Hints and tips, Organising / 4 July, 2020

A bold solution to storing vaping paraphernalia

My husband is a musician, and a self-confessed gear head. Apparently, you can never have too many guitars, pedals, unusual bit of percussion, leads or picks…

So when he switched from smoking to vaping a few years ago, his obsession with ‘stuff’ found a whole new area of interest: vaping paraphernalia. 

Not for him the all-in-one over-the-counter options with cartomisers[1]and electronic wizardry, here was an opportunity to immerse himself in the world of atomisers, rebuildable mods and everything that came with it – the hardware, the parts, the spares, the consumables, and a whole new vocabulary. The technology fascinated him. He learned a whole range of very specific tasks such as building coils and wicks, and discovered a thriving on-line community of fellow enthusiasts and enterprising manufacturers. Before long he was knee deep in a new collection of stuff.

We live in an open-plan flat in a converted factory and, as anybody who lives in such a space can tell you, it can look untidy very quickly indeed. It soon became obvious that my husband’s growing collection of vaping paraphernalia needed its own storage solution, one that would contain the collection while also keeping it all easily accessible. We accepted that there was no point trying to hide it all in pretty boxes in the linen cupboard; this collection needed a bespoke solution.

After a few weeks of research and discussion, we decided to make a bold statement and so we invested in a bright red two-part metal toolbox, the sort you would more likely see in a working garage or a workshop. We felt our eye-catching choice was in keeping with our building’s industrial heritage and with our contemporary furniture and vintage posters. We were right, it fits in perfectly.

And, importantly, it worked. The new chest absorbed the entire collection and has been in constant use for a number of years. All was well, for a while… 

All storage solutions need regular maintenance, and this chest is no exception. I recently noticed that the drawers were getting muddled and over-stuffed; they looked as though they would benefit from being sorted and re-organised. Hey-presto, I had a mini lockdown project on my hands.

I emptied and cleaned the drawers, including the non-slip lining, and used a tray to sort through the contents of each drawer in turn.

I threw away very little, only a couple of empty e-liquid bottles and some excess plastic packaging, and I used the lids and bases of the original packaging to make shallow trays so this was an effective, zero-cost solution.

If you need help with sorting, decluttering and organising your collections, or any other part of your home or office, why not consider bringing in professional help? We think you’ll be amazed at the difference we can make

Press coverage / 1 September, 2018

Press Coverage: The Sunday Times


Home Experts section of The Sunday Times

Published on Sunday 20th April 2018

Q: We are downsizing. After 56 years of married life, we have accumulated a zillion bits and pieces. We need help cataloguing and finding the right place to sell our art, ceramics and furniture. Help!

Louise Stevenson, London

A: After 56 years of married life, it is natural that you should have accumulated ‘a zillion bits and pieces’. The good news is that disposing of some of them so you can downsize needn’t be painful.

As a first step, we would recommend finding a Professional Organiser (PO) who can assist you identifying, setting aside and listing the items you wish to dispose of. They will help you sort through your possessions and arrange them in categories so that the next step – deciding how to get rid of them – is clear and not overwhelming. You can search for a local specialist by postcode on the website of the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers’ website (apdo.co.uk).

The next step for selling art, ceramics and other treasures will be to be find auction houses that will take specific items. A good place to start is the-saleroom.com where you – or the PO – can enter details of items and get an indication of their value, as well as details of auction houses near you.

Most auction houses are happy to arrange for a representative to visit you and value your items. This is usually free but, once you commit to sell, we strongly advise reading all the small print so you understand the various charges. These include the vendor commission rate (a percentage of hammer price) and loss and damage warranty costs. There may also be a charge for photographing a valuable item to be featured in the auction catalogue.

When it comes to selling clothes, bric-a-brac and trinkets, sites such as eBay or Gumtree can generate useful cash, but the process often takes time and effort. Several companies will list good-quality items on eBay for you, which takes the slog out of on-line selling. Auction Fairies, for example, works on a 50% commission basis: that may sound a bit steep, but the company covers all eBay and PayPal fees, packing and shipping costs. It operates in London and around the M25 (auctionfairies.co.uk).

Liz Aitken & Julia Durand, Professional Organisers, Carefully Sorted

Read the article here

Hints and tips / 29 August, 2018

A client’s perspective on sorting papers

Sorting papers: an essential pre-requisite to a stress-free move

Readers of our blogs might recall the work we did with a client who moved from London to a new home at the seaside but wanted to sort and declutter as much as possible before she moved.

