If you followed the link yesterday to the new Real Simple website, you saw that we have a partner in the Home and Organizing community. Holly Becker, author of the electrifying blog Decor8, writes about interior design and style on the days when we’re not discussing organizing. Since this is the month of sharing at Unclutterer and Decor8 is one of our favorite blogs, we asked Holly to share some of her gifted design advice with us on the topic of organization. Holly provides many incredible links in her interview, so be sure to follow them for artistic motivation. Our appreciation, too, goes to Holly for taking the time to talk with us!
Unclutterer: “Inspiring” is a word that often comes to mind when I read your site. The images and articles you present help me to imagine great things for my space. What are your favorite pieces of inspiration you’ve written about on your site?
Holly: I’m very curious and extroverted and I naturally enjoy meeting people, so I have to say interviewing creative men and women who are following their dreams (always inspiring!) along with shop and home tours of decor8 readers are the pieces I really enjoy writing. Mari Eriksson, YippieYeah, Enna, Nest Decorating, and Selina Lake are a few of my recent favorites. I also love to write random decor-related pieces, like Power Poufs, Doily Love, and I Dream of Cake. I like to mix things up, so I don’t adhere to strict schedules and run very few “regular columns” with the exception of Etsy: Take Five Tuesdays and Color Me Mondays. I don’t want to make things too formal, when I wake up in the morning it is then that I decide what I’ll write about. Very little is prepared in advance, it’s all on a whim just as I believe blogging for me should be – creative journaling. It’s a blog afterall, not a magazine.
Unclutterer: How can color be integrated into an organization system?
Holly: Through labeling! Adding fancy hang tags to storage boxes and labeling magazine files with colorful labels is pretty and helpful. (For fancy hang tags, shop Elfrida.) Some like to organize their book spines by color, not the best way to locate your books but it sure is pretty and all the rage right now! Use “day of the week” clips to organize your work, Susy Jack makes some great ones. You can also cover your boring corkboard with a favorite fabric or wrapping paper. Use canvas storage boxes with handles like these from Hable Construction for concealing and storing bottled water in the kitchen. Wire and clothes pegs help to organize photos and cards on a wall or add your favorite wallpaper to empty oatmeal containers to store odds and ends. Try chalkboard paint and colored chalk so you can write your schedule directly on the wall … The list goes on and on. Look at everything you own twice before you donate it to charity — see if it can be used for something other than what it was intended for.
Unclutterer: What is your favorite organization tool? (A tool can be anything that helps you to achieve a more organized life … it doesn’t have to be a tangible object.)
Holly: Finding a schedule that works for you and sticking with it. I am working on practicing what I preach! As fas as advice goes on getting organized, hire out for help if you’re in over your head. I’ve done this in the past and it saved me. Hire a cleaning lady or a personal organizer, even a decorator, if you need to clean the slate and start from scratch. Sometimes you just need another person to step into your space and give you some encouragement and advice. Once they leave, you can get started on maintaining things which, based on my own personal experience, is a lot easier than starting a project on your own.
Unclutterer: Images you post that are representations of the shabby chic even appear to be organized and purposefully dressed. Do you find that good design (of any style) and an uncluttered environment go hand-in-hand?
Holly: Not always, I have visited apartments in Paris that were over-the-top cluttered but somehow worked. I’ve also worked with some of the most brilliant executives in Boston who manage to work successfully despite the layers of endless paperwork and books in their office. They knew where everything was in their paper mountains and that’s all that seemed to matter! An uncluttered environment may not be for everyone, but it’s certainly the best for me. Shabby Chic, Eclectic Bohemian, Mid-Century Modern, Hollywood Regency, they are by no means minimalistic, but the key is that everything you see in photos from your favorite magazines is styled to perfection. All items are arranged well, so clutter isn’t termed clutter anymore if it’s pulled together according to a theme on a mantel or credenza. It’s only clutter if it’s thrown around without any thought put into its placement or has no practical reason for being there. Having less isn’t always the goal in some of these styles, having less clutter is.
Unclutterer: A lot of our readers are parents who are looking for ways to keep their kid clutter at bay, but still make their homes a place where their children feel comfortable. Do you have any suggestions for these readers?
Holly: I’m not a mother but I am a daughter and from experience as a child — please parents let the kids be kids. I can’t stress how important it is to allow them the space needed to be creative and explore their inner artist. It’s also important to train them to be organized, but not to be so concerned with perfection that it stomps out their creativity. Carve out spaces in the home where the kids can make a mess – a play area in a living room, a nook in the kitchen, or if you have space, an entire playroom. Of course, their bedroom should be where they play, so most of their toys and such should be kept in their bedroom. Make clean-up time fun — have mini contests (see who can clean up first), or create charts with chores and boxes where they can check off what they’ve done that week — the end of week the chart is reviewed and if all the chores were taken care of then the child is awarded with a trip to the zoo, park, or something else where the parent can spend time with them. When it was time to clean in my house, my mother made it fun. She’d play music and sing – just like Cinderella! It was so cute but it motivated me to get involved.
Unclutterer: Of all of the jobs that you could have, why have you chosen to blog about interior design? What is it you love about this subject?
Holly: I didn’t select blogging as a job, I think it selected me! I started blogging before design blogs were running ads and became a source of income or a hot new business. When I started blogging, I only knew about a few blogs (3 total) and that was it. It was an exciting way for me to catalog the finds I sourced for my design clients back then, and it grew into being a source for design aficionados all over the world to tap into. It’s exciting and though I earn a living through blogging now, I don’t consider it a job. It’s still my creative outlet where I can be myself and enjoy the company of other creative types online and for me, that’s all that matters.