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I was very honored to be this year’s pro organizer for the 2021 Real Simple home in Westfield, New Jersey. Alongside a wonderful group of designers, we worked to create a home that would showcase endless home inspiration and valuable tips with home organization and design. One of the spaces I was most excited about was the kitchen. The kitchen is that place where we love to hang out and create memories. When I learned that the kitchen would be one of the spaces that I would organize in the Real Simple home I was elated. I grabbed my planner and started brain-dumping all the possible tips and ideas I could implement in this space. Having a blank canvas to implement a kitchen organization plan is an organizer’s dream!

Photo credit: Christopher Testani @chirstophertestani

5 Project Areas Within A Kitchen

When organizing your kitchen you can become overwhelmed easily. This is why I always recommend breaking the project up into five small projects. By creating small projects it makes the task of organizing your kitchen more manageable. By working in parts you are able to really take your time implementing smart organization without feeling overwhelmed by the entire kitchen. These are the five areas that I recommend breaking into projects:

  • Upper kitchen cabinets
  • Lower kitchen cabinets
  • Kitchen drawers
  • Countertops
  • Appliances

Photo credit: Christopher Testani @chirstophertestani Kitchen designer: Delia Kenza @deliakenza

Photo credit: Stephanie Loftus

Kitchen Mapping

When organizing a kitchen the first thing that I work out is the map of the kitchen. Some call it the layout but I prefer to say map. As with any map, it is a tool that helps you easily get to your destination. Because a kitchen has so many items from glassware, pans, appliances, and more, it is important to be able to easily locate items within the space. It is also important to place items conveniently next to areas that coincide with their use. For example, placing glasses in a cabinet next to the dishwasher will save you time when putting your glasses away, because they are right next to each other.

In addition to location, I think about how we use items in the kitchen. Making your kitchen user-friendly is essential. For example, placing your glasses in a basket can simplify setting the dinner table. Instead of walking back in forth to get multiple glasses, you can simply carry the basket over to the table and set the table in one trip.

Photo credit: Christopher Testani @chirstophertestani

I knew that sharing tips on how to organize your freezer could be a huge benefit to so many. This is an area that many people struggle with because oftentimes freezer designs can be a bit challenging to work around. When organizing your freezer think about a bookshelf within a library. First, categorize your frozen items and then line them up within those categories within the freezer. The goal is to easily view all of your freezer products and easily grab and go. You can watch the Real Simple virtual open house to learn more.

Photo credit: Stephanie Loftus

Organizing the Real Simple home was such a huge blessing and I am excited that I was able to take you on this journey with me. Check out my YouTube channel for more home organizing tips and ideas. Also, if you feel like you need more one-on-one guidance in your home when it comes to organization, my team and I would love to work directly with you. Simply schedule your first session today!

Hugs & Love

Now is the time! With the holidays right around the corner, it is time to get those kitchen spices refreshed and reorganized! When it comes to spices we often think that they are always going to be there for us when we need them without any maintenance. Not true. Although your spices won’t necessarily “Go bad” they do lose their potency between 1 to 3 years (depending on the type of spice), which means that your Thanksgiving pie may be at risk. Creating a habit of refreshing your spices at the beginning of fall each year will help you stay on top of keeping this system fresh and updated. Let me walk you through a simple process for keeping your spices organized.

Step One: Evaluate your spice collection

The first step to getting your spices in order is to evaluate your current method for storing your spices. This way you can determine if your system functions beautifully for you, or if you need to make some tweaks. Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Can I easily access my spices?
  • Do I have all the spices that I need?
  • Are my spices outdated?
  • Are there spices in my collection that I never use?
  • Do my spice labels need to be updated?

Step Two: Declutter Spices

Now that you have assessed your spice situation it is time to jump in and start the decluttering process. Use my simple guide below for steps to simply declutter your spice collection. If you are unsure how long you have had a spice you can give it the sniff test. Sniff your spice and if the aroma is weak then this is a sign that your spice has lost potency.

Step Three: Clean your spice system

Spices are decluttered so let the cleaning begin! Removing your spices from the cabinet or drawer when decluttering will allow you to give the space a good wipe down. Often spices will spill within a drawer or cabinet and while the space is empty it is the perfect opportunity to give it a good cleaning. When cleaning your spices this also includes wiping down any spice jars and re-labeling your system if needed or desired. Whether your home is modern, farmhouse, or traditional, there are so many spice label options to fit almost any style.