As part of phase 1, we put all papers and photographs to one side for our client to sort out at leisure before our next joint session when the three of us worked together on cupboards and wardrobes.

Our client worked hard on her accumulated paperwork and this is what she said:

My name is Lynne and I’m a bit of a hoarder. My first clue was when I found a small tube of Germolene; the expiry date was October 1987!

Actively encouraged by Carefully Sorted to go through paperwork before everything was packed up for my big move, I set aside time specifically to look at papers – one drawer and one box at a time.

In one cabinet I found: all my council tax bills since 1993, a defunct Filofax from 1995 and some notes of a film I wanted to make about women bikers from 1988!

It was an eye opening-exercise and very time consuming.  Just one filing cabinet took me a solid four hours. As this represented only 1/12 of my total paperwork I had to set aside another 40 hours for this task alone as I had to check each piece of paper before consigning it to the recycling or shredding pile…

At the end of the exercise I estimate that I recycled 80% and shredded 19% and was left with an important 1%. I can tell you first hand that forward planning is essential when you are moving home. It is a painful and a joyous activity in equal measure.

Carefully Sorted you are worth every penny and I will be ready for more help from you as soon as I have finished my ‘homework’.


If you are moving home and heed help with sorting, decluttering and packing, why not consider bringing in professional help? We think you’ll be amazed at the difference we can make. Get in touch today.

Carefully Sorted is proud to be a member of APDO The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers.


Originally published by Carefully Sorted on LinkedIn on December 10th 2016.

Hints and tips / 28 August, 2018

Decluttering tips: planning for a move

Planning a move? Declutter first and your move will go more smoothly


Readers of my occasional blogs may remember two pieces I wrote last year about the work we were doing with a client who was leaving London to move to the south coast.

Many people experience stress and anxiety when buying and selling property. Our client was no exception: she encountered multiple complications with both transactions. However, she was determined to use the additional time created by these delays to declutter and organise as many of her belongings as possible so that when the move finally took place it would be as smooth as possible.

She also decided that bringing in professional help at key stages in the process would help her achieve her goal of moving to her new home free of unnecessary clutter.


Our client’s delightful London flat was quite small and there was very little room for a full-scale declutter. It was fortunate, therefore, that she also had a storage room nearby.

During our initial assessment, we all agreed that the storage room was our obvious starting point so we cleared it completely before tackling any other task. It too was quite a small space but it really saved the day during this project.

We cleared it completely and put back in it only belongings which had been sorted and were going to the new place. By doing this, we set up a chain of activities which achieved the desired goal.


The plan worked very well indeed. While we concentrated on maximising space in the storage area and in the flat, we set aside boxes which only our client could sort out. For example, she reduced the pile of papers in the photograph above down to one concertina and two box files. Taking things steadily and calmly really made a difference and at no stage did she find the process overwhelming or stressful.

The move has now taken place. It went very smoothly and it was very gratifying to see that all the preliminary work had paid off. Also, we confess to a little glow of satisfaction when the foreman from the movers opened the storage room and admired the way we had packed so much into it!


If you are moving home and heed help with sorting, decluttering and packing, why not consider bringing in professional help? We think you’ll be amazed at the difference we can make. Get in touch today.

Carefully Sorted is proud to be a member of APDO The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers.


Originally published by Carefully Sorted on LinkedIn on March 4th2017

Uncategorised / 12 March, 2018

Moving home? Don’t take the clutter with you

Moving home or relocating? Declutter before you pack so you don’t take the clutter with you.

Declutter before you move

Doing some fact finding on the internet recently, I came across an article which mentioned the results of a survey on stress conducted by the energy company E.on in 2015. The survey had found that an average Briton moves home five times during their lifetime and that the stress of each move will last for more than three months.

At Carefully Sorted we often work with clients who need help with a house move and we know from experience that the most effective approach is to declutter and get organised before you move, not pack up all the clutter and take it with you.

One of our recent assignments was for a client who is leaving her small modern flat in a converted factory in the East End of London to move to a bigger space on the south coast. She is very excited about the move, as her new home will give her sufficient space to display her large collection of contemporary British art, much of which is currently in store.

During our initial consultation, we agreed that the best course of action was to tackle the store room first. The storage space is in the same building as the flat so our plan was to clear and organise it so that boxes of possessions from the flat could be moved there as soon as packed, sealed and labelled, thus streamlining the entire packing process.

