A Disorganized Closet Slob Comes Clean

Hey Everyone,


Before we get into today’s controversial topic about a closet slob. (aka: messy, disorganized person),


I can’t thank you enough for your kind loving, caring messages. Some of you have asked for an update and rather than write it here, if you’re interested, you can read it on the original post and then of course, come right back!

This post is about organization.


But, I’m going to be honest with y’all. While a lot of you will love this, I know that some of you won’t.

Although, please try to keep an open mind.

And, I know this for a fact because about a year ago, many of you may recall that I sent out a rare survey. And some of you made it very clear that you do not want to hear about organization.

If you’re one who is not interested, I apologize. But, I believe that everything and everyone is connected in some way. So, for those who think that organization has nothing to do with interior design and/or decorating, I believe that there’s a very close relationship. Of course, if you’re not interested, I respect that.

However, for the most part, decorating and organization are two different skills.


What’s funny is that not everyone realizes this. I can’t tell you the number of times someone has called, inquiring about help with organization.


That wouldn’t be me. Oh, I can design a storage piece but after that. No.


HOWEVER. I do believe that it is easier to clean/organize someone else’s space than your own.



Here’s what I’ve deduced.

  • There’s a strong emotional component with our homes. So straightening up something that doesn’t belong to us, doesn’t bring up the same kind of feelings.


Add that one to the following list of WHY cleaning, decluttering and organizing our own homes can be difficult


  • Drudgery. Anything tedious which requires a certain type of thinking, like filling out a form written in corporate language. Or filing. Or deciding where something goes. Or even putting it away can be difficult for me and others.
  • Overwhelm – when it goes from being a small chore to a BIG CHORE
  • Guilt in getting rid of something that’s worth something or a gift. That one isn’t a problem for me.
  • Shame – feeling embarrassed about our inability to do something others find easy and don’t understand why we can’t keep our homes better organized, tidy, clean. Whatever.


One reason (I’ve told myself) that I didn’t go through my dresser drawers was because I knew that I would find cat hair in a couple of them and that was going to tear me up inside. But after a while, I realized that Peaches had died and having a cleaned out dresser was going to enrich my life far more than living with a day-to-day mess.


So why are some folks naturally organized and tidy and some are not?


Originally, I was going to divide the groups into:


1. Neat-freaks

2. Slobs

However, since both sound pejorative, and even though most of you realize that I’m being my usual cheeky self, I’d like to change the terminology. Someone who is naturally neat is not necessarily a freak. And someone who is naturally messy is not always a slob.


Perhaps the first piece of business is to be kinder to ourselves.


I’m talking about me, when I say that.

So, I am going to just say those that are “neat.” And those that are “messy.”


Let’s take a look at the anonymous results of the survey.


Closet Slob Survey

Yes. 416 comments! Most of them kind, a few not-so-kind, but oh well… What else is new? :]

What’s interesting to me is that it appears that nearly 79% of the people who did the survey and it was about 3,500 have some issue with organization and/or housekeeping. That is more than 3/4s.

So, why are some people neat and some messy?


I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s all in our DNA and our brains.


As someone who comes from a family with some very interesting brains, I am aware that not everyone’s brain works the same way. However, we only know what we know, not what goes on inside someone else’s head.


However, from what I can see, folks who are compulsively neat and tidy get anxious if things are not that way.


And people who live with a certain level of disarray feel just as anxious about tidying up! (for all of the reasons above)


But it’s not that we don’t like things tidy and it doesn’t mean that we’re necessarily lazy. And we might hate YOUR mess but put up with our own! How’s that for a bitter irony?


So, are you saying that you’re messy, Laurel?


Yes. I am. It’s my nature. But believe me, I spend time trying to fight it. Or I spend time looking at it and feel paralyzed.


Because for me, even though I love it tidy, it is PAINFUL to do it. It sucks the life out of me, sometimes.


Most housework has always been difficult for me. But it’s not just housework. It’s anything that’s mundane and/or tedious. Like filling out forms. Or first READING the forms. The only thing I do quite often is vacuum and I do clean up the kitchen and bathroom regularly.


