Meet the Organizing Pros Who Let You Keep More Stuff

"A plunger brings nobody any joy, but you must own one"

Joanna Teplin and Clea Shearer of the Nashville-based company The Home Edit believe in streamlining your belongings to get organized, but they say it isn't realistic to expect people to pitch so much of their stuff.

"We definitely are more lenient in purging than Marie Kondo's method," said Shearer, referring to the author of the best-selling book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing." Kondo also has her own series on Netflix, "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo," and has sparked the verb "Kondo-ing," meaning purging anything that doesn't "spark joy."

"In our consumer-driven culture, we do understand people are going to own a few more things than she would suggest," said Shearer. "We just try and coach (clients) to think through it."

The questions they ask are: Do you love it, do you use it, or is it special?

"A plunger brings nobody any joy, but you must own one," added Shearer. "People sometimes get so excited they cleaned out everything and now they're left with three tank tops and a pair of leggings."

Teplin and Shearer are sharing their philosophy in the New York Times best-selling book "The Home Edit: a Guide to Organizing and Realizing Your House Goals."

"To hire us is a luxury service just like hiring a personal trainer," said Shearer. "Our book allows our way to be accessible for people who want to do it themselves."

In this interview with The Associated Press, lightly edited for length and clarity, they talk more about their technique, celeb clientele and more.

AP: Your Instagram and book show you using multiple containers — like baskets or bins — that look the same. What do you think about organizational hacks like using empty tissue boxes or toilet paper rolls to bunch items together?

SHEARER: That's just not who we are. I totally respect if people want to do that. ... We pick items that look beautiful. While I know people want to reuse an empty shoe box, it's just not our thing.

TEPLIN: Uniformity of product is so important to us. To make it look a certain way, it's important to keep the uniform. If you have one basket that looks one way and another one that looks totally different and another one off over here, you lose that aesthetic that is so pleasing to the eye.

AP: What's your advice for people who have collections?

SHEARER: We love to honor a collection. If someone really loves something, we will find a way to highlight it and make something that they are happy to look at. We'll say, is this a collection because you love it, or do you get a souvenir cup every time you go to the zoo? Let's dig a little bit deeper and figure out what we're working with.

TEPLIN: There are things that people have accidentally collected that can be paired down.

AP: What about keeping track of your kids' artwork?

SHEARER: What I do is each kid has a sentimental box throughout the school year or calendar year. When schoolwork comes home, you slip it into the box. At the end of the year, you go through it and weed out what you don't want. You don't know what you need to keep until you look back with some perspective, so you kind of put it in a holding pattern.

AP: You've organized for celebrities including Christina Applegate, Tiffani Thiessen, Gwyneth Paltrow and Khloe Kardashian. Please say celebrities are like regular people who have messy closets.

SHEARER: We've never walked into a home and said, "We're not needed here." Well, Khloe Kardashian's was pretty close.

TEPLIN: It really isn't organizing for her. It's more like a collaboration. She's like 99.9% there. If she wasn't busy, we would love to have her work for us.

SHEARER: We've done her pantry, her kitchen, her laundry room, her home office. We just adore her. She gets us in a way that no one really does.

AP: Reese Witherspoon produces a show with you both for DirecTV called "Master the Mess." How did that come about?

SHEARER: Reese found us on Instagram and her company, Hello Sunshine, DM'd us. ... I remember the moment. They said, "Reese suggested we reach out" and I pulled my car over to the side of the road and I said, "I need you to repeat that."

AP: Have you organized for her?

SHEARER: No! We have offered so many times. I feel like she feels bad like she doesn't want to take advantage. I'm like, "Let us in! Let us into your messiest space!" I think she's saving it for the TV cameras.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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