HeartWork Organizing

Helping you find peace and purpose through organization and design

Home Office In a Closet March 28, 2012

I was talking to a friend about this particular transformation, and realized it had never made it to the blog, so here you go.  For those of you who work at home, you can have a super-functional and pretty office, in just about 30″ of space (deep).


how to have a home office in a closet


How to have a home office in a closet

What would you accomplish if your office was this pretty?


10 Ways to Go PaperLess March 15, 2012

Filed under: Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 2:00 pm
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If I had a nickel for everyone who told me they wanted to go paperless, well, I could buy several reams of paper.  The truth is that our society is nowhere near going paperless.  In fact, our actual individual consumption of paper is up in the past decades!  But we can all take one or two free or easy steps to have less unwanted paper in our lives.  The less that comes in, the less you have to organize.  Take a few minutes and do just one or two of these steps, and have less in your life:

Steps to go PaperLess

1. Stop your newspaper, or subscribe to only one day a week.

2. Get off direct mail lists at the Direct Mail Association site.

5. Let magazine subscriptions expire if you didn’t read them last month.

7. Display kids’ artwork with clever front-loading storage frames from DynamicFrames.


Read the rest of this excerpted article where it was originally published on ShopGetOrganized.

What steps will you take to reduce your paper piles?



Get Organized. How Long and How Much Will It Take? January 5, 2012

Filed under: Business Organizing,Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 6:40 pm
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There are three questions everyone wants to know about my projects:

How long did it take?

Did they keep it looking fabulous after you left?

How much did it cost?

It’s the New Year, and everyone wants a fresh start, so I thought you would just love to see this little project that a client and I completed between Christmas and the New Year.  His goal was to clear out the space so he could do something with it, maybe create a much needed home office office down the road.

Knowing that paper takes the longest to organize, we contracted to go through the paper and purge unwanted furniture and items.

This is a third floor bedroom/dormer space that was already finished, but being used to store tubs of paper and household cast-offs.  This picture shows just half of it.

Organize a home office

Here’s the other half.

So how long did it take to get this organized? Remember, there are five steps to getting organized (as always, with a nod to Julie Morgenstern’s great book, Organizing From the Inside Out):

  1. Sort
  2. Purge
  3. Arrange/Analyze remaining items
  4. Containerize
  5. Establish a maintenance plan

We planned on spending about 8 hours, and we spent about two hours longer than that.  And that is only because we went shopping, bought a new desk and file cabinet, and put them together. The client got way more than he bargained for!  Here they are, on day 2, the final day of the project.

Organizing a home office

And the other side of the room. You can see the new file cabinet hiding back in the corner. Yes, the client went through all the paper that you see in the before photos, and what didn’t get shredded or recycled got divvied up into the three small but sturdy drawers. There was a lot of recycling out at the curb the next day.

Organizing a home office

And to help with containerizing, we added two bookcases,

and we reset the bookcase that was already there.

Now this office really works. And we did all of this, just the two of us, in just a few hours over two days. So that answers the first question.

Will he keep it fabulous and organized now?  Probably.  He now has places to put household papers, his own personal paper retention guidelines, and a real desire to use this space for work instead of storage.  Most of all, he has systems with the file cabinet, the bookcases that store books, and the one bookcase that holds his office and teaching supplies.

And how much did it cost?  Well, in round numbers, it was around a thousand bucks for the services and the new furniture.  My organizing projects themselves start at $350.  This guy will probably deduct all of this as a business expense.  Smart move.

He said to me, “We got more done in 4 hours than I have gotten done up here in the last 5 years.”

Aw, shucks, that’s what I love to hear!

I hope this gives you some real inspiration for your winter organizing project.

What space are you ready to tackle?


Forget Resolutions: Do This One Thing and Sleep Easier January 2, 2012

Filed under: Business Organizing,Financial Organizing,Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 1:53 pm
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How to store tax files for 2012And, by the way, forget the resolutions.  Who ever thought up that idea, anyway?