But wait. I have all of your products, Laurel and especially the paint products, you obviously spent considerable time doing those boards; not to mention the blog itself. Isn’t that tedious and difficult for you?


It can be detailed but it is not in the slightest tedious– for me in the same way that other things are. In fact, when I do my art projects, I generally find it quite relaxing. Typing is relaxing. Creating the blog is usually interesting and fun for me. Sometimes exhausting but it’s exhausting for me, like a run is for a runner who’s passionate about running.

The creative aspect is what stimulates my mind and makes me happy. Trying to figure out what to do with 150 bank statements is sheer torture.

Organizing my house is like getting root canal. Which, by the way, I’ve never had. But I hear that it’s pretty awful.


I’ve become quite adept at the 30 minute clean-up. Just stuff it all into the closet and instant tidy house. The problem is… I was no longer using my main bedroom closet except to shove my laundry basket inside.


But here’s where it starts to become interesting. A thought goes through my mind on a daily basis is… if only someone would come and help me with the things that I suck at…


Now, you might think: Why don’t you just call someone?

Someone? Who? This is a personal business and you need to feel comfortable with them!


Then, a few weeks ago, I got a really nice email from a woman who had purchased my blogging guide.




I’m going to go throw up and die now.






okay. I’m back. I got my nice neighbor to come over and get rid of the B.U.G. and then I found a chocolate beer in the fridge that my son bought probably over a year ago and I had a little of it.

I am sure that God sent that bug as a sort of disgusting, slimy sacrificial lamb to make a point, of some kind or another.


And guys this is where I stopped on Saturday to go into Manhattan to watch some ballet and then had my run-in with the steel traffic light control box.


Saved by the bug.

It’s not easy to share what feels like me standing in the middle of Yankee Stadium wearing only my underwear!

And ripped undies at that! haha

But here’s what has happened.

Shortly after I published my blogging guide, I got a darling email from someone who had purchased it.

Hi Laurel,

I did get the blogging guide and then I did get the reminder email but I don’t mind at all because it reminded me I wanted to write you and say thanks so much — the guide is worth every penny!
My daughter is my business partner (doneanddonehome.com) and we read it out loud at the start of our bi-annual planning retreat last weekend. We learned so much!
Thanks a million, truly. 


woman admiring her cellphone by Raimundo Madrazo c. 1890–1900.jpg


At the time, I didn’t think anything of it, but then I received another email.



You are so generous! Thanks again!

We’re working on our awesome bribe and will also correct the things you pointed out.


If you ever get bogged down in stuff give us a shout.


We started our organizing business in NYC and now cover the Tri state area and oddly, LA.

We do moves and estates sales — all things related to the stuff in people’s homes — but the magic happens when we bring in a team of two or more and spend a day or two decluttering the whole house. It’s like cloning yourself. You end up getting rid of everything you no longer need or want that’s somehow still taking up space in your home.


Are you kidding me, A Fairy Cleanup Mother!?! I must be dreaming! But I was not.


It was right after Mother’s Day and I got back to her and said YES! Are you kidding?

Now, before I go any further, I must disclose because it’s the law that Ann whose company is called Done and Done Home offered to help me– gratis.


We set a date and then…

Oh shit! I better do SOMETHING because I can’t let her see the place like THIS!



And this brings me to my next point which is something that I’ve realized in recent years. For me. The only way I get anything tedious and difficult done is with ACCOUNTABILITY.


Without that, nothing gets done.  Accountability is what made it possible for me to write four books in 2.5 years AND this blog!

Now, don’t think I did everything. Not even close.

But I had to get rid of all of the torn undies and other clothing that is no longer wearable. Therefore, the first thing I decided to do was tackle my dresser.


my bedroom dresser, a big bloody mess-cleaning out drawers

This is what’s tedious for me. All of the little crapola that collects. But I did it.  This was in the middle of things. One thing we found a lot of, is all of the stuff they give away at shows. I must remember that if I’m not using it to get rid of it! Immediately.

There are or were paint samples EVERYWHERE! Those dancing dolls were my grandmother’s.

closet slob before

And I cleaned out one section of my big living room cabinet.

I took care of 98% of the papers. But that one, wasn’t so bad as I got a paper shredder a while back.


