How do I organize all this stuff
August 6, 2019 12:49 PM   Subscribe

Is there such a thing as a person who comes into my apartment and tells me what furniture and storage things I need to organize my stuff?

I just moved into a two bedroom apartment without a lot of storage and I don't know what to do with all my stuff. I don't have a ton of furniture (like, none) or closet space, so right now it is all sitting out and looks crappy. It is a lot of random things that I both need and need to be easily accessible, so assume that Marie Kondo-ing or renting storage are not solutions. What I would really like is for someone to come in and tell me the furniture and wardrobes and things I need to put all this away in a sane way. What are these people called, if they exist, and are they expensive? I live in the DC area if anyone can provide recommendations. I know I could go to Ikea and wander around but I'm worried about overspending and it would be easier to go in with a plan.
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
Yes! There are professional organizers. I hired one once and it was an amazing experience. I just went on yelp, put in "organizer" and then just started calling numbers til someone picked up. Then she came over and gave me a whole plan of attack and helped me sort through everything. It was such a relief.
posted by bleep at 12:54 PM on August 6, 2019 [3 favorites]

That sounds like a 'professional organizer' job. I'm sure there are some in yr area. Just lay out yr needs (like you did here).
posted by PistachioRoux at 12:54 PM on August 6, 2019

They're literally called organizers. I know because I was sitting in a playground with a woman once while our children played. She said she was an organizer, I said "Neat! What union?" and she looked at me as if I had two heads and said that she meant that she organized people's closets.

Sorry that I don't have a recommendation, but that's the job title.
posted by LizardBreath at 12:54 PM on August 6, 2019 [13 favorites]

I hired an organizer here in the Bay Area to help me get a handle on a hoarding situation run amok. She was great, completely non-judgmental, and helped me make a start on something that I was then able to run with.

Plugging "Professional Home Organizer in DC" into Yelp came up with a bunch of great looking and highly rated solutions all through DC, VA, and MD, so you should be able to find someone close.
posted by hanov3r at 1:16 PM on August 6, 2019

Cost-wise - in the Bay Area, rates ran between $85 and $130/hr. I suspect DC's rates are going to be similar.
posted by hanov3r at 1:17 PM on August 6, 2019

Here's the Wiki. I can recommend the best one in NYC if that's where you are.
posted by JimN2TAW at 1:57 PM on August 6, 2019

I am a Certified Professional Organizer and have been doing this for 18+ years, and though I am some MeFites' professional organizer, I am not your professional organizer. With regard to tangible residential organizing, we do a variety of things, from helping people make decisions regarding what to keep and what to let go of, to helping them identify storage options, to showing them better ways to categorize and group things so that they will be accessible. Professional organizers excel at creating systems and teaching clients new skills so that you can keep what you need where it will be easiest to find when you need it, without it being buried under the unnecessary or grouped with the unrelated.

Please know that if your things are currently not organized, the next step is not containers. If you really only want advice on products, a professional organizer will be willing to come to you and generally advise you on products that will do what you want in whatever your price range may be, giving you pointers about measurements, brands, features, etc. A PO needs to know what you do and how you do it (whether we're talking about wardrobes, cooking styles, info/paperwork needs, etc.) But again, you'd be doing yourself a disservice to have this conversation without either (possibly) purging/sorting/categorizing these items first, or doing it with someone (whether a friend or a professional).

I always tell my clients about potentially interesting and useful organizing containers and solutions (particularly lesser-known vertical storage solutions), but discourage them from making any purchases until the actual sorting/categorizing is complete so that they know what (and how much of) each category they have. I cannot tell you the number of times I've come in to a client's home for the first time and found that they've purchased many large, deep storage containers when what they needed were smaller containers or products in different materials. Shopping comes last.

(NB: Sometimes, people with far too many items for their space want to keep EVERYTHING without evaluating ANYTHING, and expect there to be magic storage solutions that will allow a mansion's worth of stuff to fit in a phone booth-size home. For the purposes of this question, I'll assume that you really do need and want to keep (almost) everything you're talking about, don't have excessive duplicates, and have strong self-awareness regarding your needs and life/work styles.)

Not knowing your exact location, and having many colleagues in the DC area, I'd need to know more to help you pinpoint someone. However, to get started, please visit and enter your zip code in the geographic search and select a radius. For DC, I'd aim for 10 miles; most other non-mega-metro areas, I'd go for 25 to start. (Our new search system is annoying, so please use the zip code and not the city/state.) You should also pick one selection from the right-side (residential) dropdown. There's no category for "help me pick out storage stuff" -- go with a general option, like "clutter control."

To know more about how my profession works, I've written a number of detailed AskMe answers over the years about selecting a professional organizer. I hope one of those may help. If you want some assistance narrowing down your options, please feel free to memail me. (It happens often enough that it's how I've "met" many MeFites.)
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 2:48 PM on August 6, 2019 [27 favorites]

I can recommend an absolutely amazing team of two in DC! They literally changed my life. I'll memail you their contact info this evening.
posted by argonauta at 4:21 PM on August 6, 2019

The Organizing Agency in DC helped me with exactly what you're talking about. It was a game-changer and worth every penny that I paid. Highly recommend them!!
posted by mccxxiii at 8:07 AM on August 7, 2019

I have worked with a handful of professional organizers in my life. In every case, the experience has been *amazing*.

I expect some people are great at this job, and some are just okay. But, in my experience, anyone who does this for a living is SO SO SO MUCH BETTER AT IT THAN ME. I expect this is partly because they do this every day and I do it, like, five times in my whole life, and partly because they are outside of the situation, and so are better able to look at things objectively, not going to get slowed down by all the emotions we all have in our stuff, etc.

I really recommend trying this out!
posted by ManInSuit at 9:14 AM on August 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

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