HeartWork Organizing

Helping you find peace and purpose through organization and design

Cast Offs Lead to Better Habitats February 2, 2012

Filed under: One Day Interior Redesigns — HeartWork Organizing @ 9:14 pm
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Giving new life to old treasures is a lofty calling and something I love to do.  Helping people live better lives ranks right up there with chocolate cake and spa treatments.  When I get to be involved with an organization that does both, I get shivers.

Recently, I finally made it out to visit two Habitat ReStores.  You probably have heard that Habitat for Humanity builds low-cost, safe housing for the communities they serve in the US and abroad.  In the Philadelphia area, there are several ReStores that are run by local Habitat chapters to help raise funds for their local projects by selling new and gently used donated household items.  The stores have an emphasis on building materials, but they also accept furniture, lighting, small household accessories, and many other items.  Donations are tax-deductible, and many of the items you’ll find at the stores are even new from the big box stores.

The Gloucester County ReStore is located in Pitman, South Jersey and carries way more than just doors and windows.  They have sofas, lighting fixtures, and bric-a-brac, even books.  The South Jersey chapter is finishing up their work on building an entire housing development, and they are working on several projects in the area. I worked on helping to build one of their homes years ago, before kids, of course. I fondly remember the old guys on Tuesday morning letting me help them hang kitchen cabinets when the time was right.

The Delaware County ReStore  is located inside Granite Run Mall.  When we (me and my two tiny assistants) were there recently, we spied this gorgeous vintage coffee table with a granite top.  I wanted it, but don’t currently have a project right for it.  Just look at the detail and so sweet little wheels!  Like many items at the ReStores, this beauty doesn’t even need any rehab.

For instance, I spied these wonderful wood blinds, a full set of them, that would be just right for someone needing 30″ blinds.  They are high quality and undamaged.  There were six of them.

And this light, mantel and custom cornice are also the victim of someone’s decorating project, no doubt, but a steal for the next owner.

Yes, there is plenty of cute furniture for DIYers to keep busy with.  I spied this sweet cabinet.  Can’t you just see it all modernized with a fresh coat of cream or a dramatic black?

There are plenty of deals.  There are also some basic materials.  My girls both had their dolls with them on the day we visited, and since we’re in the middle (I hope the middle and not the start) of potty training, all the dolls got to sit on the potties that were in the store.

So go, visit the ReStores.  They will be thrilled if you can save a couple of bucks on your next project, and help them raise funds for their next Habitat for Humanity house in our area.


Radiators Spell Decorating Trouble January 31, 2012

Filed under: One Day Interior Redesigns — HeartWork Organizing @ 3:33 pm

We just spent a few days at The Sweetest Place on Earth over the holidays, and I was reminded once again about a trouble spot that many people have in their homes…their radiators.  The folks  at Hershey have great taste, even when it comes to decorating.  When it comes to radiators and curtains, I saw a great solution to a common decorating problem at the Hotel Hershey, of Hershey, PA.

Keep it Classy

Window treatments and obtrusive radiators, often found in older homes, are often at odds with each other.  Large cast iron radiators and their covers pose space constraints, and baseboard heaters with a slimmer profile can sometimes cause safety concerns.  Consider both when choosing window treatments.

radiators and classy window treatments at Hotel Hershey

Image courtesy of Hotel Hershey

This photo above, courtesy of the Hotel Hershey, shows a very classy treatment that can work in any home.  Stylish floor-length panels flank the heater unit, giving drama and presence to the window, while an inside treatment that provides for light control is cut to just above the unit and can be adjusted without impediment.  The complementary top treatment finishes it off.

Baseboard Heaters

For lower profile baseboard heaters, this photo demonstrates how a standard 84” panel pair can be swept up with a tie back to a safe height.  Local dry cleaners and local tailors can also hem them, which is what we did to the sheers in this photo.

How to Decorate Around Radiators

How to Decorate Around Radiators


In general, a water-fed heating system will not heat to dangerous temperatures, so window treatments can be placed adjacent to the fixture.  Baseboard heaters can be water-fed (see above) or electrical, which can heat to higher temperatures and have a heating element inside.  Leave a clearance of at least 6” from the baseboard heaters for all window treatments and soft coverings.  And of course, always keep soft treatments away from portable oil and electric heaters, according to the manufacturer’s suggestions, and that includes decorative and functional fireplaces.  I like to keep a clearance of at least three feet or more.

How have you decorated your windows surrounded by radiators?

Originally published in AboutOne.


The Skinny on Wood Blinds and Plantation Shutters December 13, 2011

Filed under: One Day Interior Redesigns — HeartWork Organizing @ 2:00 pm
Wood shutters for the kitchen

Plantation Shutters in the Kitchen

Wood blinds are a hot item these days. Very trendy and durable. The more upscale trend is plantation shutters. From the street, blinds and plantation shutters can both look very similar. Both are available in real and faux wood. Plantation shutters usually don’t even require top treatments or curtains.  Don’t be afraid of the “faux”.  If you get the better quality from a major manufacturer, you won’t be able to tell the difference between wood and composite materials.

Learn more about the finer points of wood blinds and plantation shutters.  Consider the width, safety features, where to buy, installation and maintenance.  They are in a different class from other window treatments, since they tend to be considered more durable, more neutral, and less dependant on personal tastes like fabric choices are.  An investment in good quality (real or faux) wood blinds and shutters is generally a good investment for your home.

