by Maristella Bertram, MBA, CPO® | Apr 17, 2023 | Get Organized Blog, Home Design, Home Organizer, Medium, Professional Organizer
A Killer Guestroom
When we have a dedicated guestroom, can we keep it ready to receive guests? It means keeping it empty of our stuff, decorated with a cozy atmosphere, and perhaps a couple of things to wow guests.
Maintaining our belongings out of the guestroom makes it easier to control our things. It simplifies everything. I can’t imagine the stress it would cause me to have random things in random places in my home, not knowing where’s what.
What The Guestroom Is Not
The guestroom should not be the dumpster for all the unwanted gifts you have received, your wedding dress or formal attire, gift-wrapping supplies, unpacked boxes from your last move, and old pictures in frames you’d rather avoid. Each of these things has a logical place – different from the guestroom.
If you’ve worked with My Space Reclaimed before, you know the logical place for each item in your home. But if you are still determining the best storage area for any of the stuff you want to store in your guestroom, I will be happy to point you in the right direction.
It is common for people to place random stuff wherever there’s space available. But this practice is incompatible with an organized home. So, for example, would you place canned food in a bathroom cabinet because it has some open space? (And if you answered yes, stop reading now – nothing here will make sense to you).
Keeping our belongings out of the guestroom also avoids the last-minute scramble to remove stuff from that space when guests come over. Or heaven forbids the need to make a little space for a guest or two so they can accommodate their things in the guestroom.
Please don’t do this unless you want your guests to feel unwelcome. The message given is that they’re interrupting how you live. I would not feel at ease as a guest in such a situation. I’d hate to feel I’m causing my host inconvenience or additional work.
What Every Guestroom Should Have
So, now that we know what not to place in that guestroom, let’s touch on what we should include.
Other than maintaining the room empty of our belongings, paying attention and intention to the guestroom makes total sense. We want to ensure the place is comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, cozy, and inviting. To achieve that, let’s use simple, neutral décor, and cozy ambiance, anticipate our guests’ needs, and implement details that truly make a difference.
We must consider the following elements to create unforgettable experiences for our home guests.
Choose a medium-firm mattress (in whatever size you need the bed to be). If the bed frame does not have a headboard, create one, or buy a panel to install on the wall behind the bed. The headboard makes the bed feel warm and determines bed placement.
Choose white, solid sheets and pillowcases of the same set (try bamboo!). Get two additional pillowcases every time you buy a sheet set. In addition, invest in four firm pillows (two, if the bed is twin size), a mattress protector, and pillow protectors (waterproof but that don’t feel plastic). Use the bed recipe for that upscale look. https://www.stagingstudio.com/bed-recipe-video
Include one nightstand for a twin bed or two nightstands for a double bed, queen, or king size. Include a full-length mirror, whether heavily framed, on the floor against the wall or a simple long mirror installed inside the closet door or wall. Don’t forget a dresser!
Choose simple curtain panels and modern-looking hardware. When deciding on panel measurements, consider that those come in standard sizes and that the appropriate length for these is touching the floor and lightly pooling at the bottom. Choose darkening / temperature-regulating curtain panels for added convenience for your guests.
The darkening / temperature-regulating curtain panels will help control the temperature in the room. Also, because chances are the guest bedroom does not have a separate thermostat, ensure that the room’s overhead lighting fixture includes a fan—the least number of items you need to add to the room, the better. Floor fans and space heaters do not contribute to an enticing look in a room.
Space permitting, include a comfy wingchair with a small ottoman, a mini side table, and a floor lamp with directional light behind the armchair. (That’s cozy on steroids!)
Include limited wall décor that is simple, size-appropriate, and not about you, your family, politics, or religion.
Lighting is crucial for ambiance and functionality. In bedrooms, warm (yellow) light is the way to go. Install warm light bulbs on the ceiling fan light fixture. Also, add a table lamp on each nightstand, plus another on the dresser. Use warm light bulbs on all light fixtures in the room. Replace any burnout lightbulb at once. Do not mix different kinds of lightbulbs (color or power).
