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Bookshelf Basics

Artfully Arranging Your Books

Bookshelves – we’ve all got them, but have you ever put some thought into how your books/DVDs/albums/collectables are displayed? Some people just cram everything on the shelf, some organize by genre, author, date published etc. and the more visually inclined among us organize by colour or height.

Organize Anything has 10 tips for creating a visually interesting and organized bookshelves. Tackle your shelves as your next rainy day project.

1) Clutter free. When re-arranging your bookshelves, leave some “empty” spaces

between groupings here and there, to give one’s eyes a rest between the groupings. Don’t over-do it with lots of clutter. As always, less is better.

2) Zigzag it. To create a balanced look, use a ‘zigzag’ pattern when placing the items.  Place larger items such as book groupings, sculptures, or plants in the corners of the zigzag.  Use the reverse pattern on the opposite (flanking) shelves.  Fill in the gaps with alternations of accessories and books.

3) Show your depth. Painting the backs of shelving in bright, deep or contrasting colours will draw the eye into the shelving and help make objects stand out.

4) Creatively fill the space. If you don’t have a lot of books, arrange some on their sides, others standing up. On some of your stacked books, you can top them with a vase or collectible item. Also keep in mind that vases or pots do not always have to hold flower arrangements. Sometimes, just the color or shape of the vase will add just the right touch of interest to your display.

5) Meaningful knickknacks. Gather items from around your house that have meaning and are pleasing to look at.  Antiques, framed art and photographs, plants, plates and tasteful travel souvenirs or musical instruments complement books well and provide great conversation starters.

6) Too many books. If you are overloaded with books, stacking some here and there on the shelves will take up less space. Also, try stacking several of your favorite books on a coffee, side or entry table, with a pair of reading glasses, decorative magnifying glass or other object sitting on top.

7) Be a little off centre. The arrangement on your bookshelves should never be symmetrically balanced. Organize things, whether books or art objects, asymmetrically. This will create a sense of movement, interest and creativity to your room.

8) Size it out. Most books range in size from eight to ten inches. So avoid shelving that is taller.  This will alleviate a large gap between the top of the books and the shelf above. Don’t be afraid to add more shelving! Unique heights are visually interesting.

9) Alternative stacking. Use books in your decorating scheme to add a functional piece to your room. Place a stack near a chair and use as a side table with a small tray on top. If you have read the books and are just using certain ones to decorate with, you can hot glue them together to make the stack more stable. This is a great use for those out-dated encyclopedia sets that you are not sure what to do with.

10) Light it up. Do you have a reading nook next to your bookshelf? Add a small lamp or some hidden lights will provide light for cuddling up with a great book. It’s also an interesting alternative to lamps in the room.

If a book shelf that’s filled with pictures and vases isn’t your style, experiment to find what works for you. Do you want your books sorted by the Dewy Decimal system? Find a way that works for you! Stack and organize in a pleasing way that is functional for what you need.


STAGING – When Selling Your Home, Prepare like You Are Having Guests

Most of us do at least a few things to make our home more presentable when guests come to visit. Showing your home for sale is very similar. Think of preparing your home as if you were having not one but hopefully several special guests that will be seeing every aspect of your home. The following are some tips to help you properly prepare for your house buying guests.bathroom%20empty

Clean.  Nothing smells better than clean, unadulterated clean.  Open a window to let fresh air in before potential house buyers arrive.  Be careful with scented candles and fresheners that may cause allergic reactions in a larger and larger percentage of our population and therefore some of your guests. No one will want to buy a home that they are allergic to.

Create easy access at entrances and make sure there is lots of room for coats and footwear. Make it is easy for a group of people to enter your home at once and that there is lots of space for them to store their outerwear while they visit. Feeling crammed and uncomfortable to start is not a good first impression.

Tidy and reduce clutter. Put away personal belongings. Remember that these special guests will be looking at every inch of your house.  There is no just hiding things in a closet or room and closing the door here! Make your house look great and moving day easier by donating, selling, or trashing unused and useless items in your home.

Let guests know where things are. Potential buyers need to know.  Imagine these were overnight guests.  Show them where light switches, thermostats, and amenities are and how to operate household features. It needs to be obvious what a room is used for and where they can find or put things.

