Thoughts and ideas from Sayess Photos
10 things to know when preparing for a home downsize
June 21, 2019 at 6:00 PM
by Susan Strawgate Code

Real life learnings from a Houlihan Lawrence client on what to do - and what not to do when preparing for a move to a smaller space.


If you live in a home for more than 10 years you tend to accumulate many more things than you realize. 

When my long-standing clients decided to downsize, they struggled with what to do with all of the furniture and “stuff” that had accumulated over their years with their two daughters and two dogs. 

They’ve kindly shared their lessons learned for how best to plan before and after a downsize move: 

1. Start purging items you know you will not take with you as soon as you decide to move. Start a year in advance and do weekly declutters.

2. Try to avoid relying on a remote storage unit as a crutch for the things you don’t take with you, sell or give away. The cost of storage for 3 years could easily pay for new furniture.

3. Memorabilia. Everyone collects memories—souvenirs, cards, awards, old theater tickets and more. Take photos or scan them and save these memories digitally. You don’t need the “physical objects” to remember places you have visited or special events. 

4. Don’t save stuff for your grown kids, they don’t want it. It’s sad but true—that dining room set you couldn’t part with won’t be right for their lifestyle or yours. Give them first dibs but don’t expect takers.

5. Get professional help for sorting, organizing and selling your “stuff”. The cost is a small percentage of the house proceeds and will be well worth it in the long run.

6. Charity organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters or Vietnam Veterans of America will gladly pick up and cart away almost anything for free and they put it to good use.

7. Purge clothing you don’t use. 

8. Map out the floorplans in your new home so that you can fit the furniture you want to take. There are free online programs to help layout furniture…search for “best apps for planning a room layout and design”.

9. Photo Memories. You may come across boxes of old photos from parents and grandparents; outdated formats such as 35mm negatives and 8mm movies; or digital photos scattered on PC’s, phones, flash drives, cloud services - total photo chaos. Make a project of scanning and organizing all of it digitally. Shot and catalog your belongings for memories and for insurance purposes. You can hire a professional photo organizer to guide you with this process!

10. Remember, no matter how much you get rid of, after the downsizing there will still be more – so don’t be conservative about how you do this. And make room for your new adventure and lifestyle. Let it go!

My client David Saias is a professional photo organizer. He is the owner of Sayess Photo Organizers which helps clients organize and preserve their photo archives so that they can easily reference and present their collection of photos from any media. 

Susan Strawgate Code is an award winning Associate Real Estate Broker in the Briarcliff Manor office of Houlihan Lawrence. She can be reached at 914-762-7200

Expert Organizing Tips for a Tidy Home in 2021
January 13, 2021 at 5:00 AM
by Emily Huddleston
living room.jpg

In 2020, many of us used our homes like we never had before. We converted them into home offices, schools for our children, gyms, and much more. Unfortunately, with all these activities going on inside one space, keeping our homes tidy may have become quite the challenge. 

So while we continue to spend much of our time inside until things get back to normal, it’s important we declutter our homes and start the new year fresh. 

To help you get started tidying up, we reached out to organizing experts across the country – from Dallas, TX to Boston, MA. They shared their favorite home decluttering projects for the new year, along with a few quick tips to help you purge, create more space, and set yourself and your home up for a clean start in 2021.

Decluttering Projects for a Tidy Home

These home organizing projects are guaranteed to help freshen up your home and create more space. Give one or all of them a try! 

The neglected basement

My favorite home organizing project for the new year will definitely be our basement. Our storage room is so disorganized, I’m intimidated to even start, but I know how rewarding it will be to see everything categorized in labeled bins. It’s going to be worth the time and energy. – Oh So Lovely

The grimy garage

If your car is not in the garage, you really should start here. Do you really want your expensive vehicle outside, exposed to the elements, while unneeded belongings enjoy the prime square footage of your garage? Besides, a garage organizing project is encouraging and satisfying as most of the items are large and progress is swift. – Ideal Organizing + Design

The unkempt kitchen 

My favorite home organizing project of the year is always the kitchen and pantry. After the beating it takes during the holidays, my kitchen and pantry are one of the first things I reset in the New Year. Step 1: Take everything out, sort, purge, and clean the entire space. Step 2: Donate what wasn’t used in the past year. Step 3: Add bins and drawer organizers and only put back what you absolutely use and love. A fresh start for the heart of the home. – Neat Freak McKinney

2020 was tough, so this year especially my favorite project for the New Year would be getting your kitchen and pantry in check! No doubt the MOST used space for most families in general, but last year was on another level. Don’t let the clutter of last year stop you from making a fresh start in 2021. – Project Neat

Countertops.  To achieve a more clutter-free and open feeling in your kitchen, consider “batching” your counters or kitchen surfaces. Designate half of the counters in your kitchen as “clutter-free zones” where you cannot keep clutter, and consolidate the appliances you use regularly and wish to keep out on the other half. – Abundantly Minimal

