Arranging ArtWork

As with your accessories, apply the same Basic Knowledge when arranging your Art.

  • Over the fireplace, hang one work of art or a group of multiple pieces of art work


  • Strive for a loose circular or oval outline when grouping.  Avoid stair stepped arrangements. They draw your eye sharply up or down, rather than around.


  • Leave one to two inches between multiple works.


  • Position Art at eye level


  • Arrange multiple artwork on the floor first


  • A single painting hung above a sofa should extend approximately two-thirds the sofa’s width and be placed  8 to 10 inches above the sofa. If print is narrower, add smaller pieces to make a larger unit.


Layout Principles

  1. Easier to hang odd number pieces, such as three or five, but even numbers can be successful too.
  2. These are blueprints for simple displays:
    1. Horizontal Axis- works best for three pieces of art. Hang center first, then flank.
    2. Vertical Axis- ideal for four pieces. Hang two pieces on one side of vertical axis and two on the other.  Offset horizontal spacing to avoid creating a cross of negative space.
    3. Perimeter- Establish imaginary perimeter for the space and hang pieces so their outer edges touch that perimeter. Avoid creating a cross of negative space in the center.




Organizing New Toys

The organizing process almost always requires removing items that are no longer needed. Most children and some adults have too many toys and many are rarely used. Consider removing now those that are no longer useful, that have become obslolete, those that have been outgrown, and those that are broken or in need of parts or repair. aking the time now to make space for the new items coming into the house this month will make the task of organizing after the holidays much easier.
This is also an excellent time to teach children to share and also make room for more appropriate items. Those that are in good condition can be taken to local charities or thrift shops. Taking pictures of the children with some of their favorite but no longer needed toys is a good way to remember the good times without all the clutter. And don't forget about the entertainment and hobby items no by adults. Replaced televisions, VCR, sport equipment, etc. and be removed and donated to make more space in the home and provide items for others less fortunate to enjoy.
Once the purging has been completed there should be space for the new things. The novelty of those will demand the most convenient space in the house for a while, but there should be a place reserved for them when the newness has gone. One general rule is to make children's toys easy to put away but more difficult to get out. Books are a good example of this. Those that are stored upright on a shelf are easy to pull out but more difficult to put back in order. A better choice would be to store them in a dishpan, bucket, tote, or basket. This makes the child look for the book he wants but will be easy for him to drop back in when he is done with it.
Actually most toys can be kept in open bins arranged on shelves and labeled so tht clen up is easier. Picture labels can be used for toddlers and large word labels for children learning to read. Hanging pockets and plastic stacking drawers are good choices for small toys such as doll clothes, matchbox cars, tain pieces and legos. Some special toys as well as CDs, DVDs and other collections can be stored in attractive boxes or baskets on higher shelves where adults but not children can access them. Other storage options are over the window shelving to display collectible toys, corner nets to hold stuffed animals, and totes on wheels to transport toys that can be taken to other rooms temporarily.
We learn from toys but they should be limited to the space available. Learning to live with limits is a good strategy for all of us and it makes keeping things organized much easier, too. If you need help with organizing tasks or have questions or comments, you may contact us through our web site: www.OrderlyPlaces.com or by email: maryfrances@OrderlyPlaces.com.


Holidays Can Help with Clutter

Perhaps you think holidays are a source of clutter rather than helping to eliminate it. This can be true if you don't make use of the special opportunity to evaluate all of your things. Holiday decorating does often add to the items we already use in decorating. I especially love the added glow from the strings of lights around the greenery inside and out. We can, however, use this time to make permanent changes in the amount of things we use the rest of the year.

As you make room for the holiday decorations, think about whether you still love it and use each one. If not, donate it so you will have more space for those you do love As you display those holiday things you have kept, you may need to remove some of the items you normally have on display. Take time to evaluate those. Do you still like them, are they difficult to manage as you clean, or have they become dated? If you have no special attachment to them, why not let them go?

Using this process of evaluating the accessories you use all year long as well as during the holidays can be a big step to decluttering your home. Less things means easier and quicker cleaning those spaces. There will be less to maintain and your home will have a more spacious appearance.

There is a principle in the appearance of spaces that applies here. A cluttered room that is clean will not be as attractive as a room with no clutter that is not as clean. If you want an objective look at your space, take a picture of it and evaluate what you see. You may be surprised at how many things you have in the space that can be removed to make it appear less cluttered and more attractive.

Be brave and use the holidays to access and make the needed changes to help with any clutter you may have. If you have questions or want more information, you may contact us through our website: www.OrderlyPlaces.com.


