How to make your parisian home feel much bigger!

home organizer

Do you sometimes feel that living in a small place is an extra job in itself? Having to continually manage the stuff you wouldn’t even notice in a big house, trying to cook or wash in a cramped space – it feels like a punishment. You get stressed, and what was supposed to be a blissful Parisian retreat ends up feeling like being trapped in your childhood dollhouse.

Having experienced a chaotic French household, I’m now passionate about getting organized so that life becomes “joy every day”

Here are four steps to help optimize your personal space to open up all kinds of possibilities in your home:

© Roman Mager/Unsplash

1. Less is more for a loftier environment

  • Make sure you know where the recycling bins are to avoid keeping your empty champagne bottles for too long. If you live in an apartment, ask your gardien/gardienne where they are.
  • While you’re at it, ask them where the local à vélos is. That’s where you can put your children’s or your bicycles.
  • Speaking of which, why not save space by selling your bike, and use the Vélib city-bike rental system?
  • If you have a cave, use it! It’s precious real estate. First, go and have a look down there. Is it too damp to store anything but wine bottles? Is the door see-through or the lock unreliable? Free standing shelving and transparent boxes make for a proper basement storage space and not a dark hole where your things seem lost forever.
  • Don’t have enough room for a big bookcase? Be honest with yourself and only keep the books you’ll read. Check to see if your children’s books are still age-appropriate. Sell the rest on momox.fr, along with your unwanted CDs and DVDs. You can also subscribe for free to any French public library, or go visit the American Library in Paris instead of buying more books.
Oleksajewicz/123RF

2. Downsize!

  • Don’t have a garden here, but still moved all your gardening tools? Looking to clear out some of your furniture? Sell them on leboncoin.fr, the French equivalent to Craigslist.
  • Kitchens aren’t that big here, so ask yourself if you’re really going to use everything you put in it. Maybe you came from a warmer climate and enjoyed making home-made ice cream every week. It probably won’t happen here, so give away or sell your ice cream maker – go and taste the best glaces et sorbets in Paris at Bertillon, and couple it with a romantic walk along the Seine. There are lots of local food shops and going to the marché once in a while is a must, but you don’t need to stack your cupboards. Simplify and buy in smaller quantities and you won’t miss not having a pantry!

3. Use vertical surfaces!

  • If you don’t have much room for lighting or a TV stand, mount them on the wall.
  • Install hooks or racks on the back of your doors for hanging towels, scarves, or shoes.
  • Hang up your mirrors, they’ll also make your space look bigger. But don’t overdo it, there is only one Galerie des Glaces, and it’s in Versailles!
  • If your children have to share a room, think of buying bunk beds. Loft beds are a great idea for teenagers and open up precious real estate below.
  • In a very small bathroom, you could hang a shower caddy to hold everything from shampoo to razors. For your children’s bath toys, stick a mesh bag to the tiles.
    Ikea Storage bench. Source: Pinterest

    4. Find furniture with a dual purpose!

    • For more storage and seating, I use a storage bench in my entrance, where we put shoe shine material and laces, and in-season accessories like hats or gloves. We can sit there to put our shoes on, and use it for extra seating when we have guests.
    • Find a double-duty coffee table to store your candles, magazines and remote controls.
    • Under your bed lies plenty of potential storage space. Use under bed storage bins with wheels for easy access to store out-of-season clothes, for example.

      Being more organized makes life easier, n’est ce pas? And think of all the things you can do with that extra free time!

How to make tidying up fun !

organize

  • Start small! a 10 minute project done is better than a 3 hour project never started.
  • Turn on the music, choose soothing music if you’re anxious, or upbeat music if you need to be energised to organize!
  • Use accessories, like an alarm clock that sets you free after 20 minutes of sorting !
  • Treat yourself to something to enjoy once the job is done; drink a cup of tea, call your best friend, slip under the covers for a little nap.
  • Create your ideal home on a vision board, bring your vision board to the place you’re decluttering right now, to help you work towards what you want. Or tape a piece of paper , with your goal, on your closet for example : simplify getting dressed in the morning.
  • Take before and after pictures. Keep them at hand, so you don’t fall back to your bad habits. You want to keep your home as it is in your after photos !
  • Put on the pressure: invite friends over. You don’t want them to see your mess, right? So you know this will motivate you to organize and tidy up! Do not cheat by stuffing everything in a closet. To make this work, plan ahead of time, and only take care of the places your friends will see. Keep all other room doors closed for now.
  • Show the world how well you’ve done! Send like-minded friends your (before and) after photos!

