NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. - Recently, Etta Parker, a real estate
agent, was feeling disorganized, so she called Space Organizers
of White Plains, N.Y.
Space Organizers had organized Parker a few years ago, and
it felt great, but as time passed, she had slipped some
and now needed to be reorganized. A pile of 100 unmatched
shoes had developed in her closet.
Fortunately, Stephanie Schur could fit her in.
Since Schur began organizing people six years ago, she has
done everything from messy executives to messy housewives.
Suburbanites are so busy shopping and carrying heavy stuff
home from the mall that they don't have time to keep it
neat, so they call Schur.
She is not the type who organizes the world for $50 an hour
and then lives in some toxic dump.
Her spices are in alphabetical order. Her pastas are beside
her rices. She hangs up her ironing board. In one closet
is a "To-Do" shelf, which she updates daily.
She is a vice president of the Association of Professional
Organizers and has high standards.
"I'm embarrassed to show you my bedroom closet," she told
To the naked eye it looked perfect, but after she mentioned
it, you could see the sweater pile was off-center.
For each piece in her wardrobe, she keeps a note card of
matching accessories. With her green suit she always wears
her green shoes, amber pin and beige pocketbook.
"I never have to think about anything, it's great," she
She arrived at Parker's and immediately surveyed the situation.
"You know what? The place looks good," said Schur.
"It does?" said Parker.
In the living room was a laundry basket full of paddle-ball
equipment, several bags for a historical society gala and
a headboard from a bed. In the bedroom was a pile of clothing
that, as it turned out, had a chair underneath.
Pocketbooks and sweaters peeked out everywhere. A pile of
exercise leotards had formed on the floor.
"I wouldn't consider this a bad closet," Schur said cheerfully.
"You wouldn't?" said Parker.
Schur started with sweaters, asking which Parker wanted
to keep, which needed cleaning, which should go to Goodwill.
Neat piles began forming on the bed. Schur yanked out something
big. "A tablecloth," said Parker. "I don't know what
it's doing in my closet."
They finished sweaters, then organized pocketbooks by color
"Some of these look a little beat," said Schur. "They
just don't look up to you." In the pocketbook section she
pulled out a furry thing that seemed to be a hat.
"A mistake," said Parker. "I have to live with it."
Schur put the summer pocketbooks in a pile for the attic.
"We'll put the broken one on the To-Do shelf."
"To-Do shelf?" said Parker. "I don't have a To-Do shelf."
Ten pocketbooks were going to Goodwill. Redone, the pocketbook
section took a third of the space. Schur was ready to organize
the outfits, get them on index cards.
"I'm not outfitty," said Parker. "I like to mix and match."
Schur seemed disappointed but said nothing. She arranged
blouses by cottons, silks and wools, then in color subgroups.
Parker was catching the spirit. "I like being color-coded,"
she said. "Can we make a dressy department?" It was perfectly
OK. "A sport-clothes section?"
Schur held up several blouses that still had store tags.
"Mistakes," said Parker. "This might cut down on my shopping,
if I see I have 10 white blouses."
Schur recommended matching hangers, "better on the eye."
She dumped two unused hangers. "These in-between hangers,
you'd be surprised how much space they take. See? Can you
see the clothes saying "Oh, I can breathe?' "
There were just seven piles left on the bed to be put away.
"I can't make up my mind on this blazer," said Parker.
"OK, we'll have an ambivalent pile," said Schur. She didn't
mind a new pile if there was a reason. She cleaned off the
bed, then the chair, then took a lunch break, eating yogurt
from a thermos container. Schur always eats yogurt for lunch.
Next, she showed Parker how to roll pantyhose so they use
almost no space.
"I'm making two drawers of stockings," said Schur. "It's
not written in stone. I suggest one bureau for the feet.
We're doing great. Some people aren't at the stage you are,
they don't get to this part."
In just three hours, they had the closet straightened up.
As a test, Schur handed her client a silk blouse and Parker
knew just where to put it, in the black, dressy, print section.
She reached in and slid a hanger back and forth.
"I can move my jackets, I don't believe it." She said
just being able to close her closet door again made her