Although we are in the era of Marie Kondo and a constant stream of decluttering vlogs, many of us are still intimidated by our own home projects and need one-on-one help, whether it be in person or virtually. Enter professional organizer Ellen Kutner, owner of Simply Organized in Pleasant Valley.
From downsizing to general decluttering, Kutner is jack-of-all-trades in the business of bringing order to your home. Using her mantra of efficiency and convenience, she works with clients to destigmatize the task of organizing. And what could be more important as we all face more together-time at home during winter? Here, Kutner explains her process.
What is the first step?
I have an initial phone call conversation with [the client]. I try to get an understanding of what their needs are and possible projects they would like to tackle. Whatever we do together needs to be logical and comfortable to the client. I want to help them achieve their goals, but I’m not going to do it in any judgmental way — that’s not why I’m there
How have you managed the home visit part of the process during the pandemic?
Protocols (such as masks, hand washing, social distancing) have helped protect me and my clients. During our initial phone call, I lay out these protocols so we are on the same page. I try to get people focused in on what their priorities are [on the initial call] so we aren’t spending so much time face to face going over that.
How do you and your client decide what should stay or go?
One way to look at it is like peeling back the layers of an onion. You want to get all of the easy decisions (things that are broken or in disuse) out of the way and get to the core of what’s important to you.
Can you describe how people deal with the organization process?
Sometimes people have difficulty letting go of items. They need to be able to talk through and share their feelings. After they go through this, we can have a logical conversation about why they are hanging on to certain items. You’re dealing with raw emotions at times. There’s a real importance to gently understanding who your client is.
1. Keep like things together. For example, you want to have your pots and pans around your stove.
2. Keep a junk drawer. Everyone should have one, but once you can’t close that drawer or things are falling out, dump it out.
3. Maintain your projects. Just like we maintain our cars, bodies, and teeth, we have to maintain our house.
4. When something new comes into your space, something old should go out.
5. Create a grab-and-go-file of all the important papers in your life (deeds, titles, insurance policies, etc.).