One of my very favorite client organization projects is creating a home Command Center. Every home has multiple catch-all spots for every day items like mail, office supplies, magazines, instruction manuals, gift cards and coupons. I want to help you consolidate everything into one central location, so I am sharing my best how-to tips.
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Icon Wall Stickers contacted me a few months ago and asked if I would be interested in trying one of their adhesive wall decals. Oh course I said yes! Since we are in a rental I am always looking for ways to jazz up our home without making permanent changes.
After taking a look at their website I decided to order a holiday sticker. They have so many cute options, don’t you love the snowflakes?
A client of mine is a professional doll maker and teacher. She teaches classes all over the world and from time to time in her home based studio. She made attempts to organize the space a few years ago but wasn’t able to find a system that was functional and professional looking.
She asked me to stop by for a consultation and immediately I noticed the lack of continuity in the space. The mix match of furniture gave the eye a feeling of clutter and the pieces she had didn’t take advantage of all of the storage space the room had to offer. The furniture didn’t match the quality of the nice foam flooring she had installed and the pretty paint color. When you see the before and afters it will be hard for you to believe her studio is in her garage!
About a year and a half ago I was asked to be a guest contributor for the book The Cheap Chica’s Guide to Style: Secrets to Shopping Cheap and Looking Chic by Lilliana Vazquez – and, the book was just released last week! Lilliana has been featured on The TODAY Show, Access Hollywood and The Rachel Ray Show and the book, inspired by her website Cheap Chica’s is a collection of her personal style tips, organization ideas and shopping finds for every budget.
The book is broken into segments: helping you find your personal style (there is a quiz!), how to stay organized, shopping for styles that flatter your body-type and wallet, and where to find the best deals. She even knows the best days to shop for the biggest discounts. I really enjoyed the book because her tips are honest, realistic and I want to highly recommend it. So treat yourself to a copy and give it as a gift to your girlfriends! You can order a copy of the book here.
I was asked to take part in the chapter “Making Cents of Your Closet” and below is a small excerpt from my submission. Enjoy!
Paperwork is a thorn in the side of most of my friends and clients. It is a can be difficult to control and organize because of the mere volume we receive, we are constantly indited with mailers, statements, documents, etc…
One of my clients was struggling with her divorce documents, she had them piled into boxes and bags in her closet so I brought them home to organize into binders. Because of my background in insurance claims and law I am well versed in what documents my clients should hang on to and those they can let go of. It is so important to have all of your critical documents in a safe place in case of an emergency (fire, theft, natural disaster, etc.), here is what is considered an important document:
The first thing I do after I get home from a long professional organizing session is upload and edit the before and after photos. I love to see the changes that we made and they help keep my clients motivated to maintain the space. Some of the projects I work on take several sessions to complete and others take one session, it all depends on how motivated and unorganized my clients are.
Paperwork doesn’t have to be a struggle! My motto is less is more. I treat my paperwork like I treat my diet and exercise regimen, I work on it little by little each week, nothing too extreme.
Because I spend a little time maintaining my paperwork each week I have total control and I can find what I need at a moments notice. Gotta love that! I store all of my paperwork in one watertight bin that is easy move to the kitchen table when I am preparing our taxes and filing, and in case of an emergency (earthquake, fire, worlds colliding, etc..), I could grab it and go.
I bought colorful pink and green file folders so that filing wouldn’t be such a drag. I created labels for categories that are specific to our household needs. They include each individual tax year, auto insurance, renters insurance, our car, medical, certifications for Chris and myself, Harper our pooch, key documents, misc., our Chicago Condo, bank information, investments, my business Kuzak’s Closet, and business receipts.
You might be wondering how I am able to keep all of our paperwork in one single tub. Honestly, it is not impossible. Here are the guidelines I follow to stay organized:
- I control the paper coming into our house from the banks and our investment accounts by requesting electronic statements. This cuts down on a ton of weekly, monthly, and yearly paperwork. I log into my online accounts to make sure all of the charges and activity are legit every week.
