Cheshire ‘Home Edit’ company has changed my life
PUBLISHED: 15:30 27 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:05 27 October 2020
Inspired by the hit Netflix show Kate Houghton invited Leslie Spellman from The Clutter Fairy into her home to sort out her life
Last month, my friend Caroline recommended Netflix show, Get Organized with The Home Edit. “You will love it,” she said, “but be prepared for much screaming.” The show follows two young women who have garnered over 4.4m followers on Instagram and several celebrity fans, simply for their ability to walk into a home and create order from chaos – and beautifully colour co-ordinated order too.
Caroline was right, within a half-hour I was hooked, and had also turned the volume down – there is much, much screaming.
It wasn’t long before I realised I wanted a bit of the Home Edit action in my own home. I knew exactly what I needed help with – my dressing room. My wardrobe hasn’t been cleared out for at least six years and my annual ‘buy one throw one’ New Year’s Resolution lasts all of five minutes after I open the doors to be met with just too much stuff. Quickly closing the doors and pretending it’s not there is far easier.
A quick google revealed a few home edit options in Cheshire, but I was immediately drawn to one – The Clutter Fairy, based in Sale. A magic wand was just what I needed, so I messaged an SOS and waited for the call.
Lesley Spellman has been decluttering homes across Cheshire and Manchester for more than 10 years now. We had a quick chat about my needs and an appointment was booked. Before coming to my home she suggested I buy some black velvet hangers from Amazon. They’re not expensive and having seen The Home Edit I understand how a wardrobe where every item hangs the same way, from the same size, shape and colour hanger, can feel immensely satisfying.
“They’re practical too,” Lesley laughs when I comment on the aesthetic pleasure of matching hangers. “They are space saving, non-slip and can hang tops and trousers at a consistent height, making everything easier to sort.”
Lesley arrives, fully masked-up, and we make our way to my bedroom. Within minutes my bed is piled high with the contents of my wardrobes and I begin to quail a little at the size of the task ahead. How will I decide what to keep and what to lose?
“Having someone else being part of the decision really empowers you,” Lesley reassures me. “Psychologically it’s harder to rehang something and put it back in the wardrobe when you know you shouldn’t, than just to leave it there, so we fetch everything out and reveal the size of the challenge.”
Lesley begins by holding up an item and asking if I want to keep it. I say yes, it’s placed on a new black velvet hanger and goes back in the wardrobe. I answer yes to the next several items and begin to wonder if I will ever be brave enough to say no. It’s not long however before I pause to think about an item, and Lesley quickly asks why I am unsure. “I haven’t worn it in ages and I think it makes my neck look short,” I say. She raises an eyebrow, I nod at the empty clear plastic sack by her side, and in it goes. After this my decision-making speeds up and I start to get positively ruthless.
“The hardest things to get rid of are the pieces that you once loved, but really haven’t worn for ages, and those that cost a lot of money. I hear, so often, ‘It was really expensive, but...’ On the whole women do know what suits them and items that fall outside of that and so don’t get worn were wasted money from the moment you bought them, so don’t feel bad getting rid years later. Often clients say - ‘Oh, I was planning on selling that,’ but then we have to ask if they really are going to get to it, or not. Everything else goes in a clear sack, which is the charity sack. If someone is really unsure about whether they want to get rid of an item, they should keep it. Sometimes we have to allow emotion into the equation.”
She’s right. I have a few vintage pieces that belonged to my grandmother that won’t ever fit me and so won’t ever be worn (she was a delicate 5’ 2”, I am not) but I can’t imagine disposing of them, ever.
Some of the items I agree to get rid of aren’t what I would call re-sale quality and I wonder how a charity shop would feel having it landed on them.
“They sort everything, keep the good stuff and sell the rest by weight,” Lesley explains. “So just chuck it all in and offload it all at once.”
She’s quite firm and no-nonsense, but this is precisely what I need. Anybody prepared to let me wibble about in my decision-making would be doing me no favours.
Once Lesley has re-hung everything, I am allowed to see my wardrobe.
The top rail is for skirts and trousers, with pieces arranged by type, length and colour. Underneath, all my tops are hung in order from sheer to heavyweight, with woollen knits at one end and silky shirts at the other.
My jeans and t-shirts are all pushed onto shelves, not into drawers, and it’s not pretty. Lesley heaves everything out and we start the sort again. Before it goes back, she teaches me a trick. We take every t-shirt that isn’t worthy of hanging and fold it neatly into a small square, then file it neatly into a shallow plastic box. The t-shirts are then plain to see and easy to access without pulling out the whole stack and ruining any attempt at ironing I may have made. The box slides back onto the shelf and looks great. I immediately swear to do the same with all the bottles and jars currently crammed into my bathroom cabinets. (I do too, which just shows how once you get going the momentum carries you on.)
My jeans can be hung in my newly spacious wardrobe, which leaves room to neatly stack my gym wear. I shall be investing in a few more clear plastic boxes to gift myself some organisation of that shelf too. I feel smug, already.
Perhaps the greatest challenge of my dressing room is my shoes. I keep them all in boxes, stacked at one end of the lower tier of my wardrobe, which rather reduces my hanging space. We fetch them all out. I am brutal in my decision-making and around one third is placed in a charity sack. There is room now to stack them neatly on the upper tier, where they don’t interrupt the flow of my clothes. I can now see what I have with ease and am less likely to choose from the same three pairs, kept next to my mirror, every time I go out. It’s a happy moment indeed.
Within a couple of hours my dressing room is beautifully organised and several tons lighter. As am I. It was a massive job and without Lesley there I know it would either not have happened for a long while yet, or happened a lot more half-heartedly.
“I love what I do,” she says. “When you see the weight lift from a client’s shoulders, it’s a good feeling. It doesn’t matter if it’s a wardrobe, a playroom or a home office. Sorting, clearing out and organising feels good. Kitchens and offices are the most straightforward, books and clothes the hardest – more emotional attachment to both. There are ways to tackle everything though and over the last decade I have had every kind of client and every kind of challenge.”
Lesley loves what she does so much that she’s set up an online facility to help those who can’t bring her or one of her team to their home. She says that while getting a professional organiser to come to your home is absolutely the best solution for those feeling overwhelmed at the size of the task, she realises that not everyone is able to do that.
“So, with my friend Ingrid, I have launched The Declutter Hub.There’s a Facebook Group people can join and ask for advice, we record regular podcasts and post blogs, all with advice, ideas and inspiration for those who want to declutter and get organised. We have recorded 107 podcasts already and had over 300,000 downloads.”
The Clutter Fairy was the perfect choice for my need. Practical help and advice and just the right amount of empathy. It’s contagious too – within the next two days I sorted my crammed bathroom cabinets, tacked the spare bedroom and blitzed the kitchen. My local Barnardo’s charity shop received seven bags of clothes and shoes, and assured me that what they couldn’t sell in the shop would be sold by weight.
It’s a win-win-win. And no screaming.
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