Transforming your Bathroom

Want to achieve a fresh new look for you bathroom, simple embellishments can do this without breaking the bank. The elements that will pull your design together are hardware and accessories. They are the crowning touches! The old rule no longer applies; your fixtures and hardware don’t all have to match. You can mix different materials like glass, crystal, brass, metals (bronze being a top choice) and textures together.


The overall design trend is moving towards a more transitional look which is very evident in hardware choices, focusing on clean simple lines, moving away from excessive detail and ornamentation. One of the manufactures classifies it as having an “Industrial Chic Touch with a Rustic Country Elegance.”

To make your design stand more apart from the crowd, change out your built in cabinetry for a free-standing decorative vanity. It’s like having a piece of furniture in your bathroom, giving it a more personal and original feeling.

Don’t forget about a new light fixture and if your budget allows, flooring. Vinyl flooring can mimic tiles and there are some very reasonably priced tiles to choose from in the market.

Making one or more of these changes can make a huge difference in your Bathroom.


Grace Ridley



Chesapeake-ave-6265-XL  Chesapeake-ave-6266-XL












Organizing Tips for March


Spring arrives this month, at least on the calendar. Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday, March 11th. Set your clock ahead one hour. This month we are concentrating on the attic and clothing.
  • This is the time to get indoor tasks finished so you can enjoy the outdoors as soon as the warm weather is here. Whatever the project, do not let it drag on or remain unfinished until next winter. Make that final to-do list and get it done.
  • The Attic. Unless you are storing items for another family member, the goal is to keep as little as possible in the attic. It is usually inconvenient to access and too hot or cold to spend time there. The extreme temperatures are also not good for many items to be kept there safely. In addition, you must take care to prevent invasion by critters.
If you are storing items for adult children or other friends or family consider asking them to retrieve them. Setting a deadline to have them removed or they will be donated may spur them into action. In my professional and personal experience, I have found that most people don’t really want them after being without for awhile. You may be surprised that is the case with items you may have stored for others.
For safety reasons and convenience, add lighting and secure floor boards in areas of the attic you must use.
For items you must keep, create zones for the types of items you are storing. For example, holiday items can be labeled and stored together.
If there are many items left to store after sorting, purging and cleaning the attic space, it is a good idea to create a map of where items are located. This will save much time when it is necessary to recover them.
  • Clothing As the days are longer and warmer, remove the heaviest clothing you will save to summer storage. This may mean to the back of the closet, to another closet or storage area, or out of the house permanently. If they will be part of a future yard sale, store them in the area set aside for that.
  • Winter clothing takes up lots of room in closets and drawers because they are heavier and have long sleeves. If there are items you did not use or those that children have outgrown, consider moving them out now.
    Clothing closets are one of the most frequently requested areas to organize. While there are great strategies to use in setting up closet systems, the biggest problem is too many items. Pareto’s rule applies here. You usually wear only 20% of your clothing 80% of the time. Being willing to let go of those items that you don’t wear, for whatever reason, will make the task of organizing the closet much easier.
    While consignment shops usually only take current season clothing, removed items can be donated to a charity or sold in a yard sale. Moving them out will give you more space for the items that you do love and wear.
    • If you have considered the possibility of having a yard or tag sale. It is never too early to plan and prepare for one. This month is the time to set the date and work towards that goal. May and June are great choices as it is not too hot and people are on the move. Consider going in with neighbors or friends to draw more customers onto your street.

    If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact us through our website: www.OrderlyPlaces.com or by email: MaryFrances@OrderlyPlaces.com


Using Containers Effectively

Using containers is one of the best ways to create and maintain organized spaces. Items on shelves, in cabinets and even in drawers should be arranged so they do not fall on other items, move around in the space or mix with other items.

