do you have a paper shredder

It’s a no brainer to have a shredder. Anything with your name, address, and/or account info (bank, cc, etc) should be shredded for your personal safety. Do what you can to eliminate junk mail, but the little you get should be shredded. 

what you need to know when buying a shredder:
  • get a cross-cut/confetti
  • get one that shreds disks and cc if you need it
  • expect to spend $50-$95 for basic household, if you’re shredding a lot, spend more
  • don’t overload it; if it says 5 sheets at a time, do 4 sheets
  • many models can only do 5-10 minutes of shredding at a time
I keep mine unplugged under the kitchen sink, putting paper in the basket it came with and when it gets full shred things all at once. If you have a ton of shredding to do, go to a private shredding company who can come to you for a fee, or bring them what you need shredded. Google your city and ‘shredding service’ to find someone near you.

hidden home office: before + after

A recent client needed help to convert her home office to a baby’s room in her two bedroom apartment. The existing office desk didn’t work anywhere else in the apt, so she thought about getting a new one, as well as an another credenza for additional storage. Before jumping to buy anything new, I prefer to make the most out of the existing storage.
After editing, I look at organizing a space like playing the Tile Game; moving things around until they’re in perfect order functionally and esthetically. It’s what I call ‘mapping out the house’.

We started with their four closets; deep closet in new baby’s room, two closets in the master bedroom, and the coat closet. The former office closet held her husband’s clothing and is now the baby/linen closet. The two closets in the master bedroom held all her clothes; the larger for current season plus household linens, and the smaller one for off-season clothes, shoes, bags, and more household linens. The larger now holds all her clothes and accessories, and the smaller is now for her husband’s clothes.
We then focused on her existing living room credenza. We moved the serving pieces to her small kitchen pantry making room for all the household and her business papers now in Muji file bins (not on the internet), including the misc household manuals that were clogging a kitchen drawer (which is now holding paper napkins, aprons, and towels. sorry I don’t have any pics).
In the end to the client’s surprise, no new furniture was needed. Guess who wasn’t surprised by that….

my apartment progress… making an oversize bulletin board

install d-rings on back of board


picture hooks in place on wallDSC02162going thru + printing out pics


The 2′ x 4′ leftover wood from the platform bed is now a wonderfully oversized bulletin board! Here’s how I did it: 

1 – Screwed two D-ring picture hangers on back, an inch from the edge, about 3/4 up from bottom and noted measurement down from the top.
2 – Held it up to the wall to see where it looked best. While holding it up with one hand, measured from the ceiling to the top of the wood.
3 – Measured the space of the wall horizontally. Subtracted width of the wood and divided by half.
4 – Hung two picture hooks by adding the measurement from step 1 plus step 2 to give me how far down from the ceiling, and the measurement from step 3 plus 1″ to see how far in it should go.
5 – Hung in place, checked with a level and din’t care that it’s a little off!!
When I first thought of using the leftover piece of wood for the bulletin board I thought to add self-adhesive cork but found that my push pins went into the wood easily. Always one to save a step and $$, I had no hesitation to go without the cork.
I spent hours going through tear sheets in my inspiration file and bookmarked images on my computer to see what I wanted up. I printed images from the computer onto photo paper which I thought came out really nice. I love the wood push pins, though think T-pins would be great too….

hiding computer cords

Making cords look good is important to all my clients. Instead of spending $$ on specialty cord organizers, I like to simply hide cords behind something like the TV console. When clients ask for advice on picking a TV console, I recommend ones with a solid back and not something with all open shelves. A top open shelf is fine but all open doesn’t work, don’t make it hard for yourself.

The above shots are from my apartment. The large piece of white acrylic is from a previous apartment that I just remembered I had so I have it leaning against the wall to cover the power strip. If I didn’t have that acrylic already, I would purchase a larger piece and have it cut to fit behind the desk perfectly, but this will do just fine. Under the table are removable adhesive cord clips that I’ve had on there for a while. If I put the piece of acrylic first, I probably wouldn’t have used them but they’re something I use a lot for this purpose.
If you can’t hide your cords behind anything, these work really well.

how to get your paperwork in order: step 1 + 2

One of the main reasons I started this blog is because I’m tired of all the ‘one-size fits all’ solutions out there for organizing, decorating, dressing… Solutions should be based on a person’s needs, budget, space, habits, and/or the amount of things in questions. By taking the following steps, I’m hoping you’ll find your perfect solution to handle your paperwork:
Step #1. Stop The Unwanted From Coming In The Door
I already talked about this step, so onto step 2…
Step #2. Edit
Simply stated, you need to keep anything related to taxes, insurance, and legal matters. The IRS has 6 years to question you about returns if they suspect underreported income but in cases of fraud, there is no time limitation. Therefore, it’s recommended you keep tax records at least 7 years.
Keep all uncomplicated Tax Returns for 7 years including all supporting documents; w-2’s, 1099’s, cancelled checks, bank deposit slips, bank statements, charitable contribution documentation, credit card statements, receipts, dairies and logs.
Keep retirement plan annual reports, IRA annual reports, IRA non-deductable contributions (form 8606), marriage and/or divorce documents, estate planning documents, adoption, birth and death certificates, and wills permanently.
The following paperwork should be kept for the ownership period + 7 years; investment purchases and sales slips, dividend reinvestment records, year-end brokerage statements, mutual fund annual statements, investment property purchase documents, home purchase documents, home improvement receipts and cancelled checks, home repair receipts and cancelled checks.
Loan paperwork should be kept for the term of the loan plus 7 years. Ask your insurance agent for how long you should keep any insurance policies after the life of the policy.
DISCLAIMER: I am a residential organizer, not commercial so the following info is for individuals only, also I am not a qualified financial advisor, attorney or CPA. If you have any further questions about what you should keep consult your qualified financial advisor, attorney and/or CPA.

