THE ART OF ORDER

Our Blog

A series of informative and helpful articles 

"Discovering the Silver Lining"

Fall 2021


2021 is whizzing by. We have been working solidly (and safely) all year with a new sense of perspective. Our goal has always been to help people by “Refreshing Spaces”. Whether people are living, working, creating, resting or a combination of everything, in their space. I think we all understand our spaces a lot more now. How we live, work and play has been under a microscope for well over a year! It feels good to be more tuned in to our needs and the needs of others.

Refreshing a space means so much more now - in addition to the tried and true tasks such as; decluttering, painting, updating elements and re-defining the purpose of an area, our new perspective can also involve more holistic tasks. More attention can be on creating a flexible and convertible space where you can be more creative, playful, contemplative or productive. It is more about what happens inside the space as well as how it looks. It is how a space feels, sounds and functions that becomes paramount. All of our senses are taking part.

Being confined to our own quarters has made us take a hard look at what is working and what isn’t. Sometimes there are clues that can expose other issues that need to be brought to the forefront..

This idea is very important to us as home stagers. Our work is all about the feeling, light, flow and functionality of the property when we take on a project. Sure, it would be so easy to buy a bunch of nice stuff and just fill up a condo or house but staging is much more than that! We use a scientific approach to ensure the buyer can see and feel the potential of every corner.

Serving clients during a pandemic boosted our listening skills and our attention to details. By simplifying our workflows, it is now easier to be mindful and be present for people - and ourselves. Busily rushing around is only an option now - not a given.

Covid restrictions gave us time to fully experience, reflect and re-evaluate our personal and business lives. This is the same process we endeavor to bring to people’s homes. We aim to be Refreshing Spaces - even if you are not selling your home!

The Silver Lining Covid takeaway is understanding the value of taking time to carefully and thoughtfully assess areas of your home, the activities that happen within them and set goals accordingly in new ways.

We love using sense keywords to set goals. Think about how you want your kitchen to feel, function, smell, sound and look? Describe your vision with a couple of descriptive words.

Welcoming/Relaxed...Orderly/Efficient...Upscale/Trendy...Chef-like/Rustic...Retro/Nostalgic

Here are some examples of questions that you can ask yourself and your family:

The Kitchen for example:

Is there enough light in your meal preparation area? Is it a pleasant place to work in?

Do you feel inspired when you are in it? Is it easy to clean?

Do your food storage containers keep contents airtight? Do you need all of the food storage and travel drink containers that currently reside there?

Are you using all of your small appliances frequently? Do they all need to be out? Are they easy to access?

How do you keep track of what you are going to eat and the ingredients you need?

Is it easy to see what you already have?

How many different cupboards do you have to visit to make a little lunch? Is there chaos in the fridge/freezer?

Is it social enough or too much so? Can 2 people work easily together? Safe for Kids? + Seniors?

Is the kitchen a good place to be? Does it make you happy?

Any area of the home can be assessed in this way.

At the end of a Staging Day- almost every time - clients tell us that we did all of the things they wish they had done! Some don’t even want to move - when that happens it is truly a success because falling in love with a space is what Home Staging is all about.


Why wait until you move/sell to improve your home and make it a better place to be? 


Staging is like a Puzzle"

Spring and Summer 2021


Three weeks ago I broke both my ankles. It was a beautiful Sunday morning on Lake Rosseau, I was spending the weekend away at my friend’s cottage. I had just finished a cup of coffee and was getting up from a lawn chair. As I got up, my feet stopped but I was propelled forward onto my knees, and broke both ankles. This was a silly accident that has left me wearing 2 air casts and using crutches for 6 weeks. Agh!

Being “laid up” has given me time to sleep, read and try to keep my mind off my ankles. And as a result, I have also taken up jigsaw puzzles. It occurred to me that while I was sorting puzzle pieces into similar colours and patterns that doing jigsaw puzzles is similar to staging.

With a jigsaw puzzle there are hundreds of random pieces of various colours and shapes that need to fit together to create a complete picture. Puzzling requires a scrupulous eye for colour, pattern, shape and texture. Everything has a place and you know immediately if it doesn’t.

With staging there are many accessories which are like puzzle pieces that when combined, will “fit” together to create a harmonious space.

When Toby and I stage a bedroom, for instance, we usually begin with art + colour theme. We go to our storage unit where we keep all our inventory and begin to gather the “pieces of the puzzle” which for us are: quilts, throws, pillows, toss cushions, and accessories. These items, like puzzle pieces, are also sorted by colour, shape and texture.

At the client’s home we complete the puzzle. We make the beds, add pillows, throws, side tables, adjust lamps, rugs and hang artwork. We add items and remove accessories until all the items “click” together and create a complete vignette. We know we have completed the puzzle when all the pieces fit together.

