Clea and Joanna, and Get Organized with The Home Edit first burst onto Netflix with Season 1 in September 2020 at a time when many of us were in the throes of pandemic lockdowns. In theory, we had time to organise our homes, but paradoxically we felt like doing anything but.
But that’s ok, the telly is for living vicariously. How many avid viewers of MasterChef go on to create the culinary delights they have witnessed? Those who can, do. Those who can’t – watch and learn.
And Get Organized with The Home Edit taught us a lot.
Get Organized with The Home Edit – What it taught us
1. All organising can be broken into four steps.
• Edit – Fancy word for declutter. Crucial.
• Categorise (but they spell it with a z cos America, just like they spell Organise with a z, but I digress) – Put Like with Like to make storage intuitive.
• Contain – Use boxes/bins/tubs to keep your categories separate and set limits on acquiring too much. Containers also act as drawers so you can access the back of shelves. And you can label them.
• Maintain – Kinda speaks for itself, put things away and don’t keep acquiring.
2. Think zones.
The Home Edit uses the word Zones a lot. And we already understand the concept, as we all have a cutlery drawer, a bookshelf, a coat rack etc. We need to expand this notion out to all our stuff. The team takes it to the next level in Season 2 Episode 1 when they create a trail mix station. Joanna is particularly chuffed about that, bless her cotton socks.
3. Think about what you use the most.
The team calls it ‘touch access’. I call them High Frequency items but either way you need them in easy reach. Your daily hairbrush, your favourite purse, your go-to coffee mug. Between your hip and eye level usually, so you don’t need to bend or stand on a chair to access them and put them away. Note the last part of that sentence – and put them away. Because ease of keeping a space tidy, is key to its success.
In Season 2 Episode 1, Clea and Joanna organise a family’s pantry so that healthy items are in the High Frequency zone in clear bins. This means the fam is more likely to choose them when hungry. Brilliant.
4. Aesthetics are important.
Whether it’s books arranged by colour, or a beautiful rug to show off all the newly-found floor space, Clea and Joanna know how to make a room beautiful. Like they say, function AND form. Both matter.
5. Consultation is key.
We all have different clutter tolerances and lifestyles. Some people are happy to empty all their staples into clear containers but for me it’s unnecessary effort. The team always consults with their clients to determine their “fussy factor” and what’s maintainable.
6. Measure and plan.
Each space is different, and measuring the shelves determines what containers will fit. If you go back to point 1, this needs to tie in with steps 2 (categorise) and 3 (contain). So if you have five snack categories for a shelf two metres wide, containers must be under 40cm wide each. You want to allow some breathing room, so I would cap the width at 38cm per container. Get your measuring tape and calculator out for a perfect result.
7. Know your products.
In some instances, a sideways rack works better than a stack (for example Drew Barrymore’s pot lids in Season 2, Episode 1) and a turntable might help display small items in a deep space. A browse in Kmart or an organising store will show you what’s possible.
8. Store big items at the bottom.
It makes logistic and aesthetic sense to have heavy items at the bottom of the space. I have some big appliances like rice cooker and bread maker at the bottom of my pantry for this reason. Also I don’t use them every day (see point 3)
9. Deal with donations immediately.
The duo chastises a cluttered family in Season 2, Episode 5 for bringing donations back into the space rather than taking them straight to charity. Sometimes the unwanted items end up not only in the house but back in circulation, which undoes all the difficult physical and mental work of separating out the duds.
10. Doing it with friends is fun.
The friendship between Clea and Joanna is heartwarming. They also have a great team who contribute ideas (can someone get sassy Sumner her own show please?) meaning a well-informed result.
Try and enlist a buddy who is good at organising and even if they are not – the accountability is helpful.
Get Organized with The Home Edit – What we can live without
1. Too much plastic.
I understand that it looks nice, especially while it is new and free of dust (and believe me, that stage doesn’t last long). But there is just So. Much. Landfill. In Season 1, Episode 7 they literally took packs of frozen products out of their cardboard boxes (which contained useful information like ingredients and best-before dates) to discard the packs and put the products into clear acrylic bins. As Professional Organisers surely we have a responsibility to declutter, not reclutter our clients’ homes.
And the gals now have their own lines of products, so the consumerism they are fuelling knows no bounds. And why oh why do they refer to organisational items (plural) as ‘the product’, as in ‘Ladies, go and make a list of the required product’? As though their plastic landfill is an important species to be revered.
Alas, Marie Kondo has fallen into the same trap of decluttering homes to just sell some of her branded clutter-catchers. She used to repurpose old iPhone boxes but she has sold out too. It’s all a bit on the nose.
Just no. My head hurts.
3. The compressed timeline.
It’s not their fault but can I say as a public service announcement, it takes a team of professionals (including builders), an onsite truck full of goodies and a lot of money to do each project. You can’t do the same thing alone in an afternoon with a $50 Bunnings voucher and a bottle of sav blanc as company.
Do we really compress bodies with our clients and service providers now? Even pre-Covid that would be weird.
5. Categorising books by colour.
Librarians and advocates of the Dewey System shudder every time they see books arranged by colour. It seems to be such an arbitrary way to organise precious literary resources.
6. They boot out the clients.
I fear that the omission of ongoing consultation, sacrifices the end result. But how else would Clea and Joanna hypothesise and squeal excitedly if the inhabitants were there?
7. Mystery donations.
Does the stuff edited out end up as landfill, or does the lovely Home Edit product truck make a pitstop at Goodwill on its way back to depot? It would be great if the show made a point of donating sustainably, especially in light of all the shiny new tubs they bring in. Marie Kondo ignores the donations side as well, while on Space Invaders they proudly donate to the Salvos, which is a fabulous inclusion.
Get Organized with The Home Edit is also criticised for being superficial and focussing on the houses of celebrities, but to be fair they feature a regular pleb on every episode. Clea is condemned for being bossy but do we really have to denigrate confident women at every turn? Enough with the haters and the internalised misogyny.
I don’t know about you, but I am off to measure up my storage shed. I just wish I had their shelving guy on hand.