Time to talk organization. Did you just cringe? That's ok, you're gonna love this episode.
Cara sits down with a professional organizer to talk about why organization isn't perfection, how to actually cut through the overwhelm to get your sh*t together, and learn about some coping mechanisms that work for people who aren't naturally organized. You'll also hear about when it's ok to say no to waffles and why you should implement the one-touch rule. Cara also covers her favorite patio decor trend + how you can style it AND talks about how our parents opinions & style can affect our spaces as adults.
Today I'm sitting down with Whitney — the amazing professional organizer who helped me rework my linen closet. After that experience, I just had to share her with you guys and have her on as a guest. Not only does she have AMAZING tips for getting — and staying — organized, but I also wanted to give you a little insight into how professional organizers work and help you decide if it might be the right choice for you.
After working with Whitney, I realized how attainable & affordable professional organizers can be, so I wanted to give you all the info you need about the process + bring her on to share some of her best organization tips for those of us that are on the struggle bus with striving to create a perfectly organized space.
get in touch
Check out the before & after of the closet Whitney helped me whip into shape! Pin the images for inspo and check out some more details about her process and how she achieved the amazing before & after.
what i'm loving this week
The layered rug trend — This trend is a perfect way to double up on personality and texture and create a fun + warm welcome at your doorstep. Check out this post for designer-approved layered rug combos + more tips for rocking the trend.
stuff we just need to talk about
NY Times Piece: What Would Your Mom Say About Those Throw Pillows? — Our parent's expectations can influence the homes we create as adults. Cara share's her experience with how her mom's design style influenced her design choices when it comes to antique & distressed pieces.
You home is YOUR space, so going head to head with other people's opinions of it is key to creating a space we love
That oftentimes starts with our parents — it doesn't mean don’t be considerate of them, it means don’t create a space to please other people when you’re the one that has to live in it.
let's talk about it!
How have your parents' design choices or go-to aesthetic influenced how you’ve designed & curated your home? Do you think that it’s helped you or hurt you?
Is there anything about your home you would do differently if you weren’t letting their opinions hold you back or overly influence you?
Leave a comment below or use #MakeSpacePodcast to share your response on social media
EP 01 TRANSCRIPT
...just in case you wanna read
INTRO: 00:16 Welcome to MAKE SPACE — a home design show made to inspire you to create spaces you truly feel at home in. Cara Newhart sits down with amazingly brilliant guests for conversations that dive deeper than Pin-worthy rooms to tease out the essentials of creating spaces that feed your soul and inspire your creativity. From home design strategies to decor advice, to interior design tips and tricks — these conversations help you dream up a beautifully lived in home. Cara is the designer and Chief Creative Enthusiast behind Never Skip Brunch. Her work has been featured in print publications like PEOPLE StyleWatch and Denver Style Magazine. As an influencer, Cara has collaborated with brands like Amazon, H&M, Twitter and Thrillist. Here's your host: Cara Newhart.
Cara: 01:16 Hello! It's Cara and I am so excited to be relaunching this podcast! The MAKE SPACE podcast is all about designing a home that's beautifully lived-in, which means diving deeper than gorgeous Pinterest images to really tease out what it means to design a home you love. I have so many amazing guests planned, plus some one-on-one time with just me behind the mic to share design strategies, decor advice, and help you dream up a beautifully lived-in home. So before we get started, I just want to give you a little intro to the show and how it works. So alongside the regular episodes — which is me sitting down with guests plus a few episodes going solo — we also have Blogcasts, which are another component of the podcast. They are published right in the same feed, but what they are are basically blog posts that are read aloud.
Cara: 02:11 So you can listen in the car, if you're on a run, or if you just don't like reading and you'd rather listen vs. read the blog post. So how to listen to these is that you can just subscribe to the podcast and you'll see them marked as a Blogcast vs. an episode. You can also listen at the top of posts right on the blog. If there's a Blogcast available for the post, you'll see a little "click to listen" button — you can just click on that — and listen to the post. So that's a little bit about what those are. So let's dive right in! Today, I have an amazing interview with Whitney. You guys might have already seen her up on the blog — she is the professional organizer that helped me whip my linen closet into shape. And after that experience, I had to share it with you guys because not only does she have amazing tips for really getting organized that were perfect for people like me —where organization is not my strength and it does not come naturally to me —
Cara: 03:09 I also wanted to give you guys a little peek into what a professional organizer does because if you're like me, it seemed like, kind of unattainable because I'd only seen professional organizers on shows like "Hoarders" or Marie Kondo's "Tidying Up". So in terms of having a professional organizer in my own life, I didn't think it was going to be within reach: I thought it'd be expensive, I'd have to do my whole house. But really it's amazing and I totally recommend it. And so I wanted to give you some insight into how professional organizers work and whether or not they are right for you. So let's dive into this interview with Whitney.
Whitney: 03:53 Hey!
Cara: 03:53 Hey! How are you?
