The Organized Lifestyle: Q&A

Over the years, I have come across interior designers, business owners, architects, and other remarkable individuals, as clients and in daily life, whose work and lives completely inspire me. After getting to know these women and men, I have found that one of the keys to their success is organization.

As a result, I decided to develop a question and answer series, The Organized Lifestyle, which showcases their work and dives deep into the daily organizational systems, products, and habits they use and incorporate into their lives. I hope we can all learn a thing or two from them!

This week, we interviewed Hillary Denham, owner + designer of Free Babes Handmade, the “classic bows for adventurous souls.” I came across Free Babes on Instagram and quickly fell in love with these darling bows, and of course, the beautiful, organized, and heartwarming photos on the @free_babes Instagram feed. We posted a photo on our Instagram feed of some of her organized bows and have been so impressed by Hillary’s success as a designer and entrepreneur. I couldn’t be more grateful to feature her on our series, The Organized Lifestyle.

Over the years, I have come across interior designers, business owners, architects, and other remarkable individuals, as clients and in daily life, The Organized Lifestyle: Q&A with Hillary Denham, owner + designer of Free Babes Handmade.

Company Location: Denver, Colorado. Hometown: New Albany, IN.

Unknown-11. Tell us about your business! How would you describe it? What do you like most about your role?

Free Babes Handmade is a baby and girl’s accessory company for little adventurers.  We make simple and classic bows that are the perfect accessory to everyday explorations. I absolutely love getting to be creative on a daily basis and design collections and style cute little outfits.  It’s been a personal adventure to figure out how to create a business that will be a direct reflection of my passions and unlock opportunities for my family and I to live uncommon lives.

2. Does your job require you to stay organized?

Totally. You have the actual inventory side of things with all of our bow collections, and we are also releasing a new collection at least 3 times a month. So we are always planning about 3 months ahead so we can make sure we order the fabric, distribute it amongst our 8 seamstresses all around the US to make the product, send to our photographers for website images and list on the website for each launch.

3. Are there any organizing products or tools you use everyday and “could not live without”? (Can include notebooks, pens, apps, etc.)

I absolutely LOVE my “Basics” brand notebook that helps me keep track of my upcoming marketing efforts and different launches. I also use google drive to house all of our company files and the QUIP app to communicate with our different seamtresses.

In the shop, we love the simple birch wood garage shelving sold at Ikea and The Container Store shoe bins to hold our bow inventory.

4. Do you rely mostly on electronic organization systems or prefer the paper and pen type? Would you recommend a combination? How do you best manage both?

Personally, I’m a huge proponent of paper and pen – specifically those Pilot needle point pens. 🙂 I am a visual learner, and writing to-dos and calender items down really helps lock them in my brain. I do love the virtual aspect of apps like QUIP, because they allow us to house all of our communication from the past months in one place. But when it comes to personal planning, paper and pen will always be my go-to.

5. Are there any organizing tips you’ve tried over the years that did not work for you? What were they? Why do you think they did not work?

I have tried to go “virtual,” moving to-dos and calendar items strictly online. But I always revert back to a paper organizer. It’s almost as if once things go on the cloud, they completely leave my mind.

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6. Are there any habits you have formed and use everyday to get and stay organized?

I recently started using “The Freedom Journal” by John Lee Dumas, the podcaster at Entrepreneur on Fire. It helps you break down your big picture goals and make sure you accomplish one significant, but manageable, step towards your goal every day. The concept of eating the frog first, or making sure you take at least 30 min. in the morning to plan your day so you can accomplish something that will lead you towards your business vision (and not just wasting time answering emails and reacting to things all day) is key.

7. What is your favorite organizational tool that you use, whether it be a product, app, or routine?

Google Drive and QUIP.

8. What sort of calendar or planner system do you use? What do you like about it? What do you not like about it?

The Basics Journal. It’s a paper journal with a calendar and daily to-dos that I love! Trust me, I’ve tried so many calendars, planners and journals… it’s crazy.

