been a few days since I started, and I am finally seeing my serene, creative office space again. I realize it is a little bit like the cobbler’s children having no shoes (do children even know what cobbler’s are anymore?); I am great at organizing (really) and know what I should be doing, but when life gets busy, my office is usually the first place to suffer. I tell myself I can work around it, but I really can’t; I juggle for space on my desk, and my thoughts become as scattered as coffee cups.

This happens to us all at some time or another; it feels okay for a while, then you turn around, and you wonder what the heck happened. You swear it happened overnight, but it didn’t, you just forgot to notice.
When this happens, which is normal by the way, here is my strategy for coping…..

– I panic.
– Close the door, go downstairs and make a cup of tea.
– Sit in the sunroom, drink tea and look at the trees.
– Make a list of absolutely everything I need (and want) to do.
– Give myself a realistic, generous, time limit.
– Turn on some really loud music.
– Grab a couple of garbage bags, and a box for miscellaneous things.
– Put on comfy, old clothes and bare feet.
– Begin.
– Add more music and tea as needed.
– Stop when I am done.

It’s not complicated really, just feels like it for a moment….

p.s. The photograph above is one of the inspiration boards in my office.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

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trashbucketMy kitchen garbage is almost overflowing this morning, but I don’t mind. It is tucked away in a vintage cupboard, and no-one can see it. Of course, I will empty it soon, but if I had to look at it, out in the open, I would be mortified. And, I admit, it would cause me a wee bit of stress.

Having a lovely home is personal, and we all have different styles, but no matter how much we love our home, we still have to deal with the ick factor. Sometimes, it’s the utilitarian things that distract us the most, creating the biggest impression in the worst kind of way. Sadly, a beautiful room can be quickly undone, if we choose to ignore the things we don’t like.

Useful things are the warhorses of our homes; they do so much, work very hard, and we need them.

Garbage Cans and Toilet Brush Holders are two of the worst design offenders. Even the words make us cringe, but every home has them, and just because we don’t like them doesn’t mean that their ugliness becomes invisible. We all use them, so why not give ourselves another excuse to decorate, and accept the ick factor on our own terms? Here are three easy ways to get you started…..

  • Treat them as an accessory – a decorative feature that goes with your room. Be adventurous in your choice of texture, size, shape etc. Ignore convention in favor of good design.
  • Make them invisible – blend them into your home decor. Buy subtle colors (or ones that coordinate with your room) and stay with low profile, classic, simple designs.
  • Keep them hidden – store in a cupboard, or under a sink. Losing one cupboard to a garbage can may be worth it to you.

Think of useful things as just another creative opportunity (or, a reason to go shopping). Either way, here are a few photographs for you to look at (while I go and empty my own garbage…….)

PicMonkey Collagetrash

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

Photographs borrowed from…..
Trash Bucket (Urban Outfitters)  Simply Human Cream Garbage Can (Amazon)
Flower Bucket and Brush (Remodelista)  Red Kitchen Cart (Wayfair)
Wicker Basket (BasketLady)  Under Cabinet (Cliqstudios)
Red and White Striped Can (Sears)  Green Retro (Rayfei)

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Someone asked me what was in my Junk Drawer. I told her I didn’t have one, and I could tell right away that she thought I was being a little smug; a ridiculously organized decorator, superior to the rest of the universe in her controlled lack of need to corral her chaos.  

As we chatted about the drawer that everyone has, I realized that I honestly didn’t have a junk drawer, but I had something far worse – Junk Bowls! Almost every room in my house has a decorative bowl filled with miscellaneous things that I don’t know where to put. It is my solution to the drawer, but it is round, decorative, and out for everyone to see; being open about it, doesn’t make it any less junky, I just pretend (in my mind) that it is an accessory.

So, to the person who thought I was superior in my organizing, I do hope that this makes you feel better; in fact, I probably have more junk than most people do. As I waited for my computer to warm up, I grabbed the nearest bowl (I actually have five in my house) and this is just some of what was in it:

An empty roller perfume bottle (to remind me what scent to buy next time, and, I admit, I sometimes hope that the perfume will magically reappear). A watch that doesn’t work. Lip balm that I bought for my car, but forgot to put in it. Eight earrings and three necklaces that need to be repaired. Several assorted nails and screws. An expired dog license tag. An American quarter and an English penny. A hair tie, a rubber band and a button from my jeans. A safety-pin. A ring. A necklace that a boy made for me in 1979…

The list goes on, and we all know I will probably never fix the jewelry (well, I might, someday), or put away the other things, but this is what I keep – just like everyone else.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

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We all know what clutter is, but do you know that there is visual clutter around us that can be eliminated on a daily basis? Easily, with no stress. These three ideas will make your home feel less cluttered, today, without any effort at all.

Keep your basic, disposable items clear or white (liquid/bar soap, paper napkins and plates, toilet paper etc). Your eye will always go to something colorful, so the less noticeable you can make the essentials, the more visual space you will create in your home. Promise.

Go through your mail every day, and throw out all of the fliers and junk letters (no hesitating). This is a major stress for a lot of people, so to keep these bits and pieces in your home is a waste of time, energy and space. Try it for a few days, and you will be amazed at how much more relaxed it will make you feel.

Give every single bedroom its own laundry basket (bin, tote or bag). So many people I know, complain that the dirty clothes never get picked up, or taken to the laundry room (even if it is right outside the door). This is the easiest solution that I know of. It will make everyone feel more organized, and, if it’s not in, it doesn’t get washed….

Wendy E. Wrzos  http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com

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