“Going Shopping” When Organizing

“Going Shopping” When Organizing

When I work with clients during an unpack and organize, before I begin to put the items away I like to sort, categorize, and present them as if the items were on display in a store.   I find that if you present the items in a visually pleasing way people tend to make quick and concise decisions about what stays and what goes.  Even kitchen utensils deserve to be presented in an appealing way. When a client sees that they have 10 spatulas and really only 2-3 that they use, it makes it easier to decide what goes.  I like to call it “going shopping”.  When I am doing a master closet that’s when things get really fun and you can be creative as well as efficient in the way you lead a client through the closet, by categorizing clothing in groups such as: workout, casual dress, fancy clothes, etc. I also like to practice this at home when I am seasonally changing out clothes in my closet or sorting my grown children’s left behind items in the mudroom.  Sometimes I will FaceTime them with all the items displayed so they can make quick decisions.  It may take a little more time on the front end, but it’s worth it in order to move through the decision making in a quick manner.  So next time you are organizing a part of your world, put everything on display and go shopping! 

Written by: Leslie Dietrich, Project Manager

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When your pantry says BOO!

When your pantry says BOO!

It’s that time of year that many people get excited and energized to go to a haunted house.  They love the suspense of what is lurking around the corner.  I know so many who thrive off this adrenalin rush.  Are you one of them?  Or are you like me and hate being caught off guard?

If you are one of these who love it, can you say the same thing about your home?  Do you know what is lurking in the corner of that pantry?  The pantry is one of the most neglected areas in a home.  Most people I know would not be able to give me a detailed inventory of their pantry.  Or even a semi-detailed inventory of their pantry. 

Pop Quiz:  Make a list of 10 items (and quantities) of what you think is in your pantry.  (no cheating…don’t look).  After your list is complete, compare your list to the actual contents. 

How did you do?  100% - you rock!  50% - average.  25% or less – you better keep reading.

I love organizing a pantry!  Why?  Because in just a few simple steps, a huge impact can be made.  And my experience has given me the gift of implementing simple systems in a short amount of time. 

Here are the few simple steps I was referring to above.

1. Take everything out of pantry. This is where the pantry may say BOO! to you but stay brave.  It is worth it. 

2. Toss/recycle/compost all expired, almost empty items.  Donate all items that are not expired but no one in your household will ever eat or you have duplicates that will not be consumed before they expire.

3.  Wipe down all the shelves and sweep the floor if needed.

4.  Return items to pantry, that belong in the pantry.  Do not put anything back that does not belong in there!

5.  Step back and admire your efforts.   And feel free to show it off to the rest of the family. 

Halloween may be scary but your pantry shouldn’t be!



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Quick Tips: Controlling Kitchen Chaos!


1. Unearth Secret Storage.
Think outside the box.  Finding unique ways to use awkward spaces will help transform space that appears unusable to really useful

  • Use a Lazy Susan for storing canned goods, spreads and cooking oils.

  • Adjust your shelves to fit more contents.

  • Upright storage for cookie sheets and cutting boards, keeping everything in sight and easy to grab by adding a couple of inexpensive tension curtain rods inside a base cabinet!

2. Customize Your Pantry.
Pantries are usually deep and awkward. Cabinet shelf dividers create more space

3. Minimize Small Appliances. 
Keep you counters clear of clutter - only keep out what you use daily.

4. Always Store Like Items Together. 
You will be surprised at how many of the same items you have, when they are all together!

5. Get Rid of Bulky Packaging. 
Clear canisters let you see what have and what you are running low on

6. Free Up Your Counter Space. 
Use hanging baskets to display fruit/vegetables, so that way you actually eat them; instead of letting them rot in the fridge or take up MORE space on your counters!

7. Hang a Rack. 
Yes, just like the ones you have in your shower - but use them on the inside of a cupboard, underneath the sink to keep dish soap and sponges handy

8. Too Many Cookie Cutters? 
Use a paper towel holder to store them!

9. Pegboards. 
Hang a sheet of pegboard, add a few hooks and Voila! You've got plenty of versatile hanging storage!

10. Designate ONE junk drawer! 
Use dividers to maximize the space and maintain organization!

Editing Your Kitchen, One Gadget At A Time


With my interest in all things food, it naturally follows that I love being in the kitchen. Cooking is relaxing for me, and the kitchen is the hub of the home--what party were you at recently that didn’t end up there? My point exactly. And since, like many of us, I work full time, I want to come into a kitchen at the end of the day where it’s easy to make a wonderful meal. 

At Organization & Relocation, we know the only way to make this happen is if the kitchen is organized, user-friendly, and lean. That means an annual purge and deep clean that sets the bar high--but not out of reach.

