Author Archives: Lisa

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The trick to organizing flat surfaces

Category : Home Organization


The Trick to Organizing Flat Surfaces

The last thing I saw before I closed my eyes every night was a mound of papers, books and products piled high on the dresser next to my bed. This buildup of unfinished tasks and excess junk was also the first thing that greeted me in the mornings.

It’s no wonder that I felt chronically stressed. There was a nagging reminder of life’s chaos staring me in the face at the start and end of every day.

I would periodically clean out the mess that ended up there, but I lacked an efficient system of preventing it from accumulating in the first place. Given the limited space on top of a dresser, it was a good candidate for a low-investment, high-payoff organization project. I called Lisa Bianco, with Picture It Organized in St. Louis, to assess the problem and help to find a solution.

The first thing she did was to completely clear off the dresser and sort all the like objects together. So all the papers went on one section of the floor, all the makeup in another, the books and offices supplies had their own spots. Then, she told me to figure out which of these items I truly needed to use or wanted to look at every single day. That was a fraction of what was actually lying on the floor in front of me.

“We know we don’t need all this stuff,” she said. “We just need some guidance to get it out.”

The remaining items needed to be thrown out or stored in a way that made sense, somewhere else. Bianco brought a tray to corral the daily-use cosmetics and products and a cylinder to store taller objects, such as a hairbrush.

It’s helpful to think of one’s home (or office or bedroom) as a cycle, she said. Things are constantly coming in and need to be going out at a similar pace. When the cycle of in and out is out of balance — that’s where the clutter starts. She homed in on a huge pile of lip glosses and forced me to pick out one or two. The rest went inside a box labeled “extra lip gloss” and into a drawer.

Then came the real talk.

“My recommendation for you is not to buy any more lip glosses until these are gone,” Bianco said. It certainly made sense when she said it.

A lot of our attachment to extra stuff comes down to unresolved anxiety, she explained. We fear will need something later and miss it if we’ve gotten rid of it. That explains my penchant for keeping all those free samples that come with cosmetic purchases that I rarely (if ever use) but couldn’t bring myself to throw away or donate.

“We think there’s a shortage of stuff,” she said. But there’s no shortage of boxes, supplies or samples in our lives. The key is to look at the source of those fears.

The trick is to visualize your daily routine and set aside only those items. Thinking about the flow of your mornings and evenings will help set up the flow of things around you at those times. The other key is to know your own aesthetic preference. Do you like clear containers so you can see everything available to you in one glance. Or does visual noise weigh on your mind? In that case, you want to use opaque containers.

I checked with several other organizers to find out what they store on their dressers and why.

Patsy Bieg, of Heartful Home Solutions, said she only keeps a lamp on her dresser. She stores her cosmetics in a travel bag that lies flat on her dresser when she opens it to use and then folds up and is put away when she’s done.

“I don’t like seeing a lot of things on surfaces,” she said. She advises displaying only items that genuinely make you happy when you see them.

Meghan Rathert, with Courage 2 Organize, says she keeps an enclosed jewelry box, a few family photos, a basket with daily use products such as lotions and deodorant and a couple of inspirational sayings around the mirror. She suggests having the same spot for frequently used items such as keys, a watch and jewelry to create a habit over time. It’s important to find a location that is easy to get to and just as easy to return an item to, she said. Repetition creates order.

That was the case for my small project. Two months later, the dresser is just as neat and tidy as when we set up the system. We ended up moving all those stacks of files and papers I had next to my bed to another room. They are still separated into stacks but not in a proper filing system yet.

That’s another project for another day.


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Antique photo albums, keys, office supplies and baby shoes. Nostalgic still life

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kon mari

A Professional Organizers Opinion of the “Kon Mari” Method

Category : Home Organization


The biggest thing right now in the world of organizing is the Kon Mari method of organizing from the book “The Life changing Magic of Tidying Up, The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo. She is everywhere on TV, talk shows, newspapers and magazines. People can’t get enough of her!

“Keep What You Love, Discard the Rest”

Her method is to get rid of anything that doesn’t touch your heart, so you are surrounded by only the things you love. If you spent anytime organizing your home this is nothing you haven’t heard before. Her methods she uses is what is getting all the attention. She does it all at once and by category not space. You would gather all your clothes that have stored in your house, not the ones only in that room, to show how much stuff you actually own. She believes to tidy up in one shot rather little by little you can dramatically change your mindset. When you see the results you feel the effects. Her method requires you to empty all your bookcases and all you clothes on the floor so you can visually see everything you own. Then you take each item in your hand and ask “Does this spark joy?” If it does keep it, if not dispose it. She also feels the items in your home have its own life force and you should thank them every day for serving you well.

