House & Garden – May 2011
Clutter bug: how to declutter in your home
Wendy is interviewed for House & Garden by Walkley Award winning journo Paula Goodyer
Paula speaks with Wendy, and other experts, on the stress and even health problems that can be caused by clutter. Wendy highlights some of the underlying issues that can lead to household disorganisation. She also provides some tips on how to declutter, save stress and get organised.
Stonnington Leader, April 2011
Organise for the perfect fit
Melbourne Weekly, February 2011
The Clutter Trap
What to do when your kids’ stuff takes over the house?
My husband recently reclaimed his sock drawer. About time, really, given that for the past three or so years his socks formed the basis of his floordrobe, while the intended sock space housed our son’s DVD collection.
The Age, March 2011
Downsizing signals many changes
It’s an opportunity for a new, streamlined lifestyle as well as a different home.
So you’re downsizing from the family home in the suburbs to an inner-city apartment and wondering how on earth all your furniture is going to fit into the new property, not to mention the boxes and boxes of stuff collected over many years that are even now filling up your hallway?
Don’t worry, help is at hand.
The Tradie, April 2009
Work Shed Makeover
Professional organisers turn landscaper’s grubby tool shed into a schmicko work space. By Nathan Sykes
It’s the bane of every tradie’s existence: organising your gear and workshop so that you can get on with making a quid. Who’s got the bloody time?
Wendy Hanes has. She’s the secretary of The Australian Association of Professional Organisers, a non-profit organisation sponsored by Dymo. Their joint-mission is to spruik the wisdom of consulting a professional organiser about managing your living and workspace and getting, well, organised.
The Tradie put Wendy on to landscape gardener Jarrod Dickson in Black Rock, Melbourne. Finding anything in Jarrod’s lock-up was akin to searching for a pint of Guinness in a blackout.
Australian House & Garden, March 2009
If you despair at the disarray revealed every time you open the wardrobe, it’s time to sort things out. H&G asked Wendy Hanes, a professional organiser and owner of Melbourne business Skeletons in the Closet, how to tackle this task:
Clear the way.
“The first thing to do is to take everything out of the wardrobe that doesn’t belong there. You’d be amazed how many vaporisers and tennis racquets some people reach over to get dressed every day.”
“We all have a lot of clothes we don’t get rid of because we paid too much or because we think we’ll lose 5kg. I encourage people to get rid of those things, or at least get them into storage and out of their active wardrobe space.”
Three golden rules.
“The clothes you keep need to meet three criteria: they must look good and suit the image you wish to present; they must fit well; and they must be in good repair.”
Find those keepers.
“If you feel anxious that you’ll have nothing to wear by the end of your clear-out, select two weeks’ worth of outfits that you know you will like to wear and put those straight back into the wardrobe. That way, you’ll be less attached to other pieces that really should be retired.”
Pile five or fewer.
It’s fine to fold T-shirts and jumpers, but pile up no more than five, otherwise they will tumble down. Also, you tend to forget about whatever’s on the bottom of the pile.”
“Using uniform hangers creates an impression of order. I like the timber ones from Target.”
Inside & Out – Melbourne Weekly Magazine
Take it Out of the Closet
Joanne Sim speaks to an expert about how to sort out wayward wardrobes
Is your wardrobe overflowing with clothes you rarely wear? The beginning of Autumn this week is a great time to clean out the closet and gain control of your outfits. And think of the space you’ll need for all the fabulous items on show at next week’s Melbourne Fashion Festival.
Most people like to shop more than organise, and wardrobes can get out of control. Professional organiser Wendy Hanes says emotional attachment is the reason our wardrobes get so cluttered.
“It might be the event you wore (the outfit) to, but the biggest one is guilt,” she says. “There are things that you have paid too much for and haven’t worn. Or things you haven’t worn because you have gained weight. The guilt is the biggest emotion, but there is also just sentimentality.”
US-born Hanes sarted her Melbourne business Skeletons in the Closet two years ago, but she has been organising her whole life. She is the secretary and Victorian chapter leader of the Australasian Association of Professional Organisers, which has grown from 20 to 150 members in just two years.
Hanes works with clients to banish clutter and establish simple, customised systems to create functional spaces.
