Help with cataloguing your art collection

Do you collect art or have you inherited a collection? Do you know exactly what you’ve got? It’s not always clear and a number of my clients have requested help with cataloguing their collections. This post outlines how we take the first steps, and what information we put in the catalogue.

To adapt Shakespeare a little:

be not afraid of art collections: some are born with art collections, some achieve art collections, and some have art collections thrust upon ’em.

And in all those cases, it is easy to lose track of what you own. If you have inherited a collection, it may be more a case of not knowing rather than losing track. I can give you help with cataloguing.

Girl holding a crook, with two lambs. Help with cataloguin

Keep your art safe, secure and dry

The first and essential step is to make sure that your art is safe, secure and dry. These are particularly important considerations with inherited collections.

Is it insured and held in a secure location with an alarm system?

What about damp? It is surprising how often paintings, prints and sculpture are stored in unsuitable places. Stacking paper or canvas against outside walls, for example, is generally a bad idea, even if the house does not feel particularly damp.

To keep the collection safe, secure and dry may involve moving your art to another location.

Help with cataloguing

The aim of cataloguing is to list all the pieces you hold with their title, name of artist, date of creation, provenance and any other relevant information.

Firstly, we collect together all paperwork, including receipts from art dealers, framers and so on, as evidence of provenance. This is the record of ownership of a work of art or an antique. It’s a guide to authenticity or quality. I also include ephemera, such as cards, invitations to private views and so on.

Then, we begin to go through the art, piece by piece. We take a photo and label the piece. The label may be a provisional one if we are not certain about some points.

We enter the piece on our list or database in progress.

Finally, we cross-check the piece against any lists (probably both complete and incomplete) made over the years. These might include, for example, auction lists, valuation for probate, and personal estimates of value.

Statue of Julius Caesar in Rome. Help with cataloguing

Hmm. Interesting …

Interestingly, cataloguing can shed new light on art and owners often find themselves looking at the pieces in different ways.

Getting help with cataloguing your art collection puts all the facts at your fingertips. Now you’re in a good position to decide whether to display, store or sell your art.

How to sort out your garage or shed

Welcome to this post about how to sort out your garage or shed.

It’s the post for you if you want to be able to find what you need – easily. Without having to move too much. It sounds pretty  good, doesn’t it?

You’re not alone in having a cluttered, unusable or downright dangerous garage or shed. Read on for some of the reasons other people give for wanting to sort these places out.

Some great reasons to sort out your garage or shed

You’d quite like to put the car in the garage

Uncluttered says: Good idea, you could save £££ on the motor insurance. And you wouldn’t have to scrape the windscreen on those frosty mornings.

There’s nowhere to put things that really matter to you

Uncluttered says: I understand. I would really like to overwinter some beautiful pelargoniums I bought at the Botanic Garden’s sale last year but there’s no room.

Different coloured zonal pelargoniums. Sort out your garage or shed

You buy duplicates of things that you know are in the garage or perhaps in the shed but you can’t find, even though you’ve looked. In fact, you can’t find anything at all amongst all those boxes and bits and pieces.

Uncluttered asks: Can you see all the bits for the BBQ anywhere??

What? Bikes for a 6 year old? They are in their 20s now. And some of their other toys are here too.

Uncluttered says: Now I’ve looked, there’s an old push-along toy of mine there. That’s got to be decades old.

It’s a bit damp so it’s actually not a great place to store things

Uncluttered says: Anything in cardboard is definitely destined to be colonised by black mould. And tools easily go rusty in damp conditions if they aren’t cleaned and rubbed over with an oily rag.

You have a nasty feeling that much of the stuff in the garage and in the garden shed is actually rubbish but you can’t bear to look

Uncluttered says: It could be true, this one.

It’s an accident waiting to happen. Tools fall out when you open the shed door and that assortment of ancient chemicals doesn’t look at all safe.

Uncluttered says: Time to do something about it!