There are some guidelines to remember in choosing containers.
  • Use the most attractive containers in places where they are on display or seen. Decorative boxes and baskets are options for containers that will be seen by everyone. Those containers used in closets, cabinets or drawers need not be as attractive or expensive.
  • Keep like items together in containers. Do not mix types of items such as pens with paper clips or earrings with bracelets.
  • If there is more than one of the same type of item, containerize them together.
  • Separate items from each other in a drawer or cabinet with dividers or containers.
  • Group small items on a shelf in containers. Sauce packets in a pantry and rings in a jewelry box are examples of items that could be grouped together and contained.
  • Containers should fit the space and hold the designated items in an orderly fashion. Using the same size, style, etc. creates a more attractive system.
  • Measure spaces and items before purchasing any containers.
  • Use square or rectangular containers whenever possible as they are more space efficient than round or oval ones.
  • Clear plastic containers are the most versatile and functional because you are able to see the contents clearly. Label containers that are opaque.
  • It is preferable to used stacked drawers units rather than stacking more than 3 containers together. It is too difficult to get to the items in the lowest container.
  • Use trays or shallow boxes to contain items on dressers, vanities, counters, etc. It makes cleaning those surfaces quicker.
  • Consider recycling boxes and other containers in the home for a new use rather than purchasing new containers the same size.
In today’s organizing happy world, there are containers available in every size, shape, color, material and price. There are even stores and outlets opened specifically for selling containers and organizing supplies. With so many choices, there should be something for everyone. Make using containers a habit and your organizing and cleaning tasks will be much easier. For more information, please feel free to contact us through our website: www.OrderlyPlaces.com or email us: maryfrances@OrderlyPlaces.com.


Safely Destroying Papers and Documents

The fear of identity theft and not knowing how long to keep documents accounts for much of the paper clutter professional organizers see with new clients. In our January 24th post there are recommendations on how long to save most documents. In general documents that describe who you are and what you own should be saved. Most monthly statements, tax records over 6 years old and expired policies can be destroyed.

As incredible as it appears, your name, phone number and address are not confidential. Try any of them on Google and you will be surprised. So it is a waste of time and energy to shred every envelope with your name on it as I have seen clients insist on doing. The important information to shred is anything with your account numbers, medical information, social security number or financial documents including offers for credit cards.

Another concern arises on how to destroy those papers. Where there is an accumulation of years of papers that need to be shredded or burned, it is not a good idea to shred them yourself. Most home and small office type shredders are not made for large amounts of paper to be put through them at one time or in one session. The motors will burn up before the job is done. If you shred documents on a daily or weekly basis, these work fine. The most secure are those that cross cut or shred the paper vertically and horizontally. If you have a fireplace or wood burning stove, you may be able to use it to destroy papers. In addition, there are some localities where outdoor burning in metal barrels is permitted.

If you are, however, one of those who has a paper accumulation of several years and you need them shredded, I recommend having a professional records management company destroy them with a certificate of destruction. Their facility is secure, they require identification, and the destruction is done promptly. I also recommend using communtiy shredding events. While I understand there have been programs showing how one can put back together a document that has been shredded by some of these companies, this was in a controlled setting where the shreds could be gathered and reassembled. Most mobile shredding units are so large and the amount and of papers they are shredding so diverse, that being able to find the shreds of any one document would be statistically impossible. Of course the hysterics that follow such programs often cause nothing to be done and the pile of papers continues to stack higher and higher.

As you complete your tax forms and documents this year, evaluate your paper situation. If you have documents you no longer need, make the decision to remove them safely and permanently. For more information on retention guidelines, search the IRS website at www.irs.gov or contact us through our website www.OrderlyPlaces.com. We look forward to your comments or questions.


Organizing Checklist for February

January was a busy month. If you have packed away the holiday items and worked on your files, inventory and budget you can take some time this month to enjoy your entertainment and hobby spaces.
  • Sort through videos and CDs and remove those no longer used. Let’s face it, if you haven’t run them in the last couple of years, you probably will not. Our tastes in music and movies change over the years. Sell or pass them on to someone who wants them.
  • Clear the bookshelves of fiction you have already read and reference books. It is unlikely you will reread fiction and reference books become outdated quickly. Use the Internet to keep up to date on those topics. You can sell or donate those items and make room for more good reading on cold winter nights.
  • Review your cookbook collection and recipes you have collected. Consider online sites for new recipe ideas. I promise you can find any type of recipe you want with Google. Save only those with recipes you continually use or those with sentimental value.
  • Review the holiday magazines you purchased last fall, clip out items you want to save and recycle the rest. Consider donating them to local doctor’s offices, beauty shops, etc. I promise they need them. I personally am tired or reading Golf magazines when I am in waiting rooms.
  • Purge those catalogues, too. They are simply printed commercials and you know how much you hate those interruptions. Why waste time on the printed version? If you must, save the back page with the promotion codes, etc. If you need to make a purchase, you can go online, find the item and use the current discount.
  • Make the most of indoor time by finishing up indoor decorating projects and/or enjoying time on indoor hobbies. Sort through your supplies and remove those no longer useful.
  • Begin planning for early spring activities. Buy seeds now and consider planting them indoors for early blooms and crops. If that is not convenient at least you will have better seed choices now.
  • Make preliminary plans for spring or summer vacations. Early reservations are usually less expensive. Insure all travel tickets.
The days are getting longer now and with daylight savings time coming early in March, we will soon be spending more time outside. I look forward to spring flowers and green leaves on my trees