Whitney: 03:54 Good. How are you doing?
Cara: 03:54 So good! I am so excited to be chatting with you today because I am in no way a professional organization person and I know that the listeners are going to love having you on and hearing all your amazing tips.
Whitney: 03:56 You're so sweet. I love it.
Cara: 03:57 So, first starting off — as the type of human where organization doesn't come naturally to me, my first question is, how the heck did you become a professional organizer?
Whitney: 03:56 So — I think I've always just been organized. Like it wasn't until, you know — I kind of grew up and I, you know, other moms would say to me all the time, like "you are so organized, you are so organized!" And I never realized that I was, until I'm like, "oh wait, I like this. It comes naturally to me." And so I, I've kind of learned that, um, that it is also something that can be taught, but it's also something that comes naturally to people.
Cara: 04:54 Yeah.
Whitney: 04:55 So for me to just for me and came easy, which is not the best answer, but hey.
Cara: 04:56 No, that's true. I feel like a lot of people have kind of found their careers by like people telling them they're good at stuff. Like, oh you're really good at this. It kind of clicks like, oh I could do this for like a job.
Whitney: 05:02 Oh I can do this to make money. Totally.
Cara: 05:03 Yeah. I feel like in society there's like a ton of guilt around organization. Why — why do you think we have that? Like why do you think we feel bad about being messy?
Whitney: 05:10 Organized? I think, I think the biggest thing is just this day and age with how, how social media plays a big part in everything. You know, you're always showing the best parts of your life. And so like for me, I am organized, but I loved in your blog post — something that you talked about — that you were saying that organization is not the same thing as perfection.
Whitney: 05:48 Like it's two different things. So you know what I'm showing people how to reorganize their refrigerator or reorganize their pantry or reorganize, you know, a toy closet or whatever it is. Whatever project I'm doing, it looks like it is perfect. You know, pictures on Instagram are perfect. They're, they're the best of what you're seeing. Right. Um, so at the same time, like for me in my girls drawers, when I first reorganized their drawers, I organize everything. I folded everything so perfect. If you've seen the Marie Kondo show you seek now she liked folds her clothes. So I did that. But now I don't have time to do that. So when I'm putting my girl's clothes away, yes, everything has a place. And that's my biggest point for people when you're organizing. But it's not perfection. Like honestly, they're tossed in drawers, they're a way they're in their spot.
Whitney: 06:42 So I think it's two different things. So because of what people are seeing is when I'm very first putting everything together and it's organized, it has its place. Right. You can't always keep up with that. And especially being a mom or you know, working or whatever it is that life also has. It doesn't have to be perfect.
Cara: 07:01 I love that.
Whitney: 07:03 So that, I think that's the big thing is just I think it's just hard with society is — most of what we're seeing is the perfection of everybody's lives.
Cara: 07:05 Right. Cause we want to put our best foot forward. But in a way it's like, we should be more honest about like leading that lived-in life and showing people what it really looks vs like it's most optimal moment.
Whitney: 07:20 Totally. And that's, that's what I like — when I read that blog post I seriously was like yes, yes, yes.
Whitney: 07:29 Like that. Is it! Like I am organized but I am not perfect. Like my house is really organized. Everything has a place, but I, and I do, I should go do that on my Instagram this week is take a picture of what the inside of our drawers look like. Like things are not folded. Like Marie Kondo every single time I do the laundry, I don't have time to keep up with that, you know? And so I am organized but I am not perfect. And so I think I totally should do that. Go and show how, you know, all their leggings are just thrown in a little section in their drawer rather than perfectly folded.
Cara: 07:51 Yeah, that really resonates with me because for a long time I think I avoided organization altogether because it was like, if it's not going to be perfect, why am I even going to try.
Cara: 08:10 Now it's like, it's better than nothing. Like, having some semblance of order is like, that's all we're shooting for. So along with that, Do you have any easy ways for people to tackle organization? Any good tips?
Whitney: 08:25 So I think that, like I said before, I think the biggest thing with organization is for everything to have a place. Um, and another thing that I love is my aunt —she has always taught us a One-Touch rule. And my mom kind of took that over too with a one touch rule. When you are done, it all started with this. When you're done eating dinner and you are going to go put your dishes in the sink, you're going to pick up your dish and put it in the sink and then it's going to sit there and then somebody who's going to have to come back and pick it up again and put it in the dishwasher.
Whitney: 08:56 So we made this rule in our house. It was a one-touch rule when you were done with your dinner, you walked it to the sink, rinsed it out and put it in the dishwasher. And that kind of goes the same with being organized. You know, if you, if you're, or if you're pantry is organized and your fridge is organized, when you come back from the grocery store, you know where everything's going to go. It has a very specific place when you are doing the laundry, everything has a specific place or you know when your kids come home from school and they're unloading their backpack, everything from their backpack has a specific place. So, so that things don't just get thrown in drawers because they don't have a pl— you know, everybody has a junk drawer but then it kind of starts to rollover into a junk drawer and then the junk cabinet and then you have a junk room where everything kind of has like an overflow. So I think the biggest thing that I would say for, just a tip in staying organized or starting to be organized is find a home for everything. You know, a home for your, all your keys, all your sunglasses, all your, you know, just all the little things too that you have.
