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Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom

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The last week of November was a busy time in my household. It was Thanksgiving. It was Hanukkah. And it was also my birthday. Lots of food and festivities. Not a lot of downtime.

But, my hubby and I chose to carve out a small amount of time that weekend to make our home more organized. The colder weather was upon us and we had to come up with a solution to a recent organization problem.

We have a front door and an entry-way closet next to that door. Coats, shoes, umbrellas and accessories are kept in that closet.

Problem: My children and I enter and exit our home most days through the garage, not the front door. No closet next to that garage entrance door. Instead, we have a tiny laundry room with an even tinier broom closet that we converted to a storage closet years ago. We installed a row of hooks across the top and at the bottom of the closet we store shopping and recycle bags of varying sizes.

Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom | Organizedartistry.com. See how my husband and I took 24" off our laundry room to create a space for coats, shoes, and backpacks... #smallspaces
On this closet door, we installed a 4-pocket organizer from Babies R’ Us which has proved to be an extraordinarily helpful organizing product. Each of us has a pocket to store accessories and one is for infrequently used items like snow gloves.
Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom | Organizedartistry.com. See how my husband and I took 24" off our laundry room to create a space for coats, shoes, and backpacks... #smallspaces

This worked well for a while. My children were young and had little coats and my jacket fit just fine next to theirs. Now, my kids are bigger and so are their coats. They have more hats and mittens, too. With all three of our winter coats in there, the closet door no longer stayed closed. And the hooks were so high, I was the person in charge of hanging everyone’s coats.

What to do?

I had suggested a hall tree for the room adjacent to the garage which just so happens to be my home office. It wouldn’t thrill me to have coats and backpacks hanging in my work space but it was better than having them spill out of the storage closet–especially when I was doing the laundry.

My husband did not like the hall tree idea for two reasons:
1) He thought a hall tree would have looked messy. (I agree)
2) The hall tree would have to stand in the space currently occupied by his grandmother’s table which he loves and it would not fit in our attic.

So, for a while we thought about it, spent the summer leaving camp bags in the garage but then Autumn came and the problem was back. Backpacks and diaper bags were dropped as we entered the house and coats were dumped on a couch that sits opposite my desk in this room. (No picture is available–too embarrassing for this Professional Organizer to admit!)

Besides the fact that it looked terrible, it didn’t exactly instill the importance of being organized to our two young children.

Once again we asked ourselves, “What to do?”

Solution: One day, my husband looked at me and said, “What if we move the ironing board and vacuum cleaner out of the laundry room and use that space as a mudroom? I measured the space. It was 24” wide. I was skeptical but I grew up in a 5’x12′ bedroom. I knew I could make this work.

Challenge accepted!

Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom | Organizedartistry.com. See how my husband and I took 24" off our laundry room to create a space for coats, shoes, and backpacks... #smallspaces
I’ll give my husband credit for thinking of utilizing this space. I probably never considered it because my husband likes to iron despite the fact he doesn’t do it much anymore (Yes–he does laundry, too. I’m a lucky lady…). We had not hung an iron in the iron holder since our first child started crawling six years ago. It was a great iron/ironing board organizer from Rubbermaid but it’s time was up. We relocated the real vacuum to the garage with the ironing board and the toy vacuum went to the basement playroom.
Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom | Organizedartistry.com. See how my husband and I took 24" off our laundry room to create a space for coats, shoes, and backpacks... #smallspaces
I thought to myself, “Where am I going to find what I need to fit into a two-foot wide space?”
I looked in Home Goods and online and didn’t see much that would fit my tight secifications. Then one day, I was in Target and went to check out their Closetmaid collection. I’ve used their products in the past for organizing my kid’s toys and got to check out their new products at the NAPO Conference last year.
I walked down the aisle and not only did I see what would work for me, it was on sale!

Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom | Organizedartistry.com. See how my husband and I took 24" off our laundry room to create a space for coats, shoes, and backpacks... #smallspaces
The Closetmaid 24″ Horizontal Stackable Organizer

 

Twenty four inches wide, too! What luck! My plan was to have the boys keep their backpacks on the top shelf, store their sneakers on the middle and bottom shelves and since their feet aren’t too big, maybe there would be room for a basket to hold accessories.
Now, I needed to figure out the second half of the mudroom–a place to hang coats. There are so many hook choices out there from the simple to the whimsical. We just needed simple. And, we needed more than one set of hooks. One was to be placed at the top of the space for my coat/handbag/hat and the other was to be placed so my kids could hang and retrieve their own outerwear.
Before Thanksgiving, I attended the holiday party for the local organizer group I belong to–NAPO-NNJ. Besides a lovely dinner, we had a Yankee Swap. The table was filled with gifts and I had pulled the last number for picking. By the time it was my turn to pick, there was one gift left on the table. You’ll never believe what it was?
A SET OF HOOKS!
What else do you think Professional Organizers would bring to a Yankee Swap??? It was meant to be!
And, the person who bought the hooks hadn’t removed the price tag entirely. They were from Bed Bath and Beyond. You can’t imagine how giddy I was over a set of hooks!
The next day with my trusty 20% coupon in hand, I bought another set. I was ready for construction to begin.
We charged our electric drill, connected with our inner Bob Villa, and made Mudroom Magic. Hubby and I put together the Closetmaid shelf in less than ten minutes. We measured and hung the hooks making sure they were straight with the iHandy level on my iPhone.
Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom | Organizedartistry.com. See how my husband and I took 24" off our laundry room to create a space for coats, shoes, and backpacks... #smallspaces
Measure twice, make hole once!

 

My kids tried putting their backpacks on the bench–plenty of room!

Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom | Organizedartistry.com. See how my husband and I took 24" off our laundry room to create a space for coats, shoes, and backpacks... #smallspaces
Hooks were hung and so were the coats. The laundry room is tight–here’a a few pics of what it looks like now.
Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom | Organizedartistry.com. See how my husband and I took 24" off our laundry room to create a space for coats, shoes, and backpacks... #smallspaces
Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom | Organizedartistry.com. See how my husband and I took 24" off our laundry room to create a space for coats, shoes, and backpacks... #smallspaces
Organizing MY Home: A Two-Foot Wide Mudroom | Organizedartistry.com. See how my husband and I took 24" off our laundry room to create a space for coats, shoes, and backpacks... #smallspaces
My kids have been using it everyday–I am so proud of them! Sometimes I find my husband staring at this space with a big grin on his face. I love it, too. No more coat clutter. It looks great. It keeps us organized. Twenty-four inches of space. Challenge accepted. Challenge met. Challenge complete!
What organizing challenges have you resolved in your home recently?

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I’m Attending the NAPO Conference 2013 in New Orleans!

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In a few days, I’ll be attending the National Association of Professional Organizers 25th Annual Conference. This year it’s in New Orleans. I’ve never been to ‘NOLA’–I’m very excited to go! This will be my fifth NAPO conference since I started my business back in 2002.

Last year’s conference in Baltimore was a blast. It was jam-packed with meeting new people, learning new ways to grow and enhance my business, and it started off and ended with my first lengthy solo drive (for 3.5 hrs each way from NJ).

This year, since the solo drive would be MUCH too long, I’ll be flying. I’ll be packing everything I need in a carry-on bag–this is where my skills as a Professional Organizer will prove very useful. I’ve decided that despite the warm weather report, I’ll base all my outfits around the colors black, red/purple/pink. I’m trying to limit the shoes I bring to three pair. The true challenge will be paring down my bag of medical/health/makeup products!

Last year, I took some ‘techie’ workshops–this year I’m focusing on some areas I have little or no knowledge of. The workshops I’m signed up for are:

Self-Confidence: The Secret Success Mindset (taught by NAPO-NNJ’s Chapter President, Cena Block)
Organizing: Eyes Toward Re-Design
Packages, Programs and Value-Based Pricing
Pinterest for Business
Becoming a Kindle Book Author
Turning ‘Likes’ into Paying Clients

There will be two ‘Ask the Organizer’ Panels – one of which will feature Golden Circle Members on the panel (those who have been in business over 5 years). I always learn something new from my colleagues at these panels.

