Check Out Janet’s advice in Glenna Stone!

When you think of your dream version of home, it looks like different things for different people.  However, if you close your eyes and picture it, it’s probably beautiful and tidy.  One of the core tenets of our designs is function, because your home should work for you.  Nicole sat down with Janet Bernstein, founder of The Organizing Professionals, to talk about design and organizing as well as how they work together to create that ideal home.

Vacation Packing Tips for the Rusty

focus woman packing suitcase on bed

Last weekend I blew the dust off my suitcase for a two-night getaway in Washington DC to celebrate my daughter’s law school graduation.  It was our first trip anywhere since last fall and I admit it took me longer than usual to pack. I love traveling but I’m not so keen on packing.  Over the years I’ve developed several strategies to make this necessary chore less stressful.  Here are some of my favorite vacation packing hacks: 

  • Lay out clothing a couple of days in advance. I find the most time-consuming part of packing is deciding what to wear. I plan my outfits several days in advance, including all accessories.  This gives me time to do laundry and purchase something I may need.
  • Purchase a luggage rack  Sometimes it’s the simple things that make a chore like packing a little easier. The luggage rack saves my back and preserves my bedspread from any schmutz from my suitcase. Get yours here!
  • Create a personalized digital packing list. My digital packing list has saved me hours of packing time and ensures I never forget anything. It doesn’t have to be digital but if you create one in an app such as Notes or Evernote it’s preserved in the cloud and readily accessible. Mine has a check box next to each item. I digitally check the item once packed, then uncheck each item for my next trip.  Create several packing lists if you are packing for other family members and for different kinds of trips.
  • Purchase toiletry bags to suit your needs.  Many of us settle for toiletry bags that come with a cosmetic purchase.  Several years ago, I decided to revamp my travel toiletry bags and never looked back. I purchased several clear vinyl cases like these. I divided my toiletries into categories such as hair, skincare, makeup, and dental.  Each category has its own small case. The clear vinyl makes the contents visible without emptying the entire bag. Dividing the items into categories also makes packing easier as I can stuff the small cases into empty areas around my suitcase.
  • Create a travel container for all travel supplies.  Depending on how much you travel, purchase one or two clear containers (such as these clear shoe boxes) to store all your travel supplies. This is where you keep travel-sized items such as toothpaste and small bottles of shampoo. These containers do not travel with you. They are your permanent at-home repository for all things travel-related. I also keep foreign currency and travel adapters in our container. There’s nothing worse than frantically searching for some travel-specific item that you haven’t seen since your last trip. Corralling all your travel items into one or two containers eliminates huge amounts of travel-packing stress.
  • Pack clothes on hangers. This trick is a huge time-saver when arriving at your destination and makes it possible to unpack a suitcase in minutes with less wrinkled clothes. It also eliminates the need to ‘live out of your suitcase’ even for a couple of nights.

Wherever your plans take you this summer, have a wonderful trip and happy packing!

Janet Bernstein

Seven Must-Do Steps for an Organized Move

The Organizing Professionals

Moving is life’s third most stressful event.  Whether you are moving across the country or across the street, moving consists of making thousands of decisions, typically within a short amount of time.  Throw in various personalities of your family members along with the physical exhaustion of packing and unpacking and it’s easy to understand why moving produces so much stress and anxiety.  Follow these seven steps to alleviate some of the stress:

  1. Create a Moving Timeline. Whether you have three months or three years a moving timeline keeps you on track, accountable, motivated! First make a list of all the items that need to be accomplished, then schedule a “To be completed by” date for each item on the timeline. 
  2. Begin a ruthless declutter. Begin in the least trafficked rooms and work your way around the room. Only keep the items you love, need, and use. Keep a donation bag on each floor of your home and arrange for frequent donation pickups. (If you live in Center City, make arrangements for frequent donation drop-offs).
  3. Start packing little-used items. If your realtor requires your home to look more minimal, or if you want to get a head start on packing, start packing items you may be able to live without for several months. Label all boxes on two sides plus the top so it’s easier to identify the contents.
  4. Contact Your Moving Company. As soon as you know your moving date, contact your selected moving company and ask for a morning start. (Some movers books two moves a day. You want your moving guys to be at their peak energy level).
  5. Go to to change your address online.
  6. Pace Yourself. If you are packing yourself, begin at least 4-6 weeks prior to your move. Begin with all wall art and other items you can live without, then progress to more used rooms and items. Pack up the kitchen last and unpack the kitchen first.
  7. Don’t have the time, patience, or energy for a DIY move? Contact us and experience the best move of your life!

