Spring Cleaning with Sorted & Staged

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Earlier this year, when my husband and I finally got around to painting our bedroom, I mentioned our ridiculous four mini-closets and how clutter-filled they were. Despite the fact that I’ve become friends with all Type-A folks (what am I? Type B?), and while I’m not a hoarder or completely a mess, Andy and I both sometimes have trouble throwing things away.

sorted-and-stagedSome of my friends, as well as my sister, are ruthless and keep nothing. I’m just too sentimental for that, I guess. I like personal effects and find value in holding on to (some) things. Anyway, none of them wanted to come over and help me purge my closet (my sister had offered but when she visits, I’d rather have QT than work time with her).

Fortunately, after that mention, a reader kindly connected me with a local “efficiency expert.” Kristen Lanza owns and operates Sorted & Staged Home Enhancement Services.

Kristen offers a range of services, but we talked about our strange, old, limiting closets and how much I hate putting laundry away because it seems like there’s never any space.

“You actually only wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time,” Kristen says.

We agreed on one 4-hour session to fix it once and for all.

And that’s what we did this past Sunday.

Click through for tips from Kristen, plus before and after photos of my own closets!

Each time Kristen meets with a client, she follows a series of steps intended not only to create the best clutter-free outcome, but also to soothe the client. Many people develop an emotional attachment to all kinds of items, from clothes to tchotchkes. Her job isn’t to take away what’s important to you, but to make space for the items in your life that make you happy and feel good.

Kristen’s methods:

1) Talk about the interior space that needs help (how it got that way, what the problem is, what the ideal end result would look like), share other client’s before & after photos (so you feel comfortable and know that you’re not the only busy people this happens to), and take before pictures of the space to compare with the end results later.

 Our “Before” Photos

2) Sort through every single square inch of the room (drawers, closets, bins, corners and everything under, over and piled on-top of) to decide what is loved, what you can live without, and what could be better utilized elsewhere in the house.

3) Take everything that has already been sorted and decided that it’s the best of the best stuff to keep, it all gets organized in the most efficient way possible, to ensure the best ease of use and make sure it is the most aethestically pleasing. Typically, everything in the room is rearranged to allow everything to have a special home that will allow for the homeowner to maintain everything easily in the future.

4) A “Grand Reveal” takes place with all family members to see the amazing results after just a few hours (I hold up the camera with the before pictures as we compare it with the real-life after). Bags of donation, trash and consignment are counted at this time and clapping and a mini-celebration usually follows.

Our “After” Photos

I found my time with Kristen to be very therapeutic, and much of it was a lesson in learning myself. In some cases, I realized I was holding on to the clothes of a person I no longer was and no longer liked (but often wore because I owned it, then hated how I would feel in it — Kristen says clothes like this have to go. “Get rid of anything that makes you feel schlumpy,” she told me.)

I also found I was holding on to old clothes because I have no concept of time. I remember seeing a picture of myself in a tank top and realizing the picture was taken on my 25th birthday. I was 32! Purge the tank top! I didn’t even wear it anymore, but it was a gift from my mom, so I held on to it. I’ve also been holding on to suits – there wasn’t really anything wrong with them, it sort of felt like I just got them. I hate wearing suits. Dress for Success, here you go!

I also learned:

  • I hate button down shirts and will not wear them.
  • I no longer have to wear bell-legged pants to balance out my hips b/c I actually go to the gym now.
  • Why do I still have a dress I wore to Homecoming junior year of HIGH SCHOOL? Yes, I was a strange girl.


Declutter your own closet! Kristen’s top tips include:

#1 Most Valuable Tip: You should discard clothes that you no longer love, wear or feel great in!

#2 Most Valuable Tip: To see what clothes you don’t wear on your own, try the “Reverse Clothes Hanger” technique. Go into your closet and turn everything that’s on a hanger back-to-front for the entire season. During spring, summer, winter and fall, when you wear an article of clothing, hang it up with the clothes hanger facing the correct way. At the end of a few months, whatever is still hanging back-to-front, consider tossing, donating or consigning.

#3 Most Valuable Tip: To see what clothes you don’t wear during your session, you get only 3 seconds to decide if you love the item of clothing or if you’re going to get rid of it (any hesitation and it goes)!

Still need help? Here is Kristen’s Scale of Keeping What You Love vs. Letting Go of What You Don’t:

  • Worn out or stained – toss it!
  • Good condition but not great – donate it!
  • Practically new but you’re just not going to wear it – consign it!

Kristen typically charges $150 for this service, which is for four (4) hours to handle one room, no matter how clutter-packed it is. Here’s a description of her full services, in her own words:

Learn more at the Sorted & Staged website and “Like” them on Facebook.

Sara Bozich
Author: Sara Bozich

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