Come the middle of February, The Gracious Posse feels compelled to write about getting organized. Must be because the year is well underway yet our lives are not as under control as we had hoped on New Year’s Day. The bleak days of February when the weather keeps us stuck inside have proved to be the ideal time to try to reclaim control inside the walls of our homes.
Fortunately Ellen and I are acquainted with several talented and inspiring women who are available to help when you either can’t summon the magic to do the work yourself à la Maria Kondo or just plain don’t have the time. Professionals Kim Menges, Tanya Owen of Wear It Well and Jane Campbell of Gotcha Covered Errands have shared their approaches to making sense of the tangible items that fill our homes and closets. Lisa Burlee graciously dispensed her wisdom when it comes to systematically organizing our digital lives to make photo searches easier.
That really is the beauty of being organized: cultivating ease and efficiency that diminishes stress and saves time over the long haul. And aren’t we always looking for more time? For some people, being organized is as natural as breathing. One of those people is Ann Shield of the newly formed Cultivated Convenience.
Ann was raised in a household where clutter was banished and everything had its place. It was years before she realized that not everyone lived that way, and her organizational skills served her well as a marketing manager and events planner in both the professional and non-profit worlds. Retiring to become a mom did not slow her down as she ramped up her volunteer undertakings locally and managed the downsizing of her in-laws’ home and collections accumulated over their 50+ year marriage.
After co-chairing St. Catherine’s annual Daisy Days and then Historic Garden Week’s Richmond Tours in 2016, Ann took some time to evaluate her strengths and figure out how to rejoin the workforce on her terms. The result: Cultivated Convenience, Home Organizing by Ann Shield. Ann promptly became a Residential Organizing Specialist accredited by the National Association of Professional Organizers, and at the beginning of this year unveiled her lovely website and officially opened her virtual shop for business.
Focused on residential organization and planning, Ann can help a client with any situation from downsizing to holiday prep and storage to stork service, as well as any other services that help turn her home into a restful sanctuary. Ann’s own home is a great place for inspiration and to feature what she can do for clients, whether organizing a closet and/or wardrobe or creating kitchen systems that help get dinner on the table faster. This lady has a label gun, and she knows how to use it to efficient effect.
Ann lives in a beautiful home in Richmond’s near West End that was built in the early 1900s. It has stately formal rooms, but, as with many of its contemporaries, the utilitarian spaces like the kitchen and bathrooms are modestly-sized. Ann’s organizational skills allow her and her family to live large in these small spaces.
Take her kitchen, for example. When we entered it, she said matter-of-factly that it is always this clean and clutter-free. Not a single appliance sits out on her counter, not even the coffeepot that gets daily use. Every item her family uses has a specific home within her home.
Ann likes to decant packaged goods into containers for not only a cleaner look in the cupboard but also a quick way to determine what needs replenishing at the grocery store. She raves about the new Sterlite containers with vented lids for easy, stackable storage.
Ann maximizes the storage space in her home, especially the drawers of all the lovely chests featured throughout. Each is designated for a specific purpose and helps keep clutter at bay.
Ann repurposed this built-in stereo cabinet (remember those?) to hold office supplies and her new marketing materials. The vertical slats that once held record albums now house directories and notebooks for her various volunteer obligations. Ellen so adores this idea that she is now on the hunt for an old stereo cabinet.
Thanks to labeled storage bins, everything stays in its place in the master bathroom closet. No wasted time telling the spouse where to find new toothpaste or scrambling for bandaids!
Daughter Lily’s linen closet and bathroom required no extra staging for our visit. Did you notice that Ann covered the shelves in both bathroom closets in the same adhesive paper?
Ann adores this genius device for corraling Lily’s headband collection.
As you can see from Ann’s stylish home, she can cleverly cull possessions to create a clutter-free and comfortable environment.
Ann’s home is filled with paintings created by her beloved mother-in-law. Her favorite one (above) hangs in a prominent place above the family room and is the focal point of the breakfast room. Many people suggested that she surround it with a gallery of smaller paintings, but Ann resisted, believing it would make the space feel too busy. Then on Etsy she found Al Herberer of Coastal Ceramics who produced floral ceramics in white. She collaborated with him to paint and fire his florals in complementary colors so that she could flank the painting with them. This clever yet calming solution now brings her daily joy.
While Ann’s home is polished, she makes sure that all, including Peekapoo Lucy, feel relaxed, and that is one of her goals for the clients of Cultivated Convenience:
an organizing and redesign service committed to restoring order to your home, and transforming your space into a polished and relaxing sanctuary. We specialize in refining your possessions and designing customized, sustainable systems for continued organizational success.
In her own home, Ann retained the vintage 1980’s carpet that was still in fine shape and likewise works with the items her clients already have before suggesting that they buy anything new.
Ann’s favorite room, the vibrant sunroom, exemplifies her approach to clutter-free organization and design.
This hard-working space has nary a paper in sight.
The result is a polished and relaxing retreat that reflects her family.
In fact her daughter Lily discovered the fabulous print for the pillows and curtains. Not surprisingly, the fourth grader already has her eyes set on a career in design.
By the end of our visit with Ann, Ellen and I couldn’t wait to get home to declutter, repurpose and restyle our possessions. Over the weekend my own closet, as well as the mudroom’s, got a thorough overhaul. The sense of calm is palpable thanks to reestablishing control in these areas where I created convenient locations for specific categories of items to reside. Being organized is a gift that everyone deserves. Whether you do it yourself or get help from someone like Ann, the time is always right to cultivate convenience in your life.
February 14, 2017
p.s. Happy Valentine’s Day to all of our posse!
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