My favorite parts: As a PO I already use most of these methods, probably why they are my favorites!

    • I think it’s great, if reading this book motivates you to get rid of your stuff.
    • You should only surround yourself with things that bring your joy!! Love it!                                                                                                                                                              
    • Everything has a home. You only need to decide 2 things. Do I keep it or where do I put it?                                                                                                                                            That is how we create systems, by creating a home for everything.
    •  Buying the storage ONLY after discarded the items that don’t bring you joy.                                                                                                                                                                    Buying containers comes way down in the organizing process.  
    • Focusing on choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.
    • Storing items (especially paper) vertically.

Not so favorites: Her explanations make sense, but probably won’t work for most people.

  • Don’t store it where you use it. Don’t scatter storage space. Store all items of the same type in the same place. I don’t see that working in a lot of households, including mine
  • Folding clothes – don’t store your socks in a ball. You should honor your clothes by touching them, while you are folding them and thank them for serving your well.                  Hangers are a lot easier, and people do what is easy!
  • Keep all items out of bathtubs and showers. Not very practical, takes extra time to do.
  • Empty your purse every day. Same as above.

The Best Organization Method is the one that works for you and your lifestyle!

Will it work for me? It all depends on your personality and your relationship you have with your stuff. There is not one way to organize. The best organization method is the one that works for you. If you have ADD this method will probably overwhelm you. If you have a strong emotional attachment to your stuff and you love everything you own and don’t want to discard your items, this is not the method for you.

If you are a spiritual person and believe items and your home have a life force, you would love it. Also, if you are tired of all your stuff and our ready to declutter and want it done quickly this a great place to start. Can I help with this method? Sure! If you read the book and decide this method will work for you, but don’t know where to start, I will be happy to help!! Contact me anytime to get started!


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Kitchen Organizing Made Simple

Category : Home Organization


The kitchen is the heart of our homes. When we have friends and family over, every one loves to gather in the kitchen!

Here are some easy tips to keep your kitchen running smoothly.

Set up your kitchen in zones. The items you need should always be within reach for the activity you are doing.

  • The cabinets by your dishwasher should hold your dishes, silverware, and glasses for easy clean-up and put away.
  • By your appliances you would store the items you use for food prep, cooking and serving.
  • Under your sink you would store your cleaning products and soaps.
  • Make a cabinet for your kids homework and arts/crafts supplies for easy clean-up.

Cabinet Storage Tips:

  • Place the items you use most in the front. Pull out storage drawers and lazy susan’s work best, so everything you have could be seen. If it isn’t seen it will not be used!
  • Use stand up tension rods to separate trays and lids.
  • Drawer and utensil dividers work great to keep silverware and serving utensils organized.
  • Use magazine holders placed vertically for water bottle storage.

The best system is the one that will work for your family. Make the home for the items that is easily accessible to every family member.



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White office shelves with different stationery, close up

Tackling Your Paper Pileups

Category : Home Organization

White office shelves with different stationery, close up

Are you drowning in paper? Can’t use the computer without removing piles of paper first?

Set yourself free from paper by following these tips.

With the piles of paper your already have, start with the most recent papers. Touch each paper and decide what you want to do with it.

  • Trash
  • Recycle
  • Shred
  • Keep

The keep pile should have only ties into your core activities. In a file box or cabinet put each paper in their proper Action file.

  • Call
  • Read
  • Enter
  • Scan
  • Pay

Mark date and due dates on calendar and make a to do list. Also, name files for you activities; school, household, etc. Name files based on retrieval not storage. Keep titles simple and categories broad, so you have the fewest place to look for any given document.


Is there an area in your home where the mail is always dropped? Make that your designated mail area!

  • In that area have in and out boxes for your mail.
  • Try to go thru your mail daily.
  • Immediately throw away your junk mail.
  • When you receive a new catalog, or magazine, throw away the old one. If it’s not read by now it’s probably not going to be read.
  • File the rest in your action or activity file.
  • Try the app Paper Karma to stop unwanted mail.