There is a very rewarding sense of accomplishment when this happens. We are very proud to share our skills and help people simultaneously.

Who would have thought an injury could nurse gratitude!


"The Island of Misfit Art" - A Roadblock to Creativity

March 2021 


Organizing, digitizing, distributing and purging the kid’s art made me go very deep into the storage cupboards. While I was there, I discovered some folders of art I had kept from various art shows where I had a few unsold pieces. I still like these fun little pieces but realized I have moved some of them many times. That means they have been packed, moved, unpacked and occupied valuable space in my studio 7+ times over. 

I love donating to thrift stores and do so often but something about donating these small art pieces didn’t feel right - they were very personal and also they needed to be framed in order to appreciate them fully.

My daughter, who was helping me with some other art projects commented on how my mindset was perhaps skewed and that others might benefit from them as they were. My husband reminded me of how everyone benefits when we share the things that no longer serve us. The bonus is that I would have more space for my new art projects that I am planning.

With fresh eyes I looked at this as an opportunity to thank my family and also people who have been so supportive of my work in the 30+ years that I have been making and selling art.

Borrowing a technique from my business partner Anne the closet organizing queen, I pulled E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G O-U-T!

I sent out an email message and pictures to explain how I would love for these items to have new homes and that they were “Up for Grabs” free of charge. Of course, I am very sensitive to the idea that everyone else is decluttering too and in no way do I wish to add to people’s clutter! Also, as I said, many people already owned some of my art and I gave everyone the absolute green light to pass on it.

So I sent out the email and waited for the universe to tell me what to do.

I cannot express how much I appreciated the positive responses. Everything was spoken for in a couple of days and I am so grateful. The feeling of closure that I felt throughout this process was so helpful for me to move forward. A situation that was a giant drag became a great chance to thank my family and friends. I feel inspired and freed up now to start a new chapter of my art life.

In one afternoon, I got everything ready to go out and now have a beautiful fresh area to work in and I can easily access my supply cupboard. What affects our Creativity is not always logical but I think the take-away from this is to pay attention to your feelings and be open to the interpretation of others about the situation.

My husband was an inspiration when he was in the same boat, letting go of a lot of our beloved vinyl album collection. When we experienced the excitement of our daughter’s young adult friends coming over and basically taking the treasured albums off our hands we felt elated and free. It did not feel like a loss after all we both kept around 50 of our fave records.

Cliches come to mind about one person’s trash = another’s treasure but this is about what happens when the items don’t feel in any way like trash to you but you still need/want to let them go.

When we picture a specific person having something and enjoying it, the mindset changes to one of practicality and the stress disappears. Considering the current climate of stress and instability doing a small thing like this to improve your own little space can go a long way towards creating opportunity for major positive growth.  On the road to larger paintings is where I am now:)

"Let it Go"  Part  3 - Kids Books

February 2021 

Books are tricky to organize because they are useful and enjoyable - sometimes even beautiful but they do take up a lot of space, are heavy and hard to clean. It is  also very hard to find places that accept book donations. We do have a solution for that, which we will get to later.

Books are also very sentimental and since this is part of our series on Kidstuff - we will start off with kid’s books.

There are many memorable moments of hilarious afternoons and peaceful evenings reading to our kids. These times gave us a sense of well-being and fun when we enjoyed books as a family and we all learned things along the way.

Most families have a stockpile of them and they are especially difficult for us sentimental types to let go of. When I pick one up, it resonates with me and I can really feel the moment, even if is 20 or 30 years ago. Having said that - I have 6 bankers boxes filled with them. My kids have taken the most special ones to their places and of course some can be kept here as well. What about all the others? I looked through them a few months ago and I could only let 3 go. I wasn’t ready.

To be fair, I was doing OK with it but through the years all of the special grandparent books were added to our collection as well as our own books from our childhood which added a few more boxes.

We call this “The Layers of Life”.

Step 1. Look through all of them, taking out any books that are not useable or enjoyable.

For example: I edited out some of the truly Grimm fairy tales that frightened me as a child like; The Red Shoes and Little Match Girl. Anything overly ripped or stained went into recycling.

Step 2. Divide up the books using these “Layers” of who they belonged to.

So categories are; Grandparents, Parents and Kids. I also added a Series category, some of which were a mix.

Step 3. Edit each category

KEEP (special books for future use)

GIVE AWAY (to family/donate)

RECYCLE (not useful to anyone)

I tackle the easiest ones first - for me it was the Grandparents books. I kept a few as mementos for future generations.

*NOTE: There were a few that didn’t have too much of an attachment to but were still very cute and enjoyable family books, so I created a pile to “Give Away/Family” adding to baby shower gifts. I did this for the last 2 baby showers and they were a hit. Any that I thought were just OK, can be “Donated”.