Cara: 10:07 Yeah, that's such good advice. I literally have places in my house — like multiple places — that are like "save it for later places" where I just stash, stuff that I'm like, "I'll go through that later." But like if I just put it away initially, totally. We wouldn't have like a cluttery spot
Whitney: 10:20 Well, well in this too, I've noticed we did this in my house, like I've seen this at other people's houses is the stair pile, right? Put a pile of stuff on your stairs that, oh, I'll tak—, I'll, you know, I'll take that up later. Or then it just becomes like the stairs is like a catchall for everything. But again, like if you do your One-Touch rule with everything, having a place like, okay, I need to go put these shoes away, I'm going to walk upstairs, I'm going to put them away. So I'm not picking them up, putting him on the stairs, picking them up, putting them in the room, you know, just saving you time and being efficient. Two hopefully make it so you don't have as many that's for later piles.
Cara: 10:57 Right. So I know like you're kind of naturally organized, but I'm sure you've worked with plenty of clients who are not. So do you have any like little advice for people that are not naturally gifted at staying organized?
Whitney: 11:14 At doing it? Yeah, I think the hardest thing, um, for people who are not naturally organized is kind of the process of it all. And the other thing too is trying to find the time to do those things. Um, so when I do go into a client's home, how I do everything is we'll look at the area, kind of figure out our inventory of what we have, and then we'll empty everything out of the area. So say we're doing a pantry, we literally take every single thing out of the pantry and then when we're putting everything back in the pantry and you're holding every item in your hand, you're really kind of assessing like, okay, do I really need this? Or can this be thrown away or donated or, you know, whatever it is that you decide that you want to do for that. Um, so the purging I think is the hardest part for people who it doesn't come naturally to because it's hard to get rid of things.
Whitney: 12:07 It's hard to throw away things. You're feeling wasteful or that, "oh, I might need that." All right. But if you have, you know, if you're holding it in your hand in your thinking. "Okay. I actually haven't even touched this for however long I can get rid of that". So yeah, I just think the process of holding things in your hand, having everything have a place, you know when you're organizing it, the one-touch rule, like all of that kind of combined, I think it would be like what I wouldn't say is the most helpful for people who it doesn't come naturally to. And I think too like learning little things at a time to like picking us place for you to start. So okay, I want to become more organized cause I think everybody that wants to be organized, that's not like a new idea.
Whitney: 12:52 It's something that they wanted to be good at or wanted to learn or want it to do for a really long time. And the different phases and stages of life just kind of affect that from not happening or, or being pushed aside. And of course everything's — life changes and new reasons why you can't do it come up. You know, like it's kids or it's work or it's whatever, you know as you go through your life. So starting small like, okay, I'm going to organize my bathroom cabinet or I'm going to organize my kitchen drawers, just something small and then just pick at once for a week. Like just, you know, making lists. Like this week I'm gonna work on this and then next week I'm going to work on this. And then, or even just a Saturday for an hour, once a week that you're starting small and you know, you talked about this too as well, like it kind of becomes like so satisfying as you see it, that plate, you know, start small and you see it.
Whitney: 13:45 Then it just becomes like this addiction where I like, okay, I need to do this and I can do this. And then it just kind of starts rolling and you kind of start getting the hang of things and it becomes easier to purge and it becomes easier to do those little things that before it didn't come so naturally.
Cara: 14:01 Yeah, that's, that's something like the immediate gratification aspect was really satisfying to me. Like before I kind of approached it as like, oh, I need to do the entire room and make it perfect. Otherwise why try? But then, oh, do this little thing and like, look how great that little area looks like.
Whitney: 14:19 Yeah. That just seems so daunting. It's like, I need to organize my house. Okay, well now you know, like that's such a, that's such a big thing to attack. So, you know, pick one thing at a time and once a week I'm, you know, I'm, I've been doing this spring cleaning thing where once a week I myself just tackle something in my own house.
Whitney: 14:36 So that's, I mean, that's a great time to do it. Like, again, people can start it, you know, before kids are getting out of school or the minute that kids go back into school, kind of setting a goal of, okay I'm going to do one little thing at a time until I feel like, you know, you're getting the hang of it and it's a little bit easier to do.
Cara: 14:54 For sure. So let's dive into like decluttering a little bit more. Um, cause I know you have some good tips on this, and I know there's so many people that are in the same place with me, but like when I look at my spaces overall, they look cluttered, but then when I go to try and purge, I like pick up each item and like interrogate it. Like, "why are you here?!"Everything has a purpose or I really love it and I don't want to get rid of it. So do you have tips for that struggle in terms of like the thought process of like deciding how to get rid of things?
