Fewer, Better: Summer Faves!

Back by popular demand, it’s the Fewer, Better series: summer essentials edition! This summer, I’m focusing on taking good care of my skin by wearing hats and plenty of sunscreen. I’m also planning to add little pops of pink and peach to my otherwise grey/black/white capsule wardrobe. I have travel on the brain (two international trips coming up!), so I’ve included my picks for a lightweight travel bag and top-rated carry-on suitcase.

Fewer Better (1)  A chic peachy heel in a lovely neutral color. // (2) The perfect timeless summer hat.  // (3)  Skin protection on-the-go // (4)  The fanny pack is back! // (5)  For a healthy, summer glow. // (6) The perfect carry-on for summer travel!

I’m still fully embracing the concept of the French Five Piece Wardrobe System where you invest in five non-basic pieces each season to elevate your wardrobe and keep it fresh and fun. This concept has forced me to be much more intentional with my purchasing (fewer, better things) and I have also been able to save a lot of money. Win-win!

What about you? What do you have your eye on for summer? What are your favorite travel essentials you cannot live without?

5 Ways Less Stuff Will Improve Your Life

A friend of a friend came over recently and asked for a tour of our house. She walked around curiously opening doors and peeking into drawers before stating, “You have everything you need and nothing more.” I would actually argue that we still have much more than we need, but I took her comment as the highest compliment.

Like many aspiring minimalists, I have done my best to edit our possessions down to what we truly use and love. This includes reducing our basement to a bag of outdoor pillows and seven airtight bins filled with my late father’s belongings. (More on that in a future post). It has taken a lot of time and energy to streamline to this extent, but the return on investment has been beyond worth it. Below I have summarized some of the many benefits we have experienced from choosing to live intentionally with less stuff:

Here are great ways in which having less stuff and living minimalistically can help you live a fuller life.

Less Stuff, More Money

This goes without saying, but the less material items you buy, the more money you can save. This year I have made a concerted effort to splurge less on clothes, shoes, and housewares (my guilty pleasures!) so that I can invest more in other pursuits like self care, personal growth, and travel. My current goal is to save enough for our family to go abroad together this summer and I’m also saving for a solo trip to visit my brother in Japan. Every time I really want to buy a new pair of fancy jeans or a handbag, I think about these goals and how much more rewarding these experiences will be compared to the short-lived thrill of a new purchase.

Less Stuff, More Time

Consumerism is a major time suck. How much time do you spend in a given week shopping, trying things on, returning, or just thinking about what you want to buy? Oh, the countless hours I have wasted browsing online, shopping, and returning! When we take a break from shopping there is an opportunity to reclaim that time and invest it in other more important things. Who wants to join me for a spring spending-freeze challenge?

Minimalist lifestyles come with far more benefits and far less stuff. Find out how it can improve your life at Shira Gill Home.

Less Stuff, More Order

Guess what? When you have less stuff you also have less clutter. Less clutter means less dust, less cleaning, less chaos. For this reason, each of my girls only owns two pairs of shoes: One for school and one for parties. I make sure they really like their shoes and they are well-made and comfortable. We store them in an open basket by the front door and have yet to lose or misplace a pair. Generally, I have noticed that the less we have, the less we lose and misplace things and the less we have to clean, store, and organize. It’s tempting to get frivolous with purchasing new clothes, housewares and toys, but I much prefer investing in fewer, high-quality things and taking very good care of them.

Less Stuff, More Connection

Shopping is a major buffer for many of us when we are lonely, restless, or down. Instead of pulling out the credit card next time you feel low, try connecting with an old friend, pursuing a hobby, working out, or spending quality time with the people you love.

Less Stuff, More Creativity

Have you ever noticed that children can spend hours playing with an oversized cardboard box, or building a fort out of the couch cushions? I believe that creativity needs space and with less stuff, comes more creativity.

If you are interested in streamlining your belongings and simplifying your life, but don’t know where or how to start, start small. Clean out a drawer, donate an outfit you no longer wear, or pass on the toys your children have grown out of. The most important thing is just to start.

Need some support getting started? Drop me a line at shira@shiragill.com. I’d love to help.

