NY Mag Design Hunting 2014

Laura Cattano


I was beyond thrilled when I was asked to be a part of this year’s NY Magazine Design Hunting Issue. It was such a pleasure being interviewed by Erin Wylie for the “Ask the Experts” panel. And big thanks to Bobby Doherty for coming all the way to Brooklyn to photograph me. Get your copy now!!!

And sorry about the lack of posts. Besides clients keeping me plenty busy I’m also totally re-designing my website. I’ll keep you posted when that’s up. I hope you like it…..

200 sqft studio after

The place had to be put together fast and as inexpensive as possible. Luckily I was able to reuse existing pieces from the previous apartment. One thing we were happy to reuse was her beautiful glass chandelier and were beyond disappointed when we removed the existing light and saw a mess that my installer said looked as if a beaver chewed a hole thru the ceiling, no seriously that’s exactly what it looked like. So putting up our fab and heavy light just wasn’t an option. Needless to say we were all quite upset to have to put that light back in… Ugh.

I didn’t take any shots of the kitchen (sorry Marie!). She doesn’t cook so I didn’t have to do anything special like install shelves or pot racks or anything.

We’re not sure how long she’ll be in this apartment and it is a rental so we decided not to do anything too dramatic like painting or doing too many installations. All of her things fit pretty well as is (with the exception of family memorabilia that her children are storing) and she can’t easily climb a ladder to access high shelves anyway so the dressers and low bookshelf work just fine.

We did install a hook rack near the front door, shown in the fourth shot. Hats, gloves, and scarves are in the top cubbies of the low open bookcase with extra blankets and files in the bottom cubbies. There’s a small closet with open shelves near the entry that holds extra toiletries, an iron, medicine and a first aid kit, travel toiletries, small summer fan, etc. Cleaning supplies and a vacuum are under the sink in the kitchen. There are clothes in the 2 dressers, and the white drawer units that are acting as nightstands hold office supplies, checkbooks, gift cards, stationery and stamps, kindle and charger, jewelry, glasses….

The one thing we do plan on buying is a set of small upholstered chairs for the round glass table near the window to use as a dining chair. Other than that we figure she should live there for a while to see if there’s anything else she’d like me to do to make the space better. Otherwise we think it looks pretty good (especially considering it was done in 2 days).

kitchen organizing made easy

People are surprised how long reorganizing a kitchen can actually take. Those cabinets can hold a ton, plus most things are heavy and breakable which slows down the process. And this is the perfect time to clean the cabinets inside and out which also takes time but is so worth it!

Before reorganizing a kitchen I always draw it out and figure where things should go BEFORE pulling everything out. Make a diagram of your space and make a list of the type of things you have, then start plugging in where things make the most sense to go. Or skip the drawing and use sticky notes directly on the cabinets.

The 3 main things you have are prep, cooking and serving. Cooking tools should be closest to the over/stove, prep tools should be where the most convenient place to prep is (for those of us in the city with tiny kitchens there isn’t always a large prep surface). And serving pieces near the sink / dishwasher.

You don’t need to complete the mapping 100% as you’ll need some wiggle room as you put things in their proper place they may take up more or less room than expected. Figure out at least half, starting with the easiest things and don’t worry about those items you’re not sure of. They’ll reveal themselves at the end once everything else is in place.

2 weeks 5 things challenge


Are you ready for the next challenge?? 

The idea here is not to tear your home apart or to do these all at once. Finish one category before moving onto the next. Start by just pulling out those things you do not want. If you need to pull stuff out to go thru it, pull out a little at a time as not to get overwhelmed. 

And know you’re not alone! I’m going thru a complete edit of my apartment as I may have to move soon (ugh more on that later). Keep me posted and let me know if you have questions…

Most people have waaayy to many cleaning supplies. And really, unless you reuse those plastic grocery bags these no reason to have so many. Get rid of old or obsolete cleaning supplies: specialty cleaners that no longer apply: ss cleaner, marble, car cleaner, etc. Place them in a box and leave on the curb for someone else to use or offer them to someone you know who could use them. 

Bring your own bag or be careful about double bagging at the store, do only if necessary. Seems simple but it helps. Or start using a cloth bag. Knowing what you have means not buying more than you need. Check stock before buying more.


Random screws, anchors with no screws, multiples of tools you’ll never use. I love going thru tool boxes even mine. There always such a mess (not mine of course) no one would go searching for something if they needed something anyway.

If you have multiples of something, for instance screwdrivers,  make sure they’re not actually different size tips and shafts. Sometimes you need a long or extra short shafts to get to awkward spaces.

Books should be seen no different than anything else. For most people they’re just dust collectors anyway.

DO NOT pull everything off the shelves! Start on one shelf, looking at each spine, starting left to right pulling out the books you don’t want. If you have a large bookcase and cannot do them all at once, put a sticky note on each shelf you’ve edited to keep track. dfsa

Those tiny notebooks you thought would be helpful to carry around but realized that are too small for your needs. A freakin million pens, half of which don’t even work. White out? Who uses white out?

Don’t toss things you’ll eventually use as long as it doesn’t take your LIFETIME to use it and it’s too much to easily store.

