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You’ve probably seen the beautifully crafted spaces that professional organizers have put together — but have you ever wondered what the inside of their home might look like? Shira Gill, an organizing expert, best-selling author, and minimalist, got to take a peek, and she’s sharing what she saw and learned in a new book that not only takes you inside these homes but also empowers you to get organized.
Gill’s new book, Organized Living, which is hitting bookshelves on Tuesday, Oct. 3 (but you can pre-order it now!) is a 288-page hardcover that features homes of 25 professional organizers from around the world, and gives insider secrets, solutions, and tips.
From page to page, you’ll see a wide array of spaces to snag inspiration from — whether it’s a studio in Brooklyn, an airstream home parked in California, a zero-waste home in Paris, or a house in Portugal. “The new book is really anchored in my desire to show that organizing is for everyone and it can look differently depending on who you are, what you care about, where you live, [and] your cultural identity,” says Gill.
One takeaway Gill hopes readers get is that “organization is a tool to make your life better and you get to have it look any way you want.” That means it doesn’t have to be picture-perfect. “I just want people to feel liberated to make use of the tool without feeling the pressure of achieving an unrealistic standard that everything is perfect and looks straight out of a magazine at all times.”
Another truth uncovered by this book: professional organizers, just like us, have clutter in their homes. These “dirty little clutter secrets,” as Gill calls them, are actually not-so-secretive either, in that these culprits are ones that many of us face in our own homes — like, say, the kitchen counter, or any other “family dumping ground,” like the dining room table or entryway.
There are also deep storage places, like the garage or basement, where you tend to store things related to nostalgia or utility. These spaces aren’t as pretty and normally don’t have the “beautifully aesthetic system,” shares Gill, who says even her basement isn’t the best. “It’s not cute.”
Then there are the rooms that are completely out of your control because they belong to someone else, like kids’ rooms. What was humanizing was you could be the most organized person, literally in the world, but you still have people in your home — family, pets, kids — who aren’t going to adhere to your standards and systems all the time, says Gill.
Another surprising clutter culprit? The car! “When you think about it, organizers are always hauling stuff around for other people,” says Gill, which in turn means that their car becomes the hub for donations, products, and more. So, rules are more relaxed here since it is a transitional space.
But there’s always a fix to common clutter issues. Many of the pros implement seasonal cleanouts to allow for editing and quick sweeps around the house. Popular times include back-to-school and holiday seasons, where gifts and new things are coming in, so old things have to go out. They also follow habits that work for them, like zoning. This could look like kids being able to dump all their things in their room but not in the dining area.
You’ll find a successful instance of harmony in the home through zoning at pro organizer Devin VonderHaar’s house, which is also featured in Gill’s book. Devin’s lifestyle is more minimalistic while her spouse Jess is the opposite. To compromise, they divided up their home into areas where they could each be in charge of cleaning, organizing, and arranging. Devin has the shared living spaces and bedroom, and Jess has her own room and the garage. Everyone’s happy.