9. Why do you think it’s important to stay organized in your role?

I’m not a naturally organized person, so I have a lot of past experiences where disorganization has been the tipping point for small parts of the company imploding.  Organization is key because it gives you the peace of mind to know things are under control, so you can focus on the most important things in your business. Luckily, I recently started working with an assistant who is on top of it. The organization she brings helps things move forward and feel steady. I’m learning it’s really important to surround myself with structures for organization. Organization also helps me separate work from home, and truly be present with my husband and children.

10. What is one piece of advice you would give others to stay organized?

Figure out what works for you. So many people out there are really great organizers, but only certain methods will work for you. As Tim Ferriss says when asked the best workout regimen: “The one you will stick with.” If you are not naturally an organized person, that is also ok. When building a business, make sure to surround yourself with people who are strong where you are weak.

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Changes​, Your Opinion & The Washington Post​ 

When we want something badly, we want it instantly. A friend loses weight, and everyone asks, “How did you do it?” They want a quick fix. The answer “dieting and exercising regularly for 6 months” sounds like a good idea, but maybe not what they were looking for. Transformations take time and regular, steady work. They take endurance. You have to celebrate the small victories, not lose sight of your goal, dedicate yourself to get the results you want, and even enlist the help of others.

In January, after many changes in my personal and professional life, I knew I needed a fresh start and perhaps a new look. It was like that one time in high school when I broke up with my boyfriend and decided I wanted to go platinum blonde (I was talked out of it). It was time for a change and something major: a rebranding of Rachel and Company. I had an idea of what I liked and what I wanted, and realized it wasn’t as easy as going blonde! That’s when I met Marcela, a branding expert and designer for one of my favorite brands (Framebridge), and she offered to redesign my logo and create a new look and feel for Rachel and Company. Take a look.

Rachel and Company Logo

Throughout the process, I could feel and see the changes taking place, but I wanted the transformation to be instant. It reminded me of working with many clients. I joke with clients all the time, “it will not take long to organize and create systems but it will not happen overnight.” Sometimes you read articles, get tips, and these really work. They are immediate fixes, but they are not quite transformations. These quick fixes may not get you to your end goal, and the idea you have for it. For lasting, inner and outer transformations, sometimes you have to take small steps, and be patient. So, alas, I took on the advice that I give to clients on a daily basis.

I am so excited and happy with the look and feel of the new Rachel and Company logo. It is exactly what I want, but it was not an easy transition and took time and work, and the help of an expert. For organizing projects, especially major transformations, here are some tips to get there and not get lost along the way:

  1. Remind yourself of your goal, and stay focused, but take time to recognize and celebrate the smaller results and enjoy the steps along the way.
  2. Work with someone, whether that be a spouse, buddy, coach, to check in with, throughout the process — even keep a diary, or photo journal to remind yourself of how far you’ve come.
  3. Remind yourself of why you are making a change, why it is important to you.

Here’s what you can do now. Think about what you might want to change. What is your goal, and how do you see the end result? Make a list of how you can get there. Brainstorm all the ways. Do not limit yourself. Then, pick 4. Write down why your goal is most important to you and how you imagine the end result to look and feel. Please comment below with your goals, tell us what you think of the new logo, and share this post with friends.

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1. Umbra Cubist Floating Wall Shelf 2. Russell+hazel Leather Mini Clutch – Black 3. Small Wire Storage Basket, Set of 6

Also, check out the Washington Post article I was featured in TODAY:
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6 Ways to Cut Paper Clutter

“I have a paper problem,” a woman said to me in Starbucks, after she noticed my stack of hand-written thank you cards and complimented my beautiful Russell + Hazel notebook. “You should see my office,” she said. “I have an entire drawer full of stationery. For me, there’s just something about getting and sending mail.” I agreed with her, but I told her I am used to hearing about and helping clients with other “paper problems.”

Did you know paper is the #1 problem that we help clients with when setting up systems for organization?