Whitney: 15:18 Yes, yes. Um, well I, you know, the Marie Kondo thing was so big and everybody would always, you know — her big thing is "when you're holding it in your hand, does it spark joy?" And I was talking to one of my friend's moms and she's like, I held this in my hands because, and then it didn't spark joy so I got rid of it. And it was all of our kid— Like I think it was her summer clothes or her shorts or something. And she's like, "now, I have no summer shorts!" And so my rule of thumb, um, for decluttering things, would probably would be a matter of time. When was the last time that you used this? When was the last time you touched it? Looked at it and noticed it. And if it's been there for a long time, it's got to go. Usually with clothes.
Whitney: 16:06 One trick that you can do is in your closet. You know, when you wear something, when you go to hang it back — hang it up, you put it at the back and then so if it doesn't come back up, you know, or if I haven't worn this for a year or I haven't used this in however long, you know, it's time to get rid of it type of a thing. So I just think maybe maybe my biggest key for purging or decluttering is when is the last time I actually used this. Yeah. And I'm all for um, saving things that have meaning. You know, I've, on my Instagram I kind of talked about organizing my kids' artwork and their school projects and the little, you know, the little things that you kind of get along the way. And each of my kids has their own box of special things that have been given to them.
Whitney: 16:57 Maybe not so much papers, but little toys or little memorabilia type thing. So for sure like, but even those things have a place, so they're not just like sitting randomly in my office on the side of the table. Like those things that have a memory, they're in a box, they're special, they're safe. Like they have a place not just kind of stacked on top of the counter on the table or wherever, they're all put away in a specific spot. All of those things, they have a place. That's my biggest thing is for even those types of things to have a place and for things to not feel cluttery. Um, I think that's the biggest thing. If you have, say you got something from some event that you think is really cool and special to you and then you put on your desk and then another event and then another thing or another thing that your mom gave you or whatever, and then you're your desk or whatever is filled with all these different things and then it feels cluttery to you.
Whitney: 17:54 And I don't — for me, I work a lot better when my space seems clean, you know? When my mind is able to focus on what I'm doing. And so I think even for those items, I have a box for all of my daughter's things that are bigger, not just papers. You know like the gift that grandma gave that she no, she no longer uses or you know like a little onesie from the hospital when I brought them home, like there's objects too, and those have a place to, I think it's hard for some people, like especially in the kitchen, say like, you know you have a waffle maker and you have not made waffles for seven months or a year or whatever. But it's like I'm not going to get rid of my waffle maker. Yeah, I need it. But honestly like for me, if — so I actually did just get rid of my waffle maker.
Whitney: 18:42 That's what I'm talking about it because it sat in there for a year and we just never, we never made it and so I donated it because you know what, it's been a year. We don't, we don't use it. We don't, we haven't. So I just think it's a matter of time — just I haven't used it for a year. I have noticed that I've needed it for this last year. I can let it go.
Cara: 19:01 That's so good because I'm totally that way where instead of thinking about like, "Hey, do I actually use this or how have I used it in the past?" — You know, whatever period of time. I like invent these scenarios of like when I'm going to use it. That just never happen.
Whitney: 19:17 "but what if, but what if?" Well and like the whole like multiples of things. I think that's the other thing, like if you have more than one of an object, you only need one object.
Whitney: 19:26 Oh, but this one's better at doing this or this one's better, or whatever you don't need. You know? I think that's, I think that's really hard. It's honestly when I go into client's home, that's the hardest part for me to get them to cooperate with me on getting rid of things because it's hard. It's your belongings, it's your things, but you know if it's been a long time, if you have multiples of that item, you don't need to. Yeah. It's just, it's hard for people to get rid of stuff. It really, it really is. I feel like that would be my biggest struggle in helping others become organized on their own is that purging process.
Cara: 19:01 Right. That's totally me and like my lipstick hoarding situation, I'm like, "well, this is one has gold sparkles and the other one, they're like a little more bronze"
Whitney: Ok well makeup: that's a different story. You can keep all your makeup.
Cara: 20:09 Free pass on makeup. I'm gonna write that down. Oh yeah. But I like that like really thinking about use vs like the spark joy thing, which like I totally love Marie Kondo and that show was amazing. But there's some stuff like a toilet plunger doesn't totally spark joy for me, but like you still need it.
Whitney: 20:30 Yeah for sure
Cara: 20:36 So when you came to like rework my linen closet, I remember it being a little in awe of how clearly you could see the final result from the crazy mess that it was. So when you look at space that is kind of complete chaos, do you have a go-to step by step process for whipping it into shape or is, does each space totally depend?
