Prime Real Estate

Let me just start by saying I could not have picked a client that I had more in common with. Mel had the same taste I do in movies, books, art, and is a phenomenal artist. She was doing the job I dreamed of doing when I got my unused degree in graphic design. Sorting through her things was like going through your mothers closet as a child. Everything was a bit magical and I was impressed by her collections.

But there was no place for anything. There are many different kinds of organization. What works for one person can be a fiasco for another. If your home organization system does not work with the flow of your space or how your brain works and organizes, it is not sustainable. Mel had piles of beautiful things, but her cupboards were empty. She had no clue where to put things, so she didn’t. She was unable to use her kitchen table or draw because there was no space clear. It made her feel very claustrophobic and she had no idea where to start in the organization process.

I began working in Mel’s house in the living room. Mel was working from home due to covid, and we felt she would get immediate relief from having a clear workspace that was not set up on her couch (she also ate, watched tv, and rested there). Being able to walk away from work at the end of the day would be a great relief to Mel. The progress was quite visible in the first session, and that would make her see the value of the process immediately, something I really enjoy. It was a bit of a surprise how little Mel actually had to get rid of. This job was actually an organization project, rather than a downsizing project. You see, Mel never learned as a child how to use the space in her home to create a flow. She came from a very cluttered home, and that carried over into her adult life. As we discussed what was ‘prime real estate’ in the living room, Mel had a lot of “ah ha” moments.

Prime real estate in your home is the central working areas. This means putting things directly within reach of the task being performed. Not understanding this process is what kept Mel from putting things away in the cupboards. She had gone through her home several times and found that within a month, it became undone. This was because the placement was wrong for her. Things used everyday were too far away from where she used them, or things that were seldom used were in the prime spots. I could see when sorting through Mel’s belongings that there was a flow based on where things were, in piles and that is where we created space for them. This created a sustainable organization system for her and actually improved her affection for her living space and her belongings. As we uncovered the table, the excitement was palpable. After I left that day, Mel texted me and said “I ate at my table for the first time in years! I even got out my good cloth napkins!”

This is why I love this work. The proof is in its sustainability. Pay attention to what gets undone the fastest in your home and where those items end up shifting to. It is a clue to how to adjust the prime real estate in your home and make it fit your lifestyle. Every pile tells a story. Listen.

If you have downsizing/organizing needs in the Eugene, Oregon area, CONTACT me.

Change is Hard

Standing in front of a beautifully designed built-in cabinet with the dishes arranged ‘just so’ I heard my client say, “No. This feels off.”

Wait. What? Didn’t we talk about what you used the most and put them at eye level? Aren’t the stoneware and the blues and the vintage pieces grouped and all in the exact place that makes sense? I felt disheartened and a bit deflated. This really felt right. It felt decluttered and spacious. In fact, my brain felt at peace when I peered into the cabinet… but why didn’t she like it?

As a home organizer, I make a lot of change happen in a very short period of time. I come into a home, and in 3-5 hours I will ask a client to get rid of belongings, put those belongings in a different place, and completely change what is familiar. It’s a lot. It makes the brain tired. It can make clients feel like they have to explain why they want to keep objects and what they mean to them. Easy, right? No. It’s hard.

I began to wonder as I was obsessing for a whole weekend over that cabinet and how I could have done it differently. I wondered if my design sense was vastly different from my clients, or if it was just an off day. I pondered if we would work together again, or if that cabinet was deal breaker.

I also began thinking about how I never rearrange my home and who was I to be asking someone else to do that?

I tumbled down the rabbit hole of change. I thought of all of the jobs, relationships, and homes I stayed in too long. I pondered that one pair of pants from high school I will not let go of because just maybe I will fit them again. I don’t do change well either.

With all of this self analyzation also came the realization that everyone has a different journey and EVERYONE has things they hold on to. It might be a person or a home, or maybe they won’t switch from a CD player to Spotify, but we all have our comfort zones. Not all are tangible or can be held in your hands, but we all have them. I realized I tried to push a client through that process.

Being in a home and going through someone’s belongings is a sacred process. Each and every client deserves their process to be handled with understanding and no pride of being in charge or correct, because let’s face it, CHANGE IS HARD. My job, running a home organization service, is to help people reclaim and love their space. What a humbling realization, to put your money where your mouth is. What a joy to be in a business where growth happens each and every session.

No two homes are the same and each and every client will process change differently.

If you have organizing/downsizing needs in the Eugene, Oregon area, please CONTACT me.

Streamlining Moving

After working with two different clients in one week who moved into their new homes without downsizing, I think we need to talk.

My first client had been in her home for ten years. A single parent who moved by herself. She moved from a very large, old house with built-ins and to a modern house in the country. The new home is much smaller and has a very different feel. She darn near killed herself moving, and then filled her rubbish bin full of vintage furniture because there was no space and nothing looked right in the new home. She worked from dawn until dusk for 2 weeks and even broke her toe in the moving van! At the end of this, she called me. As we sift through box after box (that are packed in a very haphazard way) I cannot stress how much time and effort could have been saved. This is, unfortunately, not an uncommon scenario.

My second downsizing client also moved into a smaller home. The mom worked with movers, but honestly, she just packed everything and moved it. I walked into a playroom that had had boxes piled in every corner for a year. There was absolutely no room to move around and play. The housekeeper would not even open that door. The playroom was actually a storage room for unused toys and brought no one joy. It was the same in every single closet. As we organized this area, it was amazing how many toys were outgrown, unused, and honestly overwhelming because of the amount there was.

Organization without downsizing is just playing tetris with your time and your sacred space. These situations make the new area unusable instead of joyful and ruin the chances of a fresh start. Much of this could have been avoided by downsizing before packing.

