HeartWork Organizing

Helping you find peace and purpose through organization and design

We’ve Moved! Organize and Decorate at Our New Web Site April 24, 2012

Filed under: General — HeartWork Organizing @ 2:58 pm

You know that “tired, but in a good way” feeling you get when you finish painting a room or moving all of your furniture around?  Well, that’s how I feel right now.  We’ve recently just moved two whole sites!

This is the last post at this address.  Those of you who are getting these articles sent to you about twice a week will need to head over to the new site and re-subscribe, but just this once, I promise.  When you head to www.HeartWorkOrg.com, look on the right-hand side and enter your email where it says “subscribe to blog”. 

I am not fond of the word blog, but it is a shorted version of “web log”, or the modern day version of a mini-magazine.

Anywhoo, I’ve got so much more capability on the new site, you’re going to love it.  The before and after gallery has been updated.  I can finally add pictures of your furry critters to the Furry Gallery.  The store has been updated, with more to come.

The very first thing that I’m doing is FOR YOU.  There’s a brand new post over there about green decorating with a lamp makeover, and there is a giveaway for a $25 gift certificate to get you started on your own green decorating project.    This giveaway closes May 2, 2012, but there are plenty more to follow, so I hope you’ll head over now and subscribe.  Really, go now.

Click here and enter your email to subscribe and keep getting organizing, decorating, and home staging tips.  See ya there!

HeartWork Organizing




Earth Day Decorating April 17, 2012

Filed under: One Day Interior Redesigns — HeartWork Organizing @ 10:45 pm
Tags: ,

Tax day.  Earth day.  It’s a big week here.  I’m also just about to reveal my new website design.  If you receive these posts via email, you should keep seeing them as scheduled, about twice a week.  If, however, you read my stuff through Facebook or some other circuitous route, you might want to check back here in exactly one week to get the new link.  The blog and website will be merged, and I’ll finally have the capability to do some fun things like giveaways.  That’s good, because I have a TON of really nice giveaways cluttering up my office right now.

I’ll also be revealing my huge office makeover in the near future.  (Note to self: probably not a good idea to redesign my site and my office in the same week.)

But today, you’ll have to settle for this little reveal.  Last weekend I was honored to accompany the Habitat for Humanity ReStore manager, Makeda Yeru, to the Delaware County EnviroFair at Strath Haven High School.  Think of a ReStore as a thrift store for household items and construction odds and ends.

I wanted to show the great stuff that ends up there, some of it donated by my clients.  (Yes, the ReStore has a truck and helpful guys who will come pick up your donated furniture and working appliances. You can call them at 484-401-1650 to arrange a pickup.)  So we picked a few things:


I honestly didn’t spend a lot of time on this one, folks.  But I was so happy with the outcome,

and Makeda was, too.

Doesn’t she look comfy?

I really loved the paint treatment that my assistant, Jill, did on the little table.  And I also love the little brass lamp that we turned into an indoor/outdoor lantern.  Price these in stores and you’ll pay $30-$80, but you can make them yourself!

The plan was to take the slipcovered chair back to the store for display, but we almost sold it that day!  Did you notice the great slipcover from Surefit? We pulled back the foot-rest just a bit to remind you what it looked like before.

There were quite a few things to see at the fair.  I was happy to talk to the folks from The Energy Coop, where I belong and get a deal on both my heating oil and electricity.

The table next to use was doing a brisk business selling waterproof bags and even iPad cases made from juice pouches.  Get a little bling with your recycling!

There were plenty of things for the kids to do, and we got to hide the giraffe for the scavenger hunt.

My favorite part was getting to see a Nissan Leaf all electric car in person.  Actually, I ate lunch sitting right next to it and didn’t even realize it was running.  It’s not just quiet, it’s silent!   No gas.  No emissions.  No kidding.  It’s still a bit pricey, but if combustion engines were outlawed tomorrow, I’d happily run for a Leaf!

There were displays of farm co-ops and even something called the Philadelphia Cow Share, where you meat eaters can band together and each purchase 48 pounds of a cow that you help to responsibly raise as a co-op.  I would have taken a picture of my beautiful veggie wrap for lunch, but I ate it too quickly!

If there’s an environmental fair in your neck of the woods, definitely go.  You’ll get some good info, hear about products that might be hard to find otherwise, and find something that you can do to celebrate Earth Day.

(That’s it.  No more scheduled posts until next Tuesday.  Can’t wait to reveal the new site.)


How to Get Rid of Ants April 12, 2012

Filed under: General,Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 1:43 pm
Tags: ,

It’s hard to feel good about organizing or decorating when ants go marching two by two through your space.  For those of you who think I lead a charmed life, sorry to pop your balloon.  We have ants.

True, these ants have tenure.  I’ve only lived in this house 4 years, and the ants have probably been here for most of the hundred years the house has stood here.  But I don’t have to like it, and I don’t have to share my snacks with them.

