Friday, August 3, 2012

ORGANIZING: Understanding Your Client

I have known this client for six and a half years and have been trying to figure her out since day one.  While her need to have everything in its place is apparent, her need to create overtakes her space in a short period of time, making her space look like bomb went off.

Yes folks, I'm talking about my daughter.  She has the fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on your view) pleasure of living with me, an organizer.  I have a need for things to be in their place.  I need the sense of calm when I walk into a space.  I think everyone needs a degree of that as well, and sometimes it takes a while to figure out what your needs are.

My little lady has been in this room since her little brother was on his way and she needed to move to a big girl bed.  Being a decorator, I chose to paint the room a soft neutral and allowed all the textiles in the room be the pops of colour.  I made her a duvet cover to work with some great ready made drapery panels from IKEA.  I added the carpet, also an IKEA find.  I'm a thrifty person, working on a very limited budget.  Knowing that, I was able to use previously loved furniture in this space.

Solace Interiors
Her room has been "done" several times over the last few years.  First the bed had to be up against a wall or she would roll onto the floor, then it was moved to allow for more play space.  After that, her small 3 drawer dresser was moved into her little brother's room, leaving room for a 9-drawer dresser that had been mine growing up.  If I was decorating the room from scratch, I would say the dresser is too big for the space, but with our budget and my daughter's need for storing clothes, it was just going to have to work.

The bookcase, that was in our kitchen at our previous house, has been in here since the beginning.  As the years go by, the books get placed higher and higher, allowing more storage for bins and baskets. 
Solace Interiors
Most recently, she asked for a desk to do her homework and drawings on.  After Barbie's three-storey house was moved to the basement, I found a desk on Used Ottawa for $55.  Not a wow piece, but will work just fine for the time being.  I do love the shape of the chair, so that was a bonus.

All this moving furniture in and out of her room means I have put more than a few holes in the wall, hanging art and magnetic boards.  At one point, I made a wall of 4 Ikea magnetic boards.  I thought it would be a great way for her to showcase her creations.  In no time, it was covered and began to look like a mess.  I kept trying to edit it, but in the end this is where understanding your client comes in.
Her little space
 It's taken me 6 years, but this is what I know of my daughter and her organizational habits.
  1. She likes a clean room and is a master of making her bed. 
  2. When I ask her to tidy up, she would rather take it all and shove it under the bed so I can't see it instead of finding it's proper place.
  3. She likes to keep EVERY SINGLE THING SHE HAS MADE.  This one is a tough one for me.  You can keep SOME things, but not all things.  Otherwise you don't honor how special some of your pieces are.  This is also why the magnet boards didn't work.  I'm trying to teach her this now, so she isn't on some freak Hoarding show in 20 years.
  4. She needs places to put things or they will all end up on her desk or dresser.
  5. Like most people, she gets frustrated when she can't find something.  Thus her need for the organization.
Her room has been reorganized for the 6th time now, after this final furniture addition.  The dresser and the desk have been separated.  Having them on one wall, meant the mess could continue from one to the next.  Above her desk, I have left her with one of the magnet boards to display changing items.  A while back I picked up these butterfly decals at the Dollarstore (shown above the magnet board in the desk photo).  They work wonders at covering up nail/screw holes and can be repositioned without affecting the paint. 

She has one wall where we will tape up artwork.  This makes it not look so messy.  I tried the blue tacky stuff to hang the posters, but it doesn't stand up to the ceiling fan current. The thought of using paint to turn the whole wall into a magnet board crossed my mind, but then we'd run into the messy wall again.  Not going to do that!
Her artwork wall
Similar to my last post, this is not a room that is meant to be in a magazine.  The books aren't organized by colour or facing backwards with the spines facing in.  But the books are on the shelf.  The desk has room to work.  The room is relatively neat and thanks to a few bins on her bookshelf, I don't step on toys when I walk in to kiss her goodnight.  There are nail holes to fill and yes, I might have to repaint in a few years when the butterflies covering the holes just won't do.  All this is to say, we need to be flexible with our organizing methods.  If we find something's not working (like the magnetic artwall), it's okay to pull it down and move on...holes can be filled.  Life is constantly moving, as are our needs.  Let yourself be flexible to move with it.

Enjoy your spaces and above all...find your organizational balance.


  1. Great post Nicole! I love your approach to this post - this is a "real life" room and "real life" issues when attempting to organize children. Or more importantly, teaching children about organization! You have done a fabulous job on both counts!

    1. Thanks Donna. Pretty rooms can only stay pretty until the child starts living in it.

  2. Great post Nicole. This is real,life, it's not always pretty. You've done a great job of keeping your "client" and yourself happy.

  3. great post, nice to know other people have messy kids too!

    1. I won't show you my stepson's room. It might hurt the camera. LOL.

  4. You hit the nail on the head - priority #1 is to design for your client. You've done a great job of incorporating all of the elements that your daughter needs into her room. It may not be a magazine-ready room, but it has lots of wonderful personal touches, like the art wall, that make it your daughter's space. The butterfly stickers on the wall are a great idea for covering the holes, and they add fun colour and some whimsy to the room :-)