Conquering The Stuff


We recently saw a great piece on CBS Sunday Morning all about the struggle to declutter. Brave viewers sent in pictures of their cluttered homes, and a few let the pros in for an extra helping hand. Many of the pros offered advice to viewers, giving their best try at simplifying (and destigmatizing) the process. “Clutter is nothing but deferred decisions.” Clutter is a result of “the thrill of the hunt.” Shop smarter! Unstuff your life! And finally: “It’s just stuff.”

While we here at ShipShape are lock in step with our professional organizer brothers and sisters (go team!), we know that some (or most) of the problem in the quest of the great declutter is just getting started. Once you start, you’re knee deep in the throes of organizing and that process can feel endless… hopeless.. did we say endless? So in order to heed the calls of professional organizers everywhere, here is our advice on how to get things started — and keep that motor running!

  1. Don’t compare your style to anyone else’s. It’s all about what works for you. You are the producer, director and actor of your own organizing show.

Move over Joanna Gaines!

2. Pretty is not the goal. Function is what matters. Ask yourself if this will help or hinder getting things done in my daily life.

Adjustments will need to be made #uhoh

3. Getting stuck is part of the process. Be gentle with yourself. Do short sessions – 1-2 hours at most.

A worthy reason to take a break!

4.  Put a monetary value on your space. Storage costs money even if it’s not in an off-site storage unit. Storage is best if it’s 10-15% of your space, or 10-15% of your mortgage/rent.

OK it’s not THAT complicated!

5.  Share your load. Have a friend come over to tackle a closet or desktop. Organizing alone creates a vacuum and can suck the energy out of any project.

I’ll bring the margaritas! #cheers

Whatever method you decide on, just… get… started! You will feel lighter, breathe easier, and delight in your own results. And just in case you lose the will this time, there are always alternatives…

Electric Bill = $0

Just kidding. 🙂

Got your own plan for decluttering? Let us know — tweet us @shipshapedotcom, post on our Facebook page, or drop us a line at We love hearing from you!


Motivation Matters


We’ve all been there — staring at that pile of clutter in the corner of the room, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to suddenly arise to inspire a quick organizing session. But wait, and wait, and no inspiration seems to come. The sun is shining, the dog needs to be walked, that show you’ve been meaning to watch is waiting for you on your DVR — just a sampling of the things that keep us from getting down to business. But then… the phone rings, a text message beeps, an email arrives in your inbox and BOOM! company is coming over. The pile of clutter stares back at you in fear…

OK mail stack, it’s time to go

Visitors to your home are just one of the many get-going motivations for decluttering your space. Other times it’s a good push from your significant other (read: nag, nag, nag), or a bedroom wall that is need of a good paint job. Perhaps you are hurriedly heading out the door to work and just can’t find that thing you desperately need (hint: it’s probably buried somewhere), or overfilled kitchen cabinets leave your new cookware out to dry for fear of being buried. These are all great reasons to face the music and get organized.

think about what else you can do in that time!!

Speaking of music — once you’ve decided to start a new project, what keeps you going? Studies have shown that listening to upbeat music helps release dopamine in your brain (that feel good chemical we normally reserve for the finer things in life) which ultimately keeps you focused on the task at hand — and makes you feel good while you do it! Whistle while you work indeed!

Aside from a killer fashion sense, those seven dwarfs knew how to pass the time during work!

We recently saw “The Ultimate Cleaning Playlist” posted on Pop Sugar — including hits from some great helpers ranging from Rihanna to Aretha and sure-fire motivational hits from Queen and Journey. Check out their great Spotify list here:

Other ways to stay on task while you pump up these tunes — setting time limits (max out at 2-3 hours at a time), and rewarding yourself when you’re finished (perhaps with more of those dopamine inducing indulgences). Impress your Instagram followers with an awesome “Before and After” photo collection and watch the likes pour in. Who can resist some of that social media adoration?

Show everyone your Pollack to Mondrian style transformation!

Certainly not us — and we’d love to hear what keeps you motivated while you organize. Have your own playlist, or favorite decluttering musical artist? Any other motivational tips? Let us know!  Email us, tweet us @shipshapedotcom or post on our facebook wall! We’d love to hear from you!

Ship Shape’s Top 10 Organizing Products


We are constantly asked what products we use for our clients (and what products we use ourselves!). Here’s a handy list of our top 10 most-used, most-loved, and most-helpful products.

1. Metro Shelf
Nearly every basement or garage we have ever done has sported these or a similar shelving system. Why you might ask? It’s sturdy, reliable and adjustable.. simply, it’s the perfect foil for getting things off the ground. Did we mentioned that lockable castors are their secret power? (Container Store)
Easy and sleek!

