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…..

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.

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.

l’armoire essentielle

Rosemary McGrotha

image via larmoireessentielle.com, photo by peter lindbergh

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by the french blog L’Armoire Essentielle, translated The Wardrobe Essential. The blog takes a pared down approach to dressing which I admire. It’s in french but most posts have an english translation. Luckily for you, they’ve translated my interview.

Read the entire article here.

5 basic principals of organizing

There’s no secret formula for how to be organized. It’s actually a simple concept that anyone can learn whether they are naturally organized or not. And don’t confuse being neat with being organized. Even if something looks like a mess, it can still be ‘in order’.

Here’s 5 basic principles to help you get or stay organized:


2. GROUP LIKE THINGS TOGETHER. Office supplies, baking tools, vases, batteries, photos, things used only for travel, beach, etc. It’s easier to find and use thing when they’re all together in one place.

3. STORE THINGS WHERE YOU USE THEM. If you get undressed in the bedroom, have the hamper in the bedroom, not down the hall in the bathroom.

4. KEEP THINGS ACCESSIBLE IN RELATION TO HOW OFTEN YOU USE IT. Most often used things should be within arms reach, least often used things can be on higher or lower shelves (for heavier things). 

5. PUT THINGS BACK WHERE YOU FOUND THEM. It takes much more time to look for something than it takes to just put it back properly when you’re done using it. 




living better with less: facial cleansers


I’m not a spa person, I prefer to do all my beauty routines at home (including my nails), nor am I a product junkie. Since most products need time and consistency to really work, when I find something I like, I stick to it.

People’s needs are different depending on age and lifestyle. I’m late 30’s so I need extra exfoliation but am careful not to do too much as overdoing it with products can actually have a negative affect on your skin. My skin is a little sensitive so I try to avoid anything with too much fragrance or unnecesary additives.

Here’s my current cleansing routine and products:

Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleaner
everyday cleanser

Prescriptives Immediate Smooth Exfoliator
use 2 or 3x a week with the foaming cleaner. i labeled it so i don’t forget. this is no longer available and i’m on my last tube. will probably just use the glycolic wash only when it’s done…

Trish McEvoy Even Skin Glycolic Wash
a more intense exfoliator used 1x or 2x a week, instead of the foaming cleanser. i use it on my hands as well as my neck and chest when in the shower. 

Fresh Umbrian Clay Treatment Bar
2x a week to clean out pores

Philosophy Microdelivery Peel
2x a month for more intense exfoliating


my quick edit

Between shopping and pieces given to me I’ve gotten a lot of new clothes this summer. Nothing excessive just more than I normally get in a season so my closet is
pretty full and this weekend I almost had a meltdown. I was getting dressed to go out and had an overwhelming feeling of nothing to wear. I had a conversation with myself and this is how it went:

“OMG, I’m freaking out! I bought all these clothes, I hate them all, and I have nothing to wear!!” Trying to calm myself down I thought to do a quick edit. “My wardrobe is always edited, there’s NOTHING I could possibly get rid of.” It seemed to have made it worse… I went into pro mode and spoke to myself like I would a client; “OK, just for the sake of it, let’s quickly go piece by piece and see if there’s anything in question.” I rolled my eyes (just like my clients do ;O) and pulled 8 things.

Pieces in question are things you don’t wear and don’t know why as opposed to specialty pieces not worn a lot, but are eventually worn and loved. You’re looking for those things that are ‘eh’, things maybe you try to wear but never do. The key is after pulling them to TRY IT ALL ON even if you think you ‘know’ what it looks like.

Here’s what I did:

– Acne Black Dress; purchased a couple of years ago, worn a few times. PROBLEM: the asymmetric hem is a bit trendy now. REALITY: I don’t wear dresses a lot, it’s not silk, and I have 3 other black silk dresses I would wear over this one. DECISION: SELL

– Splendid Oversized T-Shirts, 1 black, 1 grey; purchased a few years ago, both worn a lot but not this year. PROBLEM: they’re a little trendy with the front being slightly shorter than the back. REALITY: after trying them on, they’re actually really nice but they do look worn, the black one has several pulls in it. DECISION: KEEP but for the beach