Streamlining the packing process

The store room was piled perilously high with household items. The first task was to empty the space and see what was there. While doing this we found that several of the storage boxes were damaged, or were rather flimsy, and that some were so full that they were virtually impossible to move. We also found delicate items with inadequate packaging, so they needed our attention too.

We emptied the storeroom and put everything out in the corridor. Then we worked steadily through it with our client, identifying items for recycling and others for the bin. We replaced broken and inadequate boxes with better ones so they are ready for the move and divided the contents of some boxes (particularly those containing heavy coffee table art books) into smaller boxes so that they were not so heavy.

We wiped down and dusted everything that our client was keeping and put it back in the store room in a tidy and logical way. We are now ready for phase two when we will start work in the flat itself and put in the store room boxes which are packed, sealed and labelled ready for the movers.

Our client isn’t moving until the new year, so this is excellent forward planning. She tells us that she now feels infinitely more in control of the moving process and isn’t worried about the packing suddenly getting on top of her. She was also amazed at how quickly we worked and how much we achieved.


If you are moving home and heed help with sorting, decluttering and packing, why not consider bringing in professional help? We think you’ll be amazed at the difference we can make. Get in touch today.

Carefully Sorted is proud to be a member of APDO The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers.


Originally published on LinkedIn on 23rd November 2016.


Hints and tips / 7 March, 2018

Spring Clearing Week: 24-30 March 2018

You need to clear before you can clean

Spring Clearing Week: 24-30 March 2018

No, I haven’t misspelt that: I do mean Spring CLEARING week!

Spring is a wonderful time of renewal and growth; the days are getting longer and many of us enjoy an increase in energy levels and have a spring in our step! It’s a great time to take stock of what you want to achieve in the coming year.

In many cultures, it is also a time when people carry out an in-depth clean of their homes, and shake off the winter blues with a spring clean.


Historically, spring cleaning has been linked to several religious celebrations:

  • The Iranian practice of “khooneh tekouni” (which literally means “shaking the house”) just before thePersian new year
  • The ancient Jewish practice of thoroughly cleansing the home in anticipation of the springtime festival of Passover
  • Traditionally, the Catholic church thoroughly cleans the church altar and everything associated with it on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday
  • In Greece, and other Orthodox nations, it is traditional to clean the house from top to bottom either just before or during the first week of Lent

And there are some more practical historical reasons too:

  • During the 19th century, prior to the advent of the vacuum cleaner, March was often the best time for dusting because it was getting warm enough to open windows and doors but it wasn’t warm enough for insects to be a problem
  • In industrial areas, spring was often a time of year when coal furnaces wouldn’t run so you could wash away all the soot which had built up over the winter

Times are changing

However, it seems that people are no longer carrying out an in-depth domestic clean every spring. In 2017 MoneyMagpie undertook a survey of nearly 1,000 people to learn more about current attitudes in the UK towards spring cleaning. The results of the survey revealed some very interesting facts:

  • 14% of respondents said they had abandoned the traditional yearly task simply because they didn’t have time, citing work and office pressures, but also family commitments at weekends
  • 30% said they didn’t need to carry out a deep clean as their houses were kept ‘clean and tidy’ all year round
  • 6% said they didn’t need to carry out a deep clean as their houses as they employ regular cleaners
  • 11% admitted they simply “couldn’t be bothered” with a spring clean, and that a tidy, de-cluttered home was not a priority for them
  • However, more than 80% said they still carried out at least one deep clean a year, with nearly one in five conducting four or more, but that they were no longer done specifically during the Spring.

Time to take stock

However, APDO Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers is keen to ensure that this valuable opportunity to take stock and clear the decks of any physical (and consequently mental) clutter is not abandoned. They want to emphasise the benefits of at annual review of our ‘stuff’ and they have launched Spring Clearing Week in 2018 to raise public awareness.

APDO members believe you need to clear before you can clean. If you can’t move in your own space, then cleaning it is quite difficult!

How can APDO members help?

The task of tackling clutter on your own can feel overwhelming. This is when an expert can work with you and clear a path through the mess, and the stress it causes, to reveal a calmer life and home.

Working in partnership with you, a professional organiser can suggest ways of making the most of the space you have. You’ll be able to find everything you need, whenever you need it and you will find it easier to keep control your belongings.

APDO members have helped thousands of people all over the country save time and money by sorting out their stuff. Find inspiration and motivation via the guest blogs on the News & Media page or on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Google Plus.