Since I have kids and I like to be all goody-goody about reducing chemicals in my home, I don’t just head for the pesticide aisle.  A couple of years ago, I contacted Mike McGrath, who hosts the show You Bet Your Garden on WHYY, which is a wealth of resources on plants, organic gardening, and natural lawn care techniques.  He pointed me to this little product, that has revolutionized my war on bugs.

ant killer

It’s a bit different because you don’t spray your stuff or your crawlers.  No, this is more subtle.  You just put a couple drops of Pic Liquid Ant Bait Killer down in a little cardboard or plastic doormat (included), and let the ants walk on it.  And they will, because this stuff is like Easter candy to them.  Did you know that ants are very systematic?  They follow in each other’s footsteps to their food source, and then the ants go marching home again, all in a line.  But at my house, their little legs will be coated with blue juice, which they carry home to their colony.  Within days, all of the ants in the colony have had a taste of the Kool-Aid.  No more ants.

Still, they are ants, and I have to go through this every spring.  I’ve been doing this for 4 years, and you see how much of this tiny bottle I’ve used?  Since I’m using so little, I worry a lot less about unintended targets getting a taste of my blue wrath.

After that’s all taken care of, I can get back to the fun stuff, decorating and organizing for spring.  Here’s hoping for peace around your baseboards.


How to Hang a Vintage Light Fixture April 10, 2012

Filed under: One Day Interior Redesigns — HeartWork Organizing @ 2:00 pm
Tags: ,

If you need decorating bang for your buck, start with lighting.  Although lighting is step three in a room redesign, it carries a lot of importance, and you can be thrifty with this element.  In redesign, first we place the largest pieces of furniture, then the smaller pieces of furniture, then the rugs.  Then comes the type and positioning of the lighting.  The right lighting can change the entire look of a space.  Many lighting fixtures can be had for a pretty reasonable cost, but sometimes either the budget might not allow for a desired fixture, or something with a little history is actually better for a particular space.  If you come upon the right vintage fixture, you can have it refurbished, or possibly tackle the job yourself.  Here is a guide to retrofitting a vintage hanging lamp in a foyer.

Step 1.  Find your replacement fixture. 

In this case, we found a hanging lantern that was similar to something it was replacing, but the style of our thrift store find fit the space a little better.  It had been used in another home, so it didn’t come with instructions or all the fittings we needed.   Before taking it apart, hold it up to the ceiling or gauge by the fixture that you are removing the length of the lamp cord and hanging chain that you need, if these are being replaced.

Step 1

Step 1

Step 2.  Disassemble the fixture to retrofit it.

It’s a good idea to lay the pieces out on a flat surface the way you take them off, so it will be easy to reassemble again.  Had we wanted to paint it, now would have been the time to break out the spray paint, when the glass could be taped off and the interior parts were off the main frame.  This is also the time to measure and replace critical parts like the electrical lamp cord and the hanging chain.  These are easily found at hardware and home improvement stores.

Step 2

Step 2

Step 3.  Threading

Thread the lamp cord down through the hanging chain and all the way through the stem of the fixture.  For this type, use wire strippers (inexpensive and available at hardware stores) to slit the plastic about 2″ to separate the leads and gently strip the ends of the lamp cord.  Strip both the top and the bottom ends now, and strip just about 1/4″ from both leads on either end.   Use wire nuts (you can probably use the ones that came with the original fixture) to connect the ends of the lamp cord to the electrical wires connected to the light bulbs.

Step 3

Step 3

Step 4.  Reassemble the fixture. 

Try not to have any spare parts on this step.

Step 4

Step 4

Step 5.  Hang In there.

This is where the real work begins.  Turn off the power and take down the existing light fixture.  It is best to turn off the circuit that controls this fixture at your electrical panel.  This is a fairly easy procedure.  Do pay attention to how the fixture comes down, to guide you on putting up the new one. In older houses, the old receptacle may not look like the new fixture.  This is where your helpful local hardware store or home improvement center comes in.  We have a 100-year-old home.  The box is more shallow than would be used in today’s homes, the wires are old-style, and there is no ground wire.  No matter, you can still switch out the fixture.

How to hang a light fixture

Step 5

Step 6.  Modify, if needed

To make this work, we did need a small piece called a coupler.  We got it from our favorite local hardware store when we took in the new fixture and dimensions for the electrical box in the ceiling.   It was the best $1.50 we spent, because the whole project would have been sunk without this little item.

Step 6

Step 6

By screwing the coupler on to the existing box, we got the extra bit of length that we would have otherwise had in a more modern electrical box.  If you are lucky enough to not be dealing with hundred year old electrical, you’ll skip the coupler and go right to the next step.


Step 7.  Ta-Dah!

