Finding Your Calm in the Storm

I have been putting a lot of thought these days into preparing for the long “Covid Winter” ahead of us. My first priority is protecting my family’s physical health, but I’m conscious about not neglecting our mental health in the process. Winters are difficult enough under normal circumstances, and here in the Pacific Northwest, the dark rainy days seem to stretch on forever! This winter will be EXTRA challenging. Many of us are working and/or schooling from home, and on top of that, we can’t socialize or have Holiday gatherings to break up the monotony. In light of these new challenges, I’ve been brainstorming some strategies for making a home into a sanctuary that feels not only safe, but relaxing and calming at the same time…

STEP 1: DECLUTTER

I know, it’s probably not what you wanted to hear. I wish there was a quick and easy fix, but there’s no getting around the fact that clutter adds an unbelievable amount of stress to our lives. You might not even realize how much it’s stressing you out until you clear all those surfaces and put all the things back where they belong. Anything that doesn’t have a clear place to live in your home, probably shouldn’t be in your home. The goal is to be able to easily find the things you’re looking for, and to also have a more visually appealing and cleaner environment.

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to beautiful.

- William Morris

STEP 2: DESIGNATE A WORKSPACE

If you are working or schooling from home, dedicate one specific area for these activities. The idea is to isolate the stressful activities in one area of the home, to prevent that stress from being felt throughout the entire house. Unfortunately, we can’t all be so lucky as to have a home office, so make do with whatever works for you. For example, if you prefer to work from your dining room table, keep all of your work supplies in attractive bins or baskets that can be tucked away out of sight after the work day is over. You just don’t want a pile of projects sitting out at the end of the day, reminding you of your to-do list.

STEP 3: CREATE A CALM SPACE

Just like you designated an area for work/school, designate a spot in your home just for relaxing. This could be a bedroom, a bathroom, a reading nook, or a window seat. Take a comfortable area and make it more comfortable! Think about the places in the world that make you happiest: a vacation spot, a favorite restaurant, or a walk on the beach. Create your own tiny resort. Try to replicate the elements of your happy place within your home sanctuary. Use artwork, photographs, or scented candles. Think about how colors affect your moods. If you love walking in the forest, think about painting the walls a soothing shade of green. If you love the beach, consider painting your bathroom a cool blue with sandy accents. If painting your walls sounds like too big of a project, bring relaxing colors into your sanctuary space through accessories like pillows, throw blankets, or rugs.

STEP 4: BRING THE OUTDOORS IN

Plants, plants, plants! Having plants in your home or office has been proven to reduce stress and improve overall well being, concentration, and productivity. House plants also improve the quality of our indoor air by increasing oxygen and humidity and filtering out toxins and fumes. My goal for my own home is to have at least one plant in every single room, even if that means hanging a planter in a bathroom window! Even if you don’t have a green thumb, there are plenty of low maintenance house plants that will survive all the neglect you can throw at them (snake plant, pothos, zz plant, spider plant, to start…).

Think about how to add other natural elements into your home. Raw wood, stone, or woven baskets are all great options.  And on gloomy days when you need a little extra cheering up, don’t hesitate to pick yourself up a bouquet of flowers from the grocery store for a splash of color and an instant mood boost.

To summarize: Declutter! Isolate your workspace! Create your calm place! Plants!

These small steps could have a big impact on how well we weather this storm. So snuggle in and try to use this winter as an opportunity to relax, reflect, and reconnect with family. 

We’re all in this together so if you need help or advice, please reach out to us! This is what we do!

-Much love, from Robin and the rest of the Organized at Last family

The New Organized at Last

Welcome to our new website and our first blog post!! This has been a long time coming and we’re so excited that it’s finally ready. It’s been a crazy year, to say the least (I’m sure we can all agree on that!). To sum up our year so far… Lauren had just purchased Organized at Last from the previous owner, Julie. We began the year hopeful about the “new” business and new beginnings. And then… Covid-19 struck. What a time to start a business, right?!? Everything screeched to a halt for a couple months but we’re happy to report that, despite the setbacks, we’re back in business and busy organizing, designing, and staging!

The one positive thing that Covid-19 has given us is time to reflect on our goals and dreams for this company. Family is at the core of our personal values and we have been so lucky in realizing that we can make family the core of our business as well.

I suppose this would be a good time to introduce the Organized at Last family…

Lauren: Lauren is the new owner of Organized at Last. She has been blessed with the gift of natural organizing skills and a creative mind. She’s been passionately organizing and designing her whole life. Owning and operating this business is literally a dream come true for her. 

Kyle: Kyle is Lauren’s husband and the company “handy man.” He is the person we call in when a client needs something built, assembled, or installed. His perfectionism and confidence make him an ideal addition to the team.

Lauren with her husband, Kyle, and their daughters, Sloane and Dilyn

Robin (that’s me): I’m Lauren’s assistant organizer/designer and I also happen to be her sister. I help Lauren execute her visions and I put my skills as a visual artist to use. I also enjoy writing, so I get to be the voice behind this blog!

Robin with her kids: Roman, Larkyn, Elektra, and Atticus

That’s a pretty basic introduction to the “new” Organized at Last family. If you want to learn more about us and our other employees, check out our “Team” page.

Check back here often for tips on organizing and design for your home and office, as well as projects we are working on. If there is a specific topic you’d like us to write about, please let us know!