- I spend 5 to 10 minutes each week maintaining my file box by filing the new mail and getting rid of the outdated materials.
I follow these guidelines regarding how long I need to keep my paperwork:
- Tax Paperwork: Keep your tax files for 7 years, if you would like to keep your tax summary or any check stubs written to the government past this point do so. This rule applies to end of year mortgage statements, medical receipts, child care receipts, and anything related to a home business or second home. Because I am self employed I need to keep my financial documents (business receipts, year end bank statements, tax paperwork) forever to prove my income
- Insurance Documents: Only keep insurance policy information and documentation for current policies
- Loan Information: Once a loan is paid off you only need to keep the confirmation that you are paid in full.
- Warranties and Manuals: Only keep warranty documents that are current and for products you still own.
- Utility bills: Unless you have a home office and need these for tax purposes, you can get rid of these bills are the end of each month. If you feel comfortable receiving them electronically do so, this saves you filing time and paper overload.
- Investment Account and Bank Statements: If your statements come in the mail and want to reconcile your accounts, keep the updated copy until the new copy arrives.
- Adoption Paperwork, Marriage License, Divorce Documents: Keep these forever.
- Car Titles: Keep these forever
- Home Improvement Information: Forever
Keep your original social security card, passport, and birth certificate, along with a copy of your marriage, divorce, adoption, and financial and credit card account information in a fireproof box in your home or a safety deposit box at the bank.
It is also a good idea to have a home inventory list documenting your furniture, artwork, jewelry, etc.. Include photos of each room and keep this list in a fireproof box or safety deposit box. Click here for an easy computer program that will help you.
Remember, these are general guidelines. Every case is different and if you have specific paperwork questions please send me an email, I would love to answer it. If you like my tub and file system and would like one for yourself, I sell them to my clients and I would be happy to deliver one to you if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I hope this post will help you get your paperwork in order soon! Happy Organizing!
Did your heart just sink? Does your stomach feel queasy? Don’t worry, you are not alone. So many people struggle with keeping their paperwork organized and decluttered and who is to blame them? With all of the junk mail, advertisements, and statements we receive in the mail each day it is just plain hard to keep up.
I know most bloggers out there are sharing the fall decor that they’ve crafted from sticks and reclaimed wood but this is not that kind of post. I’ll admit it, here at Kuzak’s Closet I buy my most of my decor…as in go to the store and buy it. I know it might seem crazy for a blogger to do this but I want to be honest with you. I know it might seem early to have pumpkins out but I need to see them to remind myself what time of year it is. This midwest girl always thinks it’s summer with this California sunshine!
I’m mostly sharing this post because my husband uttered a phrase that my dad used to say to my mom growing up and it freaked me out. Am I turning into my mother already? He said, “I don’t know why you work so hard to make our house look nice for the holidays when no one is around to enjoy it.” I refuse to give in to his point so I decided to take some pictures and have you all over for a peek at my pumpkins!
Each year I add a few more pieces to my seasonal repertoire and by far the most difficult season to buy for is fall. I’m always looking for things that will look nice from September through Thanksgiving. This year I had really good luck at HomeGoods finding cute things that I’ve seen at Pottery Barn for a fraction of the price. I also put together a few vignettes with items that I found at Michael’s craft store. Can you believe the orange mercury pumpkin in the picture below was already on clearance for $3 there? A word to the wise, shop for fall decor because they put the Christmas stuff out! Every year it gets earlier and earlier, I started to see Christmas at some of my favorite stores last week!
I dropped off some donations at Goodwill last week and when I went to file the tax deduction form with our 2009 paperwork this is what I found…
Moving is a great opportunity to clear the clutter and enjoy a fresh start. When a client hires Kuzak’s Closet to help manage their move and organize their new home we take care of all of the details – from the space planning to the unpacking.
We’ve been working on several relocations lately and today I wanted to share my favorite tips and some pictures to inspire you to embrace the opportunity to start fresh.
