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Valentine's Day Gifts that Don't Take Up Space In Your Closet

by Cathy Van Volkenburg on 02/13/17

Valentine’s Gifts that Don’t Take Up Space in Your Closet



Looking for ways to show that special someone that you care this Valentine’s day? Pink and red clothing covered in hearts is fun for the day but….now you have to find space in your closet to store it so you can wait a whole year before you wear it again! My top picks for a lovely Valentine’s Day without added stuff in the closet (that may or may not be loved by the recipient )


·      Gorgeous flowers in a favorite color- not red!

·      Decadent, top quality chocolates hand selected

·      Dinner at the best French Restaurant in town (bring items #1 and #2 for fireworks)

·      A wonderful cocktail together

·      A neighborhood walk followed by hot chocolate spiked with Bourbon Cream


Cathy Van Volkenburg CPO®

Accent on Organizing



How are Your New Year's Resolutions Working Out?

by Cathy Van Volkenburg on 02/06/17

How Are Your New Year’s Resolutions Working Out for You???


Many of us make New Year’s Resolutions.  Want to know a secret about how to make your resolutions a success? Organize your home and office before you start on other goals!  Once your home and office are set up to serve your current lifestyle and work agenda, everything falls in to place much quicker.  Being organized will:


Save You Time     Save You Money    Reduce Your Stress


Here are just a few ways that being organized will save you time:


·      An organized closet allows you to find needed items fast

·      An organized desk allows you to find anything in less than a minute

·      An organized pantry allows you to make a shopping list in a snap!

·      An organized garage allows you to store out of season items that can be swapped seasonally in no time at all

·      An organized entryway holds your keys in the same place so you are never late to work


Great ways to save money by living an organized life:


·      When clothing is grouped in categories, you will see what you have and not purchase duplicates

·      When your pantry is set up so everything is visible, you’ll use the food you have before it passes the expiration date. You will see all of the needed ingredients for dinner and therefore make the dinner instead of ordering pizza …again

·      When the kids have an organized place for sporting equipment, there will be no last minute trips to purchase “lost” shin guards that are needed for tonight’s game!


I saved the best for last.  When you have an organized place to work and live, your daily stress drops significantly!  I see it every day when working with  my residential and commercial clients.  By having systems to organize your time, your thoughts and your belongings, you automatically have more time to do something for yourself.  Your systems support you so you can then start to work on your New Year’s Resolutions!

Happy Organized 2017


Cathy Van Volkenburg CPO®

Certified Professional Organizer

Owner Accent on Organizing

Let's Get Organized 2017!

by Cathy Van Volkenburg on 01/30/17

2017 – Let’s Get Organized!



Certified Professional Organizer

Cathy Van Volkenburg CPO®



With 2017 in full swing, many people put “Getting Organized” at the top of their list.  It is exciting to find inspiration on Pinterest , houzz and other fun websites. As a Certified Professional Organizer and Design Consultant for The Container Store, let me give you one big piece of advice as you begin your project. Don’t go to the stores and buy containers and bins first! Many people are tempted to buy pretty storage containers and all kinds of cool looking products before they begin the process of organizing. Save purchasing until the very end of the process for the best results.


Steps to Maximize Efficiency in Any Space:


What is the end goal? Less stuff? Quicker Identification?

Gather Like Items together

Sort and Purge:  Duplicates? Unloved items? Broken items, ill-fitting clothing? Donate, trash or sell!

Create Zones for Remaining Items: Every day items get front and center stage, less used go high or low

Containerize – bins for out of season, bins for loose items like socks, shoe boxes for less frequently worn items. Buckets for toys…

Evaluate and maintain



Only after you have gathered like items together can you possibly make decisions on what you have. When your 35 silk blouses are together in a category, and you notice that 12 of them are black, you may want to donate 6 of them that you never wear! Suddenly you only need space for 23 blouses instead of 35.  Now you are on the right track for maximizing efficiency based on what items are serving your lifestyle right now.  Good job!  Now treat yourself to some pretty products that will make your space attractive and easier to maintain.


This process applies to pantries, kid’s toy areas, garages and more!  AFTER you have gone through the above process, you will be able to purchase containers that make sense for the quantities that will be stored. 