Now to EDIT my books (Parents)

- take 5 or 6, lay them out

- pick the most special one

- then pick out the 2nd and 3rd most special ones.

- these go into my KEEP box

- others go into that GIVE AWAY box.

Now to my kids books (Kids) This is the biggest pile. I need smaller piles so I divide into 3 categories; Infant and Toddler, School Age and Teen.

Edit the same way as above.

I set aside any “sets”. I keep the ones that I would for sure like to read to any little ones in the family in the future. Some seemed kinda special but when I re-read a few pages they were just ok. Those go in the Give Away pile.

I am getting somewhere. Just to be on the safe side I show these Give Aways to my kids.

This eases my mind as I do not want to donate anything they might still want. They totally love the idea of other kids using them and now that I see the most special books tucked away in my 3 Keep boxes, so do I. Everyone has the books they truly love.

I divide all the other nice ones in the Give Away box into 2 categories; go to a new home of a family member/friend with a new baby at some point or to be donated. They are also now sorted chronologically to make it easier to find one when I need it.

Where to donate books? We have been working with a fantastic company that picks up books for free and donates them to people in the community who will use them. They do sell some of them and that offsets the cost of the pick-ups - Everyone benefits from this. They are called Second Life Books, to contact;  647 309-0492 www.secondlifebooks.net.

So that is how we dealt with our kids books and it feels absolutely wonderful to have accomplished it!  

"Lighten Up!"  Part  2  - Me​morabilia

January 2021 

​Here we are again. We did the Kid's Art last month. When we organized it, we set aside the personal items that I categorize as "Memorabilia". They are the next thing to tackle. The kids figure they have taken away the memorabilia they wanted from our home, so logically it should be easy for me to throw the rest out right? Not when you are the sentimental type like me!  Memorabilia includes things like; badges for activities like swimming, skating and Brownies, fun certificates, crafts, homemade gifts, photos, knick knacks, awards, records, pet items, cards and special hats.

-Here’s my GOAL; I want a few mementos of their childhood for myself and possibly some items could be passed down to grandchildren if either of our daughters decides to start a family. I also want to edit my own memorabilia as there are many multiples. I.e. every report card and seemingly every card I have ever received. Husband has a few things.

- There are so many items that they are now overwhelming and I don’t have the space for the huge collection.. So, first job is to decide HOW MUCH SPACE do I wish to allocate to house to these keepsakes?

- I have 4 trunks, two little ones and two big ones. I decide one for each family member.

- The practical thing to do next is against most people’s intuitions. You’d think it would be a good idea to start sorting into many little categories. NOT SO! There is way too much volume here. I physically estimate everything to fit into the 4 trunks must be able to fit on the bed. So everything gets piled up on the bed. When there is a large amount of things a REALITY CHECK is needed. (thank-you Marie Kondo :)

- I separate items into 2 CATEGORIES: PAPER + THINGS. -Then I start on one side of the bed and start tackling the piles one by one - EVEN though they are mixed up. I take my time and look at things, I enjoy this part and reminisce over a full day deciding which things are to be tossed OUT like; broken things, things that don’t feel important or special, things that hold no memory, things that have many multiples.

-I also pull items that belong somewhere else like a baby book, or donated to another child. These piles of “OUT items go in clear bags in corners.

This helps immensely to REDUCE THE VOLUME of items on the bed. Now I have a much more manageable amount of items to organize and I also now know what I have. This helps me make a few more SPECIFIC subject categories such as handmade cards from kids, special cards, schoolwork, achievements, friends and parties and pets

-I now look at the containers I have and see how much space I have for in each each person's trunk.

- Now it is SO EASY to go through and sort and I have EMOTIONALLY DEALT WITH the items and I can now SUPER QUICKLY AND EFFICIENTLY look at how much there is in each category and edit more ruthlessly to be able to fit in the containers. I try to keep only 1 out of every 8-10 things. I FEEL GOOD about what I am throwing away or donating because the special items are now clear to me and 

that is all I NEED.

-Also while I am editing I can ADD LITTLE NOTES about what the things are so they feel even more worthwhile. Everything looks NEAT and TIDY and cared for. I found quite a few things that I had been looking for - Bonus!

-In the end... My GOAL was met.  I had 1 trunk for each person in the family. This felt AMAZING!

My "AHA Moment! Part1 - Kid's Art

December 2020

I’ll start by saying that I am a reformed member of the Professional Organizer business. I was not born organized - quite the opposite. My disorganization drove me so crazy that I studied and practiced and learned to organize myself and now I take great pride in helping others do the same. Organizing IS a learned skill. Having said that I do have a category that I still struggle with though. Kidstuff.

