This Pro Organizer Has the Secrets to Making Small Spaces Work for Two
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Name: Fay Wolf and Garrett Dorin
Location: Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA
Years lived in: 8, rented
This house tour is the first in a handful of professional organizers’ homes we’ll be touring this month. January is a great time for a fresh start (speaking of which, have you joined our January Cure yet?) and seeing inside the homes of professional organizers—and reading their advice—will hopefully inspire your home in 2020.
A lot has changed in Fay Wolf’s small Silver Lake apartment since we last toured it four years ago. There are more splashed of color, furniture has been rearranged (yes, that’s a bed in the living room), and perhaps most of all, there’s another person living in here: Fay’s partner Garrett Dorin moved in two and a half years ago. What hasn’t changed is Fay’s expert ability to create a beautiful, organized home where she can live, work, and get creative in. It’s the perfect nest for the artist, musician, and professional organizer.
Fay actually specializes in helping creative types organize their lives–her most recent book is “New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks (And Everyone Else)“—but her wise advice can work for anyone’s home (perhaps even folks who don’t think they can ever be organized?). In fact, Fay stresses that the only thing you can get wrong about organization is to do nothing at all.
“As long as you’re trying, you’re taking a step in the right direction. A common misconception is that you can’t possibly take that action until you have tons of free time. (Which never happens.) But decluttering and organization are life-long practices, just like doing laundry or yoga. So you just have to start and see what happens. The truth is that any amount of action can feel incredibly great. And a little better is… a little better,” she says.
Her advice—and her organizational skills—are on full display in their one-bedroom apartment, which is actually the guesthouse of some friends.”It’s nicknamed the ‘treehouse’ and we live on a street that’s simultaneously in the center of the hustle and bustle of the city and also has the feeling of a quiet street in a mountain town. It’s wild. Los Angeles has that unique ability,” Fay describes. “Our neighbors take care of seven chickens in the backyard and the area is rich with wildlife. I’ve been spoiled by our views of the hills and of Downtown L.A. (Wherever our next chapters bring us, I’ll hope there’s at least a small view.)”
Fay explains that her and Garrett’s home is a base for many different functions—like “work, creativity, nourishment, love, meditation, and rest”—and in such a small space shared by two people, that’s plenty. Perhaps the greatest lesson to glean from Fay’s space is that you should design and use your home for what you need. “We’d love to entertain one day, but we really don’t,” admits Fay. “Right now, it has this feeling of being sacred just for us, and the occasional visitors. Our little treehouse for deep breaths and creations.”
In the spirit of Fay’s philosophy of embracing even just a little bit of organizing action, she always shared a small task or two someone could do every day—maybe even today—to stay organized:
“For me, it’s less about the specific task and rather the idea that you can do ANY task for a short amount of time. You could set a timer for 10 minutes and fold the clothes that were thrown on the couch, or clean off your computer’s desktop, or throw out expired foods. And you don’t have to finish any of those ‘projects’ in order to make progress and feel better.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Colorful, Warm, Cozy, Imperfect, Functional
Inspiration: Wood and color. Very inspired by rustic treehouses and cabins, and the feeling of family. I also love design elements that are unusual or rebellious. We try to marry the feeling of a cozy lived-in home with functionality, easy access, and a slow move toward minimalism.
Favorite Element: The newly-painted diagonal wall. We wanted to corner-off a workspace for my partner and have it feel like its own thing. We decided on a diagonal pattern with our signature dark blue accent color, but I didn’t want it to go all the way to the ceiling. This way, the area felt more like a cut-out of the bigger surrounding space. We matched the height instead to the pegboards in the kitchen, for a cool contrast. The lines aren’t painted perfectly, but we haven’t done any touch-ups. It’s human and I like it that way.
Biggest Challenge: Since my partner moved in, creating separate workspaces for each of us has been a huge challenge that we’ve finally overcome. It was made exceedingly harder by the fact that we don’t just need desks or computers to create, but musical instruments as well. So we had to figure out individual workspaces, a creative space, a lounging area, an eating area, and a sleeping area all inside a one-bedroom home. There have been many incarnations, and I think we’re finally making it work beautifully. He had the brilliant idea of moving the bed into the main room, allowing for a larger, closed-off creative space for us both. And the pièce de résistance was using the top of the dresser as my keyboard’s new home. This meant I could create space for a full-size desk for myself while still having my primary musical instrument accessible and ready-to-play.
Proudest DIY: My very basic DIYs are usually spray-paint-related. Instead of white or chrome Command hooks, I made some orange ones for the wall next to our closet, so we’d have additional space to hang bags and Garrett has created some beautiful DIY art projects.
Biggest Indulgence: We bought a custom window shade, which was actually pretty affordable, but getting anything custom made felt like a very fancy thing to do. I think our next big indulgence will be better lighting and dimmers for the main room.
Best Advice: The only thing that matters is the attempt to make a change. Don’t worry about the outcome or let your brain come to conclusions before you actually try and see how it makes you feel. Be imperfect and go easy on yourself. Remember that YOU are in charge, and that decluttering and decorating are creative acts in and of themselves. YOU decide what feels right for YOU.
PAINT & COLORS
- Benjamin Moore—Marilyn’s Dress
- Martha Stewart—Wrought Iron
- Behr—Regatta Bay
- Plant Stands—IKEA (spray painted yellow)
- Gray Lack Nesting Table—IKEA (As-Is Section)
LIVING ROOM (SLEEPING AREA)
- Bookshelves —Umbra Conceal Floating Bookshelves
- White Curtains—Amazon (H.VERSAILTEX)
- “You Monster You”—Angie Rubino
- Jeff Bridges Gift Box—Sara Isaacson
- Collage Artwork—Louise Chandler
- Flower Music Note Artwork—Garrett Dorin
- “Full moon and Pyramid” Pillow—Picomodi via Society6
- Tanum Throw Rugs—IKEA
- “Vintage” fan—Vornado
- Analog Alarm Clock & Meditation Timer—Offgrid Mindfulness
- Dark brown dresser—found on street
- Small black cabinet—found on street
DINING ROOM (DINING AREA & GARRETT WORKSPACE)
- Dining Table—Craigslist
- Dining Chairs—IKEA
- Go-Cart Rolling Desks—CB2 via Craigslist
- Desk Mugs—Corita Kent
- Custom Cordless Shade—Windowsandgarden via Amazon
- Tiny Ottoman—HomeGoods
- Balance Ball chair—Gaiam
- “Where were we going”—Jeremy Gates
- Tanum Throw Rugs—IKEA
- Yellow Bookcase—Limited Edition IKEA
- Wooden folding chair—found on street
BEDROOM (FAY WORKSPACE / CREATIVE SPACE)
- Vintage Couch—Casa Victoria, Silver Lake
- Pillows: “Beyond”—Louise Chandler; Vintage Pillowcases—StephieD on Etsy; “Geodesic” by Terry Fan via Society6; IKEA
- Ranarp Lamp—IKEA
- Gray Lack Nesting Table—IKEA (As-Is Section)
- Blue Storage Ottoman—Target
- Antique Round Side Table—Treasures of Ojai
- Go-Cart Rolling Desk—CB2
- Throw rug—IKEA
- Reclaimed wood shelf—installed by Ben Gould
- Wall Files—Container Store (spray painted orange)
- Yellow Tertial work lamp— IKEA
- Dresser—found on street, gifted by Angie Rubino
- Post-it Super Sticky Easel Pad—3M
Thanks, Fay and Garrett!