A new season is upon us and while it’s not exactly sweater weather yet, back-to-school is the perfect time for a re-evaluation and clean out of your closets and storage.

Psychologists estimate that fully 80 to 90% of the stress in our lives comes from managing our possessions. (Not our teenagers and mother in laws!) Clutter causes stress, frustration, steals time (trying to find keys? that overdue bill?) but is something we can control. Clearing clutter is very similar to going on a diet or starting an exercise program. The process is the same…break the task into smaller, simple steps.

Ask yourself: Are your things working for you or are you working for your things?

We interviewed two professional organization experts that The Wills Company has had the pleasure of working with:  Jane Haggard, who has been helping people organize and de-clutter their home and work spaces for 20+ years, and Tina Adams, of Tina Adams Wardrobe Consultants. Tina shares tips and wardrobe strategies on her often witty blog.  Both experts shared with us a plethora of great tips on how to get started on a closet or room clean out, what the tools are that you should have at your disposal and what some steps and follow-through are for clutter-free living.


Photo credit: (l. Jane) Hunter Armistead, (r.Tina) Tina Adams Wardrobe Consulting

Home Organization with Jane Haggard

“Do not start by running to the Container Store and buying a bunch of cute wallpapered boxes. Those are only a place to hide more stuff.  The buying of boxes comes AFTER the hard work of honing down.” warns Jane Haggard. “Plan on no distractions while this process is going on.”

The answer is NO. Do not start with a run to Container Store to get pretty boxes.

“If we’re tackling a kitchen, for example, the first thing we do is take EVERYTHING out of the cupboards, drawers and shelves, leaving them completely empty and bare.  A good cleaning of the shelves and drawers should happen next.”

Idea: Have the interiors painted a contrasting color or wallpaper the back something fun. Decide this ahead of time and have your contractor scheduled.

“Make 4 piles – Throw away, Donate, Keep, “Relocate” (Keep but it doesn’t belong where it currently is.)

“A true sign of success is a 20 yard dumpster in the driveway”  (Yes, you heard that right!) “Consider getting one delivered ahead of time.”

Bonus: The satisfactory sound it makes when you throw things in!

“Start at one end of the room or closet and move in a deliberate path from one side to the other. Avoid bouncing around from one area or room to another. Stay focused.”

Oooh! Aaaah! Focus pays off!

“When it comes to making a tough decision about an item, I ask my clients, ‘Is this item serving you?’ If not, allow it to serve others.”

Jane’s clients often have favorite places to donate items: Salvation Army, Goodwill, ARC, Habit for Humanity ReStore for construction materials/doors/light fixtures. Two local re-use charities that Jane gives high marks to are Perenity, for donations of vases, and Spring Back Nashville for recycling of mattresses.

Regarding garage sales: “Unless that someone is Betsy Wills, I usually discourage them from holding a garage sale which usually turns out to be a lot of time and trouble for very little reward.”

AFTER the initial purge, items can begin going back into the drawers and into storage boxes. For that the ONLY storage container that gets the Jane Haggard Seal of Approval is the 66 quart, flat white top, clear, no clamping handles, Sterilite bin. “They nest easily, are moisture-proof and you can stack them 5 to 6 high and still get into the one on the bottom if you have to.” says Jane.  For photos, papers, small items the 15 quart is good.

Whether they are de-cluttering a kitchen, attic, basement, getting a house ready for renovation, moving a parent or organizing an entire house, “Clients are amazed at the results for a relatively small investment of time and money”, says Jane. “It’s a passion of mine but it becomes a way of life for my clients.”

We finished by asking Jane what is the greatest characteristic of a organizational consultant is and she answered, “Discretion”. Thanks Jane!

Wardrobe and Closet Organization with Tina Adams

For getting your clothes closets and wardrobe honed for the season we always look to wardrobe expert and stylist, Tina Adams.  We caught up with Tina at Nashville’s H. Audry Boutique in Hill Center where she had just found the One Perfect Item for Fall and shared it and her closet advice with us.  “Fall is here and it’s the right time to clean out all those closets, get the rods and drawers redone properly and bring in the experts for help.”

Click (above) to watch a short video of Tina’s closet advice plus her ONE GREAT ITEM for fall!

Tina also advises in a recent “closet” blog starting a closet clean out by taking everything completely out of your closet and drawers. “The best way to get more room in your closet – PURGE!  It’s so hard, but so true. And, it’s our specialty. Let us help you decide what needs to go, what should stay, and only add in what is absolutely necessary.”

“I cannot get enough of well-designed, gorgeous closets. I’m OBSESSED!” says Tina. “I am chomping at the bit to do a coffee table book on beautiful closets. It doesn’t exist. I get to see beautiful closets every day. You wouldn’t believe what some of my clients (with the help of designers and builders) can do with every kind of space: from teeny tiny to grand!”

On Tina’s Wish List for every client’s closet:

  • a valet rod – great for airing out today’s clothes and staging tomorrow’s
  • stacked 3/8 inch shelves for shoes, preferably velvet lined or in glass, no need for the shelves to be slanted (as they are in one of the photos above)
  • good lighting; away with any overhead flourescents!
  • full-length mirror, at least 1/4 inch thick and hung flush to insure there is no distortion
  • matching hangers. preferably in velvet
  • jewelry safe – “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the sad story of jewelry going missing!”
  • the ultimate luxury – an island with drawers

Still holding onto those “Dynasty” jackets with huge shoulder pads?

More Tina Tips: “Aim to take 25% out every season by asking yourself – ‘if I had the money to buy this piece again today would I?’  If the answer is no, donate it!” “Get rid of everything that’s not perfect and fabulous.”

Speaking of fabulous…who can forget “The Closet” from Sex & the City movie? Click to watch it again (and again)

Are you looking for a mud room, basement, closet, cabinet, cupboard overhaul? Contact The Wills Company to get you started on the road to clutter-control bliss. (615) 352-1228.

Thanks to Jane Haggard and Tina Adams for their inimitable style and tips!

Jane Haggard can be reached at [email protected]  and (615) 352-3532

Tina Adams can be reached at Tina Adams Wardrobe Consulting.