Easy and sleek!

2. Shelf Divider
Whether it’s a slide-on metal or acrylic version used in a closet or an installed variety in a kitchen, we love to divide a shelf into compartments and sections. Items stored will stand up straighter, making them easier to see, and easier to retrieve and put back. (
Those bags look beautiful!

Those bags look beautiful!

3. Label maker
Believe us — this is NOT just for the office. It’s the finishing touch at the end of an organizing journey. It looks polished, projects clarity and allows for anyone to navigate the space better. Sort of the GPS of what-goes-where. (Brother P-Touch Label System)


4. Valet Rod
These retractable rods are like a magical 3rd arm for your closet. It can hold clothes being put away, being narrowed down, or about to be carefully placed in your suitcase. It’s a life saver when it comes to picking out your outfit of the day! Hooks work great too! (Lowe’s)
Ripe for the picking!

Ripe for the picking!

5. Uniform Hangers
Selecting uniform hangers is by far the easiest way to transform a closet from a wild jungle to a perfectly landscaped garden. By using the same hangers, the drop of the garments remains uniform and calming — like a good pruning! (
hello gorgeous!

hello gorgeous!

6. iPhone or Smart Phone
Having so many resources at your finger tips is great. But 3 particular features will support you in everyday challenges:
  •  Use the camera to create a portable bulletin board / reference system. When entering a large store/mall/airport/museum etc take a picture of the map displayed at the entrances for easy reference during your visit.  Enjoying a nice glass of wine, or a particular cheese? Snap a picture of it and add it to a album featuring all of your favorite delectables (makes for easy shopping trips too!). Parking your car somewhere unfamiliar? You’ll never forget where it is with a quick click of your camera.



  • The clock/timer/stopwatch function. Set the timer to remind you of appointments and deadlines. Productivity flourishes without keeping your eyes on a clock! You can also set a timer to avoid pesky parking tickets and refresh your parking meter with a single tap of an app!
  • Personalize ringtones. Assigning a special ringtone is very easy and will alert you to the calls or text messages you really want to take. It’s like having a well trained personal assistant, who knows which calls to put through.
7. Packing Cubes
Packing and unpacking will actually be less daunting, we promise. Need a fresh pair of undies – here they are! It’s as if you travel with your own dresser drawers! Planning to work out on the road? Fill your cube with your gym clothes. Traveling to different climate zones on the same trip? Don’t rummage through the cold weather clothing unless needed. It really is as good as it sounds! (Flight 101 Space Paks)


8. Toiletry Kit
Getting ready for a trip is a busy time. As soon as you think you’re done — there’s always another item you need to pack in. A ready-packed toiletry kit is a welcome “I can cross it off my list” item. We recommend to refill the kit after every trip. Replenish items you used up, and add items you wished you had had with you. Advil, anybody? (Container Store)
No fuss!

No fuss!

9. Garbage and Recycling System
Imagine garbage bins sliding out smoothly from underneath your sink? (Simple Human) Or a sleek bin that opens just by moving your hands over it? (Simple Human again!) The upfront costs can be more then you thought you’d ever spend, but the enjoyment you experience every day will make this soooooo worth it. We know, we just bought this clever system for our home. (Totem Intelligent Home)
Anything but trashy

Anything but trashy

10. Additional Laptop and Cellphone Chargers 
Just do it! Imagine a day without hunting for a charger, kneeling down to find a plug and forgetting to pack it in your briefcase. Have one in each location where you might use it (that includes the car!). And no excuses now when solar chargers are a reality! (
Feel the power!

Feel the power!

Have your own list of go-to organziational items? Let us know! We’d love to hear from you! Email us, tweet us @sylviashipshape or post on our facebook page!

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Planning Ahead



With the unofficial end of summer at hand, here at ShipShape we are prepping for the upcoming seasons — and all the pumpkin-spiced-gingerbread treats that join us on the ride. Each month brings new adventure (and weather), so here are some tips that we suggest to stay balanced with each new page on your calendar:

Artwork by Story People

Artwork by Story People


Summer is winding down so it’s a good time to evaluate your wardrobe (we’re looking at you tank top that never saw the light of day). Start by organizing your closet by color and item category. Shirts with shirts, blue with blue and so on. Only keep clothes that make you feel your best.

A thing of beauty!

A thing of beauty!

The cooler weather brings the cooking inside after a summer spent with the barbecue. Now that you find yourself pre-heating the oven again, it’s a great opportunity to take stock of your culinary wares. Donate half of your cookbooks and toss your clipped recipes. They are easy to look up online.

