Strategies for an Organised, Stress-Free Renovation

Do you struggle to keep on top of the tasks that life and renovation throw at you?  Virginia Wells, a professional organiser, joins the She Renovates podcast to discuss ways she can help renovators stay on top of their renovation projects. Wells runs her own business called Well Sorted and is an accredited member of the Institute of Professional organisers and the Institute for Challenging Disorganisation.

Virginia and Bernadette discuss the importance of a plan, setting clear priorities, and being mindful of the time and energy required to complete the project. They cover keeping the worksite tidy, and planning for storage in a renovated home. They discuss creating functional and practical storage for linen cupboards, kitchens, garages and studies.

Virginia explains David Allen’s GTD System (Getting Things Done) to help keep track of all the various tasks and communications involved in the renovation process, and how to get the buy-in from our loved ones, including husbands, in the organisation and decluttering process! Click play to hear how you can improve the quality of your project through better organisation.

In the She Renovates podcast we are joined by Virginia Wells, a professional organiser based in Canberra. Virginia has been in the business of helping people organise their homes, offices, and lives since 2013. She is an accredited member of the Institute of Professional organisers and the Institute for Challenging Disorganisation. In this episode, Virginia and Bernadette discuss the ways in which organisation can help renovators can improve the quality of projects through better organisation.

Virginia studied for a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and has been working as a professional organiser since 2013. She runs her own business called Well Sorted and has created card decks to make decluttering easier for those who do not have access to a professional organiser. She is an accredited member of the Institute of Professional organisers and the Institute for Challenging Disorganisation.

The Institute For Challenging Disorganisation

The Institute for Challenging Disorganisation (yes really!) is an American-based company that provides training and information to professional organisers and productivity coaches. It is mainly focused on helping professionals who work with clients who suffer from chronic disorganisation that has lasted for years or decades and is affecting people’s daily lives.

How To Work  With Hoarding Disorder

Virginia also works with a small subsection of clients who suffer from hoarding disorder. Hoarding disorder is a disorder listed in the DSM-5 manual and is characterized by denial that there is a problem. Often, people with hoarding disorder are not reaching out for help and it is more common

I must admit I have bought hoarder’s houses in the past and they have been interesting but I think that as a rule, we underestimate the impact being disorganised has on our lives. – Bernadette Janson

Better Organisation To Improve The Quality Of Renovation Projects

When managing renovation projects, it is important to have a good way to manage all the tasks and communications involved. Additionally, Virginia suggests having a clear and realistic plan in place, setting clear priorities, and being mindful of the time and energy required to complete the project.

Virginia suggests using David Allen’s GTD System (Getting Things Done). This can help keep track of all the various tasks and communications involved in the renovation process and involves categorising tasks.

  1. Inbox Tasks or ‘Do it now’ tasks – The first category in the GTD approach is your inbox or tasks that you would like to do right now. These are tasks that you would like to have achieved within the next week or two. This category is for tasks that are urgent and need to be done soon.
  2. Beyond Two Weeks – The next category is tasks that are beyond the two-week period. These tasks are not as urgent as the inbox tasks but still need to be done within a specific timeframe. For example, in a renovation project, this category could include tasks that need to be done in the next month or so.
  3. Someday – The someday category is for tasks that if you did them today or in a year’s time, wouldn’t be that big of a deal. For example, in a renovation project, you might have tasks in this category that are way down in the project list and won’t be needed until further down the line.
  4. Waiting For – The waiting for category is for tasks where you’re waiting for someone else to get back to you. For example, in a renovation project, you might be waiting for a plumber to call you back to schedule an appointment. This category is helpful for keeping track of tasks that you’ve called but haven’t received a response from yet.

Strategies For Keeping The Worksite Tidy

Bernadette Janson always includes in her scopes that the trades should clean up, but they usually don’t do it to her satisfaction. Virginia suggests reviewing the space daily and doing a regular reset to make sure it’s ready for the next trades. Doing it daily is key and if the contractors see that the person in charge is committed to staying tidy, they will tend to stay tidier as well. They also agree that it is important to provide bins for the trades to use.

