Clearing the Closet
With help from the pros, interior designer Conni Newsome’s closet morphs from chaos to calm
Photography by Emily Minton Redfield
Cleaning your closet can change your life. And Conni Newsome, a design partner at C+A Interiors in Denver, knew exactly whom to call when she needed help finding the bottom of her closet.
Susie Houston and Brooke Hecht—the mother-daughter team behind Susie Houston & Associates—have been helping people get organized since before Japanese organizer Marie Kondo spurred widespread purging sprees.
“I don’t want to say anything bad about Marie,” Hecht says. “Thanks to her, our business has grown exponentially. The difference between what Marie does and what we do is that we don’t ask you to bless stuff before tossing it. We don’t have time for that.”
The Little Things Employ shelves for items that can’t be hung up—and to display meaningful art. Use trays for perfume and bowls to catch smaller treasures, like rings.
Time to tidy was precisely what Newsome did not have. Two years into her new home, she was too busy designing spaces for clients to find time for her own. That’s until Houston, Hecht and assistant Hector Loya arrived at her doorstep and didn’t leave for two days.
“Women wear only 30 percent of their clothes,” Hecht says. “Conni is no different. Our job was to help her let go.”
Hecht understands clutter. She also understands fear. “Teaching people to let go of the fear of getting rid of stuff is the real objective behind what we do.”
Newsome, whose load has been literally lightened, agrees. “I am no longer owned by the clutter,” she says. “It’s like a huge weight has been lifted from my life, and now I’m free.”
Getting organized is a temporary solution. How do you keep chaos at bay once the bags have been hauled away?
“We don’t just move things around,” Hecht says. “We take out everything; we vacuum; we clean; we polish the wood. For Conni’s closet, we took out all her clothes, put them into racks and made her try on every single thing she owned before we started purging. Ours is a simple, three-step process: Love it and keep it, hate it and donate it, hate it and toss it. For things that are really valuable, we recommend selling them.”
On Display Arrange classy items on eye-level shelves. Try black-felt rolls for low-cost but striking jewelry storage.
Each organizer brings a different talent to the closet.
Hecht, a designer, evaluates the space. Houston, the company’s founder, enjoys helping people work through the anxiety that comes with letting go of possessions. Loya’s role is about “out of sight, out of mind.”
“When it comes to the tossing part,” Hecht explains, “that’s when Hector starts putting things into bags and making them disappear so people don’t freak out.”
As for trying on everything you own under the watchful eyes of strangers, trust is a must. “Some clothes were just not flattering,” Newsome says. “And I trusted them to give me the news. With their help, I became someone open to change.”
Standing bra and thong in front of strangers isn’t the same as lighting a candle and thanking an unwanted shirt for its service, as Kondo suggests. But Newsome has found a kind of joy that goes beyond owning matching hangers.
“It’s about loving what you own,” she says. “Every day I feel like I’m going shopping in my own closet. They changed my life.”
An Oasis Make your closet a place where you want to spend some time rather than the obligatory corner where you store your clothes. Have a bench for sitting, and use frosted light that doesn’t create hard shadows; invest in a light fixture that elevates the space.
NEAT TIPS FROM THE ORGANIZERS
First, clear the space; then, organize. Purging and organizing at the same time gets overwhelming.
Invest in matching hangers. That alone makes your closet look more pulled together.
Back on the rack. Make it a point to put things back, even when you’re trying something on. This saves cleaning time later on.
Buy complete outfits, so you know you’ll have something to wear together.
Practice the 10-minute tidy. Clear up the space daily.
Whenever you buy anything—a lipstick, a spatula, a clip—get rid of one thing to maintain the balance.
Susie Houston & Associates | Susie Houston, Brooke Hecht, Hector Loya | 303-915-2071