To start the Fall off with a bang, schedule a 2-hour mini closet makeover with ShipShape for a super discounted rate of $150.00*


Soon you will find yourself running to the door handing out treats to vampires, witches, pirates, and princesses — and inevitably you’ll pass by that ever-growing stack of mail by the door. Don’t let it haunt you anymore! Recycle magazine and newspapers older than 3 months. You can also donate them to doctors’ offices and hospital waiting rooms.

This idea officially expires on November 1st!

This idea officially expires on November 1st!

You can also cut back on your towering pile of magazines by subscribing to an online magazine service such as or These are the Netflix of magazines. You can access hundreds of magazine online including back issues for a low monthly fee.

And after the kids (and you!) come down from the sugar high, take stock of the playroom. Donate toys and unused toiletries to a homeless shelter. It’s great to ask your kids to pick out which toys they want to donate.


Stocking up for Thanksgiving is filled with last minute panicked purchases — you head out to the crowded market only to find that you still have cans of gravy and cranberry sauce from last year! With turkey time on the way, it’s a good time to go through your pantry and throw out expired items. Remember to check the spice rack too!

Make room in the fridge for leftovers!

Make room in the fridge for leftovers!

And in the true spirit of the holiday, give thanks for all that you have by donating some of those pantry castaways (unexpired items, of course!) to the local food bank.

To improve the functionality of your kitchen and pantry, schedule a 2-hour kitchen consult with ShipShape for a super discounted price of $150.00*


Jingle bells will be ringing before you know it, and no matter what holiday you celebrate in the month of December there is one unifying factor in all — stress. Find ways to be good to yourself. Read a book, schedule a massage, take a walk or watch a funny movie.

Even the Elf on the Shelf knows relaxation is important

Even the Elf on the Shelf knows relaxation is important

With holiday cards coming in by the handful (and we love them!), try to avoid the mail stack climbing to new heights. Open the mail over the pail. Keep a recycling pail near by as you’re opening mail to give you a leg up on paper clutter.

You'll have plenty more paper to clean up anyway!

You’ll have plenty more paper to clean up anyway!

Delegate some of the holidays chores by letting ShipShape clear off your desk with a 2-hour paper consult for a super discounted price of $150.00*

No matter how you spend the next four months, we’re always here to help you declutter your home and your mind. Enjoy the change in season and the hope of a new year!

* Feel free to pick any or all of these discounts at any time from now until December 31, 2016.


Check out our latest BEFORE and AFTER transformations!

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Living Large in a Tiny Home



Undoubtedly you’ve found yourself scanning through TV or surfing the web and come across a home so small you can hardly believe someone could live in it, let alone choose to live in it. But the reality is that the “tiny house movement,” or perhaps better called “downsizing” to a more humble abode, is real and has only just begun to get the attention it deserves.

You know you can't resist a good HGTV weekend binge

You know you can’t resist a good HGTV weekend binge

Here at ShipShape, we have been living the tiny house lifestyle for almost a decade (we’ve even written about our 360 sq foot life here and here). We love our dear cottage not just for its undeniable charm but also because it proved to be a challenge that only honed our organizing skills that much more. So if you find yourself intrigued with the tiny house life (or perhaps still can’t wrap your head around it), here are some suggestions we’ve gleaned from our experience:

  • Choose the best item money can buy. Whether you are in a tiny or tremendous space everything matters. Don’t buy cheap, buy smart. Make it something you are in love with that will last the test of time. This applies to furniture, furnishings, clothes and such.
Tiny home, BIG style

Tiny home, BIG style

  • Build up. Use your vertical space. Go as high as possible with shelves, closets, bookcases and storage cabinets.
  • Think outside the box. Our ottoman also serves as a holding place for current papers and filing. Flip the top over and it’s a cocktail tray.
Stairs can double as drawers! Genius!

Stairs can double as drawers! Genius!

  • Create zones. Even in a small space, you will want a lot of the same features of a bigger home. Instead of rooms we created zones. The bigger room encompasses a living room, dining room, office and kitchen zone.
  • Shop small. Avoid buying bulk items unless you are one of the lucky few to have lots of storage space. It may be tempting to have 50 rolls of toilet paper or 3 bottles of ketchup but think of the valuable space it take up.
The bonus is... cute accessories!

The bonus is… cute accessories!

Following these simple tips will help you live large in a small space. Remember: just because your space is tiny, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fill it with everything that makes you… you! Use the nice dishes, flatware, linens and other fancy items. Why wait!

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Interested in downsizing your living space? Still baffled by the tiny home craze? Email us, tweet us @sylviashipshape or post on our facebook page! We’d love to hear from you!

