Tips

Thursday 03.09.17

No More Stepping on Legos

In San Francisco, we’ve been knee deep in Legos since the holidays. Seems it’s the one plastic toy beloved by every parent…until you step on one, barefoot, at 2AM. Never fear though, NEAT is here!  Keep reading for organizing tips that should cover every Lego enthusiast in your home...
 
The first step to organizing Legos is to decide how to categorize the pieces. By color? By set? All together? This all depends on your child’s age and how they play with the Legos. Older kids will appreciate having them organized by color because they’re likely to do more free-building. Kids just starting out might feel more comfortable with Legos kept in their sets. As for the littles, it will probably be a free-for-all. 
 
Pro tip: Even if Pinterest pictures of Legos color-sorted sets your heart aflutter, it’s not always worth the work. Sorting by color is a serious time investment. And if the sorting inhibits your child’s play or they won’t keep it up, it’s not worth doing it in the first place.
 
After deciding how to organize the Legos, the next step is choosing an organizational solution. What you purchase will depend on how you decided to organize. 
 
Below are some containers recently used, and approved, by the NEAT San Francisco team. 
 
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By Color - For Small Collections
 
The Container Store’s Akro-Mills drawer cabinet is a nice option for smaller collections.
 
If you are more style driven, Bisley’s multi-drawer cabinets (below) are perfect. They have a fresh, modern feel and come in many colors. Plus they can easily be repurposed for art or office supplies once your kids grow out of the lego phase. 
legos, organizing, san francisco, lisa ruff, home organizing, professional organizing, neat method
By Color- For Large Collections
 
With regards to Ikea, clients either fall into the “pro” or “groan” category when I mention their products. We happen to think Ikea is a great resource for kid organizational products. They’re inexpensive and can easily be repurposed or donated when no longer needed. 
 
For large Lego collections, we love Ikea’s Alex line. The 9-drawer can be used if you only have vertical space. Or the 6-drawer on casters is great. You could easily add Linus organizers in the drawers to further organize the collection. 
 
The other great part of the 6-drawer is that you can place a project tray on top. Any masterpiece currently being built can be carried to a playtable, worked on, then put back on the tray and stored until next time. Or you could attach Lego baseplates to the top of the unit and turn the top into a building area.
 
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By Set
 
We recently organized a client’s son’s Legos by set and used Ikea’s Trofast line. We individually bagged the sets in Ziplocs with the manual and placed them in the drawers by type. We only used deep drawer bins.  (If sorting by color, we suggest the shallow drawers.) 
 
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All Together
 
Two great options for Lego beginners or for Duplo enthusiasts are Swoop Bags and Lego Storage Bricks.  They’re cute and can be easily repurposed for other toys.
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legos, organizing, san francisco, lisa ruff, home organizing, professional organizing, neat method
Labeling
 
The gold star for Lego labeling goes to i heart organizing. She easily dealt with the conundrum of labeling for pre-readers by using the color to write out the label. (Sidenote: She also used Ikea’s Trofast.)  It’s nice looking and functional. Definitely NEAT approved!
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Happy sorting!! 

xx

the Neat (SF) girls

Thursday 03.02.17

4 Secrets to Improving Your Handwriting

They say that penmanship is a thing of the past, but we, over here at Neat Method, are doing our best to make sure that it never goes out of style! As perfectionist, we tend to get a little frustrated when our handwriting isn’t up to par with our organizing skills. 

As you know, we recently held our annual Neat Summit in Austin and had the honor of working with handwriting expert, Jesilyn Kay. Not only was she a delight to work with, but she also taught us several tricks of the trade for best labeling all of the bins and baskets of our client’s homes. Now, you of course won’t get the full affect as one of her classes, but we thought we’d share our Top 4 Highlights with all of you in hopes of keeping pen(wo)man ship alive. 