This step is best done with two people. While one person holds the fixture, the other person connects the one wire from the fixture to one wire from the electrical box.  Tighten these again with wire nuts.  Do the same thing to the remaining two wires.  Then screw the fixture in to the coupler and adjust so the fixture collar sits flush against the ceiling.  It’s time to put the light bulbs in, turn the breaker back on, and enjoy your frugality.

Step 8

Step 8

There you go.  A couple of bucks for a garage sale or thrift store find can replace a broken fixture without breaking the bank.  No electrician required.  Just be careful on those ladders.

A version of this article was orginially published at AboutOne on 3/23/12.


Organizing the Car Trunk Means Less Rattle, More Mileage April 5, 2012

Filed under: Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 2:00 pm
Tags: , ,

Last week, I was driving very, very carefully.  Driving conditions have been fine, but I was driving gingerly because I was harboring a noise-maker in the back: a wire bin with wheels on it, that I hadn’t yet returned to the store.

how to organize your car

Empty trunk + metal bin on wheels = lots of noise when driving

Did you know that organizing your car can keep your car quieter AND save you real money? Predictions are that gas prices will rise above $4.00 by April.  Every extra pound that you carry in the car trunk (or anyplace else) leads to lower gas mileage, costing the average family an additional $40 per year, and more as the price of gas increases. As if you needed another reason to get organized.  Here are some strategies to get it in gear:

Read More on How to Declutter the Family Car

This is excerpted from the article originally published at  ShopGetOrganized on March 21, 2012.

What essentials do you keep in your car?


How to Organize Kids Art Projects April 3, 2012

Filed under: Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 2:00 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Kids’ art projects are notoriously hard to organize.  The topic comes up constantly.  There are a bazillion ways to store your little Picasso’s projects, of course, but really, simple is better.

My absolute favorite storage solution is the Li’l Davinci art frames.  You can check out this video of how these front-hinge beauties from Dynamic Frames work.  My kids (2 and 5) decide which creations are frame-worthy, and they love to help me load their new opus into the frames at least once a week.

While we have enough wall space in our house for a mini art gallery, we don’t actually have enough space in our house for the art studio it takes to create said art.  So I was thrilled to take my little ones to a new place recently, the Creative Clubhouse in Havertown, PA.  Unlike the pottery studio just down the street from our house, the Creative Clubhouse is geared for the younger set (12 months to 8 years), and I didn’t feel like I was bringing my bullish children into the china shop.  The setup is simple, with areas set up for Lego play, dough play, simple glue projects, easel art, magnet boards, a huge chalk wall (sure kids, go ahead and draw on these walls), and an area for building towers from blocks.  They also run scheduled art and music classes throughout the week.  If I had an extra room in my house for art, it would look just like the Creative Clubhouse.

Look around this space, and you’ll see some pretty simple but effective art solutions that can easily translate into most homes, even if you don’t have your own art room.  Owner, Amy, will tell you that they are all IKEA solutions, easy to pick up and easy to install.  Supplies, like paint brushes, crayons, and any other high-risk implements can be stored in cute and shiny cans hanging from organizing rails, originally meant to organize a kitchen.

how to organize kids art

Smocks and aprons, the wardrobe staple of the preschool set, hung on simple keyhook bars in the lower left corner of that shot, were super accessible to the kiddos.  At home, you might be able to hang these on the inside of a pantry door or coat closet door.

If you can’t spring for a set of Dynamic Frames, then a simple set of clips hung on airline wire, normally used to hang curtains in a hip loft space, will allow you to hang painted art, especially great for those that need a bit of drying time.

How to organize kids art supplies

For hardback or canvas creations,  this skinny ledge provides the perfect perch for a rotating display of color.  It’s only about an inch and a half deep, so it can fit into just about any space. I like the idea of adding in some favorite books to create a seasonal or theme display.

How to organize kids art supplies

Last, think multi-functional in every single piece of furniture you bring into your house once you have kids.  I think it should be a crime to manufacture any bench or ottoman without storage underneath.  With just a little planning and maybe a basket or two, a bench can store even more puzzles, games, and creative supplies.

How to organize kids art supplies

We’ve been back to the Creative Clubhouse, and I love that my kids get to be creative and messy, but I don’t have to clean it up.  If you need a few more ideas on how to store your kid’s art, check out how to organize creations in digital form, and 5 more ways to organize kids art supplies.

Are any of these solutions to organize kids’ art working in your home?


Fear Of Buttons March 29, 2012

Filed under: Closets & Storage,Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 2:00 pm
Tags: , ,

Are you itching for a new spring wardrobe?  Beware not to let koumpounophobia, a real documented phobia of buttons, set in.  Watch this tip on how to store those extra buttons that come with new garments so you can actually find the right buttons when you need them.

If you can’t see the video thumbnail, click here:

Please comment below to let me know what you think of this idea to save and store buttons, and how you would make it even better.