Whitney: 20:55 Yeah, it's always the same. I think planning is the biggest part of it all. Um, like I said, when you have a space, I always take an inventory on everything. So when I came to do you closet, you know, we took pictures of what it looked like before. And then on top of having those pictures I also wrote down like, okay, she has this many blankets and she has a lot of towels and taking an inventory to see what is really in that space. Then you take everything out and then planning on how it's going back in, kind of measuring what can go where. And when you do the inventory, you can kind of see like, okay, I have a lot of towels. I do not need this many towels or I have way too many sheets or this sheet set doesn't match this pillow or whatever, whatever it is.
Whitney: 21:41 And then kind of seeing, okay, this is how it's going to go back in. So I think planning is the biggest thing before you're putting things back in. I'm like, okay, I have a lot of these, this is going to need to be a on my big shelf and I only have a couple of these. And I probably don't need them anyways, so I'm going to go ahead and donate them. So it's just kind of like the planning of how it's going back in and then you know, getting good like baskets and bins. For yours, I love the baskets and bins that we found that kind of hid things. They weren't clear. And I've got that in my pantry actually for all of my snacks. So it's just kind of like make it exciting for you to like go out and buy yourself some fun little baskets or bins that you'll think are exciting to put things away in.
Whitney: 22:23 And even when we put your sheets away in those bins, you know, we folded them. But again, like we were saying before, it will still stay organized if you don't fold those sheets to put them away. But those kids have a place and again, like we got the covered ones, so you just toss those sheets back in that bag back in that basket when they're done and you don't need to follow them, but you're still organized. Right. They'll have a place. So I think just the biggest thing in, you know, taking over an area is emptying it out, purging stuff, planning and then putting everything back in to where it makes sense to you and kind of the way that you personally use all of those items.
Cara: 23:00 Right. Yeah. That's so good. Like really — cause that process totally is how you create a, like a system that works for you vs just like a system that you're never going to stick to.
Whitney: 23:11 Yeah. Because you, you know, you know best of what you use the most of or what you have the most of. And when you're doing the inventory and kind of seeing things, the way that your mind works is it's kind of processing each item. It's looking at and making sense of it all. Like oh okay I really do use these a lot. I shouldn't put these on the top shelves. Like these should go way up high because I don't, you know, you're kind of working through it as you're holding every item and putting it back in like your, your brain is like noticing that and thinking about that item before. It's being put away.
Cara: 23:39 Yeah. That's such good insight. Let's dive into organization. Kind of like in the context of being a mom: Um, I feel like for me this is an easy go-to reason for things not being an order. But how can we like include our kids in the process. And do you think it's like an important aspect of life to make sure that they are included in?
Whitney: 24:03 Yes, absolutely. This is a, a big thing for me to, um, also in regards to play. So I have two girls. I have a five year old and a almost three year old and they're both really, really good independent players. Um, you know, I can go do my own thing and they will go in their room and totally play. And I've had this conversation before with my mom about, she's like, your kids just play so good, like on their own. And we kind of
Whitney: 24:30 dove into it and tried to figure out why we thought that that was. And I think the biggest thing is that I've taught my girls to be organized. So when they go into play in their room, it's not just this light, millions of different types of toys and different types of bins that, you know, they're not —their minds — It's just overwhelming to them. You know, so my girls can go into their room, they see, you know, a box of princesses, a box of cards, a box of animals, and they can grab one out and play with it and enjoy it. And I think for my girls too like, as they grow up into being adults, I, I want them to be able to go through their day to day lives, feeling peaceful, you know, even as they're kids to feel like their space is a fun, the space for them to play and be creative and enjoy what they're doing.
Whitney: 25:18 It rolls over into so much more. You know, I have a morning routine and a bedtime routine for my girls with little pictures on the side. And now my daughter, sometimes even like as a mom, you know, things get so busy and I'm like, okay, everybody get in bed and my daughters will, you know, they'll come to me and they'll be like, no mom, we are supposed to brush our teeth. I'm like, Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. And they'll, they'll kind of tell me their bedtime routine now at this point it's just, I think teaching them to be organized also helps me. They're doing their own bedtime routine because I've taught them even at four years, you know, my daughter, she's been doing this for about a year now. My five year old, it's just been really nice because she's learned her routine and she can kind of do it on her own : layout her clothes, put her pajamas on and it's a system.
Whitney: 26:03 It's not just staying organized in her belongings, but how she's living her life. And that makes it easier as a mom, you know, in your kid's room after they've been playing. It's just an explosion — which, which my girls will still do. They'll still pull out, you know, seven bins or eight bins and dump everything out. And then it's just chaos. But we sit down together, both, you know, me and my girls and we put stuff away and my girls know now, even my two year old where things go, you know, if I've put a couple of princesses in a bin and a couple of animals in a bin, she knows it's not just throwing everything into buckets, it's everything has a place too. And, and I just, I feel like it's such an important thing to teach kids and how to be organized because it does help you, it helps you in the workplace.
Whitney: 26:50 It helps you be your own parent, helps you at school. I just, I just, I, it's just something I'm so, so passionate about is, is for my girls to learn from me and it, you know, now they know how to pick up and they know where things go and then when they go back into play, everything, they know where everything is and they can play how they want to play instead of going in there and be like, where is everything or how do I do this?
