When I first came to look at the house in Harlem, I was told that the room was small. And it was, it definitely was--except that it was significantly larger than the room I'd been living in in Greenwich Village...New York is such an odd place. That small room served me so well. For nearly a year and a half I lived in, and loved, that space. I painted the furniture and decorated the walls and filled the bookcase. But in June, just back from Europe, I moved into the room next door. There are three windows and an exposed brick wall and space for days. There really is no feeling like loving--and feeling safe--in the space in which you live.
The one catch? There's no closet. Which meant I called on my friend Joanna who I have adored since I was eighteen and who just so happens to have a closet-cleaning business (among many, many other talents). I asked her if she would closet-clean my closet-less room. So on a Friday night she came over and we at Mexican food on the floor and chatted about life, and then she appraised the space--and my single rack of clothing in the corner--and suggested I order an armoire and we go from there. Which is exactly what happened.
I'm good at getting rid of the big stuff--it's the small, weird things that I have a harder time with (like free shampoo packets that I might finally want to try some day...so odd, I know). Joanna helped me sort and organize and get rid of my small, hidden messes. Her motto is not revolutionary, but she is very, very good at it--a place for everything and everything in its place. Which means there's a basket for papers, and one for technology, and another for toiletries. In a space where there is not a tremendous amount of built in storage (and it's important to note that I didn't want to turn the underside of my bed into a small attic) she was able to sift and sort and put it all away. And I am in her debt. My big takeaways: 1. If I'm not using something, I store it--the iPhone cord that's not currently charging the iPhone? It goes in the drawer until I the evening when need it. And 2. I'm more likely to find my hanging clothes if they are sorted by color.
Ten Tips from The Closet Cleanse's Joanna Krupnick
1. Don’t think about cleansing your closet as a daunting chore. Think of it as hugging your possessions really tight, walking down memory lane with them, and sending them in to retirement. (Life is good).
2. Cardboard and paper collect dust and attract bugs. Those shoe boxes that you think are helping are actually little hoarders themselves. Opt for clear plastic shoe boxes. You can cut the dust and see your favorite shoes!
3. If you take your clothes to be dry-cleaned, when you get them home be sure to unwrap them out of the plastic and put them away. The chemicals used still continue to be contained inside the plastic and have no way out but in to your clothing. But good on you for taking care of your delicates!
4. Your shoes deserve a lot of loving. They carry you around day to day, and you kick them off when you’re done with them. So bring them out of the heap, match them up with their mates, and find a system for them to be well taken care of.
5. If it has been in need of alterations for the last 9 months, you haven't missed it and it doesn't deserve to sit there broken. Fix it or let it go.
6. That cardigan your mom gave you 7 years ago that you never wear but feel bad donating? It’s finally okay to pass it on! The joy that mom felt giving it to you and the happiness you felt receiving it from her is the greatest service it can give, if you're not wearing it. It has served its purpose and as you silently thank it (or audibly if you're that girl-->me) and then let it go.
7. I can totally relate to my clients who have lots of sentimental items; things they love and that make them happy, but get lost in the depths of cluttered drawers or closets collecting dust--laying in that purgatory of usefulness and "oh that's that thing from that thing we did together" and taking up space. I like to find a safe place for them (perhaps outside of your closet) to all be together where they can be taken out when you need a good laugh, cry, or hug.
8. It’s very hard to have peace of mind when your house is not in order. You will sleep better, and get more done when the clutter around you ceases.
9. Wait! Why do you still have that off-the-shoulder top that ALWAYS annoys you because it slips up on your shoulders whenever you raise your arm above a 45 degree angle, and because you have INSTAGRAM PROOF that it does in fact makes you look like your great aunt Dolores, and you already have that incredible one shoulder blouse that has DEFINITELY gotten you kissed before?!
10. Remember: It's just stuff. The memories are already there, all organized and safe. Plus, a cheers with chilled champagne is always waiting at the other end of the deep clean.
Joanna's real gift is a fresh set of eyes (with a keen aesthetic sense) to appraise what you have and then kindly and gently--and with great humor--take you on the journey of paring down. She's really so remarkable and I am so wildly grateful to call her my friend. And I cannot recommend her talents enough. Lady--let's have quesadillas and margaritas again and soon, no?