Junk mail, stacks of opened and unopened envelopes, and bills accumulate. Paper clutter can make a room look messy and disorganized, even when the rest of the space is organized and clutter-free. So, what most people do is buy storage containers and filing systems to make organizing paper more exciting, but many people end up throwing papers in without organization just to hide the clutter. Then it becomes too much.

You must develop a system and get in good habits for decluttering and organizing any paper that comes your way. Below are 6 Ways to Cut Paper Clutter.

6 Ways to Cut Paper Clutter

  • After you get your mail, go to the nearest recycling bin. Of course, don’t dump it all in, but open it there. I would say 80% of the mail you get on a weekly basis is unnecessary (and often not useful.)
  • Organize from the inside out. Don’t just shove paper in bins, boxes, filing systems, or on trays. Yes, “out of sight, out of mind,” until you see it — or need a specific document. Then, you panic, so organize it (and declutter) from the moment you decide to use a storage container or filing system.
  • Use a 5 day rule for any trays for miscellaneous items. If it’s been over a day, it should find a home, even if that home is the recycling bin. Do not let it go for more than 5 days.
  • Have an easy to use, daily system that you know where to find the papers you need to act on and what system you will use for those future papers in limbo ie. get a new driver’s license, sign up my child for camp (even though it is January.)
  • If you don’t need it now, you probably don’t need it. There are always exceptions to the rule (leases, insurance paperwork, etc.) but for the most part, think the 80/20 rule. 80% of what you file, you will never look back at again. So, ask yourself, do I really need it? What about those notebooks from college?
  • Create a system for filing paper but make it easy to do and set up a date on your calendar to review these files AT LEAST once a year.

Here’s what you can do now. Challenge yourself. Set your phone timer for 10 minutes to sort through your paper. Turn on music. Put the TV on. Make it interesting. Sort your paper into three piles: 1) to recycle 2) to file 3) action.


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Yard Sales: What Happens When You Miss the Deadline?

professional organizer, rachel and company, yard sales, rachel rosenthalWhile yard sale season is the perfect time to get rid of all the items you no longer love or use, what happens when you miss the deadline for the neighborhood or community yard sale? You know, that has already been organized and advertised. Wait until next year? Hold on to your clutter?

This year, I was incredibly excited for our neighborhood yard sale. The girls have always loved them: lemonade stands, learning about money, earning money, and finding new homes for old things. I had organized all of our items into boxes, did an insane amount of decluttering (okay, a little more than usual), and what happened? It rained.

How many times have you dealt with this situation? Weather happens, your yard sale is postponed, or you miss the deadline for the community one. Yard sales can creep up on you. Or, maybe you feel you don’t have enough time to declutter and organize everything you need to? No one likes to miss a deadline or postpone a major transformation, especially when you’ve put in all of the hard work.

There are several strategies for when you’ve missed the community deadline or the one in your head. The most important thing to remember, though, DO NOT WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR and hold on to your clutter. Feel free to call your favorite and most fabulous friends to discuss the utter annoyance of missing the community yard sale, and even go as far as asking to join in on their neighborhood yard sales. OR, plan your own yard sale! There are even online yard sale options.

Just think about it. There are people whose main thrill in life is bargaining! These people will be delighted to discover you’ve planned your own yard sale, even if it takes place immediately after the community one, and they will be happy to take on (and even pay for!) what you find is clutter. No matter what the case, whether your yard sale is on time, during a treacherous rainstorm, or in December, you need to maximize the time, and get the most out of it.

Here are some of my tips for a better yard sale:

  • Set up the yard sale to feel like you are going into a store. It should be easy for people to buy because items are clearly categorized.
  • Clearly label prices. If you like negotiation, go for it. Negotiation can be part of the fun. However, promise me, even if the prices are clearly labeled, your favorite frugal customers will want a better deal, and you have to act! Labeling prices will give you a starting point for negotiation. And it is all about getting the clutter out.
  • Set up your donations ahead of time. That way, items won’t come back into the house! Remember, the point was to rid yourself of clutter, not supplement your income. Earning money from a yard sale can be fun, but the detox and declutter (did I mention free space?) is exhilarating!
  • Be organized with your advertising ahead of time, especially if you plan your own yard sale! Take full advantage of social media.
  • You must know people are about deals, and be okay with it. Negotiating is an absolutely necessary skill to have as an adult, and involving the kids is a practical way for them to learn about money and business!
  • Get the whole family involved.