Cara: 26:15 That was really interesting to me that it makes play better because it totally does. I think kids do like crave that structure and that helps them be more independent and also just know how to function like easier for sure. But it also like for some reason I always assume like as a mom making like Ella stay organized would be like me being mean or like forcing her like, "Its time to clean" — Like boring, but like it really does help her be more independent and help her create her own space to like do what she wants to do.
Whitney: 27:36 Yeah, for sure. Well, and you know, and you make those things fun. So, you know, when we started the morning routine in the bedtime routine, it was at, we had a sticker chart along with it. So it was once we did everything in our morning routine, she could put a sticker on her board and then at the end of the week, if she got a sticker every day she'd get a trait. But now, now that she's past that, it's something that is natural to her to do it. You know, it, she doesn't need a sticker, she doesn't need a treat. It's just this is how we do it. This is how we get ready for the day, this is how we get ready for bed. And that, you know, that will go on for her whole life.
Whitney: 28:19 Like just in helping her, you know, as a kid, as a teenager, as an adult, learning the importance of routines. And same with cleaning up, you know, it doesn't have to be like go in there and you clearly feel like, you know, you can make it fun where you, you know, everybody takes a turn and you seeing, you know, the clean— the cleanup song and you know, okay you can pick up a toy, you know, I pick up a toy or you, you can stand across the room and throw them in the buckets. Like it doesn't have to be such a um, you know, kind of like a disciplinary mean type of thing.
Cara: 28:50 That is, that's really such great advice and I have so many little things that I can tweak like just from that. That was, that's going to help me a lot. I mean, I already have the kid that loves cleaning — like asked for a dustpan and toy broom for her potty training toy. I think I need to work with that a little more.
Whitney: 29:11 That's so awesome.
Cara: 29:13 So, let's shift gears a little more to your role as a professional organizer. And this is like both a statement and a question: So I like I knew professional organizing existed as a profession mostly because of like dramatic transformation shows on TV. But it felt a little like unattainable to me for that reason. And also like I had so much dread around all the work that goes into whipping like a whole rim and to shape that for some reason that like
Cara: 29:42 sounded super expensive cause I know like for me I'll put effort it would be. Um, but really it's, it's super attainable and like I'm a thousand percent recommending it to everyone. I know you're like me and struggle like with organizing not being their strength. So can we just dive into like kind of how you work as a professional organizer?
Whitney: 30:03 Yeah, yeah. And I think, you know, it is true like hiring a professional organizer honestly can be really expensive. You know, some professional organizers can charge up to 60, $80 an hour and that's, you know, they're charging for their shopping time, their planning time there, you know, the time that they're actually into your home. But also like at the same time when you hire a professional organizer, you have the option to do some of those things that you're yourself to cut down on that time. You know?
Cara: 30:31 Right.
Whitney: 30:31 My thing is I enjoy doing it so I'm not charging, you know, $80 an hour to have that done. And I, you know, I do a free consult, which most professional organizers will, they'll come in and do a free consultation for you, um, to look at your area and kind of give you a quote. And then, um, you know, the one thing that I feel like people are usually surprised by is, you know, that they will pay for the cost of the supplies that go in. You know, you're, you can't have somebody come in and just organize your stuff, but if you want help and having something truly organized, there will be some involvement in purchasing baskets or bins or you know, different organizers to help you because that's what's going to maximize, you know, the space and help you really truly be organized. So I think yeah, the biggest thing is cause sometimes I just feel like people are surprised by that.
Cara: 31:23 Well I didn't know it was a thing. First of all, that you we're going to help me shop for bins, but also that you gave me options like do we want to go cute or super functional. So there's a lot of places where you can like — not cut costs — but make it more affordable for you.
Whitney: 31:37 Yes — That's what I was going to say. So the other thing is also what I give my clients the option to do is I will say, okay, this is how much it's gonna cost for us to purchase the items. This is how long I think it'll take me to do the purging. This is how long I think it'll take me to do the organizing and this is how long I think it'll take me to put everything into place and kind of do the finalizing touches. Whereas with a professional organizer you can say like, I have this space that I need organized and you can do it yourself. You can do that purging and you can do the organizing part. So some of my clients — to cut costs, I will have them actually do that part. Let's say it's a Pantry, take everything out of their pantry, throw away anything that they don't use or don't need or that's old, donate whatever they don't use and then put them into piles. So you know, you put all your cans together, you put all your cereals together, you put everything together and then that cu— that cuts like two, three hours out of what you'd be paying me to do it. And then I come in your home with the items that I've already purchased and everything's already in piles so I can literally like put it all back in. Like I have a,
Whitney: 32:41 you know, a really good vision of how I can see it's going to go back in that space and I can do it pretty quickly. When we did your closet. I think once I had the bins and we came back and you had kind of done some of the purging yourself, like you move stuff to where you wanted to instead or where a better location would be for it. And it was what, like 40 minutes?
