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January 06, 2010

New Year's Resolution: Get Organized!

Design Expert: Clay Ide, Creative Director at Pottery Barn

Ten_logo_ copy Clay Ide

Have you ever wondered how Pottery Barn always creates that perfect sense of casual style that so many of us look to emulate in our homes?  Between the beautiful pages of the coveted catalogs lies a secret-- Clay Ide.

Clay is the creative force behind the Pottery Barn Catalog and website and has been with Pottery Barn for the past 23 years.  He has been in charge of creative direction for the Pottery Barn catalog since 1990 and as the company grew, his partnership with them also expanded.  According to Clay, "it's been quite a ride!"  Though he and I had never crossed direct paths, our colleagues and friends have long said to me "You HAVE to work together!"  And ten is the perfect reason to collaborate.  With his plate always overflowing with amazing personal and professional opportunities, Clay believes organization is a major part of good design and a good life.  Here, he shares his perspective on how to Get Organized in the New Year. 

"Every year just after the holidays, my thoughts turn to the New Year ahead.  I tend to think about resolutions that relate to organizing my home and work environment with style in mind because I see it as crucial to my success in the coming year."


Like many of us, Clay begins by looking around his home and considering where to start.  "The walls in my home have a very muted and neutral color palette, but I like to add a touch of serious color for a spectacular effect.  I've chosen one dramatic and large wall along my staircase that, when painted, adds color to the entire house.  This wall also becomes my gallery where I organize and display my art collection.  Last year, I chose a deep red, Caliente, AF-290.  It was brilliant and always made me feel energized!  This year, I'm into a bright and soft yellow, Rattan, AF-375.  Both are from Benjamin Moore's Aura line so I know the color will cover in two coats and I can spend more time deciding how to rearrange my art than waiting for the painting to be done."


Dramatic color wall with art Rattan wall color 2010 pottery barn

Just changing one accent wall can make for a fresh start in the New Year.


Clay is a proponent of repainting at least one major element in your space that's used often.  Another option he suggests is revisiting the front door.  "The front door is the first thing, and the last, that you or visitors see when they visit your house.  It's really easy and affordable to replace the old doormat with a new one.  I like Williams-Sonoma's Coir Doormat with Rubber Frame-- and I add personalization, but not a name, just a word that inspires me and describes my goal for the year."  Here's Clay's doormat this year: 

Doormat Williams Sonoma 

Adding accessories like a meaningful doormat or planters can be complimented by a new front door color, too.  According to Clay, "These areas need touch up every year anyway, so why not make a statement with a pronounced color that draws in your guests' attention for a dramatic entrance into your home?  Considering a color and accessories that set the tone for your year can do wonders for organizing your thoughts, too."


Pottery barn pillow cases

Organizing your look can be extended to pillows.  Clay finds it to be easy and affordable to buy a few new decorative pillowcases.  "I love the solid color Pottery Barn Jute Braid Pillow Cases for their simplicity and quality.  By mixing them with other styles of pillows,  I create an eclectic update that keeps my living room looking pulled together and current."  Part of organization is putting things in the right spot, so Clay makes it a point to store the old, dry cleaned pillow cases in a storage box for future use.  As he says, "You never know when they may work perfectly with a trending style."


We all have our organizational secrets and Clay's include boxes.  "I've got a passion for old boxes.  Every year I like to give the house a simple Christmas present.  This year, it's boxes.  They are decorative AND store things out of sight.  This year, I was drawn to a Moroccan box from Maison K in Montecito.  The beautiful box holds all of my spare candles, tapers, matches, and candleholders and helps me minimize clutter."


Often, getting organized means letting things go.  Clay is an avid reader and has a collection of old books for display.  But he says, "I'm not a keeper of the new books I read.  I like to go through them at the end of the year and fill up several paper grocery bags with what I can live without.  Some, I list on Bookmooch.  It's a great find where you can either trade or donate them to charity.  You simply mail them away and receive new books that interest you while connecting with other book lovers!  I also donate the other books I have to the 'free bin' at my favorite local bookstore."


While Clay gives away his books, his photography is a different story.  "Getting organized also means taking care of the things you truly love.  I have drawers full of old photographs.  It's what I hold dear to me after having lost originals years ago in a small flood.  Since then, I am adamant about taking a selection of my real negatives (yes, negatives!) and sending them to a scanning service called Scan Cafe.  They carefully scan my negatives and send me a cd which I try to organize and label on Picasa.  I try to share the online archive with my family & friends who are always surprised to see these photos go digital after so many years!"


Watch boxes

No matter the tricks and tips, some good old fashioned reduction and reorganization will carry you through the year.  Clay sifts through his collection of watches and decides which ones to wear, salvage, or part with.

