Getting organized at home is a perennially popular New Year’s resolution and this year there is the added motivation of spending more time at home due to COVID-19. But even the best of intentions can fall by the wayside when a task seems daunting. That is where the professionals come in. You don’t have to be a dedicated follower of the minimalist and perfectionistic ways of internationally acclaimed organizer Marie Kondo to benefit from the advice of a pro.
With two decades of experience, local organizing expert Anastasia “Stasia” Cymes of Clear The Clutter says January is the number one season for organizing. Cymes, who thinks of herself as a personal trainer for the home, specializes in “compassionate downsizing,” a process of editing and organizing that includes the client every step of the way.
“The goal is to improve quality of life at home,” she said.
After a complimentary phone consult, she sets up an initial 90-minute session and promises visible progress at the end of the appointment. The key to her approach is identifying goals (why do you want to get organized?), prioritizing problem areas (clothing closets, kitchens, junk rooms and kids’ spaces are top contenders) and then tackling one area at a time. Taking things in small increments, says Cymes, allows clients to experience satisfaction as they go.
Next, Cymes recommends clearing the slate by editing. This is the work of determining what to keep and what to get rid of. In an effort to keep things out of landfills, she points out that downsizing includes donating to favorite charitable organizations (hers is Bridge House) and freecycling, which means offering items for free – usually curbside. She found one of her most-loved pieces of furniture on the side of the road and repurposed it with paint. When trying to decide whether to keep an item or not, she suggests asking yourself Marie Kondo’s famous question, “does it spark joy?” as well as whether you would buy it today.
“One of the most important things a client can do is to make decisions quickly and be prepared to let go of something that has already served its purpose,” said Cymes.
Once things are edited, finding a place for everything is a must. Clutter, according to Cymes, accumulates when you don’t know where to put things.
“We are all spending more time at home, so there is no better time than now to create a welcoming, warm, functional environment,” she said.
Utilize what you have. For example, shoe boxes work as dividers for your sock and underwear drawer.
Keep things close to where you use them.
Keep a donation station (bag, box or pile) in your home and when it’s full, make a donation drop or have it picked up.
ABOUT THE DESIGNER
Michigan native Anastasia Cymes was a resident of Seattle for 13 years before heading to New Orleans sight unseen in search of warmer weather. A former nanny, a renovator of two historic Mid-City houses, and a seasoned organizer, she has helped locals clear their clutter since 2011. Color consults and furniture placement are also among her services.