Dressed and Ready For Its Debut!

Now, this is what I call a smart business decision. A home sale (or purchase), for most of us, is the largest investment of our lives and all parties had a well-thought out plan before debuting it in this competitive marketplace. The Seller spoke to their Realtor, who recommended they call me to declutter, organize and stage this beauty — before scheduling the photographer!  Be sure to call Steve Hyslop at The Alliance Group for an up close and personal tour. Enjoy perusing this lovely home in Palmetto Hall on Hilton Head Island.


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Lets Get Moving

It seems every magazine out in the past year had at least one article on ‘organizing’ or ‘decluttering’ or ‘simplifying one’s life’ – and for good reason. Clutter makes us anxious and, yes, even a little crazy.

Even psychologists have added to the running commentary about less clutter equals a calmer life. There are TV shows about colors, space, clutter, and, please, even to the extreme – hoarding – and how it affects our lives. Need I say, and not in a positive way?

Most of us try leading our lives with ‘good intentions.’ But, like most well thought out plans, if they aren’t backed and substantiated with action, they’ll do little to no good.



It’s no surprise, therefore, that when I’m called upon to help someone with their home, there is likely to be at least two, sometimes three books on ‘getting rid of the clutter’ prominently displayed on a bookshelf. They had every intention to read them, make the changes needed and, by golly, once and for all – get organized! Only it never happened.

Everyone gets busy. Someone needs us to help out. We feel as if we don’t have time to participate in the activities we want to do, let alone do the things we don’t – like decluttering closets and organizing junk drawers. Instead, we tend to buy more storage containers, buy the items we know we have but can never find and then end up creating even more clutter along the way.

So, let’s vow, here and now, to make our home (and life) less cluttered, more organized and a whole lot more simplified. By following these three (3) steps, you will surely enjoy more of the year with friends and family and doing more of the activities you want.

#1 – Move items used most frequently to the forefront. When you often find yourself stepping around or moving objects to get to the one item you need, decide right then to find a more suitable place for it. Obviously, the item you’re trying to get to should take precedence over the items being stepped over or moved aside each time.  (This pertains to items in a garage, on an upper laundry room shelf, or even in lower kitchen cabinets.)

#2 – Spring clean year round – not just in spring. When you reach for something to wear and notice clothing that has not been worn in over a year, guess what? It’s likely not going to be worn again, so share it with someone else. Ladies, this is tough, I know. And men do have it easier. Male styles just don’t change as frequently as women’s, so they can keep theirs longer. Same rule applies to garden tools in the garage, the stuff in junk drawers, make-up and cosmetics and, yes, even magazines and books you’ve already enjoyed. Share!

#3 – Organize the clutter and create a calmer, more simplified life. Sometimes in organizing, items that we thought were surely lost miraculously appear. That makes us feel good! We walk into a room where we’ve always loved to read, for instance, find it cleared of magazine and book piles, and we sigh. That makes us happy and anxious to spend time in there once again.

And when you need guidance, and actual assistance in moving the stuff around, decisions made regarding where to place items, what to share with others (think donate!) or even what could be sold, just give me a call.

A client on Fripp Island who was preparing to put her vacation home on the rental market emphatically said to me, “I could not have done this without you! Thank you so much!” Helping others make some of these critical decisions is what I love doing. And there’s no better time than the today!





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 Holidays are stressful enough for most. There’s food to be prepared, friends to entertain and family visits with children, grands and often times with even their 4-legged pets in tow. So what’s an otherwise organized individual to do?

            #1 – PLAN – Pure and simple. Schedule everything on a well-spaced calendar. List each event. Refrain from over-scheduling with activities that aren’t geared toward the ultimate goal/event, i.e. preparing for the annual Sing-a-long Group’s Holiday Dinner may take precedence over an impromptu lunch or shopping invitation. Rain checks or a suggested substitute date or time may be all that’s necessary to stay on schedule and to remain stress-free.

#2 – PREPARE – Preparation is key. Prepare for everything – including the



unexpected! Think three extra mouths to feed at the last moment! Shopping and cooking on the same day may prove to be too much during the holidays. So prepare your shopping list one day, review it the next, and shop on Day 3. Day 4 begin the actual baking or cooking with plans of freezing any dish that can be pulled easily out of the freezer and at the last minute popped into the oven. Even the pumpkin and pecan pies can be assembled, baked and then frozen while waiting for their debut. (Hint: For those who may want some pie guidance this holiday season, go to ThePieAcademy.com for some great advice).