But, yes. There’s nothing like knowing that someone is coming over to motivate me to take care of things, pain or not.


closet slob - messy closet 1

Above and below, the worst closet. I didn’t touch it. The one in my bedroom which has become a repository for mostly work stuff, but also things like luggage and extra blankets. And the aforementioned laundry basket. Clothes. No.

See? At one time probably 18 years ago, I did make an attempt to organize my small fabric samples. It was very helpful.


Last Thursday, Ann Lightfoot and her daughter and business partner, Kate Pawlowski, showed up.

After talking for a bit they got to work.


Here’s Ann emptying the entire contents of the closet out. It only took her about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, I worked with Kate and mostly I said:




Pretty much in that order. Mostly, I said DUMP.


Garbage went into big black plastic bags. Donate in big clear plastic bags.


At this point, I need to say that not once did I feel like they were being in any way judgmental. In fact, they kept saying– “this isn’t bad at all and most of it is work-related.” That is true. I’m not a clothes horse because I can’t stand shopping for clothes.

I know. But, it’s the truth.

And Ann and Kate DO donate gently used or even sometimes new items to charity. I love that because it’s a great way to give back and that feels awfully good too.

Most of us have waaaay too much stuff.

Finally, with the closet empty, I could photograph my safe that came with the apartment. It’s nearly 100 years old. And yes, it’s locked.


Raimundo_Madrazo_-_La_Toilette-A Lady’s maid, by Raimundo Madrazo c. 1890–1900.jpg


Ann and Kate are AMAZING. And I insisted that I pay them and they insisted that I not pay them.

I’m not one to argue when someone wants to give me something for free. But, I truly felt like a princess being waiting on and pampered.

Bags of garbage waiting to leave. Ann and Kate take care of everything!

They also tackled the living room dresser crammed with samples, mostly and some bed linens and towels.

So, let’s see some after shots, but before I do that. They are coming back to finish and some of these spaces aren’t fully organized, but it is so much better, I feel like I can breathe! (unless there’s a giant bug crawling on my wall!)


A Disorganized Closet Slob No more!


Oh, yes. I cleaned out most of what was in my two bedroom bookcases. Here’s what’s left.

I love that my table pads now have a home in the closet.


Ann and Kate taking out the rest of the trash. Honestly, there seemed like double the amount going out than was even in the closet in the first place!

I asked Ann and Kate if they are naturally organized?


Well, they are… but Ann admitted that Kate helps her and that is the secret. “It’s so much more fun and easier to work in pairs.” So, for some of you, maybe get a good friend and make it a monthly thing. One month you spend a certain amount of time at your place and then the next month her place. Or, you can do it more often.

For more tips, if you go to Done and Done, they have a wonderful FREE GUIDE that spells out some of the worst mistakes that people make when organizing and also a lot of great tips.

Portrait of a Lady  (with Laurel’s face superimposed) 1768 Francis Cotes 1726-1770 Bequeathed by Sir Edward Stern 1933 http://www.tate.org.uk


After the two organizing goddesses left and before the giant bug came to kill me and the run-in with the steel box, I felt like a pampered lady.

And light. VERY LIGHT.

Plus, everything has remained tidy. So far.


If there are any areas that you struggle with in organization or cleaning or related, please address in the comments. Or if you have any terrific strategies or helpful tips. That would be great too.


The only thing I ask of you is no judging. We are not here to judge, but to learn and grow.


When Done and Done come back, I’m going to go over some other areas of organization. Clothing, kitchen and bathroom.


One thing I’m looking forward to, but it’ll be okay if it doesn’t happen is this possibility. In the middle of things, Ann said that something should go in the “front hall closet.”

I told her that I don’t have a front hall closet.

She said, “You will, when we’re done.”

“Really?” I said

She said, “Yes, I think so.”

And that’s it. You call them Done and then they come and take care of everything. Done.

Done and Done. Please check out their website to see the myriad of services they provide in addition to decluttering/organizing. They also do estate sales and getting your house ready for sale and moving purges.

Ann and Kate and their team of professionals take care of everything!

They have already begun to transform my life. If you’re in need of their services, I wouldn’t hesitate to call them.





Welcome To Laurel Home!


Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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