But first, stop and think!

What do you want to use your garage or garden shed for? Having a clear picture of this in your mind may help as you declutter and organise. Do you store all the bikes in the garden shed at the moment, for example? Would they be better in a bike shed? What’s possible, given your particular circumstances?

Green bicycle outside old shed. Sort out your garage or shed

How long will this take me?

You have two choices.

Choice A is to declutter little and often. Say, 15 minutes every day.
On the plus side: you won’t overdo it and you’ll have time to ponder your decisions in between times.
Against: you might easily fall out of the habit because you don’t see the inside of your garden shed or garage every day. Out of sight can be out of mind.

Choice B is to do it all in one big blast.
On the plus side: that’s it, done.
Against: it’s easy to become overwhelmed and lose heart or your temper, and you might hurt your back.

Whichever you choose, break the big job into smaller pieces to avoid getting distracted.

Use this tried and true decluttering system to sort out your garage or shed

It’s a great system that works in almost all situations. It sorts things into four boxes: relocate; mend or repurpose; donate; recycle or bin.

Keep and relocate. I mentioned above that it’s important to be clear about what you want to use your space for. Are there are some things that would be better (or should be) in another place?

Mend / repurpose. Be realistic when you put something in this box. Will you actually ever mend this item? Is it still useful? Will you actually ever repurpose this other item?

Donate or recycle. Donating or recycling unwanted items makes you feel good.

Do you know someone who’d be delighted to receive that old sports equipment perhaps? Or children’s painting equipment? Put things for the charity shop in bags and boxes and get them on their way as soon as possible.

Some things are toxic and have to be disposed of carefully. Ask the council recycling centre about paint, motor oil and chemicals such as weedkiller.

Many paint pots on shelves. recycling paint professional declutter organise north wales Sort out your garage or shed

Bin. You’ll probably know things for the bin when you see them! Old paint rags and mildewed cushions definitely fall into this category (speaking from experience here).

Organising what’s left in your garage or shed

Start sorting by putting like with like (for example, all wood together or all plant pots). This will help you see how much you have in each group.

Then consider the space (remember to look up) and how you can store things efficiently and safely. Aim to put things you need regularly all year round within easy reach and those used less often further away.

There’s often sufficient room overhead in a garage for racks or pipes to store wood, and perhaps a pulley system to lift bikes up and away.

The wall is the place for heavy-duty open shelves which can hold all kinds of containers. Clear containers are good so you can see what’s inside.

A wall-mounted broom holder works for large garden tools and brushes. Wall hooks are good for ladders and tools (draw the shape of smaller tools so it’s easy to put them back). Pegboards work for some tools and magnetic knife strips are good for small tools.

Use glass jars to store nails, screws, nuts, bolts and other small items. Screw their lids to the underside of shelves for easy access.

Use plastic downpipes to keep long-handled tools in order in a box.

Label your containers and shelves so it makes it easy to find what you need and easy for everyone to put things away promptly. Check every six months or so to keep things tidy and to move things around as the seasons change.

Congratulations!

I hope that you’ve made (or you’re on the verge of making) the decision to sort out your garage or shed. Or even both. You won’t look back!

Why I love my job: the clients, the freedom and the space

I’m going to give you a little insight into why I love my job.

I’ve been really enjoying it recently. I thought I’d try to understand why, just in case I could bottle it! Sadly, I don’t think that’s possible but it’s certainly been worth thinking about. Here are a few thoughts.

bright orange bottle on mossy rock. Why I love my job
Trying to bottle why I love my job. Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash

Why I love my job: the clients

I’m very privileged, as a professional organiser and declutterer, to be invited right into my clients’ lives. That’s right into their homes, and right into what makes them tick and how and why they live like they do. I’m invited in because my clients want change, which can be exciting, scary, challenging, liberating – and sometimes all of those things and more!

