Mudroom Set Up for Success

2021-08-20T15:46:42+00:00By |Categories: Organized, Organizing Chicago|

“A good system shortens the road to the goal.” – Orison Swett Garden

A mudroom is a dedicated space intended to accommodate our active lifestyles while creating a flexible system that will start and end the day with order. These high-traffic spaces have the greatest potential to keep our lives on track, simplified and safe.

A 2012 survey reported by the UK Daily Mail discovered that we spend an average of 10 minutes a day rummaging for lost items — from sunglasses to phones to car keys. Regardless if your home has a defined ‘mudroom’ or not, it’s important to allocate space for daily items entering and exiting the home to avoid unnecessary frustration.

As with any area, assess your space. Take inventory, remove the excess and determine what the current needs are to properly serve you and your family. While the needs may fluctuate often, here are some general components to include for maximum flexibility: open and/or closed storage cubbies, shelves, seating, hooks and durable fixtures and finishes that can be easily cleaned.

Keep storage labels loose and interchangeable.

Each person living within your household should have their own assigned drop off zone. This will keep things separated and personalized while ensuring each person is held accountable for the items they’re bringing into the home. The larger your family, the more important these zones become. Even though contents will be mixed, cut down on visual clutter by selecting coordinating accessories to create a cohesive look.

Reset this space weekly to ensure the items stored are orderly and accessible. Minimize clutter and keep maintenance quick by only storing things currently in use. Be honest with the inventory you keep. You may have had good intentions to start a new hobby, but if you’re only storing the gear – it’s time to remove the clutter and move on.

Remove out-of-season items and store in closed bins or in another dedicated area.
Beyond functionality, these spaces also contribute to the overall health of our household. Studies show that up to 90% of the bacteria and pathogens found on the bottom of your shoes can be transferred to floors in your home! It’s critical for footwear to be contained to one area to ensure surfaces can be cleaned and disinfected easily.

Quick Tips
1. Only store items currently in use to keep maintenance to a minimum.
2. Assign a drop off zone for each individual to cut down on frustration.
3. Safely contain footwear to a single area that can be disinfected often.

Sarah Parisi — The Clutter Curator
Chicago’s Premier Home Organizer

Photo via

Junk Drawer Organization

2021-08-18T20:29:13+00:00By |Categories: Organized, Organizing Chicago|

“Your home is a living space, not a storage space.” – Francine Jay

We all know them, we all have them and we all struggle with how to organize them — the inevitable ‘junk’ drawer. Things that belong nowhere and everywhere at the same time. These are items that need to be easily accessible: pens, gum, gift cards, stamps or an extra charger but do not necessarily warrant their own designated space.

Junk can be defined as articles that are considered useless or of little value.

There’s no doubt that these areas contain some degree of junk that can be discarded, but maybe it’s time we adjust our perspective and reframe the category a little? 

The contents vary from person to person, but most contain items that actually serve a function. However, they’re rarely items we want to put on display. I recommend limiting the area to a closed, preferably small drawer.  Opposed to an open container like a basket or tray to cut down on visual clutter. Make a plan to revisit the drawer frequently to keep items from accumulating beyond manageable levels.

Once a space has been designated, it’s time to get clear on what we actually need.

Pull everything out and begin sorting what stays and what goes. These are truly the perfect areas to practice the process of being thoughtful and methodical with our selections.

It’s also a great opportunity to get honest with yourself on what you’ve been keeping that you never actually used — like multiple sets of disposable cutlery or extra packets of sauce from your favorite take-out restaurant…that they include with every order. While we may have had good intentions for holding onto them.

It’s important to stop justifying the storage of items that do not serve a purpose beyond “just in case.”

Once you’ve determined what’s staying, measure! Take into account the depth, width and height of the drawer and find trays to help designate clear zones. I find that having expandable trays, trays with removable dividers or a variety of individual trays that can be rearranged easily keep the drawer flexible as the contents evolve and vary.

Pro-tip: Use museum gel to keep individual trays and containers from shifting when you open and close drawers.

Quick Tips

  1. Designate a ‘junk’ drawer that can be closed to cut down on visual clutter. 
  2. Get clear on what’s junk and what’s actually serving you.
  3. Measure to select proper trays and revisit frequently to keep items in check.

Sarah Parisi — The Clutter Curator

Chicago’s Premier Home Organizer

Photo Via Photo by Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash

Keys to Being an Organized Person

2021-08-18T20:50:37+00:00By |Categories: Organized, Organizing Chicago|

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Rohn

Once we’ve acknowledged that change needs to occur, we must have the courage to implement. I help my clients address their daily routines and work towards creating healthier habits that lead to more fulfilled lives. Removing the excess is step one, but developing the proper skill set needed to maintain a space is critical. I want my clients to benefit from a space that empowers and energizes them, not adds to their anxiety.

! SPOILER ALERT ! Organization is not only about pretty bins and labeling everything.

Editing the excess is by far the most important step and it will be repeated constantly. 

Even if your items are “organized,” if you’re not using them – they’re considered clutter. 

Take inventory before you make any new purchases. It’s easier to get clear on what’s needed once you’ve familiarized yourself with your belongings. Most people get in the habit of storing things with good intentions only to forget about them down the road.

Pay particular attention to pantries, refrigerators and freezers. Food is a necessity, but it can be a source of clutter as well. Make sure you’re eating through food stock every 4-6 months and don’t forget to look at expiration dates! 

