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

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How much is enough...

I've been getting a lot of questions about TLC's Extreme Couponing show.  What's the story on this?  Are these people hoarders?  How many bottles of shampoo and boxes of pasta does one need?

I finally watched an episode, and while I am not Dr. Phil, I can see some obsessive/compulsive tendencies at work here:  The couponer's excessive attention to the search and finding of the coupons, then the high of the planning of the attack on the store, the frantic move through the store to gather all the products, their glee going through the checkout line, and finally, standing over their latest haul while they turn their spare rooms, attics and garages into mini-grocery stores. 

From a Professional Organizer's stand point, there's not a lot of difference between a garage full of Christmas decorations, a million past issues of National Geographic, or one full of boxes of cereal.  The extreme collection of items, the attachment to the process, and unwillingness to let go or even use the items, and the loss of the use of the space for what it was intended - all point to something that I am asked to deal with on a daily basis.

Of course, what you choose to keep in your garage is totally up to you and it doesn't make you subject to being strait-jacketed because you don't choose to park your car there.  It's only a problem is if it's a problem for you or your family. If one day you find yourself standing in the garage entry and saying "this has got to stop", and then you head for the local A&P for more...then you've got a problem.

The photo above is from TLC.  I wonder who thought plunking ONE green thing in a plastic bag on the top of the potato chips, hot dogs and bottles of peanuts, would make this all okay?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Closet Innovations...

Watch an episode of House Hunters on HGTV, and you'll see how much we Americans love closets. We simply can not get enough closet space.  But, it's not just how many closets you have, it's how efficiently organized they are that makes them highly usable and functional.

The first thing to look at is how well designed the closet is.  Most every closet can benefit from some kind of shelving and storage structure.  A good deal of my business is designing closet structures so that we can make the best use of the storage space.

Just as every families' needs are different, so every closet has it's own set of challenges, and not one particular closet product necessarily works across the board.  I have installed many different types of closet structures depending on the needs of the space. 

For those who want a true custom built-in closet system, I call on Malka Sabroe-JoHanson, of Closet Innovations.  Malka really knows her closets!  I've asked to talk to me about choosing a built-in custom closet.

Malka, when should someone consider a custom closet over a DIY closet system?

"For a substantial home improvement and to add equity to the house, it is best to have it done professionally. When done professionally, under a state license, it can add real value to the home."
What should people look for when choosing a custom closet company?

"I would say first would be the professionalism of the representative when they arrive at your house. This would be after you check their references on the internet by doing a google search.  Also, the rep should be a real closet designer and not just a salesperson trying to talk you into their product.  A closet designer knows how to adjust the design to the particular space because most spaces are not perfect.  Then you want to look at the materials and make sure they are sturdy and of good quality, not just your standard particle board."
What advice and tips can you give for designing a good closet?

"Measure and re-measure!  Know what your priorities are for the space. Do you need more hanging space than shelving or is it the other way around? How many pairs of shoes do you need to house?  Do you hang or fold your tee shirts?  Answering these questions will help you know what you need in a closet. " 
And certainly, hiring a professional organizer, like Gayle, who knows what questions to ask and how to organize the space, will help immensely and keep you from any costly mistakes."
Malka, what makes Closet Innovations a good choice for building a custom closet?

"We are local in the San Francisco Bay Area, and not a franchise.  Our construction is all done by hand.  Our designers, craftsmen and installers have more 20 years of hands-on experience. We are fully licensed and insured and all our products are backed by warranty.  We can provide hundreds of great reviews and references from happy clients.  And, most importantly, we love our work!"
Thanks, Malka!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Keeping Kosher...

Last week we had the privilege of packing, unpacking and organizing a new home for a Berkeley Rabbi and his family.  Our challenge was keeping their kitchen kosher - the separation of dairy cookery from meat.  I met with them in their new kitchen the week before the move and we laid out plans for where things would go.

Fortunately, their new kitchen has lots of cupboards and drawers.  This cupboard is divided by Passover dishes on the left and everyday dishes on the right, and then each shelf contains either dairy or meat dishes. We made cardboard dividers to keep the dishes separated on each shelf.

Not only do the dishes have to be separated, but so do all cooking implements and utensils, so there are double sets of pots and pans, flatware, appliances and mixing bowls. 

As the move took place on a Friday, we had to finish the unpacking before sunset.  Our client checks her emails before getting ready for Shabbat.  


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spring flowers...

As you know, I have 2 cats.  One of them thinks it's her job to take any real flower arrangement I bring into the house apart.  She stays up all night ripping the petals out and pulling leaves off the stems until she finally knocks the whole thing over and leaves me to clean up the mess at 4am.

 But I don't let that stop me from enjoying beautiful flower arrangements, and this is why I have only silk/fake flowers and plants in my house. I've collected fabulous fakes for quite a while and can put together dozens of different seasonal arrangements.

I've created some easy rules for making your fakes look interesting and fairly real:

1.  Treat fakes like real flowers.  They have to be animated to look interesting, so bend the stems and the leaves, crush the perfect looking flower heads and pull out a petal or two.  Do what real flowers and branches do.

2.  Build your arrangement the same way you would real flowers.  Use the rule of 3/5/7 to mix different kinds of flowers together.

3.  Use the same seasonal flowers you would if you were buying flowers.  Lilacs are usually only available in April, so I wouldn't put them in a December arrangement.

4.  If your vase is clear, use glass pebbles or real stones to cover the plastic stems in the bottom of the vase.

5.  Keep your flowers fresh by storing them in plastic containers large enough to keep from crushing them too much.

Most of my flower/plant collection come from Pottery Barn.  I usually wait until they go on sale seasonally.
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