Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Here it is: the official roundup of products I couldn’t have lived (worked) without this past month. Get ‘em while they’re hot and whatnot. 

Top organizing product picks out there chosen by a professional organizer!

Miele Capri Canister Vacuum Cleaner 

I have already waxed on about my unending love and appreciation for this beautiful piece of machinery (would we call it that?) in this post, aptly titled “the household tool I wish I’d bought sooner.” I’ll spare you any further BDA by saying only: I need it; it needs me; you probably need it too, even if you didn’t know you needed it before you stumbled on this post. 

Black grippy pants hangers

I can only hope that at this point I’ve succeeded in making you all exhaustingly aware of my die-hard preference for the slim velvet hanger slim velvet hanger over any other. They’re the only ones I ever use for myself and for my clients.

Recently though, a client objection caused me to need to seek out another suitable (pun definitely intended) alternative. Said client fears the creasing of her slacks, you see. And while she happily adopted the slim velvet version for her tops, she requested a more gentle caress for her bottoms.

So I went and stared at the hanger wall at the Container Store for a good bit of time. Stared and felt and broke out in various faces of disgust. That is, until I landed on these guys. Covered in a kind of soft, barely-squishy foam that truly is grippy, their pant rod is tubular in shape and on the beefier side of things. They have an opening on one side so that pants can easily slide on and off, yet (!) the rod is long enough that no pants would ever, of their own accord, fall off.

Vertical gift wrap organizer

There’s not a whole not to say about this (lucky you) except that it does it’s job very respectfully. All those rolls of wrapping paper whose storage would otherwise stump you, would be tossed into some drawer or cabinet or other to rip and crinkle to the point of being unusable find themselves perfectly suited to this container.

Plus, you almost think your rolls will be too tall for the lid to fit and then when it does you’re the most pleasantly surprised.  

Utility mesh storage bag 

I discovered this while working on what turned out to be the first of many garage projects this summer. Proving itself effective at storing outdoor toys, I subsequently used it in every garage proceeding that first one (including in this one).

Its wide top opening is conducive to hurried clean-up bursts, while its velcro front opening is small-human friendly; kids can easily reach right in and extract the playthings of their choosing.

Other highlights? It’s long enough to play host to a hockey stick and wide enough to house a fully inflated basketball plus more.

And hey, far be it from me to prescribe your usage. I used it for client toys, but you, clever one, could use it for that other thing. And also that other stuff. 

Utility straight handled tool hook  

By far one of the most versatile utility hooks around, this can hold everything from skis and snowboards to rakes and brooms and shovels and more (oh my!). 

12-case 4″x6″ photo storage case 

It’s striking me as utterly strange that I seem not to have spoken about this photo storage case until now, as it’s my go-to choice for clients’ pictures.

It holds a generous amount, features individual cases so that one can distinguish between albums and photo categories at one’s will, and then stores them all together in this handy carrying case.

This is a photo solution.

Slate cheese board

The funny thing about this cheese board is that it’s a cheese board.

But what’s funnier is that it’s currently being used in the bathroom of my client as a tray for perfumes. And even funnier is that it doesn’t look funny in such a capacity at all.

See, I looked around at what felt like everywhere for a tray of the right style and proportions, but to no avail! Until I stumbled upon this and was overcome by the injustice of a perfectly wonderful perfume tray being misbranded as a cheese board. So I rescued it and returned it to its rightful position on the vanity, where, between you and me, I think it’s far happier playing host to fragrances than to it would be to smelly cheese.

The moral being: use your imagination kiddies! 

P.S. Happy almost Octo-freakin-tober.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A little story about what it takes to be successful in life.

There’s this story I’ve been carrying around for the past couple months, unable to put to rest until I share it, I guess.

We were visiting at a relative’s house–me, my sister, my dad and my mom. My sister and I were arriving separately from our parents and when we pulled up, (fresh from having a spa pedicure date, mind you) we found our mom and dad stuck outside the house.

One is apt to find her, and him by extension, in any array of strange and unfortunate situations, but this one had portable ramp fail written all over it.  

I might mention for the sake of clarification and to set the scene that it also happened to be pouring down with rain. Having my mom’s wheelchair climb the steep portable ramp on a clear day is feat enough. Asking it to gain traction with flood waters rising around it is quite another.

My dad was simultaneously steering the wheelchair’s joystick, trying to coax the thing forward, and managing to hold an umbrella out over my mom. It was a sight, really it was.

Before the tire met the curb, my sister and I were out of the car and tromping over to help. I should say flip-flopping over, because one of us that wasn’t her was still wearing the complimentary, paper-thin flip flop things they give you at the end of a pedicure when you show up sans sandals.

Probably my dad affirmed what we had ascertained, and then the three of us assumed the positions. Common sense told us that the three us of pushing from behind the wheelchair had to get it to budge. 

Somebody counted to three. We leaned and grunted and heaved our body weights against that chair. Nothing. We straightened up, readjusted. I gave my feet an unfortunate glance as my heel and the baby pink whisper of foam beneath sunk ever so slightly into the soggy ground. “Toes still good,” I thought. “Let’s just make it out of this with polish in-tact.”

We tried again. And a third time. The wheelchair rocked forward upon contact only to drift back downward when we let up. It was clear we were getting nowhere, except more and more soaked.

My dad conceded, “Alright, somebody go call the police and tell them we need an assist.”