Organizing Checklist for December


We are approaching the end of the year but this is a busy month for everyone. Some organizing strategies for this season have already been covered in the previous months. Here are some final reminders and tips to help you through the holidays and the end of the year.

  • Children and adults should take time to donate any items that are no longer useful. Many families will be forced to shop at thrift stores for holiday gifts and donating toys and clothing can be a blessing you will never see.
  • If you have not done so already, immediately send cards, packages, newsletters and email messages.
  • Begin traditions with your family if you have not already begun them. For young children, simple activities such as baking cookies or decorating packages are best. Older children can help with community or church events. The family can purchase gifts for an "Angel Tree", read the Christmas story together, watch a favorite Christmas movie, etc. Keep it simple.
  • Take pictures of family and friends and the decorations you chose as a keepsake and reminder for next year.
  • Be flexible on the big day and welcome any help offered. Don't sweat the small stuff and keep the mood light and happy.
  • Avoid the after Christmas sale unless you absolutely immediately need the items. Avoid the long lines, parking problems and traffic jams. Items that need to be returned can usually wait for a few days.
  • Resist the urge to buy more holiday decorations just because they are on sale.
  • Keep a journal of what worked and what didn't, the gifts you gave and any changes you would make in the future. Keep a list of clutter free gifts you can give next year. (A list can be found in my book on pages 103-105.)
  • Keep the collection of all the lists, ideas, recipes, pictures, evaluations, etc. related to the holiday in a manila folder or create a folder for them on your computer.
  • Plan the holiday clean up when others are there to help you. Make it as much a part of the traditions as decorating.
  • As you take down the decorations, consider purging what you can. Eliminate as much permanent storage as possible. Make sure all items are clean and in good repair. Try to maintain only those things with special significance or that cannot be replaced. Donate or pass on the others.
  • Consider color coding holiday containers and label with the contents.
  • If you have space, hang bows in bags on hooks to maintain their shape.
  • Set a family goal to make the holidays even more meaningful next year. Adopt a charity, volunteer in the community, participate in your church holiday program, etc. Write down your decision and make plans for it next year.


First Impressions: An Organized Entrance

Foyer Table Entryway Decorating Ideasthumbnail

The appearance of the entrances to our homes becomes important to most of us during the holidays. Many decorate the exterior windows and almost all of us place some type of decoration at and in our doors and entrances. Making this area festive gives a welcoming appearance so appropriate for this time of the year. To maintain that hospitable impression throughout the year does not require so many decorations but only a clean and organized appearance.

While your home may have several entrances, those most often used are also the most important to have orderly and attractive. Often within those spaces, several activities may take place that require items with a good arrangement. Here are some tips to consider.

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  • Provide a shelf, a small table or chest if the area has enough space to place containers for small items, hats, gloves, etc. Cover it with a plain or decorative washable fabrics or small quilt to give a warm touch to the entrance and cut down on dusting and polishing.
  • Provide containers to drop off incoming papers as close to the entrance as possible. This may be the incoming paper box, a basket or other small container that will hold items until they can be sorted later that day
  • Place hooks, small pegs or containers for keys.
  • If shoes are removed when entering, provide a basket, crate or box for them to be contained. Otherwise they will move around and get misplaced. This could also be in the garage or a closet at the front door.
  • Include placement of hooks or pegs for children’s coats, backpacks or book bags or other totes. These are easy for children to use.
  • If a closet is available, hanging shelves or open shoe bags can be used for hats, gloves and other small items.
  • Use wooden or other sturdy hangers in coat closets.
  • Add space above the top shelf in the closet with additional shelves or stacking containers.
  • Provide a container for items to go out the door as you leave. A box or basket for envelopes to be mailed, books to be returned, etc. will help remind you to pick them up as you leave.
  • Place an umbrella stand near the door for rainy days.
  • Outdoor mats will help clean shoes before entering the house.
  • A washable rug near the door will help dry wet shoes and keep dirt from being carried further into the house.
  • Attractive plants and decorative containers will help beautify the space. If you have access to fresh flowers and enjoy arranging them, they are the a great way to provide a welcome into your home. A simple bouquet in a mug or vase is all that is needed. You do not have to be a professional florist to make it attractive.
  • Keep the walk, steps and porch clean. Wash any glass on the door. It gives a sparkling good first impression.


Whether large or small, the entrance sets the tone for the rest of your home. Keeping it orderly and functional as well as attractive will give it a welcoming invitation to come inside. If you have any questions or comments please contact us through our website: www.OrderlyPlaces.com or by email: maryfrances@OrderlyPlaces.com We would love to hear you stories of your organizing journey.



One of the last and most enjoyable steps in the decorating process.