#3 – PERFECT EXECUTION – Review your plan, review your preparation and think about each aspect of each event. And, most importantly, don’t forget to breathe. Ask yourself – how can I make this holiday more special than the last while maintaining past traditions, yet introduce something new and fresh?



And should you not have much on your social calendar this time around, ask yourself this: How can I make someone’s holiday special? Whether you decide to invite the Book Club over for an impromptu Sunday Brunch or work at a community homeless shelter, enjoy the holidays. Either way, you’re bound to make someone’s day truly special! And, really, isn’t that what its all about? May your holidays be filled with all that make you and those around you smile.

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 Life isn’t about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself.

Now that's what I call being creative...

Now that’s what I call being creative…

~ George Bernard Shaw

     Hence, as we all know, we must first find our stuff in order to begin creating ourselves — or space for ourselves, right? A recent LA Times* article laid it out pretty clearly and just in case you missed it, here’s a recap of some astounding numbers: 2.3 billion square feet of self-storage space in the U.S. is in about 51,000 storage facilities; 23% of Americans pay bills late because they can’t find the bill; and about 25% of us with double garages can’t even park in it.

The work I do, the decluttering and organizing segments, seems to run in cycles. Predictable? No, just cycles. A month may be filled with working in people’s home offices, files and other paperwork; the next – garages or closets.



Recently, though, I’ve had the pleasure (yes, I love what I do!) of meeting and working with not one, but two artists – who’ve never even met yet they live within just a couple of miles of one another here in the Lowcountry.

The first wanted a decluttered and organized garage so that when she pulled in and got out of her car, she wasn’t initially confronted with the stuff that had been stacked, and not that neatly, for way too long in what most would consider a really nice sized garage. She even thought that “something” may have taken up residence in there and she may no longer be living alone! Procrastination comes in all shapes and sizes. The other artist wanted to rid her garage of everything and convert it into a working studio. Two totally different people and spaces, yet similar goals just the same.

The space, the mess, the disorganization of anyone’s area does not bother me. I can easily look past the way it currently is and see what clients are hoping to achieve. This is exactly why, after a quick glance of a space, I ask one simple question: What is your goal for this space? Clients have said, “I need to once and for all be rid of this stuff – I haven’t used it in years and it’s taking up too much space,” or “I’m feeling settled now all except for these closets,” to, like one of my most recent clients, “I want to use this area – not worry about it – as a place to create!



Clutter fills not only physical space, but mental space, too. It’s important, especially with the holidays quickly approaching, that we create spaces within our homes to entertain friends, family and occasional overnight guests. Yet when we pack the closets full, add to the piles in the garage, or even worse, put it in an already overflowing storage unit(s), all we’ve really done is procrastinated the need to truly eliminate all the clutter in our lives. It’s no longer taking up just precious real estate space in our homes, but has shifted from filling physical space to something far more valuable – our mental space.

Now I can’t speak for others, but I know for me to create a more fulfilled and enjoyable life, one that I so deserve, a lot of both physical and mental space is needed. Which reminds me…I must get that one bothersome closet under control. I vow: That closet and my mind will be clear for a leisurely Saturday morning, feet propped up with book in hand.  Ahh, fall in the Lowcountry is hard to beat.

If you, too, need some help clearing the clutter from your physical and mental space, just give me a call. I’ll be happy to help.

*LA Times article by Howard Mansfield, Sept 2013

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In spite of even the best intentions, does it seem as if the latest named storm took a detour through your living areas, leaving homeless remnants of clutter strewn from end to end? If so, and you’ve decided it is now time for your collection of stuff to be handled, once and for all, keep reading.

Breathe...just breathe...

Breathe…just breathe…

Moving or not, too much stuff, or even the wrong sort of accessories, can make any home feel cramped, dated and downright uninviting. We’ve all experienced this at one time or another — either in our home or someone else’s. Remember that feeling of “ooh!” and not in a good way? Well, there is hope as well as an endless ray of liberation to boot.

Assessing clutter requires a somewhat different mindset and, yes, can be very liberating. Think for a moment how much lighter your wallet or purse seems once you’ve taken a few minutes to free it of the clutter of last month’s receipts and expired coupons! Something as small as that can make you feel more organized and even in control.