Cara: 32:58 Yeah. It literally blew my mind. I was like, "how did she do that so fast?" That would have taken me all day.
Whitney: 33:05 Well yeah and that was the thing, like you did some of that process on your own. And so I think just having— knowing that knowing that a professional organizer is coming into your home to put your, you know, master closet back together, it kind of gives you that motivation. Okay, now I need to purge it.
Whitney: 33:22 I have somebody coming on Saturday. Like it makes you go through those things instead of like, okay, I'll get to it. I'll get to, I'll get to it. And then it never happens. So I think that's a big thing too is it's kind of like your pinpoint at the end of the week. Like, okay, it's a deadline a professional organizer is coming to put this all this stuff away. Like I've got to do the purging, I've got to go through these items. So I think that is kind of a, also a help is: you can have a professional organizer come in for literally an hour or two hours and pay him 50 bucks to just put everything back and it kind of makes you— Kind of makes you do it, kind of like get on getting it done. Yeah. And that's what like, I was so excited to share with people for people that have only seen them in the context of like Hoarders or like where people are literally doing their whole house, like a regular, you know, family.
Cara: 34:10 Um, but like you could do one space or one closet or you know, there's a lot of options to make it work for you. So if you're considering it, um, listeners out there, I totally recommend it. Um, it's, it's a game changer for sure. And I'm like, I'm considering all the other spaces that I need done.
Whitney: 34:26 Yeah. And that's, I mean, that's kind of what I've done with a couple of clients. Is— you know, I'll come in, there'll be like, my master closet is killing me. Like I cannot function anymore. So I'll go in, I'll do the closet, and then they'll be like, wow, okay, I can do it. And then they'll hire me back to come do the kitchen cabinet and then watching me also, they kind of learn how and why and they get it. You know, it kind of clicked like, okay, this is how you do it.
Whitney: 34:52 This actually is a lot easier than it, you know, it's not as daunting if I tackle it in these small amounts. And then they're able to move on from, you know, I've helped them with two areas and then they're continuing to move on to do their other closets and their toy rooms and whatever other area they're able to do it themselves after just having me in their home for a couple of times, kind of learn and watch how the process goes,
Cara: 34:05which is so important because if you don't really learn the process, like you're not gonna be able to keep it organized, they're just going to have to keep hiring you back. So just— do you have any like final tips or final like words of advice that you want to share?
Whitney: 35:31 The biggest thing would be with organizing is it's not as daunting as it may seem. I just feel like it's the ripple effect. Right. Okay. You know, having an organized home is so much bigger than just being organized. Get Rum, makes family life runs smoother, it makes relationships run smoother. You know, you leave your home that's clean and organized, and you go to work and it's, you're in a better mood instead of, yeah. Waking up in the morning and scrambling to find items and you can't find this sock and you can't find, you know, whatever. And it just, it's just a ripple effect. And, and I've always felt that — in my home growing up, my mom always just kept things organized. Again, not perfect, but organized. Like we knew where things were. Our house wasn't cluttered, it was this, it was a calm space for us to be in. And then we left the house feeling calm and it just, again, it's not as daunting as it seems like.
Whitney: 36:23 It just takes little things for you to change your mood. It's just so it's just bigger than organizing and that's why I've chosen to become a professional organizer, that it's so fun to watch other people's lives change. You know, it's, it's bigger than just a clean closet. Like it really does rollover into so much more when it comes to organizing.
Cara: 36:45 Yeah. I love that because it's not like— when it comes to our homes, it's not about a beautiful before and after. It's about like how we live in this space and how it affects us like positively.
Whitney: 36:58 For sure. And it's, yeah, it's a, it's a living space. It's where you spend a lot of your time and it does, it needs to be your sanctuary, especially, you know, I feel like in this day and age, you need a place to come home and then wind and be calm and you can't really come home and unwind and be calm when things are cluttered in chaotic. And you know, it's just organizing is, I'm just so passionate about it. It's just so much bigger than just a clean closet.
Cara: 37:23 I'm like really amped up to go to like, organize my closet. And I don't think anyone else can really motivate me to do that. This conversation was amazing. There's so many good nuggets and I can't wait to share it. So just to kind of wrap up, where can people connect with you online and if they're in Denver, how can they hire you to help them get organized?
Whitney: 37:41 Yeah, so um, I feel like the easiest way to probably get ahold of me is through Instagram. So it's organized with Whit. My name is Whitney and it's just @organize.with.whit. Um, and then same with my email address. You can shoot me an email, um, email@example.com.
Cara: Perfect. And we'll put that in the show notes so you guys can have that. And I definitely recommend following Whit on Instagram because she has so many good tips and so much good organization inspo, so definitely go give her a follow over there.
Cara: 38:15 Thank you! Thank you so much.
Cara: 38:18 Bye!
Whitney: 38:19 Bye! Thank you so much.