Step Four: Organize your spices

Now for the fun part, at least I think so. Now that you have everything decluttered and cleaned it is about implementing your refreshed system. This is not simply putting the spices back in the cabinet or drawer. You first want to look back on your assessment notes and make any needed changes. Do you need to move your spices to a better location? Think about how you function in your kitchen. Where would be the most efficient place to store your spices. Another thing to think about is that you can extend your spice shelf life by keeping them in a cool dark space. Here are a few tips on organizing spices:

  • Store spices in alphetical order.
  • Use bins to sort spices into categories such as everyday spices, speciality spices, baking spices etc. This makes it easy when you are cooking because you can simply grab the basket of choice and have all spices easily accessible on the counter as you cook.
  • Vinegar bottles are a beautiful solution for bulk seasonings.
  • Organizing your spices in a drawer next to your stove makes it easy to find your spices while cooking.
  • Spices are easily stored verically to save space. This can be on the side of your fridge or on the door of your pantry.

Step Five: Beautify your spice system

Now that all of the hard work is done it is time to put that finishing touch on your spice collection. Taking the time to create a beautifully cohesive spice collection will not only save you time but will bring you joy each time you utilize your spices. Investing in jars and beautiful labels are well worth the cost and effort of bringing beautiful order to your home.

I hope the tips I shared with you today will inspire you to hit the reset button on your spice collection. My organizing team and I would love to work one-on-one with you this fall to help you get your kitchen organized for the holiday season. Let’s get started! Schedule your first virtual organizing session today.

Hugs & Love,

Disclosure: When you buy something we recommend, we may get an affiliate commission — but it never affects your price or what we pick.”

Have you found yourself working from home, but where you’ve set up your work center is getting in the way of your normal family life? If you don’t have a spare room in your home and need to set up a home office, there are a few other areas in your house that you may consider using.

Establishing a dedicated work zone will help you remain productive and stay focused.

It all starts with looking around your home to find any extra space. Usually, you won’t have a problem finding an area in your home that isn’t being put to good use. If you really can’t find a spot, you may need to shuffle a few things around to create some space.

Here are a few home office ideas:

1. Set up a Desk in the Living Room

Dome Collection Accent Lamp Gold From Target

When setting up a office in your living space think about the decor also. Choose a desk that fits your living room decor. Place a beautiful lamp on your desk so that your workspace adds to your living room and is not a eyesore. It is important to note that a desk lamp can easily combine beauty and function.

The living room is a perfect spot to set up a corner office.

  • Take a look through the room and see if you can spot a corner that isn’t being used. Perhaps a floor lamp is sitting there that can be easily moved to a different spot.
  • Placement is also important when utilizing your living room as a workspace. Positioning a writers table behind your sofa can serve as not only a soft table but as your working desk. This can help your home office easily blend in with your living room.

2. Create a Command Center in the Kitchen.

Photo credit: Christopher Shane Photography

If you have a large kitchen, you can work out a home office plan in that space.

  • This works great for people that need to multitask in order to get things done.
  • If, for example, you have to get some work done in the afternoon but at the same time need to cook dinner for the family, you can keep an eye on the food while you’re completing your work tasks.

3. Make an Office in the Front Entryway

Broadway Desk from Target

Although it may seem unconventional, setting up a home office in the front entry is totally feasible.

  • Look for a desk that is attached to a storage unit to help make the furniture blend into the front hall.
  • You can also make use of any built-in storage that’s already available in the entryway that isn’t being put to good use.

4. Use the Dining Room to Your Advantage

Cart from Michael’s Arts n Crafts

Photo Credit: Katie Charlotte Photography

Do you use your dining room table a lot or simply for entertaining? If you aren’t getting much use out of it you can easily turn it into your work desk.

  • If you plan it out to be a temporary desk where everything can be moved quickly when company arrives, you won’t have a problem using the table for both dining and for work.
  • Invest in a rolling cart (or a bar cart) with at least 2 shelves. You could quickly and easily load your work items, including your computer, onto the cart and roll it out to another room when you need to.

5. Set Aside an Area in the Basement

Photo Credit: Katie Charlotte Photography

If you have a basement in your home, there’s a good chance that you can flush out some unused space there.

  • Install recessed lighting and purchase a high-quality desk lamp to brighten up the space.
  • The basement is the perfect place to set up shop since it will keep you away from any distractions that may be occurring on the main floor.


