The pandemic trend of home organisation lives on after lockdown. Amy Cochrane meets Claire Savage (39) and Lisa Skinner, whose aim is to help people “organise with style”.
Throughout the pandemic, people across Northern Ireland started looking a bit closer to home during lockdown.
Spending the majority of their time cooped up in the house led to a rise in home organisation and, as Marie Kondo puts it — defining what sparks joy, and what does not.
Spring cleaning went to a whole new level when people turned to renovating their homes, painting walls and even discovering a newfound appreciation for label makers to create the perfect “shelfie” with mason jars filled with oats, pasta and rice proudly on display in kitchens across the country.
Netflix hit, The Home Edit, has also proved popular with determined decluttering converts over the past two years.
The show introduced the benefits of storage jars, colour coding and lazy Susan’s which have become a staple in homes right around the world, but a company specialising in home organisation throughout Northern Ireland has proven that it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to organise your home.
Friends Claire Savage (39) and Lisa Skinner (40) started Order In The House NI just over a year ago, in April 2021, and offer a wide range of services for frazzled homeowners looking for some household structure.
Lisa has said that lockdown has irrevocably changed the way people view their homes.
“It’s safe to say all of us have spent a disproportionate amount of time in our homes over the last two years; our houses were all encompassing, acting as our places of learning, work, exercise and entertainment,” she said.
“Spending so much time there left many of us feeling frustrated with our surroundings. Claire and I were among those feeling the frustration; we were both busy working mums, Claire with two girls, me with three girls and a boy and it was hard at the best of times to keep all the plates spinning including keeping a house tidy,” she revealed.
“We knew that if we felt this way surely others must do too.”
The two women noticed how the business of home organisation had boomed in America and were keen to bring the trend across the Atlantic.
The pair trained with the Association of Professional Declutters and Organisers (APDO) based in England, and are now qualified professional organisers.
“We noticed that it had steadily started growing in the UK but as of yet no one was doing it the way we wanted to do it in Northern Ireland, so what started off as a joke off the back of a ‘Home Edit on a budget’ Instagram post, led to a coffee and here we are a year on with our own professional organising and decluttering business!” said Lisa.
“Twenty years ago, no one had a personal trainer, but now they are quite common.
“We believe the same will be true of professional organisers in the future,” she added.
“Whilst many of our clients employ cleaners, it’s not cleaners that they need — first of all they need a good system of organisation that can be easily maintained in the long term before tackling the clean!”
Claire and Lisa offer a wide range of services tailored to each clients’ specific needs.
From general home organisation and decluttering — including rearranging living spaces and creating working systems to ensure an organised home — to wardrobe detoxes (their most popular service) and workspace organisation, there is something for everyone.
In addition to this, the pair also provide help during house moves, including unpacking and helping to streamline the contents of your existing home in preparation for the move to a new home, whether they are downsizing or are just seeking a whole new perspective.
Another service offered by Order In The House NI are ‘virtual cleanses’ via Zoom and FaceTime to provide clients with a consultancy service and a ‘plan of action’ as well as crucial organisation advice.
This service is still available, perhaps for people who live further afield, but Claire and Lisa are also keen to get hands on with their organisation now meeting clients face-to-face.
They also share some of their helpful hints and tips on their popular Instagram blog to their 5,000 followers.
Claire, who is based in Bangor, explained that the job they do is not only important to create a functioning home for the purpose of cleanliness, but it is also beneficial to your mental health.
“It is thought that a cluttered space can often be a stressful space,” said the Co Down woman.
“Nevertheless, mastering the drudgery of decluttering is no easy task, it takes time and often a fresh perspective to help us establish new systems of organisation and to cultivate new habits.
“For these reasons we’re passionate about helping clients create clear, functional, and at the same time, stylish areas within their homes and work spaces; we want to facilitate the enjoyment of the spaces that you inhabit every day and to ensure that they are calm and welcoming environments not just for you but for those around you. We believe that transformed spaces can lead to a transformed way of life,” she added.
“It is so beneficial for your own wellbeing and productivity and people are being much more proactive in seeking help.”
The determined ‘declutterers’ told The Belfast Telegraph that the kitchen is one of the most popular spaces in the home that they are asked to help with.
“A lot of people get overwhelmed by years’ worth of clutter and simply don’t know where to start,” said Lisa.
“Often it just takes a fresh pair of eyes (or two pairs!) to inspire and motivate people to tackle the clutter head on.”
Claire and Lisa first decant the entire contents of the kitchen, then declutter before categorising and then placing the items back in an organised system for the client.
“It always gets worse before it gets better,’ said Lisa.
“Kitchens seem to be the worst for harbouring clutter. Everyone has one of those junk drawers and spots in the kitchen where odds and ends keep gathering.
“We tend to live most of our lives in the kitchen and living areas so that seems to be the problem areas for most homes.
“We really try and promote the ethos of sustainability; to dump as little as possible during the decluttering process, use what you have and try and signpost clients to ways of reducing, reusing and recycling items they no longer want.”
With the rising costs of living, Lisa and Claire believe that home organisation can actually help in saving money and have proven that the process does not have to cost the earth.
The self-confessed bargain hunters often source products from the likes of IKEA, Home Bargains, B&M, Matalan, TK Maxx, Tesco and Sainsburys to name a few.
“We recently posted some Instagram stories under the title ‘Shop THE’, on the back of the latest season of The Home Edit, on where to buy the same product locally for less,” said Claire.
“We read a statistic that to achieve that ‘Instagammable’ kitchen layout you need to spend at least £3,000 but that’s simply not true.
“You can buy storage boxes for as little as £2 in some places and having food out on display encourages you to use it, which prevents you buying the same products over and over, getting lost in the cupboard somewhere before going out of date,” she added.
“Lazy Susans [rotating trays] are also great at making everything in the cupboard accessible to see, you don’t have to go hunting behind jars or tins to find things, having everything out ensures they are used, and nothing is wasted.”
Lisa added that the pair typically encourage clients to use what they have in the home to create these organisation systems.
“We often find that the decluttering process, once undertaken, makes clients more discerning about what they bring into their home,” she explained.
“It discourages spending on unnecessary items and creates more awareness on what’s wasted; it offers a whole new perspective on how people spend their money.”
On average it takes Order In The House NI a full day working with clients on a specific room or area of their house.
“Sometimes clients have us back after we have completed one room and want us to organise the rest of the house!” said Claire. “One lady has nearly had us organise every room of her house, however, our model is that once we establish a system people shouldn’t need us to keep coming back but rather they will be able to maintain the organisation easily themselves and transfer the system to other areas.”
Order In The House NI operate in various areas but costs increase for fuel and time outside of the 15-mile radius of Belfast. You can follow Order In The House NI on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter