Organize First. Products Second.

I received a lovely compliment on my blog from Brandie Kajino of Organize & Simplify today. And from there, my day took a new turn. And as I think is the case with many creative people (even only SOMEWHAT creative people, such as myself) they are easily moved off task by the thought of something more fun, visually appealing or less mundane than say, paying bills or organizing paperwork.

Brandie’s thoughtful comment inspired me to take a stroll around her lovely blog filled with organizing tips and ideas. And from there, after reading one of her posts, I started thinking about my own tendency to shop for the fun organizing products first (to inspire me, of course) and then figure out how to organize “later”. Usually that results in lovely, empty organizational systems I didn’t really need. Not good.

Well, the truth is, while parts of my house & life are actually somewhat organized, everything is not as tidy as it should be. In fact, one of my big problem areas revolves around paper. Case in point, I have lost my daughter’s sixteenth birthday card and her birthday is tomorrow. I bought the card three months ago and it was perfect for her. I knew I could potentially lose it or forget about it, so I put it in my pajama drawer. HUH? Yep. You heard me. I do not have a tickler file. I do have a greeting card box, but since I didn’t want her to find it, I didn’t put the card there. I put it in my drawer, well, or so I thought. Two hours of searching later, I still can’t find it. I am sure I thought of a wonderful spot for it, I just can’t remember where that place is.

I am convinced. I need a tickler file.

And that brings me to another excuse to shop for lovely products! I won’t buy any, yet, I promise. But in case you are in the same boat, here is some inspiration for all of us. I could see myself enjoying filing if I had these pretties to look at!

Organize First. Products Second.Organize First. Products Second.Organize First. Products Second.


Or, how about creating a card binder? I love binders. Lots of pretty binders, all lined up on a shelf…a visual delight! :-) Makes you feel organized just to see them. As if you really had them filled with cards & papers, and not sitting there empty. Ok. I get it. Organize first. Products second.


Organize First. Products Second.


Products & photos from See Jane Work.

Inspired Rooms

Do you know the difference between “inspired rooms” and “theme rooms?” Having a business and blog entitled “The Inspired Roomâ„¢” I often get asked about how to create specific themes for rooms. Theme rooms conjure up the idea of every nook and cranny filled with trinkets and tacky wallpaper borders dedicated to your favorite hobby or sport. Ok, I’ll admit it, I don’t like tacky theme rooms. No more theme rooms, please! I know readers of my blog would never want to create a tacky room, but we have all been in one, right? Inspired rooms are much more subtle, but so much more effective. That is what we want, right? Inspired rooms!

So how do you avoid the tacky theme room? Think of the mood you are trying to create. Let’s say it is a lazy morning at a beach cottage. Before you run out and go crazy buying every possible lighthouse knick knack to illustrate your theme, go back to the idea of the “mood.”

A mood should suggest that you are actually AT the place you are trying to recreate, not at a tacky tourist shop. Find a picture of the kind of room you want to create and take note of what you see. Study the fabrics, the furnishings, the colors, the accessories to get you started.

Inspired Rooms

A beach cottage doesn’t have to have shells everywhere in order to remind you where you are! Shells can be a nice touch, but again, you want to focus first on the mood, not the obvious accessories. Let the accessories add the finishing touch, not be the main event.

Take your inspiration from what you would see outside the beach cottage. Imagine the color of sand, the sea, the skies, the freshness of the air, the casualness of the environment. Matchstick blinds or airy sheers, bare wood floors, blues, teals and creams, an eclectic mix of overstuffed furniture, and comfy places to kick back & read or play board games can all add up to the mood of a beach cottage.

Rooms with a touch of whimsy or a delightful surprise can make you smile when you see them. And they can make your space personal. Maybe add a personal touch like in the photos above and below — a formal antique, painted in a soft hue. Also notice what I think are shells glued to the lampshade. Find creative and subtle ways to let your inspiration unfold as you or your guests take a closer look around.

Inspired Rooms

Lastly, before you get inspired and head out to work on a room, think of ways to incorporate things you love with the style of your house, other rooms and existing furnishings. Incorporating things that are appropriate will be much more authentic and charming than things that just don’t make sense. If you actually live in an elegant Victorian home, rounding the corner to an over the top beach inspired family room will just seem forced and tacky if the rest of the house doesn’t support that.

Find ways to be subtle, be appropriate, and don’t shock yourself as you walk from room to room. If you have an old Victorian, work the “Victorian on the coast” idea into the whole house, not just one room. You don’t have to be bound to the style of your architecture by any means, but keep some continuity for your house as a whole!

Photos: Dominique Vorillon Coastal Living Magazine