But here is one thing you can do in three minutes or less that can make a real difference for you this year.  Not kidding.  Right now.  Read this, and then run to find your nearest file folder, oversized envelope, or empty box.  Yes, you can even repurpose a gift box if you need to.

Use any box, file, or envelope you have for tax files

Label this folder, oversized envelope, or gift box with a thick, dark marker:  TAXES, 2011.

Set this folder, envelope, or box aside in your home office, or near where you process your mail.  If you share your home, let your spouse know where this is and what it is for.  Start filling it with items you might need to file your taxes this year.  You’ll start gettting these items in mid-January, possibly through February.  You might already have a few receipts or pages to add right now.  But if not, you’ll find them over the next few weeks.  When you find stuff that is or might be tax related, just pop it in here without worrying about organizing it.  Get something in email that you might need?  Save your sanity today by actually printing it out and popping it in the safe spot you just created.  Do you run a small, disorganized business from home?  Start pulling all of your records together now, and you’ll have what you need come crunch time.

Important tax records include W2’s, 1099’s, receipts for charitable gifts and donations, 529 records (contributions or expenses), end of year banking statements, refinance records, energy-saving home improvement records from the past year, and, of course, any unreimbursed work expenses.  If you aren’t sure whether it might be tax-related, pull out last year’s (2010) tax return and use that as a guide.

Don’t organize this stuff until you get ready to prepare your taxes; you are weeks away from that.  Right now, you are just trying to corral the little buggers that you’ll need for your 1040.

There.  Done.  You’re all organized, and it’s only day 2 of the new year.  Good for you!



Copyright (c) <a href=’http://www.123rf.com’>123RF Stock Photos</a>


The Science of Halloween Colors: Orange, Purple, Green October 29, 2011

Filed under: Color With No Regrets — HeartWork Organizing @ 11:45 pm
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Would You Decorate with Purple, Green and Orange Year Round?
Quick, what colors do you think of for Halloween? Start with orange
for pumpkins, of course, fall leaves, and candy corn.    Then purple.  Add
green.  We see it all the time.  This little assortments was in my daughter’s
goodie bag from school this week.
Halloween Color Triad
Halloween Color Triad
OK, so orange, violet and green are traditional Halloween colors, but
there’s more to it than that.  It turns out there is a scientific reason that we
put these colors together.  They are a color triad.  In other words, they are
found equidistant from each other on the color wheel, which is usually shown as
having twelve positions, or slices of the pie.
We usually see the “loud” version of this for Halloween decorations,
with very saturated color choices, as in the picture above.
But consider these things…
When these colors (or any other triad, for that matter) are used in
different proportion throughout your house in different rooms, your house will
read as a colorful and thoughtfully decorated home.  You can see this at work in
a home I had the honor of redesigning a few years ago.
Orange living room
Violet bedroom
Green office

You may have seen these photos before, because I was so happy with the collaboration
between the client and I, but now that you see the photos together, you can see
that the color choices are a natural triad.

If these colors are too bold for you, check these out.  They are all variations on
the orange/green/purple theme, believe it or not!

color choices based on Halloween triad

Did you notice that the two sets of colors on the right are the exact same colors,
but shown in different proportions?  If so, give yourself a star.

We could go on and on about the fun you can have with tint and tone, proportions,
accent colors and the fact that even neutrals have colors, as in the lower left
samples above.

I hope all of this gives you a new eye for color.  If not, you know where to find me.

Ya know, the holidays are coming.  If there is any tweaking you’d like to do your
home or office, please call me soon!

color combos above, all from Sherwin Williams and
available in Duration Home paint:

Top left:

6624 Peach Blossom/6709 Gleeful/9822 Wisteria

Bottom left:

6064 Reticence/ 6150 Universal Khaki/ 6260 Unique Gray

Right samples:

7707 Copper Wire/7742 Agate Green/ 7579 Alaea


Organizing Photos on Your Computer, Part 2 October 20, 2011

Filed under: Organizing,Tech — HeartWork Organizing @ 2:50 pm
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With all the gadgets we have these days, taking pictures is child’s play, but organizing digital photos can be tricky.  Some people never get around to downloading photos off their camera because they don’t quite know where to put them on their PC, or they don’t know what or how to name them. One complaint I hear over and over is that the computer assigns names to individual photos that are ugly, random and completely unhelpful when trying to organize photos, and that makes the whole job just completely frustrating.   What many people don’t know is that you can download batches of photos with an actual English file name, so the computer will assign sequential names to them.