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The Dirty Truth About Consigning Clothing

With spring cleaning your closet, comes consignment. When I spring clean, I have piles when decluttering (and if you don’t, you need to!): a pile for donations, a pile for my brother’s girls, a pile for the dry cleaner, and a pile for consignment. Consigning is a great idea for clothing, shoes, purses, and even jewelry that you’ve kept in great condition, but no longer use.

But you want to know the dirty truth about consigning? It takes work. A lot of work.

You have to sort through and declutter your items, take time to haul them to consignment after consignment store, and then you only get back a fourth of what you paid for them. The rest, you have to donate, or figure out a plan B for! Oh, and did I mention your clothing has to be “in season” for it to even be consigned?

In contrast, holding onto things because you paid X amount for them, or don’t make the time to consign, can be stifling. Once you do it, though, it’s like ripping off a BAND-AID, and you might never go back when you realize the benefits and get a good system in place.

I have a client who is a “hoarder” of nice things. Let’s just say that her nickname, that I loved using, (she always just laughed!) was “high-end hoarder.” She was afraid to lose money by consigning, so instead kept replaying the same tape in her head about each item: how much she paid, what great condition it was in, how much she used to love using it, and how it was too much work to consign.

Over time, her closet and bedroom got smaller and smaller, until it became too much for her to deal with on her own. She had to get to the realization (and be ok with it) that consigning would bring her tremendous benefits, even if she would “only” get back about a fourth of what she paid for each item.

Whether you’ve collected Louis Vuitton’s or have too much from J. Crew’s last season, consigning will give you back money for items you are not using, and you will be free with more space and less clutter. Oh, and did I mention how much better you will feel without all the clutter around you? You just need to make sure you are ok with knowing how much you will get in return for selling the item, and the amount of work it took to get it there.

If you know what is in store for you when consigning, just do it. Here’s what you can do now. Take a look at these consignment shops (national and local, in the Washington, DC metro area), and plan — yes, plan and make an appointment — your first trip! What might you bring? What items are clearly consignment and not for donation?

Consignment Shops in the Washington, DC Metro Area

National Consignment Shops

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Over the years, I have met interior designers, business owners, architects, and other remarkable individuals, as clients and in daily life, whose work and lives completely inspire me. After getting to know these women and men, I have found that one of the keys to their success is organization.

As a result, I decided to develop a question and answer series, The Organized Lifestyle, that showcases their work and dives deep into the daily organizational systems, products, and habits they use and incorporate into their lives. I hope we can all learn a thing or two from them.

This week, I interviewed Sally Steponkus Roche, owner of Sally Steponkus Interiors, Inc. I have known Sally for several years, and we have partnered on many projects, since organization and interior design often go hand in hand. Clients love her. I love working with her! Her positive energy and keen eye for detail allow for a seamless partnership, and I couldn’t be more excited to feature her on our new The Organized Lifestyle series.

The Organized Lifestyle: Q&A with Sally Steponkus Roche, owner of Sally Steponkus Interiors, Inc.

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1. Tell us about your business! How would you describe it? What do you like most about your role?

I own a small, high-end interior design firm. My favorite thing about my job is meeting clients and taking their wishes and vision and creating the happiest and most perfect idealization of them. My least favorite thing we have to deal with is when a vendor lets us down no matter how detailed we make our purchase orders, etc. Mistakes happen often in this business due to so much human error, so we try to stay on top of things as much as we possibly can to avoid any problems.

2. Does your job require you to stay organized?

Uhhh, yes. When you have 6 employees and run over 20 jobs at a time, we have to stay super organized. Lots of moving pieces and details upon details.

3. Are there any organizing products or tools you use everyday and “could not live without”? (Can include notebooks, pens, apps, etc.)


