Why Celeb Organizers The Home Edit Say They Are the Polar Opposite of Marie Kondo

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Minette Hand)

To say that there’s been hype around the idea of decluttering and organizing is an understatement. This past January was not only a time to refresh your space and start anew (perhaps through our January Cure), but also marked the month that “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” came into our lives, whether you let it in or not.

With all this extra buzz around giving our home areas new life, it’s safe to say that The Home EditInstagram-famous organizers Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin—has been feeling the New Year cleaning craze as well. Not to mention the dynamic duo recently joined forces with Amazon Alexa to promote the product’s many organization tips and tricks they use in their day-to-day lives—from maintaining client shoppings lists to setting reminders for content going up.

We sat down with The Home Edit to ask all the burning organizing questions that might have been left unanswered—from how to handle feeling overwhelmed by clutter to what they think about the Marie Kondo craze—and they didn’t leave any stone unturned. While we can’t promise you’ll be motivated to do a sweep after reading, we think there’s a solid chance that you’ll want to work toward your #housegoals.

Apartment Therapy: So let’s get started. First, where do you start when feeling overwhelmed with decluttering?

Joanna Teplin: You don’t want to start with a room or pantry because those are both tricky spaces. Start somewhere small, like a junk drawer, that’s already tamed and not going to explode into the whole room. Pull everything out and categorize it. Okay, so you have six pairs of scissors, but maybe you don’t need all six, and go from there. Once you see it all grouped together, it’s easy to make those decisions about editing. And once you edit, you deal with the organizing piece.

Clea Shearer: The common pitfall that we see people run into is starting with the pantries. It’s such a fun space, but a little known fact is that a pantry is the hardest to organize. It’s not formulaic at all, and every pantry is so different with various corners and shelving. Our book is coming out in a couple of months, and we tried to organize the chapters by difficulty. The pantry is the last chapter because we’re really like, “Please don’t do this first, but it’s also our favorite!”

AT: How do you determine what to get rid of?

JT: You have to think about how you use the item, in what capacity, how often, and how much access you need to it, then reevaluate. What’s the most expensive real estate in your place?

CS: I think there are two things that have to be concurrent in your head. The first is take an initial, easy pass. Is it expired? Is it leaking? Is it broken? Is it something I genuinely don’t like? The second is a gut check. Am I ever going to use this? Do I like it? Is this something that I might wear? So you have to dig a little bit deeper. The first pass is always very simple, and the second pass is where you have to ask yourself a bit of the tougher questions.

AT: How do you address sentimental clutter?

CS: Sentimental clutter is a very real thing in everyone’s house. Every single sentimental thing in my life needs to fit in one box. If it doesn’t, then I better get less sentimental about it. I get a box, my husband gets a box, and our family gets a box. For family stuff, I give ourselves that extra bit of space for anything that relates to our family. I’m pretty serious about [this process].

AT: How do you make the organization last?

CS: Decluttering is stage one, but we’re really about systems that are maintainable for the long-term. You might be able to get rid of a lot of things, but then what? Setting up smart systems that use the appropriate product for each space is critical for getting new things and maintaining the items you have long-term We always say that our systems are stylized because you’re far more likely to maintain a space that you’re proud to look at. I think it’s a motivational thing. The last bit about our process is labeling, which is so critical because it’s a set of instructions that tells you exactly what to do with your space. Without that component, it’s kind of like a lawless land.

AT: How has the Marie Kondo craze affected your business?

CS: We really love it because people are excited about organizing. I think that she is one side of the coin and we are the other. She gets people really excited about getting rid of stuff, and then we can come in and organize what’s left. We do the purge, too, but she almost comes at it at a spiritual way. We’re kind of the polar opposites of each other. She’s so perfect in herself, and we’re so perfectionist-obsessed with our projects.

AT: What do you love about Marie Kondo’s strategy?

JT: We love her folding methods, it’s brilliant. Like being able to see your entire stack of shirts and not have to pull from the bottom and upset the stack… it’s a game-changer.

AT: Anything you feel differently on?

CS: Marie really likes to reuse cardboard and little boxes, and for our purposes, we think product is really important. Picking the right product is what helps sustain the system. I think she’s just more on the front end of the decluttering and purging while we focus so heavily on the system and organizing that the product becomes really important. She just doesn’t really believe in that side of things, which is totally fine—she comes at it at a much more minimalist perspective. And we’re Americans who are big crazy consumers and deal with huge spaces. It’s not to say either is right or wrong, just a different way of doing it.

AT: Last but not least: all-time favorite project?

CS: It’s like picking children. I’ll say Gwyneth Paltrow because she’s the queen of all things, Khloe Kardashian because she’s the queen of organizing, Mandy Moore and her pantry because she fainted—it was a fake fainting, but it was still fun to watch—and Lauren Conrad because she worked on the floor with us for four straight days and is just our favorite human being alive.