Appliances. If you have a gadget or small kitchen appliance that you have NOT used during the pandemic it is time to set it free! Do not clog up your kitchen real estate with the nonsense that you never use. You do not have to feel guilty about it either. Great Aunt Joan gave you that bread maker for your wedding gift ten years ago so you feel tied to it for life? No thank you. Donate it and feel satisfaction in knowing that the new owner will be so happy making bread. – The Home Sanctuary

Dry goods and spices. Alphabetize and check the expiration date of your spices as you take them out of their home base so you can easily see what can be consolidated, thrown away, or needs to be purchased.  Return the spices in alphabetical order so you can quickly grab them while cooking. Check dry goods for expiration and intruders then consolidate, throw away or purchase replacements. – DeClutter By Deirdre

Want to keep your pantry dry goods fresher longer? Transfer opened boxes/packages to clear plastic or glass airtight containers. Not only does it save you money in the long run, but it also looks very nice and uniform. – Neatly Nic

Fridge. Decanting my condiments into squeeze bottles has created more space in my fridge and the bottles can even be refilled from bulk/zero waste stores or you can make your own condiments. Don’t forget to write expiry dates on a piece of masking tape with a sharpie and stick it on the bottom of the bottle. – Tiny and Tidy Co

Let your fridge get really empty every two or three months. This makes it easier to take everything out and clean the inside. Get rid of anything expired or unidentifiable. – The Betty Brigade

The overrun home office

Personally, the first thing I tackle every New Year is my desk and/or home office and all things in it. I don’t just mean cleaning out the drawers. I’m talking about prepping the first few months in my planner (yes, I even bought one for 2021) and re-evaluating our budget to make sure we are on track with where we want to be by the end of the year. – The Fun Sized Life

Disorganized photos

Still finding boxes of photos you don’t know what to do with? I am taking the remaining physical photos I have and scanning and editing them to preserve and share with my family and friends. I am also soliciting family members for older photos to scan and post in a shared family album. – Sayess Photo Organizers

Digital frames let you declutter by organizing and displaying many treasured photos at once in a single slideshow. You won’t need to disassemble multiple frames to change your images. Visit Picture This Organized for recommended frames, how to set them up, and update photos with family members using a Cloud application. – Picture This Organized

Print photos should never be stored in a basement, attic, or garage – the extreme temperature fluctuations and dampness in each area can permanently damage photos. Loose prints can be stored in acid-free, archival, photo-safe boxes and kept in closets or other cool, dry places out of direct sunlight. Consider scanning the vintage contents of old photo albums to add to your digital family archive (and old albums can be stored in the aforementioned photo-safe boxes as well). – Past Present Pix

The crowded closet

Let’s all concentrate on making 2021 a healthier year than 2020. A good closet design can not only make it easier to keep things organized, but it can also go a long way towards making our homes healthier by getting rid of the germs and dust bunnies that lurk in the corners of our closets. Use tight-fitting cabinet doors to cover hanging and shelving sections inside your walk-in closet when possible to keep out the dust — and maximize closet corner storage with a good rotating shelving system. –

Organizing Tips to keep in mind for a Tidy Home

These quick decluttering tips can go a long way while you’re clearing the chaos in your home. Keep them top of mind and you’ll be well on your way to a more organized and peaceful home in 2021. 

Before you start organizing, sent your intention 

What do you want to accomplish? What’s your vision? How will it make you feel? Where will you store the overflow? Who can you donate it to?  – Savvy Zen Organizer

Try a ‘regret reflection’ exercise

Get a piece of paper and walk around your house, listing anything you want to declutter but you’re scared you’ll regret. Then, be brave and declutter something you’re scared to regret throwing away. Our brains make us hold onto the strangest stuff because it’s trying to protect us. Is there something like a skirt you haven’t worn in years or a box that could be useful? Be bold and declutter one thing you are worried you’ll regret. In a month’s time when you’ve realized that nothing bad happened – you’ll be amazed by how free you feel. – Suzy Kell

Create a drop off station

Everyone needs a drop-off station in their home – preferably near the front door. This is where your cell, keys, mask, and purse/wallet will stay until you’re ready to grab them again on your way out. Having this space and creating the habit of using it for its purposes allows for stress-free exits. – Organize With Lia

Organize with a three-tier cart

Carts are popular and for good reason: they can tuck into small spaces, they’re mobile, and they make smart use of vertical space. Use a cart in a kitchen to add storage, in kids’ rooms to corral books or craft supplies, or even in the bathroom for towels and toiletries. – That’s Neat! Organizing

Create negative space

The new year brings so many opportunities to start fresh. As a Professional Organizer, creating negative space for my clients is my top priority.  Decluttering your home and introducing negative space will not only give your eyes a place to rest, but it will immediately bring your stress level down. Give it a try! – Home Method Co@homemethodco

Get rid of gifts you are only keeping out of guilt

They don’t reflect your personal taste, style, values. Your only obligation to the giver is a sincerely expressed “thank you”. – Anne Lyons,

Originally published by Redfin