4. Do you rely mostly on electronic organization systems or prefer the paper and pen type? Would you recommend a combination? How do you best manage both?

We use all electronic organizational systems: iCal, Evernote, Google Docs.

5. Are there any organizing tips you’ve tried over the years that did not work for you? What were they? Why do you think they did not work?

Hand-written lists & calendars don’t work for me.

6. Are there any habits you have formed and use everyday to get and stay organized?

We like to “pull up” and go through our To-Do List several times a week.

7. What is your favorite organizational tool that you use, whether it be a product, app, or routine?

We keep a Master To-Do List in Evernote that is organized by Client, then by Room and color coded as to who needs to complete which task, etc. This is the best way I’ve found (or my assistants found) to keep us totally organized all the time, whether in the office or on the job. Such a great app!

8. What sort of calendar or planner system do you use? What do you like about it? What do you not like about it?

iCal is super easy for us, and we color code it depending on who is attending the meeting, if it’s an installation, or a group activity.

9. Why do you think it’s important to stay organized in your role?

There are too many details in our business whether it’s per piece of furniture, per room or per job so we try to keep all of these pieces of info organized so nothing falls through the cracks.

10. What is one piece of advice you would give others to stay organized?

Keep a master list and divide it into sections that are easiest for you to read, edit & stay on top of action items.


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How to Organize Three Events in One Month and Stay Sane

When you plan your event, whether it’s a backyard cookout, or a large dinner party, does it ever go from dreamy and picturesque to stress? It’s April, and in the next month, I’m organizing three corporate events, two on the same day, in different cities. My calendars and to-do lists look like Gwen Stefani collaborated with Kate Spade on a new line of office supplies: simple and refined (at first) with loads of highlights, strikethroughs, doodles, labels, and sticky notes, creating texture and interest from anyone who notices them.

This month, I organized a corporate meeting in Toronto at the Four Seasons Hotel. The vision was clear, and researching venues, photographers, and menus fulfilled my expectations. As the events piled up, along with other organizing projects, the to-do lists were endless and ongoing. My notes were not pretty, maybe the opposite of what a client might expect, but the event was a success because I stayed organized. Events can seem so far in the future and require so much planning. There are so many steps along the way. There’s so much room for error. Often, it’s not until after the event that you realize you did a good job. So, how do you keep your cool and stay organized when planning events? What strategies can be helpful to manage your event, the plans, the timeline, and the budget?

Here are some of my tips:

  1. Think of planning your event more as any other organizing project. Take time, and set an appointment for all planning.
  2. Start with a brainstorm. Then create a plan with budget and timeline, and begin filling in each section with as many details as possible.
  3. Make an organized list of tasks and decide if/how you can delegate, or where you can bring in help.
  4. Break up your to-do list into multiple lists and categories as to help organize your to-dos.
  5. Give yourself deadlines for your to-dos.

This will help with stress, and you will feel a sense of accomplishment throughout the process. A to-do such as “Plan Menu” is way more agonizing and scary than multiple, little steps: 1) decide on the overall cuisine preferences 2) choose if you would like buffet, sit down or a mix of styles for food service 3) look at choices of food for different categories. Companies don’t want to worry about the small details, and neither do your guests. They want to be able to host an event that’s beneficial: great for networking with their partners and employees, building relationships, and giving a feeling of being taken care of for their guests. It’s not about knowing what it took to get it done, but having a great event in the end — that is why people hire me — so that they can show up and host a great event and receive positive feedback.

Here’s what you can do now. Break down your to-do list into small, actionable steps. See where you can delegate and bring in help. Add these tasks to your calendar and planner, to stay in line with your timeline and keep you on track.




How to Organize Your Pantry After Groceries

Do you ever open up your pantry and spend a minute just staring off into space, without any idea of what to cook or eat? Maybe you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for, or you forget why you came in the first place. So many boxes and cans, stacked, or piled up, with logos in your face. You feel a sense of dread or doom. Your pantry could inspire you to cook, or entertain, but instead, you’re just mad at yourself.

