What a Professional Organizer Learned from Living in a 335-Foot Studio
Laura Cattano has been a professional organizer for over a decade, and her life is nothing if not efficient. She hates the word "clutter," she makes a habit of not purchasing new things, and she's in love with her Brooklyn studio apartment.
Cattano's home breathes comfort. She says that organizing is all about "ease of experience" -- you bet her home exudes ease. Minimal but not overly hygeinic, Cattano's studio is outfitted to suit her life. When Cattano works with clients, she first asks, "how do you want to live your life?" Then she can structure the home around those needs. For Cattano herself, she needs: a clear workspace, a minimal set of kitchen equipment, and a space to think.
It's important to organize your home around how you want to live -- that's how Cattano sees her job. Cattano enjoys sitting on the couch with a good book, so her couch is the centerpiece to her apartment. Cattano enjoys watching television, but she doesn't want to spend too much time in front of a screen. She deliberately does not arrange her home around a television -- a life in front of VH1 is not the life she wants to lead.
Cattano's studio features a small, tucked-away alcove. People continually encourage her to put her bed in the alcove -- a traditional set up for a studio apartment. But Cattano's alcove is a workspace. In effect, it's a storage space for her working self. The alcove stores her dressing space and her desk.
"If I'm working from home, I'm sitting at my desk for 8 hours," says Cattano. Having a place to maintain focus was important for her. Cattano hates laptops -- they allow us to take work to the couch, or the floor. Cattano's desktop keeps her grounded in a single workspace.
The dream ticket for any organizer, Cattano's closet is color-coordinated and neatly aligned. Cattano keeps her closet trimmed by taking her clothing to the tailor. When she realizes she hasn't worn an item in a while, she tries it on. Is it too short? Too long? The item of clothing probably just needs to go to the tailor. "About 80% of my clothing has seen the tailor," she admits.
Cattano doesn't subscribe to this "matching hangers" nonsense. "I have four different types of hangers in my closet," she says, and the closet looks just as organized as it would with matching hangers.
"I don't like to cook," Cattano admits. Subsequently, her kitchen doesn't need to be outfitted with whizzbangs and other cooking nonsense. She has two pots and one pan. Oh, and she only has one lid for the single pot. We Martha people love cooking, but still, in general, Cattano advises not to purchase "sets" of kitchen equipment. We really only use about half of the equipment in a set anyway.
Cattano doesn't have a medicine cabinet. Instead, under her sink, she has a minimal collection of plastic bins from the Japanese store Muji. In general, Cattano doesn't like introducing new objects in the effort to organize. She'd rather not have a billion plastic bins. Here, she keeps herself at just a few stacked neatly below her kitchen sink.
Cattano doesn't have a catch-all table next to the front door for mail, purses, coats, and the like. First of all, Cattano is proactive about what comes into her carefully calculated environment. She ensures that her apartment doesn't receive unnecessary mail. She doesn't accept free gifts (which are never free anyway -- space is money!) and she thinks before every purchase. She does admit, however, to owning a lot of umbrellas. However, "it's not about a number," she says. A home can support any number of items you'd like. You simply have to let the home take charge.