We start by emptying and cleaning every single drawer. Cleanliness always infuses a space with new energy. Next, we sort like items on the counter and look them over with a discerning eye. Is anything repeated? What is that ancient cherry pitter doing here, anyway? Are there utensils that don’t get used because a sharp knife will suffice? If so, I encourage my clients to give them away or recycle them. Not having to paw through your utensil drawer for five minutes looking for that elusive peeler is a beautiful thing. 

We then transform the drawers with clear organizing trays, simply by puzzling together different-size trays that best accommodate the contents of each. The clear ones work well because you can really see what’s in them.

A “junk drawer” is essential to every kitchen, and it’s a great place to store those pesky things that never seem to have an obvious home--matches, pens, scissors, string, Post-it notes, etc. After the purge I suggest that my clients reassemble these random items (singing bottle opener, anyone?) in a different way to make sure they notice what’s in there. And yes: the junk drawer gets organizing trays, too!

Next on our thorough clean and purge list are the cupboards. It’s amazing how obvious the lesser-used items become when everything’s out and similar things are grouped together. Why are there so many mixing bowls? When was the last time that wok was liberated from its shadowy corner? We always attempt to improve the layout, depending on the client’s habits and favorites, as we replace items after the purge. We encourage clients to use the Org & Relo mantra: “Do I love it? Do I use it? Do I appreciate it?” This helps to make decisions without sentimentality confusing things.

Then come the food zones. Food gets edited with a ruthless eye, especially the classic, “This looks cool, I’ll try it tonight!” that’s still sitting there a year later. Shelves are wiped down and we only put back the items the client will use, grouped by type. Ergonomics are key to organizing any space, so we order in a way that makes sense for your needs—healthy and most-used items at eye level, baking items all together, pet food on the bottom (if your pet can be trusted!), sweet treats for kids on an upper shelf, etc. In the pantry we use containers with typed labels to group smaller items.  

Keeping our kitchens organized and ready for action makes cooking a meal at the end of a long day a surprisingly stress-free experience. And you know what? That may be the most delicious local ingredient of all.

Happy Organizing!

A Little TLC for Your Kitchen - and My Guilty Secret.

I love food. I love cooking it, eating it, and sharing it. It naturally follows that I love my kitchen too. Even though it’s not quite the dream kitchen I would design if I found $50,000 lying around on the counter, it’s my comfort zone. That’s why every January, I give it the love it deserves by organizing it from--literally--soup to nuts.

I start by emptying out all the drawers and cleaning them. In my experience, cleanliness brings renewed energy into a space. Next, I group all the like items on the counter and look them over with a fresh eye. Is anything repeated? Are there utensils I never use? If so, I give them away or recycle them. Editing gadgets is a great stress reducer when you open your utensil drawer and don’t have to paw through it for five minutes looking for what you need.

I then reassemble my drawers with the clear Linus organizers from The Container Store, which I've also cleaned. There are shallow and deep ones, which I mix and match depending on need, but I always maintain the same depth in each individual drawer.  Organizational tools and supplies don’t have to be expensive or fancy--what’s important is to choose something you’re comfortable with and will use. I like the clear organizing trays because I can really see what’s in them.


A junk drawer is essential to any kitchen, and it’s a great place to store those things you want at your fingertips but that never seem to have an obvious home--matches, pens, pencils, scissors, string, Post-it notes, etc. When I empty mine out and purge it in January I never know what I’m going to find in there--but I always know it will be interesting!  When I put it all back in, using the same see-through Linus organizers, I organize the contents in a different way to make sure I notice what’s in there.

Next, I do the same thing with the cupboards--a thorough clean and purge. It’s amazing how obvious the lesser used items become when everything’s out and similar things are grouped together. Why do I have so many mixing bowls? What about that grill pan I never seem to take out? And when the cupboards are empty, I think about how my current layout is working and how I can improve it when I put things back. Of course, I’m always repeating my mantra to myself: “Do I use it? Do I love it? Do I appreciate it?” This helps me make decisions without sentimentality getting in my way.

Once all that’s clean and reassembled, I move on to the food cupboards and the under the sink zone. Food items get edited with a ruthless eye, especially the classic “this looks cool, I bet I’ll use it!” that’s still sitting there a year later. Then I wipe down the shelves and only put back the items I know I will use, grouped by type. Ergonomics are key to organizing any space and I always order in a way that makes sense for my needs—healthy and most-used items at eye level, baking items all together, pet food on the bottom, etc. In my pantry, I use containers with labels to group smaller items together and especially love frosted totes in this zone. I create a typewritten label in all caps using a label maker for a clean and organized look.  


I leave under the sink till last and am always stunned by how satisfying a thorough cleaning and edit of that generally neglected space is.

Okay. I know I've encouraged you not to double or triple up on gadgets (a client I worked with once had four blenders and wasn't willing to give any up), but I have a confession to make: I have three ice cream makers. My guilty secret is out! But here’s the thing: I love homemade ice cream, and I like to have more than one flavor at once. What’s a girl to do?

Happy Organizing!