With everything in order at home, Clay moves on to his office.  "It may seem simple, but I always feel refreshed when get my office reworked and restyled.  I spend so many hours there, so it's worth the effort!"  In Clay's work, ideas are invaluable, so he collects and stores sketches, photos, and scribbles well so he can bring them out to inspire and surprise his team with great finds.  He also takes the time to sort through all those papers we all collect through the year like receipts that overflow out of drawers.  Clay eventually will store everything in plain shoeboxes that are covered, as he says, "Hollywood Style."  That's where you wrap the lower box first, with flaps overlapping the rim and taped inside, and the same with the lid.  That way the whole box is covered in your favorite color or pattern, but it opens easily."


Another neglected space that Clay suggests we add some order to is our car.  "By the end of the year, my car is simply messy!  I take time to replace my roadside kit, cleaning supplies, and do an assessment of the storage compartments.  One of our stylists at Pottery Barn taught me to use beautiful, but practical, lidded wicker baskets for everything in my car.  The basket keeps everything contained, only takes a little space, and looks fabulous, too!"


Clay's off to a positive start for the new year and decade and he's got me thinking, too.  I've started opening up neglected drawers and boxes and considering which wall(s) to repaint this year.  How will you stay organized this year?


Jan 6th Answer copy 
Congratulations to Katherine Bontempo for the first correct answer!

From the launch of Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen catalogs to all websites for Pottery Barn, Clay Ide has overseen many chapters in Pottery Barn's history.  In between, Clay was also the executive editor for the highly reputed Pottery Barn Home book series.  Over his 23 years with the company, Clay has directed that style and life that is Pottery Barn.

Bonus: Visit HomeWorkshop.com to download your copy of Clay Ide's Ten Tips on Getting Organized in the New Year. 


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It is also important that we will not wait for new year before we start fixing our schedules. We can start organizing anytime as long as we are determined to do it.

Organizing and customizing is really good for whatever you are organizing for example your home. Its good to see the beauty and tranquility that you made yourself.

Your ideas are truly wonderful. Organizing your things isn't as easy as it seems. I remember organizing stuffs in our house and some of those stuffs are either needed to be replaced or to be disposed.

House clutters has always been a problem among households all over the world. These tips surely helped a lot and maybe somehow. And besides organization should always be done in anyway and anywhere even if its not with our houses. Its best to be functional and organized.

That is something which is hard to do. But I guess, it won't be that hard if you believe and hold on into your words.

If you are organize with your things,Everything will be in a correct order or placement.Being organize is a good attitude that you keep your disposition in a right manner.

Proper organization of things make you comfortable and manageable.If your things are sorted according to what it belongs and have proper storage,you can easily get them if you need with a nice manner.

Let's make it as a practice not just a resolution but a habit,Are you familiar with 5'S.Sort,Sweep,Systematize,Sanitize and self discipline.These things shall keep in mind to have an organize and manageable living.

Jimmy Choo's beginnings can be traced back to his workshop in London Borough of Hackney, North London, which he opened in 1986 by renting an old hospital building.

It is very important to become organize so that all are in control,if you maintain these kind of practice you have a smooth path,once you are organize everything will follow.It is better to see things in an order manner to have continuity in all the things that surround you.

You have written an excellent blog that has convinced me to read this! Excellent Job!

Loved all your ideas! I totally think starting at home first and simplifying is the best start when one is overwhelmed on where to start or what to start on in the new year.

Thanks so much! I am excited to be able to put these great tips and ideas into practice with my gift card!

Thank YOU Kate for being so thoughtful and reading along. I can't WAIT for your post soon. I have no doubt it will leave our readers & me inspired to be more colorful in 2010!

Hi Kathy! I do love that everyone wanted to play along- fantastic! Booktrading- who knew?! I have used GoodReads.com where my friends and I have our virtual bookshelves and reviews to share with one another, but BookMooch is a whole new level.

Sharon, thanks for your comment- I'm totally inspired by Clay, too. I'm planning to start small and make my way through it all! First on the agenda--I've got so many lone earrings that need partners!

Hey Sonu,

Loved the post (and the whirlwind of trivia answer activity). In addition to his fab decorating and organizational tips, I appreciated Clay's links to the book trading and photo scanning sites.

Thanks Sonu and Clay!

Wow! I am so inspired to get organized! Again, great interview Sonu. Thanks

A love of color and organization makes Clay a man after my own heart.

Thanks for another great interview, Sonu.

Thanks to everyone for the answers! Katherine Bontempo is our winner! There are 29 paint colors in the January 2010 fan deck from Benjamin Moore and Pottery Barn and the color named after a Mexican turnip is Jicama. Congratulations, Katherine!

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