Reduce. Reuse. Upcycle!

Decluttering is all about ridding your home of useless items that are taking up space. But what if you could repurpose a few of these items to become useful in your home?

Before you let go of the heaps of wine corks or stacks of paint chips, try any of these 19 creative ways to upcycle those items you were just about to toss --- courtesy of MakeSpace, a full-service Manhattan storage company that also serves customers in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, DC.

1. Jeans to Bib (Simply Sewing Magazine)

We’ve all got a pile of old jeans that are out of style, no longer fit, have been worn beyond repair, or are a mysterious combination of the three.If your first instinct is to throw your denim directly in the trash, stop right there: You’d be contributing to over 13 million tons of textile waste that gets discarded every year. 

Instead, turn those jeans into bibs for your baby (or for anyone else’s baby; they make great gifts or donation items). They’re durable, easy to clean, and give your jeans a second life while preventing a pureed pea disaster all over your child’s shirt. 

2. Calendar to Envelopes (Simply Rebekah)

The year 2004 came and went, but for some reason, you’re still holding on to that year’s wall calendar. Why not repurpose each month’s image into a colorful homemade envelope?
All you need are scissors, tape, the calendar, and Simply Rebekah, who already did the homework for you: How to Make Envelopes Out of Wall Calendars

These large, sturdy envelopes are great for sending birthday cards, the dates of which you remembered even without the calendar. See? You didn’t need to be holding onto it, after all.  

3. Sweater to Winter Hat (A Beautiful Mess)

Discovering that your favorite sweater was the victim of moths can be a real bummer. But there’s no reason to trash it just yet.

If you’re stocked with unwearable knits and low on cold-weather gear, turn those old sweaters into cozy hats. With the optional addition of a pom pom on top, you’ll be reusing them in the most adorable way possible.

4. Liquor Bottle to Soap Dispenser (The DIY Playbook)

The party ended, but you held onto the empty liquor bottles because they had such lovely shapes that you knew you’d use them for something.

That was a year ago.

Put the loveliness on display with a DIY that will relieve you of the clutter while sprucing up your bathroom decor. These Patron bottle soap dispensers will look way better next to your sink than they did in the corner of your storage closet. 

5. Book Pages to Gift Tags (POPSUGAR)

There are so many options for giving books a new life that the idea of throwing them out should never even cross your mind.

Share your literary fortune with others: Create gift tags out of the pages. 

Christmas gifts could feature tags made from A Christmas Carol. A child’s birthday present could feature well wishes written on a tag from a bookshelf staple like Charlotte’s Web.

For Valentine’s Day, you could create tags for your loved ones from pages of romantic classics like Pride & Prejudice or Wuthering Heights.   

6. Toilet Paper Rolls to Favor Boxes (POPSUGAR)

Wedding planning is the perfect excuse to start browsing your home for budget-friendly reception decorations.

While guest favors can be expensive, there is a solution:

Create favor containers out of toilet paper tubes. Yes, this sound ridiculous. But they’re also super easy to make, look fabulous (thanks to some sophisticated touches), and can be filled with whatever you choose.

7. Straws to Travel Packs (POPSUGAR)

Ever wonder why packs of plastic drinking straws seem to multiply on their own in a cabinet, yet are never readily available when you’d like to drink without ruining your lipstick?

You’ll be glad they do the next time you’re going on a quick weekend trip. Pack single servings of your toiletries (like toothpaste and moisturizer) into straws. Then safely seal them with pliers and a lighter. 

Your travel bag will be lighter, your straw supply will dwindle, 
and you won’t risk arriving at your destination with fresh mint-scented clothes covered in spilled shampoo.

8. Paint Chips to Confetti (The Life of Jennifer Dawn)

Raise your hand if you initially planned on painting your living room bright red. Then forest green. Then navy. Then finally settled on Benjamin Moore Rich Cream.

Well, you likely have a stack of colorful paint chips taking up precious drawer space.

Totally decluttering your home is reason enough to party. And with the holidays fast approaching, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to sprinkle this homemade paint chip confetti on every tabletop you can find.

Simply grab your paint chips and a hole puncher, and clip away at different colors until you have enough festive cheer to scatter around. 

9. Office Supplies to Wrapping Paper (POPSUGAR)
A leftover roll of Kraft paper is the holy grail of “junk” finds when clearing out excess stuff. It can be used as a table runner, DIY lunch bags, decoratable placemats, and much more.

One of its more simple uses is as customizable wrapping paper. It’s fun to wrap gifts in the plain brown paper and let your kids have a decorating frenzy with markers, stickers, and ribbon.

For a decluttering double-whammy, clear out your extra office supplies and decorate the Kraft paper with reinforcements and sticky notes. You can create original designs for way less than the cost of store-bought wrapping paper.

10. Wine Corks to Coasters (Mom4Real)

Maybe you’ve seen the hundreds of wine cork crafts blanketing the internet. Maybe you saved all of your corks over several months with the intention of making one of those crafts (specifically, the cork-top coffee table).

Instead of waiting for the perfect time to tackle such a project, turn those corks into coasters. You’ll save time and the tops of your tables.