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My 10-Day Bathroom Transformation Revealed!

Our super speedy bathroom renovation was prompted when our daughter, Chloe, accidentally broke our medicine cabinet and sink console one night. We had never loved the aesthetics of the bathroom so we took it as an opportunity to switch out the tile, lighting, and other elements we had never cared for at the same time. Here is a photo of our bathroom BEFORE the transformation.

Before photo of a bathroom remodel. Find out what the after photo of this bathroom remodel looks like on Shira Gill Home.

As you can see, the sink console had minimal storage and the tile had seen better days. Our goal was to maximize storage and update all of the other elements without spending a fortune.

Since our 100-year old home only has one bathroom, time was of the essence!

After a quick consult call with my brilliant designer friend, Carly, several mad dashes (with sick kids in the car!) to IKEA and our local tile store, and a speedy install from my amazing contractor, we ended up with a fresh and functional transformed space. This is the updated bathroom AFTER:

The after photo of a 10 day bathroom remodel by Shira Gill. Find out how you can update your bathroom spaces with a home remodel.

 

We love how crisp and clean it turned out and I especially love the deep storage drawers for stocking paper products, toothbrushes and toiletries. I am also majorly smitten with the schoolhouse hooks we bought which are great for hanging towels, robes, and my new shower cap!

Hooks in bathrooms are great tools to help organize. Check out how to remodel your bathroom in 10 days with these tips from Shira Gill Home.

If you are hoping to knock out a budget-friendly renovation with a quick time frame, here are my top three tips:

Shop Local

We were able to purchase the sink, console, and faucet from IKEA in a single day and pick up subway tile from our local tile store. The floor tile from Cle Tile was in stock and was shipped out to us immediately. Because we were able to gather all of the supplies ourselves, the contractor was able to dive in and complete the install in record time. A huge relief since we all share this one tiny bathroom!

Consult with an Expert

I have clear ideas when it comes to design but would never have known where to get the best tile, how big the shower storage nooks should be, or what dimensions my sink console should be. A consult call with designer Carly Waters helped me clarify and refine my vision and made the whole design process quick and painless. She also gets a huge shout out for helping me choose the graphic black and white floor tile which anchored the rest of the design.

Keep It Simple

It’s easy to get bogged down by all the choices out there (tile, fixtures, lights, etc.) so it’s best to constrain your options by selecting a few colors and a few places to shop. Once we pulled the trigger on the black and white floor tile, it was easy to stick to a black and white theme which greatly limited options for the remaining elements and made shopping much more efficient.

Want to see more? I recently shared the full makeover story over at My Domaine. Click here to get the full scoop and see more photos from the transformation!

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5 Simple Life Hacks From a Sustainability Expert

As the mother of two young children, I feel a responsibility to create a home that is free of toxins and as environmentally sustainable as possible. The challenge is, with an abundance of information that seems to be constantly shifting, it’s hard to feel confident about where I should invest my time, resources, and energy.

Meet Friday, a sustainability expert and a really nice lady, who let me ask her lots and lots of questions. Friday founded her company because she is passionate about the environment, and a determined optimist, who believes “we all want to do a little better,” and that all we need are the tools to get started. She spent years at The Department of the Environment in San Francisco and launched her business to help busy families and individuals make small, but impactful, changes in their homes. Her services include customized plans and resources to “green” your entire home, sustainable baby registries, and emergency prep kits.

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I was thrilled to spend the day with Friday and gain clarity about what changes will have the biggest impact for my family as well as the environment. If you want to make your own home a bit more eco-friendly, read on to learn some easy-to-implement solutions:

Keep it Glassy

One of the first things Friday suggested was a simple switch from plastic food storage containers to glass. Plastic gets warped and discolored over time and also leeches chemicals into your food. No good! Since meeting with Friday, I’ve recycled all of my plastic tupperware and replaced it with these glass containers.

Bye-Bye Plastic

We pack lunches for our girls five days a week and for years I have used these snack containers, Ziploc bags for sandwiches, and lightweight water bottles with cute designs.  Friday was able to suggest easy eco-alternatives for all of our lunch-packing needs. We used up our Ziploc bags and replaced them with parchment bags which can be composted after use. We are swapping out plastic snack containers with durable metal tins, and also moving to metal water bottles. These are my favorite although these guys may be more practical for kid use.

