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This past week I had the pleasure of working with Lori Cela from Time 4 Organizing.
From the very beginning of the project, Lori was happy to see that we shared the same love of organizing and welcomed every question we had. We went into the day not knowing the first thing about a professional organizer’s process and came out ready to tackle our own cluttered spaces.
We know what you’re thinking, “My kitchen could never look like that” or “I wish I could hire a professional organizer” or maybe you didn’t even know that professional organizers were a real thing (guilty). The simple reality is you CAN achieve your ideal kitchen, bathroom, closet, or pantry. All it takes is a little guidance and a lot of patience. Also, it’s important to remember that your space is worth organizing!
So, what if your closet or pantry isn’t a walk-in? Neither were the spaces that Lori worked on! In fact, smaller spaces have more of a need to be organized since there is less room. By following our tips and staying patient, you can transform any area in your life that is causing you stress.
As our project began
I was in awe watching Lori work her magic on the kitchen and kid’s bedrooms. What I thought was *good enough* just wasn’t for Lori, because she truly has a passion for this. For any of you wondering, there were several books on a shelf, and I thought they looked fine, but Lori said something was off. Then she moved some books around and put the shelf on a cute angle and ta-da - IT WAS PERFECT. The one big thing I learned was that there is a big difference between real life and Instagram life. Also, a big difference between looking good and being functional.
Yes, we can buy all the boxes and bins to organize and store our belongings, but if it doesn’t make sense to us or our family, then nobody will stick to it and you will be right back to where you were. I know this because the first day I was working with Lori, I went home and tried to update my ONE cabinet. Yes, one (I didn’t want to overwhelm myself). I organized everything and put it back nice and neat, but something was off. So, I ended up taking out a bunch of things out so that my Insta picture looked better. Then I put things back after I was done.
Why do we do that? Why do we have to have our life perfect for other people? We want a sense of “leaning in” and “I have all of my life together” but news flash, Instagram isn’t more important than your real life. Focus on finding solutions that work for you and your family instead of worrying about hitting triple-digit likes on your pantry pic.
But enough about me, let’s dive into the process that Lori uses to transform her clients’ houses, spaces, and lives.
Think about your space
The age-old question. What came first, the chicken or the egg? Do you measure everything and then buy the stuff, or do you buy a bunch of different sizes and then return? Let’s break down each option.
Take everything out
This has anxiety/panic attack written all over it. But trust me. This part feels so good.
Take everything out. You will find things that are expired, stale, or just so completely random you wonder how they got in there. We ended up throwing a lot of things away that the family didn’t use. If you have an extra table in the basement, bring it up for extra layout space (if not, the ground works just fine). Make sure you can see everything that you have. This is not to overwhelm you, although it probably will – you just need to see it all before you start putting it back together.
Starting thinking of zones for your cabinets, pantry, fridge, closet, etc. Let’s break this down a bit.
Pantry – typical zones are baking, kids, snacks, pastas, dry goods, canned goods (we even broke the canned goods down to sweet/savory/soup/tuna – yes, tuna, this family LOVED tuna).
Fridge – coffee station, condiments, leftovers, eat first, fruits, produce, cheese (this family had a lot of cheese – these are my people).
Kid’s bedroom – Toys (we even broke down the kid’s toys to dolls, princesses, critters), everyday clothes, Sunday clothes, shoes, blankets, big toys, jewelry, hair accessories, backpacks.
mDESIGN TIP: This is the time to make a donate pile. We did this in the kid’s room and made them feel empowered to give back.
Clear out the clutter
I was never one to think that I would be that person, but it turns out I am. I’m someone who gets rid of the box or container that the food came in. For some odd reason it makes me feel like a celebrity. It also brings calm to your chaos.
At first, I was skeptical about this practice, but I went home and did it both ways and I honestly loved the look without all the clunky boxes and packages.
mDESIGN TIP: Wipe down the cabinets, fridge, closet once everything is out. That 6-month-old spilled apple sauce really isn’t helping anything.
It is OK to have a miscellaneous pile. Some professional organizers are going to tell you that everything should have a place, but it is not always true – remember Instagram vs. real life people! Other cute ideas are “this & that” “odds & ends” or just general categories for “snacks,” “kids,” “breakfast.” This is your life and you need to organize how you are going to use it. In my life, I added a smoothie bin and used a basket to organize stuff I put in smoothies – chia seeds, protein powder – it’s what works for me.
Vertical is an unused space – especially in closets. You would be amazed how much stuff can be stored using that unoccupied airspace. A couple of ways to utilize this pure storage potential is to use stackable bins for a layered look or some 2-Tiered Lazy Susans. They maximize space while still being able to reach – hello my vertically challenged friends!
Putting everything back
This was my “eureka” moment. As Lori was putting things back into their spaces, she took her time and used different bins. She would put items in one bin and then if it didn’t work then she would put them in another bin/basket (patience is key!!!).
In my mind, if I put something in a storage box then that’s the box it stays in. Lori didn’t get frustrated and if three bins didn’t fit in a row, she just tried another bin.
This is where a lot of interaction with the homeowner came in. You need to understand how you use your space and what needs to be on each shelf. If you have a family, make sure you make a kid’s shelf that is lower to help them pick out their own snacks. If you bake a lot, don’t put those baking staples too high. Also, cans work best low to mid-level. Cans are usually one of the heaviest things in your pantry and get more and more dangerous the higher up they are.
Labels are life. Lori had labels for everything, they help keep the order. If everything has a home, it will be easier to keep the calm (even if that home is in the “odds & ends” bin). We used a mix of pre-packaged labels and used a label maker to get them right. Professionals love labels and I can see why; they are so useful while still being cute.
Walking away from the house, it was amazing to see from start to finish a professional organizer’s process. While her procedure might not be the same as others, her results speak for themselves. We were saying the same things you might be thinking, “Is it really worth it to hire a professional organizer?”
Truthfully, if you do not know where to begin and you feel overwhelmed in every sense of the word, then yes. Hiring a professional organizer will bring you peace of mind while also inspiring your own organizing process.
If you’re in or around the Columbus, Ohio area and have a cluttered space that you can’t tackle on your own, check out Lori at https://www.time4organizing.com/
At the end of the day, it’s all about taking back your space and achieving peace of mind. By organizing your most cluttered spaces, whether by your own means or through a hired professional, life becomes a little bit simpler and lot more styled. Organizing isn’t a superpower, but it sure does feel like one.
Laura Sirk is a Marketing Manager at mDesign
and loves all things organization and cats. I’m one cat away from being a cat lady. MEOW!
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Sep 30, 2019
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