A Well-Appointed Bathroom
Place perfectly white (preferably new) bath towels or sheets on towel bars and hand towels on towel rings by the sink. Ensure the toilet, sink, and shower/bathtub work well without annoying leaks. Add a size-appropriate shower mat or rug in front of the shower and the sink area. Do not use toilet covers or mats around the toilet! Include a 3-8 gallon trashcan and line in with a transparent trash bag of the appropriate size. If the bathroom has a shower, install a new liner for its shower curtain. Better yet, consider a hookless shower curtain (eliminating the need for hooks and including a removable, washable fabric liner). Choose a solid shower curtain in white, preferably. Fit the countertop with a tissue box cover and a matching soap dispenser. (Place a tissue box in the dispenser and fill the soap dispenser).
Selected Travel-Sized Toiletries
Your guests will probably bring their toiletries. However, you want to be prepared for those impromptu stays and unforeseen mishaps. Consider buying these items in travel size: Q-tips, cotton, toothpaste, toothbrush, mouthwash, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, disposable razor, hairspray, shaving cream, nail clipper, mini brush, mini comb, moisturizing lotion, feminine supplies, tissue, wipes. Organize these neatly in drawer organizers (inserts) in one of the bathroom’s most accessible drawers.
Stock the bathroom cabinet over the toilet with extra rolls of paper (without the plastic wrapper!) and a couple of tissue boxes. If the bathroom does not have a cabinet over the toilet, use another nearby cabinet area).
Include 10-12 wooden, sturdy hangers in the closet. Add a skinny square or rectangular hamper that complements the room décor. Include 1-2 additional pillows (with pillow protectors and corresponding pillowcases) and a blanket.
It goes without saying, but the bedroom, the closet, and the bathroom should be spotless. Look up to see that the fan and air vents are dust-free. Pay attention to baseboards and crown moldings. Avoid plug-in scents and candles since these items require monitoring and can trigger allergies in sensitive individuals. Also, scents are very personal, subjective elements.
Electronics / Safety
Add a charger for your guest’s electronics on one or both nightstands. Include a small flashlight in the nightstand drawer if the power goes off. Use a plug-in nightlight in the bedroom and the bathroom and a couple of these in the hallway from the bedroom to the bathroom (when it’s not inside the room) and to the kitchen. Include a home automation device (such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home).
Coffee / Water / Snacks
Space permitting, place a coffee maker with a few hot-cold disposable cups, stirrers, and individual serving format coffee accessories (sweetener, cream pods). Add a small decorative box or basket with prepacked snacks (such as granola, cereal bars, and individual-size packs of almonds or peanuts) and two water bottles.
Add a clear vase with fresh flowers (minimal leaves) filled ¾ with water. Add a white or beige bathrobe and plush socks or sandals to the closet.
So, to provide your guests with an unforgettable stay that could become the stuff of legend, pay close attention to those guestroom details and anticipate their needs.
by Maristella Bertram, MBA, CPO® | Mar 20, 2023 | Get Organized Blog, Home Design, Home Organizer, Medium, Professional Organizer
Intentional storage means considering what we keep to determine how to keep it. However, in talking about intentional storage, we must mention something more fundamental: putting things down versus putting things away.
Putting Things Away
A simple life with fewer things means that we can adequately contain the contents of the house and develop sound systems around the use and care of those possessions.
A home that operates in this way is a home that facilitates putting things away instead of putting things down.
Putting things down is the beginning of the end in terms of organization. Putting things away after using them every single time is a fundamental habit to develop to have a home that breathes peace and order.
But it is much easier to learn to put things away consistently when everything has a logical, designated place in the home and things comfortably fit where they should go.
Containers Keep Us Accountable
I heard Joanna from The Home Edit say something that stuck with me because it is so accurate, and I never thought of putting it into words as she did. She said: “Containers keep us accountable.”
I can see now why their organizing method always includes all that micro-organization and over-division of stuff. The more (appropriate) containerization, the easier it is to determine when our stuff is becoming too much – they’ll start spilling over.
When things start spilling over, we must decide (if we don’t want clutter to take over) what we should let go of or if that group of items has grown for a legitimate change that might require a permanent change in space planning. And this is what being intentional with the storage means.
