’Tis the season to get organized. The new year means new beginnings, so it’s a perfect time to start fresh, declutter and create more space.
That means out with the old stuff! Here’s a suggestion: Give back by donating some items, sell others at a yard sale or online, and just trash the rest. After all, those newfangled toys, gadgets, tchotchkes and other gifts are going to need a home now.
“Organizing is not rocket science, but it can be hard work,” says Cynthia Braun, a certified professional organizer and feng shui consultant on Long Island. “ So, roll up your sleeves and just make a start. Most importantly, I teach my clients how to maintain order after we’re finished.”
Occasionally, Braun visits clients’ homes to conduct an in-depth feng shui assessment using the bagua energy map, five elements theory and other tools and techniques. She offers step-by-step guidance to make personal feng shui adjustments, including organizing ideas, furniture recommendations, room-by-room color and art selection, and more.
Here, she offers tips and suggests solutions for reining in the mess and creating calm from chaos.
“My approach is, first know the goals of the space or room,” she says. “Then declutter. Get rid of items that don’t work for the area. Next, decide what needs to be there to make the tasks of the room function smoothly. Know resources that can build closets, shelves, etc. or purchase items like furniture, organizing supplies that will help maintain the room’s function.”
Finally, add decorative touches that will enhance the space without cluttering it up again.
“After the holidays, it’s important to return decorations to organized storage,” she says. “This will make next year’s decorating simple.”
Use clear, labeled containers and sort, organize, and store by groupings of like items or by area where displayed. For example, containers labelled “fireplace mantel” should hold stuff like candles and stockings.
Get rid of old or unwanted toys and clothing. To avoid paper clutter, set up a paper management system and keep holiday recipes in a binder or recipe box.
Design pro Sandra Asdourian, of Sandra Asdourian Interiors in Babylon Village, injects organizational elements into her renovation projects, based on her clients’ needs.
“Great design starts with the floor plan, organizing and understanding how the family will be living in the space,” she says.
For example, in a well-used guest bedroom she designed, the clients entertained a lot of overnight weekend guests. They required extra storage for additional bedding and linens. So, she installed a storage bed. The bed frame easily lifts with a hidden hydraulic mechanism. This way, they could organize the extra linens without sacrificing closet space.
“We also needed to organize an easy space to entertain, so the clients and their guests could move from the kitchen to the great room to the balcony with ease,” Asdourian explains. “They used the combined spaces with the dining room as a buffet and bar area for their guests.”
Braun’s longtime client Pam, of Commack, says she realized she wasn’t staying on top of the clutter in her house. Her worst enemy was paper. The dining room table and home office desks were always piled high with catalogs, mail, and other documents.
“I wanted to invite friends over but was postponing that until the house was back in order, but that never happened,” Pam says. “I found Cynthia, thank goodness, and just the first day she accomplished what would have taken me weeks…She taught me a new way to think. I realize now that a lot of people have the same issues, so I don’t feel alone. This has been a life changer!”
- Identify why you want to get organized
- Write it down and keep it visibly posted
- Make a plan
- Mark a date on your calendar
- When done, reward yourself