Julie’s Retirement

Julie Clarke with Grandkids
Just over 30 years ago a friend encouraged me to put my organizing skills and passion for simplicity to good use. No one really knew about professional organizing back then and sometimes people asked me if anyone would really pay for organizing help. I was already aware that there was a need (due to my mom’s long-term illness and my own chaotic childhood home) and that many people struggled with disorganization. However, I soon realized that I was pregnant and pairing a new baby and a new business would likely not be “simple”. Instead, I decided to teach organizing classes in the evenings at Bellingham Technical College, had 2 more sons, and when my youngest started kindergarten, Organized at Last was born.

Julie ClarkeThat was over 20 years ago. Today, I am grandma Gogo to 5 precious little ones (with one more on the way) and I know firsthand how fast these years pass by so I have decided to retire. I am looking forward to spending extra time with our kids, and their babies, as well as serving my family, friends, and others in fun, new ways!

Over the years I have developed lifelong relationships with so many of my incredible clients and leaving this profession is seriously one of my toughest life decisions. I have loved serving thousands of clients, teaching hundreds of classes, donating tens of thousands of items to local charities, decorating, staging and redesigning more homes than I can count, sometimes on a tiny shoestring budget.

I never would have been able to do any of this without my incredibly supportive and amazing husband and my talented team members who over the years totaled more than 20. Wow, what a gift to have had so many organized, caring, thoughtful and intentional women as employees! My clients often commented that I had the most incredible team of women working for me. It was so true. They made this work “easy”!

Organized at Last will continue under new ownership/leadership. My successor is Lauren Godfrey. She has a background in design, loves organizing and has a knack for staging and redesign. She loves living a simple and purposeful life with her handy husband and 2 young daughters. The OAL phone number and website will remain the same. My personal contact will be 360-410-3855 and my new email address is Gogojulieclarke@gmail.com. Please update me in your contact list. The Organized at Last Instagram and Facebook pages will remain the same, but you can follow me on my personal Instagram @gogojulieclarke account and on Facebook

I can’t thank all of you enough for your support these past 30+ years. My work life could not have been any better. I am so blessed. Now, I’m off for new adventures with my tiny loves.

Best wishes always,
Julie

Lauren and Julie - Organized at Last

Storage Solution Series: Sasha

Next up on the hidden spaces/unique solutions tour, is Sasha’s home.  Sasha has lived in her 1500 sq foot home for twelve years and her favorite thing is finding a solution on a budget and/or within a tight space.

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  As we tour her home, you can see that Sasha frequently places things on trays for easy cleaning and containing.  She also tends to use baskets for additional linen storage, especially in rooms with minimal storage areas like the guest room below.

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One of the places in her home with extremely tight storage space, is the main bath.  For this, she hung a couple of inexpensive shelves from Target, and fluffy stacks of towels are pretty and easy to grab.

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One of the continual issues in her home for years, was the drop zone. They all enter through a garage and then walk right into the kitchen. Everything used to get tossed onto the island which made the whole open concept space feel cluttered and chaotic. To calm the issue, she first stacked her washer and dryer and added upright cubby shelves next to them.

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Then, because mail and keys were still getting scattered all over the island, she installed some very affordable buckets from Ikea to the end and used vinyl letters to label them. They get used daily now. In the kitchen, she removed doors to the most used cabinet and then painted the back of it to match the island color.  It functions so well with an active family. She also rethought a nearby coat closet that was rarely used, installed some simple shelving from Lowes and turned it into a pantry space.

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Sasha moved their family computer into the kitchen/dining space for homework time converting an existing table and baskets for storage space.  With clear labels, everything has a home and seldom feels overwhelming.

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Though Sasha’s home doesn’t have a lot of extra storage spaces, the master closet is really large.  To organized this space on a budget, she purchased a dresser and cubby shelf from Ikea and then stacked them.

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 For her shoe storage, she purchased glass blocks at Lowe’s and pre-cut shelf boards and stacked them up.  It works so well and didn’t break the bank.

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Join us again next week for more unique and practical storage solutions!

New Fall Classes!

I know many of you have taken the class, The Simply Organized Home, over the years. It has been a keystone of what I teach and you’re able to see for yourself that living a simpler, less cluttered life is possible. This class is always being revised and this year it’s better than ever! I encourage you to please spread the word and consider taking this class again with friends or family members!

We’ve also got two other classes that are perfect to get you prepped for the upcoming holiday season – Entertain with Ease and Simplifying the Holidays.

Don’t wait – we’ve still got spots left. Register Today!

Storage Solutions Series: Kristin

We have shown the variety of personal spaces for the Organized at Last crew in the past. Looking back at our home tours and outdoor spaces, we thought you might also really enjoy seeing some of our more hidden spaces, along with some of our unique organizing solutions. We are kicking off this little tour with Kristin’s home. Kristin is the newest member of the team and she does classic simplicity in her home so well. She lives in a large home, and has two active boys. A fan of neutrals, she has created an environment of restful corners that invite you in.

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As you walk through her home, you can see that she chooses pieces with excellent storage, such as using small bookshelves instead of nightstands. And small dressers, instead of living room end tables.

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One of our favorite solutions in Kristin’s space, is the antique french toast caddy that she has put to use as media device storage.

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Kristin is a master at finding a great piece of furniture or simple bowl or container and repurposing it for maximum use.

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Toward the end of the tour we stumbled upon a darling way to display a simple collection in her master bathroom. Old shaving brushes and barber items get tucked into a wood shelf cubby that she picked up inexpensively from Target, and because the collection isn’t overflowing it’s eye-catching, yet not overwhelming.

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Stay tuned next week for a peek inside Sasha’s home and her organizing tips!