Have the laundry done and put out fresh linens.  Make sure the linen closet contents are stacked neatly and there are fresh linens on beds and in bathrooms.  Crumpled up towels and dirty socks on the floor will make guests feel unwelcome.

stagingMake an impact on guests with a fresh bouquet, plant or greenery.  This would be sure to please the eyes of any dinner guest, and your house buying guests will be equally impressed.

Limit your pets’ presence. You love your pets, but not everyone feels the same way.  Put your pet out in the yard, in their kennel or with friends while visitors are seeing your home. Make sure they don’t leave behind any “presents”.  No guest is pleased with souvenir dog or cat fur on their clothes.

Treat your potential buyers like special guests and they will want to stay in your home longer, not just as a guest, but as the new owner.

STAGING – Flaunt Your Best Assets

Highlight and draw attention to elements in the home, such as a great view, architectural details, even repairs, renovations or equipment upgrades. Your kitchen and bathroom are prime selling opportunities, so pay special attention to these areas. For example, keep your kitchen counters clear of any knickknacks and small appliances, and remove any magnets or personal items from your fridge. Remove as many personal items as you can from the bathroom so it looks pristine and that there is lots of counter space available. Replace leaking or worn faucets to give a new look to the room. Make sure to clean under the sinks. Potential homeowners will be checking out all the details. If there are any leaks, fix them. Then clean up the damage using contact paper or paint. Spending a little extra time to fix up the existing items in the home is an inexpensive way to make great changes, therefore increasing the selling value and decreasing the time it will be on the market.

living room

STAGING – Context Is Key

People aren’t buying houses, they are buying homes. Most potential home buyers want to see where they can fit in that home. Without being able to see furniture in the rooms, it just looks like a big empty space and potential buyers will find it hard to visualize themselves in the space.

Here are some reasons why you should never try to sell your home empty:

It is hard to tell the size of a room when there is no reference point.  Furniture will allow the buyer to see the scale of the room and sometimes even make it look larger then if it were empty. A small empty bedroom can leave one wondering if a bed even fits. Most potential buyers do not have a sense of size from reading numbers on a promotional sheet. They need some sort of reference point to make the connection to their own stuff.

Potential buyers will focus on negatives in the home rather then looking at the overall picture.  Maybe there is a scratch in the flooring, a light switch in an inconvenient spot or a bar missing from the closet. All of these negatives are easier to spot in an empty room. Instead of looking at the overall flow, the buyer is concentrating on what needs to be fixed or critiquing furnishings like light fixtures, woodwork, countertops.

Marble Hall and Staircase

Empty rooms can distract buyers from the home. They may be focusing more on why the home is empty rather then deciding if it is the right home for them. Did they get a divorce? Have they moved away? Are they trying to sell fast because there are too many problems? These are questions they may be asking because the home is so empty and nothing is catching their eye. They may even be asking themselves maybe they are desperate and I can make a low offer?

So be sure to stage each room with items to help the potential buyers see the purpose and potential layout of the room.  Even if the house is not fully furnished it is important to at least paint the picture of what could go on in each particular room for potential buyers. A vacant house is depressing, show the cheerful side of your house.

STAGING – We Buy With Our Senses

People buy from emotion. Our senses are how we define the world around us and have a strong link to memory and emotion. What better way to create an emotional appeal for our home than through our senses.

When you decide to put your home on the market it makes good sense to consider your home not only with fresh eyes but also consider the other senses as well.


We often hear about the tactic of using the aroma of freshly baked bread or cookies to fill a house that is being shown to potential buyers. Think of unconventional ways to entice your buyer’s nose (without triggering allergies) with scents such as cinnamon, grapefruit, and cedar. But take care that nothing is too strong. Unnatural chemical renditions of flowers or herbs are highly promoted and sold but these can be very offensive, especially if they are trying to mask another unwelcome odor such as that from a pet. The reality is nothing beats the smell of clean. Overbearing scents make no sense.


Textures are hot right now in home décor and work equally as well when staging your home. Textures are appealing to the eye and make the person eager to touch and closely examine an object. Use the addition of textures as both a tactile and visual technique with the use of pillows, throws, window treatments, bedding, and carpets. Adding the depth of texture will make one want to linger in a room or home and feel more comfortable.


wind chimesTreat potential buyers to the sounds of nature by opening a window to your backyard. Encourage birds to congregate and sing in your yard with an attractive bird feeder or bird bath. Hang wind chimes so that even stormy days seem cheery. Have water features running in good condition indoors and out. Play soft music to encourage buyers to relax and enjoy your home.