how to get your paperwork in order step 3: sorting

Step #3. Sort Into Current, Reference, Archive

Here are some examples of what falls into each category and a few more reasons to keep/toss…

1. CURRENT – papers accessed often

  • MONTHLY HOUSEHOLD BILLS: unless you’re writing things off, only keep the past month or get online/paperless bills (go to their website to register for this) so you can check your previous payment has been applied properly and there are no other mistakes.
  • RECEIPTS: keep debit and credit card receipts to check against statements; recent purchases in case you want to return; for warranty purposes; anything for tax and/or insurance purposes.
  • MONTHLY BANK AND CREDIT CARD STATEMENTS: check against your receipts for mistakes and/or fraudulent charges, then shred any receipts you don’t need to keep and either file away the statements (if needed for tax purposes) or shred accordingly. Get online/paperless statements especially if you don’t need to keep for tax purposes.
2. REFERENCE– papers accessed somewhat often
  • INSPIRATION: home, travel, fashion…
  • MANUALS: make sure you only keeping manuals for things you actually have.
  • LEGAL: passports, social security card, titles, ect
3. ARCHIVE– papers that need to be kept but not accessed often, or at all
  • PAST YEARS TAXES: some use the previous year’s taxes but the rest can be boxed and put away.
  • LEGAL: anything that’s settled and most likely not needed to be accessed.

how to get your paperwork in order step 4: create filing system

Step #4. Create Filing System

 As with your other belongings, giving your paperwork a proper, accessible, and convenient home is key to keeping it organized. Whatever you choose, label your files in a clear, logical way, grouping like things together (all household utilities, investment statements, etc) so you can easily find and retrieve things.
Storage Options:
  • SCANNERS/ELECTRONIC STORAGE: use a receipt scanner, or an all-in-one copy/printer/scanner to scan receipts and misc bills. Go paperless where you can, but organize your computer files as you would actual paper, using clearly labeled folders in the same area for easy retrieval.
  • FILING CABINET: if you absolutely need one, keep it accessible, even if it’s in a closet. Use for current and reference papers, not archival papers.
  • PORTABLE FILING BOX: less expensive and more adaptable storage than a filing cabinet. They fit anywhere and can go where you go when paying your bills. This cascading one is great and this style is my personal favorite.
  • BANKERS BOX: For your archival papers, bankers boxes and manilla envelopes are all you need. Pull file contents only and put into (properly labeled) envelope, so you don’t have to make all new folders each year. Store all boxes together on a top shelf or back of a closet.

how to get your paperwork in order step 4: continued

Step #4. Create Filing System (continued)

For misc papers such as invitations, flyers, coupons, etc, that you don’t want in a file folder, here are some options of where to keep them for easy access:
  • ENTRY: You should have a proper entry no matter the size of your space. I’ve created one in my current 325 sqft studio with a simple bowl on a table to keep my wallet, keys, store credits, coupons, and invitations; basically anything you need to grab as you run out the door. You could do something similar in your bedroom with a bowl or tray on a dresser or a shelf in the closet.
  • ELECTRONIC/PAPER ORGANIZER: As for invites and appt reminders, use your planner, whether electronic (blackberry, iphone) or a paper planner (like me), and toss/recycle any paper backup. Take a moment at the beginning of the week to review what’s coming up, and then in the morning each day. If it seems you are missing appts and need constant reminding, you should rethink what kind of planner you are using and/or how your’re using it.
  • BULLETIN/MAGNETIC BOARD: If you don’t like the idea of having a bulletin or magnetic board out, put one on the inside door of your clothes or coat closet, or the inside of a kitchen cabinet. A great place to keep these misc papers, extra keys, and inspirational quotes. Just make sure you clear things off regularly so it doesn’t get too cluttered.

how to get your paperwork in order step 5: maintenance


Listen, as adults there are certain things we have to do whether we want to or not, like cleaning and keeping track of our paperwork (unless we hire someone else to do it). Here are a few tips to make it as easy as possible:
  • Take time to create a system that works best for you. If it isn’t working go back and try to figure out why. Like cooking, if something doesn’t come out right the first time you don’t just abandon the recipe, you try again to see where you went wrong until you get it right.
  • Make sure the box, bin or whatever you use to hold things to be filed, isn’t too big allowing you to wait so long to actually clean it out, making it take so long and therefore a hassle.
  • Do it more often so it takes less time. For instance I vacuum my apt about every other day which takes about 3 minutes. When I wait a week, it takes closer to 20 minutes which is kind of annoying… The moral of the story is do these little things that you have to do more often and it won’t be so bad. Or get an assistant to do it!

my apartment: home office


You know I like to keep things as simple as possible, and that includes my decision making process. I’m reusing my desk in the alcove but thought I may cut it and/or make it a drop-down to keep the space from feeling cramped. Not sure, I installed it so I can live with it for a while to see how it works in the space. I’m still tinkering with the placement of things (like the printer below) and would rather take my time to figure what will be best for the space instead of making a rushed decision just to have ‘it done’.

One thing I have decided is I’m making a large cork board using the remnant of the piece of wood I’m using to make the bed frame. It’s going to fit perfectly on the wall behind the computer. Stay tuned…