In addition there will be three Keynote speakers, a NAPO Business Meeting and Luncheon, and a NAPO Awards Luncheon. If it’s anything like last year’s Awards Luncheon, it’s sure to be a three hanky affair…

And let’s not forget the place to learn about new and exciting organizing products–THE EXPO! Big names like Rubbermaid, Ziploc and 3M are there as well as small business that provide Professional Organizers with products to revolutionize our client’s lives (and ours, too!), If the Command Hook people are there, I’m going to have to stop by for a demonstration. I always forget how to use those hooks properly…

Stay tuned for my post-conference blog post!

I’m Back from the NAPO 2012 Conference!

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I have returned from the NAPO 2012 Conference in Baltimore, Maryland!

It was non-stop learning, networking, note-taking–very little rest. Like I said in my pre-conference blog post, ‘this was no vacation.’  But despite the brain overload and the seven hours of driving I did in three days, I am energized and motivated to put in place the wealth of information I learned.

Our view from the Baltimore Hilton–so close to Camden Yards!

Not only did I learn a ton, I also collected a tote bag full of information (and samples!) from our Product EXPO.  Large companies such as Rubbermaid, Smead, 3M and Staples as well as smaller companies such as NACKit! and The Tote Buddy were represented. (I did something with Smead that I’ll be blogging about soon…) Besides collecting information, I saw demos of different products and learned how to install and remove a Command hook without ripping off a layer of paint or wallpaper.

The workshops I took will be instrumental in moving my business forward in the coming year. Besides being good for my business, the ideas of the ‘Clearing Clutter the ‘Fun’ Shui’ Way’ class I took are already being put to work in my own home. Before I started writing this post, I took a block of time and did some de-cluttering in my home office which has become a repository for items having nothing to do with my business.  The instructor told us that “Clutter blocks the flow of prosperity.” I’ll be doing some more de-cluttering after lunch…

I’m looking to move forward with the social media part of my business so I took workshops on YouTube and Blogging. I learned how a presentation is like a hamburger in a public speaking workshop and discovered the ‘ABC’s’ of organizing photos.

But the BIG news is about the local NAPO chapter I belong to–NAPO-Northern New Jersey. This year NAPO National partnered with Soles4Souls–an organization that collects new and used shoes to distribute to those in need. They offered all NAPO chapters a challenge–who could collect the most pairs of shoes? Nationwide, over 100,000 pair of shoes were collected by over 30 local chapters. But who won the competition? NAPO-Northern New Jersey–collecting a whopping 24,561 and beating out chapters double in size!

NAPO-NNJ showing off awards at the NAPO 2012 Conference in Baltimore

Our ‘Queen of Sole,’ Diane Thomson (2nd from left above) collected 10,000 pair of shoes! She collected the most shoes out of any other NAPO member (and there are over 4,000 of us). All of her hard work earned her a trip to Haiti to help distribute shoes. We are so proud of her extraordinary accomplishment!

I could go on and on about this amazing conference–the people I met, the fun I had, but it’s time to go back to de-cluttering my home office the ‘Fun Shui’ way. Gotta let that prosperity flow…

NAPO-NNJ Soles4Souls Shoe Drive

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Let go of those lace-ups. Say ‘so-long’ to those slippers. People need them.

The National Association of Professional Organizers has partnered with Soles4Souls to collect new and gently used footwear for those in need.

According to their website, Soles4Souls, “collects new shoes to give relief to the victims of abject suffering and collects used shoes to support micro-business efforts to eradicate poverty.”

On Sunday, December 4, 2011 donate your new or gently worn shoes to Soles4Souls at Sports Authority of East Hanover or Clifton, NJ between the hours of 11am and 3pm.

Sports Authority
Location #1: 142 Rt. 10, East Hanover
Location #2: 415 Rt. 3 East, Clifton

Besides knowing that you’ve helped someone in need, what else do you get from donating your shoes on December 4th?

• Receive 20% off your entire purchase at either Sports Authority store that day.
• Receive a $10 off coupon from 1-800-GOT-JUNK?.