1. Spacing is Everything. We most definitely live by this motto when organizing any space of a home, so we were pleased to hear that we should approach labeling the same way. Before you go to write something, make sure you know how you want to space out the word on the section you are writing. Is there equal distance from left to write? Don’t be afraid to use a ruler to help you mark where you want your letters to be spaced from top to bottom. 

2. Center the word. This might have been our favorite trick! Now, it’s not the easiest to do, so don’t be embarrassed if you have to write the word on a separate piece of paper. Basically, once you’ve figured out your spacing, find your center point. Now, place the middle letter or two letters right smack in the middle of the space/label. From there, start completing the word from left to right one letter at a time. Once again, this isn’t easy to do when it comes to spelling the word out, so get that extra piece of paper handy. 

3. Aren’t confident?? Write in pencil. Who knew that it didn’t have to be perfect the first time?!? We quickly realized that the ability to practice the lettering and spacing in pencil made it super easy to go over in the pen or marker color of our choice. Then, if need be, just erase the pencil lines that were created. 

4. Proper pens. This really might be the answer to it all! For years we’ve worked hard at knowing the proper pens and markers to use on each surface. It really does take a skill to find the ones that won’t rub off, that will allow for even lettering and create the effect we are looking for. Jesilyn shared a little secret with us with these and these pens. She said the finer the point the better and to then just take your time to fill in the lines in order to create the thickness we are going for. 

We hope that you find these tips helpful, but if you want to go the extra mile…we recommend picking up this book from our friend. 

xx

the NEAT girls

Thursday 01.05.17

Inside the Home of House Beautiful's Editor in Chief

We were recently brought in to help transform a closet for House Beautiful's, Sophie Donnelson. Now, this wasn't just any closet, but one her 4 year old son was to share with his new baby brother. We were excited for the challenge and knew that with enough team effort the space would become as functional and beautiful as possible. Working hand in hand with California Closets on the design and us on the actual organizing, we created one of the cutest, most functional spaces we have ever seen. 

The first thing we did was review the closet design to make sure we understood all of the dimensions and placement. Then we went right to work on coming up with best products to fit that space. It was most important to Sophie for us stick with products that she loved, but still fit all of her needs. That's where our friends at Pottery Barn Kids came in! They had the perfect selection to fit the aesthetic of the room. You will see from the before photo below that the space was not at it's full potential! 

Editor in Chief, Sophie Donnelson, House Beautiful, Nursery Organization, closet design, california closets, small spaces, closet organization, closet inspiration

We then arrived for organizing day to sort, categorize and color code everything and make way for the new closet to be installed. We learned that Sophie's oldest son had a love for toy cars, books and gadgets. Making it extremely important that he was still able to access all of those things even though his brother would be taking over a good portion of the closet. 

The second most important thing was for Sophie to be able to access everything she needed for baby with ease. Picture this...a kid at your feet with toys strewn about, a baby on your hip and trying to access the closest burp cloth or diaper. It was that exact image that we used for inspiration when we put the puzzle back together.

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What a difference, right?? By starting with a professional closet installation, then making sure the space was perfectly planned and laid out, we were able to make this transformation fit all the needs that Sophie requested. 

Editor in Chief, Sophie Donnelson, House Beautiful, Nursery Organization, closet design, california closets, small spaces, closet organization, closet inspiration

     

Editor in Chief, Sophie Donnelson, House Beautiful, Nursery Organization, closet design, california closets, small spaces, closet organization, closet inspiration

This was definitely a fun one and we couldn't have done it without the help of California Closets, Pottery Barn Kids and our amazing New York NEAT girls.

Ps. Rumor has it, Sophie and her family have been able to maintain this perfectly NEAT closet. 

xx

the NEAT girls

photo cred :: Cory Dawson Photography (minus photo one from our iPad)

Editor in Chief, Sophie Donnelson, House Beautiful, Nursery Organization, closet design, california closets, small spaces, closet organization, closet inspiration
Thursday 12.08.16

The Cutest Gift Ideas for Kids Brought To You by the NEAT girls!