Make individual cubbies for each child. Teach children to put all paperwork in their cubbies when they come home from school. Then make a habit to go through cubbies at the end of the day. Place any papers that need to go back to school in a folder that can be grabbed on the way out the door.


Are you ready to tackle your paper clutter? Contact me today!

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Organize Your Pantry with an Easy Five Step Makeover

Category : Home Organization


The pantry is a good place to start when you want to get your kitchen organized. It can be done easily with little time, money and effort on your part. You will feel a sense of accomplishment when it’s completed. Then you will be ready to tackle other cluttered areas in your home.

Below is the article by Aisha Sultan, for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, that she wrote after I helped organize her pantry.—–

We confront it everyday, morning and night, for one of our most basic needs — the search for food.

If your pantry is a mess, it can bookend your day in frustration.

Fortunately, it’s also one of the quickest organization projects that offers one of the biggest returns in improved efficiency and peace of mind. We turned to two professional organizers to makeover two different types of kitchen pantries.

The first one, a floor-to-ceiling cabinet with six pull-out shelves was my very own challenge. The second, a closet pantry combined with a mudroom, was a neighbor’s.

It took about an hour to complete the cabinet pantry, and it took two organizers about two hours to make over the larger one. Each one, however, followed the same basic steps:

1. Assess your needs.

Take note of what works about your pantry. Then, list the things that make you crazy about it.

Lisa Bianco, director of marketing for the National Association of Professional Organizers St. Louis chapter and owner of Perfectly Organized in O’Fallon, Mo., says she starts every project with a conversation with the client about how often the items in the pantry are used and by whom.

The stuff that gets used every day needs to stay near the middle. The things that children help themselves to should be within their reach. The less often an item is used, the higher or lower up it can live.

Gretchen Bender, owner of Creative Spaces Organizing in St. Louis, says the first question she asks is: What is your goal?

“A lot of time people have the space, but they don’t know what to do with it. They just see a series of shelves.”

The organizer starts envisioning what can be grouped together, taken out and added to improve the functionality.

2. Empty it out.

The next step is to empty out the entire pantry. It sounds daunting, but it’s truly the only way to get a handle on everything that is hidden there. People will often discover they own multiples of the same product or have a backlog of expired foods.

“If you don’t see it, you won’t use it,” Bianco said. We discovered several unopened bottles of vitamins and supplements that had been purchased with good intentions but lost in the recesses of the pantry.

3. Sort into categories.

The next step is to group like items. Bianco brought a few storage containers in which she grouped all the protein bars, and fruit and nut bars roaming around. She created a section for snacks, one for breakfast items, pasta and dinner, spices, grains/rice and an entire shelf for baking.

4. Toss the excess and expired.

First, you purge, Bianco said. Get rid of things that are stale or expired. I threw out some year-old granola and half a package of stale shortbread cookies. (I don’t even like shortbread cookies.)

We also tossed the Tupperware that was missing lids and consolidated things into empty jars that kept turning up.

Taking note of the redundancy in the pantry can help cut down future costs. “It can be a money saver,” Bender said. Think about the money wasted on food that gets thrown away, excess items and impulse buys. It can help with menu planning to keep a grocery list on the inside door of the pantry and make a note of things you needs before you shop for the week’s meals.

5. Put the puzzle back together.

In the case of both the pantries our organizers worked on, they added a few storage baskets that grouped together certain items, such as teas, spices or lentils. In my pantry, Bianco added Lazy Susans for soup cans. She also added labels on each shelf as a reminder for everyone who uses the pantry.

Bianco moved the largest box of cereal to a middle shelf where our children could reach it more easily. She grouped it with the oatmeal and other breakfast foods. She also suggested tearing the loose box tops off of boxes to make the overall space appear cleaner.

For shelves that don’t pull out, it’s important to use the vertical space, so everything is within eye level. This may require buying a few tiered shelves, she said. She added two small containers, two medium ones and two Lazy Susans, all from Target, which cost about $35 in total.

In the closet pantry, they added a few more storage containers for a total cost around $45.

In both cases, they played with a few different ways of putting the contents back together.

“It’s like putting together a puzzle,” Bianco said. Some pieces fit better in different configurations and it takes a little bit of trial and error.

A pantry project is a good start for those who want to become more organized, Bianco said. “It doesn’t take as long. It gets you motivated and lets you feel successful.”