You can’t go wrong–especially if you have some shoes in your closet you don’t want anymore. Get 20% of a new pair of sneakers and consider using that $10 off coupon to haul away other items in your home you no longer need. It’s a win-win if I ever heard one…

One of These Things is Not Like the Other

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Today, I’m pleased to welcome guest blogger Cena Block of Sane Spaces. Besides being a Professional Organizer and Mom-Preneur Clarity Catalyst, she is also the President of the Northern New Jersey chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers. Cena’s talking about a key organizing philosophy—grouping ‘like’ with ‘like.’ Read on to learn more about what she calls, ‘one of the oldest organizing tricks in the book…’


Pattern Recognition is the one differentiating skill set that organized people have – we see and recognize patterns where there aren’t any!  It’s why an organizer can walk into a chaotic situation and be successful – we immediately see “like with like” and patterns that work!

What I’ve found with clients in their homes and offices is that for you to be successful, you need to begin to recognize how you create patterns in your environment naturally, in order to create organizing solutions that stick.

One of the oldest organizing tricks in the book is to group ‘like’ things together. Organizers call this: putting “like with like” – or grouping all items that seem to go together, together. The interesting thing about this process is that each of us does this step a little differently.

As part of my community service, I offer a class to area elementary schools called NAPO In The Schools. This class is designed to teach 2nd – 5th graders basic organizing principles. There is an informational segment where the kids are introduced to “Disorganized Drake” who can’t seem to get it together. He frequently loses homework, can’t find supplies, and generally has a really rough time as a typical 4th grader!  I ask the students to help Drake by applying simple organizing strategies to his books, his room, his desk and his backpack.

The class ends with an exercise where students are given a bag of school supplies and asked to group them “like with like”.  It always fascinates me that some will group them by function (all things you can write with together), by color (all blues go together), by category (all pens, all crayons, all toys), or by some other construct that makes sense to them alone.

What patterns do you recognize? What makes you comfortable? Do you prefer to sort by color, by use, by function, by location? Whatever works for you, is the right answer.  Determining which “one of these things is not like the other” is really up to you and the better you get at recognizing your own abilities for pattern recognition – and accept them as so, the quicker you’ll be able to move forward with organizing your items!

Copyright 2011: Cena Block

Need help at home? Download my Products:

Time To Toss It E-Book –
 http://sanespaces.com/products/organizing/
This is a full color guide that gives guidelines on how long to keep items and when to get rid of them. (There is a whole entire section on how long to keep paper and files.)
Dimensions Workbook – http://sanespaces.com/products/organizing/
This is a self-driven workbook that offers you the support of working with your very own Professional Organizer without the hourly fees.
Get Organized To Keep Your Family Sane Ebook/Audio Tipshttp://sanespaces.com/products/organizing/
This e-book and the accompanying weekly audio tips provide nearly 6 months of weekly organizing ideas to implement for your home and family. Whether you have a slew of children, or are kid-free, these tips are modeled after “best practices” that work with real families.

Cena Block is the Owner of Sane Spaces and a Mom-Preneur Clarity Catalyst. She helps people find sanity through clearing their spaces, creating systems, understanding themselves, and getting the support they need for success. Her Slice of Sanity eZine gives subscribers ideas and inspiration to get clear and out from under whatever is stopping them. If you are ready to get sane, you can click here to sign up for a F.R.E.E. e-zine subscription to Slice of Sanity. Learn more from Cena at her Facebook page, on her blog, and on Twitter.

Related post: Group It! April 25, 2010

NAPO-NNJ’s Get Organized Project

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Seven years ago, The National Association of Professional Organizers declared January as Get Organized Month. NAPO chapters across the nation organize public events to inspire and educate people to better organize their lives.

This year NAPO-NNJ (Northern New Jersey) is hosting a free ‘Ask the Organizer’ panel at Restyle Renew, a clothing and furniture consignment shop in Denville, NJ on January 22, 2011 from 11:30am-2:30pm. NAPO-NNJ members will be on hand to teach how to de-clutter and organize a closet and address all organizing needs presented to them.