Together, we outline the decluttering or organising task we’re going to work on. And then we start to work on it. It’s hard work and it’s also fun. There’s definitely room for a laugh which is always good.

And, at the end of the day, we’ve made a difference! We’ve probably transformed something! That really is a great feeling.

Young optimistic woman with a light heart after decluttering. Why I love my job

Why I love my job: freedom, space and different places

I love the freedom of working for myself (it’s been 30+ years now). Yes, I’m a professional organiser and declutterer, but I also sometimes wear a different research and writing hat.

My two jobs are really quite similar, now I come to think of it. Both of them work at making sense and bringing order out of sometimes apparently quite unpromising beginnings. Decluttering and organising is very practical and hands-on, and my research and writing is more to do with ideas and facts, although often still quite practical.

Excitingly, making sense and bringing order usually produces space. And space is where new things can happen. That’s really good if you want to stop feeling stuck in your life.

Another reason why I love my job is that I am interested in places – why they are there and their different possibilities. Working as a professional organiser, I’m able to go to places I wouldn’t otherwise know existed, let alone visit and become involved with. Fabulous!

Summing up

I love my job because it opens doors and windows in the here and now. Suddenly, when there is a sense of order and space there are new possibilities. That sounds good to me.

How to organise your home / making a start

From overwhelmed to organised

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by chaos at home, this is a good place for you. In this post I’m going to talk about how you can start to organise things at home and get things running more smoothly. I’ll look at small steps you can take towards having a home where you can relax.

Take small steps and you will soon move from overwhelmed to organised. You’ll feel much better overall, and you’ll have a sense of calm.

organise your home

Two recommendations for organising your house

First of all, focus on just one area at a time, such as one room or one drawer or one shelf. Make the area quite small because then you won’t be overwhelmed. In other words, don’t bite off more than you can chew!

Don’t be distracted. Focus on just one area at a time and you will see good progress quite quickly.

Secondly, most of us are busy people without much time. Fit in just 20-30 minutes of decluttering and organising every day and you’ll soon see a difference. Set the timer if you like!

Woman setting sports watch. Organise your home

Decide on your goal

It’s tempting to have a huge and ambitious goal like ‘I want to sort out everything in the house, the garden, the car and the children – oh and work too! As soon as possible and definitely by the end of next month!’

It’s a great goal but, realistically, decluttering and organising a house takes time. Let’s break the big goal down into do-able chunks. That means that you won’t be disheartened, you’ll be able to keep going and you’ll make steady progress.

Do-able chunks

The size of your do-able chunks will vary, depending on how much time and energy you’ve got. One drawer or one shelf at a time is absolutely fine.

Many people start with organising the area that annoys them the most. It might be shoes all over the place, for example, or piles of paperwork.

Make a note of the problem areas that really niggle you. Also make a note of  any ideas you’ve got about why these areas are problems.

Choose whichever area makes sense to you, set the timer and get started!

Get started

Make a big difference straightaway by putting all the obvious rubbish in the recycling or the bin. Great!

woman with large cardboard box. Organise your home
This is a good big box
Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

Next, use four boxes to sort items into:

  • Things you want to keep but which belong somewhere else in the house. Try to keep similar things together because it will help you to decide what to keep and how to organise them.
  • Things to be mended
  • Things to give to people or organisations who would appreciate them and make good use of them
  • Any recycling or rubbish you’ve overlooked.

As soon as possible, get the recycling and the donations out of the house. Go round the house to deliver those things that should be elsewhere.

Great work! This is a good start!

Now on to organising

Here are a few questions about different places and spaces in your home. Take your time to think about the best answer for you. You could try a few things out until it feels right.

Q. Are your items in the best place?

Do you keep things near where they are used? For example, is the bread knife near the bread and bread board? Are cups and mugs near the kettle?

Grouping things together with other similar items makes sense. You will probably have to rethink where you keep some things as you work through organising your home.