Downsize before moving. Do I need to say it again? DOWNSIZE BEFORE MOVING! I honestly do not know how to stress this more. Even if you are moving into a bigger residence, each house has it’s own character and your new home will probably need different d├ęcor. Also, hanging up pants that are 3 sizes too big for you in your fresh start makes no sense. Keeping infant toys when your youngest is 7 is a waste of space. Cleanse your closets, your garage, your kitchen cabinets. Let go of what you don’t use and allow someone else to enjoy it. Getting the opportunity for a fresh start is pretty rare. Seize that opportunity and cherish the fresh, open space and PURGE!

Below are some helpful hints here that will help streamline your moving process and can actually be exciting, when done in an orderly fashion. If you tackle a move in a streamlined and organized way, it can actually be a beautiful life change, rather than a hair tearing nightmare.

PACKING

  • Downsize and pack your least used items first and move steadily towards things you use all the time.
  • Clear a wall next to the door and stack the boxes neatly. These will be the first boxes to be loaded into the truck from this room and arrive into the new first, placing them at the back of the room.

LABELLING

  • Label well
  • Color code, if possible.
  • Use a well thought out system. Your friends and movers will appreciate this more than the beer and pizza.

DAILY USE ITEMS

  • One week prior to your move, begin packing your daily essentials. Have the really important stuff that you absolutely cannot live or function without come over in the last load, in your car. It will be the last thing to arrive in your new home, and the first thing you unpack.

LOADING THE TRUCK

  • Load the room that is in the back of the new home FIRST. The whole room.
  • Work your way forward, room by room. Moving is so much easier and less dangerous if you are not tripping over things in the hallways, trying to get to the two back bedrooms. You will thank me later. I promise.

UNPACKING

  • Unpack from always used, to seldom used, one room at a time. Did you open a box of seldom used items and realize you actually don not want of need anything in it? Good. Donate it.
  • Pick up the next thing. Just keep picking up the next thing. You can do it!!

Moving sucks. There is no getting around it. But if you move in a systematic manner, downsizing as you go, you can start off in your new home feeling organized and in control of your new surroundings, rather than stressed out. It sets the tone for your new life. Make it a melody of peace and contentment.

If you have downsizing/organizing needs in Eugene, Oregon area, please CONTACT me.

My Journey

When my kids took off to start their own lives, things took on a very strange momentum. My marriage was in it’s 25th and final year (unbeknownst to us) and we were planning a grand adventure to Central America for a month. We had been saving for a couple of years and we thought there was really not a better time to go.

But the house.

The house was too big and too full and just TOO much. Paying to maintain it for a month while absent seemed silly. We wanted to move. We wanted something smaller and manageable, with completely different creature comforts. The school district we were in no longer mattered so the sky was the limit. My husband and I had never purchased a home so there really was no reason not to cut ties with this giant house other than the massive amount of personal belongings. Thus began the journey from a full 4 bedroom home to a 10×10 storage unit and absolutely no home to come home to! Yes, we voluntarily became homeless and got rid of 80% of our- dare I say it… JUNK.

I decided to go through one room at a time starting with the kitchen, because it was completely apparent that I no longer needed nor wanted to cook for 7 people. I have no idea why I had 7 cake pans, 4 pie plates, and 6 sheet cake pans. I had never considered opening a bakery, nor did I go to the trouble of baking for bake sales (I mean, Fred Meyer cookies are so good. Why bother?) much to my children’s chagrin. I did use the cookie sheets every year for my Christmas cookie baking week but other than that, it was perplexing. I had two crock pots (two!!) with a healthy layer of dust on them, air poppers, salad shooters, 2 blenders, margarita/rocks/wine/martini/shot/champagne/pounder glasses aplenty, a waffle maker, corn skewers, taco holders, gravy boats, butter dishes, kool-aid pitchers, mismatched plastic containers (SO many), 3 full sets of silverware and enough plates to host a block party. Why? I sat on my kitchen floor filling bag after bag of unused appliances and kitchen crap and wondered how did it get this far?

As I went through each room it did not get any better. I donated bags and bags of clothing. My family are avid thrifters, so I consoled myself with the knowledge that I never paid full price for anything other than intimates and shoes, but I watched thousands of dollars worth of purchases go out of the house in black plastic bags. There were listings made and furniture sold. All five of the children were contacted and offered things, but we were rarely taken up on it, because no one actually wants your junk. I gave each of my children 2 weeks to come get their things left at the house and they really could not understand ‘why I could not just be like a normal parent and keep their crap forever’?

But I soldiered on.

It actually took two sweeps in each room to get down to a manageable amount of belongings. I feel it would have been easier if I would have had one hour to get 5 bins of what I could not live without in my new home. It is easier to decide what you can’t live without than it is to decide what to throw away. It’s a mindset. A paradigm shift, of sorts.

I began to notice with each carload I dumped off at the St. Vincent DePaul I began to breath easier (they pay power bills for people down on their luck and make toiletry bags for homeless people). I felt free and untethered. I began to get a rhythm in my thinking, “Do I love it? Do I use it? Do I need it?” I began to feel euphoric with each goodbye. I was letting go! I was saying no to my worldly goods! I felt so bohemian, so hippy, so one with the earth. My love of ‘Less is Better’ was born.

I managed to whittle a four bedroom house down to a small storage unit. I kept my washer and dryer, mattresses, TV, 2 lawn chairs, the computer and desk, a dresser, and approximately 10 bins of clothing and household goods. My husband and I put in our 30 days notice and wondered if we were actually planning on coming back from Central America. Like I said, the sky was the limit.

If you have downsizing/organizing needs in the Eugene, Oregon area, please CONTACT me.