My Lightbulb Moment

One of the most important things we can do for the planet is use less energy. Admittedly, I might be late to this party, but I was shocked to learn that just by switching out my regular old lightbulbs with energy efficient, long lasting LED bulbs, I could reduce our monthly energy bill by up to eight-five percent. Friday estimated that this impactful change will cost us about one hundred dollars, (and the lights will last 10-20 years) so the savings will be well worth the one-time investment. I was also thrilled to learn that there are now beautiful LED lights available including these patio lights. No more swapping out bulbs every few months!

Parents can learn easy tips on how to make their homes more environmentally friendly and healthier for their children.

 Stainless is Painless

Do you use non-stick pans? We only had one, but after learning that the non-stick coating contains chemicals that off-gas when heated and leech into your food, I am switching to 100% stainless. High quality pans aren’t cheap, but we find that we can get away with owning only 2-3 plus our cast iron skillet.

Spring Cleaning

When shopping for cleaning products, look for the “Safer Choice” label. This is an EPA certification and is the easiest way to ensure your cleaning products are safe. Go-to brands include Seventh Generation, The Honest Company, and Method. Friday also suggests using vinegar and baking soda for all of your cleaning needs – both are inexpensive and green as they come!

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Learn more about Friday and her business, The Sustainability Concierge, right here. I hope that you found at least a few easy takeaways you can apply to your own home. I feel greener already.

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Ask an Organizer: Kid Edition 2!

I’m back with more of your burning kid-related questions and a handpicked team of home organizing experts. You can meet the experts below, but first, let’s dive into the first question:

Q: Any tips for affordable AND stylish toy storage? Ideally something my toddler could easily access on his own.

Practically Perfect joins Shira Gill's Ask an Organizer series.

 

Practically Perfect: We love that you want your toddler to be independent! We positively love this bookshelf. It’s just the right height for little ones to reach into, and you can outfit it with any storage baskets/bins that fit your home design preferences – here several suggestions to get you started (option 1option 2option 3). Please be certain to safely secure the bookshelf to the wall, in case your little one loves to climb!

 

Simply Spaced answers questions about home organization on Shira Gill Home.

Simply Spaced: I am a big fan of soft oversized baskets and bins. It really depends on what kinds of toys you are looking to store, but for soft items like stuffed animals, a storage ottoman is great too. If you are looking to store small toys like cars and figures, I use plastic containers quite a bit because they are safe and easy to label and carry. These white Nordic baskets from the Container Store are a favorite because you can get them with labels.

 

Cathleen Simmons of Assembly LA answers questions about home style and organization.

Assembly LA: I’ve always been a huge fan of Ikea when it comes to storage. They have lots of options for simple designs that can be perfect for kids rooms, and you can usually customize pieces (sizing, colors, shape of storage unit…etc.) making it just right for a toddler.

 

 

In our Ask an Organizer: Kid Edition 2! parents will learn how to organize art and toys in children's rooms.

 

Q: I have a fifth grade girl who writes and draws like…she’s running out of time. Some stuff is complete and other stuff is part way finished. She wants to hang onto most of it, and frankly, having had a mother who didn’t (hang onto things) I’d like to have it for when she grows up. My problem is where/how do I store her day-to-day work? Neither of us are big on executive function. She often complains she doesn’t know where to put it. Help this messy shelf mommy.

Practically Perfect joins Shira Gill's Ask an Organizer series.Practically Perfect: How wonderful that your daughter loves to create!  We love utilizing magazine files like these to corral paper collections.  Try purchasing a few and labeling each one purposefully – “works in progress” and “keepsakes.”  This way, your daughter will have quick access to the projects she wants to work on as well as a safe place to file away her completed masterpieces.  When the keepsake file fills up, either transfer the creations into a larger box/bin or, if your daughter is willing, consider digitizing them and creating beautiful books (we love Artkive!)