Cara: 38:35 So here's what I'm loving this week. It is the layered rug trend. So it's been a thing for Boho style spaces indoors, but it really works for all design styles outdoors, specifically on your front porch in front of your door. So what this is— is basically you're layering two rugs of different sizes. The bottom one is like a 3'X5' -ish rug and then the top one is like a regular doormat-sized rug.
Cara: 39:04 So this lets you combine patterns and colors and at a ton of extra interest in texture just by doubling up on your rugs. It's one of my favorite trends for summer decor because it's really inexpensive. You just need to buy two rugs and it can really transform your front porch and really add a lot of personality. Um, so I wrote a whole blog post on this that you're going to want to check out because it has a couple of extra tips for how to style this trend.
Cara: 39:32 Plus you can shop some of my favorite rug combos. So I show you how to easily combine, um, that bigger bottom rug with a doormat and give you some combos so you don't have to think about what works together. So I will link that post in the show notes because you're definitely gonna want to check it out.
Cara: 38:54 Okay. So I recently saw a piece in the New York Times that we just have to talk about. Um, the title is: what would your mom say about those throw pillows? I will link it in the show notes so you can read it. But basically the idea was that expectations set by our parents creep into the homes that we build as adults. So whether that's as a standard that we are straining to meet or some ideas that we're trying to get away from. Um, so our parents' opinions can either like create an unachievable goal or maybe it's something we like cling onto and try to like embrace that — um, nostalgia. So this is really such an interesting concept to me. So I wanted to see what your experiences are and kind of start a conversation around it. So, um, in my experience, so my mom loves the colonial era and Americana inspired decor.
Cara: 40:48 So there was like so many American flags in my house growing up, like literally every room. Um, I remember her taking us to a lady's house in the city where I grew up. That was totally that colonial style, like we're talking almost museum level of, um, kind of old Americana, like founding father's era. And my mom was just eating it up. Like it was totally her style. She loved it and I hated it, like hated that little field trip. Um, my initial reaction to that, um, as I became an adult and started having my own spaces to decorate was to seek out anything that was modern and new vs. antique pieces. I did not like the style. I didn't like anything that was like antique or like still old and distressed. Um, it also meant that I did not have any American flags. Like I just didn't want American flags, um, at any point as part of my decor.
Cara: 41:48 So I think for me, I didn't really have any unrealistic standards in terms of like my mom judging my style. She has like great tastes overall, um, and really can genuinely appreciate like a good aesthetic even if it's not her style. Um, so I don't really feel like it negatively impacted me. Um, but she just did have like a specific vibe that she loved and like wasn't afraid to like make our whole house look like what she liked. So, um, but I do think it took me a while to see the value in antiques and distressed pieces because I was surrounded by so many of them growing up. Um, I was like, over them, I think I wanted like sleek pieces that were very modern and soft, close instead of like old and occasionally janky because they were old. Um, so I think it took me a while to see the value in an antiques.
Cara: 42:42 Like I think I'm just now finally learning to appreciate the history and the craftsmanship. Um, that was in our house growing up and kind of welcome that into my home now alongside the modern aesthetic. So, um, kind of letting the two live together and not having too much of each is something I'm more leaning towards now. So it makes things more interesting to have pieces that are new and also pieces that are, you know, have that character. I feel like anyone can go out and buy all new things, but older pieces are what give it interest in personality even though they may be less functional in terms of like new technology, like soft close drawers, kind of thing. Um, so the takeaways for me in terms of this conversation is that for some people, our reaction to our parents' choices is either to run the other way and seek out alternatives and carve out our own path when it comes to like curating our own spaces and designing our own house.
Cara: 43:44 Um, others are totally on the same page as their parents and embrace that as like what they were raised on and it kind of feels like home. Um, so I just wanted to like, put that idea out there for us to think about and talk about, um, and for you to think about, kind of like how your parents' design choices or their go-to aesthetic has influenced you and influenced how you've designed and curated your home. Um, do you think it's helped you or hurt you? And is there anything you would do differently in your home if you weren't letting their opinions hold you back or overly influence you? So the big takeaway here is like that your home is YOUR space. So going head to head with other people's opinions is key to creating a space we love, even if those opinions are from our parents — as they often are.
Cara: 44:36 So it doesn't mean like don't be considerate of your parents when you design your house. It means don't create a space to please other people. Um, when you're the one that has to live in it. And I know like our parents' opinions, um, can be some of the strongest in our lives, but— but yeah, I feel like this concept is really interesting because it's not just like, you know, finding our own style or kind of like learning how to design our house, but it's also like dealing with kind of these all different influences and opinions as we design our space that we have to contend with. So, let me know your thoughts. Um, you can send in a question via email. You can shoot me a DM on Instagram or comment on a post, but I'm really interested to hear kind of other perspectives on this. Like how has your parents style influenced you? Has it been positive or negative? What are your takeaways? Let me know.
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