Deep breaths...

Deep breaths…

Now, stand in the doorway of any room in your home and take a look around. What do you see? Are the beautiful wood tones of bookshelves and end tables evident or are they layered with those prized possessions? Does it appear that every corner of the room is filled with magazines, artwork or sporting equipment? If so, don’t despair. It’s just time to shake things up a bit and find new homes for the stuff – or not!

1)   With notebook or clipboard in hand, make a list of Must Do’s room by room, jotting notes in the margin of possible plans for the stuff — share, return to rightful place, find new ‘home,’ pass on to original recipient (think sports trophies!), donate or toss. Add any touch-ups or fixes needed, too.

2)   Objectively take in the essence of each room. Has it lost its purpose? Does it look tired? Now, imagine the room totally empty of current furnishings. Take note, too, of any item(s) that may look out of place. Just because the desk has always been there, doesn’t mean it works there today. (An armoire that housed a TV in our last master bedroom now looks fabulous in our new living room!)

3)   Move on to the next room, repeating the Must Do List, including repairs, and imagine the room again void of its current furnishings. Are you now envisioning a pattern of what’s required to assess even your least cluttered rooms?

Must Do List… Repairs & Fixes…Imagine Empty…Shift Contents & maybe

Assessed...now I'm off to find Bev, The DeCluttering Pro for help...

Assessed…now I’m off to find Bev, The DeCluttering Pro for help…

Even Move Furniture…Room by Room

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De-Cluttering and organizing rooms, closets and garages are not everyone’s favorite pastime. Personally, I enjoy the challenge and once completed, the before and after photos nearly say it all. The happy homeowners say the rest.

1.    Where the heck do I begin? Ask yourself, ‘What is the goal for this space?’ A garage, for example, is typically used for parking automobiles and storing household items like a toolbox, ladder, paint supplies and garden tools. And it can even be a workshop. In other words, it can have multiple uses. However, each use

Sometimes it can seem too daunting of a task...

Sometimes it can seem too daunting of a task…

must have a clearly defined space. By specifying designated areas for all paint supplies, for instance, you won’t have to search the entire garage for a touch-up brush. Hint: If others use the same spaces, consider labeling first the area, then where specific items go within the space. This may seem fairly elementary, but it sure helps to keep things in their rightful place.

2.    How long do I need to keep bills and other paperwork? One of the many great things about the internet has been the ability to gain immediate access to most stored data or documents. What used to take ions to retrieve is now virtually at our fingertips. Even our own ability to scan and store important documents on discs (labeling and filing in our own file cabinet) has made a paperless society a little more viable.

a) Monthly household (electric, water, etc) bills can be filed in an accordion folder marked ‘Jan, Feb, March,’ etc. IF the expense is related to an in-home business. If not, proof of payment is actually shown on each monthly invoice, so there’s no reason to keep all the electric or water bills marked “Paid” year after year. With that said, ask your accountant, financial advisor or tax preparer for advice before starting up the shredding machine.  Should you decide to discard boxes of papers DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT just pitch them with your household garbage. Documents as recent as 10 years ago may still have vital identifying data like Social Security numbers and birthdates. Call a local shredding company where you can either bring the boxes to them OR they will bring the shredding truck to you. Either way, in most cases, you can watch them shred your valuable documents – box and all!

b) Some important documents, like Life Insurance Policies, Tax Returns, Divorce Decrees and even Death Certificates may need to be kept forever. Except for Originals you may need to safely store in a fireproof safe deposit box, most documents can be scanned and stored on a disc that takes up the space of a movie or music CD! Need 2010 Tax Return? Simply pull the disc marked “Tax Return 2010,” pop it in your computer, find what you need and simply print out the pages needed.

3.    When should I just get rid of clothes that aren’t being worn? Ask yourself, ‘How likely am I really to wear this? Will the color be right? OMG, will it still fit?’ Go to

Keeping only what I wear!

Keeping only what I wear!

your closet and turn all of the tops of hangers in the same direction. Once you wear the article of clothing, hang it back up, turning the hanger in the opposite direction (toward you) and at the end of the month or season, pull items that have not been worn. Donate wearable clothing to a local charity or thrift store and toss all stained, worn out ones! You’ll be glad you did. Sharing is such fun!