Closets are another area to constantly address. It’s tempting to buy a new outfit for every occasion, but get creative! Shop your closet first and work towards quality staples you feel good in that can be restyled over and over to achieve new looks.

Start a routine *quick* full home walk-through every month. Trust me, clutter accumulates faster than you think! This does not mean you’re re-organizing every month. The goal is to simply address anything new that has entered your home. 

As you gain more confidence in the process, organize with what you have first. It’s unnecessary and expensive to purchase matching containers when you’re still getting used to a new, simplified way of life. We’re going for lasting change – not just overnight “before + afters”. You’d be surprised at how many things you already own that could do the trick initially. Once you continue the edit and determine what’s truly essential, you can work on the overall aesthetic and organization needed in each space. 

Quick Tips

  1. It’s our sustained, daily efforts that lead to continued success and lasting change. 
  2. Take inventory of what you currently own to avoid more clutter to manage.
  3. As you adjust to the process, start by organizing with what you have first. 

Sarah Parisi — The Clutter Curator

Chicago’s Premier Home Organizer

Photo Via

How Many Toys Do Kids Really Need?

2021-08-20T15:04:06+00:00By |Categories: Kids Toys, Organized, Organizing Chicago|

Playing with ToysParenting in a world full of excess often contradicts our best intentions to provide and connect with our kids.

Why? Because it’s big business and they know how to hit one of our deepest trigger points — inadequacy. They plant the seed of doubt that we’re not doing enough and the roots grow instantly. They know the pressures we face and the comparison games we play. There’s a bigger conversation to be had about aligning our values with our consumer habits, but here are some starting points to restore order. 

Create organizational habits as early as possible.

Studies show that children as young as 12 months old can grasp the concept! They may not be able to sort objects, but they can begin to place toys into a single bin. Over time they will work to fine tune these skills. If we expect them to take care of their toys, put them away and part with unused items. We must model the behavior ourselves. In doing so, we teach them how to accurately assign value to their material possessions and develop gratitude.

Less is more. We’ve all seen beautiful, organized playrooms that are stocked full. However, many clients report that even though they’ve purchased the storage and categorized everything, their kid(s) still pour everything out — leaving us deflated and frustrated. Kids need to play, but play doesn’t always require toys. If we open up space and limit options, their imagination can run wild and we can keep our sanity. 

Rotate toys in/out to reduce visual clutter, clean up time and over-stimulation.

Set kids up for success by providing organizational systems that are simple and flexible so they can be easily maintained. Try categorizing items into basic categories, colors, or per child and resist the urge to fill every bin. By intentionally allowing room to grow, you establish order while giving kids the opportunity to personalize their space. Include your child in the process and ask for their opinion to show you value their input. 

Communicate your mission to simplify to friends and family.

Tell them they can help by limiting their gifts to experiences. Understand the initial request may be met with confusion, resistance or dismissed completely. Keep in mind, we’re all subconsciously being told that gifts convey love. This desire is magnified the further away they live. Emotion is the primary factor behind purchasing behaviors and like us, they only want the best for our children. Set your boundaries, give it time and reiterate the importance of their presence whenever possible. 

Quick Tips

  1. Establish healthy habits as early as possible
  2. Keep organizational systems simple and allow room to grow
  3. Promote the importance of presence over possessions to loved ones

Sarah Parisi — The Clutter Curator

Chicago’s Premier Home Organizer

Photo Via:

Edit. Organize. Repeat

2021-08-20T15:06:01+00:00By |Categories: Organized, Organizing Chicago|


Ever wonder where to start? Feeling overwhelmed and unsure how to tackle the clutter?

Let me share a little secret, step one is not going to The Container Store.

Step one is not making a plan of where everything needs to go. Step one is not creating a design for your space. Step one is taking time to edit.edit.edit.

Oh and take a before photo because if you don’t you will wish you had!

Use the word edit instead of purge. I find it’s a more positive word and truly captures what I want you to experience during this time. To purge seems compulsive and a forced action. When you edit something, you are being mindful of the end result, you are being specific to ensure you accomplish the end goal. 

Step 1:

Ok, as your start the editing process, start with the easy stuff. Clothes that you no longer like, expired goods in the pantry, products that didn’t work for you (even though you spent money on them). Let go of the items that take little thought, items that you know you don’t need or use. Now that the obvious is gone, take a deep look at what you have left over. Do these items support your best life? Do they look good on you? Do you enjoying eating this?  Will you truly use, and enjoy using this? Once you have gone through and made these decisions it’s finally time to make a plan. 

Step 2:

Sort everything by category (tops/bottoms, Hair/Skin, Dry goods/ can goods, etc.) Once you have sorted everything place them in the area that makes the most sense. For a pantry I suggest organize it like a grocery store so it’s easy to build a meal. Closets all depend on your needs, if you have work clothes and casual clothes, keep them separate to ensure Monday – Friday you don’t have to be reminded it’s still not the weekend! 

Step 3:

Yes, the step you all have been waiting for… if needed you can go out and buy matching containers and really prefect your space. The key here is to keep the containers consistent to avoid visual clutter. Also think about the function of the bin, you want a smooth or lined bin for clothes and plastic or easy to clean bins for a pantry in case of a spill. Once everything is in it’s place label as needed. Keep labels simple.

Step 4:

Enjoy your newly organized space. Maintenance will be needed, so every 3-6 months come in and assess the damage and reset the space to match your after photo! Best of Luck and I’ll be here if you need me.

Sarah Parisi – The Clutter Curator
Chicago’s Premier Home Organizer

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