Inspired @ Home

Inspired @ Home

Love Your Home Again with Advice from Professional Organizers

By: Staff Published: November 2, 2022

Ann Lightfoot and Kate Pawlowksi, the mother/daughter team behind Done & Done Home professional organizing and decluttering business, have worked with celebrity clients and have been quoted in national media. But their passion remains helping everyone create and maintain a peaceful and happy home, whether it’s through in-person consultations, on their social media accounts or now in a book. The two have written “Love Your Home Again: Organize Your Space and Uncover the Home of Your Dreams” to expand their ability to guide people through their journeys from messiness to orderliness.

We asked Ann and Kate to share their own journey with us and give us a few pro tips.

How did you start your careers as professional organizers?

Kate: It was serendipitous! About 10 years ago, my reputation as an organized person led to a friend of mine asking for help with her mom’s move. I happily jumped in, but quickly realized I was in over my head. Of course, I turned to the most organized person I knew – my mom!

We had a great time and realized not only did we enjoy working together, but we also loved helping my friend and her mom. Prior to this, it had never really occurred to us that organizing was a skill set, but while getting the apartment packed up and ready for the move, we realized that our love for order had the potential to be a business. Done & Done Home was born that day and the rest, as they say, is history!

professional organizers

Kate Pawlowski and Ann Lightfoot co-founded Done & Done Home more than 10 years ago.

Given that you’re a mother-daughter team, do you believe that being organized is an innate trait or a learned skill?

Ann: Nature or nurture? We get asked this question quite often and in my opinion, it’s a little bit of both. I’m the third of five kids and I was always the one trying to create a sense of order in our home. I think I was definitely born with a gene that makes me feel happier when my environment is organized.

And with my two kids – Kate and her brother – one thrives with a bit of chaos and one needs things to be as orderly as humanly possible. I’ll leave you to speculate which is which. 😉

But I do believe that organization can be taught. Over the years, we’ve helped people go from a chaotic home to an orderly home that they’re able to maintain. So even if organization doesn’t come naturally to a person, they can learn systems and daily habits that will help them create a stress-free environment.

What are the top benefits of getting and staying organized?

Kate: One of our mottos is that we don’t believe in organizing just for organizing’s sake. To us, a perfect pantry like the ones on social media are not the goal unless that works for you. But, in our experience, the more “perfect” a space is, the harder it is to maintain. And that is the opposite of how we work.

Our ultimate goal is to make a home functional and efficient so that life becomes easier and allows more time for doing the things in life that matter.

The top benefits of an organized home are that weekends can be spent enjoying family and friends rather than doing endless chores.

Mealtimes become stress-free, getting the kids out the door in the morning is a breeze and the anxiety of a cluttered home disappears. If we can help people find peace and ease in their homes, then we have done our job!

wire shelving in kitchen pantry

A pantry doesn’t have to be a walk-in to be functional.

Shop wire kits

What are the biggest conflicts or difficulties people have when trying to declutter? How can these be overcome?

Ann: If decluttering were easy, then Done & Done wouldn’t exist. Decluttering is an extremely difficult process because humans have emotional attachments to physical objects.

Every person has a story and the things they’ve collected along the way are reminders of good times, people they’ve loved and places they’ve been.

Therefore, decluttering isn’t just about going through a pile of items and throwing away a bunch of stuff. It’s about dealing with the emotions. If you get rid of your mom’s saucepan that you never use, will you still remember all the times she made you chicken soup when you were sick? Will your best friend be mad at you if you throw away the candle she gave you even though it gives you a headache every time you light it? And one of the biggest emotional attachments we see – the wedding dress. You’re never going to wear it again, your daughter will likely want to pick out her own dress in 20 years, and it hasn’t seen the light of day in decades – but donate? Never! We get it.

So, we tackle these attachments by, first and foremost, listening to the stories. So often, people just want to share why an item has special meaning. We never judge and we never force our clients to get rid of something that has meaning to them.

But we can offer suggestions that will deal with the clutter while easing the emotional stress. Sometimes all a person needs is to take a photo of an object so they can look at it whenever they’re feeling sentimental. Or maybe it’s an object they could never get rid of but would feel comfortable moving out of their kitchen and into the basement. Or perhaps all they need is someone to talk them through why they’ve been keeping an object to see that they’re ready to let it go.

Can you share a favorite organizing tip or two?

Kate: Narrowing down our favorite organizing tips to one or two is a very difficult task, but I’ll do my best!

The number-one tip we have when it comes to maintaining an organized home is to watch the front door. This means that everything that enters a home is done with consciousness and intentionality.

We can help people declutter. We can take out the garbage and donate the items that are in good enough shape to find a place elsewhere and we can set up systems that work in every area of a home. But if more and more keeps coming in – clothes, home decor, excess food, craft supplies, etc., etc. – then a home will always feel chaotic. The bottom line is that people have too much stuff and you can’t organize clutter.

Another tip that is essential to successfully decluttering is to take everything out of a space and place it all in the open before any decisions are made. This may seem like common sense, but we can’t tell you how often people try to reset a closet or a pantry by working around things. This never works. Trust me.

You have to be able to see everything that exists in a space to know that there are items you want to keep and items you’ll never use and can happily say goodbye to. But throwing away stuff is hard and it’s easy to convince yourself that something can stay if you aren’t confronted with the reality of what you actually own.

walk-in wood closet

Begin reorganizing your closet by completely emptying it first.

What can readers expect from your new book? What do you hope they take away from it?

Ann: We are so excited about the publication of “Love Your Home Again!” It’s something we’ve been working on and dreaming about for years.

While we love helping our clients in their homes and it’s the bread and butter of our business, we wanted to help a larger audience of people. Given either location or finances, our services aren’t available to everyone. But we knew a book could reach someone across the country or around the world.

Readers can expect to get a down-to-earth, nonjudgmental, humorous approach to organizing every area of their home. We tackle closets, pantries, cabinets and drawers as well as living rooms, garages, attics and bathrooms. If you have it, we can help you organize it.

We share eco tips, myth busters and real-life success stories along with hundreds of beautiful inspirational photos.

Our hope is that people come away after reading “Love Your Home Again” knowing that perfection isn’t the goal; it’s function and efficiency. We want our readers to let go of the burden of constantly cleaning, decluttering and stressing about their stuff and using their newly acquired free time doing the things they love.

garage cabinets with gardening tools

Getting organized can give you the freedom to pursue your favorite hobbies like gardening.

What might surprise people about their newly organized homelife?

Kate: Some of the best feedback we get from our clients is how shocked they are by the newfound ease in their lives. There are fewer fights about messy rooms, picking up random belongings and finding “lost” items.

Mealtimes are easier because the fridge and pantry are organized and meal prep is done.

Weekends can be spent with friends and family or working on hobbies rather than running around trying to deal with the chaos that never seems to end with general family life.

Don’t be surprised if having an organized home improves your relationships, builds your self-esteem and helps you save money!

Do you have a special client story you can tell us?

Kate and Ann: We become very attached to many of our clients because working in someone’s home is so intimate. Like we said, we hear the stories and we begin to care about who and what they care about. We often help older clients who are downsizing from a home they’ve been in for a long time and it’s so moving to work alongside them while they decide what is important enough to keep. On the other end of the spectrum, we help many parents get their homes ready for a new baby. That’s such happy work.

The mother-daughter duo loves to connect to people looking for organizing tips and advice. You can follow them on Instagram and Facebook. For more guidance, their book, “Love Your Home Again: Organize Your Space and Uncover the Home of Your Dreams,” is available for purchase.

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