Unusual Designing Creative Ideas- Turning a Dresser into a Mini Bar

Such a Great Idea! Who said you have to have a built in bar. Just create one yourself all you need is an old dresser. Then vamp it up with some color, greenery and your personal touch. You can’t go wrong with this look!

Source: bhg.com via Tara on Pinterest


How Long Should I Keep Papers?

While one of my earlier articles gave strategies for dealing with papers as they come in, this article will provide guidelines on how long to save them.

There are some papers that should be kept forever. In fact, copies should be made of these to ensure you have them in the event of emergencies. These include legal papers describing who you are and what you own. Birth certificates, adoption papers, marriage and divorce documents, death certificates of immediate family, social security documents, deeds and titles to property, medical history, retirement and IRA records, driver's license and passports are examples of these items. At least one copy should be kept in a fireproof or waterproof box kept in your home for instant access.

Other papers should be kept for a specific length of time but not necessarily forever:

Receipts or bill of sale and manuals of equipment should be kept as long as you own the item. Warranties or guarantees for jewelry and other significant purchases should be kept with the receipt until the item is lost, sold or replaced.

Insurance policies should be kept for as long as their coverage is in effect.

Medical claims should be kept until the claim is satisfied. Save documents used for tax deductible claims with those returns.

Payroll stubs should be kept until the end of the year and checked against the W-2 forms provided by the employer. If they show funds withheld for charitable organizations such as United Way that are claimed as deductions on your tax return, the end of the year stub should be filed with the tax return.

Tax returns should be kept for 3-7 years unless you have failed to file a return or have filed a fraudulent return. The IRS has 6 years to challenge a return if it thinks you have under reported your gross income by 25%. The IRS has 3 years to audit a return. Keep all receipts and documents relating to deduction claims with the tax forms. This IRS web site link spells out the specifics: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0%2C%2Cid=98513%2C00.html

Statements from your securities or brokerage firms should be kept until a new one arrives and the last one when the securities are sold to report a gain or loss. That transaction document should be saved with the tax return.

Bank records and other monthly credit card, installment, utility etc. statements should be reconcilled each month and then may be shredded unless needed for tax return purposes. These institutions have the financial history on computer or micro files should they need to be recovered.

It is important to mention many statements as well as other documents can now be sent online to personal computers where they can be stored in one of many options. This can reduce the paper required for them unless needed for documentation to tax returns.

These are guidelines and suggestions and if you have questions or concerns, you should consult your accountant. Hopefully, they will help to tackle and reduce the amount of papers kept so they are easier to organize. For more strategies please feel free to contact me through my web site: www.OrderlyPlaces.com


Paper Organizing 101

Illustrations from Pendaflex

Books have been written on the subject of organizing household papers and I have a chapter on it in my own book. This article, however, will simply address the basic needs that everyone should have to control the paper piles.

Paper comes into the house through the door on the people entering either from the mailbox, in a tote bag or briefcase, etc. At that time there should be a place to put them. A container of some type should be conveniently placed to collect those papers and preferably have a system of categories to sort them. This simple inbox/basket can be as large or small as the family requires but should hold the papers vertically in sections so they can be retrieved as soon as needed. Some frequently used categories are: Bills, To Do/Respond, To File (permanently), To Read, Receipts, Coupons, etc. Vertical sorting and storage allows easy access in finding a specific item later on.

A companion container would be a Household Notebook that contains information frequently needed by the family. While a calendar might have the date of Johnny's soccer game, the notebook might hold the information sheet containing the other game information such as which field, the color jersey to wear, who has refreshments, etc. The notebook could contain frequently needed and emergency contact numbers, babysitter information, school schedules, menu ideas, etc.