If this has helped you, or if you have other home organizing tips and tricks to share with us,  please leave a comment below !

How I became a Home Organizer :

home organizer

Before becoming a home organizer, I wasn’t a very tidy person, I couldn’t care less about organizing the space I was living in, all I loved doing was travelling.

With the birth of our dear son, and all the havoc that came with it, I had an aha moment: something just had to change (I couldn’t stand all the toys and leftover mashed potatoes on the floor!), I wanted to upgrade our “chaotic and sad looking appartment ” to a “5 star hotel”!

But how could I get positive results without it taking up all my time? What new habits could I take to optimize my organisation, without it becoming overwhelming?

After training as a home organizer, testing solutions in my home, at my friends’ and my neighbors’ homes, I wanted to become a professional home organizer.

I really like helping my clients see how they can better their living space, according to their needs and with long-term solutions, for a more efficient and relaxing home!

If you need the help of a home organizer, contact me !

Paperwork sorting in your Home Office!

 
Filing paperwork is one of the most boring and often stressful home organizing tasks. No wonder we put it off and see growing heaps of paper mixed with trash. The day we need a specific document among the mess, and it’s the worst feeling! Like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Let’s give a present to our future self and start sorting our paperwork now!

  1. Take a paper bin.
  2. Make a pile of your papers and go sit next to your filing cabinet. If you don’t have a filing system yet, read on!
  3. Start at the top, go through each paper.
  4. Purge the easy stuff like junk mail, old magazines, out-dated documents you don’t need to keep (if you don’t know what paperwork you can trash or should keep in France, read this).
  5. File directly in the appropriate folder, (or if you know many more papers e.g. bank slips, are coming make a specific pile for your bank slips you will later put in the bank folder in one go).
  6. Sort your remaining piles. Whether you already have a filing system yet or not, you will notice the following are categories you can file in. Add as many folders as needed:
  • income
  • medical
  • home
  • car
  • things I want to read later (you can put this on your nightstand or another place you like reading in).

7. Clearly label  ,you want to be able to find what you’re looking for immediately.

8. Shred sensitive information you need to get rid of.

9. For important and irreplaceable paperwork like birth and marraiage certificates, it might be worthwhile to buy a safe-deposit box for 25€.

After organizing your home office, you will see your stress go down, and your effeciency go up!

How to Get Everyone in the House to Clean Up the Mess!

clean up© Andrivy Popov/123RF

Struggling to have a clutter-free home on your own, with another adult, or with teens and young kids in your living space?

  • Upgrade your equipment to make chores easier and faster

…because chores are a bore, right? For example, take a robot vacuum cleaner that cleans the whole apartment while you’re away doing something else. I can assure you it’s worth the expense!

clean up© Elnur Amikishiyew/123RF

How to manage with ANOTHER ADULT who doesn’t have the same criteria as you:

  • Take a mental check of what he/she does.

Let’s say you’re thinking of your husband. What does he already do for the family? Take your kids to the park at the weekend, look after the kids so you can have a girlfriends’ evening out, take care of paying the bills? All of this is great! You can do a happy dance for what he already does.

  • If needed, start small, but do ask

If he’s resistant, be patient. First, pick 2 or 3 chores you really want him to do, and ask for him to do those. I hear a lot of men, once their partner is having a breakdown say “Why didn’t you just ask me?” Well, ladies, ask on! You’re a team. Happy wife, happy life – you’re doing him a favor by ensuring no cranky overworked wife lives in his home!

  • Don’t be bossy, criticize his work or play the martyr

This would push anyone away, right? Talk about this subject when he is relaxed and not distracted by something else. Going for a walk together, or sharing a bottle of wine, or beer can help create a relaxing atmosphere. And it will help him come into this with an open and positive mindset!