6. Create a Workspace in Your Bedroom

Photo Credit: Katie Charlotte Photography

Although this space is not the ideal space to use for a work area, it may be your only option when working from home.

  • Buy a storage unit with doors on it to put your work away at night. Work clutter can actually disturb your sleep. Or create a beautiful workbag that can store all of your work essentials and give you a place to tuck your work items away after work hours.

Home offices have become the new normal these days and they naturally blend into the rest of the room when you set them up the right way. It just takes a bit of thought and creativity to make an office that works for you.

Need more home office tips? Check out my home office YouTube playlist.

Hugs & Love,

Did you know your home can have a great impact on your frame of mind? For example, dark and ugly rooms can make you feel sad and discouraged. Bright, cheery rooms rejuvenate you. However, there are many things you can do besides painting to brighten your home and lighten your mood. 

Photo by: Katie Charlotte Photography

Try these ideas: 

1. Add more light. Light is one of the easiest ways to boost your mood. Increase the amount of light in a room by opening blinds and curtains. White blinds and curtains reflect the light. 

2. Choose bright and cheerful paint colors. You may be creating drama with dark brown or black paint, but it won’t help your mood.

  • Dark colors aren’t the only issue because neutrals can also be dreary. Brighter colors like yellow, pink, blue, and green can freshen up a room and give it an instant lift. Your mood will also benefit from the change.

3. Add happy artwork.  Select art that makes you feel happy. Images of beautiful landscapes, animals, and abstract designs are popular choices. You can also frame your children’s artwork as a reminder of the joy they bring into your life. 

4. Add flowers. Fresh flowers are preferred and will also add a nice fragrance to a room. However, they’re not the only option. Silk flowers come in a variety of realistic choices and can instantly brighten a room. 

5. Rearrange or replace decorations. Does the vase from your aunt make you want to cry? Do you wish your decorations could get an upgrade?

  • Changing the decorations in your home can help you lift your mood. Replace old and hated objects or rearrange other items. Even a simple pillow swap for new pillows can make you feel better.

6. Get rid of clutter. Clutter can weigh you down emotionally and negatively influence your mood, even if you think you don’t notice it. If you clean your house and eliminate clutter, you’ll notice a big emotional change. Consider new storage ideas, such as bins under your bed, to prevent clutter from reappearing.

If you need guidance on how to purge, de-clutter, and organize your home, we can work one-on-one to create an efficient and beautiful space that will function for you. I would love to see what we’ll create together!

Photo by: Katie Charlotte Photography

7. Work with fragrance. If you don’t have allergies, then you can use fragrance for a positive change. 

  • Essential oils are one way to brighten your mood and modify the ambiance in a room. 
  • Citrus oils like grapefruit and orange are linked to happier moods. Mint oils, such as peppermint, also have a similar effect. You can spray a small amount of the essential oils in the air to create a lasting impact. You can also add oils to a burner for another way to add fragrance. 

Photo by: Christopher Shane Photography

8. Add more pictures of your family and friends. If seeing an image of your loved ones instantly makes you smile, then consider adding more of their pictures to your home. 

9. Remove a wall. If a wall prevents the rooms from getting adequate light, removing it can help you feel better. 

Uplift your mood by making simple changes around your home. You’ll notice a difference in how you feel almost immediately.

Hugs and Love,

Nikki

Becoming organized has so many benefits. Perhaps the greatest is the ability to turn days filled with chaos into days of focus and effectiveness.

Stress has a very negative impact on health. When you’re organized, you’ll no longer worry about all the little things that might be slipping through the cracks.

Photo by: Abby Murphy Photography

With greater organization, you’ll also be more trustworthy in all aspects of your life. Trustworthiness is the cornerstone of all relationships, both business and personal.

Consider adopting these habits:

1. Have a place for everything. This habit also relates to your papers, electronic clutter, and even the desktop on your computer.

  • Try to limit yourself to just a couple of email accounts. Consider one for business and another for personal emails. If you frequently fill out web forms that result in a lot of spam, another email account could catch all those.
  • Find a solution for your scheduling. One calendar is ideal. It makes sense to use an electronic system if you have a smartphone. Gmail, Yahoo email, and many other free systems are available that can integrate your email, to-do lists, appointments, and calendar.
  • For your desktop, make a few folders and categorize things. Place photos in the appropriate folders. Come up with a system that works for you. There’s no reason to spend 30+ minutes over the course of a single day searching for items.