The Why Dictates The How
Suppose you love crafting, embroidery in particular. And you have a section in your home office with all those supplies needed for your hobby. At some point, your hobby turned into a business possibility. So, you decide to pursue embroidery as an income-generating activity. Now you’ll need much more material and supplies and probably more significant, better equipment to handle production.
In this case, it makes sense to “set shop” on a different part of the house dedicated to these activities, transform your home office into the facility you need, or even rent some industrial space. Either of these alternatives calls for a total change in how you gather, store, and use your embroidery supplies, materials, and tools.
Having a ton of new material available because your mother-in-law gave you a bunch of stuff over the holidays is not a reason to overflow or change the storage system that has worked for you so far. If you received embroidery material that you were not expecting or needing, you should decide:
- whether to keep the new stuff and get rid of the previous material
- sell or donate the new stuff
- keep parts of each collection and give away the rest
The two cases are different, but deciding and acting intentionally is necessary in both.
If an intentional decision is not made, all that additional material will hang around the carefully appointed system and previously set containers. As a result, it won’t look as contained anymore nor be as functional as it was.
When Storage Space Is Minimal
And one more thing! If the home of your dreams has minimal storage space, some “stored” items might not be concealed (as in open storage). So, when stuff needs to be in view like that, the trick is to blend that with the design and make it “disappear” from view.
You’ll need some out-of-the-box thinking to achieve this. And finding the right storage solution means transforming potential eyesores into space enhancers, conversation pieces, and even eye candy. How about that? Are you up to the challenge?
by Maristella Bertram, MBA, CPO® | Jan 10, 2023 | Get Organized Blog, Home Organizer, Professional Organizer
23 Things To Make 2023 The Best Year Ever offers ideas to enrich our lives in the next twelve months. And as we know, getting organized can improve our lives immensely. So, LocalProfile Magazine invited My Space Reclaimed to collaborate on this article.
Ringing in the new year with a clean home is necessary for most households. However, cleanliness does not always equal organization. Maristella Bertram, the owner of My Space Reclaimed, is a Professional Organizer who works with clients to find the root cause of disorganization in their homes.
“Lack of awareness results in us putting things down instead of away.” Instead of just rearranging clutter into bins, Bertram offers guidance to clients who typically feel “perfection paralysis” and guilt over not organizing on their own. If this is you, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
Read the full article here: 23 Things To Make 2023 The Best Year Ever (localprofile.com)
by Maristella Bertram, MBA, CPO® | Jan 10, 2023 | Get Organized Blog, Home Organizer, Medium, Professional Organizer
No Time for Housekeeping
Here’s my take on the greatest pitfall in home management.
That laundry basket seems to travel around the house and never gets emptied. Do you know that basket? Families don’t have time to finish the laundry. It looks like cleaning up the kitchen is another problem for most people.
Laundry, paper, and kitchen are the nemeses of so many! I repeatedly hear an argument: “there is not enough time to keep the house in order.” The problem here is probably a lack of systems and time management skills.
Have You Ever Had a Managerial Role?
I have identified a common pitfall among household managers — not acting as managers at home. Most people do not apply in their homes the skill set that makes them successful at work. But why not?
If you work outside the house, you have managed to keep your job, staying on top of things. Regardless of the type of work you do, there are out-of-the-ordinary projects and day-to-day ones. And those routine tasks most likely comprise the backbone of your job. Whether you supervise those tasks or execute them, the responsibility is yours. If you stopped ensuring those processes were thoroughly performed, things would go south rapidly.
Why can’t we all plan and execute like true managers at home? One might think it is because home is where we rest and do not want to think of chores and duties.
Here’s the Irony
But the irony here is that the more you feel that way, the more chaotic your home environment will be and the less you can rest and relax.
Looking for the million things you can’t find in the home, buying duplicates, wasting time, effort, and money, forgetting essential family commitments, or not having a dining room table available to gather around.
Each time we neglect our home duties, we add a new layer of chaos to our most intimate environment and the corresponding energetic shift that such chaos brings. Are you sure your home is where you want to rest and forget about the stress of your job?