  • Make a list of tasks

You can list all the tasks that need to be done, and with your partner, each chooses what they prefer to tackle. When possible, delegate the rest to a housekeeper, your children (see advice below), or the nanny (when you hire your nanny, tell her that putting toys away will be part of her job assignment). And if they aren’t as organized in the house as you are, make them visual lists, like: “Empty and fill up the washing machine while you wait for your toast and coffee.”

  • Just don’t do it

Your kid is calling for you in the middle of the night, just don’t move, wait! If your spouse is now awake, he will get up if he thinks you’re sleeping. The same thing with the dishes, I just don’t do them, and never will. I already have so many things on my plate (pun intended!), I won’t budge, I know deep inside, the fact I don’t do it is right. If I take that extra task on, I won’t survive the week, which wouldn’t be of help to anyone, now would it?

  • Recognize and encourage your husband’s efforts

By telling him what a difference it makes (don’t hesitate to do this while you’re around other people, he will be very proud!), or by any other way you choose. And make the effort to put aside time for you as a couple, so he feels this new dynamic is good for him and worth the effort.

How to get your CHILDREN to do chores to lighten your load:

Don’t aim for perfection! Your child’s skills will improve over time. With little ones it’s best to do the work together; they’re keen on sharing activities with their parents. It will take more time, but their participation in the coming years will be precious!

2- 3 year olds

  • collect toys
  • help feed pets
  • put napkins on the table, spoons and tableware that doesn’t break
  • take dirty clothes to the laundry basket
  • wipe the ground or a low piece of furniture with a small cloth

4-5 year olds

  • help make beds
  • set the table
  • water the plants
  • help do the shopping and store groceries away

6-8 year olds

  • declutter toys, and keep their room or their playroom tidy
  • make their bed
  • sort the laundry
  • put clothes away
  • Fold trousers, socks and shirts
  • do simple cooking chores
  • help wash the car

9-10 year olds

  • wash the bathtub and sink
  • help prepare meals
  • wash the dishes
  • load the dishwasher
  • declutter their closet
  • clean the floor with a broom and a mop

11 and older

  • plan meals and prepare certain meals
  • wash the laundry by using the washing machine and the tumble-dryer
  • wash the car and vacuum the inside of the car
  • do the grocery shopping

clean up© Katarzyna Grabowska/Unsplash

How to help your TWEEN/TEENAGERS tidy their room

If you ask adolescents why they don’t sort their room their answer will generally be one or several of these: (Please don’t laugh!)

  • They are worried their room will be in the same state again within a month.
  • They are too tired, stressed from school, homework and sports and just want to relax and rest.
  • They don’t understand why parents care that much, they’re the ones living there.
  • They don’t have enough storage containers.
  • They need privacy.
  • They feel overwhelmed by all their stuff and don’t know where to start.
  • They have a hard time focusing or disciplining or motivating themselves to do it.
  • They don’t want to spend the time doing it.

This is why they need help and clear guidelines!

Declutter! Any teenager can understand that having less stuff means having less to manage. Here is how personal stylist Anélle Coetzee advises you and your child handle her/his wardrobe:

“Ask her/him: Does it fit? Is it in good condition? Have you worn it lately? If you saw it in a shop today would you buy it with your own money? Will you need it again (sportswear/ equipment) and will it then fit?

clean upAuthor’s son selects books to give away and declutter his room. © Laetitia Ronsin

Let them throw out any clothing they don’t like to wear, don’t need, or doesn’t fit as it will only take up space and not get worn!

Is it for this season (summer/winter)? Have storage space allocated for out of season clothing.

Is there anything you need such as your own laundry basket/ better lighting/access to a tall mirror, etc)? Make sure they have appropriate storage: containers/dividers.

Maybes or sentimentals get packed away to be relooked at in 6 months’ time.

How to get everyone involved and keep it up in the long run? Encourage them to determine their own tasks and set up their own timetables, provide storage space where needed and pat everyone on the back for making the effort. Bring in a professional organizer to help you get started if the task is so overwhelming.

A clean home greatly contributes to joy every day! What are you going to do for your Home Sweet Home today?

How decluttering can benefit your life

Have a hard time decluttering unopened mail, clothes and long-forgotten toys?

