If you want to have a clutter-free life, Katie Savage and Brooke Levy are two ladies you need to know about. Katie and Brooke are the two organized women behind Blue Pencil Home, a Memphis-based custom organization company. The duo specializes in helping clients with organization solutions for every room of a home or office. From organizing closets to cleaning out attics and everything in between, these two friends help you more efficiently organize your spaces. Their goal is to help take the stress away from the cleaning process and assist you in developing maintainable solutions. It is our pleasure to introduce you to our newest FACES of Memphis.
Where were you born and what was your upbringing like?
Katie: I had a wonderful childhood. I have a younger brother, Aaron, and parents who were supportive, loving and active in our lives. I graduated from White Station and then went on to Rhodes College. Memphis has always been my home!
Brooke: I was born and raised in Minnesota. I was the second of five, so naturally, everything was very chaotic. I’m convinced that is what led to my control-freak tendencies. We were brought up to be self-sufficient and hard workers. I attended Rhodes College, where I met my husband.
When did you start organizing, and why do you enjoy it?
Katie: I was always someone who appreciated an organized and clutter-free space. I think I was always organized. It is a part of who I am. It brings me peace.
Brooke: I was a very organized child. I loved making back-to-school lists, creating color-coded schedules for myself in the summer, and I was always rearranging my room. Basically, I love to organize, but I hate to clean. It’s not the same thing! Since becoming a wife and mother, I have experimented with a lot of systems to keep my house neat without spending all day cleaning it. If you have efficient and simple systems, you can keep your house fairly tidy with minimal effort. Order is very calming for me.
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what people give away, why they clean things out and the guilt that comes along with it. I think it’s helped me to see that most of us just have way too much stuff, and it causes a lot of stress in our lives. I love being in a position to help people get the most out of their spaces.
How did you come up with the idea for Blue Pencil Home?
Katie: Brooke and I were talking by the pool one day. I was in the process of moving, and she asked if she could help me purge before the move. When I told her that I had already done several rounds of purging, with the goal of not bringing one “box of random” to the new house, our friendship took a turn down a new path towards Blue Pencil Home.
Brooke: Having moved five different times in the first nine years of our marriage, I considered myself an expert on moving. I gave her my best advice, which is essentially, get rid of everything you can. No one wants to unload old junk that you hate into a new home. To my surprise, she shared my enthusiasm for de-cluttering! Until I found The Home Edit, I never knew that I could do this as a job. Soon after, I was asking my kids what they would try if they knew they wouldn’t fail, and they turned the question around on me. My answer was “start an organizing business,” and now here we are!
Tell us about the name “Blue Pencil Home.”
Katie: “Blue pencil” is a term used for editing a legal document. We help clients edit down so they can live with what they truly love and use.
Brooke: Coming up with a name was one of the most stressful parts of starting our business. Separately of each other, we looked up synonyms for “edit” and both ended up with blue pencil! It’s an editing term that means to alter, abridge or cancel with a pencil that has blue lead. We thought it was fitting to look at your home as you look at an unedited manuscript. Anyone who has ever taken a writing class knows that the secret of good writing is to edit, pare it down, and remove the unnecessary. Maybe I should blue-pencil the bit about the wine at the pool!
Why is it important to have an organized home and office?
Katie: Having a well-organized home and office system can make life so much easier and more manageable. When you have a good system in place, your world can move much more smoothly. We strive to help simplify the lives of our clients, hoping to take out unnecessary steps so that they can spend more time enjoying what is meaningful.
Brooke: I believe that when you walk into a room, your brain subconsciously registers every object that it sees. When a room is cluttered or is filled with superfluous items, our brains expend a lot of energy absorbing it all. Wouldn’t you rather use that energy elsewhere? Further, when items have a clearly designated space, it’s easy to find things and put them away when you are done.
What is your favorite room to organize, and why?
Katie: I enjoy organizing a kitchen — in particular, the refrigerator and pantry. I like to know what I have, which helps me not to have too much back stock and keeps food from expiring. Most important is that the kids can get to what they need, when they need it and are able to easily put things away as well.
Brooke: I love a kitchen because it’s all about efficiency (probably my favorite word)! As an avid cook, I know how helpful it is to have a well-thought-out kitchen.
What is your number one tip for keeping one’s home organized?
Katie: Our system stays in place because after we use something, we put it away. When we wear something, we hang it up. When we are finished eating, we wash our dishes. After the kids have finished playing with their toys, they clean up their mess (with some prompting). For me, maintaining my space is just as important as the design of an organizational system.
Brooke: I have two. Number one: De-clutter! Only keep what you love. Number two: Deal with paper right away! Ninety percent of the paper that comes in the house can be thrown away immediately! If it’s a reference paper, take a picture. That way you will be able to access it anytime or anywhere.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Katie: I get to do something that I absolutely love and get to work with amazing clients!
Brooke: Helping people love their spaces again!
What has been the most challenging part of owning your own business?
Katie: Finding time to play tennis!
Brooke: The unknown! There is so much about running a business that I didn’t even know I didn’t know! Luckily we have had a lot of people help us along the way. Especially my husband — he is always willing to listen to my crazy ideas and offer guidance.
What do you do to relax?
Katie: I enjoy reading a good book on my screened porch.
Brooke: Tennis with the best group of ladies ever!
What is the first place you take out-of-towners when they visit you?
Brooke: Barbecue, duh! There are so many great places. We always try to choose a new one!
Finish this sentence: If I had a superpower, it would be …
Katie: The ability to multiply myself. I could get so much more accomplished.
Brooke: Super speed
If you could go back in time to when you were starting your business, what advice would you give yourself?
Katie: I wish we had started it sooner.
Brooke: Mistakes are only bad if you don’t learn from them.
What is something people might be surprised to know about you?
Katie: I LOVE to go to the movies and will go during the day when my kids are in school.
Brooke: I don’t own a microwave.
What inspires you?
Katie: Cluttered space! I enjoy a challenge and appreciate the process of working through it.
Brooke: I love Instagram! My feed is filled with organizers, plant-based chefs and French fashion.
What is your best piece of advice?
Katie: Live every day to the fullest, and make sure that you take a pause for yourself.
Brooke: The first step is always the scariest; do it anyway!
With the exception of faith, family and friends, what are three things you can’t live without?
Katie: I just asked my daughter Millie this question, and she reminded me that it is water, food and shelter … three basic needs. I would also have to add my puppy, Wiley.
Brooke: Podcasts, wine and tennis
For more information about Blue Pencil Home, visit www.bluepencilhome.com.
Thank you, Mary Kate Steele, for these beautiful photos!
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