Creating order- let’s face it, it’s a challenge that everyone faces. I have yet to meet a client that says to me when we meet for the first time, “I love the chaos and the clutter! It is so much fun not being able to find my keys every morning!” Clutter / organization is ALWAYS on the list of pain points when I do initial client assessments. And increasing storage isn’t going to help in creating order, although it is often thought of as the initial solution. Organization and order is a learned behaviour- and systems need to be in place to set people up for success. Let’s also be realistic- the majority of people aren’t like AshLee Frazier  (who by the way, I think is adorable. Actually, all the remaining girls in Sean’s season are adorable. Small TV digression.)

I was recently invited to give a talk on the topic of creating order in the home at a private school in Toronto. I had so many requests for a copy of the presentation I thought I would share the highlights here. I am a big proponent of creating goals that are achievable- so I broke down a top takeaway for each topic. Even if you focus on just one I promise you will see a change in your home, and your life.

Clean Sweet TLC

Remember this show on TLC? I was obsessed with it.

1.DO AN AUDIT it’s remarkable how much stuff can amass in a home that we think we need, but we actually don’t. I am very guilty of hanging on to things for sentimental reasons, or “what if” scenarios (that never really come). Go through each closet, drawer, nook and cranny and be ruthless. In my house if it hasn’t been worn / touched / used for a year it’s gone. The other reality is if you live in a small house or condo (like many of my clients) you simply do not have the space to afford to keep things around that don’t bring VALUE to your life. That is my new measuring stick- does this item bring me value (either in utility, or in its beauty).

Top takeaway: Carve out 15 minutes each week and audit sections of your home. Ensure you actually use / need everything there. Be ruthless and get rid of what you do not need.

2.CONQUER CLOSET INTERIORS I recently did a closet audit with Robin Craig where we went through every single item in my closet and I let her tell me what looked good and what needed to go. She then helped me make outfits out of the items I already own and suggested what I should buy to fill in the gaps. It was AMAZING (and so much fun). What it left me with was a closet that was edited, and helps me get ready FASTER in the morning. No more fumbling through clothing that doesn’t fit. No more guessing if an outfit makes me look frumpy. In addition, we streamlined my wardrobe so that essentially everything matches. Not that I am suggesting that you need a wardrobe that is all the same colour, or lacking in variety- but I was looking for SPEED in getting ready. And ensuring everything coordinates has absolutely helped with that.

Top takeaway: Come up with 5 words to determine your style and stick to those words when you shop. This will assist in seamless dressing in the morning. Post favourite outfits to help inform your style on Pinterest.

Lisa Canning Interiors_Custom Millwork Front Entry

Custom unit designed by Lisa Canning Interiors, photo by Larry Arnal.

3. SORT THE FRONT ENTRY This is the biggest pain point in most homes. We designed the unit above to help assist in this. What I have learned from working with professional organizers is that a shallow drawer for keys / mail / change / cell phone is essential, if possible one drawer for each family member. Limit the number of shoes to 2 per family member at the front door, and everything else gets stored elsewhere. Assign a spot, whether it be a hook, cubby or basket for each person’s bag.

Top takeaway: Place a bag on the front door (make it match your decor!) that permanently stays there to collect errand related things that you don’t want to forget- like library books, things you need to return to stores, mail to go out, etc. Give each family 1 drawer near the front door, 1 bag spot, and limit 2 shoes. 

Lisa Canning Interiors_Custom Window Bench

Custom window bench designed by Lisa Canning Interiors, built by Built Toronto, photo by Larry Arnal.

4. DESIGNATE SPOTS Similar to the strategies around the front door, assign spots for essentially everything in your home. Group “like” things together for easy ergonomics. Especially in the kitchen, place related things together. The biggest pain point in my house is currently sippy cups. When you open my kitchen cabinet, they explode in an avalanche or neon green, yellow and Nickelodeon  characters. To combat this, we have made a rule that we only buy one brand, and limit the colour combos- helps with ensuring all lids fit and limits the fights over whose cup is whose. It might sound extreme but I need SPEED and EFFICIENCY with a family of three small kids.

Top takeaway: Assign spots for all items and group according to like items: “like with like”. Give kids bins that they can call their own too.

Lisa Canning Interiors_Condo Custom Media UnitLisa Canning Interiors_Organized Interiors

Custom millwork designed by Lisa Canning Interiors, photo by Larry Arnal.

5.CUSTOMIZE- This is my favourite one as I am such a believer in the value and benefits of custom millwork. The above unit was designed for an active family in North Toronto that needed more space to play, entertain and store. We created this unit with a sliding panel- the TV and the fireplace are housed in this panel which allows the family to use all the space behind for storage. Innovative approaches to customization like this help urban families live large in their small spaces.

Top takeaway: Investing in custom will increase your space as you can use every single inch and design the unit around what you own.

As Ontario residents celebrate Family Day- perhaps there’s a project you want to tackle? I will be doing an audit of my front closet- hopefully finding all the pairs to my kids mittens! Happy Family Day!


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