How to curb your clutter in 2013

By: Laura O'Brien, Granite Bay View Correspondent
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3 Day Closets

Where: 6085 Douglas Blvd., Suite 100, Granite Bay

Info: (916) 788-1461 or

Finely Organized

Who: Dawn Cannon

Info: (916) 660-1415 or

It’s a painstaking chore, but getting organized boosts productivity and leads to a sense of calm and control. Hiring a professional organizer or purchasing a custom home storage solution are two options for putting a clamp on clutter.

For Bill Swearingen, calling an organizer to overhaul his garage, his home office and digital photos was worth every penny.

“There’s a psychological satisfaction in finally getting things cleaned out,” said Swearingen, who first contacted Granite Bay organizer Dawn Cannon of Finely Organized a couple of years ago.

“I’m probably her perfect example of someone who isn’t able to throw things away in a timely manner,” he said.

Cannon, an organizer for 12 years, said her business is stronger than ever now, despite the economic recession.

“It’s been very interesting because people are letting go of their office leases and merging their business office into their home,” she said. “They don’t know how to manage their time and they’re also realizing that they have to buckle down and become more efficient.”

Joel Croll owns 3 Day Closets, with a showroom on Douglas Boulevard in Granite Bay since last March. He said 2011 was the company’s biggest year since it opened in Roseville in 2005. And this year’s sales projections are higher than last year’s.

“In a down economy we’re a good solution for people having to stay where they’re at,” Croll said.

3 Day Closets splits its business between closets and home offices, including Murphy beds. The company manufactures its own storage solutions at its plant in Roseville.

Of his clients Croll said, “They’re the average person who is just saying, “You know what? I’m tired of the clutter.’”

Cannon shared the process she uses with her clients: purge, sort, and then organize.

1. Get rid of stuff

People become anxious and quickly overwhelmed with the prospect of letting go of their things, she said.

“It’s about the anxiety, the stress and the overwhelm, and the sense of doom. They just get paralyzed and that’s when they quit or shutdown,” she added.

Cannon asks pointed questions that help her clients assess if they truly need and love an item or are holding onto it for the wrong reasons, such as guilt or fear. The process she sometimes calls “editing” also helps her determine what type of organizing solution is best for each client.

Knowing where a discarded item will find its eventual home reassures clients. Cannon said she has found museums for treasured military uniforms, for example. She also maintains connections with local charities and other donation centers.

2. Sort and conquer

Lorah Frazier designs storage solutions for 3 Day Closets. The company provides complimentary in-home consultation and computer-assisted design.

When meeting a client at their home, Frazier said she talks with them about their organizing goals and the types of components they want in their new system. She also takes an inventory of their things.

A former circuit-board designer, Frazier came to the organizing business as a client herself nine years ago.

“When I got my first closet I was just shocked about how much more I could get out of my space,” she said.

She was so impressed with the amount of space her children regained in their bedroom through a custom closet solution that she asked the company that did the work, another closet company, for a job.

“The whole job is math and little bit of creativity,” she said.

“It’s a challenge and it’s like working a puzzle. I’ve got all these pieces, which are what they want and what they want (the storage system) to look like, and what their physical needs are.”

Cannon said she determines the type of organizing system that makes sense for each client based on their individual learning style. A board-certified professional organizer, she has training in behavior modification, time management and psychology.

During sorting, items go into temporary bins, not necessarily the containers where they eventually will be stored. Cannon instructs clients to keep sorting, rather than returning individual items to where they belong in the home, which can be done later.

3. Set up the new system

Croll said the cost of a custom organizing solution, taking into account materials and the required installation labor, is competitive with an off-the-shelf system.

“We generally can do a nice custom system, installed, for pretty much the same price,” he said.

3 Day Closets builds solutions based on a client’s dream design or based on a budget, he added. Since the company’s plant is in nearby Roseville, “lead time and ability to resolve issues is a lot quicker,” Croll said.

Cannon said she charges $700 for organizing a garage, not including new shelving or bins. She finishes the job in one day, complete with items bagged and scheduled for donation.

Swearingen asked for Cannon’s help with his garage twice — once before he retired and once after he retired and he and his wife had completed a remodeling job in their home. The couple had saved several chairs, thinking they later would reupholster them, but with Cannon’s assistance, they realized that the chairs were just taking up needed space in their life.

With the principles he learned from Cannon, Swearingen is considering tackling organizing his closet on his own.

“It’s not anything that’s disrupting your life, but it’s still kind of a low-grade irritation that you know has to be taken care of,” he said.

He added that if he doesn’t find the resolve soon for the closet, which is stuffed with shoes he said are 20 to 30 years old but serviceable, he again will place a call to Cannon.

“It’ll be scheduled. She’ll be here. It gets done and it’ll probably get done in half a day.”