Eliminate sounds that mean something is wrong – a squeaky door, a toilet that keeps running. This includes cleaning your aquarium’s filter, rain gutters, water pipes, air conditioning and any other appliance or items that could raise the decibel rating or an eyebrow or earlobe of a potential buyer.

When you are staging your home think beyond pleasing the eyes: sooth the ear, nose and hand, as well. Improve the emotional appeal of your home, with improved sensory appeal and you will find a happy buyer quickly.

STAGING – Small Changes to Increase Your Chances of Selling Your Home

Staging Professional Colette Robicheau shares the easiest tips to stage your home.

She talks about how to eliminate the elements that will distract potential buyers from purchasing your home.

If you have any questions, or would like to book Colette to stage YOUR home for sale, you can visit us online at, on Facebook at, on Twitter at or at our blog:

STAGING – Home Staging Explained

Home staging is one of the newest and fasted growing marketing tools to improve the odds of selling a home faster and for more money. There are many factors that can influence the sale of a home but growing evidence and anecdotal responses show that highlighting the best architectural features of a home works.


Often people wanting to sell their home have lived there for a very long time and have accumulated a lot of stuff. They cannot see it from the buyers’ eyes. Stagers work with or without the client to prepare the home to be attractive to the greatest number of buyers. This involves editing possessions, rearranging furniture and creating new placement for art and accessories.

Making a good first impression is critical, from improving curb appeal to providing additional “props” to round out the whole effect; often these changes have minimal costs but big rewards.

If you enjoyed this article, please pass it along to others who would find it useful and sign up for our Organize Anything newsletter on our homepage at

Turn Your Home Into a Residential Commercial

Simple steps to increase the appeal of your home to potential buyers

Preparing to sell your home this year?  The most common mistake many sellers make when staging their homes that you can avoid is preparing your home based on your personal tastes.

When selling, you are creating a ‘residential advertisement’ for your home, so it must appeal to the audience you want to reach.  Because the market is very broad, the look or decor of your house must appeal to a wide variety of potential buyers.  After all, like any ad, you have limited time to engage a potential buyer. If they can’t instantly see themselves in your property, they’ll move on to the next one.

Here’s what I recommend to create an effective residential advertisement:

1) Have a great opening First impressions are crucial. Make sureoutside your property is well maintained, including your garden. Create curb appeal or buyers will drive right by to view the next property without giving your home a second chance. Remove any leaves, equipment or trash from your lawn, driveway and gutters.  Exterior upgrades — a freshly painted door, new welcome mat, clean windows, new house numbers — will help to enhance the appeal of your home.  And consider first impressions once the buyer enters your home.  Keep your entry hall spacious and bright, and ensure your home is free from any food, pet, cigarette or other unpleasant odours.

2) Edit When selling your home, less means more.  Buyers want to picture themselves and their belongings in your home, which they can’t do if it is cluttered or filled with personal items.   Remove extra furniture and any collections, family photos, religious, or seasonal artifacts.  Neutral paint and décor will help increase the appeal of your home, creating a blank slate for buyers to imagine how they will use it.  You should also clear clutter and personal items from closets, storage spaces and medicine cabinets.  In short, keep only those items you need on a daily basis, and donate or pack the rest.

3) Sell the positive features and benefits Highlight and draw attention to the positive aspects of the home, such as a great view, architectural details, repairs, renovations and equipment upgrades.  Your kitchen and bathrooms are prime selling opportunities, so pay special attention to these areas. For example, you should keep your kitchen counters clear of any knickknacks and small appliances, and remove any magnets or personal items from your fridge.

Clean Couch4) Create Visual Appeal Dirt, mold, fingerprints and cobwebs all detract from the appeal of your house.  Be sure to clean thoroughly in every nook and cranny and empty all wastebaskets, for enhanced appeal.  You should also consider updating the look of your house by removing dated items. Replace these with a few well-chosen accessories like fresh flowers or lighter drapes that brighten up your house.

5) Make it easy Buyers should know what each room or space is used for, so leave something in each room to make its purpose clear.  Ensure traffic flow throughout your home is easy and arrange furniture to convince them to linger in each room, creating a lasting, positive impression.  Be sure to make any necessary home repairs- buyers will appreciate knowing they can move in without any extra effort or costs.