Here are reasons decluttering is good for you:

1.  You will be more efficient.

Effeciency comes with not having to try too hard to getting things done. Let’s take an example: keeping up with healthy habits. Decluttering your kitchen will often help you to make for enough counter space and well organised cooking wear which will help you prepare meals and eat at home, rather than choosing a processed meal.declutter

2. You will live in a healthier environment.

How can a cluttered surface possibly be wiped clean? In a decluttered home it is easier to remove dust and toxins from the air– which can improve allergy symptoms. It will also prevent you from twisting your ankle rolling on a screwdriver you left behind.

3. It will boost your confidence.

Dr. Robert London, a psychiatrist based in New York City, says decluttering may also help you feel better about yourself because it’s something of an accomplishment.

4. You will unwind and sleep more easily.

A Princeton University Neuroscience Institute study showed that people with a cluttered home felt increased exhaustion as a result of expanding mental energy on stress that’s caused by their messy environment. When you want to relax or sleep, clear your bedroom of projects you need getting done ( laundry that needs sorting, or a document you have to bring back to work tomorrow).

5. It will save you time.

Because you now have less things, and a place for each object in your home, you won’t repeatedly loose 5 minutes looking for your tax document, your child’s medical certificate, your keys, your wallet, your phone (you name it!), and you will be on time more often (your family will thank you for that!). You can then have time and space available for the things you like doing (like listening to a good oldy on the long forgotten disc player).

6. It will save you money.

Too much unopened mail might mean a lost or unpaid bill, which can cost you a lot in the end. And having too much stuff might lead you to buy duplicates, some unusible because past their due date, which adds to the clutter.

7. It will help your social life.

Are you reluctant to let the delivery man get a peep into your home, and don’t dare invite friends and familly over because of the stuff piled up everywhere? Sort and let go, so you can let people back into your life!

Going through your things a little bit at a time, and only keeping what you use and/ or love is well worth it! Write a list of a few things you would like getting done at home. And start with baby steps; every day or every other day tackle a 5 to 15 minute task, like a drawer, checking your first aid kit, or decluttering kitchen counters.

A little bit at a time brings results for joy every day! 😉

Click here if you need help!

 

How long should you keep your make up ?

Why should I sort through my beauty products today ?

Just like the products you have in your fridge, make up has an expiration date. Why? Because chemicals deteriorate, with a risk of irritation or inefficiency . So sort the products you have in your bathroom and makeup bag !

Here is a list of the average storage time for the beauty products you have at home:

Moisturizers and creams : from 6 to 12 months

Anti-aging creams and sunscreens : from 6 to 12 months

Mascara : 3 months

Lipstick : 2 years

Gloss : 1 year

Powders, eyeshadow and blush : 2 years

Foundation : 1 year

Nail polish : from 1 to 2 years

Perfume : from 8 to 10 years

Buying all this is expensive! How can you make sure none of it will be wasted?

The first thing to look at is this small pictogram. organise creams

If it says 12 M, it means you can use it for 12 months after having opened it.  And if you are up for it, use a marker to note when each product was opened. Personally I believe an anti-aging cream that has lost some of its effect is no big deal. But not knowing when you first used your sunscreen, on the other hand, would be more detrimental to your health!

In your fridge, keep unopened or less often used products . Because heat activates bacteria proliferation, putting make up in the fridge will protect active substances and preservatives.
Clean and dry your hands before use. Conscientiously put lids back on to protect from air and dampness.

sort fridgeMake sure you finish a tube before opening another one, this is especially true for mascara, that oxidizes quickly! To avoid infection, do not share mascara! If you have very sensitive eyes, you can use an additional brush that you wash after each use, to keep the original brush “bacteria free”.

My advice when buying cosmetics: look for a tube of cream, ideally with pump, to avoid putting your fingers in a jar of cream (some of you might use a spatula). A product that doesn’t often come into contact with air, needs less preservatives, which means less on your skin, and a longer lasting item!home organizer
Finally, for those of you who, like me with my foundation, use a product beyond the recommended limit, immediately and mercilessly throw away any mascara causing you an infection, or any cream that has changed color, texture or fragrance!