Beginner Basics

  • Odd-Number Rule- Group uneven number of pieces together; three or five usually
  • Include larger pieces with smaller ones to add drama to an arrangement

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  • Use both symmetrical and asymmetrical balance to visually organize objects
    • Example: Matching lamps at either end of the table or mantel visually ground a collection of vases arranged asymmetrical in its center.

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  • Use The Designer Formula: Shiny, Matte, Tall and Flat.
    • Example:  Tall shiny candlesticks, a round vase and a matte finish plate.
  • Repeat a color in at least three objects in three areas of the room
    • Examples: Lamps, Pillows, and an Area Rug.
  • Leave unequal space between objects in a group- it allows each one to be seen clearly and provides needed rest points.
  • When adding or changing present accessories around, start out fresh- that is by removing all accessories and then studying your room. Start with one piece and then add one by one.

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 Novice Mistakes

  • Under accessorizing a room
  • Trying to pick out everything in one frenzied shopping trip
  • Using accessories that are too small or all the same size.

If you have and questions about accessorizing your home or office or are intrested in finding the right accessories for your home call us at 595-5131 or e-mail as at unusualdesigns@verizon.net



Organizing and Gift Giving

Americans are generous people. We love expressing our appreciation and celebrating with gifts. The commercial market has maximized that spirit by making the most of every holiday including Grandparents Day (It is in September.) with appropriate cards, etc. We love to give and we love to receive.

It is very important to teach children to be generous in giving but also gracious in receiving. Every gift should be acknowledged with a thank you note. The sooner the notes are written the better, but no matter how long after receiving it, it must be acknowledged.

Once we have thanked the giver, the dilemma of what to do with gifts we do not need or want can become a space problem unless it is consumable. If it is from children or parents, especially in-law children or parents, it must be given a place of honor for a significant amount of time or put in place for their occasional visits. (For good advice on relationships with in-laws, I recommend Just Call Me Mom by Mary Tatem.)

Gifts that we do not use and want or do not have the space to display can be returned for credit or donated to a good cause. One young military wife who was working on getting her home organized, donated gift baskets of cosmetic items to a young girl down the street who wanted to be a cosmetician. The teenager was thrilled to get them and the young wife was delighted to pass them on to someone who wanted them. There are many charitable organizations as well as friends or family members who may need or want those items we choose not to keep. Since they would be new, selling them is an option, too. Moving them out is the best way to free our minds and spaces.

Letting those close to us know we would like gifts that do not clutter in the future is a good idea. If they are aware of our organizing journeys, they will be respectful of our wishes and not be offended.

In fact, we can set that example ourselves and give others clutter free gifts. Some examples are coupons to favorite stores or restaurant; baskets of fruits or jellies and jams, candy, homemade soup mixes, cakes, cookies or muffins; assortment of teas or coffee; car wash coupons; fishing or hunting license, rounds of golf or membership to a pool, zoo, museum or theme park. Regardless of the gifts received or given, they represent thoughts from the heart. And those are the most important gifts.


A Little Energy Geekiness and Just in Time for Christmas!

Nest 2
                As an energy geek, I love my toys.  I have a lot of energy saving toys like a thermal imaging camera, hygrometers, smoke sticks, home energy monitors, and a combustion analyzer to name a few.  I love playing with my toys.  The home energy monitor is a great toy to teach you how to save money because it shows you what you are pulling off the grid in real time.  My monitor is from TED (The Energy Detective) and it cost me about $200 a few years back.  It came with some great software that allows me to hook it up to my computer and produce some graphs.  I have one qualm with my monitor and that is that my computer has to be up and running in order to use the graphing portion of the software.  That means it has to be up and running, which means it is on even though I am not using it.  In other words, I am wasting energy to save energy.

                 I have found a solution to my problem, and just in time for Christmas!  And, of course, it is from Apple.                  Apple has proven itself as a company that completely changes the playing field in whatever field it chooses to enter, whether that is music, computers or cell phones.  Now Apple is indirectly completely changing the field of thermostats. 

                Two former employees of Apple,  Matt Rogers and Tony Fadell, have teamed up together to use the same type of engineering design that they learned at Apple and apply it to the field of energy conservation with their new firm NEST.  The NEST Learning Thermostat has all of the features that make Apple products so appealing to the masses.  It is simple, incredibly user friendly (something not many people say about their thermostat) and the best part is that it’s software is upgradable over time.  That means that this already incredible thermostat will do even more in the future which is mind boggling to think about.

