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Monday, February 23 2015
SETTING THE STAGE TO SELL

Last night I was watching the Academy Awards Ceremony a/k/a The Oscars and it got me thinking of the stage.  The stage can be set for homeowners who are looking to sell their homes, as well.  

I am well aware that we are in the midst of the winter season, but, before you know it, Spring will be here and that tends to be the time of year when people are looking to put their home up for sale.  It is a little more complicated than just putting a sign on your lawn.  You need to prepare - and what better time to begin the process than during these cold winter months.  

Over the years, I have helped realtors and home owners alike, "set the stage" to get their home ready to sell. Although there are many aspects to staging your home for sale, I would like to provide you with a quick overview of some areas to focus on.

1. Closets -  If packed tightly, closets will make a home appear to lack closet space.  It is vital that you eliminate the unnecessary clutter in a closet and organize it to maximize the amount of open space you want to show to the potential buyer.  Using matching hangers for clothing will create a nice visual impact, as well.

2.  Bedrooms -  The bed should face towards the doorway and be the focal point of the bedroom.  Eliminating the excess furniture will provide plenty of space in the room for navigation and clear surfaces on end tables and dressers will be pleasing to the eye.  

3.  Bathrooms - Be sure the surfaces are clean and clear.  Remove soap scum and redo any grout that has discolored over time.  A clean bathroom is a great way to stage your bathroom.  Create a functional but relaxing environment, especially in a master bathroom. The display of white or cream colored towels will open up the space in the bathroom and provide a spa-like feel.  

4.  Kitchen - A simple and inexpensive way to update your kitchen is to use a new coat of wood stain or a good sanding and a coat of paint.  Replace the hardware for a fresh new look and, as always, clear your surfaces of clutter.  Lastly, remove area rugs from in front of the sink to open up the visual appearance of the kitchen.  

*On average, most sellers will spend an average of $1950 on their bathroom and kitchen renovations with an ultimate return of approximately $3250, which is about a 65% on their return.  Bathrooms and kitchens are essential spaces in the home and where most buyers are either won over or lost. 

5.  Living Room - Providing plenty of light in this room is a major source of approval by a potential buyer.  Be sure that the shades are open and use lighter colors where possible to give the room a more spaceous look.  Create clear paths to navigate and avoid having the back of a sofa face the main pathway.  You want to open up the room to visitors and not block them off with misplaced furniture.

A few simple steps can increase your home's potential for a higher selling price.  Removing clutter is one of the most important ways to do this.  

If you are overwhelmed with the prospect of staging your home for sale or considering downsizing, don't hesitate to contact me.  I can help you to "set the stage" for sale.  

In the meantime, have a great week!   

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 03:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  10 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, February 17 2015

This blog is geared for those who have already gone through the process of eliminating their clutter and have organized their home and/or their life.  

It is very important that once you go through this process, you are able to easily maintain it.  Of course, from time to time, we need to tweak some areas, but it should not become a large project.  That would defeat the purpose of the work you have already done.  

Maintenance can come in many forms.  When checks bounce or bank accounts are overdrawn, it's because we didn't balance our checking account properly to always know what we have available to use.  When we run out of clothes to wear, it's because we failed to do the laundry.  

Home and office clutter tends to result in the "no maintenance" approach to living.  It tends to be the "toss, pile and deal with it later" approach that gets us in trouble.  Avoid dumping and you will avoid procrastinating (putting off what can be done now for later).

It is not difficult to maintain your "organizing mojo".  If this is a problem for you, here are some tips to help:

1. Put items away in a pre-designated location, each and every time.  When you initially organized a particular space, such as a drawer, closet, shelf or an entire room, you created places for your items that should make the most sense for them to be.  If you should discover that the place you selected is not working for you and you "dump" your stuff elsewhere, I recommend that you re-evaluate the location you selected to see if it is, in fact, the right place for the item to be.  If not, change it.  

2. Some items require more maintenance than others.  Items such as paperwork, dishes, food items, clothing, etc. are examples of items that might require daily maintenance.  If systems are not created to control your clutter, you end up creating more work for yourself in the long run. It could be as simple as creating a basket that is designated for magazines near the coffee table in the living room and making a point to read the magazines on a weekly basis.  Clearing off your desk at the end of each day will help to control your clutter and avoid creating a larger project for later.   It is vital that you have the right organizing tools in place.  

3.  Make it convenient.  If you commonly use a particular item, store it in a place that is easily accessible.  Less oftenly used items can be stored high up on shelves or in a storage area as opposed to the main living space.  

4.  Create a routine.  On a daily basis, schedule 15 minutes or so at the end of the day to put away items that are laying around. Sort your mail daily.  Do your filing weekly.  Determine what routines work best for you and your family and stick to them.  

5. Consider hiring help.  If the idea of maintaining your organizing mojo is overwhelming to you, consider hiring someone to help you. From time to time, your needs change.  Items have a way of building up in the home and you need to bring some balance back into your life.  Consider hiring a professional organizer who can tweak certain areas of your home or office to get it back to the way it should be or create a new, updated system for you and your family to help you regain balance.  

Remember, your home or office does not need to be perfect.  It needs to be functional and feel comfortable and maintaining your organizing mojo can help make that happen.   