In less than an afternoon and less than $50 in supplies, you can make enough tweaks in an area of the house you use every day to have a significant impact on the rest of your day.


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Say Bye to Clutter!

Category : Home Organization

Clutter…What is it and why do we have it?

Clutter is anything that is not serving a purpose in your life today. It is having things that you do not need, use or love. It is caused by delaying decisions on where your items belong.

We think having more is better, but it’s not! Things won’t bring us happiness. Having less stuff will make more room for happiness. Having too much stuff weighs us down physically, mentally and emotionally.

It is also costs us in many ways:

  • Time it takes to find what you are looking for.
  • Space you could create for what is important to you.
  • Money spent on duplicate items.
  • Energy you expend in taking care of your clutter.

There are so many items that are not used or needed in the home. We only use 20% of items we own. We need to figure our 20% and manage the other 80%.

To get rid of your clutter, start off slow and simple. Grab 2 large garbage bags, one for trash, second for charity; clothes not worn, books read, etc. Take 10-15 minutes each day for a week and fill the bags. Start with the areas you see first and bother you the most. By the end of the week you will notice a big difference.

If you ready and need help tackling your clutter, contact me anytime at 636-485-3964 or


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Turn Clutter Into Cash!

Category : Home Organization

The following is an article I contributed to:

Experts Offer 5 Ways to Turn Clutter Into Cash

By    January 28, 2014

garbage basket full of cash

Eighty-four percent of stressed Americans say they worry their home isn’t clean or organized enough, according to an online survey conducted for the Huffington Post in 2013.

In addition to weighing on your mind, “clutter has a direct impact on your wallet and bank account,” said Bob Sadowski, marketing manager at At-A-Glance, which offers planning and organizing tools.

Perhaps disorganized bills make you miss payments, and then you get hit with late fees. Or you might make duplicate purchases of items you’ve already stashed in a self-storage unit but simply can’t find.

Fortunately, taking action to reduce clutter can relieve stress and also give your wallet a boost.

Read on to learn five ways decluttering can help you save—and even make—money.

for sale

1. Sell Stuff.
“We have so many items we don’t need, use or love in our homes,” said Lisa Bianco, a professional organizer who owns Perfectly Organized STL LLC, based in St. Louis.

As you go through belongings, consider what you want to keep, toss, give away or sell.

If you have only a few things you’re hoping will generate some cash, consider listing them on Craigslist or eBay. If you have a lot of goods to sell, try a garage sale.

A consignment shop or sale might be another option for getting money from items you no longer need.

Some consignment shops will pay you for your items or give you a store credit. A store also might take your belongings and sell them at the price you choose, and then give you a percentage of the proceeds.

Consignments shops often specialize in certain belongings, such as clothing, sports equipment, home décor and children’s items. A few to try: Plato’s Closet, Play It Again Sports and Once Upon a Child.

treasure chest

2. Uncover Cash and Valuables.
“Fear motivates people to keep things,” said professional organizer Jul’s Arthur, owner of Wilton, CT-based Everything In Its Place.

If you don’t have those things in order, however, some of your valuables can go missing.

When Arthur helped a client clean out an apartment where the client’s mother had lived, they uncovered $3,000 in cash.

“We found cash in socks and under the rug—it was like a treasure hunt,” Arthur recalled.

To make sure dollars don’t go missing, check dresser drawers and pockets of clothing before getting rid of them.

If you come across necklaces, earrings and rings that you don’t use or are broken, take them to a store that buys jewelry or gold.


3. Clean Out Your Garage.
If your garage is packed with everything from boxes of old dishes to baseball cards and collectibles, there won’t be room for your car, Sadowski said. Leaving your car outdoors can expose it to the elements—and ultimately reduce the value of your vehicle.

To get the garage under control, first determine exactly how you want to use the space. You might decide to set up a workshop area or keep holiday decorations in a certain part. Sketch a layout of the design to show how your belongings and car will fit.

If you decide to move some things from the garage to a self-storage unit, make sure they’re stored properly. “If no on-wall shelving is present, there are many portable storage devices specially designed to organize everything from sporting goods to lawn equipment,” Sadowski said.

fixing your finances

4. Clean Up Your Finances.
If you have gift cards or coupons buried in paperwork, they could expire before getting used. You also might lose out on money that’s owed to you.