Although sharing what we want for X-mas brings us much JOY...sharing what we want to get the kids in our life brings us even more! Mostly for the smiles that presents bring to their little faces. Check out our NEAT kid gift guide. Could these be any cuter?!?!

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1. Molly has this on her list for her little bakers. Might as well start them young!

2. Lauren in Detroit is excited to get her kids this interactive book and plush friend to go with it! 

3. Alex in St. Louis recommends some great storage bins to hold all of the toys they are about to get!

4. Lisa in San Francisco has this adorable sweater on her list for her girls. 

5. And...Laura in Naperville found the perfect play kitchen for her daughter. 

Ok, that's a wrap! Let us know if you want more ideas. We have plenty! Happy Shopping everyone!

xx

the NEAT girls

Tuesday 12.06.16

5 Gifts That Will Make Him Really Happy this Year!

Wouldn't you all agree that if your man is happy then you are, too! The way we see it is, if you buy him an extra special gift this holiday season then he will have no reason to not do the same in return, right?!?! Here are our top 5 gifts that are sure to make him want to buy you somehting equally as great! 

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1. Ashley H. in DC recommends these wireless speakers from Mr. Porter. 

2. Brooke in Chicago is looking to get her man a custom shirt from Knot Standard

3. Joyce in Naples thinks it's only fitting to up her husband's cooler game for their beach excursions. 

4. Allo in Denver wants to keep it simple with this amazing Shinola watch

5. Katie in San Diego is kind of loving this bag from Douglas Rose for all of her husband's travels. 

Happy Shopping NEAT Friends!

xx

the NEAT girls

Tuesday 11.08.16

Find Out Who NEAT is Voting For This Election...

As we are sure most of you know, today is Election Day in the United States. At this point you would have had to have lived under a rock not to know who the candidates are and we are ready to share who we at NEAT are voting for…

Did you seriously think we were going to make NEAT political? We have completed our own votes for our recent favorite organized spaces.  No matter what party you favor, we are sure that these spaces would get your vote! The winner for best shoe solution goes to Melanie in Las Vegas. She used the Ikea Billy Bookshelves to complete this amazing shoe closet in a challenging space!

Our latest favorite pantry goes to Laura in Naperville. We love that she mixed and matched some of our favorite products from the Container Store to complete this perfectly appointed space.

Ashley in Washington, DC got top votes after working with wood hangers in this posh closet. 

Speaking of Closets, Liz in Milwaukee was voted best closet update. Check out the fun wallpaper used behind to add a pop! 

Finally, Alex in St. Louis got the vote for most motivating. We love the use of this smaller space dedicated to workout apparel. 

No matter what political side you fall on, get out and vote today! Then, after you are finished voting, get organized.

xx

the NEAT girls

Thursday 10.27.16

Top 3 Pinterest Boards You Must Follow Today

The NEAT Girls have been talking a lot about Pinterest this week. Why you might ask? Well mostly because it is our number one driver of social traffic to our website. Therefore, for obvious reasons, pinning holds a special place in our hearts! 

Becasuse we love Pinterest and spend a bit (read:: A TON) of time on the site, we thought we would share the top 3 boards we find inspiration from. Here are some secrets to get to PInterest's best organizing ideas in seconds. 

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Okay... we lied... we aren't going to share the three boards QUITE yet...First and foremost make sure you are following ALL of NEAT's boards, we are constantly sharing our latest and greatest tips and spaces. #Humblebrag

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Okay, on to the top 3!  Absolutely make sure you are following the House Beautfiul organizing board! They are always pinning inspirational images that are sure to push you to take the next step towards organizational bliss.

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We also cannot get enough of the Good Housekeeping's organizing board. They tend to offer a lot of DIY options so if that's your thing, this is your board! Did you also happen to see that we worked with their Editor in Chief, Sophie Donaldson? We can't wait to share how things turned out soon!

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And finally follow Today Show's organizing board! This board is full of simple guides and quick tips for each area of your home.