When the doors are shut, and everything is put away, you feel so at peace, but when it’s open, the clutter creates chaos. You remember that you need to go through everything, throw away what’s no longer needed, and finally develop a pantry organization system that sticks. You’re tired of buying duplicate items or not finding the ingredient you were looking for until months later, when it’s already expired. This situation causes you annoyance and frustration. You lose time and money and create waste. Efficiency is key. Well, there’s a simple solution: organization.

I had a client, Jill, who was known for cooking. While she had never attended culinary school, she cooked countless meals for her family and community and baked the most beautiful cupcakes. After three grandchildren, and a move from her 3 bedroom house into a condo, she gave up cooking because of clutter. Her new pantry was designed with plenty of space and adjustable shelves, but she lacked organization. What was not empty was filled with boxes and cans. It looked as though she had come home from the grocery and emptied items from her bag onto the nearest shelf. Jill told me she would rather spend 3 hours with her grandkids and hire me than 8 hours exhausting herself trying to develop a new system for a space so different from her previous pantry and organizing what she had.

After a consultation, we realized that her problem was not only a new space but also her process of coming home from the grocery and putting items away. We picked a place for her reusable grocery bags and developed a new system. Now, she removes all items and places them on her kitchen table first. Then, she quickly sorts them by category. While each space and every person is different, here are my tips for unloading your groceries and organizing your pantry, along with some benefits:

  • Take things out of the boxes and put them into open bins, containers with lids, etc. that are clear and/or labeled. This takes up so much less space and even the 5 minutes it takes to do this, saves that much more time and double when looking for things. Bonus, you can see what you need to add to your grocery list that much more easily because you can see when you are getting low on something.
  • Group items by categories: snacks, baking, sweets, pastas, oatmeal, etc. so that everyone who opens the pantry and/or walks in knows exactly where to find what they need.
  • Despite the size of your pantry, it isn’t about the size but the organization of it.
  • Use open bins for those things that you need to grab on a daily basis, and containers that are a one time purchased but then reused for things that you might eat daily: pasta, cereal, etc.
  • Find a step can ladder, so that you can get more depth out of a shelf and actually see what you have. And a turntable for those things you need access to-that much easier.

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The Celebrity Closets Among Us

Last week, I came across an article on Harper’s, “Beauty Vanity: Lisa Vanderpump Gets Real,” with photos of the Bravo TV! Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star’s elegant and decadent closet. I love anything Bravo (guilty pleasure). I also love designing closets. Sure, I could lounge in Lisa’s luxurious closet for hours, enjoy a few cups of tea (maybe even champagne) with Giggy as my wingman, but what’s really important when designing (or revamping) your closet?


We want our closets to be pretty, yes, but also functional. Closets have clear purposes: to store your clothing and keep it nice and organized. The celebrity closet has an allure that sometimes feels out of reach. Since “life isn’t all diamonds and rosé (but it should be),” as Lisa says, we think we are stuck with our current closets, which could be anything less than chic. Maybe you have mounds of clothes pushed and shoved, or sheets spilling over each other. No space. No order. No sustainable or lasting organization. But you know, there are so many ways to remodel or revamp your closet.

For instance, I worked with a couple in Washington, DC to redesign their closets. While we did not change the footprint of the closets, which we sometimes do, we kept the frame the same and redid the interiors. They were both long and narrow closets. First, I spoke with each of them about what was bothering them the most about their closets. She needed more closed drawer space, as she had tons of shelves where things would fall off of, and the bins she used were not working. We built several sized drawers, along with one for laundry, into her closet. Some drawers were for jewelry, and bigger ones for t-shirts, exercise/workout items, pjs, etc. We took into consideration how many hanging items she had compared to shelf-items — like shoes, boots, and hats — and made sure everything was adjustable to customize as her life changed. We even organized the closet by category — from business looks to gym clothes — and color, so she could easily grab what she needed to get dressed on a daily basis.

