by Julie Craig | by Jamison Mosley and David Yerby
A Conway organization guru simplifies AY Publisher Heather Baker’s most-used spaces to create efficiency in function
Minimalism. Everyone is doing it. A true refresh to the home, even if it’s only one room, can be exactly what one needs to start anew – to create a sense of calm. Throwing out the old and ushering in the new to start fresh is all the rage these days, but it can be a hard thing to do. Letting go of clutter and getting rid of unneeded belongings can lend a magical feeling and totally transform the look of a room in an instant. Sometimes decluttering is the perfect solution to frustration, stress and anxiety without even realizing it.
After inspiration from Netflix cleaning guru Marie “does it spark joy?” Kondo, AYPublisher Heather Baker thought it was the perfect time to get her very own family home organized. “We have definitely accumulated a lot of stuff in 18 years of marriage with two active teenagers,” Baker says. “Sheryl Mulberry from Fresh Start Conway helped us tackle what seemed like a daunting task,” she says.
“After the consultation with her, we targeted some obvious needs. I really wanted to get our family spaces in order first, so we went after our pantry, laundry room and mudroom. These spaces are used daily and can get turned upside down quickly.”
Mulberry began her organization business in 2016 while needing her own fresh start after experiencing the tragic death of two sons in an auto accident a few years prior. Mulberry is now inspired to help others with home organization as she turns “chaos into calmness one space at a time” because she says, “life is hard enough without the added pressure that disorganization brings.”
“A place for everything, and everything in its place.”
As a busy, working professional with a family, Baker sought out Mulberry to help make certain areas of her Roland home more functional and to serve the family more efficiently. “My goal is to save the homeowner time and create a space that everyone in the home can use and enjoy,” Mulberry says. “They should be able to find what they are looking for quickly, and easily return items to their place when they are finished using them.”
When Mulberry starts an organization project, she likes to assess first the activity taking place in the space being organized, then the types of items needed to make it function for the homeowner. From there, it’s a matter of removing unnecessary items and properly placing the items truly needed. Mulberry says all organization projects have stages: out (everything comes out of the space), identify (all needed/wanted items are identified) and optimized (the items are arranged in a way that best works for the homeowner). “A lot of people start with purchasing storage or access solutions,” Mulberry says. “I personally recommend getting your solutions after you’ve identified what is staying in the space because there’s a good chance you already have what you need.” Another part of the entire organization process is being able to reuse things in a better way. “I like to look around my client’s home or office and repurpose items they already have,” she says.
A prime example of repurposing for the better is inside Baker’s laundry room, where Mulberry simply organized the cabinets and drawers where sheets are stored. She separated out each set and folded them together so anyone can easily grab one folded item and have an entire sheet set, including fitted, flat and pillowcases. Magical, indeed.
When it came to the mudroom, as in most homes, change involved removing clutter and unnecessary items for the benefit of much better storage. “Once the unnecessary items were removed, practical storage solutions were put in place to hold what this family needed,” Mulberry says. Storage solutions like hooks now allow the display of several brooms and mops, and sturdy metal shelving for tools and cleaning appliances makes ample room for more items that are much more accessible than the previous, non-durable plastic drawers. Baker’s pantry got a fresh makeover by the use of baskets and a tiered cupcake holder to store teas and hot beverage mixes. “This space was not overcrowded to begin with, so the biggest change was just sorting and making the things this family used the most easily accessible,” Mulberry says. And when it comes to sorting, she gives the tip of sorting piles as you go. “We use bins, boxes, beds and any other flat surface we can to put like items together,” she says.
“Sheryl Mulberry from Fresh Start Conway helped us tackle what seemed like a daunting task,” says heather baker.
“You know the old saying, ‘A place for everything, and everything in its place?’ Sheryl helped us work toward that goal, but first we needed containers and storage options,” Bakers says. “Then, after the common areas, she went where no man has gone before. My closet.”
Mulberry transformed Baker’s closet so that she could “shop” her own closet and find everything much more quickly since she expressed she only used a “fraction of it” because she couldn’t find anything. “I knew I had too much in that closet,” Baker says. “Sheryl helped me with this overwhelming task and organized everything by color which makes the area look so much more appealing.”
In the closet, placement was very key. So, Mulberry unified the space by matching all of the hangers and updated her jewelry storage into drawers instead of pieces being strung all over. “Heather has a lot of lovely pieces, but they all seemed to get lost on her dressing room island,” Mulberry says. “There’s something about having uniformity that’s calming and comforting,” Mulberry says. Now that everything is organized, including shoes, it will be easier to find the exact style, color and type she needs, and it is all separated by category (business, casual, formal) and color. “Instead of being overwhelmed with everything at once, Heather can enjoy the simplicity of selecting each piece from its specific spot,” she says.
Throughout the entire project, simplicity redefines each space, and with a little change in details often overlooked before, the end goal is both aesthetically pleasing and functional. “We are so happy with the results. Not only is it organized and pretty, but it is something we can manage on a day-to-day basis,” Baker says.
Declutter & Donate
It’s a hard habit to break. Hanging onto old clothes that don’t fit or that are no longer worn. But donating clothes can be a great way to minimize clutter to edit a closet and, in turn, reduce stress and frustration. A clean closet many times equals a healthy and happy mind. Plus, it contributes to the community, limits waste in landfills and sets a good example for your children. On top of that, it’s a tax deduction. Who doesn’t want that?
Start by checking your closet for those unnecessary pieces. If you haven’t worn an item in the past year/season, it’s time to let it go. It could be one or all of these four things: it doesn’t fit; you don’t like it; you don’t wear it; you have too many. After you decide on what needs to head to donation, look for any major rips, tears or stains. Most centers consider donation condition the equivalent of what you might give a friend. Run anything you’re getting rid of through the laundry once more before you pack it up neatly into a box to officially unclutter your space for good.
Need help figuring out where to take items? Here is a quick reference list of ideas:
• Thrift stores, such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army
• Dress for Success
• Consignment/resale shops
• Local shelters or religious centers
• Habitat for Humanity