Don't forget to always repin the ones you like best so that other NEAT freaks can find what they need in a time effecient manner! Happy Pinning! 

xx
the NEAT girls

Wednesday 09.21.16

How To Pick the Perfect Basket

Since many of us are still in shock over the whole Brangelina break up and likely trying to decide if we are sad over it or still #teamJen, we figured it was a good time for a little distraction. So...why not shop for some baskets, right???

Many of you ask how we get our spaces looking so polished and perfected. It actually requries a step by step process that any of you can follow in order to find the perfect basket for your home. 

1. First and foremost, you need to organize the items in a space that you think needs to be contained. Remove everything from your entire space, then sort and categorize all of it. The key is to not over categorize! For example, if your space only allows for one basket of "workout clothes" then you may have to decide what your favorites are and find a basket that fits everything. If you are able to fit a few different categories (ie. pic below), then just make sure they all get sorted and placed accordingly.

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2. Then, you will want to make sure you measure the shelf/space that the basket and items are then going to live on. We even take it a step further and measure all of the items grouped together on the floor to make sure they will actually fit in the basket before you purchase. 

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3. You are now to the fun part! Time to decide what type of basket person you are. Are you more traditional or modern? What does the rest of your home aesthic look like? We love to mix and match, but find that it definitely takes some trial and error when puttling together the puzzle. We often have to over purchase a little in order to play with different looks that fit a particular home and space. 

Here are a few of our favorite baskets out there right now...

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1. Danish Design Store- Perfect for toys, stuffed animals, blankets or anything else that may work in this bin that can sit out it's so cute. 

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2. Serena and Lily- Also a favorite in a kids room. However, they could work really great for adult things, too. Magazines, books, dvd's (and yes, people still have those), a kitchen pantry for food, etc. The combo of all three could be really fun to play with! 

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3. Pottery Barn Kids- Another great one for a kids room/playroom. This could even be fun in a mudroom for umbrellas or your dog's stuff! 

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4. Pottery Barn- We are kind of obsessed with the white one! The amount of ways you could use this one are actually endless. Playrooms, pantries, closets, media area...you name it. Our pro tip on this one is to place some of the small felt pads you put on furniture under each corner to protect it from scratch the surface you place it on. 

The list could go on and on, but for now we hope that we distracted you for just a moment from the world breaking news. Maybe next time Brad will learn to keep his eggs in one basket!! 

xx

the NEAT girls

Tuesday 03.29.16

The 411 on Organized Travel

Since half of America is traveling for Spring break right now, we thought it was only fitting for us to give you our best advice on how to take it on in the most organized fashion possible! We asked Lisa Ruff, our San Francisco organizer extrodinaire just how she looks so put together when traveling with a family of four. 

LR :: It all starts with the packing. There are two ways I pack for my kids. 1. Gallon size ziplock bags. 2. Packing cubes. The ziplock bags are nice because you can write on them. I pack each outfit down to my daughter's barrettes in separate bags and write the day of the week on the label for the entire trip. That way either myself or my husband can just quickly grab a bag each day to make for a seamless (and more relaxing) vacation. I ususally also include a bag with a "Spare Outfit" and "Spare Parts" in case my girls need to change at all during the actual travel day.

The way to pack an entire family is with color-coded packing cubes. I use Eagle Creek and each member of my family has a set in a different color. I also try to pack similar items, like pajamas, in everyone's medium size cube or underwear in everyone's smallest cube. That way I know exactly what is in each cube and who it belongs to. I pack the same way for every trip to make it a habit.

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A notable mention of these two items...

Diapers & Wipes :: Everyone knows diapers and wipes are bulky and take up precious space. Instead of buying them when I get to our destination, I Amazon Prime them. That way I don't have to worry about finding a store once we get there. Even if you are heading to a hotel, you could do this.

- Chargers :: For the longest time, we always forgot a charger or assumed we could borrow one when we got to our destination, but they were all being used. So I purchased a pouch and extra chargers for everything: Kindle, current iPhone, old iPhone we use as a sound machine, the computer, extra set of headphones. These cords live in the pouch in our luggage when not in use. It was an expensive investment, but now we always have the cords we need.