A permanent file box, drawer or cabinet is recommended for permanent papers such as insurance policies, medical history and information, appliance manuals, automobile records, financial statements, etc. Papers filed here are for future reference when needed and should be separated by appropriate categories. About once a year it should be cleaned of items no longer needed. Most financial and purchasing records are now stored online or in computer records at the institutions or retail outlets. This eliminates the need for long term storage of some paper items. Those used as documentation of tax related deductions should be kept with the tax return forms.

Finally, we recommend storing legal documents and those that may be needed in an emergency in a fireproof/waterproof box in your home or bank's safe security box. Copies might also be given to trustworthy relatives as an off site option. Having more than one copy of vital information can help in locating it in an emergency.

Putting the items needed for good paper management is just the first step in keeping paperwork under control. Keeping them organized requires persistence in following your system and avoiding the temporary put down of papers on a table or counter. Over time this stack can become an unmanageable pile and even mutate into unrelated items. More detailed information, retention guidelines for keeping papers and illustrations of paperwork systems can be received from me or located in my book, Orderly Places. You may contact me through my website: OrderlyPlaces.com


Organizing Jewelry and Accessories

Adding accessories to an outfit is like putting frosting on a cake. They make the ensemble look even better. If fashions never changed we would have few problems keeping them organized. We know, however, that each year brings new colors and styles in jewelry, belts, scarves, etc. so we add more and more items to our collection. Keeping them organized becomes an issue when we allow them to accumulate. There is no perfect way to store them but they should be purged and sorted just as you would any other items in your home. Her are some tips to help in the process.

Keep only the items you are currently using and coordinate with the garments you now own. If you are not wearing valuable or heirloom pieces, consider storing them in a safe deposit box or other secure location.

Keep like items together and containerize or separate them on racks, etc.

Throw away the little boxes that held the jewelry when purchased. If needed for repair or returns, store them elsewhere.

Shoe bags with pockets across the front are good chooices for separating and storing scarves, gloves, and larger pieces of jewelry. Similar bags with smaller pockets are avilable for smaller jewelry, hair bows, clips and pins.

Peg racks and other hooks can be used for necklaces, belts and ties.

Shallow drawers can be used for jewelry that is placed in divided containers. These can be stacked if space allows.

Specialty containers with varying sizes of compartments can be purchased and placed on dresser tops or in drawers. Be sure to measure and count the number of compartments you need before purchasing those.

The hidden space behind the entry door to the bedroom or swinging closet doors can be used to hang accessory items. There are many types of over the door hangers to accommodate all types of accessories.

Consider limiting your earrings to one par of gold, silver, or pearl posts or hoops. These choices look nice with any other accessories and outfits and make getting dressed so much faster and storage much simpler.

Less is more when wearing and storing accessories. A few nice pieces each season will add just the right accent to your wardrobe and will make organizing them much easier. If you have questions or comment or need more information, visit our website: www.OrderlyPlaces.com


Organizing Tips for January

As the new year begins, I am giving you my best advice to start you on your organizing journey. Make a commitment to place a donate/recycle box or bag near your door and put something in it everyday. At the end of the week remove it and take it to its designated place.
So many times we keep things “just in case I might need it” but we haven’t used it in years if ever. Impulse purchases and gifts are often put in drawers, cabinets or closets but never used. Free yourself of these items and make space for organizing what is left.

Other items may have lost their usefulness but could be used by someone else. Move those on to a higher purpose. If sentimental items are not being enjoyed or honored but rather packed away in a closet or attic, see if another family member has room to display or used them. Letting go an item doesn’t mean you forget the person or event.

If you are diligent to put an item in everyday, you will quickly see more space for the things you use and love. Of course a closet clean out could have enough items to meet your quota for a week or two. It is never too late to make changes to be better organized.
Here are more reminders for January.
  • Start a container for tax related items that arrive in the mail this month.
  • Update your paper and computer records by purging folders of items no longer needed. This will make planning a new budget for the year and preparing tax forms much easier. Shred old financial documents a little at a time or take them to a records management company to be shred professionally.
  • If you have not already done so, get a new planner/calendar that shows a week at a glance and breaks each day into hourly segments. Schedule your daily activities in it. Most computers have programs to do this, as does Google and other online sources, at no additional cost.
  • Update your home inventory. Take pictures or make a video of every room, every closet, the garage and attic for insurance purposes. These pictures will also give you a fresh and objective look at the appearance of you spaces.
Set a goal to make this year a successful one for organizing your home. Every step will make it a more enjoyable place for you and your family. If you have questions or comments you may contact me through my website: www.orderlyplaces.com.