Win a 4 hour home closet organization session scheduled in April including a $500 gift certificate to California Closets.

So drop on by, get solutions to your organizing challenges, and make 2011 the year you ‘Get Organized!’

Restyle Renew
27 East Main Street
Denville, NJ

NAPO-NNJ’s Get Organized Month Event

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On Saturday, January 30th over 25 Professional Organizers (including myself) gathered at the IKEA of Paramus to educate their guests on the benefits of getting organized with IKEA products in honor of ‘Get Organized’ Month.

It was amazing to see so many people coming out to shop and learn about organizing on such a frigid day. We met hundreds of people who wished for better organization in their homes and in their lives. We gave out tip sheets, did presentations and gave advice on helpful IKEA products.

A few pictures from the day:

Our Tips Table in the Cafeteria
Greeting IKEA guests
Organizing a Kitchen presentation
Helping out an IKEA customer
What will NAPO-NNJ do next year for ‘Get Organized Month?’ Who knows–but whatever our event may be, we hope it is a s successful as our day at the IKEA of Paramus in 2010.

Come to IKEA of Paramus!

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If you’re still not sure what to do this Saturday, drive on over to the Paramus, NJ IKEA for the NAPO-NNJ event: ‘Organize to Economize’ in the New Year with IKEA Products.

Or, if you live in Manhattan/The Five Boroughs of NYC the #171 bus out of the Port Authority George Washington Bridge Terminal in Washington Heights will get you there. It stops right at the IKEA–and you can shop, stop by the cafeteria for a yummy lunch and get your organizing questions answered.
For more information, go to:
http://www.ikea.com/us/en/store/paramus/activities
or
http://www.naponnj.org/news_special_bulletins.html
See you there!

Professional Organizers at Paramus, NJ IKEA!

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Make any New Year’s Resolutions for 2010? Great! Did any of those resolutions have to do with getting organized in 2010? Even better!

Want some free advice and a fun place to hang out and grab a bite in this frigid weather we’re having? Then plan on heading to the Paramus, IKEA of NJ on Saturday, January 30th for the NAPO-NNJ Get Organized Month Event: ‘Organize to Economize’ in the New Year with IKEA Products.
We’re going to have ‘Tips Tables’ at major entry points of the store, an ‘Ask the Organizer’ Tips Table in the Cafeteria from 12pm-2pm, as well as presentations and mini-workshops for adults and kids between 11am and 2:30pm.
The event is FREE! The help from Professional Organizers is FREE! You’ll have to buy your own cinnamon bun but the tips, advice and expertise is FREE.
For more information, go to: http://www.naponnj.org/news_special_bulletins.html
Looking forward to seeing you on the 30th!

Get Organized Month

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I know we haven’t gotten through ‘the holidays’ yet but I’d like you to start thinking about an event that occurs in January–‘Get Organized Month.’ It is the professional organizing industy’s national event dedicated to raising awareness of the benefits of getting organized and of hiring a professional organizer. It’s not a coincidence that ‘GO Month’ (as we organizers call it) comes at the start of the new year. It’s a time when many people make resolutions to get their homes and lives more organized and NAPO is here to help.

If there’s a local chapter of NAPO in your backyard, chances are there’s a GO Month event planned. If you’re in and around Northern New Jersey between 11am and 3pm on Saturday, January 30, 2010 take some time to attend the NAPO-NNJ Get Organized Month Event at IKEA of Paramus, NJ. We’re calling it ‘Organize to Economize’ in the New Year with IKEA Products. And the event is FREE!
There will be professional organizers on hand to greet you as well as staffed ‘Tips Tables’ in the Restaurant and Marketplace area. We’ll also have members of our NAPO-NNJ chapter giving presentations on organizing closets, home offices and kitchens as well as mini-workshops for kids. I’ll be there early to greet IKEA guests and I’ll be photographing the event for the chapter.
So come on down, grab a famous IKEA cinnamon bun and get your organizing questions answered. It may not fulfill your resolution to lose weight but you’ll be on the road to getting and staying organized in 2010. See you there!

What area of YOUR life needs organizing?

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