STYLE Savvy: Cleaning the Closet


Last spring, my high school senior announced that she was looking forward to going through stuff and getting rid of things this summer. Specifically, she’d set her sights on the playroom/man cave/family room and her bedroom, but the basement was also in her sights.

Music to a mother’s ears. Especially a mother who writes about organization.

One Friday night–the beginning of the first weekend in August, less than three weeks before she left for college–she told me she was in the mood to sort.

You don’t have to ask me twice.

Several sorting sessions and many piles later, the closet looked better than it has in years. Our give away pile had grown, as had our trash pile. There was still work to do, but some small goals, like emptying out the storage ottoman and making space in the closet for a crate of albums, had been accomplished.

One of the really cool–and somewhat surprising–things about this whole endeavor is that my daughter was a die-hard I love stuff kid. As a matter of face, she still is.

Although her style hasn’t changed, she’s become a lot more discriminating about the “stuff” that makes the cut. Her definition of “treasure” has narrowed over the years, but true to form, she (still) prefers donating things to throwing them away.

"Style Savvy: Cleaning the Closet" by Lisa Hess for

Image via Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

Why am I telling this story?

Simple. Chances are, you have someone in your house whose style differs from yours. That style might even drive you a little crazy. But honoring people’s styles and helping them to work with those styles can help the people you love to become more discriminating about the tools they choose, and how they choose to use them. Even better, your respect for their styles and organizing choices helps them to feel more self-confident about their own ability to organize and can empower them to advocate for themselves.

With time and practice, organizing gets easier, especially if we work with what comes naturally instead of trying to conform to what works for someone else. And, before you know it, you have a kiddo who can organize a book bag, a school desk and a locker…and maybe even her own room.

At least once in a while.

Copyright 2016 Lisa Hess


About Author

Lisa Lawmaster Hess has contributed articles to local, national and online publications, and blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, The Susquehanna Writers and here at She is the author of two non-fiction books (Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce) and two novels, Casting the First Stone and Chasing a Second Chance. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is a lecturer in psychology at York College and enjoys singing with the contemporary choir at her church.

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