Friday, June 25, 2010

Guest Room Re-Do

So I took my own advice and sold the home office furniture and computer equipment that were occupying one half of my guest room.   My big plan is to rearrange and redecorate my spare bedroom and I've decided to take everyone along on this journey via my blog.

It's important to mention that I live in a small (980 square feet), 2-bedroom house.  Decorating small spaces have their own unique challenges and when you have just two bedrooms they usually need to serve multi-purposes.  Since I decided to eliminate the home office area in this room I thought long and hard about what different purposes this room make-over should serve.  Clearly I need this room as a guest room for visitors, but when you have a small house, living and storage space are at a premium and here was an opportunity to add both.

Shoes, shoes and more shoes.  Since moving into this house I have struggled to find a good storage solution for all my shoes!  Yes, you heard me, my shoes have been a disorganized mess for the past three years.  I know, it's shameful, but there you have it.  I have a small walk-in closet in my master bedroom, but, although there is enough room for my hanging clothes, the closet layout just doesn't provide enough room for shoes.

Design dilema number two.  I prefer to put on my makeup while seated at a dressing table as opposed to standing under the harsh lighting in my bathroom.  Not to mention the fact that at my age I seem to need the assistance of a magnified mirror and as much natural light as possible to see what I'm doing.  It is also my habit to steam or iron whatever I am wearing that day rather that do my ironing all at one time like my mother did, so I need an area where I can access my steamer or iron easily.

I think you know where I'm going with this.  My spare room redesign will be a combination guest room and dressing room.  I am really excited about this plan.  I love the idea of creating an attractive and welcoming room for my occasional guest AND a pretty dressing room that I can enjoy every day.

So now I have a "concept", next I need a "game plan".  As you can see from the photos, my spare room is in complete disarray.  This room is also the only room in my house that has not been painted a nice color.  In the coming days I will need to pack up everything in the room that doesn't serve the new purpose of the room, decide on furniture arrangement, come up with a closet design to accomodate my shoes and pick a paint color.  I've gone online looking at shoe storage units and I have a pretty good idea for the closet makeover.  Choosing a wall color, however, is another issue.  I think I will need to visit the paint store and get a few paint color testers to put on the wall before I can decide.  Stay tuned...

Happy Organizing

Friday, June 11, 2010

9 to 5

OK, fess's your office looking?  Is your in-basket flowing over onto the floor?  Is there a stack of file folders sitting on top of the file cabinet that should be inside the cabinet?  Well kids, we're half way through 2010 and if you can still see evidence of 2009 hanging around your desk it's time to clean up your act.

Now in a perfect world, we would step into each new year with a clean slate, having kept our daily work neat and organized all along the way, but who has time for that?  At the end of each year I'm also faced with the task of boxing up the year's files and putting my office in order to face the new year.  But, after over 30 years of office work I have developed some good systems for staying organized so that at the end of the year that task can be done quickly with a minimum of detective work.

Although, each work environment is different there are a few basics that anyone who works in an office can put into practice:

First, create "zones" in your office and on your desk for your daily work flow.  Files for active clients/work and information that you need to access on a daily basis should be zoned close to your desk so you can put your hands on them without getting up from your desk or putting down the phone.  Keep active files in your desk file drawer or a cabinet near you.  I keep a vertical file rack on my desk for those files that need the most immediate attention.  Reference information, phone lists, or other general information that I need to refer to often, I slip into clear page protectors and place in a 3-ring binder which I keep on my desk so I can grab it quickly when I need to.

I am not a fan of the "in-basket".  I think it's just a license to let things pile up and it's a constant reminder of all the work you haven't done yet.  However, I do get a lot of miscellaneous paperwork, mail and fliers placed on my desk each day.  That brings me to the next zone.  Instead of an in-basket on my desk, I keep a real basket under my desk.  No, it's not the waste basket that I'm referring to, although it does reside right next to the waste basket.  As is the case with most of you, in addition to memos and mail, I get a lot of fliers, newsletters, professional publications, etc. on my desk each day.  Those items I don't need to address immediately, I put into that basket under my desk and at least once a week I pull out the basket, read my newsletters and fliers, file the ones I wish to keep and toss out the ones I don't.  The beauty of this basket is that all that paper is off my desk, but close at hand until I can get to it.

The last zone is your storage area.  This is the file cabinet or storage box where you put files and paperwork that have been completed or that you need to refer to only occasionally.  Now every business's file storage needs are different, but the rule of thumb for this zone is that the organizational method, be it alphabetical or numerical, should make sense so that if you're not there anyone could find what they are looking for.