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As most of you may know, I frequent the local consignment and thrift stores in our area for clients on a regular basis. You may have seen me recently — I’m the one zipping around with an aqua visor, ‘owl’ clipboard in hand, jotting notes and, yes, even taking a photo or two. I’m on the look out for the best shop to consign specific client items.

The shop owners know what will sell best in their shops, so I never try and convince them otherwise. Besides, my goal is to be as efficient as possible, but today I was stopped dead in my tracks!

Now, we’ve all seen those formal, Downton Abbey-style, stiff winged-back chairs at


Grandma’s house over the years. You know the ones — the ones husbands and children couldn’t sit on for fear of who-knows-what and, God forbid, a shoe edge would touch the fabric! And there was usually a matching pair in a prominent place for all who gathered to sip coffee or tea and eat(!) fresh baked cookies. Okay, so I may have had one, too. Mine (like the one pictured here) though was later moved from the living room to a back bedroom.

But I digress.  What stopped me so abruptly was the most authentic looking winged-back chair I have ever seen. It was as if I had never witnessed one in big floral patterns, mauve mini-plaid or even country checks before. No, this one was like it had just been born! Take a look for yourself…


Such detail! Leather sides and those cute upholstery tacks, too! I loved that chair. And you better believe, if it was mine, my feet would go up in it in a skinny minute with book in hand without even a hint of an apology!

     But, unfortunately, I had to leave it behind for another to enjoy. If you hurry on over to Classic Consignments on Arrow Road on Hilton Head Island, you might be lucky enough to see it for yourself! And, by the way, Classic Consignments has a lot of other really fine pieces, too, and you won’t want to miss the back room for some real treasures.


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7 Habits of Highly Organized Households

Overwhelming clutter is a lot like weight gain: it happens one little bit at a time until, one day, the excess is hard to ignore.

That’s when people call me. I’ll spend a day – or sometimes a week or more – helping my clients get their space in shape. Then I’ll start them on an organizing-decluttering “maintenance plan” – an important step in developing habits, like these, that keep clutter at bay.

1. Decide sooner. Most clutter is nothing more than a series of unmade decisions. What should I do with this? Where should I put that? Putting off decisions is where problems begin. Have an organizing-decluttering Master Plan in place and you’ll manage your stuff before it becomes a problem.

Empty baskets RULE!

2. Deal with mail daily. 90% of mail is uninvited clutter. Don’t let it past the front door. Everything goes in a JUNK, SHRED, PAY caddy nearby. Magazines go in the reading pile.

3. Speaking of magazines: get clipping.Why save the whole magazine when you only want the article on container gardens or The 10 Best Gulf Coast Beaches?

Repeat after me…”think rainy weekend reading only”

Start files for your areas of interest, then clip the articles you want to save and stash them away in Gardening Ideas or Upcoming Travel folders. (Recycle the magazine.)

4. Put a freeze on free. Everyone loves free. We have a hard time saying no to hand-me-downs, pass-alongs, pens, free soap, shampoos, ketchup, beverage koozies, etc. Before you know it, it’s all multiplying like rabbits in our closets and cabinets. Unless you can’t do without it, forget about it.

5. Change your news consumption habits. Unread papers piling up? Stop your subscription for a month and see if you miss it. Or just get the Sunday paper and switch to online sources for your daily news. Expect to feel a void at first. But you might just get used to it.

Find your personal reading nook…

6. Explore your book options. Reading books is one of life’s true pleasures. And our personal libraries are often a great source of pride. But books take up room we often don’t have. Instead of purchasing them, borrow books from the library for your casual reading. You’ll save hundreds of dollars a year. Electronic readers – like the Kindle – makes book buying more affordable and you can store an entire library in a device the size of a small cutting board. They’re a cinch to use, too.

7. Finally, be ruthless when it comes to your closets. The most common problem

Okay, you don’t have to be this ruthless!

area I see? Closets filled with clothing that no longer fits, doesn’t work in a new climate, or has gone out of style. Don’t let it linger. Give your clothes a new life and either donate or bring it to your local consignment shop. Ditto for accessories.  Don’t be afraid to let go: as my clients always tell me, it’s a liberating feeling.

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One Size Never Fits All

Well-Intended Words to Live By

People sometimes call me out of desperation, but usually they just need some basic guidance or advice in getting started. Other times they need me to actually do the physical work for them. Either way, motivation by a trained, intuit by nature can be quite powerful which is why my toolbox is filled with a litany of just the right things to do and say to get everyone moving forward.

