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Serving the entire San Francisco Bay Area | Gayle Grace, 510-654-7983

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Elfa closet installation

Last month I had the fun of designing and installing an Elfa closet system (The Container Store's product) for my recently married clients. They are in the process of blending their households and this wonderfully huge walk in closet, which had only belonged to her, now has to be shared by the two of them.

The first step was the decision to use the closet for clothes, related clothing items and their extensive library of reference materials. The second step was about finding new homes in the house for everything else that was living in the closet and no longer would belong there. They decided to only redo two walls of the closet right now, so with a somewhat blank canvas, I came up with a closet design using the Elfa system. I knew she wanted to get her shoes off the floor and he needed drawers to put tee shirts and socks in, besides a rod hanging his suits.

As this project involved ripping out two of the high wooden shelves which had bowed under the weight of the books, I had a handyman take care of that portion and hang the Elfa tracks. I then set about building the rest of the system based on my plan. There are certain tricks to installing an Elfa system, which I've learned from all my previous installations, and it's labor intensive, but it's a well thought out system and the results are spectacular.

After the system was up I went about organizing her shoes and books. The rest of the closet is his...

And they lived happily ever after!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Where is the fuse box?

Last week I worked with a family moving into their new home. When it came time for the phones to be installed they discovered that they had no idea where the phone boxes were. In fact, when they thought about, they never asked the basic questions about where any of the important connection boxes were. So, here's a list of questions to ask the previous owners of your new house:

1. Where is the electrical outlet (fuse) box?
2. Where is the phone box/connection? Is the house wired for internet connections through the phone lines?
3. How many lines is the house wired for?
4. Where are the cable TV hookups outside the house? Is the house wired for internet connections through cable?
5. Where is the water shut off?
6. How do the timers on the outside sprinklers work and where's the timer box?
7. How do all the pool controls/timers/auto systems work?
8. Where do lines from the street run into your yard and to the house?
9. Where is the property line?
10. What switches in the house control what?
11. How do the electric skylight windows work?
12. How do remotes to fans and blinds work?
13. What keys go to what?
14. How does the auto garage door control work? Who installed it and how old is it?

If you are selling your house, it would be extremely helpful if you prepared a sheet for your buyers with the answers to these questions to leave in the house for them.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rooms with dual uses

This client was struggling with a TV and guest room combination. Because the room wasn't comfortable, it ended up being used as the dumping area for everything that didn't have a proper home. The bed was covered with boxes and papers that cascaded down to the floor. It became impossible to watch TV or play with her grandchild in a safe area, so she called me in to work some organizing magic.

So first we emptied the space of all the extra stuff. Then I rearranged the furniture to suit the space and its use. The twin bed will become a "day bed" and seating area to watch TV. The rug, which was old and rather beat up, was discarded. The dresser was moved over and the TV/DVD player and the tangled mass of cords were reconfigured on the dresser.

The bookcase was moved from the opposite side of the room where it had been hiding behind a door and was stuffed with a mass of papers and books. We emptied it and sorted through the mountains of books and papers until we had it down to the very best of her collection. We took all the jumble of photos and collected them into photo boxes. The bottom shelf is used to house her grandson's toys - now at his level and he can choose what he wants to play with.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Choosing a professional organizer

Q: How do I choose a Professional Organizer for my project?

A: There are many things to consider when you are hiring a PO for a project: professional experience, stellar professional references, business credentials, proven ability to solve problems, proven ability to "think outside of the box", proven ability to relate to you and your situation, and proven ability transfer organizing skills.

As there is no official "schooling" for organizers, you have to question their experience. In my case, I came out of the womb always looking for ways to organize everything. Drove my mother crazy! I went to college and majored in accounting as a way to channel my need to line things up and keep everything in place. I spent years as a bookkeeping consultant, but was way more interested in organizing my client's desks, files and offices than I was in the actual bookkeeping. Many of my bookkeeping clients were interior designers, so I learned a great deal from them. In addition, I have formally studied the culinary arts - which reinforced the importance of "mise en place" - organizing a kitchen for efficiency and flow of work. I organized zillions of spaces before I dropped my bookkeeping and moved solely to organizing.

It is extremely important that anyone coming into your home to work have all the proper business credentials - a business license, liability insurance and bonding insurance. In addition, professional references must be available and you should be checking them. Professional references are those from other reputable business people, not just clients, who could easily be friends and family members.

Your professional organizer should be that - a true professional, who solely earns their living in this field. A person whose sole interest is in the success of your project with the ability to offer you a range of options to solve your issues, and yet, be able to zero in on what will and won't work and be able to explain why. Just shopping at the Container Store, as good as that store may be, is not necessarily the best solution to your particular organizing issues.

Certainly you should feel comfortable with your organizer - an organizing session should not be a wrestling match! Nor should it be a psychotherapy session, although, your organizer needs to understand how you live in your home so that they can tailor organizing solutions to suit your particular style. And they may need to be able to accommodate your style with your spouse and/or your children, (even your pets) - to create a smoothly running household.

Organizing solutions are not "one size fits all". Each solution should be customized for you and your house and that's why experience counts for so much in this profession.
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