Finding it challenging to let things go?  Read our previous articles, “To Keep or Not to Keep? That is the Question and How Much is Enough?
Click the links below for our recommended must-have packing supplies:

  • Moving Boxes: Uhaul get 5 stars from us for quality of their small and medium boxes.  They also have holes in the side to facilitate easier grip and carry.
  • Packing Paper: Uhaul also make good quality packing paper.
  • Packing Tape: No other packing tape comes even close to Scotch Heavy Duty Shipping Packaging tape (and we have tried everything!)
  • Bubble Wrap: The Home Depot make our favorite bubble wrap. It’s 24” wide with large bubbles and 100% recyclable.

Check Out Janet Bernstein’s Tips in Martha Stewart’s “How to Pack Jewelry for a Move”

The Organizing Professionals

If this isn’t an option, Janet Bernstein, owner of Philadelphia-based The Organizing Professionals, recommends mislabeling the box, as well as any other boxes containing valuables. “I had one client who labeled the valuable boxes as ‘kitty litter,'” she shares. “They arrived just fine.”

Mise-en-Place: The Fancy French Term We All Need to Live By

The Organizing Professionals

I don’t often jump on the new year’s resolution bandwagon, but this year, inspired by one of my clients, who is brushing up on a foreign language, I thought, “Hey, that’s a great idea, I’ll think 2021 will be the year I take my French out of the rusty zone.”

So far, I’m halfway through reading Madame Bovary (in French) which, according to Google is suitable for an intermediate French student. I beg to differ, but I digress, and here comes the point of this article. I came across the term, “Mise-en-Place” a French term used by culinary chefs to mean “everything in its place.”  Chefs live by the mise-en-place philosophy. Prior to cooking, they take the time to make sure they have everything they need within arm’s reach. During cooking, they clean up as they go along, and when they’re done, they put everything back in its designated spot.

I got to thinking about how much better our everyday lives would be if we also lived by “mise-en-place.” 

  1. Preparation. While it may take additional time to set up organizing systems at home, you reap the benefits of time saved, reduced stress (anxiety felt when frantically looking for some misplaced item), and household tension (experienced when blamed for losing some misplaced item).  We never tire of hearing how our organizing systems have dramatically improved the lives of our clients. Sometimes, it’s as simple as finally making a decision that from now on, this will be the home for these items. Just like the chef who lays everything out in close proximity, the organizational system of your space will fall apart unless everything is nearby. If you install baskets for your hats and gloves in the front hall closet but always enter your home through the back door, you’re going to end up with a hot mess of outerwear piled up next to the back door. 
  2. Maintenance. Chefs clean up as they go along and so should we! But setting up organizing systems is futile without a commitment to maintenance. When we take the extra couple of seconds to put things back in their designated spot, we are saving hours in the future.  It may be easier to throw your clothes on the chair after a hard day but who wants to take an hour at the weekend putting them all away?  
  3. Clean Up. When maintenance becomes part of your everyday life, clean up becomes a breeze. While my home may not always be magazine-worthy organized, I know where everything is, and items are typically returned to their right spot. Having guests over (in the days when this was possible) never causes anxiety because our home pretty much always looks presentable, and any clean up needed takes only a few minutes. This is only because we live by ‘mise-en-place.’  I just did not know I could attach a fancy French term to it!

Need some help with your “mise-en-place”? Give us a call.  We’ll be happy to help!