In the heart of New York City's flower district, we joined professional organizers Stacey Platt and Sarah Hayon, of DwellWell, on their first consultation with ready-to-wear fashion designer Mara Hoffman.
Perhaps it was due to the beauty of the flower market down below, but as we climbed the stairs to Hoffman's work studio, there was a sense of calm curiosity ... that is until we walked through the door to find a 1,000-square-foot studio packed with racks of bright beautiful clothing, trims and accessories of all sizes and color, and huge desks.
"It's just total chaos in here," says Hoffman. "We're growing as a company, the team is growing, and we can't think straight with so much stuff around us."
Although we aren't fashion designers, we can all relate. When we're working so hard to achieve success, it can often be easy to overlook minor clutter. However, after so many years, the clutter can build, and eventually, overwhelm. Thankfully, Platt and Hayon have an initial plan to cut through the fashionable excess. And as they assessed the room wall by wall, they graciously shared their expert organization tips that can be used in your home, office or storage areas.
Start from scratch. Before you do anything, completely empty out the room, cabinets, or area you wish to organize. This will allow you to assess the area's purpose, needs and your inventory. "Pull, I mean really pull, everything out. Start with a blank canvas," Sarah says, adding, "There's no skimming, skipping or moving things aside. You really have to roll up your sleeves and get in there because that empowers you to have a sense and ownership of everything that's in there." Because the scale of this particular project is so large, this would have to be done in phases as to not disrupt work flow.
Group like things. After you're done clearing up a space, order things by type. It'll help you evaluate what you have and can throw away. For instance, the ladies plan to group all Hoffman's shoes together so that the designer can go through and decide what she wants to keep, donate, or trash. "Once you're clear on what you have, this is when you can decide on design, storage, components, and how you're ultimately going to realize the space," Platt says. In fact, the biggest mistake people often make, the ladies say, is when they get ahead of themselves and go to the store to buy containers they think they need but are inevitably useless. "We don't want you to have to get containers for your containers," Hayon jokes.
Use your available space. After you've emptied the area, have sorted and assessed your belongings and purged what you didn't want, brainstorm how to maximize storage space. In Hoffman's studio, there's tons of ground-level storage but everything is very dense. For example, there are three racks of clothing hiding a bookcase. In this case, the DwellWell ladies want to place the brand's less-used materials, like old business documents, into hidden cabinetry up above. "It's not accessible space but it's usable space. We think up in terms of storage and things that don't need to be accessed on a regular basis," explains Platt. "There's too much open storage and lack of uniformity. It has to be streamlined...". The best way to do this is to construct or buy the same type of storage unit or boxes.
Tips to keep in mind. When you're undertaking a large organization project like this one, start off small. You can take one dissection of a room at a time or even finish the project in phases. Just make sure to have a plan. "Start with your dream space, like what's going to inspire you," Hayon recommends. "The clearer you are on what you want it to look like, the better the chance you can move toward that goal." In fact, Pinterest is a great resource to find inspirational spaces you might want to copy.
As for Hoffman, she dreams of a work studio that reflects the brand's personality. She wants a clean bright space with pops of color and eclectic elements sprinkled around. In fact, she is very enthusiastic about the potential space reorganization, saying she is "super stoked" and ready "for brand-new energy to pour in that'll ... affect all of us as people spending the majority of our life in this room. It'll help open new potential in all of us, so we have room to think." If Hayon and Platt are commissioned to clean up the designer's studio, they estimate it could be achieved in two and half weeks. We'll check in with their progress every step of the way.
Until then, take a look through the "before."
All photos by Bobby Doherty