Organizing Your Filing: A 5-Step Purge

I know I’ve been MIA these days, but being gone doesn’t mean Elvis has left this building! Nu-uh. I wish I had some exotic adventures to share, but I don’t. No, instead the fed-up bug has gotten me, and I’ve been tackling a backlog of ‘to dos’ one-by-one.

The dreaded filing purge has moved to the top of my list. How does it always manage to slide back down? So sneaky!

This was my filing tray when I got started.

Overflowing Filing Tray

Yes, it was this bad!

And this is my filing tray now.

Empty Filing Tray

Who knew this tray was prettier than it looked?

I also tackled two filing cabinets, and did a whole lot of purging between them.

This is a little glimpse of the ‘in progress’…

In progress purging of files

Oh yes, it was this bad, too!

But in the end…

Here’s shredding bin one…

Overflowing shredding bin

And shredding bin two.


Believe it or not, we do as much electronically as we can! But I have to confess, some of this is years worth of backlog. Life happens, and paper builds up. Can you relate?

Here are a few tips when you’re purging years worth of files:

1. Don’t let years worth of files build up!

Okay, I just had to say it, LOL. 😉

2. Empty your file drawers exactly as they are into file boxes.

This way you have half a chance of finding something while in the transition of purging and refiling.

3. Work methodically through the files, sorting as you go:

  • Refile – I recommend getting files back into the cabinets as quickly as possible.
  • Shred – keep your bins handy and fill them; tackle the shredding later, and don’t forget, you can hire a shredding service!
  • Recycle – fill your recycling bag as you go, so all you have to do is take it to curb side on recycling day.

4. Don’t get bogged down in the details.

The purging process is the clean sweep. Once this part is done, you can always go back to reorganize your filing system, revamp your colour coding, make up new file labels, or whatever detail-oriented job you feel is pressing to do!

5. Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Don’t overwhelm yourself with the task at hand. Depending on how backlogged your files are, tackle them in chunks over a few days. You’ll be so glad you did! Caution: do give yourself a deadline – there’s nothing worse than a job like this hanging over your head for too long.

Here’s where I left off…

Bankers Boxes of Files

Hubs and I have to go through these two boxes together.

So glad it was raining today!

How do you handle the purging of your files? Do you stay on top of it, or do you let it get away? Do you have any tips to share?

Thanks for stopping by!

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Photographs by Sheila Zeller 

Organizing: Adding Shelving to Poorly Used Spaces

Just a few small tweaks can make a huge difference to utilizing storage, and being way more organized within! And then when it’s all said and done, you wonder why it took you so long, right?

Over the weekend I tackled two small spaces. Here’s the difference installing just a few shelves will make.

Cupboard over the stove.

Such a pain to access, and often underutilized!

Wasted space, no? I keep these things up here because I don’t use them that often, but that’s no excuse to have them stored so inefficiently, now is it?

A simple installation of two prefinished shelves, cut to size, and this space is like a whole new custom cupboard. I actually have a stack of fondue plates sitting on top of the grill. They’re set in a tray making them easy to lift out, and the cupboard space to be put to full use. As far as access goes, I have a small step ladder tucked close-by.

Hall closet.

Whoever built this home did not make the hall closet deep enough. As a result we don’t use it to hang anything in it except empty hangers, because otherwise the door rubs on garment sleeves when it’s opened and closed.

More wasted space! It was actually filled to capacity with stuff toppling over, but I didn’t think to take a true ‘before’ photo… this is a quick phone shot snapped in the knick of time. Here, I keep my basic sewing things for quick access, and the rest is downstairs with more craft supplies. Recognize the little red tool box?

We installed a quick rail and bracket system with simple pine boards.

Tip: I didn’t buy prefinished pine shelving because it was twice the price of a plain pine board. I also had the board cut right on site into the shelving size I needed, and was good to go!

This closet is storage for all things seldom used, but easy to access when needed. Did you notice the iron and ironing board in there? Yes, all things seldom used!

So if you’re wanting to beef up your storage to be more efficient, don’t get bogged down in the details. Shelving will never fail you, and you’ll be so glad you added it in!

How are things working out for you in your home? If you read my project motivator and friend Carol’s post over at the Design Pages, then you’ll know this is all part of a bigger plan to knock a few projects off the ‘to do’ list. There will definitely be bigger and prettier projects to come! Stay tuned 🙂

This article was chosen as a favorite story of the week by Savvy Mom!

