Today StyleBlueprint welcomes Laura Ray, of Laura Ray Organizing/Organize Atlanta. An Atlanta-based professional organizer, since 2006, Laura has been helping busy people organize their homes, their offices, and their lives. Laura’s uncomplicated approach to clearing clutter will simplify the often overwhelming task by streamlining the process. (All images courtesy of Laura Ray Organizing, except where noted.)

Thoughts of spring cleaning may be on your mind, but go a step further with spring organizing!

Thoughts of spring cleaning may be on your mind, but go a step further with spring organizing!

Laura:

We often spend time in the spring beautifying our yards and pulling up weeds. Now, take the analogy of weeding your garden to clearing your clutter. I’m working right now with an artist who loves to garden. She gave me the phrase “weeding out the clutter.” She says organizing and getting rid of the clutter frees her up to be more creative and think more clearly. Unlike garden weeds, clutter “weeds” did not appear overnight. Though I’m not a gardener, I understand weeds are not good and can be distracting and destructive. Just like clutter. But, where to begin? I recommend starting your spring organizing with the spaces you see every morning: the kitchen, pantry, master closet, bathroom, and garage. These areas can help set the tone for the day, so make them both beautiful and functional.

Let’s define beautiful. I have to go to an expert on this one. Author Alexandra Stoddard, in her book Living a Beautiful Life, said: “Once a personal environment is created in the small details – how one’s closet is arranged, for example – one finds oneself living in rich soil that encourages vitality and individual expression – a life lived fully and well.” Are you inspired by this quote? It definitely speaks to the possibilities for a home, more than just getting rid of clutter.

Then, define functional. Ask yourself two questions about items that might be excess.

  • Do you use it?
  • Do you love it?

Be realistic. If you take one thing from this post, it would be to learn these two questions. I developed these two questions from working with clients for the last 8 years, but I’m sure I was influenced by this quote that I found early on in my business. It’s from William Morris, an English designer from the 1800s: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

Learn to define your ideas on what you find beautiful and functional. (Image: Bookishly)

Learn to define your ideas on what you find beautiful and functional.
(Image: Bookishly)

Here is your weeding guide and some items you are looking for:

Kitchen

  • Mismatched glasses
  • Cereal bowls you never really liked
  • Old or ugly coffee mugs
  • Extra sets of everyday dishes, if you have more than 2 sets
  • Chipped plates and bowls
  • Small appliances that were a good idea at the time

Remember, you want to enjoy what you have. To organize effectively, create zones, like a coffee/tea zone, baking zone and a cooking prep zone.

Time to get rid of the chipped mugs and overabundance of plastic stadium cups... and exactly how many koozies do you really need?

Time to get rid of the chipped mugs and overabundance of plastic stadium cups…
and exactly how many koozies do you really need?

Here, Laura created a designated "beverage zone" for this kitchen cabinet.

Here, Laura created a designated “beverage zone” for this kitchen cabinet.

Pantry

  • Expired food
  • Food that was a good idea at the time (donate to a food pantry)
  • Food/Condiments that were given to you as gifts that you won’t use
  • Remember: Finding pantry items in a grocery store is easy.

Bring order to this area by grouping like items into baskets or bins.

Does your pantry look like an Avalanche Danger Zone? Evaluate the contents and purge!

Does your pantry look like an Avalanche Danger Zone? Evaluate the contents and purge!

After Laura Ray tackles this pantry, the contents are conveniently accessible.

After Laura Ray tackles this pantry, the contents are conveniently accessible.

Master Closet

  • Anything that is not part of your wardrobe or accessories, such as home décor, old paperwork, sports equipment
  • Clothes that you did not wear this season

Cleaning out your entire closet is a project. Break it down into manageable goals. For spring, focus on evaluating winter clothes. Make sure to find a home for anything tossed on the floor.

Cleaning out clothes closets may be one of our most daunting organization projects.

Cleaning out clothes closets may be one of our most daunting organization projects.

Laura's tips help break a big organization project into manageable chunks. Try working on the closet a little at a time, instead of a complete overhaul.

Laura’s tips help break a big organization project into manageable chunks.
Try working on the closet a little at a time, instead of a complete overhaul.

Master Bathroom

  • Makeup that was a good idea at the time
  • Skincare samples that you are not going to try
  • Expired medicine
  • Worn or mismatched towels

The idea is to make decisions about every item — do you use it, do you love it? Streamline your space by creating separate drawers or areas for eye care, dental care and travel items.

When the cabinets start to look like this, you probably don't even know what's in there!

When the cabinets start to look like this, you probably don’t even know what’s in there!

Group like items together, and use bins to make sure everything has a place: medicines, travel sizes, skin care, first aid, etc.

Group like items together, and use bins to make sure everything has a place: medicines, travel sizes, skin care, first aid, etc.

Garage

  • Anything that does not typically go in a garage: paperwork, clothing, food
  • Worn cleaning tools
  • Gardening pots you won’t use again (toss or donate)
  • Broken stuff that has been waiting to be fixed for over 6 months

Even a garage can look like an attractive part of your home, for most of us, it’s the first “room” we see when we arrive. Every garage needs shelves and hooks. Get items off the floor when possible.

The garage may be the first thing you see when you arrive home. Don't let clutter overwhelm you before you even walk inside.

The garage may be the first thing you see when you arrive home.
Don’t let clutter overwhelm you before you even walk inside.

Whenever possible, get things up off the floor. Use hooks, racks, shelves... there are endless options.

Whenever possible, get things up off the floor. Use hooks, racks, shelves…whatever helps keep your garage neat.

This spring, once you weed the clutter, you are on your way to a more functional and beautiful home. Enjoy!

 

Thank you so much, Laura. Your ideas give a great launching pad for those lingering organizational projects. 

Laura Ray is an Atlanta-based professional organizer helping busy people organize their homes and offices, since 2006. Laura’s been featured on several local television and radio shows, including Fox 5′s Good Day Atlanta and 11 Alive’s TrustDale TV with consumer investigative reporter Dale Cardwell. She is also President of the National Association of Professional Organizers’ Georgia Chapter. Contact Laura on her web site at organizeatlanta.com, or call 404-630-7212.