 

Cathleen Simmons of Assembly LA answers questions about home style and organization.Assembly LA: As a fellow mom, I know it’s hard to let go of precious artwork that our kids make, however, not having a home for it turns it into forgotten clutter real quick. I have two suggestions that can work sort of hand in hand, depending on what you’re really looking for. The first suggestion is finding a medium sized file box and keeping the volume limited to just that box for all her recent work to look at and come back to. This box can be for the month, for the year, however much she is turning out. Once you two decide on a time limit for that box, or once it gets full, things need to be decluttered together, but they can still be saved by using–the second suggestion–an app called Artkive, where you snap a picture of every piece and you can keep them safe electronically. Not only can you make real, hard cover books out of all your images, but they also offer a concierge option, where you can send the art to them, and they will combine in printed books for you. It’s a win-win!

Simply Spaced answers questions about home organization on Shira Gill Home.Simply Spaced: We are all about honoring kid’s art, but it is also important to set limits on what you keep. If you keep everything and deem everything important, you’ll be buried in papers. Allocate a box for each child for the year. You determine what size is appropriate for a year, and label it 2017 art. You and your daughter get to keep that much and when it’s full, you can evaluate which pieces are the best, keep those, and recycle the rest. That way, you’ll always have at least that box full, which will be plenty, and you can feel better about letting go of the overflow. You can also create a simple kids’ art wall like this for temporary and alternating works or purchase some easy snap frames like this one from Target that can be changed out easily and frequently. We are also big fans of the Artkive App for storing kids’ art digitally with the option to make books from the best of it. Check out our post on the books we made here.

Love these ideas so much and three cheers for crowd-favorite Artkive! If you have a burning question or organizing dilemma for the team, please email inquiries@shiragill.com, subject: Ask an Organizer to have your question selected for a future feature.

Meet the Experts

Assembly LA  is a home and office organizing company based in Los Angeles that helps you simplify your life so you can focus on the fun stuff.

Practically Perfect is a Los Angeles based company devoted to constructing creative and functional organizing solutions that simplify daily activities, maximize space and exemplify practicality.

Simply Spaced is an organizing service and lifestyle company focused on transforming cluttered minds and spaces.

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Ask An Organizer: Kid Edition!

My new series: Ask an Organizer launched last month and was a huge reader hit so we’re back to answer more of your burning questions. This post will feature a roundup of questions related to the unique challenges that come with parenting and raising kids. I’m thrilled to be collaborating with some of my favorite organizers, and parenting experts, who will provide answers, tips, and resources just for you.

You can meet the experts below, but first, let’s dive into the first question:

Q. I have 3 children, 2 school aged. There is a lot of accumulated art, “treasures,” birthday party favors, school work, and toys/games/books.  I feel pretty clear about giving away items that they no longer use, but I’m wanting to involve them in the process so they learn the skill (spoiler alert: I never learned it as a kid) of letting go, minimizing belongings, and prioritizing what they keep. Do I purge with or without them? With them takes time and has mixed outcomes, without them risks them feeling like they have no input or control.

The Home CapsuleThe Home Capsule: Slowing down what comes into the house is a bigger teachable moment then the act of getting rid of items. For birthdays and holidays, make it a family value to prioritize experiences over things, and ask if the school can email you their flyers instead of sending home paper ones. Make scrap books or take photos of favorite art each month before it becomes a giant project. Come to a compromise of what they can keep from party favors, before they even exit the car. Making those daily decisions will teach value, and care for the items that child chooses in the present, and in the future as a consumer themselves.

Sparks Joy HomeSparks Joy Home: One of my favorite strategies is to have children choose their favorites from the category that is being worked on.  For children, it’s easier to think about what their favorites are and to focus on the positive – what they really love and can take care of. It’s less time consuming and a simpler way to include them so they can be part of the process. Ultimately, the best way to inspire the skills is to practice them yourself, lead by example and eventually they will follow.

 

Q. My kids come in from school with so much stuff – homework, shoes, backpacks, library books, etc. We have a small home with no entry closet or mudroom. Where can we put all of the stuff that comes in? Thank you!