This Fall, during the POC Virtual Summit, I learned the real reason why I kept ALL of my kids art and then later had the idea of how to solve the problem of what to do with this massive collection.

Earlier in the Fall, I had cleared out a corner in my studio to make room for a fitness machine. This corner formerly had a big art filing rack that I thought had my collage papers and art for staging in it mostly. Turns out it was filled to the brim with my kids’ art. I had asked them to come and pick out some things, which they did (they are 22 and 25), and then it was up to me to get rid of the rest. I never did, so special are these 2 sizable piles of cuteness I couldn’t stop looking at them, picking up the items and feeling happy, warm memories. I love every piece, so I am stuck.

So WHY is it more important to ME - than it is to them. WHY?

When my kids were quite little, I sometimes felt anxious and overwhelmed. Being an artist gave me the skills to easily and successfully do art with them and we had a lot of fun with it through the years. I found it relaxing and felt very confident in my abilities - my kids both have great art and design skills today so it makes me feel so proud.

My childhood art somehow didn’t survive and it made me appreciate the love and intention of my kids’ art even more. It was so positive and loving and made me feel so happy. The memories of these times were ignited by looking and touching the pieces. In my fifties now - my memory isn’t what it used to be so I have a fear of forgetting these special times.

So I thought - how would I help a client with this? I would have them explore the WHY?

Then I would ask them how will that serve them today? Creativity is needed to find a way to work with this situation.

Christmas this year was different because of Covid restrictions. Our daughters suggested we all give thoughtful handmade presents to reduce shopping, costs and volume.

I absolutely love making things and, being an artist, I appreciate creative gifts.

I bought a couple of digital photo frames and USB keys, I often recommend them to new Moms to start them on a positive path of clutter control. I tell them to take photos of their kids’ art and cute projects/achievements and then put them on a digital photo frame which the children can then have as a “collection” when they are older.

So I went back in time and took my own advice. It took a few nights to do the photos and then another afternoon to organize them all on USB keys. The result was amazing and the kids absolutely LOVED them on Xmas morning! It turns out they didn’t really look through everything the first time so they both found a few things to take home of the originals and I also picked a few of the most special things for their baby books. I kept all the photos on an external hard drive of mine and then the “collection” can go out. It no longer feels like a loss for me and we all are served by the digital record of these memorable times. It is a wonderful thing to be working out at home every day and by managing my collection and my attachment to it became a reality. I needed to dig a bit deeper to understand what these feelings meant and develop a strategy to honor those feelings but not keep everything. I feel so good about this now inside and out. 

How we roll during Covid

November 2020

We are in the business of helping people when they need it most. Covid-19 has challenged us to figure out how to do so as best we can and to follow government guidelines.

For jobs that are deemed essential, that are in the timely moving or selling your home  categories:

Here's what The Art of Order is doing to make organizing and staging safe during the pandemic every day:

-fresh 3-ply masks with charcoal filters

-latex gloves changed frequently during the day

-clean heavy duty aprons

-indoor shoes or booty covers

-sanitization using wipes on surfaces we have touched

-keeping social distancing at max levels; Ideally - working alone in home using detailed homeowner instructions, or working on different floors or at least 3 meters away from clients

Wherever possible, we are trying to use technology to help us in our work with people. FaceTime, Zoom, sharing photos and documents have all been working well and we are actually grateful for this opportunity to start mastering these tools.

Virtual Organizing and Staging are very good ideas for our company and our clients as they can be effective and easy to manage. We will be training more in these areas.

Stay safe everyone!

Walk the Talk

October 2020

We are so excited to have had the time and wherewithal to declutter our own storage space for our many staging accessories. We asked ourselves the same tough questions we ask our clients; "Is this Hurting us or Helping us?", "Is this item worth the valuable Real Estate it is taking up in our unit?" Does this reflect positively on how we are today?" of course, we have the 3 categories: 

KEEP, (we want it!) 

GIVE AWAY/DONATE (someone else can use it)

RECYCLE/GARBAGE (no one would ever use this)

We like to post these questions up clear as day where we are working and also have a few big containers labelled as above to make it easy to process the items and get them out of the space as quickly as possible.

Donation centres will likely close soon for the second lockdown. No worries, let's not let that stop us from organizing. We have simply found unused corners in our storage areas, sheds, basements to contain the items temporarily. As long as they are packed up - It's all Good!

Take care and Happy Organizing!​

Welcome to The Art of Order's New Blog

September 2020

 This is something we have wanted to do for awhile. Basically, we'd love to touch base with our clients and interested persons to share with you some of the many practical and useful things we have learned along the way during 4 years of Staging and Organizing.

Also, we are very excited to have earned our Certificate of Study in Level One Foundation with the Institute of Chronic Disorganization. We love this training and will be continuing to move on to new levels.

Be well everyone!