Vases, candles, picture frames… This is a category that helps if you pull everything together to see what you have as a whole instead of looking at things one at a time. I know you have vases all over the house in different cabinets and closets (i know because that’s how most people have them).

If you have a small space keep all vases together, preferably in the kitchen. keep in mind you don’t need to have all your decorative accessories on display. It can be fun to store some and switch things out every now and then.

color coded books


I recently helped one of my favorite clients move and this is her new dining area. She has a nice collection of books even though this is about half of what she had before she moved. She doesn’t reference these books anymore and likes color coding, as do I, so I got 3 billy bookcases and went to town. 

The only exception is the 1 row of books for cookbooks that she uses a lot. I mean who wants to have to remember the color of a spine every time they want to make vegan cupcakes??  

man’s clothes closet: before + after

This client just moved into this rental and wanted a quick inexpensive fix to his clothes closet. Here’s what I did:

Suits, sport coats, and dress shirts are on the left (facing right) with casual shirts and jackets on the right (facing left). An over-door shoe rack was mounted to the door to get shoes and small items off the floor and within easy reach. We left room for the missing shoes we’ll eventually find once he’s totally unpacked.

For a much needed additional upper shelf, I connected two small shelves to a long shelf using L brackets. It’s an easy cheap solution for a rental apartment that anyone can do. It’s connected to the back wall with an L-bracket to keep it stable.



thanks (again) cosmo!

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I’m terrible for posting this so late, but I was thrilled to work with the beautiful and talented Loni Albert at Cosmopolitan Magazine for a spread in their January issue. There’s tips and tricks on organizing your make-up, medicine cabinet, and all your other beauty products by re-using things you probably already have.

I especially love how the medicine cabinet came out, as it’s one of my favorite things to organize and style. I’ll give you the link once it’s online but couldn’t wait to show you….

2 weeks 5 things challenge

Up for a challenge? Every other Monday I’m going to give you 5 categories of things to edit and organize. Why not every Monday? Because for most of you, to accomplish 5 tasks in 7 days is unrealistic.

It urks me when organizers say a task should take 10 minutes when for most people it will take an hour. To make someone feel bad about how long it takes them to do something is BS. Who cares if it takes you 5x longer than the winner of a marathon to finish the marathon? Finishing is all that matters.

Tell me what you think about the challenge and how you’re progress is going… Now get started!

For those of you with a drawer full of extra keys, separate out the ones that you cannot identify, recycle the ones that are obsolete and label the ones that you know with key tags or put labels directly on the keys. For the keys you can’t identify, give yourself a certain amount of time to try them or simply toss them in the recycle bin.

If you don’t already have a specific place for your everyday keys, find a spot near the door using a bowl, or a cool hook. The rest can reside together in an accessible drawer grouped in a ziplock bag.

Gather all unwanted mail for several days. Now get the phone. Using the info on the back of the catalogs, call and ask to have your name taken off their list and any other catalogs they’re associated with. Depending on how many catalogs you have, this will take about 1/2hr – 1hr. Know that when you online shop you’ll automatically get a catalog and they may sell your name to others. If your bank or cc sends you unwanted mail call them too. Click here for more ways to get your name off mailing lists.

The best way of keeping something under control is to not have to deal with it in the first place. After you make the calls, the mail should slowly stop coming. For some of you, you may have to repeat this once or twice a year (online shoppers) to keep on top of it.

Pull all the pieces you have out so you can see them all at once. Then group them how you use them: short trips, longer trips, etc. Think realistically what you need. Discard any broken or damaged pieces and donate any usable pieces that you don’t need. Just be sure to load it up with other things to donate beforehand.

If you travel often, keep those pieces close at hand while keeping the pieces you don’t use as much in a not as convenient place. Some people nest them but for some, it’s easier not to have to deal with that every time you leave town. I do suggest keeping anything you specifically use in the luggage itself like a blanket/scarf, neck pillow, adapters, etc.


Time to check the expiration dates on your medicines. Toss any liquid or gels that have expired, you can find the date on the end of the tube in the crinkled part. The solid pills,  unless they were in a hot damp space, can be kept up to 2 years past their expiration dates but more than that the medicinal value of the pill goes down too much to be effective. Some pharmacies take prescription pills  back to be destroyed just be sure to ask before bringing them in. Otherwise DO NOT flush pills down the toilet. Group them in a ziplock bag, crush, and mix with coffee grounds or other food trash and put in the trash.

Medicines should be stored in a cool dry place so ironically the bathroom cabinet is not always best. If there is something you use often or on a regular basis it can make sense to keep it in a convenient spot like the cabinet but for the rest of the ‘just in case’ items, they can be stored in an open bin or box in the linen closet or kitchen.


There’s a difference between keeping extras of products and hoarding products you’ll never use. If you’ve had something for years and haven’t used it by now it stands to reason you’ll never use it. Toiletries have an expiration date even if it’s not easily seen on the container. Here’s a great guide on how long different items last. For those you’re things you’re not sure of keep and make it a point to start using. Otherwise, they’re just taking up space.

As a general rule, the most often used products should be in the medicine cabinet with extras and things too big to fit in the upper cabinet in the cabinet below the sink. If you have travel items, separate them out for easily retrieval when needed. Most people find it easiest to keep in their most used travel bag.