Design pros — they’re just like us. While their social media feeds may make you think otherwise, even the most seasoned DIYers and interior designers struggle to bring order to the various corners of their homes.
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Some have chaotic closets, others have beauty products that expired years ago. There are too many odds and ends to store away, too many this-and-thats to remember. Whatever the struggle may be, their biggest organizational issues are familiar: Everyone wants a more orderly home, it’s just hard to get there sometimes. But the good thing is that it’s not impossible to do, as long as you make time to start.
Here, six designers share their biggest organizing dilemmas in 2022, and how they finally brought order to the chaos.
I needed to get my office in check.
“My most rewarding organizing moment in 2022 was transforming my office, which also serves as my pottery studio, from a catchall space back into an office and studio space,” says Samantha Hoff, owner of Pottery with a Purpose.
“Having a space with dual functions makes it hard to stay organized, and though my Instagram and website may be perfectly curated, my real life is not! I have ADHD and depression, and sometimes they show themselves in different ways.”
Over time, Hoff’s office space turned into what she calls “a completely unusable junk room.” But earlier this year, her husband helped her restore order. “I threw away many random bits and bobs collected from a pandemic’s worth of craft projects,” she says. “The tools and materials I kept now all have a specific spot to return to after use. Instead of feeling overwhelmed when I walk into my studio, now I feel inspired!”
I had to toss old beauty products.
“My most rewarding organizing moment this year was going through every beauty product I owned,” says Cindy Ngo, the founder of design studio Ink + Porcelain. “I love trying new products, but I had accumulated quite the collection and knew it was time to organize, categorize, and streamline.”
To tackle this big project, Ngo separated every item into bins: a donation bin, a recycling bin for Terracycle, and one for keepers. Then, she categorized. “I categorized every single thing I had in clear bins, so I can see what I own and reach them easily in my cabinet and drawers.”
I needed to streamline household belongings.
“My most rewarding organizing moment this year included decluttering a large amount of our household items during our recent move,” says Olivia Parks, owner of Professional Organizers Baton Rouge.
This kind of purge is a process — it takes time to sort through all of the items one accumulates over the years, says Parks. “But it made our move so much easier,” she says. “We had less to pack and were able to move in after one full day.” The benefits extend into the new home, too, she says. “I feel less stressed about our space. We now have much more room to grow into our new home.”
I had to catalog my clothing.
“My biggest win for 2022 was that I cataloged all of my clothing into sizes,” says artist Allison Eden, who says the move was precipitated by a fluctuation of weight over the past couple of years.
“So now when I’m a size 16 or when I am a size 10, it’s all organized,” she says. “This allows me to find and wear my best pieces and feel really good about myself at any size.”
I needed to ditch a purse.
“One of my best organizational changes was getting rid of my purse,” says Jill Abelman, owner and lead designer for Inside Style Home. “I also need my computer case each day,” she explains. “Typically, I am also transporting design samples — so I started to feel like a bag lady.”
The weight of all that added up, too. So Abelman decided to get rid of the most expendable object: her purse. “I changed my wallet to a small zippered pocket-sized pouch,” she says. “Now, I only transport this and lipstick tucked in my computer case.”
I had to make sense of my collections.
Jen McDonald, DIY-er and cofounder of Garden Girls, says her biggest organizing win was finding meaningful and systematic ways to display her family’s most prized collections.
“Vintage suitcases now house all of our most cherished Christmas ornaments,” she says. “And textbooks, yearbooks, piano books, and other favorites are organized behind glass doors.”
But how do you find the book you want when they’re all turned spine-side in to make a design statement? “The titles are marked in light pencil on the pages, and each section is dedicated to each member of the family,” she says, noting the important marriage between function and style.