11. T-shirt to Yarn (Craft Passion)

A collection of old t-shirts + a talent for knitting = upcycling heaven.

Repurpose the tees into balls of yarn. They’re perfect for making soft crochet baskets, stool covers, rugs, or macrame plant holders. These homemade decorations will give your newly-cleared-out space a touch of hygge comfort. 

12. Cheese Grater to Earring Holder (Turning the Clock Back)

Even though you replaced your handheld cheese grater with an electric version long ago, the original has stuck around in the “just in case” pile.

Pat yourself on the back for having the foresight to keep it around for this simple yet brilliant upcycling project:

All you have to do is spray paint the cheese grater and add adornments like pearl feet and paper flowers.

13. Wooden Spoons to Garden Markers (Bless’er House)

Fact: If you’re buying wooden spoons by the 12-pack, you’re probably doing a ton of cooking every day.

Also fact: If you’re buying wooden spoons by the 12-pack and that 12-pack is still sitting in your pantry unopened, you probably don’t need that many wooden spoons.

It’s time to stir things up. Repurpose them into garden markers for your vegetables, herbs, and flowers.

They’ll add a natural, vintage touch to your garden and help you finally figure out which one of those plants is basil and which one is oregano.

14. Door Knocker to Drawer Handles (HGTV)

A new home is meant to be a clean slate. There’s just one problem:

Like the monster from It Follows, life-ruining clutter follows us from one home to another.

Not anymore.

Slay clutter, starting with the door knockers from your old home.

Instead of saving your old door knockers only to eventually toss them into a junk pile, convert them into vanity drawer pulls that make reaching for spare toiletries all the more interesting. And loud, definitely loud.

15. Cookie Sheets to Magnetic Memo Boards (Brit + Co)

If your supply of scuffed, scratched, and rusted cookie sheets could use an update, feel free to take this crafty organization tip as permission to buy new ones.

Apply a few coats of spray paint and add some cute magnets to give your cookie sheets a second chance as cool magnetic memo boards.

Keep the boards in your kitchen as a command center for the family. Or bring the boards to work so your coworkers can marvel at your DIY and to-do tracking prowess.

16. Coffee Cans to Wine Rack (Brit + Co)

Too much wine and not enough places to store it? This is a very fun problem to have.

Grab those large leftover coffee cans you’ve saved and give them an unexpected pop of color with some paint. After some strategic super gluing, you’ll be surprised at how simple this coffee can wine rack hack was.

You might also be surprised to realize you’re buying more wine just so you can create more storage solutions for your stash.

17. Crayons to Candles (Brit + Co)

A few crayons break and suddenly an entire pack “needs” to be bought. Multiply this by six years of grade school (and multiple kids) and we might have an idea of what your stray crayon supply looks like.

Make your home a little more colorful and bright with color block candles made from crayons. A box of 64 crayons will allow you to create color combos that match every room’s decor.

Pro tip: Stir essential oils into each votive so it doesn’t smell like kindergarden every time you try to set the mood.

18. Tea Towels to Pillow Shams (CountryLiving)

You’re more of a grab-a-latte-on-the-go kind of gal, so you’re probably not using your collection of vintage tea towels for drying your expensive 

You’re more of a grab-a-latte-on-the-go kind of gal, so you’re probably not using your collection of vintage tea towels for drying your expensive china set.

Free them from storage, put them on display, and give your home some antique flair with DIY tea towel pillow shams. They adapt surprisingly well to various interior design styles while subtly sprucing up your furnishings. 

19. Luggage Rack to End Table (Mod Podge Rocks)

Been awhile since your out-of-town friends last visited?

In addition to guilt-tripping your friends, persuade your guest room luggage rack into becoming a new end table, like this one from Mod Podge Rocks. An old cabinet door, a few nails, some paint, and a coating of epoxy resin are all you need for making new furniture. For making new friends, there’s always Bumble BFF.


Hi Everyone,
Here's an article I wrote for Box Butler, a concierge storage service company. It’s about staging your home for sale while living there.


Simplify: My Mantra for the year

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard .... But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains. – Steve Jobs

My theme for the year is Simplicity. Here are some ways I'm working on simplifying for myself and my clients.

1) Set three goals (not resolutions) for the year. Create acton steps in order of priority. Track them with benchmarks in your planner or digital calendar. 

1) Decrease clutter: Create a home for each possession. Weed out items that belong to your past and those which never worked for you. Toss, sell or recycle unnecessary, outdated, broken beyond repair and duplicate items. 

2) Create daily routines: Don't put it down, put it away. Tidy the messes as you go. Make the bed each morning, clean dishes after each meal, toss or shred junk mail, throw out trash regularly.

3) Weed your wardrobe: Statistics show we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. The remaining 80% of clothes clog our closets. Identify favorites and donate items that don't fit or flatter.  

4) Clean out the pantry. Toss expired items, unhealthy food and items we know we won't consume. Get rid of extraneous appliances, worn out pots and useless gadgets. 

5) Love what you have and buy only what you need. Big box stores encourage big shopping. That may not work if you have limited storage space and don't use perishables quickly. Borrow movies and novels from the library. Consume once and return so you don't have to store them. Track items online to renew or return to avoid late fees. 