– Madewell Oversized Sleeveless Silk Shirt; purchased within the last year, worn once or twice. PROBLEM: no obvious problem. REALITY: doesn’t look right at the shoulder and the color is off. DECISION: GAVE to my friend as it looked much better on her…

– DL1961 Blue Jeans; purchased last year, worn once. PROBLEM: prefer black jeans over blue plus I have an over dyed pair and a super light pair that are cooler. REALITY: they’re really comfortable and look great. DECISION: KEEP but for the beach

– Genetic Dark Blue Jeggings; purchased with jeans above, worn a number of times. PROBLEM: they’re a weird color. REALITY: on top of the off-color, they slide down when I wear them (more than usual with skinny pants) which is uncomfortable and annoying. DECISION: DONATE

– White Clutch; had about 10 years, used a lot those first few years. PROBLEM: no obvious problem. REALITY: I’ve tried using it many times but just don’t love it anymore. DECISION: DONATE

– Anya Hindmarch Nude Large Toiletry Bag (used as a clutch); purchased years ago, used many times. PROBLEM: no obvious problem. REALITY: just don’t love it anymore. Thought of using it for travel (it’s actual purpose) but it’s a little heavy on it’s own and large for what I would take with me. DECISION: SELL

Looking at these pieces, they are all nice but the reality is, they just don’t work for me so no second thoughts. By clearing them out (the beach stuff goes into a drawer) it’s easier for me to focus on the pieces I love instead of staring at the pieces I don’t and I’m feeling so much better about my wardrobe now!!

living better with less: makeup



I see makeup like everything else, so I keep it simple. I prefer makeup that enhances not recreates, makeup that looks subtle and natural. 

My routine includes a bit of sheer foundation, mascara, and lip gloss. Sometimes I go crazy and add a touch of eyeliner and blush. This routine is for all occasions; I wouldn’t wear more if going to a wedding or fancy dinner. It takes about 3 or 5 minutes and all my products fit in this little box that sits on my bathroom shelf (the smaller one on top holds my hair bands).


Make Up For Ever Face and Body Liquid Makeup, Alabaster Beige
sheer and light, used sparingly to even out my T-zone

Bobby Brown Face Touch Up Stick, Alabaster
for the occasional blemish

Bobby Brown Blush, Tawny
applied with a travel size Chanel brush 


Clarins Wonder Perfect Mascara, Black
I’ve tried others but always go back to this one

Sappho Organic Cosmetics Eye Shadow, Midnight Escapade
used as eyeliner, top lid only

Bobby Brown Eye Shadow, Smoke
to fill in my eyebrows with the small angled brush

yes, i really only have these 3….


living better with less: going without

IMG_1247vanessa bruno silk trousers

elizabeth and james silk pants

On my journey to live better with less, I’ve embraced the idea of going without. We’re conditioned to go buy something the moment we think we ‘need’ it. What about pausing before buying, to go without until proving having it would truly add to your life in some way. We’re responsible for everything we take into our lives; we have to store, clean, and maintain it. So is having that particular thing WORTH all that? 

When first trying to curb my over shopping, I started to walk away from things at the store (including free things) to see if I thought about it again. More than not I would forget, and for those things I didn’t I would sometimes go back and get it. Those are the things I actually love and use. This is a great tactic for clothes and decorative things.

Here’s another tactic, before buying anything, I need to prove I need it by finding myself in a situation where I say ‘if I had that right now, I could…’ at least 5 times before buying it. For instance, I’m not into gadgets, (I’ve never had an ipod) but I’ve thought about getting an ipad. It would be nice to sit in bed and use the computer (I have a desktop and do not like laptops). Friends have suggested I could bring it to client meetings, but in reality all my clients have a computer. It would be ‘cool’ to have one, but I’m already pretty cool. I don’t need an ipad to prove it ;O)

The pics show 2 pairs of black pants I recently purchased. Lately I’ve noticed that having literally 1 pair of nice black pants is limiting my wardrobe and that I just cannot wear black jeans everyday, so I picked up these special ladies…

Some people are frightened by the idea of going without. They think it’s a negative reflection of themselves in some way; that they cannot afford to buy something. I think it’s the opposite. It’s saying that you’re in total control of your things. I think it’s best articulated in a quote by J Brotherton:

“My riches consist not in the extent of my possessions, but in the fewness of my wants.”