Q. Does some things have no permanent home at all?

That could be why they keep going walkabout. Keys, for example, seem very keen to disappear. Some people swear by always putting their keys in a bowl near the front door. That’s a  good place – if there is somewhere to keep the bowl. Where would make sense for something like this in your house?

Q. Does this area of your home do what you want it to?

If it does, that’s terrific. If it doesn’t, can you change things around or compromise a little? I know that sometimes it’s just not possible, though, because space is limited. It’s often difficult to fit in a drum kit, for example! Time to do what you can and be creative!

To label or not to label

Some people are mad keen on labelling as part of organising the home. Others? Well, they are not so keen. I think there’s a happy medium somewhere between.

Labelling certainly helps in bringing groups of things together, such as all the Christmas cards ready for next year, the spices, the medication or the batteries. And grouping items together helps you know what you’ve actually got. That means you don’t waste time trying to find things, or buying duplicates.

Secondly, labels distinguish between similar items such as keys.

Key labelled 'health'. Organise your home

Labelling also helps other people in the household or visitors to find what they are looking for. And maybe to put things back after they’ve used them!

Whether you use a label maker or make your own labels is your choice!

Learn from other people

Remember how you made a note about particular problem areas? You’re definitely not alone here!  Keep your eyes open for how other people have met similar problems because their answers might work for you.

Shoes in the hallway? Would an over-the-door organiser work? What about more shelves?

Plastic lids that keep falling out of the cupboard? Does each one have its own container and would a box keep them all under control?

Finally, could a professional organiser help you to organise your home?

If you’re overwhelmed with stuff, short of time and can’t see the way through, Uncluttered or another professional organiser would be pleased to help you. Getting professional help is a great step to take. That’s because we’ll help you to decide exactly what you’re aiming for, and we’ll work with you to get there. It makes it all do-able. (And we won’t be shocked or judge you.)

 

 

 

 

Professional organising and decluttering in North Wales

Uncluttered is a professional organising and decluttering service in North Wales. Our base is Parc Menai, just beside the Britannia Bridge on the Gwynedd side, so we’re ideally situated. It’s moments to Anglesey, just a short journey to Pen Llyn and Meirionnydd and not very far along the coast to Conwy, Denbighshire and beyond.

We are also happy to work further afield. Recent clients have been in Dorset and London. Get in touch for a chat and let’s see what we can do. If we can’t help, we’ll certainly know someone who can!

Decluttering in North Wales

I think I need help with sorting, clearing and organising stuff. Oh, and paperwork! Do you do this kind of decluttering in North Wales?

We certainly do, and we work further afield as well.

Getting professional help is a great step to take. That’s because we’ll help you to decide exactly what you’re aiming for, and we’ll work with you to get there. It makes it do-able. (And we won’t be shocked or judge you.)

What sort of jobs have you worked on?

All sorts!

Firstly, helping households run more smoothly. The old saying ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’ really does makes a lot of sense. If you don’t take determined action to keep clutter under control, it has such a nasty way of building up. Yes, we’ve been there!

Decluttering in North Wales
Everything in its place. Nuts, seeds and pulses organised carefully into large bags. Photo by Frans Van Heerden from Pexels

Then, moving house. Getting ready to move, managing to sell a house and then moving into a new place takes a lot of work. In short, we can help you make the most of your old property so it sells, and organise the new property so it’s easy to live in.

Bereavement touches all of us, and affects us in different ways. Often the best thing to do is to wait a little while, if you can. There’s such a lot to do, though, after a death in the family or the death of a friend. That’s why engaging an understanding professional organiser for some (or all) of what has to be done can help enormously.

And then there is, for example, paperwork, clothes, kitchens, garages and garden sheds, books and art collections … In other words, you name it and we can probably lend a hand with it!

What do you do with everything that’s decluttered?

It depends entirely on what the client wants, but most items are usually recycled at a recycling centre or a charity shop.