2. Put items away immediately. Disorganized people tend to be poor at putting things away at the moment. It’s only after enough clutter piles up that they have enough discomfort to do anything about it. Then, it’s a major project.

  • When you grab your mail, go through it and file it immediately. For more tips, you can watch my video on how to file mails and other paper works.
  • When you’re done using something, put it away.
  • List that appointment in your system as soon as you schedule it. No organizational system can be successful if you procrastinate.


3. Have a daily routine. Use a to-do list. Ensure the dirty dishes are out of the sink before you go to bed. Spend 10 minutes picking up the family room each morning. There are many things that only take a few minutes if they’re done regularly.

Photo by: Katie Charlotte Photography

4. Create your to-do list each night. Starting the day without a plan is a mistake. It’s far more challenging to get anything done. Before hitting the day, spend a few minutes and list everything you’d like to get done. Then pick the three most important and make that your list for the following day. Three items might not seem like a lot, but it’s plenty.

  • If you get the three most important things done each day, you’ll be surprised how differently your life looks after a couple of weeks.

Maybe it’s time to finally get organized and get your life and your clutter under control. You’ll be more relaxed, more effective, and a better friend and partner. Developing a couple of effective habits can really make a huge difference in your ability to stay focused on what’s most important to you. If it gets to the point that you are overwhelmed and do not know where to start, you can talk to me, and together we will get your home organized!

Hugs and Love,
Nikki

Clutter messes up more than your living room. When your home and workspaces are in disorder, you’re likely to feel more anxious and depressed.

Studies have found that homeowners who say they have too much stuff describe themselves as drained and overwhelmed. They also have a higher level of cortisol and other stress hormones, and they have more difficulty completing tasks because of their disorganized environment.

Photo by: Abby Murphy Photography

Find out how clutter affects you and pick up some tips for bringing physical and mental clutter under control.

Understanding the Effects of Clutter

There are good reasons to be concerned about clutter. An untidy environment aggravates allergies and increases the risk of fire and accidents. See what tidying up can do for your body and mind.

1. Eliminate distractions. It’s difficult to concentrate when your brain is busy looking at irrelevant objects. A clear view will help you to focus on your immediate task.

2. Save time. How much time do you spend looking for car keys or the TV remote? When your possessions are kept in their place, you’ll know where each item is.

3. Boost your creativity. Clutter increases stress, which inhibits your creativity. On the other hand, open spaces encourage innovative ideas and artistic flair.

4. Really relax. Overloading your senses with physical and mental stimuli disturbs your sleep and rest. You may also feel guilty about your housekeeping. Becoming more organized will eliminate a major source of tension.

Controlling Physical Clutter

Imagine how great you’d feel without dirty dishes in the sink and piles of paper on your desk. Even a few minutes of straightening up each day adds up to a big difference.

Photo by: Katie Charlotte Photography

1. Buy less. Fight clutter at its source by resisting the urge to add to your possessions. Prepare a shopping list in advance, so you stick to purchasing just what you need. Find other ways to entertain yourself besides browsing online stores.

2. Toss stuff out. Go through the things you already have. Sort out what you can throw in the dumpster or give away. Try setting parameters like discarding anything you haven’t used in the past year that has no sentimental value.

3. Store things away. Once you’ve figured out what to keep, think about how to make it less visible. Filing cabinets and trunks can keep essential documents and out-of-season clothing on hand but out of view.

4. Set up a maintenance schedule. Remember that dealing with clutter is an ongoing project. Schedule an appointment with yourself every 6 months to review the situation.

Controlling Mental Clutter

Conquer those disturbing thoughts and digital overload by adopting some constructive new habits:

1. Disconnect for a while. Put aside an hour or two each day to turn off your phone and stop checking social media. For higher quality sleep, stay away from the TV and computers for at least an hour before bedtime.

Photo by: Katie Charlotte Photography

2. Set specific goals. Planning your activities and creating priorities shows you where to channel your energies. You can hire a Professional Organizer to help you organize your life so you can enjoy making progress without worrying about what else you’re supposed to be doing.

3. Filter information. Do you feel bombarded by advertisements and news stories? Try becoming more selective about what media you consume.

4. Leave the TV off unless there’s a program you plan to watch. Limit the number of websites you visit on a regular basis.

Transform your outer and inner experiences. A tidy home and office decreases anxiety and enables you to devote your energy to the things you love. De-cluttering will leave you feeling more content and productive.

Hugs and Love,
Nikki

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