Robert Farrington, founder and editor in chief of The College Investor, recently helped his father get financially organized. In the process, the two of them found a pension from his first job that he remained eligible for. The pension pays Farrington’s father an extra $300 a month.

When sorting finances, check the Unclaimed Money website. This government site lists unclaimed funds from bank failures, lost savings bonds, pensions and more.

storage unit

5. Keep Your Storage Unit in Good Shape.
“To organize a self-storage unit, think plastic containers and labels,” Bianco said.

Get started by emptying out the storage unit. Then divide items into categories such as kitchen utensils, baby items and children’s clothing. Place each category in its own container, and then add labels that are easy to spot and read.

“Using air-tight plastic containers instead of cardboard boxes helps avoid any weather- or water-related damage to your items,” Bianco said.

Heavy-duty shelving placed in rows also can help make it easy to find and retrieve items. When you need something, you’ll be able to retrieve it from storage, rather than heading to the store to buy it—and spending money needlessly.

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Items for Sale at a Tag Sale

5 Tips For a Successful Garage Sale

Category : Garage Sale

Items for Sale at a Tag Sale

Are you planning on having a garage and don’t know where to start? These tips will help you make money on the items you don’t need or use anymore. You know what they say “Your junk is someone else’s treasure!”

  • Supplies you will need: Price tags, flyers to post, directional signs to your location, bags, calculator, pocket apron to hold change, extension cord to outlet to test items, permit if needed, newspaper to wrap breakables, $100 in change; 4-$10, 5-$5, 25-$1, 1 roll of quarters.
  • Display like with like. Use tables to display items. All kitchen items on one table, toys grouped together, books in a box, binders up so they can read the titles, etc. You get the idea! Also, make sure items are clean and have working batteries.
  • Put price tags on top of everything. It does take time to do, but is so worth it! You can start pricing every item that is .25 first and then go onto .50, etc. If you really don’t have the time, put like priced items in box or on table and make a sign “Everything on Table/in Box $1”. You can also do “Fill a Bag of Clothes $2” sign.
  • Price items a quarter or third of what you paid for it. I know this is hard to do, but it is a garage sale, people won’t pay a lot for it. If the item has value you should consider selling it on Craigslist or E-Bay.
  • Make your best items visible. Place those items out front or at the end of the driveway, so people will stop and not drive on by!

Best tip of all….ENJOY talking to your customers and have FUN!!

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NAPO st_louis Logo

The Background of a Professional Organizer

A Professional Organizer will help you overcome your clutter and disorganization to make your life less stressful and you time more efficient by designing custom organizing systems and teach you organizing skills. We help you take control of your surroundings, time, clutter and your life!

I want to help you realize how great you will feel and how less stressed your life will be when you are organized! When the job is complete it will change your life for the better.

This is just some of the many benefits of being organized:

–       Calm – Peaceful Surroundings – You will be able to put your feet up relax in your calm environment.

–       More Time – Find what you want, when you want it – Our time is precious, why waste it looking for items you can’t find. Everything will have a home to live.

–       Save Money! You won’t be buying items you already own because you can’t find them.

I know it’s hard to let someone in your home. You can be assured I will not judge you on your environment. I see beyond the clutter, I just see that there is not a system in place to help control your clutter. I follow NAPO’s code of ethics, and all information from our session is strictly confidential and will not be shared.

Clutter forms when we can’t make decisions on our items. Our lives are busy and the more we let our clutter go, it will just grow and grow, and they our lives become stressful because we our drowning in our stuff. I can help you make those decisions on what you need to keep, give away, or throw away. There is a big misconception that we come into your home and just throw everything away. I want to assure you that you are in control at all times with the decisions being made on what you to do with your items.


Contact me, at or 636-485-3964, to schedule a consultation.

It all starts with a Needs Assessment – I will listen to all the problems you are having with your space, and discover what is keeping you from being organized. We will discuss what is working for you and what is not and what your vision for the space is.

Then the organization begins! We can work with you or without, whatever your schedule allows. First, we will sort your items into like categories. Second, we will the purge the items, only keeping what you need, use or love. Then comes assigning the items you are keeping a home and finding just the right containers, then finally discussing how to maintain your new system.

Now is the perfect time to Get Organized! Don’t live another stress filled day, when help is just a phone call away!