What Get Scheduled, Gets Done
Running the home like a well-oiled machine requires planning what needs to happen. Remember that what gets scheduled gets done.
You would not leave it to chance or rely on “when you have time” to make client appointments at work or to write that report for the boss, right? So then, why not schedule house chores and involve every household member? This way, everyone contributes to the home and learns to execute all these domestic chores. This knowledge is essential. Your kids don’t want to go to college to realize they don’t even know how to boil an egg.
Then Schedule It!
Much of our household stress would decrease if we transferred some of the management skills we proudly displayed at work to the home and started planning and scheduling the many menial household tasks.
Planning allows us to control when and how these things happen, while scheduling means that those chores will stop interfering with our lives — they will be part of it.
by Maristella Bertram, MBA, CPO® | Jan 8, 2023 | Get Organized Blog, Home Organizer, Medium, Professional Organizer
So you say: “my desk looks great,” but all papers are on the kitchen counter? Aren’t we proud? (LOL)
If this is you, please know you are not alone and that paper clutters homes the most because it is harder to corral, classify, and organize.
Paper is sneaky, and you can’t see the chaos it makes by looking at a page here and a page there. But when it accumulates enough for you to notice, then it is too late.
Whether it is brochures, magazines, newspapers, instruction manuals, receipts, unopened mail, coupons, gift cards, or schoolwork, these things hang around the house and clutter everyone’s lives.
When organizing clients’ homes, they are often surprised by an unpleasant by-product of the process: the unforeseen accumulation of paper and other items that seem not to have a definite place in the home.
We gather all paper, including magazines, brochures, children’s papers, and projects. These should be addressed later by the client. We can’t save our clients from doing this work.
Because looking at the paper collected, it is impossible to know what you need to keep; you’ll have to do the work you have been avoiding in the first place (except that now it is all accumulated and is a lot!)
Since this part of the process is a necessary evil and people fear paper so much, it is not even fair to leave you in the dark to do your homework So, here is a detailed guide to winning the paper clutter battle.
NOTE: Before we start: It is fair to say that you need to establish a cut-off date, after which you go forward with managing your incoming mail and papers using your new system (thus, staying on top of that).
1. Clean up your files
You will need space for the new stuff that requires filing. If you do not have a filing system, this is the time to create one. Your filing system should preferably be in your home office. The following best options would be a rolling cart under a desk by the kitchen or a filing cabinet that complements your décor in the living room.
But every household needs a filing system. Every piece of paper worth keeping should have a permanent home where you will know to look for it.
2. Gather every piece of paper
Gather every piece of paper throughout the house. Include magazines, coupons, receipts, notebooks, journals, books, and gift cards in this group.
This exercise might result in several bins of stuff as you’ve never seen before. It will be okay! We will take one box and one category at a time.
3. Divide and conquer
Start with one box and sort its contents into the categories you find in that bin or container. Then tackle the second bin of mixed contents and repeat the process.
As you move along, take your trash to the trash and clean the bins that you empty.
Pro Tip: Tackle each category separately. Do not start with a group while still working on another.
4. Sort bigger items
Start with the bigger stuff such as books and magazines. Decide what can be donated, sold, trashed, or recycled.
Then see where to allocate what you keep. For example, you might already have a logical space in your home for those items. In that case, merge the items you gathered with corresponding objects in their designated home space.
Note that if you run out of space to place all items together, you can purge items by evaluating the entirety of your collection. If this does not give you the needed area, consider an alternative space for these items. The important thing is to keep the same type of items together.
5. On with the paper!
Set up the following boxes to collect four types of paper:
- Shred (only for sensitive information)
- File (all documents you decide to keep in paper format)
- Digitize (paper to be digitized and let go of print)
Keep paper to digitize in a separate box and set aside as a project for the near future.
Every piece of paper needs a decision, and every piece you keep needs a permanent home in a file.
6. Create These Files
- “Important Documents” File
Important and official documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, passports, and the like, need their file, so you will always know where the most important things are.