Thanks Savvy Mom, and thank you for stopping by!

Photographs by Sheila Zeller

Time To Get The Cleanse On!

And so…


My cupboards are overflowing, my counters no longer bare,

My closet has no spare hangers, but I can’t find anything to wear!

My pantry shelves are full, yet I don’t know what to cook,

And too much stuff is collecting everywhere I look!!!


Sound familiar? Guess what I’ve been doing?

That’s right. It’s a new year, and I’m tackling the slow creep of too much stuff!

Because this is my goal…

Not the time, not the clearing of my head, but rather a beautiful place, instead! And the slow creep of too much stuff is not beautiful!

So I’m purging, sorting, and organizing my way through the three Rs…




How about you? Has the new year motivated you to get your cleanse on? What are you keeping, and do you know why?

Thanks for stopping by!

Photograph by Sheila Zeller; Quote from Pinterest


No Cost Organizing for a Chest Freezer

Chest Freezers

Where I grew up, chest freezers were a staple in just about every home. As the years changed, so did the freezer styles, but what didn’t was their necessity. Though I’ve moved, I haven’t made the lifestyle change – having a freezer is just part of how I live. And oddly enough, I’ve never made a style switch, either.

Hang on tight for design inspired photos you’ll be dying to pin 😉

Like this one of our freezers in the basement!

Chest Freezers

Okay, I’ll just say it. This post is not photo pretty, but it does have a few tips!

Keeping a chest freezer organized can be a challenge, so what can you do?

1. Sort the contents by group, and place like things together.

Labelling for Freezers

We have two freezers, so I thought these signs would help hubs know where things go 🙂 Okay, they’re for me too! We had a mix of everything in both, and wasted time rooting through each one! Even with one freezer, making a basic list of what’s inside can be helpful. And if you want something super handy, but with a lot more cool factor, placing a chalkboard decal right on your freezer is an easy way to keep things up to date.

2. Tag your frozen goods with dates, and place the oldest items on top.

Here my new and old are placed side-by-side, but I still wanted to make sure we were using the older fish first. Ideally you will want to date your individual packages, but my Dad and his buddy keep us supplied in fish, so we process quite a few at once. That’s where this next tip comes in. And I have to give my Dad credit for this one as he’s done this for years!

3. Contain your frozen packages in boxes within the freezer.

Notice the circle in the first photo. That’s space over the freezer motor, which is pretty hard to maximize. The box provides storage for additional items that would otherwise slip off the tiny shelf.

More reasons I like to use boxes:

  • You can fill the bottom of the freezer, and then optimize the vertical space that’s left, by layering another row of boxes on top
  • You are able to contain like things together, which makes them easier to retrieve
  • It’s easier to move a box, than it is to move a pile of random packages
  • Boxes help protect vacuum sealed packages, like what our fish is in, from breaking open
  • Boxes are easy to come by, and you can cut them down to size
  • This is a great way to reuse something you probably already have!
4. If your freezer is full, take a quick photo of the outside and list what’s on the inside.

Print off the photo on plain old paper, and start writing in what you have and where you’ll find it. This isn’t meant to be all pretty and perfectly formatted. It’s just another way for you to find things quickly without having to search through your freezer. If you want to forget the whole photo thing, draw squares and fill them in instead! Remember, chest freezers are deep, and brrrrrr, cold… do you really want to be searching through that?

More things to keep in mind:
  • Ensure your individual packages are fully frozen before stacking others on top
  • Use thick, strong cardboard boxes, because they will eventually soften and want to bend over time
  • Fold the flaps closed before stacking another box on top, or place a heavy, flat piece of cardboard between the boxes

And… you don’t have to use cardboard boxes. You can use whatever works for you… just remember that plastic gets brittle when it’s frozen, and any moisture turns to ice on it’s surfaces. As for metal containers… well, we don’t even want to go there!

So tell me, do you use a freezer? What are your strategies for keeping it organized? Oh, and how many of these photos did you pin 😉 !!!

I hope you had fun reading this… it’s been pretty rainy here, so organizing something is always a great way to feel productive when you’re feeling kind of house-bound!