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New Year, New You



The final days, minutes, and seconds of 2015 are upon us! And you know what that means….. champagne! friends! family! and of course.. those pesky (but necessary) resolutions.

Amen sister!

Amen sister!

In our quest to seek out some fresh ideas for those new year promises, we found an excellent list posted on Here’s a sampling of their fantastic ideas:

  1. Get your photo taken in five interesting places
  2. Learn a decent party trick
  3. Try a new food each week
  4. Do something nice for others every day

Click here to read the rest of the Top Ten list!

We wish you a 2016 filled with reasons to smile, occasions to celebrate, kind gestures, and, of course, freedom from clutter.

And don't forget... POSITIVITY and a GOOD ATTITUDE!

And don’t forget… POSITIVITY and a GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR!

Got your own unusual new year’s resolution? Email us, tweet us @sylviashipshape or post on our facebook page! We’d love to hear from you!

And if the New Year’s spirit has you thinking about finally opening up that cluttered utility closet, check out our Before & After slideshow below!

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The Good Clutter


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Recently, the New York Times published an article called “Let’s Celebrate the Art of Clutter.” As you can imagine, we perked up at the idea of embracing the meaningful chaos in life. Being at peace with your stuff is half the battle in creating a happy and healthy living space (ok, it’s probably most of the battle). Here’s an excerpt from the piece, written by blogger Dominique Browning:

…Over the course of a lifetime, we forage, root and rummage around in our stuff, because that is part of what it means to be human. We treasure.

Why on earth would we get rid of our wonderful things?

It is time to celebrate the gentle art of clutter. We live, and we pick up things along the way: the detritus of adventure; the vessels of mealtimes; the books and music of a life of the mind; the pleasures of our daily romps through the senses.

In accumulating, we honor the art of the potter, sitting at a wheel; we appreciate the art of the writer, sitting at a desk; we cherish the art of the painter, standing in front of an easel. (By this litany ye shall know that I have many books, many paintings, many pots — and many more things I love.)

We love it!

We love it!

We most certainly applaud Ms. Browning for recognizing that the things we pick up along the way make our home a reflection of who we are. Here’s our take on her point of view (with some ShipShape additions):

  • Browning is right to say that we honor the artist when we feature their pieces in our homes – and that includes everything from a book, a painting, a vase, or even a tchotchke picked up at a street market in one of our fabulous travels. But let’s make sure we recognize that the items themselves are not special on their own. It is our memories that are special. When you see that tchotchke, you might remember the sweet, salty air of Venice, Italy, and the little shop you popped into before your dinner on the waterfront (getting hungry yet?). You remember the person you were with and how you wanted the day to never end…. and that’s how you will feel when you see this item that others might think was simply junk. What brings a smile to your face should always have a place. 
I can taste the pasta now

I can taste the pasta now

  • That being said, if you attach a time, place, and relationship to every item in your home, you will never win the clutter battle. There is no embracing the special significance of items if they are blocked, hidden, or obscured by mountains of other less meaningful items. This is most likely why Ms. Browning’s article calls it “the art of clutter.” It is an art form, even in its most chaotic sense. You must edit, and rearrange as needed to maintain your sanity (and space!). RememberIf you treasure everything, everything you treasure is of no value. 
  •  Browning also writes about a clutter “set point,” which she explains as: “The stuff we accumulate works the same way our body weight does. Each of us has a set point to which we invariably return. Each of us has been allotted a certain tolerance, if not a need, for stuff; each of us is gaited to carry a certain amount of weight in possessions.” Yes, we agree, BUT (and that’s an important BUT), your set point isn’t only about tolerance or ability to fit items in your home, it’s also about comfort. Your set point should be a reflection of the amount of space you have, AND your sense of freedom over your stuff. Just because it can fit, doesn’t mean it does fit.
Some might say "too cluttered," but we say, "if it's you, go for it."

Some might say “too cluttered,” but we say, “if it’s you, go for it.”

Finally, Browning’s article closes with this:

There is a reason we talk about nesting. Next time you are out walking, take a close look at a nest.

Nests are full of twigs, bits of fluff, string, moss and bark. Stuff birds take home, and fit to a shape that accommodates their lives.

Some birds even press their warm bodies against their stuff as they are making their nests, molding them to the shape of their breasts, so that they feel like … home.

A home that is uniquely theirs, and uniquely beloved.

Well, that’s certainly something we can tweet about.

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Got your own feelings on “good” clutter? Email us, tweet us @sylviashipshape or post on our facebook page! We’d love to hear from you!

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