. . . .

Now for the good stuff! Just how do you do it on the plane though, Lisa?? We know you have two little girls under the age of 4. What are your go to secrets for surviving the actual flight. 

LR ::  Maybe it's the Girl Scout in me, but I pack spare clothes for the airplane. Always be prepared because what can go squish, probably will. I take a wet bag and pack an extra outfit for each kid and a spare tee for my husband. Spare tee for the husband, you ask?  Oh, we've used it. If we don't need the clothes, I use those outfits as the spares for the trip. And if disaster does strike, you can put the clothes in the wet bag, zip it up, have a glass of inflight wine and deal with it when you land.  

My husband and I have a motto for travel survival - There are no rules on an airplane. Our singular strategy is to avoid meltdowns. With that motto, here are the 4 things we don't leave without on a plane. 

1. A fully charged iPad and headphones for our oldest child.

2. I also pack her little treat bags for the flight. Oriental Trading is awesome for airplane treat bags. 

3. This is what I like to call Party Favors! I purchase inexpensive cloth party favor bags and stock them with play-doh, stickers, suckers (again, no rules), a pad of post-it notes in a cool shape, animal masks, pencils, small plastic animals, activity books, etc. The party favors typically come in a pack of 10-15, so you will have leftovers for your next trip.

4. And of course, snacks. Usually of the type she doesn't usually get (ie. goldfish in the small milk carton or animal crakers. I pack each child an entire meal in addition to the snacks. Btw...make sure you have one for each hour of travel. 

 

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Wow! This totally makes us less nervous about our next trip with kids. Thanks Lisa for sharing these great ideas! We hope all of you are jet setting to somewhere warm this Spring Break. Next year, feel free to take us with you!

xx

the NEAT girls

Tuesday 03.22.16

5 Must Have Items To Get Organized

We hope it comes as no surprise that we believe you don't have to sacrifice style in order to be as organied as possible. In fact, we strive to make sure each and every one of our client's homes are perfectly outfitted to fit their unique style and needs. We often times search high and low to make sure that we've found the most beautiful items on the market. Recently, we've been swooning over these FIVE items and think you all should too. 

1. Tosca White Caddy :: Thanks to one of Chicago's local stores, Unison, we are proud to say that they have provided us with some pretty great inspiration for our next kitchen/pantry, bath or linen closet project. 

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2. Burlap Chalk Tags :: Who isn't obsessed with chalkboard labels these days?!?! They are everywhere. What you probably don't know is Target's dollar section currently has the most amazing chalkboard labels. And...the best part is they are only $1. Unfortunately, we can't find the link for them online. So, get yourself to your local Target and dig into those dollar bins. We promise, you won't be disappointed with all the hidden treasures. 

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3. Brass Makeup Brush Holder :: Bathroom organizing doesn't have to be boring. This unique makeup brush holder from Anthropologie proves just that. No more clear glass jars with sand in the bottom. Time to move onto something that's up to par with all the brass craze out there...don't you think??

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4. Savoy Brass Storage Basket :: Speaking of brass trends, this basket from The Organizing Store is beyond perfect for all you design junkies out there. The options for use are never ending. Think pantries, bathrooms, linens, garages...you name it! 

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5. Tapestry Basket :: We are always on the search for the next best basket design. How cute is this one from Anthropolgie?? Bravo Anthro for rocking it this Spring with some really great organizing solutions. This basket we also see in many areas of a home. The playroom, mudroom, closet (hampers, blankets, etc.), family room. Again, endless opprotunites here people! 

Ok, so now you don't have any excuse to not be the "BEST Organized Home" out there. Stay tuned to all things NEAT! We hope to use ALL of these items in some of our upcoming projects. 

xx

the NEAT girls

photo 1 :: photo 2 :: photo 3 :: photo 4 :: photo 5

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