Do get in touch if you think we can help you

If you think we can help you with professional organising and decluttering in North Wales and further afield, do get in touch.

You’ll find our contact details under the ‘Contact’ tab.

3 small things that really help in the run up to Christmas

Relaxed snowboarder in orange goggles, blue trousers and fab multicoloured anorak
Very relaxed snowboarder (Photo: Dana Tentis)

There are three things that really help in the run up to Christmas and, to be fair, work pretty well during the rest of the year too. (You’ve already decluttered, of course, haven’t you?) No time for fine words at this stage of the game, so let’s cut to the chase.

1. The heavy duty sellotape dispenser

Sellotape (aka sticky tape) pretends to be helpful and friendly but in the twinkling of an eye can turn any peaceful present-wrapping session into a hand-to-hand wrestling bout.

I tried all the usual self-defence methods:

  • marking the end of the tape with a piece of paper or card
  • cutting short lengths and having them hanging ready on the edge of the table
  • sticking the tape firmly to the parcel and then unrolling firmly and fairly.

These worked all right, I suppose, although I was still being ambushed by a roll of sellotape rather too often and ending up with wonkily wrapped presents and fingers tied up in those knotted sticky tape pretzels.

After years of fighting back and losing, I’d had enough. I bought a heavy duty sellotape dispenser and suddenly all the exhaustion had gone. The dispenser doesn’t move about on the table and has the end of the roll just there, ready for you to use. It has its own fierce cutter. It does the job.

In the main, present and parcel wrapping goes smoothly for me now. There’s still the odd growl from the sellotape but generally it’s all pretty relaxed.

Relaxed tabby cat under the Christmas tree between two wrapped parcels. Help in the run up to Christmas
Relaxed tabby cat under the Christmas tree between two wrapped parcels. Everything organised! (Photo: Jenna Hamra)

2. The box that is big enough for rolls of wrapping paper

This is a more recent find and it’s still going through its paces. I’m convinced, though, and this is why:

  • I know where all the wrapping paper is – Christmas, birthday and those other pieces you can use for anything.
  • I know where it isn’t and that’s in a bag which keeps falling over or rolling about in the corner.
  • There’s room for bits of ribbon and rosettes.

Easy and straightforward, it’s the right box for the job.

3. Buying far more stamps than I need by early December

This is just fabulous and, if you’ve got the money, very easy to pull off. Christmas stamps are available in early November and can be used all year round if you really do buy far too many.

To be able to write the card, bung it in the envelope and slap on the stamp is great. With practice it can become an all-in-one movement. Granted it’s not cardio-vascular exercise, but looking at the pile of cards ready to go makes the heart beat that little bit faster. So organised! So efficient! Sling the whole pile into the post box, listen to the sshhhrrr noise as the envelopes settle into their place and move on.

Skiier in purple anorak with green ski poles speeds down the hill in low sunlight
Christmas cards make a sshhhrrr noise as the envelopes settle into their place in the post box (Photo: Terje Sollie)

Organise and tidy up the garden in autumn

(A version of this post first appeared on the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers’ website in September 2018.)

In the garden, we love to enjoy the beauty of the moment. The first snowdrop, a drift of daffodils, your very own vegetables, bright pots at the door or on the balcony, leaves changing colour in autumn. Gardeners, of course, are always looking down the road as well, planning for what comes next.

Tidy up now so your garden or balcony stays lovely all the way through till spring

It’s time now for a little autumn cleaning, tidying, reorganising and planting to make a difference in your garden straightaway and over the next few months. A neat and well-tended garden will lift the spirits as the weather turns nasty, play its part in sparkling winter festivities, and help to welcome spring. (Yes, spring is on schedule for 2019, however far away it feels at present!)

Autumn weather can be lovely, so get out and enjoy it when you can!

tidy up the garden

Clean up and tidy up

Get a bucket of hot soapy water ready – with a dash of bleach if there’s algae or moss involved. Autumn cleaning and tidying prevents pests and diseases getting hold and will make a difference when spring and summer roll round again.