Remember, the key to selling your house is to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes.  This will help you to create a residential advertisement that maximizes the appeal of your house, leading to a quick and easy sale.

STAGING – Simple Mistakes That Lead Potential Buyers to Believe There is Not Enough Space in Your Home

Everyone wants a home that feels spacious; this is one of the top requirements that surveyed potential buyers are looking for.

Often our homes have a lot of space but it does not appear that way. The way we live in our homes, our accumulation of possessions and inadequate preparation will tell buyers that your home is smaller than it actually is.

Here are some things that will prevent the buyer from seeing the amount of space you actually have.

1. Closets that are overflowing with clothing and jammed too tightly
2. Plastic storage containers that fall on the floor when the cupboard door opens
3. Counter drawers that don’t flow open easily because they are crammed with too much stuff or don’t work properly
4. Kitchen and bathroom counter tops piled with household items with no free space remainingstuffed closet
5. Heavy and closed draperies or dirty windows that make the room dark
6. Dark, harsh paint colors and certain wallpapers
7. Too much furniture or too many accessories that make the room look small and crammed
8. Too few or inadequate lamps and lighting sources
9. Walkways within each room too shallow
10. Too many small knickknacks and pictures

Space may not be the final frontier when selling a home, but it is an important one. Make sure you eliminate these mistakes and the length of time your home will stay unsold on the market.

Organize Anything Takes Your Dorm Room by Storm

Organizing a dorm room can be a daunting task, but with experts to help, starting the school year right can be a breeze.

Whether a student is a dorm room pro or tackling dorm life for the first time, making the most of the space they have to live, sleep and study in can be a challenge.

Colette Robicheau, professional organizer at Organize Anything, specializes in downsizing and developing systems to work in any sized space. She has the following tips to share about maximizing your small living space and easing the transition from home.

1. Plan ahead. Get floor plans and lists of do’s and don’ts. Create a list or use a Pinterest board like this one to collect your ideas

2. Double up. Try to avoid appliances and furniture that only have one purpose. Instead of an alarm clock, pick up a radio/iPod docking station/alarm clock/charging station for the bedside table. Or invest in a printer that’s also a scanner and copier. Multi-purpose means less space wasted. An ottoman is great for storage and extra seating.

3. Make your bed.  Often in a dorm room your bed is your couch, study chair, extra storage space, clothes shelf as well as a place to sleep. Invest in bedding that’s durable and hides stains and don’t forget to ask about if you’ll need extra long sheets. A mattress topper can add comfort and encasements can protect for allergies and pests. Store items you may not use often under your bed for extra space.

4. Have a light bulb moment. Invest in full spectrum light bulbs for your desk lamp – after all the fluorescent lights in the classrooms your eyes will appreciate the break. Small clamp lamps can be used to highlight specific areas in the room, which is considerate if you share your space.

5. Contemplate your closet. A well-organized closet can save so much space and frustration in a dorm room. Adding a double hang rack or baskets will increase storage space. Use a back of the door shoe holder for shoes and more. Also handy are 3M Hooks with Command™ Adhesive .

6. Tote-able toiletries. Keeping all shower and hygiene products in one easy-to-carry tote not only makes it easier to keep track of your shampoo, but keeps it all organized in one place. Make sure you get one with holes to let the excess water drain.

7. Laundry bag blues. Tuck your laundry basket into the bottom of your closet or under the sink in the bathroom. Keep your detergent right in the basket. If your washing machines take quarters, tie a small change purse right to the basket itself.

8. Create the illusion of space.  By pushing your bed and desk to the walls you increase your floor space. Put your desk under your window for the best natural light and your bed against a wall so you can use it like a daybed when not sleeping in it.

9. Keep your desk organized.You’ll be spending a lot of time at your desk so making sure it’s neat and tidy with some great organizing products will make your studying that much easier. A whiteboard calendar will help you keep track of your upcoming assignments.

10. Think small – Most rooms are not much more than 225 square feet.   Don’t overbuy in big box sizes and quantities when there is such limited storage space.

Organizing a dorm room can be a daunting task, but with experts to help, starting the school year right can be a breeze.

If you would like helping getting your Dorm Room set up to optimize your success this school year contact Organize Anything today. Colette works with individuals to assess their unique spaces and needs, designing and implementing a plan that is both efficient and economical.

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