Kate Turk (of House of Turk) is someone I met through instagram, as most of my relationships start these days (ha). She’s a professional organizer with an education in interior design. (read more about her below!) I was drawn to her organizational skills, obviously – but what super-sold me was her copywriting. She was so captivating! She was also a mom of 3 so I felt like she would really understand my house challenges, and – she didn’t seem like she was just organizing random things for the sake of organizing. She was coming up with solutions for the places she was working on. Anyway – through organizing my house in Philly, we became friends. When we moved to Lancaster, Kate came to help me with our move in. She was amazing at helping me think through our new spaces, and having coffee with her didn’t hurt 🙂
Anyway, here is Kate and her refreshing approach to “Spring Cleaning”.
I don’t really spring clean.
I dislike forced cleaning situations. I do the Martha Stewart (Bless her pure felon soul) version of spring cleaning. A very polite transitioning of household items to their spring position in our home…and like, we plant tulips. I move gloves and mittens up a shelf and move sunscreen and hats down a shelf in the mudroom. I pull the cotton sheets forward on a shelf and move the flannel sheets towards the back. I try on every bathing suit I own and immediately drive to the gym. That’s the spring cleaning sphere I live in.
And really the idea of spring cleaning as it is traditionally understood is not applicable to most of our modern lifestyles. For religious purposes, it was a time when the church cleaned before Easter or your home was cleaned before a Passover celebration. In Persian culture, it wasn’t linked to spring at all, but to the Persian New Year. For cold and wet climates, it was the pre-Dyson cordless time when you could finally open your windows for the dust to fly out when you cleaned. So the actual WIND could pull the inches of dust and soot from the fire out of your home when you swept it with A BROOM. So why are we still putting pressure on ourselves to do this? Hand me my vacuum, Karen.
Organizing in spring is easier and makes more sense if you actually just do it year round. So if you are catching the same wave I am on, you can pick what you want to organize and when you want to do it. Don’t let Karen tell you that you have to organize your pantry right now. Do it in August, break the rules. *Karen gasps in horror*. And you guys, organization is having a real moment. It is shining In the social media spring sun. The perfectly lined up bins with rows and folds and labels and precise placement in super attractive white balance adjusted square photos. And instead of just being in the spring, we are finding reasons in every season to purge and tidy and systemize our things to fit our busy lifestyles ALL YEAR ROUND. That’s the new way. You are a part of redefining organization history. Take the pressure off. Other than true seasonal items IF you live in place that actually has seasons, any part of your home should be organized at a pace and priority of your choosing. Doesn’t it make more sense to organize your pantry in September, before the biggest months of entertaining and food prep begin? Don’t we all organize our kids clothes in July in preparation for back to school? Choose your own organizing adventure. That’s my jam.
But ok, the real secret to successful year-long organization is prioritizing creating the systems to manage the piles. The build-up. The constant clutter around your house.
Before you even get started sorting, plan the system. I know you guys, I am like VERY type-A and I was a project manager in a past life so get ready for some PROCESS. You can do this now and just start small. You are not spring cleaning, you are spring PLANNING. I love this SO much better. Let’s shift, shall we? Here are a few guidelines to help set priorities in your organization plan. Start here.
The Things That Move. In, out or around your house daily – mail, jackets and shoes, kids and all of the things. The things that move in and out of your space are often what causes the pile up, the visual clutter and the underlying stress. Getting to the root of the problem and thinking through a comfortable and convenient solution is where the magic is.
Here’s an example: PAPER. If paper is your organizing Achilles heel, clear a space by the garbage / recycling. Use a file box with folders for things you will need to keep and toss the rest. Include folders for bills to be paid, documents to be filed, forms to be completed, kids art to keep, home documents. Sort what is already there first (ie clear the counters and pre-existing piles) and commit to sorting each day or every other day going forward. Incoming paper crisis solved. System’s a go.
The Things That Hide. These are the opposite to the things the things that move. During 100% of consultations clients say “I don’t even know what is in there.” Like, every single time.
Let’s try it. Sit for a minute and think, you’re already here (just do it, trust me). Where’s the cabinet? The drawer? The space that is full but you are just not sure with what.
List those places and seriously consider if you need whatever it is that you find there. It will feel freeing, lighter AND give you room to spread out. Create empty spaces. You will feel the weight lifted. Do this slowly. A drawer in the kitchen, a cabinet, a small closet. Donate or toss the items. Get ruthless. Free the space.
The Things That Change. So now you have the day-to-day basically under control, you’ve purged things that you never use, don’t need and / or didn’t know you even had. Move on to those things that change seasonally or as kids grow or change. This is what we traditionally consider when we spring clean – seasonal clothing, sporting goods, holiday decor, kids clothing, gift wrap, linen closets, the mudroom. These, to me, are low priority in the plan. You can do these as seasonally appropriate or as you have the TIME. Do it when it makes sense after you have tackled the things that move and the things that hide, respectively.
Now you have a plan. An idea of what system you want to follow. Just start. Whenever you want. Read this blog in August? Start then. Decide this is too overwhelming with the current pandemic / social distancing / work from home forever with your kids running around like wild animals? Yeah, same. Start in 3 months. And this doesn’t even require immediate physical action. Start noticing what is causing you anxiety in your space. Write it down.
“Alexa, make a list of shit that causes me stress in my home.”
You don’t need to spring clean.
Break the rules.
Take away the pressure.
…We could all use a little less pressure right now.
Until next time,
A huge thank you to Karen, our hypothetical know-it-all neighbor who loves tradition, Werthers originals and a nice half zip pullover.
Kate’s Bio: My mom once asked me if the state of your home could affect your state of mind. “Obviously,” was my answer before I offered ON THE SPOT to fly to her home to spend a week organizing her spaces. That was the beginning of House of Turk, an organizing and styling company blending effortlessly sustainable systems with effortlessly timeless style.
Organization has been, for me, a life saver, game changer and irrefutable must. A hard requirement. A prerequisite to managing the minutia and staying above of the all-consuming chaos of our day-to-day. With 3 kids under 5, two careers and a lot of dreams, our household is nothing short of a three-ring circus. An organized and efficient household is paramount. Equally as important is that each space is aesthetically pleasing. My appreciation for beautiful design runs deep in my blood and it is something I will always bring to every project.