January 20, 2021

They Came, They Saw, They Organized


Recently our friend Teine (pronounced “Dana”) called to get ideas for her business, organizethis—a “clean sweep” type professional organization company. My husband Martin agreed to meet with her and suggested we learn more about her company by trying out her services. He told her we could use help in our garage and a couple of closets. At first I dragged my feet in setting a date to have her come over—a couple of free weekends and I was sure we could get a handle on our “problem areas” ourselves. But I wanted to help her out, so I considered it.

A few weeks later I walked into the house and noticed that every shelf, every surface, every room was 10 percent too small to contain everything. The kitchen counter contained a revolving yet ever- present “pile of dread.” No matter how hard I tried, it reappeared ever day. School notices, party invitations, kids’ artwork, magazines, books, mail, projects, things I didn’t know what to do with, all ended up center stage of my disorganization opera.

The growing pile of paperwork on my desk made me not want to sit there and go through it, which of course caused it to grow higher. A heavy travel schedule behind me and ahead of me contributed to other growing mountains of stuff to sort and file in their proper place. Closets were so stuffed with clothes it was a battle to wedge a hanger back in—I noticed my housekeeper getting muscley from the process! But the tipping point arrived on Jensen’s sixth birthday—lots of new toys, games, books, clothes and nowhere to put those lovely new things! “Call Teine!” I pleaded, “the sooner the better.”

Teine arrived in a very impressive truck. It was like a catering truck, but instead of being filled with burritos, donuts and other tasty treats, it was filled with organizational tools like power drills, beautiful hooks, fixtures, shelving, bins, drawer sorters, and P-Touch labelers. She assessed the situation with kindness, compassion, and professionalism. Then her crew of talented women—four on any given day—got out the power tools and got busy.

They Came, They Saw, They Organized

Can you tell before…

They started in the garage and pulled everything out. They sorted it into piles. They had a sports pile, gardening pile, beach pile, candles pile, gifts to be given pile, suggested donations pile and more. They P-Touch labeled bins of everything that we agreed should stay. The process of deciding what to keep was approached gently and with great insight. They installed hooks everywhere, getting things off the floor and in a place you could get to them. They created a work area for Martin and hung a pegboard for his tools. When they were done we were able to, for the first time since moving in five years ago—get this—park our car in our garage!

Next they moved inside the house. They decorated our book shelves (they have a decorator on staff). They brought in a palm tree and other plants. They stored things in beautiful new baskets. While this was going on, two of them attacked our worst offender, the multipurpose room. This small room consists of my office, the kids’ playroom, a very full storage closet and Martin’s desk. Watching them work was like a ballet. Kids’ arts and crafts were collected and stored in labeled bins. They collected scrapbooks and photos. Toys were sorted and reorganized. A new, deeper shelving unit was installed in the closet. A hanging rack for coats off-loaded from our entryway the bulk of things hanging there. They went through every file and every loose piece of paper with us, and created beautifully labeled files that were stored in a new file cabinet that didn’t tip over when I opened it. Teine, who has studied and taught time management, set up a system to help me manage my kitchen “pile of dread.” She ordered an ornate literature rack for the kitchen so each family member has a place to put the incoming flow of information.

They Came, They Saw, They Organized

… from after?

The kitchen cupboard had gotten to a point where I thought of giving away all the food and starting over. The shelves were too deep for me to know that I already had 10 cans of black beans before I went shopping. When they were done sorting it, I could inventory every can at a glance. They installed new pull-out bins on tracks (snacks from the snack bin anyone?).

More hooks went up—key hooks, purse hooks, lunch box hooks. Junk drawers were sifted and reconfigured into models of efficiency and effectiveness (yes, honey I do know where all our rolls of undeveloped film are now!).

They used some simple but effective decorating tricks to transform our tiny entry hall, using a mirror they had found abandoned in our garage and other items we already had.

They took on the tangle of hangers and clothes. They archived the winter stuff and special occasion shoes in under-the-bed storage units. We went through every item of clothing and created a large donation pile (if you haven’t worn it in a year…). I found the pair of shoes I had searched my closet for at least 10 times (they were in there all the time). They got rid of the plastic assortment of mismatched hangers. My closet now sports those wood hangers you see in fancy closet ads and some satin ones too! My t-shirts no longer get all bunchy at the shoulders.

Our project took nine days, longer than many because we had them take on most of our home. Some people just do a garage or a room or two. But I must say it was addicting. Now everything has a place. There is no more trying to shove something into some already overstuffed space until you figure out what to do with it. Cleaning up is a breeze. Since organizethis unblocked the dams, our things can flow to where they belong. I don’t carry the burden of “I need to get to that room, that closet, that pile!” through my day. My head is clearer, lighter. Everyone knows where things go now. I even heard Jensen chiding her three-year-old sister, India, on keeping things organized. India asks where the “four crazy ladies” are, and I must say that I miss them too!

If you have recently moved, are selling your house, never got organized from your last move or have never been organized, consider having Teine and her team transform your house like she did ours. I will say it wasn’t cheap to have our whole house done, but it has made us feel like our house is worth a million bucks more!

Teine is a member of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization. You can visit their website at www.nsgcd.org. For more information, visit www.organizethishome.com, or call Teine (“Dana”) Kenney, who grew up right here in Topanga, at (805) 480-9818.