Old Mobile architecture is undoubtedly stately and impressive – except when it comes to closet and storage space. “But, small spaces don’t have to mean cramped spaces, ” says local personal organizer Mindy Inge.
Three years ago, the young stay-at-home mom was looking for a part-time gig. “I was an event planner for the Southeastern Conference, in Birmingham, before my husband David and I moved to Mobile. When my oldest son turned 1, I decided I wanted to work in some capacity but not full time, so I started talking to friends. I kept hearing over and over, ‘I need someone to help me get organized.’ Since organization is the main component of event planning, it seemed like a natural fit, and Squared Away Home Organizing was born!”
Tell us what you do for clients. I have done it all – organized closets, kitchens, bathrooms, home offices and helped people move. I have packed people for trips, redone a sewing room, systematized pictures and created photo albums. Fashion is another area. I’ll put together outfits, take pictures of them and fill a look book with photos and captions, such as “drinks with the girls, ” “bridge at the club” or “Sunday brunch.” These are my very favorite projects! My philosophy with everything is that purging is crucial.
Any tools you can’t live without?
I am constantly on the lookout for items to use in organizing jobs. Wire baskets look beautiful, and I love being able to see the contents at a glance. Also, chalk tags are perfect for labeling things for kids’ playrooms. I pick them up at big-box retailers, but I also shop at local places such as Al’s 5 & 10 or M.A. Simons for pretty baskets and shelves.
Once a space is in top shape, how should homeowners maintain it? Most people are emotionally attached to their mess – that’s why they call me! However, disorganization is stressful and creates chaos. Five minutes of maintenance at the end of each day is calming and keeps a home clutter-free.
ABOVE LEFT When organizing, Inge advises to group like with like and she adds that purging is crucial. Built by Custom Closets
ABOVE RIGHT “In one project recently, I converted an old ironing board closet into a corkboard-lined jewelry closet. It was an awesome transformation, ” says Inge.
Hints from the Pro
THE MASTER CLOSET
1. Invest in nice hangers that are all the same color. I prefer ivory velvet hangers rather than black, which attract lint and look dirty over time.
2. Turn all of your hangers backwards on the rack. As you wear items in your closet, reposition the hangers the right way. After a year has passed, any clothes that aren’t turned around the right way need to be donated or consigned. If you haven’t worn it in a year, you’re not going to start wearing it now!
3. Many Mobilians have an excess of Mardi Gras formal wear, and most don’t have the room to keep them in their closets year-round. When storing them, dry clean first to kill any moth larvae, and then seal in an air-tight container. This is key so that bugs can’t get in. I even throw in some cedar balls for good measure, and silica gel packs will ward off even the worst moisture and humidity.
1. Utilize vertical space. Install hooks and shelves high on walls. A garage needs shelves, shelves and more shelves!
2. Don’t forget the ceiling! I recently saw a great slide rack installed for storage bins. This is an imaginative solution for items, such as Christmas or Mardi Gras decorations, that aren’t used often.
3. Don’t have a mudroom in your house? Create one in your garage. Position a bench with hooks and shelving above it, or place a cabinet right outside the back door for everything you need before you dash out. And be sure to keep a shelf open for shoes.
THE CREATIVE/OFFICE SPACE
1. Designate a large wall area for a bulletin board and calendar. Line it with fabric to match your decor or even put a cute frame around it. It’s incredibly helpful to have an at-a-glance view of a busy schedule.
2. A space with character brings out your best ideas. To create that, reuse everyday items for storage. For example, try an old shutter thrifted from a local antique shop to store mail or documents. Use colorful magazine holders to hold books or pretty jars for pens. So many everyday items can serve to keep a space neat and inspiring.
text by Lawren Largue • photos by Elise Poché