                The design of the thermostat is a simple circular touch screen with no other buttons, very reminiscent of the original iPods with the single circular button controls.  To raise or lower the temperature in the house you just grab the outside of the round thermostat and turn clockwise or counter-clockwise.  Each time you make an adjustment the thermostat remembers what day of the week and time of the day that you made the change to learn what your preferences are for particular days and times.  No actual programming on your part.  No endless series of menus to flip through to simply change the temperature for Saturday morning at 8 a.m.  This is sheer brilliance.

                To make it even better, the thermostat has a little green leaf that appears on the circular face to tell you when you have made a selection that will help you save money.  Nothing like a little feedback to help you make better choices.  This amazing little device is also equipped with an occupancy sensor which knows when you are coming and going so it can make adjustments to the temperature for you.  It even learns at what time you typically go to bed and makes adjustments for that as well.

                Have guests coming in from out of town in the middle of the day and need to warm things up at your house for them?  No problem.  Just access your NEST thermostat from your cell phone or office computer and change the temperature remotely.  You have a nice cozy house to greet your guests and you didn’t have to run home to do it.

                But the greatest feature of all, this thing is a mini energy monitor without the hard wired computer connection 

                I love things that help me save money.  I especially like devices that save me money without even having to think about it ( Nest claims 30 % on your energy bills).  Check out the video for yourself at www.nest.com.  I know you will be impressed, I sure was.  These things can be preordered now for $250 and Best Buy will begin shipping them next month.  So, you think there will be people lining up at midnight to get new thermostats like they do for Apple cell phones?  I think I might just have to do that. 


Organizing Your Head and House


There is a relationship between the things around us and those in our minds. And I might add they can affect our bodies, too. The better organized the things in our homes, the easier it will be for our minds to remember where they are and where to return them. And when items are in their appropriate places, the space is safer for moving about and accessing them when we need them.

The reverse is true. How many times have we thought about where an item might be but could not find it because it did not have a permanent home. In fact, we may have created a bigger mess tossing other things around while looking for that one thing and created an unsafe environment by creating obstacles in pathways around our houses. And, continued frustration and stress will eventually take its toll on your physical body in the form of high blood pressure, etc.

While being organized is not a cure-all for a confused mind or health problems, it can make our days go by with fewer problems. We will not spend frustrating minutes or hours looking for items we need, we will not have to dodge items while walking around our homes, and we will not spend money on duplicate items because we couldn't access what we needed.

In the past few decades with a better economy, two incomes, the increase in electronic gadgets and lower priced consumer goods, we found ourselves loading our homes with so many things that we could not find room for all of them. Rather than remove those things we no longer used or enjoyed, we kept them because "we paid good money for them, we might need them some day, or they were a gift." The results are too many items for the space we have. In the past we may have opted for a bigger home with more space, but our present economy has made that option more difficult if not impossible. The only reasonable solution then is for us to deal with our clutter.

Getting and staying organized is a process, not an event. It takes work, that four letter word we often avoid. And it takes commitment, patience and change. None of those are easy to embrace but the results are worth it. Being organized frees up the time we would spend looking for misplaced items, it frees our finances from purchasing items we don't have space you keep, it frees our spaces so we can safely enjoy them and invite others to spend time with us. But most important are the personal feelings of accomplishment and the examples we set for those around us.

There are resources for help with organizing. Books, web sites, blogs and professional organizers are available with tips, strategies and creative solutions for organizing homes and offices. Getting started is the most important step. The team at Orderly Places has information to help the process begin. www.OrderlyPlaces.com


Understanding the Differences between Designing and Decorating


Glove 1Designing vs. Decorating Glove 2

Which experience do you want?

There is a difference between the two. Decorating only touches the surface of your project. It is just a piece of the pie, without the design part leading and dominating the process. Decorating has a tunnel approach and concentrates on the frill and fluff. It’s the ending to the process, not the beginning.

Designing is responsible for the Interior Design which is the most important aspect of the Design Process), function and decoration of your space.

Designing embodies these Aspects:

  • A plan for your space 
  • Visual presentations
  • Knowledge of Styles, Materials and products that are used to create and furnish your room 
  • Knowledge of how Texture, Color, Lighting and other factors combine and interact
  • Understands structural requirements of plans and safety issues to name a few 

 Designing considers the whole pie and decorating only ¼ of the pie

Here are some examples of Designing , you will see different textures, colors, fabrics, and styled materials that were put together to give  each room  the "designed" principle.

- Notice the textured walls, the usage of a piece of art rather than a regular painting, and the blending of fabric incoporated in the furniture and winbdow treatments.Img0246


- Designing invloves all the detail the was put into the tile in this fireplace


Want to see more designing pictures go to Unusual Designs and see want type of designing fits your needs.