It was shitty, then. Before it was semi-funny even, but facing defeat it just looked sad. We were three capable, able-bodied humans, but we couldn’t get one exceptionally good-sported human up a damn ramp.

I went inside, threw off the paper shoes, which floated like disposable, pastel feathers through the air before landing on an unsuspecting dog, and shoved on a pair of legitimate sandals. I tucked my hair securely into the hood of my raincoat. I think I must have had some kind of 15 second spiritual regrouping.  “Pedicure’s gonna get screwed,” I nodded to myself. “Whayagonnado.”

I wanted to spare us that one police encounter (they’re really no big deal; police are just people and usually strong which is a bonus is such situations). But I just didn’t want us to have to do it. We were too close. 

I went back outside, and, without thought, I said, “Let’s try one more thing.”

Maybe it dawned on me that our efforts to push the wheelchair up were failing because while they were helping to shove the big back wheels forward, they weren’t doing anything to help the two front, mini wheels get traction. 

“Dad, you stay where you are and push from behind like you were. Doniele, you and I are going to come to the front of the chair and pull it towards us. Got it?”

I counted to three. He pushed while we pulled and wouldn’t you know it, the little wheelchair that could scooted right up that slippery ramp and into the dry house.

We didn’t talk about it after, because what would there have been to say? But in my head, those words I had said, that I couldn’t even take credit for because they hadn’t come from any part of my conscious brain, “let’s try one more thing,” echoed and echoed.

In reality it was just another MS hardship. But it also felt like this little perfect demonstration of what it takes to succeed.

1. Accept that you can’t do it alone.

2. Call in for reinforcements. 

3. Admit when your way isn’t working.

4. Be willing to try a new approach.

Success almost always lies just beyond the moment when you’re most tempted to give up.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

In lieu of a designer spotlight post, today I’m keeping it all in the family (just me!) and spotlighting a very recent LSBA project that I’m so giddy proud over, I can’t not share. 

My client’s garage was, well, not great. While the rest of her family’s home is beautifully decorated and ordered, the garage space was a problem child from the get-go.

To start, the previous owners had “kindly” left behind three large items: a work table and 2 desk/storage situations, none of which remotely resembled the kind of storage space my client actually needs, and all of which occupied the majority of the floor space. 

Without a plan in place, the default response had been to pile storage tubs on top of the leftover furniture, on top of each other, pyramid style.

Add to that the fact that it’s a garage (think: unfinished floors, weird paint), five or so bikes, a giant freezer, and a vintage garage door. And consider the fact that the instant people resign themselves to the state of a space it pretty much instantly deteriorates x3.

So, starting point then; this was it:

the garage transformation you have to see to believe!

the garage transformation you have to see to believe! the garage transformation you have to see to believe! the garage transformation you have to see to believe! the garage transformation you have to see to believe! the garage transformation you have to see to believe!

Yup, not great. 

The first course of action was, naturally, to go through every thing in that garage at a rate of 1 x 1. (I seem intent on somehow coming out with this post being a giant word problem, what can you do.)

Many car-fulls worth of things were donated. The old owners were invited (ahem) to come and collect their remainders. What was left was hauled away by my favorite junk-haul guys (who won me over the first time I worked with them when they swept up after themselves in a gross garage space–different one–points and free Cokes were doled out).

After that- thank heavens- the space was painted. That alone made it feel like new. And then came the new storage systems and all the organizing.

I’ll bet you want to know what it’s looking like now. Aren’t you?  

the garage transformation you have to see to believe!

Like a different space is what. 

you won't believe what this garage used to look like!

Let’s talk details, though.

In order to keep the floor area clear for possible child-play on rainy days (which, hello, Seattle), I had them all hung on vertical bike hooks. The extra accessory hooks are the perfect way to keep helmets right next door.

(By the way if it looks like the pictures are moving or everything is slightly off-kilter that’s because they are; houses settle, see. Things shift. It can get weird.) 

you won't believe what this garage used to look like!

The lower track has three mesh toy bags for holding all the balls, Frisbees, yadah yadah, which had previously been relegated to an old garbage bin I believe. These are so great and have become one of my favorite garage tools, since they also have a velcro front-opening for little hand retrieval.

Across the street we have ski and snow central: hooks for hanging the boards and skis and poles, plus lots of shelving for ski boots, helmets, storage tubs of winter gear, etc. 


the garage transformation you have to see to believe!

the garage transformation you have to see to believe!

the garage transformation you have to see to believe!

I had these totally awkward back closets outfitted in shelves as well, and this one became the home for all things tool/handyman, mostly because my client wants to have the luxury of closing the doors and not having to look at them. 

the garage transformation you have to see to believe!

Above the freezer is a space for backstock household items; my client was so excited when she learned this that she immediately went and fetched a pack of toilet paper.

We figured we might as well keep the existing utility shelves around, and so those became camping and outdoor activity-land. 

the garage transformation you have to see to believe!

That’s basically the gist. Some finishing touches to be done, but overall two big happies-1 from my client and 1 from me (+ you would equal 3).

And for fun now, some side-by-side before and after action so you can really understand. 

the garage transformation you have to see to believe! the garage transformation you have to see to believe! the garage transformation you have to see to believe! the garage transformation you have to see to believe!

the garage transformation you have to see to believe!

Hoping this inspires you to tackle your own not so great area, be it garage or pantry or panty drawer.


Peace & love.

Annie out.