You will want to make a “Medical” folder for each household member. Here is where you file medical records, EOB’s, insurance, etc. If you have too much paper in this category, you may need to have Medical-Records, Medical-EOB’s, Medical-Insurance, and so on.
Decide what you might need to keep for tax purposes for the current year and place all that material in a file called “Current year taxes.”
When filing past years’ taxes, get rid of anything other than the IRS’s need if they audit you.
Discard any envelopes, especially manila envelopes, and unfold papers to letter size.
If you need to keep papers or receipts together, paperclip or binder clip them on the right side. That way, when they are in their folders, you can easily see what’s what.
Keep seven years’ worth of taxes history and shred the oldest each year.
Consider digitizing everything. Digitized documents are acceptable to the IRS. But always check with an accounting professional regarding financial/tax decisions.
- “Owner’s Manuals & Warranties” File
It does not matter what these are; it needs a file to keep a user’s manual. Create a “Household Manuals” folder and place them all together. You can be more specific and divide the category (like tools, appliances, miscellaneous, etc.).
- “Hold & Throw” File (or tray)
The Hold & Throw is a parking spot for things you may want shortly, but that will be irrelevant in a few months.
This space could be a tray or a file within your system. Some examples in this category are receipts for clothes, neighborhood trash schedules, and paid bills. These items are not worth filing long-term, and you can safely throw them away every couple of months. This practice negates piles of advertisements, receipts, brochures, and things people put on their refrigerators. If the paper will be irrelevant in a few months, it goes in the “Hold & Throw” folder.
Among the papers you find, decide what is “to do.” Place that in your “to do” tray/file. Once done, let go of these papers. You might want to make a note on your schedule to ensure you tackle those “to-do” timely and consistently.
7. Sort other categories of paper
Get a coupon wallet to keep in your kitchen drawer. All store coupons and gift cards can live there until needed. They will be accessible whenever you go shopping. Review this wallet monthly to let go of expired offers and coupons.
Set pictures apart and place them with other images you might have. Photos deserve their category, and the procedures to handle picture organization are here.
Transfer business cards (including those refrigerator magnets with business information) to your computer or mobile phone with card scanning apps or software available for this purpose.
Discard receipts you can find online by accessing your bank account or your transaction history with the vendor.
If you need receipts to return or exchange something, those receipts should probably go into your “To Do” file or your “Hold & Throw” file.
Going Forward with Mail
Mail comes into the home daily for most people. Without a system to handle mail effectively, we would be back in square one very soon.
Handling mail daily does not mean handling every piece of mail completely. Instead, it means opening each mail piece and directing it to where the action will occur. This should take one or two minutes of your day when you come home.
To this end, you should have your recycle bin and your “To Do” and “To File” files or trays in your mail processing area. Have a recycling bin next to the mail processing area so that all junk mail goes immediately to recycling. Then, sort the rest according to the action needed on each piece (near future action or file).
Recycle — Place all junk mail in your recycle bin immediately
To-Do — Things that will require some action (like paying a bill or RSVPing to an activity)
To File — Papers or documents that you’ll want to keep for reference and that belong to any of the file categories in your filing system
OHIO Rule (Only Handle It Once)
If you’d like to be one step ahead, apply the “OHIO Rule.” It means that you immediately deal with any paper coming into your home instead of setting it down, unopened, to deal with later.
In this case, you commit to processing each mail piece completely when you first handle it. Handling your mail this way reduces paper clutter and eliminates the need to deal with paper later.
Remember that if you follow the steps to handle mail every so often, you need to schedule in your calendar as a weekly or biweekly activity — time to finish processing the mail you pre-classified. The “one-touch rule” eliminates this second part of the process.
Tackling your paper might seem daunting. Nobody said you must finish organizing all your accumulated paper in a day. Paper is the thing that takes the longest to manage! Take your time and work on a category at a time. The space and relief you will feel afterward are worth every moment you invest in the project.
You can tame the paper monster. But, as with everything in life, keeping it under control requires commitment and effort.
If you have difficulty organizing and deciding about your paper (no, there’s nothing wrong with you!), contact us! We will be thrilled to nosedive into your paper mess. Truly!