Digital Photo File Structures

What file structure most people have:

My Photos>>>uglynamedfiles.jpg all in one disorganized mess

What some people have:

My Photos>>>Files by Years>>>uglynamedfiles.jpg, still pretty much in a big mess

What you can have:

My Photos>>>Files by Major Categories>>>Sub Categories if Needed>>>pretty files names with your naming structure, like LambChops_Second_Brithday_01.jpg (and more just like it, sequential by number)

The Key To Easy Photo Downloads

I’m about to lapse into PC-talk here, but I’m sure there is a similar Mac operation.  The key is knowing the software that you are using to download the photos.  On a PC, check out Windows Live Photo Gallery, which is a free program that came with my new PC this year, or you can download it.  I don’t think it is the most intuitive program, but it is pretty functional, and it does allow you to download in batches that you have named.  You can read a pretty clear description of how to download batches of photos from your camera into your file structure.  You’ll want to read the second part of that help page, steps 1 and 2, to figure out how to batch them.  Read the instructions carefully if you want to place photos in sub-folders.  You must select the sub-folder under “More Options” where it says to “Review, organize and group items to import” in order to specify where the files should import to.

A note of caution, it’s easy to miss the step about naming the batch of files you are about to download. This is the important step where you substitute an English phrase for the ugly file name that the computer will otherwise assign.  This step in Windows Live Photo Gallery needs improvement, in my humble opinion.  If you have a ton of photos on your camera and you are only downloading a few at a time, you’ll likely scroll down to check off the ones you want to download, and the naming field will scroll right off the top of the page.  Once you’ve checked off the photos you want to import or download, just scroll back up, click on the field that says “Enter a Name”, and don’t get thrown off by the thumbnail picture, which is probably not one of the photos you are actually trying to download.  Wierd, I know.  After you have filled in this file name, proceed with the download.  If you miss this step, you’ll get ugly file names in your download.

Read up on a few more easy ideas on how to organize your photos in digital format, and find a shortcut or two that will work for you.  I’m hoping that I can find the shortcut to doing this same thing in Picasa, which is a photo organizing, editing and sharing program that is gaining in popularity. Should we be surprised?  It’s from Google, after all, and a key part of their world domination plan  I’m pretty sure the same step to naming batches is there, but I haven’t found it yet.  If you know, please share it here.

Photo Credit Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos


How to Have an Art Room of One’s Own October 18, 2011

Filed under: One Day Interior Redesigns — HeartWork Organizing @ 9:20 pm
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Doing design work for artists is some of the most intimidating and rewarding work that I do.  Many people think that if they are good at some things, they should be good at all things.  Not so.  My recent collaboration with a collage artist shows this in action.  She is absolutely fabulous with her collage and mixed media art, but her spaces were not showing her personal style.  While I can make her room sing, I couldn’t collage like she can to save my life.  I often found myself gazing at her creations, which is kind of unusual for me since I’m surrounded by so many gorgeous influences all day long.  But she needed a little help to turn her unused bedroom into a space that she ended up calling something special.  Read to the end to hear what she thought of her transformed space.



Closet Storage before:

Closet storage after; even this can be a gallery space.

Window treatments needed to say something more interesting than the before:

So the window got a fresh new simple treatment:

Of course the office side needed a facelift, too:

And the whole space became more organized and calm:

Can’t decide if my favorite part is the pretty organization…

the stylish cork memo board circles…

Or the Dynamic Frames gallery

She can update these just by flipping open the fronts and presto-chango updating her portfolio…

Perfect for displaying the client’s own works and her favorite things.

Her final judgement:  the space is cheerful, fresh and original.  Just the sort of space to inspire more beautiful creations.