Hanes says the best way to start is to pull out each item of clothing from the wardrobe to review which ones you really need. She allows her clients to pick out 10 work outfits that they really like and put them aside before attacking the “dead wood”.
It’s not until you go through your entire wardrobe that you realise you don’t really need eight pairs of black pants.
“We tend to love particular items and keep buying the same item. I had a client once who had about 14 pairs of khaki chinos,” Hanes says.
“I encourage clients to…decide what they need to complement their outfit(s) for the season, and then go shopping armed with that knowledge.”
There are many options when it comes to discarding unwanted clothes, including reselling them at a market such as Camberwell, trying your luck on eBay or donating to charity.
While the thought of getting cold hard cash for your clothes sounds enticing, it can often be more hassle than it is worth. Hanes takes business attire that is in good condition to Fitted for Work, a service that helps long-term unemployed and disadvantaged women obtain employment. It’s often easier for her clients to let go of their precious items if they know they are going to a good cause.
When it comes to putting your clothes back in the wardrobe, Hanes’ practical solutions include dividers and extra hanging rails to increase storage space. Such stores as Ikea and Howards Storage World sell individual storage solutions as well as customised wardrobe systems. You can even design your perfect Ikea wardrobe online.
Metro – The Age, 18 August 2008
Winning the War on Clutter
by Annie Lawson
Some people stumble on a priceless coin collection or a family heirloom when they spring clean their homes. Amongst our household clutter, I find seven squashed sultanas, a handful of five-cent coins and a daddy-long-legs spider.
Armed with an action plan Domestica’s Justine Law prepared it was time to scrutinise all the stuff that has overtaken my family’s three-bedroom home. Her colleage, Wendy Hanes, who runs Skeletons in the Closet comes over to help.
Once the ball is rolling, the sense of feeling overwhelmed diminishes and you feel confident to do it on your own,” Hanes says.
Surveying the mountain of clothes, jumbled toys and over-stuffed bookshelf, I fear the plan is too optimistic. Especially when a barrier of plastic tubs, dining chairs and baskets of cords block the entrance to the garden shed.
I remove a couple of boxes of books from the living room shelves to free up space. Hanes advises discarding fiction books you’re unlikely to re-read. My husband won’t budge on any of his Roman history or Hitler books so I sacrifice half of my collection: He’s Just Not That Into You, You Can Heal Your Life and How To Pay Off Your Mortgage in Five Years are turfed (on the assumption that none of these situations will eventuate).
My ruthless streak grows with each passing hour spend sorting through books, matching DVD covers with discs, and finding a home for our towering collection of CDs. It’s surprisingly addictive but not cheap. Law charges $70 an hour (Hanes’ rate is $60) for a minimum of three hours.
Aside from a regular spring clearn, Hanes insists investing in storage systems help maintain an orderly home. Cables, cords, camera, iPod and mobile phone accessories should be stored in small storage boxes. Toys in my two-year-old’s room are put away in an eight-cube storage unit.
Of all the rooms, the bathroom is the easiest to declutter. Haircare, personal care, make-up and skin-care products are grouped in separate baskets.
In the kitchen, Hanes suggests storing everyday plates, cutlery, glasses, pots and pans withing the “triangle” marked by the stove, dishwasher and fridge. Platters that come out once a year can be tucked away in corner cupboards.
Paper is the biggest source of clutter – takeaway menus, bills, recipes, advertising leaflets pile up quickly. “As paperwork comes in, sort it immediately into four categories: read, action, file or trash,” she says.
Decluttering requires patience and lateral thinking. It’s a bit like the game of Tetris – rearranging your stuff to fit in your space so that daily life hums along with relative ease. It takes days to declutter, yet things can spiral out of control within a few hours (especially with young kids) if you don’t clean up each day.
“You need to free up your prime real estate for things you use all the time. If things are piling up, it’s usually because they don’t have a home,” Hanes says.
The clutter has not been entirely exorcised from my home but the house is apparently near the good end of the orderly scale. How long it stays there remains to be seen.
Country Home Ideas, Vol 7, No. 7
Clearing the Clutter
As you would expect of someone who is secretary of the Australasian Association of Professional Organisers (AAPO) and leader of its Melbourne chapter, Wendy Hanes is a natural – and even runs her own organising service, Skeletons in the Closet.