Final tip for maintaining the system you have worked hard to organize:  Use clear containers so you can see what is inside OR use LABELS so you can find what you need in a snap!


My favorite labels: Smead Poly Pockets


 Use blank business cards for labels that can be changed easily and seen from a distance! Comes in many sizes! Stick ‘em on and go! Find what you need quickly- save time!




Cathy Van Volkenburg CPO®

Accent on Organizing

"Spark Joy" A Certified Professional Organier's Review

by Cathy Van Volkenburg on 01/27/17

Marie Kondo’s latest book “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up” is a fascinating perspective on clutter control.  The KonMari tidying method is based on understanding what items spark joy in everyday life.  The book opens with instructions on how to hone your sensitivity to what brings you joy.  The core of her decluttering strategy is to only keep the items that spark joy. Her detailed directions help the reader follow the clutter busting program carefully and in sequential order. Ms. Kondo explains the difference between cleaning and tidying.  She says that “Tidying is the act of confronting yourself; cleaning is the act of confronting nature. “

 Contrary to the methods used by many organizers today, she encourages people to touch their items and hold them close to “feel” if an item sparks joy.  Her sequence of sorting always begins with clothing and then proceeds to books, paper, miscellaneous and finally, to sentimental items.  Instead of organizing room by room, she instructs the reader to gather all items in one category and sort them.  All clothing in the house is gathered in one room and sorted as a category.    As daunting as this may sound, it forces one to really be sure all clothing is accounted for.  No piles left untouched!  For those who have lots of clothing, this session could be a marathon! 

Ms. Kondo likes to store items based on what they are made of.  Paper files, stationary and books create the category of items made from trees. Her sensitivity to how the product is created allows her to thank the item for its service when she choses to let that item go.  This reverence for items reminds me of the teachings of Feng Shui which also gives inanimate objects a life-force called Chi or energy.  Thanking the item before discarding is a method that allows the person who is organizing to proceed without guilt when items are no longer needed or wanted.  Departing items can be given a second life with a new owner.

The Japanese attention to small detail and beauty is apparent in this book as Marie encourages her readers to have their drawers look like Japanese Bento boxes. “The bento (colorful and beautifully packaged lunch boxes) encapsulates Japan’s unique storage space aesthetics.  Key concepts include separating flavors, beauty of presentation, and close fit.”

The main part of the book gives illustrated examples of folding techniques so clothing will line up beautifully in drawers.  Marie likens folding clothing to folding paper in origami. 

The last quarter of the book gives tips on how to make various areas in the home feel joyful and welcoming.  “Spark Joy” provides a different way to view the organizing process.  Marie invites us to embrace and treasure the things we own.  When we truly value our belongings, we must take great care of them and involve them in creating a beautiful home that nurtures and delights.  Western organizers can glean some nuggets from “Spark Joy”.  Silently thanking items that depart from the home can only bring a nice sense of closure to the often painful process of sorting.  Taking the extra time to make a beautiful bento box drawer will hopefully encourage us to maintain that beauty and order and not toss items willy-nilly in a heap or over stuff our drawers!  All organizers have their unique way of helping clients find peace and order in their spaces. Ms. Kondo’s tidying method offers us a refreshing new way to say goodbye to the clutter in our lives.

Decision-Making Made Easier!

by Cathy Van Volkenburg on 12/14/14

Every day we are deluged with hundreds of decisions from what to eat for breakfast to making big business decisions effecting other people! As the new year approaches many of us brainstorm goals to make our lives more fulfilling.  More decisions to make!  Most of us know how to make a list of pros and cons when we are making tough decisions.  Here are two tips to help you with your daily decision -making dilemmas:

1.  Rate the possible outcomes of your decision on a 1-10 scale.  10 is the most positive and 1 is the most negative.  If you choose outcome #1 where does it rate on the scale? How does outcome #2 compare? By giving your options a number, you are forcing yourself to see that choice in concrete measurable terms that are comparable to other choices.

2.  Another interesting way to help make decisions is to ask yourself "What is the worse thing that could happen if I choose this option?" Often the answer to this question allows you to move forward knowing you have thought through the worst case scenario.  

Cheers to making decisions!

Organize, Simplify, Transform