Spring Clearing Week aims to inspire people to think about the clutter they are living with and encourage them to do something about it. Of course, APDO members provide one-to-one support all year round. You can find a local organiser here.

Carefully Sorted is proud to be a member of APDO The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers.



Hints and tips / 1 March, 2018

Inspiring literature

Too many books? Be brave and declutter. Passing on books for others to enjoy is very liberating!

Inspiring literature

Whatever your profession, it is vital to keep up to date with new ideas and trends. As a professional declutterer, I am always on the lookout for articles and publications which might inspire me or give me useful pointers to share with clients. Thus, Joshua Becker’s recent publication, ‘The More of Less’ (subtitle: finding the life you want under everything you own) recently hit my radar and so I decided I ought to read it.

In this book, Mr Becker describes a specific day when he was sorting out the clutter in his garage, whilst simultaneously regretting the fact that this chore was preventing him from playing ball with his young son. As he struggled with a pile of possessions, his immediate neighbour casually said, ‘Maybe you don’t need to own all this stuff’. That chance remark set him on a very clear path to minimising his possessions and maximising his life. This is the journey which he describes in this book.

I found several of the book’s themes inspiring and motivating. The theme that struck a real chord with me was the idea of decluttering and using your unwanted possessions to benefit others. You can do this directly or by releasing them to raise funds for good causes. Those of you who have read my earlier pieces will know that when I declutter I try and match items set aside during a decluttering session with very specific causes. Mr Becker’s theme really resonated with me.

Following some excellent advice

Well, I finished the book earlier today, closed it and went to put it on the shelf. Suddenly I encountered a very real problem: my shelves were full to bursting and I didn’t have any room for this slim volume. What to do? Easy, take a leaf out of the book I had just been reading, declutter my books and donate those I didn’t need any more to a worthwhile cause. I set about the task with gusto.

Here is my starting point: overloaded shelves with books piled high where I had run out of space on the shelves. It was quite an eclectic mix: old school text books next to best sellers and several series of murder mysteries which I had built up over time, carefully ticking each one off a list in my diary. As I took each book off the shelf, I quickly knew which I wanted to keep and which could go.

This photograph shows how many books I decluttered, ready to go to friends or to a charity shop to raise much-needed funds. This really is quite an impressive cull, even if I say so myself. Far from feeling deprived, I am happy that others will enjoy these wonderful books and that the money they raise will support good causes.

‘The More of Less’ gave me the motivation I needed to look at my fiction collection with fresh eyes and see just how many books I could put to good use. Very much a case of practising what I preach!


If you need a help with sorting and decluttering an over-stuffed bookshelf or any other area of your home or business, why not consider bringing in professional help? We think you’ll be amazed at the difference we can make. Get in touch today.

Carefully Sorted is proud to be a member of APDO The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers.


Originally published on LinkedIn on 17th January 2017.


Hints and tips / 1 March, 2018

Decluttering and being neighbourly too

All those seemingly useless items in your cellar or garage might be useful to somebody else. Don’t chuck them in a bin, give them away instead.

 Neighbourly decluttering

 Even the most dedicated declutterers sometimes have areas of their homes which could do with a bit of attention. Mine is no exception. My ‘problem’ area is our cellar. Naturally, I put this down to my partner’s keenness to hold on to things that ‘might come in handy one day’ but the fact is we do need to declutter this space from time to time and as Spring is in the air I thought this was the perfect week to get cracking.

Whilst unwanted books, CDs, clothing and knickknacks are perfect things to take to a charity shop, it is much more difficult to find somewhere for boxes of tiles left by the builders after various projects or bits of technical equipment. Frankly, my local charity shop wouldn’t thank me for the tiles, even if I did have an extra strong trolley to get them there. So, I decided to try a new approach: giving things away through a neighbourhood website.

Thus it was, that at dusk one evening this week I found myself loitering outside our gate, meeting a total stranger and passing her a small parcel containing a set of new casters. Similarly, at dawn the following morning, I went through the same routine, this time meeting a young photographer who declared himself delighted with the two spare bulbs we’d rather randomly kept since selling a studio light several years ago. As for the tiles, four sets of left over tiles have now gone to new homes.

So, what were the benefits of this new approach?

  • Much more room in our cellar
  • Avoiding things going to landfill
  • Some happy people with useful things they didn’t need to pay for
  • And, the icing on the cake, meeting lovely new neighbours

It has been a good experience; one I will enjoy repeating and one I recommend to clients. Happy sorting!


