Will your house look like Pinterest after you hire a professional organizer?
Updated: Apr 12, 2021
The simple answer to this question is: if that's what you want, then yes. However, together with looking immaculate, the space needs to function.
A Professional Organizer's job is to understand what the client needs, what their frustrations are, how the space is used, who uses the space, and how it would ideally function. Hand in hand with this, is a conversation about look/feel and budget. Getting a space to be Pinterest-perfect can be costly in terms of organization tools such as baskets and containers. If the client has the desire and means to make it Pinterest-perfect, then great!
Function Beats Looks Most of the Time
In most cases, I have found that people want function without chaos. Many clients prefer to use whatever storage items they already have on hand, which is fine...and sustainable. Either way, in order to be able to make the function happen, in most cases, there needs to be less "stuff" and some systems in place to manage things moving forward.
When watching home renovation or organizing shows on TV, what often ends up on the editing room floor is the volume of belongings that used to be in that space before. For TV shows, I imagine these items are either re-housed elsewhere in the home, discarded, or donated, but they never put everything back that had been removed. It would look too cluttered for TV.
It All Starts With Decluttering
When someone calls in a Professional Organizer they likely did so because they want real change in their lives and a more immediate outcome. Based on this assumption, real conversations need to be had regarding what can be decluttered. 99.9% of organizing projects begin with decluttering. It's as simple as: if you get rid of things, you will have space to find the things you really need. That's step 1 in the process. While it may sound easy to ask people to get rid of things, not everyone is in a mental space to actually be able to do that. It's not for the organizer to forcibly remove things from the home, even if that's what they think would best serve the client or the space. At that stage it's up to the organizer to help the client talk through WHY it's hard to let go of things and what the underlying cause of not being able to let go might be. Talking things through and getting to the root of the issue can be helpful in framing why less "stuff" will help things get organized and stay that way. A "fresh start" on the horizon may be just what the organizer needs to help the client visualize in order to be able to take that leap, but these conversations need to be approached with empathy.
Divide & Conquer
The decluttering part of the project requires collaboration with the client. The organizer can't know what needs to stay and what needs to go, in most cases. Typically, I like to divide items into categories of: Keep, Toss, Hand-Down, Donate. I have two daughters and younger nieces and we deal with a lot of hand-me-downs, so I always keep that in as an optional category.
If the client is not available during the decluttering phase, they can go through the boxes for toss/donate etc. later. That way, nothing is discarded without consent.
The Finished Product Needs to Work for the Client
The way things are organized needs to work for the client - for their needs, mindset, and sensibilities. If I organized everyone's space as if it were my own, it might function for a short time, but after a while, it will end up being chaos again. Now, will I use tools and techniques that have worked for me and that I think will help the client? Sure! I just won't design the space based on what would work for me. It has to work for the client.
Is a Pinterest-Worthy Space Going to Work For You?
Personally, I would love a Pinterest-type pantry, and I have organized those type of pantries before. However, I live in a home with a small pantry and two kids that have food allergies and a husband who is currently trying out a new diet. Based on this, I need to be able to see the labels of pretty much every item I purchase. Could I empty those items into a cute container and cut out the ingredients/cooking directions and expiration dates? Of course! However, I live in a home with 3 adults and 2 children. It would take all of us to agree to opening something new, emptying it out and then cutting out the necessary packaging. Honestly, I just don't see that working in my home, so my pantry doesn't look like the ones in the magazines and I am ok with it. I take bits and pieces that work from a functional perspective like tiered spice racks, turntables, and modular storage containers to house my food items and make them easier to see/access/store because that's what works for my household.
Other Organizing Challenges
There are also things to consider like physical challenges. For example, my mother-in-law who lives with us has a frozen shoulder, back issues, leg problems and cannot get on a step stool etc. She prefers everything be at arms reach and shoulder height. My husband has also back issues so he prefers not to bend down too much to get things. That's really challenging to plan and organize around. Having two adults with different limitations means that I am working with limited useable space and they both love a variety of foods and snacks, which means they individually have a lot of their own foods that they need easy access to. Is it frustrating? Yup, it is. However, I have no idea what those limitations feel like. In the interest of keeping everyone happy, acknowledged, and cared for, I organize around the limitations. I figure, one day, I may be in that same situation and would like to be treated with the same care. A good organizer will take into account everyones issues and do their utmost to accommodate them.
Organized Doesn't Always Mean Out of Sight
Some synonyms for organized are: methodical, planned, systematic, structured, and efficient. Does that mean everything needs to be out of sight? No. Some people don't function well when everything is put away. They need to see things to perhaps be inspired or even remember what they need to do. I know if my daughter's vitamins weren't on the counter, she would never take them. She needs to see them so she remembers to take them. We all have different needs and ways of doing things and my goal when organizing someone's space is to find out what will work for them and their household. Sure, I can make it look Pinterest-perfect with completely empty counters etc. and they might love it for a few weeks. It just may not be sustainable for their household. When organizing, I'm not just changing the space, we are also talking about changing behavior - using a system, that is hopefully easy and intuitive for all. The bigger question is whether that behavior change needed to make the space work is doable for the client. Having spent the money to have the space professional organized shows the impetus is there for making changes. It's up to the organizer and the client to ensure it's sustainable. I probably say this in all of my blog posts: if you truly care about something, you will maintain it.
Now, whether or not a Pinterest-perfect look is what you want, go ahead and take that first step to getting organized. It will make you feel fantastic! There is no better feeling of satisfaction - well, at least that's how I feel. Or, you can call me and I will do what I love and give you the space and function you desire!