Clean, dry and put away the garden furniture and the BBQ. And the garden toys too, unless they are an essential part of outdoors. Scrub the decking to get rid of slippery patches.

Clean empty pots, hanging baskets, canes and plant supports and store them out of reach of wind or frost. Empty the hoses and drip-feed systems and put them away so they don’t freeze and split in the cold winter temperatures.

If you’ve got them, give the greenhouse and cold frame a good going-over. Move the plants temporarily to a sheltered area, protected with fleece, and then brush out all that debris where pests and diseases love to hide. Let in as much daylight as possible by cleaning the glass, including between the panes – use something flexible like a plant label. Remember to put the plants back!

Clean out and disinfect bird boxes.

tidy up the garden

Tidy away

Head for the compost heap, garden waste bin or leaf mould container with:

  • all the faded and finished contents of summer pots and hanging baskets
  • old crops from the vegetable garden
  • fallen leaves from your lawn, path or road.

Trim the hedges and help overwintering wildlife

September is the month to give a last trim to your hawthorn, privet, lonicera, laurel, box, escallonia, holly and yew hedges. New tightly packed, healthy shoots will thicken the hedges up a little before winter and they’ll look neat and tidy for a long time. It’s probably a bit too late to trim beech and hornbeam and don’t trim conifer hedges (apart from yew) now as it encourages bald patches.

Make a place for wildlife to overwinter by creating a ‘dead hedge’ with woody hedge trimmings, tucked away behind the shed or the compost.

Declutter and reorganise the garden shed

The garden shed can become overwhelmed with things, stuffed in hastily as life rolls on through the summer. Decluttering and reorganising it will make sure you’ve got an ordered working environment for busy times ahead.

Plastic flower pots just love to fall over and roll out of reach. Ask yourself how many of these troublesome pots you actually need, and get rid of the rest. Many garden centres will recycle them. In my small shed, I’m currently trialling storing the ones I do need in horizontal stacks within box frames.

tidy up the garden

Prepare for autumn rains and gales

We all know this weather is coming so be prepared! A few quick checks and a bit of work now is certainly a lot easier than clearing up later.

Check gutters, downpipes and their hoppers for any obstructions like clumps of grass, young buddleia, leaves or moss. Make sure they haven’t come loose and that their joints are sound.

Scrub out the water butt, rinse and then let it refill. A lightproof cover will suppress any green algae. Clear debris out of your pond too, and put a net over it to stop leaves getting in.

You don’t want your plants to get waterlogged or frozen so remove and store any pot saucers, and put the pots up on ‘feet’ or stones.

Autumn wind can ‘burn’ plants, rock them about badly and even make them keel over. To prevent this, cut back shrub roses and other tall summer-flowering shrubs and herbaceous plants. Make sure young trees and shrubs are tied carefully and firmly to stakes that are also firm in the ground.

Plant and move

The soil is still warm and moist in early autumn and plants love this. It’s a great time to divide large clumps of perennials to make more plants and this is the best time to put in bare-root plants, if you’ve been thinking about fruit trees and bushes.

My pots of pelargoniums are still flowering madly but I’ll soon be planting up some autumn/winter pots. I love Sarcococca confusa, the Christmas box, with its dark-green leaves and tiny, highly scented cream flowers. I’ll also use heather and skimmia. And bright cyclamen.

Now is also the time to plant bright and cheerful spring-flowering bulbs, such as crocus and daffodils. Put them in the lawn or in pots.

Wait until late November to plant tulips. I’m a convert to this wonderful bulb and I’m delighted with the show that a few pots of them can make in the spring.

Pink tulip. tidy up the garden

Take time to wonder and admire

There’s plenty to do but do take the time to admire your garden and your hard work. Work steadily, as and when you can, and the garden will continue to bring you delight as the seasons turn.