Contact me if you want to talk further about maintaining your "organizing mojo".  Have a great week!   

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 01:07 pm   |  Permalink   |  6 Comments  |  Email
Monday, February 09 2015
GOING DOWN MEMORY LANE

Have you heard of the concept of having a Memory Box?  I personally feel that everyone should have one (or a few).  Everyone goes through life and gathers fond memories of people they have met, places they have gone or things they have done.  You should have a designated place to store those memories, hence...A Memory Box.

The first time I created a Memory Box was back in 1998 following the passing of my husband the previous year.  To this day, it contains fond memories of photos, letters and other items I collected during our 15 year relationship.  I also created one for my son who was 7 at the time to contain his fond memories of his relationship with his father.  Both of us open up our boxes from time to time and go down Memory Lane together, reflecting on our special times with my late husband and his father.     

Memory Boxes are great, however, there are guidelines you should follow:

1. Store your own memories in your own box.  This box is not intended to be shared with others.  It is personal.  Moms often want to store their kids' memories along with their own in one box.  Keep in mind that you have your own memories of your kids and your kids have their own memories and they should be kept in separate Memory Boxes.  Do not co-mingle!  

2. Be selective.  Just like anything else that you keep, "everything cannot be your favorite".  Using an appropriate-sized memory box is great for setting boundaries as to how much you keep.  When a box gets too full, it is a sign that you are saving too much and you need to go through the box and eliminate what is not longer relevant.  Pick your favorites!

3. Do an annual review.  Contrary to popular belief, what was important at one point in your life might not be as important now. Your memories and emotional attachment to things change.  I have found that over the course of the years, what was once so important and relevant is not so much any more, and that's okay. This is especially true with children.  That macaroni art from Kindergarten was so amazing when it came through the door ten times that year, but now, your child is in 6th grade, and that macaroni art is not so incredible anymore - at least not all ten!  I highly suggest that you go through your Memory Box once a year and do a review.  (For kids in grade school, I recommend the end of the school term.) Make room for the new memories that you will gather in the coming year.     

4. Don't confuse a Memory Box with a random storage container.  Your Memory Box is not intended to be a place to put things that you don't know where else they should be stored.  It is not to be used as a catch all.  If you have different categories for memories such as I do (I have one strictly relating to my relationship with my late husband and another more current box of memories), that is fine.  Don't keep memories that evoke sad or bitter times in your life.  You want to be sure they are "positive memories" that evoke happy times in your life.  

I encourage you to create a Memory Box for you and every member of your family.  Store them in a place that is accessible for those times when you want to go down Memory Lane and relive those happy times in your life.  

Remember, it's a Memory Box, not a random storage container.  Fill your box with happy memories that you will enjoy for years to come!

Wishing you an organized week filled with fond memories!  

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 11:50 am   |  Permalink   |  9 Comments  |  Email
Monday, February 02 2015
WHEN THE ORGANIZING TRAIN HAS DERAILED

Have you found during your lifetime that you have been organized and other times not?  It is very common but can be frustrating. When your organizing train has derailed, how do you get back on track?  

Here are a few recommendations:

1.  When feeling overwhelmed and frustrated and just not sure where to begin, don't try to take on the whole project at one time. Make a list of the things you need to do to accomplish a task or project and do one step at a time.  Stay focused on a particular task and it will get done before you know it.  

2.  Get the family onboard. Have a family meeting that focuses on the tasks that need to be accomplished and determine who will be responsible for those tasks and when.  You can set a time each day for everyone to help get organized.  For example, at 7:00 p.m. every night, everyone will spend 15 minutes putting things where they belong.  Creating a reward system for the kids is a great motivational tool.  

3. Taking that sentimental journey can cause the organizing train to be delayed. If you find that you are having trouble parting with belongings, keep in mind that holding onto belongings for the wrong reasons can create clutter.  There is no need to suffer from "Gift Guilt".  Set a timer to go through the items in small segments.  Determine what is most important to you and only keep those items that mean something special to you.  If you have inherited items, be sure that they mean as much to you as the person who passed them onto you intended. When your emotions are involved, it can be more difficult to part with items but be selective. Considering donating the items you choose not to keep to a charity so someone else can make use of them.  

4.  Stop drowning in paper.  Your computer can be a huge paper clutter eliminating machine!  Instead of a large paper filing system, consider purchasing a scanner and scan documents into your computer.  Setting a limit on how much space you allow for certain paperwork will help, as well.  Paper is something that is constantly coming through the door.  You need to create a system that can easily be maintained.  You need to go through your mail and other paperwork on a regular basis.  

5.  Someday Syndrome.  Do you keep telling yourself "I will get to it someday"?  If so, you have what I call "Someday Syndrome". If you find that you are having trouble getting started with becoming organized, perhaps you should consider contacting a professional organizer.  A good organizer will help you identify the reason you are collecting and hanging onto your stuff and can customize a plan to get you onto the train to success!  

There is no need for your organizing train to continue to be derailed.  Get back on track.  If you are having difficulty doing it on your own, I am here to help.  Contact me and let's talk about what is going on and I can explain how I can help.

In the meantime, have a great day!

  

Posted by: Audrey Cupo AT 09:12 am   |  Permalink   |  9 Comments  |  Email
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