If you need a help with sorting and decluttering tasks, why not consider bringing in professional help? We think you’ll be amazed at the difference we can make. Get in touch today.

Carefully Sorted is proud to be a member of APDO The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers.


Originally published on LinkedIn on 10th March 2017.


Hints and tips / 28 February, 2018

Restoring order in a chaotic games room

Decluttering restores order in an outside games room

Decluttering an outside games room

Decluttering an outside games room was an unusually chilly assignment for Carefully Sorted, but we tackled it with gusto!

My clients are a family of five who enjoy a great many physical activities in their extensive garden, at the nearby golf course, at their local swimming pool, and when on beach holidays in the UK and abroad. As a result, they have accumulated a huge quantity of outside toys and games equipment. Last autumn, with the family starting the post half-term run up to Christmas, they decided it was time to declutter the space and store the stuff  away until summer came around again.

As you can see for the picture above, the outside games room was a chaotic mess of abandoned toys and games equipment; it was in serious need of being decluttered! Both parents work long hours and so called in Carefully Sorted to provide professional help with this particularly troublesome area.

We started by making a full assessment of what was there. We went systematically through everything, discarding toys that were broken beyond repair or had too many missing parts, and working out what was going to be kept. We were also checking to see if we might need any extra storage containers.

Earlier in the day we had been working on one of the other outhouses and had found a tough plastic trough which wasn’t wanted any more. Rather than throw it away, we had set it to one side in case it could be cleaned up to provide much-needed storage. It was! Cleared of dead leaves and cobwebs and given a good scrub, the trough provided a perfect storage container for the children’s extensive collection of ‘nerf’ guns (yes, it was a new term for us too!) so one of the main categories of toys was efficiently and inexpensively dealt with.

Working from left to right around the room we put body boards into their customised carry bags, grouped golf equipment in one corner, and stood hobby horses in an old laundry basket so that they didn’t keep rolling away and falling over.

We found that an old wooden blanket box provided perfect storage for larger items such as cricket bats, tennis and badminton rackets, and the croquet set and we divided a large collection of buckets, spades and other beach toys into size and type, placed them in two plastic storage boxes, closed the lids and stacked them on top of each other. We shook out tarpaulins and picnic blankets, folded them up and found a spare plastic box to keep them in too. Finally, we gathered the smallest items together and put them on a table, ready for the family to find when they need them.

The result was a wonderfully tidy room with everything in its place.

This task took two of us working together only an hour and a half, so three man hours. The family were thrilled with the transformation and feel inspired to keep the room tidy in future…with three energetic children we’re not convinced this is going to be the case, but one lives in hope!


If you need a help with sorting and decluttering tasks, why not consider bringing in professional help? We think you’ll be amazed at the difference we can make. Get in touch today.

Carefully Sorted is proud to be a member of APDO The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers.


Originally published on LinkedIn on 24th October 2016.

Hints and tips / 26 February, 2018

Post half term chaos

Decluttering restores order after an activity-filled half term.

Post half term chaos

Half term can be a difficult time for working parents, many of whom need to take leave or make complicated arrangements to provide child care during what is often a very busy and activity-filled week. Then suddenly it is all over, but it may have left a trail of debris in its wake…

The playroom above belongs to a boy in his early teens and his two primary school age siblings. During half term, they all had groups of friends over to play and a great time was had by all so it is not in the least surprising that the room became so untidy – it was inevitable, and normal!

It looked daunting, but it was in fact mostly surface clutter as the basis of a good storage system was already in place. It took just one of us, working with our client, only two hours to get everything sorted out and the room ship shape.

While tidying up we also set aside books, puzzles and games which the children had outgrown and these have already gone to a local charity shop. We also found hitherto ‘lost’ pieces of Lego sets and missing parts of some games and puzzles.

As this room is near the front door of our client’s house, two hours of concentrated, professionally-led effort gave the entire house a lift; no more rushing to close the door and hide the mess from visitors!


APDO Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers has recently launched Spring Clearing Week (24th-30th March 2018), a week of media activities and events designed to focus on clearing your space, and your head too! If you mark this busy week with some activity of your own, why not consider bringing in professionals to help you tackle the troublesome parts of your home? We think you’ll be amazed at the difference we can make! Get in touch today.

Carefully Sorted is proud to be a member of The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers.