June 14, 2024
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June 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

As much as I love what I do, I realize that in the summer, we all yearn to be outside having fun rather than staying inside cleaning and decluttering. There are times we invite people to come over to our backyards to have fun with us. Chances are though, that these guests will actually walk inside our home, and to keep from being embarrassed, we will do some cleaning and light decluttering.

Summer fun.

This column will give you some valuable hacks to neaten and organize your home in a hurry, before welcoming visitors.

  • It is best to go room by room.
  • Grab a garbage bag, circle the room and toss all trash. I use the “tall kitchen size” bag because it holds a manageable amount of weight and bulk. The risk of using a larger “heavy-duty trash bag” includes back strain and other physical calamities.
  • Clear off all horizontal surfaces, like kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities and dresser tops. Perfection is NOT expected. Get rid of items that scream out “find a better place for me!” Maybe a conversation will ensue and you will ask that item, “WHERE is a better place for you?” If you get a quick, easy answer, relocate the object. If not, stash it in a cabinet or closet.
  • Another temporary location for clutter is in pretty boxes or baskets. Many items simply appear more attractive just being inside a basket. Here’s a tip: Visit stores like Marshalls or T.J. Maxx to browse the aisles for baskets, bins or boxes that fit your space, decor and budget. To decrease the chance of merchandise returns, note the dimensions of the needed containers and keep them with you.
  • Look up. Is there a hot mess on your bookshelves? If yes, gently remove papers and objects that jut out. Do not worry about the order of the books (i.e., size order). Arrange your bookshelves to house only books and knickknacks.
  • Look down. Are there shoes laying around? Corral all shoes scattered about the entryway/living area onto one mat and place inside a foyer closet or by an entry door.
  • Continue looking down. Are there bottles of water or soda that could be placed in a pantry or laundry room? Are there dog toys that can be put in a toy box?
  • When tidying a bed, take off all items that don’t belong and make the bed neatly. Add some throw pillows. A made bed transforms the room, tricking the eye into seeing a non-congested room.
  • Use the space underneath a bed for additional storage.

A friend shared her quick-clean-up-for-visitors story with me. Several years ago, my friend’s daughter and her boyfriend decided to take a week to have fun and avoid stress before they got engaged. Meanwhile, my friend and her husband were told that this was just a ruse by the young man to catch their daughter off-guard, and began to plan a l’chaim in their home for the appointed night. To keep her daughter off the scent, my friend became very lax in her housekeeping, blaming the demands of correcting midterm exams and papers. Her daughter knew that her mother would never invite guests into their home in its current state. The long-awaited night arrived. As soon as the couple left on their date, my friend and her family swooped into action. Knowing they had only a few hours to tidy up and set up, my friend flew into action. She took a trash bag and threw away garbage in the living room, dining room and kitchen while her husband took a separate bag and did the same walk around picking up bottles to be recycled. All clutter was removed from the book shelves, the floors, etc. and carried to the basement. The build-up on the kitchen table and counters were hidden inside kitchen cabinets. All items hanging in the coat closet were carried upstairs to make room for the guests’ coats. The powder room was cleaned and all odds and ends were plunked into a patterned box with a lid and placed on the vanity, fooling everyone to think it was always there.

Furniture was pushed against the walls and tables were covered with beautiful cloths as platters of food were carried in. Family from in-town and out-of-town arrived. The transformation was impressive. When the couple arrived in a limousine, they were greeted outside by cheering and singing. The new kallah entered her parents’ home and couldn’t believe her eyes.

As we are in the midst of the most common time to move house (Memorial Day through Labor Day), I want give a shout out to my clients and neighbors who have been spending the last several weeks, possibly months, packing up to move house in time for the new school year, or to downsize to the home and neighborhood that meets their evolving needs. These ladies have resisted going out and “playing” in this beautiful weather so they can meet the deadlines of moving day. These deadlines not only include being ready “the day of,” but also being ready for the notable days along the way: the day the metal collector comes, the day the junk haulers cart the junk away, and the day the donations truck picks up bags of clothing and housewares. Their families and friends see how hard they are working to make their moves go smoothly.

I want these women to know there is light at the end of the tunnel. That light is the sunshine of a new backyard or common area where they will have time to play and have fun. I applaud you all.

Major transformations don’t normally happen in a few hours, but when we work together, we can make a plan that will deliver positive results. Feel free to reach out to me and schedule a 30-minute free consultation.

Ellen Smith is Central Jersey’s kosher organizer and tzniut wardrobe stylist. For over 14 years, Ellen has helped people restore order and create calm in their homes and souls. See Ellen’s work on Instagram @ideclutterbyEllen. Contact Ellen for a complimentary phone consultation at [email protected].

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