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Organizing MY Home: Renovation and Addition

Friday, July 15th, 2016

Think about an organizing project that would challenge a veteran Professional Organizer–what would it be? A room filled with loose papers? A fashionista’s exploding closet?  An overstuffed garage?

How about a renovation/addition project? Her own homes’ renovation/addition project!

For about eight years my husband and I kept going back and forth trying to decide–move or renovate/add on to our home.  We kept lists on paper and eventually in Evernote as to what we wanted/needed and didn’t want/need in a future home. Our house was ‘whispering’ to us–sending us ‘SOS’ signals. Slowly, appliances began to die, cracks appeared in the walls, plumbing started to malfunction. We were busting out of our closets, kitchen, and living space. It was time to make a decision.


Organizing MY Home--Renovation/Addition. Must read! Organizing steps you'll want to take before starting such a huge project... I organized #homerenovationaddition

This was our house before the renovation/addition project began.


After much deliberation, we decided to stay at our current address and renovate/add on to our home. I knew this was not going to be a quick and easy project. I also knew this would take and enormous amount of energy, thought, coordination, and organization. This project was so all encompassing that during this time I had to take a few things ‘off my plate’ such as blogging. This is my first blog post in over a year–I’m writing it happily from my new home office!

Here are some of the organizing steps we took for this project to flow smoothly…

Purging of our entire home

Based on our contractors’ recommendation and the fact that we have a child with food allergies and need a full kitchen to cook for him, we decided to rent a house across town during the construction process. That meant we had to take everything with us. Eve-ry-thing.

After meeting with our contractor and architect, we started the purging process. Each weekend before our move-out date, my husband and I would tackle a room together and purge it of what we didn’t want to come back into our new home (we purged during the week, too). I created ‘The Two Can Rule.’ Our garbage pick up day was Tuesday so every Sunday, we had to fill a minimum of the two garbage cans from our purging session. We also created bags for donations and gave things away to family, friends, and schools.

Creating an organized packing system

The last time I had packed to move, it was the contents of my one-bedroom apartment when I got married. Now, I was packing a three-bedroom house with a filled attic and basement. This double move required a multi-tiered packing and tracking system. Half of our boxes were stored in the garage of our temporary rental home and the rest were unpacked for daily use. Then, before moving back in to our new home, we had to purge (again!) and pack up to then finally unpack (again!). More on my packing system in a future post.  If you or someone you know is moving in the future–keep your eye out for it. You’re going to want to know about the system I used. It was a success!

Creating a ‘home’ for all project-related paperwork and correspondence

This renovation/addition project churned out an inordinate amount of paperwork–even for a Professional Organizer to keep on top of. Keeping track of receipts, returns, contracts, finances, bills for two homes, design choices and all other related papers was overwhelming. I created a binder for all papers and created folders in my inbox for emails from our contractor, subcontractors, designer and others. (True PO Confession: The project plus our everyday life became so overwhelming, I just started putting all papers in one box so I would know where to find them if I needed them. Last month, I created a portable hanging file box for all renovation/addition papers and they’re stored in my closet.)

Creating a ‘home’ for all design-related items

I quickly found that I needed a space for things I would need handy for the design part of this project. I stored a recycle bag in my car filled with paint and tile samples, fabric swatches, a tape measure, scissors, and a roll of blue tape. It was always there when I needed it–at a store, at the construction site, in my car. If I had a dollar for every time I used that bag, I’d be a rich lady!

And all of this doesn’t happen with out an amazing team that was organized in their own areas of expertise…


Rich Palmacchio of RTJ Construction and Joseph Donato, Architect


Deborah Glazer of DRG Design Group


Montvale Moving

Plus subcontractors, friends, relatives, salespeople, and everyone else who kept us focused, informed, and sane. A big organizing shout-out goes to my hubby who became a purging, packing (unpacking) and organizing LEGEND during this project.


Organizing MY Home--Renovation/Addition. Must read! Organizing steps you'll want to take before starting such a huge project... I organized #homerenovationaddition

This is our house after the renovation/addition project was complete.


They say it takes a village to raise a child? It also takes a village–an organized village–to raise a house!


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About Stacey Agin Murray

Stacey is a professional organizer & speaker in New Jersey specializing in residential organizing, time, and paper management challenges. She also authored The Organized Bride’s Thank You Note Handbook: Let Systems and 101 Modern Sample Thank You Notes Take You From Overwhelmed to Organized.

Categories: Organizing MY Home, Time


7 responses to “Organizing MY Home: Renovation and Addition”

  1. Seana Turner says:

    I’ve been through this and it isn’t for the faint of heart. I think I put all of my organizing skills into play, as we moved out, left some stuff in the house, took some stuff with us, put some stuff in a pod on the property, put some stuff into temperature controlled storage, and stored some stuff at the apartment. OY! I’m happy with the result, though, as I’m sure you are looking at the beautiful after photo:)

  2. Congratulations, Stacey on getting through your renovation project AND with such a wonderful result! It must feel so wonderful to be back on your home. It looks beautiful. I loved hearing about your “organized” process for handling the project. While I can imagine there might have been some surprises along the way, you seemed to handle it all with great ease and clarity. Here’s to enjoying many, many years in your newly renovated home.

  3. Welcome back to the blogosphere, and congratulations on your “new” home! It must feel great to have successfully undertaken such a huge project, and even better to be back in your own space.

  4. Wow! Congratulations to your new home. That is an amazing transformation. I can just image how stressful it was. Organization is the key to a successful renovation. I remodeled my kitchen and it was a process. I had to start prepping at least 2 weeks in advance. We had to determine where to eat, where things would go in the meantime and where to put things back. But, it was all worth it at the end. We love our new kitchen.

  5. Welcome back! I’m sure this experience has given you ample material for future posts! I like that you decided to put blogging on the back burner for awhile (my term for such things), as opposed to simply giving up in despair.

  6. Stacey Agin Murray says:

    Thanks for your kind words! This was a HUGE organizing endeavor and yes, it is has given me ideas for many future blog posts. Happy to be in my new and improved home and happy to be back to blogging!

  7. Wow! That after shot is impressive! You must be thrilled with your “new” home! My husband constantly has a home improvement/DIY project going on, so on some level I can relate, but your situation was clearly varsity level organization and coordination for such a house overhaul. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to the follow up post on packing tips.

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