I’ve found that if the contractors see you being committed to staying tidy, they will tend to stay tidier as well. So it’s setting the example and to make sure that there are bins on site that they can use – Bernadette Janson

Planning For Storage In A Renovated Home

When planning a home renovation, it is essential to consider how you will use the space. One of the main goals should be to create storage spaces that are both functional and practical. This means thinking about the items you will be storing, and where they will be stored. For example, things like dog food, a vacuum cleaner, and your ironing board all need to have a designated space. The goal is to create spaces that are easy to access, and make sense for the items you will be storing.

Storage Issues To Avoid When Renovating

Another key consideration when planning a home renovation is the pantry and linen cupboard.  

It’s a real issue when I walk into a house and there is no pantry. You should also consider building adjustable shelves into cupboards to allow for flexibility – Virginia

These spaces are often overlooked, but they are essential for keeping your home organised. A pantry is a great way to store food, while a linen cupboard is essential for storing bedding and towels. When creating these spaces, it is important to think about how they will be used and to make sure they are large enough to accommodate all of your items. Bernadette suggests making your linen cupboard a depth of 40 cm, quite shallow, to ensure nothing is difficult to access at the back.

The Pros and Cons of a Butler’s Pantry

A Butler’s pantry can really create a wow factor in a project – Bernadette Janson

A butler’s pantry is a popular feature in many homes. These spaces are often used to store kitchen appliances, pots and pans, and other items.

However, they can also be a source of clutter if not used correctly. If you do include a Butler’s pantry, consider not putting doors on, to allow better access.

When planning a butler’s pantry, it is important to consider the size of the family, and how the space will be used. Smaller families who won’t use the space for food storage probably won’t benefit from a butler’s pantry.  


Pantry and Linen Press organising For a Better Reno Outcome

One of the common issues that arise in kitchens is the deep pantry shelving that becomes unusable. When renovating for someone else, it’s important to consider the normal amount of items that will be stored in the pantry and how deep the shelves need to be in order to make the space functional and easy to use. Without proper organisation, pantries can quickly become cluttered and disorganised.

Linen presses can also present similar challenges. Bernadette suggests that linen presses should be about 400mm deep in order to fit a set of sheets or towels without anything being in front or behind it. This ensures that the space is easy to use and keeps linens organised and accessible.

Organising The Garage, Study… And Husbands!

Virginia suggests the best way to organise areas our partners may inhabit is to focus on your own stuff and lead by example. However, when taking on their spaces, it’s important to have conversations with husbands to understand their vision for the space and how they want to use it, in order to get their buy-in and participation in the organising process. In many cases, the wife will take on most of the decluttering and organising, but by asking questions and project managing the process, it’s possible to get everyone on board.

Drawers Or Cupboards In Your Reno?

When it comes to organising the kitchen, the choice between drawers and cupboards can be tricky. Virginia notes it depends on the items being stored and the layout of the kitchen. Drawers can be especially useful in corner cupboards, as they provide better access to everything and allow for stacking items at different levels. However, she cautions drawers can be awkward for pantry items, as they are harder to label and make it difficult to see what’s inside. On the other hand, shelves with labelled baskets make it easy to group and access pantry items.

Favourite Storage Hacks For Savvy Renovators

A great storage hack to try is to trace out the drawer space on baking paper, take it to the store, and fit the storage containers onto the cutout. This way, you’ll know that the configuration will fit and you can plan accordingly. It may take some patience to do this, but it’s a commitment that can pay off in the long run. Virginia also recommends measuring the space before making any purchases to ensure that everything will fit and function properly.

Put Some Fun Into Decluttering With Virginia’s Card Decks

I had a lot of clients who were saying, I really don’t know where to get started. I’m not sure what to do – Virginia Wells

So Virginia made a deck of cards to help. The aim is to make it fun. You shuffle the deck and choose something at random. Or you might want to declutter the kitchen. You can pull out all the cards that are related to the kitchen and then, work through the ideas.

 I would love to hear how you apply the GTD System to improve your organisation skills. Leave me a comment on how it went, drop any questions you want me to answer, or come over and join the She Renovates Facebook Group. It is full of (mostly) women working hard to make their dreams a reality, making a great income through renovating for profit.


She Renovates Free Facebook Group

If you want to meet up with a group of savvy renovators. I would say come over and join She Renovates Facebook Group. It’s a completely FREE Facebook group and it is growing at the rate of knots. We hit over a thousand members just recently, and now it seems to have picked up momentum. They are all savvy renovating women and men working their little hearts out to live a better life through renovating.

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Bernadette Janson

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