See, it's really just that simple.  Your desk doesn't have to look like a picture in an office furniture catalog, but if your clutter and disorganization are affecting your ability to get things done at work, and be honest, do your best job, then it's time to turn over a new leaf and get it together.

Happy Organizing

Friday, June 4, 2010

Homestaging FAQ

As a realtor and homestager assisting clients prepare their homes for sale, the most frequently asked question is, "how important is it to de-personalize your house for showings?"  The answer to this questions is, VERY IMPORTANT.

Very few buyers have the ability to look beyond the furnishings, decor and personal items in houses.  If you watch televsion shows like "Designed to Sell" and "Sell This House", you will hear the designers talk alot about a buyer's need to see themselves living in the house, and I can tell you from showing hundreds of houses to potential buyers, that is absolutely true.  Once a buyer has found the house with the location, size, and amenities they require, the final deciding factor to making an offer is their emotional response.  This emotional response is what we look for as realtors to let us know this is THE house.  The best indicator of emotional response is when that buyer can visualize their lifestyle in the house...where their furniture will go and how much their family will enjoy the gameroom or backyard.  This visualization is difficult to achieve if the house is full of personal photographs, trophies, collections and all that other general clutter like laundry, toys, unread mail, etc., that fills our homes in daily life.  In essence, when preparing your home for sale you want to create that feeling you get when first walking into a nice hotel room.  Fresh, clean, inviting and impersonal enough for buyers to visualize making it their own.

So, what's the best way to get started "de-personalizing"?  Start packing!  You're going to be moving when your house sells...get started with your packing right now.  Box up all those photos, your beer stein or doll collection, and seasonal clothing to make your closets look bigger and organized.  In your bathrooms, place all your shampoo bottles, shaving cream, razor, lotions and potions that you have on the counter  and in around the tub/shower in a basket or shower caddy that you can bring out when you're bathing and put away when you're finished.  And, even though it's a bit more work, remove just-used towels and washcloths, and keep out pretty, un-used towels so your bath looks as if it's never used.  This rule extends to the bedroom as well.  Tuck away in a drawer or bin that tissue box and nose spray on the bedside table.  Put away your makeup, hair brush and perfume bottles on top of the dresser.

These are just some basics for de-personalizing a home, but your best source for suggestions is your Real Estate Agent.  Ask your agent to walk through your home with you and help you make a list of all the personal items that need to be packed away and provide suggestions for staging your furniture and accessories for showing.  I usually bring photos of some of my other listings that have successfully staged their home and thus sold quickly, so my new clients can see the result they want to acheive.  You may even want to hire a professional stager.

These are tough times in the real estate market.  Competition for home sales is brisk, so you want to make sure your home stands out among the competition.  It's also important to note that most homebuyers begin their search for a home on the internet.  All of your staging preparations need to be done before photos are taken and posted on line.

Happy Organizing

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Redefining The Home Office

Has the "home office" in your house become more of an eye sore than a convenience?  Is that cpu on the floor and big monitor on the desk gathering dust because every family member is sitting elsewhere working on their laptops?  And, all those cords and cables!!!!!  Time to redefine your home work space.

As a realtor I work from home a great deal, but I recently got rid of my big home office desk along with my HP PC and my Canon printer that were taking up valuable space in my guest room.  Between my laptop, my notebook and my iPhone...I found I was rarely using that workstation and the idea of decorating my guest room without the office equipment was all I needed to put the desk and computer in a garage sale.

Of course the biggest obstacle to this process is the realization that all that expensive equipment will bring in a mere fraction of what you paid for it.  Technology is moving at lightening speed and depreciates by more than half the minute you take it out of the box.  GET OVER IT.  If your old home office can become an economical homework station for a student or someone else that really needs a computer but can't afford to buy new, that's a good thing.  Donate your equipment to the local YMCA or school, and get a tax write-off.  Even if you're holding on to some really old equipment, there are organizations that will take it for the parts.

As an organizer I love, love, love wireless technology.  I feel like Pinocchio when he became a real boy and his strings disappeared.  This morning, I'm writing this blog on my little notebook while sitting on my patio enjoying my first cup of coffee.  I have struggled for years trying to think up creative ways to make my home office look more "home" than "office" without success.   Now, I have one central spot to "recharge" my wireless equipment and my guest room is cleared for redecorating.  So cut the strings and reclaim that space your old home office is taking up.

Happy Organizing