6) Get organized through planning: evaluate your time commitments, use a pared down task list, pay off debt and streamline financial accounts. Finish projects and dangling tasks. Limit screen time, digital clutter and social media.  

7) Eliminate workaholism and multitasking: Do one thing at a time and do it well. Multitasking is doing two things badly at once. Take time off to reward yourself and replenish your energy and brainpower.

8) Edit collections: Keep the best; donate or sell the rest. Dust, display and enjoy your treasures. 

Let's Talk About You
If you need help to simplify, call me at 718-930-8111. We can tackle it together and make your home or office lovely and functional!


How Much is Enough?

“The secret of contentment is knowing how to enjoy what you have, and to be able to lose all desire for things beyond your reach." – Yutang Lin 

Two Estates

While working on two estate clear-outs recently, I became aware how different the households were. The contrast in how the residents maintained their homes and their possessions throughout their lives became painfully apparent. 

The first home was packed with decades worth of family belongings: closets stuffed with old clothing, hundreds of musty books, outdated household items, and stacks of yellowing papers. Finding treasure beneath the 50-year accumulation was daunting. Clearly, not much had left this space once it entered.

The second home was neat, tidy and spare. Each item was treasured, cared for and clean. Articles were placed where they were used. Collections were artfully arranged and edited. Objects had been treated like valuables. Because they were fresh and current, they retained value. Working in this home was a breath of fresh air.  

Acquiring stuff is easy. Goods today can be inexpensive, so they pile up. Yet we rarely prioritize time for clearing out. Many use shopping as entertainment, and feel there's never enough. It's easy to see why homes are exploding. 

Think about vacationing in a clean hotel room and the freedom of living simply from a suitcase. It would be nice to live simply at home, too. Here are some easy ways to clear out clutter.

Establish Routines

• Decluttering is a process, not a one-time event. Keeping everything takes a toll on everyday life and causes added stress, maintenance and housekeeping. 

• Reserve one day a week for home maintenance, grocery shopping and errands. It will add up to more leisure time. 

• Taking time to downsize periodically is rewarding. Keep a bag in your front closet for items you no longer need. Donate the contents when the bag is filledYou'll feel good by helping others.

Ask the Right Questions

• Does this item add value to my life? Is there clothing in my closet sporting store tags? Return the items, have a clothing swap party or donate them. 

• Will I miss this if I let it go? If it's hidden at the bottom of your closet or cluttering up your surfaces and doesn't serve a purpose, let it go. We develop clutter blindness. Items hanging around become part of the furniture and we no longer see them.

• Do I have too many? Sort and donate the excess. No one needs four hammers, especially if you are not into DIY. Redundancy creates clutter in small spaces.

• Does it cause stress because it's damaged or broken? Take the time to fix or replace it, to regain control, time and serenity.

1-in 1-out, 1-up 1-down

• After you've cleared out, it's easy to maintain organization. When you buy a new shirt, donate or toss an old one. To thin out, donate two for each item you bring in. Keeping like items together makes it easier to find what you own.  

• Place dirty clothing in a hamper or laundry bag. It seems obvious but many homes I visit have an empty hamper and clothes strewn about. Set a regular schedule for laundry so it doesn't build up.

• Keep a size larger and a size smaller but let go of clothes you'll never fit into again. You don't need a reminder of the size you were in college, and it's also hopelessly out of fashion. Even trends referencing the 60s, 70s and 80s have updated shapes and styles. 

A Custom System

• Containers create boundaries. Add a recycling system to your kitchen with a bin for bottles and cans, one for garbage, and one for paper. It's helpful if they are all the same and sit next to each other, or find those that stack for small spaces. When the bins fill up, out the contents go. 

• Place a trash can in every room so trash doesn't land everywhere. There are pretty ones available for every decor. Empty them all at once each week. 

• Stash a magazine basket next to your seating area for magazines and catalogs. When new magazines arrive, review and recycle the older ones. 

• Sort toiletry items on the shelves of a linen closet. Use baskets for games and toys. Store all media on shelves or in drawers near the DVD player.  

Small Changes, Big Results

• Sock Locks are one of my favorite products. They keep socks paired when you take them off. They go from hamper to washing machine and back into the drawer holding socks together. No more time wasted pairing black socks or finding mates in the morning. 

• When going from one room to another, pick up items to go back to that room: a plate or cup, or a newspaper you've read. It saves steps and keep rooms tidy.

• Keep a list of small tasks that can be done in a few minutes: sewing a button, pruning a plant, cleaning out your purse. When you need a break from larger projects get one of these nano tasks completed. You'll feel good when you cross it off the list.

Help is Here ...

Want assistance to get your home or office organized? Call me at 718-930-8111. If you have favorite systems, habits or routines to save time and maintain organization, I'd love to hear about them. Post your reply below.

On Board

I'm excited to announce my appointment as Director of Membership on the Board of Directors at The National Association of Professional Organizers, NY Chapter (NAPO-NY). I'm happy to serve an organization that has provided me with support, education and referrals. 

Stay focused, stay organized, stay calm. 

See you soon,