My initial question is always: What is your ultimate goal? And that often leads to a barrage of reasons why they find themselves in their current dilemma. I listen for a bit and ask the same question a little differently: I see, but what is your ultimate goal now?

The answers nearly always include some variation of wanting to feel organized, getting rid of stuff they no longer need, doesn’t fit or they simply just don’t want anymore. Let’s face it, times change and so do we.

Lots of Ideas to Make Your Life Easier…

Take for example the following top three (3) items we can easily correct and control with little to no effort. This is not to say you won’t need help getting to this point, but make a conscious effort to think about each of these items consistently until it becomes a habit – a good one at that!

     Mail – it arrives six days a week like clockwork. Don’t go to the mailbox until you have 5 minutes to deal with it. With the stack in hand, think JUNK, SHRED, PAY and SAVE TO READ LATER (like magazines).

Magazines – Set aside time to go through all magazines and decide to: READ, RECYCLE or RE-READ. Make note of those you may not want to re-subscribe.

Newspapers – If the newspapers are piling up because you’ve not had the time to read them, it may be time to stop the subscription. Consider getting it only on the weekends or pick one up when you know you’ll have time to read it.

Whatever your ultimate goal, it will surely be a tad bit different than others. After all, it’s custom fit for you and the needs of your household, because one size never fits all.

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Letting Go Of Our Fondest Treasures

Here in the low country and on the island, we’re well into spring with blossoms bursting along side the bike trails and sidewalks. What a great time of the year to begin

A Gifted Treasure

planning and taking full advantage of one of my most popular de-cluttering options: Gifting Treasures. Of all the recommendations doled out to rid homes and garages of clutter, lots of valuables, and massive stuff, Gifting Treasures gets the most audible and delighted gasps by far!

Think about it. Our life story is really comprised of experiences through the places we’ve been, purchased pieces and even those long ago inherited items. The batik purchased on a trip after college through Southeast Asia; the silver bowl you received from your grandmother decades ago; the 12-place setting of Wedgwood china you and your honey got as a wedding gift; and even the baby blanket and shoes of each of the children help formulate individual lifetime stories.

Another Rare Find

Luckily, your family may have grown in size and when the children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews are all considered, it adds up to a whole lot of gift-giving opportunities. But how often have you heard, “No, I don’t want that old thing, Mom,” or “It doesn’t match anything we have” or even “It’s not even our style and besides its old?” When the grandchildren are around, you may bite your tongue a bit, but you may really want to shriek, “Well, of course, its old – it was after all your great-grandmothers!” Instead you simply nod and mumble that you understand.

We may secretly hope and pray that one day they will change their minds but hopefully before its too late and our coveted prize lands in the hands of someone, God forbid, not even related. Or worse, it ends up in a local landfill by ‘mistake.’

We know and understand all too well that each of these treasures is part of who we are. Each helped formulate and record and weave the circumstance of life creating our own unique story. And, as humans, we love sharing our experiences with others. It is after all our duty and responsibility to those who’ve come before us, isn’t it?

So, on your next birthday (or upcoming family reunion), why not continue to share your life with others and throw a party! Send out invitations, making it perfectly clear that NO gifts are to be brought. Instead you will wrap up, adding beautiful bows to some of your most beloved treasures, and gift these items from your home and life that you want to pass on to loved ones in attendance. If everyone lives far away and there’s no chance they’ll be able to make the party, either mail the treasure to them (if at all possible) or simply hold it for them until a later date – wrapped and a card attached with their name.

By sharing the story of the item in your own words in the note or card, this in itself becomes an historical record.

Another Gifted Treasure with a long story…

(Annie, because of your love of France and your ability to converse fluently in French, I wanted you to have this vase (or cup & saucer). It was gently cradled on the lap of my mother-in-law, Isabelle Monroe, on her plane ride from Paris, France to New York and given to us on our wedding day, June 15, 1950. She wrapped the vase in quilt batting and whenever it was stored or had to be moved over the years, I continued to use the same batting.’) Have each attendee read their card and you’ll be amazed at how little they may have known about you yet how much they learn about you and your life!

Just think how enjoyable this process will be and how easy it will be for you to let your most valued treasures go. Gifting treasures that have been well kept and loved over your lifetime multiplies its value when given to another loved one. Happy gifting!

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