Photo Credits:  ©HeartWork Organizing

Originally published in at AboutOne.


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.


How to Get the WOW Factor in Just One Day July 30, 2011

Filed under: One Day Interior Redesigns — HeartWork Organizing @ 8:03 pm
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Color.  Need I say more?  Just a little.  Just the right values.  Just the ones that will highlight the stuff you already own.  Improve the lighting.  And a little shimmer never hurts.  See for yourself.




Same furniture.  Same rug.  A whole new attitude.  If the entry into your home isn’t saying wow, please call me. We can help.


Covering Perplexing Patio Doors with Pretty Treatments May 12, 2011

Filed under: One Day Interior Redesigns — HeartWork Organizing @ 11:33 pm
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Patio doors are some of the trickiest windows to cover.  For years, the standard solution was to slap up those awful plastic vertical blinds.  You basically had two choices, whether to go with the plain or the fabric-covered spines.  Well, I see more than my fair share of vertical blinds that have been up for 5, 10, 15 or more years, and they are revolting.  I mean, they are throwing in the towel and coming down, one by one.  They are giving up the ghost, one piece at a time.   The experts at the Blind Gallery in Wayne, PA have not one or two, but FIVE excellent suggestions when it is time to replace those blinds. 

1.  If you must stick with vertical blinds, soften them up with an integrated fabric treatment.  These have an integrated color sheer, and look very classy.

2.  Using the same idea as an accordion, these blinds stack to the side with a tiny footprint, which allows you to control the light when needed, but enjoy as much of the view, or just keep a very clean line to the treatment.

3.  The Illusion blinds are usually seen horizontally, but they are offered as verticals, too.  What makes them different from the older vertical blinds is that the “spine” is a soft fabric treatment that is integrated with the sheer.  They can be completely closed, open so the spines are vertical and the view is maintained with some privacy, or completely pulled out of the way for an unobstructed view.   They come in several colors.  These are definitely considered an upgrade by most realtors.  I own a few of these, and they do provide a lot of functionality with a soft touch.


4.  Woven woods are hot, hot, hot, and they now come in vertical options as well.  I’ve seen all the different options, from minimal to reedy to extreme color to funky, and there is something for everyone within the woven wood selections at the Blind Gallery.  This photo shows woven woods and fabric panels in a den that I completed a while back.  I just love how the light filters through very softly, but you can get these backed for more darkning, if you prefer.

5.  Some might think I’ve saved the best for last.  Plantation shutters are the creme de la creme in window treatments, but did you know they can be fitted for patio doors?  They are mounted on a molding frame that is custom to the size of the door.  The panels can have operating lovers, just like regular shutters, and the panels that correspond to the patio door panels slide to give you access.  These are really very attractive, and provide an upscale and clean look.  One client loves hers because it helps define her florida vacation decor, right here in PA.

I hope you enjoyed window shopping with these styles.  If you get a chance to visit with Luke (below) or Tony at the Blind Gallery, tell ’em Darla  sent you.  Find them at www.BlindGalleryPA.com.


Stage, Sell, Save the Window Treatments March 25, 2011

Filed under: Staging — HeartWork Organizing @ 8:10 pm
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You might wonder if there is a rule about window treatments when selling a home.  The first time was involved with someone selling their home (I was 16), the seller told me point blank that it is expected that the window treatments go with the old home.  Not so fast. There is no hard and fast rule, in fact.

Plan on leaving the window treatments if:

  • They are hard wired and custom-fabricated hard treatments (such as plantation shutters), but be sure to include them in the listing description as features of the home.  Custom fabric treatments never have quite the resale value we’d like them to have, since they are usually taste-specific and can be outdated in just a few short years.
  • You no longer like the style or you are planning on replacing most of your furnishings in your new home.
  • You have a comfortable budget to bring new window treatments in to the new home.
  • You don’t have skills or time to uninstall and then reinstall them in your new home.
  • The home might sit vacant for sale, and would look uncared for if the windows were bare.

On the other hand, consider taking the window treatments with you if:

  • You have a very limited budget for new window coverings, and think that you might be able to re-use some of the window treatments.  Even many honeycomb shades can be rehung in a new home, but be sure to keep the original brackets and screws taped securely to the blinds in transit.  You may not use all the blinds, but you might be able to outside-mount a blind that was previously mounted inside the frame, for instance.  
  • You will be keeping most of your furnishings and accessories in the new home, which means your window treatments will likely coordinate with the look.
  • You no longer love the fabric, but you still like the hardware (which can often be as expensive or more so than the fabric).
  • You know the house will not be sitting vacant.
  • The styles and fabrics are current enough to be used in other places in your new home.  Floor length window panels, which are the trend today, can often be redeployed in many rooms in a new home.  They can be even be updated with embellishments to fit in with alternate decor.
  • And perhaps most importantly, consider excluding the window treatments in your listing, even if you have no real desire to take them with you.  This gives you an easy negotiating point with the buyers.  Many buyers today are asking for multiple, even sometimes outrageous, conditions to close a deal.  Sometimes these conditions are presented even after a “final” agreement has been reached, but before closing.  If you exclude the window treatments and the buyer demands them, you can easily offer them up and appear as accommodating as possible.

Whatever you decide to do, be clear about the window treatments in your initial listing to promote a good relationship with agents and buyers.