The Home Capsule offers decluttering advice for families on the Ask an Organizer: Kid Edition!The Home Capsule: Historic homes (I live in a 1923 colonial) often pose design challenges, but don’t let that discourage you. Think about what space you have first, and then plan on WHAT you can realistically put where. A small console table with a drop bin, tray, or basket for incoming papers is everything. Hooks on the wall for seasonal outerwear, backpacks stored by where homework is done or lunches are packed, shoes come off and live in a basket by the door, and library books go straight to the bedroom nightstand. Get the kids involved, and set up to succeed, by having clear destinations for each and every item.

 

Q. Our playroom always seems to be a chaotic mess. Any tips for setting up better organization and systems that our kids can maintain so I don’t have to clean up every night?

Sparks Joy Home offers amazing family-friendly organizational tips in Shira Gill Home's Ask an Organizer: Kid Edition!Sparks Joy Home: Decluttering is key. Let go of about half of the toys and books, and then put half of the ones you keep into a toy/book “library”. Then, rotate the toys and books in storage monthly or as needed. Having less to mess with is a good start. Anything not kept in the “library” should have a specific home to which it is returned after use. Help kids clean up as they go and expect to have to guide them in cleaning for a while – until they are mature enough to be self directed and the routine is established.

 

Smart Playrooms gives some children's organizational advice in this Kid Edition!Smart Playrooms: We see so many chaotic playrooms every year, and here are our top tips for you!

1. Less is More: Declutter the playroom and evaluate the toys. Are they age appropriate? Are the kids interested in this toy? If not, those toys need to be removed from the playroom. (Stored in a closet or donated).

2. Sort! Sort each type of toy into a clear or open container. (We love the Container Store containers!) and label these containers.

3. Designate each type of play into a separate area in the playroom. This will help contain the same toys to the same space. Different zones may include building/block play, pretend play, art area, physical play area, etc…

4. Parent involvement is necessary for clean up in the beginning… kids will respect the toys and space if it is inviting and functional when they enter the playroom. Eventually, the kids will start to clean up if parents have prioritized expectations and helped the clean up along the way.

In this Ask an Organizer: Kid Edition! a few organizing experts share how to keep your home filled with kids clean and without clutter!

Love these ideas so much! If you have a burning question or organizing dilemma for the team, please email inquiries@shiragill.com, subject: Ask an Organizer to have your question selected for a future feature.

Meet the Experts

The Home Capsule is an organization lifestyle brand, committed to design as an expression of feelings: about self, home and family.

Sparks Joy Home Founder Christine O’Brien specializes in helping parents simplify and create home environments that inspire connection and positive behavior from their children.

Smart Playrooms (based in NY and CT) merges organization and design to create unique play and learning spaces for children and teens.

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Three Easy Hacks to Keep Your Car Organized

I have a friend who has been requesting a post on car organization. I just bumped into her and she reminded me that it was way overdue. So, Sarah, this one’s for you!

Cars tend to be a magnet for clutter, especially when kids are involved. Our family of four has decided to only own one car, and between my decluttering missions, family road trips, and weekend plans, it gets a lot of action! Here are the three simple hacks I use to keep our car organized and clutter-free:

Stash Your Trash

Most cars are littered with wrappers and trash simply because there is no designated place to dispose of it. Enter the leakproof hanging car trash bag. This simple solution has been a real game changer for us. Our family takes a lot of road trips and our kids used to toss trash, tissues, etc. on the floor. No more! Now they each have their own trash bag conveniently located right in front of them so they can easily dispose of their own trash and our car can stay clean and clutter-free. Some of these bags also have storage for tissues, water bottles and other common supplies. Brilliant!

Keep your car clean and organized with these simple ideas from Shira Gill Home.

Bins Are Your Friend

What to do with items like motor oil, paper towels, emergency kits, first aid kits and all the other provisions that float around most cars?  I like using a crate or bin to corral all of these items in my trunk so they stay contained and leave plenty of room for groceries, gym bags, work supplies, and suitcases when we travel. I also have had great success placing a small bin between my daughter’s car seats to contain books, games, toys and snacks when we take road trips.