Tip#1: Sort and purge before you move! So many people pack up all of their possessions and take them to their new home without sorting and purging. Why bring unwanted clutter into your new home? Take the time to eliminate all of the items you no longer use or need. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to unpack!
I develop a sorting and purging schedule with my clients prior to their move. We typically schedule 4-5 sessions to work on each space in the home. This helps me understand their storage preferences and gives me an idea of how often things are used which is a great help when it comes to setting up systems in their new home. This is a picture of a toy pile that I sorted through the day before one of my clients moved…
As I revealed in last week’s She Cave project reveal, the only time that I buy things from my estate sales is when they don’t sell. This vintage glider was a popular set at a sale I had in Los Altos Hills earlier this year but at the end of the sale is was unsold. I think buyers struggled with the same thing that I did, how will find new cushions to fit it? I suggested that buyers made a pattern based on the existing cushions but they were so crusty I don’t think anyone wanted to bother taking them home.
Do you see what I mean? Crusty! In fact the whole set was pretty crusty! Can you believe the deer hide in the picture sold at the sale but the glider set didn’t? It’s crazy to see what sells and what doesn’t.
At the end of the sale my husband Chris actually talked me into buying the set. He really liked the chairs that matched it and promised to help me fix it up. I think he secretly likes helping me with my DIY projects, ha! We started by bringing the set home and cleaning it up. It was pretty rusty so we used a hard bristle brush (just like we did on our picnic table from last summer) to scrub it and get all of the rust and dirt flakes off.
A few months ago I decided to turn a room into our house into a “she cave” for myself. Prior to the makeover it was pretty sparse and didn’t serve much of a purpose. Since it looks like we are going to live in this house for a few more years at a minimum I thought it was time to spruce it up a bit. Now it is a nice spot for me to lounge, watch my favorite TV shows, and blog.
I started the project after a very inspirational trip to World Market. They had this great steel blue sofa on sale and I couldn’t resist. It’s really comfy and I love that it doesn’t take over the entire room. Luckily I had Chris with me to push me into making the purchase, he love to spend money and I tend to be a saver.
As I mentioned in last Friday’s day in the life post I am currently working on creating a little “she den” for myself in one of the bedrooms in our home. For the last two years the bedroom has only had a desk and chair in it and with the transition we needed to find new place for the desk to live.
March is typically a blah month for home decor but with Easter so early this year we’ve all had the excuse to start decorating for Spring. I knew I wouldn’t have much to put out, (I only have one lonely tub in the garage dedicated to spring and easter), so I wanted to get things out early so I could shop for a few new goodies.
This year I mixed bunnies and birdies with my regular decor all throughout our house. I had a few items to start with but ended up picking up a few new additions. I love this little white bunny bowl that I found at Pottery Barn. I filled him up with peanut M&Ms and put him on my antique scale, hard to believe he weighs only 2 pounds! He’s on a tray with a little white and yellow bunny jar that I bought with my sister at Ikea years ago.
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Yesterday I posted pictures of my Easter decorations. Did you have any favorites? Do I have anything in my house that you also have in yours? One of the pics was of a spring wreath that I recently made and today I wanted to share more details about the project.
I like the process of being crafty and creating things but I struggle with the clutter that it creates. The only time that I find myself working on a project is when I am repurposing something that I found at an estate sale that needs to be brought back to life. This vintage egg was missing the back piece so it didn’t sell at my Los Altos estate sale last January. Instead of sending it to be donated I thought it would be perfect for a spring DIY project. After thinking about it for the last year I decided it would look cute in the center of a wreath. (more…)
I hope you all had a nice weekend! It was the first weekend that I didn’t have an estate sale or a big organizing project to work on and I enjoyed it. Our dog Harper hasn’t been feeling well so I took her to the Vet late last week and she has a skin infection and acid reflux (if dogs can have such a thing). She is on a bunch of medicine so I thought it would be best if I tried to chill out with her at home as much as I could. Sometimes I think she “fakes” being sick just to get my attention and to remind me to spend more time with her.