Aug 17, 2022

Sunbound Asks: Katherine Lawrence of Space Matters

Nat Miller

This week on Sunbound Asks we sat down with Katherine Lawrence, Certified Professional Organizer and founder of Space Matters. We had an amazing time welcoming Katherine to the Sunbound Blog and talking about her two decades of professional organizing experience. To learn more about Katherine and Space Matters, check out her website here or read our interview below.

Q: How long have you been a professional organizer?

A: I started my business in 2002, so it’s been 20 years.

Q: How’d you get into professional organizing?

A: I’m definitely a corporate drop out. I was working in corporate America with your classic 9-5 office job and was very miserable. I was really looking to have more of a personal connection with clients, and to have a job that gave me some autonomy and would let me be my own boss. I always loved organizing and decluttering, and so I thought “let’s give this a go as a business.” 

Q: What’s your favorite type of project to work on?

A: The way I’ve been working the last couple of years, which I absolutely love, is doing tutorials and virtual consultations. I’m now working more educating people through my youtube channel and online courses. I got to a point where I had seen every type of closet and every type of kitchen and every type of mess and I thought I really want to help more people. There aren’t enough versions of me to go to every individual home, so I took my 20 years of knowledge and started putting out tutorial videos and online courses. The other piece I’m doing that I really love is I travel with the TV show Hoarders. It’s been amazing working on the show because our clients don’t have to pay our bill (the production company handles that). It’s really great when you’re working with someone and there’s no pressure of payment, so that you can really just focus on solving their problems. 

Q: What’s your favorite memory as a professional organizer?

A: Wow, I have so many. I think the reveal is always special, when you go back into a space after working on it. I do more decluttering than organizing, so for me a reveal may just bean empty space, like an empty garage. I work very much in spaces that have become unusable because of clutter. I work very hard to remove that clutter, and afterwards there’s always that moment when the client walks back in and says“oh my gosh I can use this as an art studio again” or “this will be a restful place for me to sleep at the end of the day.” I have a lot of those moments everyday. There was one client on an episode of Hoarders I’ll always remember. We cleared this space for his bedroom and when he saw it he came in and jumped in the bed. And this was a 70 year old man! But he was just so excited. The reveal is always amazing.   

Q: What’s your most unconventional professional organizing tip or trick?

A: I would say unconventionally I actually tell people in some cases don’t over organize. If you find it very complicated to organize something in your life, I would probably just declutter it and get rid of it instead. If you find organizing something very time consuming, for example if you’re in your kitchen and you have to reorganize all your baking supplies and pans, you should first ask yourself - do I even bake? Do I even like to bake? If you really love something, you should be excited about organizing it. But what happens is people keep all this stuff that they don’t even really use or like, and they goto organize it and it’s a chore. My tip is: when it feels like it’s too much work, just get rid of it. Organizing is simple when it’s something you love. It’s complicated when its mountains of stuff you’re neutral on or not using. 

Q: What professional organizing practice do you use most in your own life?

A: I always do a reset. Being organized simply means that everything in your home has a place. The foundation of organization is making sure everything you use on a daily basis has a place where you can put it away. What I do really religiously is I have a reset time about once a week where I make sure to do a reset where everything gets put back into its place. In the kitchen, the food processor goes back. In my office, I clear off my desk. Just doing a reset and putting everything in its place where it lives. And if I miss a week of that, it’s chaos. My life is too complicated and has too many moving parts, so it’s really important to put everything back and maintain that system of organization.

Q: What’s your favorite new professional organizing trend?

A: I feel like this can change quite a bit. We’ve moved beyond minimalism at this point, but there’s a decor type called grandmillennial that’s actually about living with eclectic objects and stuff that we might think of as cluttery - like art and pillows and ceramics. You live with all these objects that you love, and it kind of comes together. I’ve adopted this a bit myself. My mother passed away last year and she lived in a house that my grandmother had also lived in. So I’ve been kind of decluttering two generations and I’ve found a lot of old antiques that I’ve incorporated into my home, and I really like the look and feel. It’s really nice living with the things you love. 

Q: What’s one thing you wish more people knew about professional organizing?

A: I wish professional organizing was as commonplace as hiring someone like a landscaper or an interior decorator or a housekeeper. I wish it was a little more mainstream because it really is pretty magical to have a non-judgmental person come in your home and just help you process what you love and don’t love about your space. It’s a lot harder to do it alone. You’re so used to the objects in your house, you sometimes don’t really examine your stuff and so it just kind of sits there. Having someone come in and really question “well do you still really love this” really is wonderful, and I just wish more people used our services. People also shouldn’t feel any shame hiring a professional organizer. Some people think “oh if I need to hire an organizer it’s because I’m so messy”, but it isn’t that. It’s just a very pleasant experience having someone else put a second set of eyes on your stuff!

Q: If you weren’t a professional organizer, what else would you be doing?

A: I love being my own boss, so it would be something in that capacity. Pie in the sky crazy I’d say an archeologist or a detective, because what is so fun about being an organizer and working in the more heavily cluttered spaces is that you really do start to unearth the function of the home. Sometimes working on Hoarders I’ll clear something out that hasn’t been cleared out since 1970 or 1980. In someways you really are digging through some old possessions like an archeologist would, asking things like “what is this object and how’d this get here?” It’s a similar feeling of uncovering the past. 

Q: What professional organizing resources would you suggest for our readers?

A: Oh gosh there’s so many! The Marie Kondo shows on Netflix are a really great starting point. She also has really great resources more generally, like her blog and her courses and her books. She really gets to the mindset of focusing on what you really love and what to keep when you’re downsizing. So I would definitely start there.

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