The Everything Out Rule

This is the most important one, so listen up! Even if I’m tired, even if I’m toting a purse, a work bag, a water bottle, and a trunk full of groceries, I take everything out of the car when I get home. I also make sure my kids do the same, even though it requires regular reminding. They are responsible for taking anything they brought into the car out of the car. It’s just that simple. This rule has a compound effect – the little effort it takes to remove things each day, ensures that your car will never be overflowing with random misplaced items.

How do you keep your car clean and clutter-free? Please share your tips and ideas in the comments below!

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Fewer, Better Favorites

Happy Spring! This is my favorite season and I always feel especially inspired this time of year. I’m still experimenting with a very streamlined wardrobe and doing my best to shop less, but splurge on a few high quality items that I truly love. Here are a few fun things I’ve been eyeing this season.

Fewer Better

(1) So feminine and lovely, no? // (2)  A chic leather bag in a lovely neutral color for spring. // (3)  For fresh, dewy skin // (4)   Because who doesn’t like a little metallic star? // (5)  So cozy and a perfect layer for spring. // (6) – Dreamy and feminine!

I’m embracing the concept of the French Five Piece Wardrobe System where you invest in five non-basic pieces each season to elevate your wardrobe and keep it fresh and fun. So far, I bought myself this Cuyana bag and sweater for my birthday and am taking it slow with the other pieces.

I do love that by being very intentional with my purchasing, I can invest in higher quality items and really feel good about my spending. No more impulse buying for me this year!

What about you? What do you have your eye on for spring? What would elevate or enhance the wardrobe you already own?

 

How I Prep For a Busy Day

So, I’m a person who really likes being busy, but recently my days have been so packed that important things have gotten lost in the shuffle. And I’m a professional organizer! So, I’ve been trying out a few strategies and wanted to share them with you so you can make sure to set yourself up for success when your schedule feels overwhelming:

Prioritize First

I don’t know about you, but when I get super busy I start feeling overloaded and overwhelmed. The first thing I do is write down everything that’s in my brain. This can include appointments, phone calls, school forms, errands, blog ideas, etc. I get everything on paper so I can see what I’m dealing with. Then I look at the list and note anything that can be postponed, eliminated, or delegated. I take the remaining items and list them in order of priority. Just doing this already makes me feel more clear headed and in control of my day.

Don't let a busy day get the best of you! Learn how to organizer your day-to-day with tips from Shira Gill Home.

Design Your Day

I use Google calendar to manage all of my appointments and meetings and I always include the address and phone number in the appointment for easy reference. Once I have the framework of my day in, I look where I can add in other things like exercise, grocery shopping, and errands. I write everything I plan to do on a white index card (I learned this from my Dad!) and I toss the index card in my purse for easy reference throughout the day.

Pack and Prep

When my husband is out of town or I anticipate an unusually packed day, I do my best to prep and pack as much as possible the night before. This includes packing up lunches and backpacks for my girls, selecting and laying out clothes for the morning, and even setting up a simple breakfast and laying out cups, bowls and spoons. Every second counts! I’ve recently also started packing up energy bars, nuts and dried fruit so I can have healthy snacks available throughout the day. I also make sure to fill up my favorite water bottle so it’s ready for me to grab and go when I head out the door. These small efforts go a long way in keeping me sane when things get hectic.

How do you prepare for a busy day? Please share your ideas in the comments below!

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New! Spring Cleanse Mini Retreat

The Closet Makeover Workshop sold out in record time, but not to fear! I am thrilled to be partnering with The Mobile Mat to bring you a brand new offering for spring. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and want to treat yourself or a loved one, this one day mini retreat is designed to renew your body and mind, and simplify your life.

Shira Gill is partnering with The Mobile Mat to offer some home organization help at their Spring Cleanse Mini Retreat. The Details:

Date: Sunday, April 30th  2017 9:30am – 2:00pm

Location: Berkeley, CA

Investment: $149 includes 90-minute morning yoga refresh with The Mobile Mat, catered lunch provided by Whole Foods Market and refreshments, organizing presentation and Q + A with Shira Gill Home, and gift giveaway sponsored by Todos Organics.

**This event will be booked on a first come basis and is limited to 20 participants. Email: themobilemat@gmail.com for more details and to reserve your spot.

Can’t wait!