How do you know when it’s time to de-clutter?
It’s time to de-clutter when you can’t use a space for its intended purpose. For instance, your expensive car is sitting in the driveway because the garage is full of items that wouldn’t fetch $100 in a garage sale, or you eat sitting on the couch with a tray on your lap because the dining table is covered in bills, homework and craft projects.
It’s also time to de-clutter if you’re feeling overwhelmed, buying duplicates of things because you can’t find the one you bought originally – or forgot you even had one – or you’re losing important documents and wasting time looking for them.
It’s definitely time to de-clutter if you hide when people come to the door because you’re embarrassed for them to see your home the way it is.
What’s the first move when starting the process, and what room do you think people should begin with?
The starting point is to visualise how you want your place to look, feel and function. This vision helps you make the tough decisions about what’s relevant and what you need to let go of.
If you have the help of a professional organiser, anywhere that paperwork collects is a good place to start, whether it’s the home office, the kitchen counter or the dining table. Learning to handle paper efficiently reduces stress and can also save time and money. If you’re going it alone, however, start with something easy that doesn’t have too much emotion attached to it, such as the pantry or laundry cupboard.
What are some common storage places people don’t think of?
It’s usually not a case of needing more space but making better use of what you have – and getting rid of the things you don’t need or love! I have limited storage in my bathroom so I’ve hung a shoe organiser with clear pockets inside the door of the linen press to hold spare toiletries and supplies. Also, you can easily double the area you have for clothes with a double-hang extension bar. These are particularly good in children’s rooms – parents can put the clothese they want the kids to wear at their level and keep off-season ones on the higher rail.
How long does it take to organise a home?
Most people just have a few clutter ‘hot’ spots that they need help getting on top of. Generally, a wardrobe, pantry, linen press or laundry room can be transformed in around four hours.
What’s the key to getting rid of those miscellaneous piles of ‘stuff’ that seem to build up around the home?
Things tend to pile up either because they don’t have a home or you’re afraid that, if they’re out of sight, they really will be out of mind’. Everything needs to have a designated ‘place’, including magazines, children’s artwork, take-away menus, sports bags and DVDs waiting to be taken back. Once things have their place, it can take as little as 15 minutes a day to put them away and restore order. For kids, this could be part of the bedtime routine and saves the ‘clean up your room’ fights on the weekend.
Creating a ‘transit lounge’ near the front door is a good way to corral library books, clothes to be dry-cleaned, items for charity and all those bits and pieces waiting to ‘move on’ – a chest or cupboard is great for this.
How do you prevent clutter coming back?
Knowing what you have helps stop you buying duplicates, which is a waste of money – and a big source oc clutter. I had one client who have five bottles of Tabasco – all open! SHe had no idea what was in her pantry so she constantly bought the same things. Also, when shopping, instead of just thinking that something might be useful, ask yourself where you’re going to put it!
Paper is the number-one source of clutter in most homes so be ruthless with all that unsolicited information that comes in. Recycle unwanted junk mail, inserts and envelopes immediately and sort the rest to read, action or file.
How much would you expect someone to throw away when helping them sort out their homes?
How much a person disposes of depends very much on their vision for the space, and their circumstances. I’ve seen many instances of people downsizing from a large family home to a small apartment – and bringing everything with them. Trying to ‘shoehorn’ everything in does not create a comfortable and inviting abode, so they have to find a balance between their lifestyle and their stuff.
Many people associate organisations with minimalism, which is not correct. A well-organised home can be full of collections and sentimental pieces as well as everything that comes with a busy life. Things only become clutter if you don’t use them or love them – and they’re stopping you living the way you want to in your home.
What steps do you go through when organising?
The first steps is always to help clients create a vision of what they want to achieve. Then, one space at a time, we sort things like with like. Clients are often shocked to see items they’d completely forgotten they had – and, when one realised she had seven colanders, the decision to get rid of some was easy! The next step is to let go of unwanted bits and pieces, and find them a good home with charitable organisations usually makes this step easier. Finally, everything is assigned a convenient ‘home’ and the client is encouraged to get into the habit of putting things back in their place – routinely.