Fun fact:

Did you know there’s actually a name for the sign strategy I used to identify the old and new fish? There’s a system in Japan called Kanban. It’s not an inventory control system, but rather a scheduling system. My little cardboard cards are a very basic form of what’s actually quite a sophisticated system. Click here to read more! It’s pretty interesting. I included this to show you how systems can be as basic or as complex as you want to make them, but what matters in the end is that you have a system!

Have a great weekend, and thanks for stopping by!

Photography by Sheila Zeller

Organizing: Planning A Gift Prep Station

I was working yesterday on an organizing overhaul with owners in their commercial space, and one of the things I was able to see right away was the need to establish a gift prep station. This company offers gift bags and baskets filled with their product, along with nicely presented gift certificates.

The problem: prep was taking place in the staff room, in the back storage area, at the front counter, and even on the fly in the boss’ office. Madness, right?

In the open storage area there is an old metal office desk being used for a work surface. All the drawers have been removed, so the desk surface is really its only function. This storage area also has lots of unused vertical space.

I don’t have any photos to share right now, but here’s a mock-up of what we plan to do.

  1. Add open shelving above the desk for supplies
  2. Install a removable rod under the bottom shelf for rolls of ribbon
  3. Mount containers to the wall for scissors, pens, and all those miscellaneous tools that need to be handy
  4. Install a bulletin board to help keep track of things
  5. Install open shelving in the desk
    • the 2 wide shelves will hold flat sheets of tissue (they usually work with just 2 colours)
    • the 3 smaller shelves will hold their stock of gift bags and gift certificates
  6. The opening under the desk is left free for the completed gift bags.

The owner was thrilled with this plan, and by the time I left yesterday I had moved everything related to the gift prep into this area.

If all goes well the shelving should be installed next week… just in time for the Mother’s Day rush!

Do you look at your space in terms of zones or stations?

I really believe thinking of your space chunked into zones or stations, makes it easier to stay organized. Not only does this establish the function of the area, but it narrows down your options for where things belong. And this makes it easier to keep things in their place, and maximize the function of your total space.



It’s about coming home
 and home is a special place that tells your story! 

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Bookcase Reveal: Painted, Papered & Styled

Well, the bookcase is finally complete. In place and styled with pieces I have on hand. And it became pretty clear to me that I need a few different tchotchkes! But I’m not sure how I feel about that. As I slid my books into place the titles were a contradiction to adding more ‘stuff’…

Books like: Let Go of Clutter, Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui, Organizing Plain & Simple… Hmmm. And so I have decided to live with the bookcase just the way it is for a while. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? Unless of course I see something I can’t live without 😉

Here is where we started. You’ll remember this from yesterday!

To the paint


To the wallpaper…

To the styled reveal!

Bookcase Makeover

We definitely had to thin out our books in order to do a little styling, and I toyed with doing a whole colour blocking look, but in the end I know myself too well. I look for my books by subject matter, and it would drive me crazy to be searching through a random collection of like colours!

Here’s a close-up of the top 3 shelves…

So even though I think I need more tchotchkes (do you have to look up the spelling every time, too?), I do have meaningful pieces in the styling mix. Here’s a little rundown…


It already feels lighter to walk into the office, and just looking at this cheery bookcase puts a smile on my face!

I’m glad you stopped by to see the final outcome! If you’re considering a little makeover like this, I really hope you go for it. The change is so worth it… pine, what pine?

Thanks for stopping by!

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Photos: Sheila Zeller

Inspiration… It’s In The Mail

Do you ever start something full of enthusiasm, only to find yourself dragging before it’s done?

Well, that’s me and our office right now. I’ve been decluttering random piles of paper ‘stuff’, because I want to rework the space and prettify it a bit. But I can’t do the pretty until I finish the purge. Can I say, ‘groan’?

At this point I’m ready for a little visual inspiration. I need something to feed that initial burst of good intentions.

Like this vintage metal letter holder.

Source: Etsy

I wouldn’t mind looking at this on my desk!

And I totally love this repurposed porch railing.

Source: Pinterest / Better Homes & Gardens

 Such a great piece, and my hubby likes it too! Did I mention we share the office?

If I could find a small bird cage, it might strike the right note between whimsical fun and fun-ctional.

Source: Embellished Weddings Blog

But I would set it on my desk, minus the flowers and bow! And I think I would like one that showed a little more weathered wear and tear…

Now we all know the thing with women and shoes…

Source: Etsy

But have you ever seen a wooden shoe form stand in for a letter holder?

