A Professional Organizer Meets Laura U: The Purge Part 2

Laura U Library Gets Organized

It’s hard to believe that spring is right around the corner and that means lots of spring cleaning and organizing. Luckily, we’ve gotten a jump start thanks to the help of Cathryn Linn from the Organizing Organization. Last month we began the process of organizing one of the most important spaces in the Laura U studio – the library. Would you believe we spent more than 4 days sorting and purging?!

The Laura U Library before the Sort and Purge phase

Now that everything’s been cleaned out and sorted, it’s time to start putting everything in its assigned place. Today, we’re excited to have Cathryn taking over the Journal to talk about the third step in her process – categorizing.

Thank you, Laura! It’s great to be back. Before I talk about how you get organized, I want to chat about why organization is important.


Do You Need to Organize?

Taking time to organize is important because it helps you spend your day more effectively and reduces stress. When you spend valuable time searching for something, it makes you frustrated and takes time away from other things. Searching for something can quickly take 15 or 30 minutes out of your schedule.

For many of my clients, visual clutter is stressful and overwhelming. They think about it all the time and because they don’t know where to start, and consequently, they end up ignoring the space. Or they move the clutter from an organized room to a disorganized room. I have had clients completely avoid entire rooms of their home!

The problem with not addressing the clutter is that you’re paying for it. In real estate, they talk about price per square foot to determine the value of the property. If you think about it from that point of view, you’re paying the rent of your clutter. Taking up valuable real estate in your home and not using it functionally isn’t something you want to do.

Bags of tiles, finishes, and materials in the Laura U library

What if I Don’t Have the Time to Organize?

A lot of time my clients tell me they don’t have time to organize. But investing your time in organizing is an investment in yourself. If you’re mentally stressed about the clutter, you aren’t taking care of yourself. Alleviating the stress all the clutter is causing allows you to invest in some much needed self-care, and in turn better care of your family.

Now that you know the importance of organization, let’s talk about the organizing process!

Cathryn Linn, Houston professional organizer, sorts through the Laura U library

Getting Started

One of the biggest challenges many of my clients have is not knowing where to start. And when you don’t know where to start, it’s easy to put it off. Simply getting started is one of the most difficult parts about tackling the clutter in your home.

My advice for clients it to pick a corner and just start. Try it for 5 minutes. I’m sure you’ll continue. Work your way around the room before going onto the next room. Or if it’s obvious that one area needs a lot of attention, start there. For organizing the Laura U office, I worked through each category with the teams of designers.

Cathryn Linn of the Organizing Org helps the Laura U designers organize

Your Top 3 Organizing Priorities

Whether it’s an office or a home, there are 3 important things to consider as you’re organizing: function, storage, and labeling.


As you’re organizing your space, you want to make sure you do it in a way that works and makes sense for everyone. For example, if you store tiles in the back of the cabinet and not everyone can get to them, that doesn’t work. You want everything to be easy to access.

One of the functional spaces that comes up as I’m working with clients is the “junk drawer”. I like to think of it as a useful drawer instead. Like every space in your home, I think it should be functional. Once you start going through it, you’ll usually find 80% of what’s in the drawer can be cleared out.

We tend to hold onto things because we don’t make an immediate decision about it. That’s how items end up in the useful drawer. If you decide what to do with it right then, it’s less likely to end up in the drawer.

Beautiful! Our professional organization has paid off in the leather drawer.


Having plenty of storage is the key to keeping things organized. You want to make sure that everything has a home. Use bins and separators in your drawers to give you more space for the little things. Use magazine holders to group books on your bookshelves.


Labeling is important because it ensures items are put where they’re supposed to go. There’s no question about how or where
things should be put away. If it’s not clear where things go, there’s a tendency to leave it there.

Utilizing labels is beneficial for kids too. It tells them where to put things and teaches them the skill of cleaning up after themselves.

Senior designer, Shannon, and assistant designer, Krystin, sort through magazines.

Cathryn’s Tips for Organizing Multiple Spaces

I’m helping the Laura U team with one space, but many of my clients work with me to organize their entire homes. And whether you’re doing one space or multiple spaces, the organizing process is the same. Here are my top two tips to make organizing multiple spaces easier.

#1 – Purge the whole house first

Doing the purging process all at one time is important for two reasons. It helps you gather everything into one place and lets you see what you have. For example, you may have kids’ craft supplies in several places throughout your home. After gathering everything you may find you have 10 pairs of scissors. If you purge one room at a time, you may eliminate scissors but you may still have 5 pairs total!

All Laura U print material sorted out and ready for recycling.

#2 – Sort by category

My approach to organization is similar to Marie Kondo’s method in that I sort by category instead of by room. It helps me look at the house as a whole and ensures everything has a place. In general, I tell my clients one space for one category of item. But there are times when a category needs more than one space.

Kids toys are a great example. There may be toys in their playroom, their bedroom and in the living room. That’s okay, as long as everything has a spot.

If there are multiple places for their toys and they don’t know where to put things, it can be confusing and overwhelming. That’s what makes labeling important. Labels tell them exactly where to put things back and it gives them ownership of their stuff.

Houston interior designer, Laura Umansky, inspects the progress of the library organization project

Big Organizing Wins!

The teams did a great job and you can see the studio library starting to transform. The important thing to remember about organizing is that you have to get your bearings. But once you do, things will start to click and you’ll begin making progress.

Before I started working with Laura U, I wasn’t aware of the difference between stone tile for the floor and tile for the counter. It was a bit overwhelming at first trying to organize everything. Figuring out the categories and functions of the different samples was a big aha moment for me. Now that I know where everything goes, organizing has been much easier.

The most exciting part of the organizing process for me was finding a place for all the leather! It used to be stored on the bookshelves, but we needed to move it to the drawers. Thanks to the purge, everything fits in the drawer now.

Just a couple more steps to go! Professional organizer Cathryn assesses her next steps.

What’s Comes After Organizing?

After you’ve organized everything, it’s time for the last step – labeling. Labeling ensures the Laura U team can access all the samples they need and return them to their specific home without thinking about it. I can’t wait to share the details about how the labeling process goes.

Thank you so much Cathryn for sharing more about the organizing process. We can’t wait to share more about how the labeling step goes. In the meantime, be sure to follow along on Instagram to see more of our organizing process.

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