10 smart and easy cleaning tips for a healthier home

© Lisa870/123RF

Contrary to popular belief, the air you breathe in your home can be more polluted than outside air. Nasty stuff can be found in furniture coverings, insulation, dust mites, household products and the CO2 we breathe. The air we inhale irritates our organs like our lungs and blood, which circulates in our brain and our muscles. The French Ministry of Health and Environment* lists symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, eye, nose, throat and skin irritation, dizziness, allergic manifestations and asthma from living daily in a polluted environment.

For a clean and healthier home, air out rooms regularly and use natural products without pollutants! It is very easy and very cheap.

Three best eco-friendly cleaning products: lemon, baking soda and white vinegar. © Georgrafika/123RF

10 environmentally-friendly cleaning tips to help you have a healthier home:

1. The winning trio

  • white vinegar (vinaigre blanc, you can buy at the supermarket)
  • lemon juice
  • baking soda (bicarbonate de soude, you can also buy at the supermarket, pharmacy or at your local organic store in the food section)

2. Have a blast cleaning your toilets

Sprinkle some baking soda and white vinegar in your toilet, and get ready to be surprised by your first chemical experiment since high school! The slightly abrasive action of baking soda and its deodorizing qualities will give a shot of clean to your toilet!

3. Beauty treatment for the showerhead

Immerse your showerhead in white vinegar inside a plastic bag and fix it with an elastic band. Leave it to soak all night.

Use vinegar for eco-friendly cleaning. © CCO Creative Commons/Pixabay

4. Could your oven need more love?

For conventional ovens, sprinkle vinegar and baking soda inside. Leave for a few hours. Scrape if necessary with a spatula, and wipe with a damp sponge or cloth. For your microwave, put a bowl containing water, a teaspoon of vinegar, and a toothpick inside, close the door and zap it on high for 5 minutes. Leave the door shut for 2 to 3 more minutes to let the steam continue to loosen caked-on bits of food. When you open the door, be careful, the bowl and tray will be hot. Take them out, wipe down the inside of the microwave with a sponge, and wash the tray in the sink. It’s easy, works great and only takes a few minutes!

5. Decalcify your coffee maker

To clean your coffee maker of the buildup inside, fill the tank with 4 tablespoons of vinegar, pass through the machine, empty the carafe and rinse! If you want to get rid of tea or coffee stains on your mugs, let them soak in white vinegar for a few hours. If that’s not enough, rub with baking soda. Vinegar can also replace the softener in your washing machine and the rinsing liquid in your dishwasher!

6. Eliminate an unpleasant smell

Need to eliminate a lingering bad smell, but don’t want to buy a toxic air freshener? To eliminate the smell of vomit, put a bowl of vinegar in the room. It works also for other smells like paint. To eliminate tobacco odors, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 3 glasses of warm water and the juice from the equivalent of 1/4 lemon. Put this mixture in a vaporizer and spray on all your fabrics.

7. Clean the surfaces of the kitchen and the bathroom

Find a sprayer. Try not to buy one — use the empty window washing product you just finished rather than tossing it away. Mix four tablespoons of white vinegar and a glass of water and place in the sprayer. Vinegar will not smell once it’s dry.

When I use lemon juice in a drink or for cooking, I always save the rind with the pulp to spread around the sink like a sponge, then rinse. The sink suddenly shines and is rid of any tartar.

With its slightly abrasive action and its natural deodorizing qualities, baking soda can replace your potentially toxic scouring powder or cream. Use it on a sponge or as a paste (a mixture of water and baking soda). When the dirt is more tenacious, leave the paste for 15 minutes in the bath or shower. For very scaled shower walls, heat the vinegar before you spray it on. Rub and rinse after 10 minutes

8. How to easily clean windows 

Use a microfiber cloth and water to wipe dirty surface or spray the mix of white vinegar and water (see the paragraph above) and wipe the window clean.

9. Maintenance of the pipes

Dirt, soapsuds, and limestone are regularly deposited in our pipes. To avoid clogging and bad odors, pour 20g to 40g of baking soda and hot water down the drain. Leave for two hours or overnight to allow the product to pass through the pipes, then rinse with very hot water.

Give your dishwasher a facelift: place a bowl of vinegar in the top drawer of your empty machine and launch the cycle!

10. Keep le bouquet beautiful

To keep your cut flowers beautiful longer, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Now relax and enjoy your fresh, clean home!