Letter holders can be simple and without slots…

Source: Mockingbird Hill Cottage Blog

Like this hand painted bin. And how hard would a pretty bin be to find?

I’m thinking slots are suited to my style, and a vintage toast rack might work just right, too.

Source: Design Sponge

Even one slot will do the trick, and it would be easy to repurpose an old napkin holder to sit on my desk.

Source: I Heart Organizing Blog

Like this one. All it needed was a coat of paint!

So this is how I procrastinated yesterday. And even though I digressed, I still focused on the office in the end.

How do you plough through and finish something that’s starting to drag? Where do you find the inspiration?

It’s about coming home
 and home is a remarkable space that tells your story. Contact me if you need a little help!



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Guest Posting at DĂ©cor Adventures

Today you’ll find me over at DĂ©cor Adventures

…where I’m sharing 3 of my top tips for keeping an organized home… ’cause you know, it’s just that time of year.

If you haven’t stopped by DĂ©cor Adventures, trust me, you’re in for a treat! You can be sure Jessica will be DIY-ing something amazing for her equally awesome 112 year old character home. Have you seen her home? Yup, I’m in love! And if you’re a Pinterest person, guaranteed this is a one-stop pinning op! After all, it’s not every day you can put today’s spin on a century old space! Come on over,  join me at DĂ©cor Adventures for a visit!

Oh, if you didn’t see Jessica’s post from yesterday, be sure to check it out. She’s got some awesome decluttering tips to get you started!

Thank you, Jessica for inviting me to guest post! I’m super excited to be here!

Vintage Trash Cans: I Forgot About Oscar!

When I wrote about vintage waste bins the other day I focused on the pretty little ones you would typically find in a bathroom, bedroom or office.

And then I got this comment from my DLBwest friend, Tracey Ayton of Tracy Ayton Photography. Have you read her blog?


So Tracey, this one’s for you!


Oscar the Grouch in his galvanized garbage can home.

Similar to this one here.


According to Urban Remains Chicago, this antique industrial trash can, c. 1910-20s, was made of heavy galvanized steel and reinforced at the joints with rivets. It was made by the Witt Cornice Company, now Witt Industries in Cinncinati. Founder, George Witt invented the first corrugated, galvanized ash can and lid in 1899 and patented it at that time.


These trash cans were historically placed in city parks… oh, and did you know that Witt Industries is now a woman-owned business?

But if I let Oscar in on that little detail, I’m pretty sure this is what he would tell me to do…


What do you think of Oscar’s vintage trash can?

I think it’s trĂšs cool, too!

With a little Oscar style in your space…


 There’s a whole lot of personality in your place!

It’s about coming home
 If you want a remarkable space that tells your story, contact me to see how we can help!


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Vintage Waste Bins… That’s Right, Garbage Cans!

I thought with the new year underway, and resolutions for decluttering being the current pitch, it would be fun to bring some vintage into the mix.

As in vintage waste bins! They can be a fabulous decor accent, just wait and see!

Like this Hollywood Regency goddess of gold, c. 1950s-60s.


Can you see this being a good fit with the warm metals on the scene?

How about this fun little retro gem… black poodles, pink bows… a Ransburg classic, c. 1950s .


Paris anyone? Just makes you want to smile!

Or maybe something with a little extra kitsch…


Don’t you just want to take him home?

And you know I can never resist some Mid-Century Modern in the crowd.

But I had to laugh when I spotted this Spaghetti bin!


A great match for the Spaghetti swags I wrote about here!

Do you ever watch Mad Men? Now that’s Mid-Century Modern done well!

I can so see this sleek 1960s Swedish teak bin on the set…


…or in my home! 😉

I bet many of you remember this one.


What a classic. This oval bin c. 1950s-60s by Pearl Wick was a popular style of the time.

And would you guess this polished brass bin is from the late 19th to early 20th century?


It’s multipurpose and can double as an umbrella stand. I think it would fit right in with our current scene.

And to finish on a Mid-Century note, how about this atomic style bin.


If you look closely you’ll see this bin has 2 parts. The cylinder is made of perforated metal and sits into the tubular metal frame. Notice the scalloping and ball feet? These are the details that make this bin atomic in style.

Trash bin to treasure!

Do you have decluttering on this year’s ‘to do’ list? Remember to put the pretty in the purge, and have a great little waste bin by your side!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Photograph sources indicated below each image. Please contact me if I have made an error or omission!