Here are some of my closet designs (with tips below):

rachel rosenthal, closet design, rachel and company

What to consider before you begin making changes to your closet:

  • What’s your budget? The sky is the limit, but you can also make changes to your closet very inexpensively, so don’t let budget hinder you. There are many changes you can make on your own. For instance, buy new shelving, install hooks and racks. Use shelf dividers. Add a hanging rack to the back of your closet door for purses, bags, or belts. Use hanging compartments for shoes.
  • What’s bothering you the most?
  • Do you share a closet with someone else?
  • How do you want the space to function?
  • What do you wear on a typical basis? That’s what you want in the front of your closet. More formal items (unless you’re like Lisa Vanderpump), you may consider placing in the back.
  • Think about the last time you decluttered your closet and also your shopping habits, for the addition and subtraction. One thing in, one thing out, or do you build in more room for anticipated shopping sprees?
  • Overall look and feel. Browse Pinterest or magazines, pull and save, then create a Pinterest board, which you can show to your closet designer, or even use yourself to make DIY changes.

I challenge you to answer the questions above and describe your dream closet in great detail. I would recommend writing it down. What are your biggest challenges? What are your biggest closet dreams? How might you go about redesigning, reorganizing, or revamping your closet? Make the plans, take a step, and begin today. Some of the biggest transformations begin in your own space. I encourage you to comment below, share your story, and one of your favorite celebrity closets. Although I’ve seen a lot of them, I have not seen all of them, and I always enjoy them — whether I long for them, marvel at them, or gawk at them! Please share with friends.




Link Love!

People: Inside 25 Celebrity Closets That’ll Blow Your Mind

Sneak Peak into Real Housewives’ Lisa Vanderpump’s Closet – Glam Today Magazine Exclusive


Why Spring Cleaners are Sometimes the Least Organized

Did you know some of the biggest spring cleaners are actually the least organized? I had a client who was the opposite of messy. When I visited her home, it was picture perfect. She explained to me though just how much time she spent cleaning. “By Sunday evening, before I fall asleep, I look around my house and feel proud of myself. I am living in my dream space. But on Tuesday morning, I wake up stepping on clothes and am so infuriated with myself and what a mess I have made. I am a neat freak, but I am not organized.”

Since cleaning and organizing often go hand in hand, many people lump them together, when they are truly different. This confusion can create chaos and disorder in your home and personal life, and the cause is sometimes hard to pinpoint. People may mistake you for being organized because you are such a neat freak, but since you are not, you spend so much of your time picking up after yourself and cleaning up your mess.

Once you get organized, it is a lot easier to clean and manage your life. Trust me. There’s less to clean, and it’s easier to do because everything has a place. So, now that you’re spring cleaning (and hopefully organizing!), here are 3 quick, easy tips to get started on spring organizing:

  1. Prioritize. Even though you want to get your entire home organized, pick one area or category of items to start with. What affects your daily life? Can you not find something to wear? Start in your closet. Are you gaining weight? Begin with your pantry and fridge. Try putting your condiments on a lazy Susan. Is it hard to get out of the door in the AM? Think about routinely putting your clothing out the night before and keeping your gym bag by the door.
  2. Pick a corner. Looking at an entire room at once can be overwhelming. If where to begin seems completely arbitrary, pick a corner and go from there, so it is more manageable.
  3. Start with the easiest thing to declutter and let go of, OR the room or subject that scares you the most. Sometimes starting with an “easy” category keeps your momentum going, or if you are better with a challenge and want to get the “worst of it” over and done with, start with something that scares you.

I challenge you to create a list of all your spring organizing goals, next to your spring cleaning to-dos. Separate the cleaning from organizing. Then prioritize and decide which to start first, or which comes next. For your own convenience, I created this Spring Cleaning + Organizing To-Do List, which you can print and use! (Maybe keep on your fridge!) Please comment below with any questions or comments.

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1. HUB UMBRELLA STAND 2. Chrome 2-Tier Sliding Organizer 3. Grassy Toothbrush Organizer by Umbra


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