After surprising an unorganized friend with a complete home makeover, Roewer felt so inspired by his friend’s gratitude that he decided to turn his interest into a business.
By Hilary Adleberg
After restoring an unorganized friend’s home, Scott Roewer found his calling. Officially launched in January 2004, Solutions by Scott based out of D.C. offers professional organizing, event planning and style consulting services. Roewer shares some of his favorite tips and tricks on how to maintain and organized lifestyle—in both a material and mental state.
Why organizing? What attracted you to this career path?
When a friend who was disorganized went away for the holidays, I recruited some assistance and surprised him with a complete home and office reorganization/redesign. We painted, repaired a hole in the ceiling, organized 10 years worth of papers, bought new furniture and tackled all his closets. After he returned, he said I really changed his life for the better, and he told me people would pay me to do the same. He found me my first client and business took off!
What space do clients find to be most difficult to keep organized?
For many clients, I find that any ‘landing zones’ are areas they have a hard time keeping organized. It may be the kitchen counter, the top of a dresser, the entry table, the dining room table, coffee tables, etc. It’s a large flat surface with no boundaries. I recommend trays to help keep things contained to a smaller area. If it doesn’t fit on the tray, it needs to go somewhere else. Baskets work for some people, or smaller containers to hold specific things.
It’s often been said, ‘Clutter is a delayed decision.’ You don’t know what you do with a specific item, so you set it down. Second item gets set down in the same spot. That’s the birth of a pile. If you continue to not make decisions about where an item is going to ‘live’ than you have a growing pile of clutter. Stop that nasty cycle by making decisions about everything. Ask yourself, ‘What is it, does it belong somewhere else, do I need it; if so, where does it make sense to keep it/use it/find it, etc?’
What is your advice for clients that have smaller spaces to spread out in?
The most important rule is to ‘go-up.’ People tend to focus on the floor space and end up crowding their living spaces with too many pieces of furniture. Look at your walls and see how you can use them differently. Perhaps you have a piece of furniture that’s not maximizing the space. For example, this week, we worked with a client who had a very low TV stand. We couldn’t put anything on the narrow shelves under the TV. After we edited her belongings, we realized if we hung the TV on the wall, bought a sideboard/credenza to replace the TV stand, we would be able to store all of her music, DVDs, table placemats, napkins, candles and extra office supplies all in one piece of furniture in her studio apartment. She said, “I would have never thought to do that.” Having a fresh set of eyes look at your stuff and how you’re using your space can help rethink and improve the way you’re living.
When the economy got tough for many, people were moving less, and wanting to make their current residences double as their workplace. That’s when we got really busy. We were able to help people rethink, reuse, redesign, and reorganize their homes—improving the way they lived in their homes, not requiring a bigger space. For many, it isn’t that they didn’t have enough space, it was that they had too much stuff.
DIY Closet Organization Orientation
According to Roewer, “The most popular post on our blog, DeclutterYou.com, is one called Organizing Your Closet: A How-To Series. It’s a nine part video blog post on how to organize your closet like a pro.”
Redefining the Term ‘Home Schooling’
How do you teach clients to maintain an orderly lifestyle?
“I have a master’s in education, and though I may not be in a traditional classroom, I’m still a teacher. I’m just teaching a variety of clients the skills necessary to organize their lives.”
Can you briefly explain the organization process you offer?
“My company works with our clients’ habits, not against them. We have clients work alongside [us] so we can teach them as we’re working. Being organized isn’t something you do once in a while. You don’t hire a professional organizer and get your space organized and expect it to maintain itself. Organization is a way of life.
“Prior to the first appointment we ask clients basic questions like what’s not working, what their goals are, and what their expectations are. Some of the clients write us a few sentences; some of them write us a book!
“We begin the first appointment with a tour. We like to start with a complete understanding of the client’s needs, and we like to have a holistic approach when suggesting our plan of action. After the tour we start work on the area that warrants [the] most attention. At the end of the appointment we leave them with some ‘opportunities’—though my clients will tell you it’s ‘homework.’ Many like having specific things to do to move toward their goals, and we leave them [with] those opportunities. Most of our clients will work with us multiple times to accomplish their goals.”
In what ways do you believe an organized atmosphere affects a person’s life?
“I think organized people feel more in control. You gain space by being more organized. You save time and money because you’re not hunting for things, and you don’t buy to replace items you’ve lost. Organized people are more productive, because they have the ability to focus and have a better direction, and accomplish more in less time.”
What should people keep in mind when shopping for organizing accessories?
“One of the most important things to remember is that ‘buying’ stuff to help you get organized is counterproductive unless you know exactly how you’re going to use it. Have a plan before you go shopping. When I work with clients, I’m the professional who gives them the solution. We use whatever they own first, then purchase items to support the solutions if necessary.”