Delegate the Mess – Expert Q&A With The Neat Method Nashville

Well, this pandemic is raging on and we’re spending more time at home than we ever thought possible. Luckily, Holly Trepka of Nashville’s NEAT Method is next in our Expert Q&A series (note that NEAT Method has locations all over the US and Canada). She’s a home organization genius and full of ideas for whipping our living spaces into tiptop shape. A lot of us have been tackling home projects during covid, and I think that Holly’s insights will be a big help as we continue to feather our nests for the long haul. This information is perfect for anyone who’s ever stocked up on things at Container Store, arrived home and thought “Oh gosh, where to begin?”

I hired NEAT Method to organize several areas in my new house, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. They’re abiding by strict safety protocols and social distance guidelines, so I felt both totally safe and completely thrilled at my shiny and tidy new spaces.

Thank you, Holly, for sharing your expertise with us!

*The images above are from the @nashvilleneat_holly instagram page.

What is the biggest barrier to implementing an organizational system? Do we just make things too complicated to maintain?   

Don’t just buy organizing products because you think it will create the system, without truly understanding what you are organizing. You have to completely empty the space, categorize and edit (purge) the items, and THEN measure and shop for what you actually need to stay organized.

*The images above are from the @nashvilleneat_holly instagram page.

We all have that one room or closet that’s a mess. What do you say to people who are too overwhelmed to even start organizing those spaces? 

Start small! You don’t decide to be a runner and sign up for a full marathon, you work up to it. So, start with a junk drawer or a bathroom vanity. Once you complete it, step back, take joy in the space and then move on to something larger. This is also where hiring a professional organizer is really helpful.

What is your typical process for working with a new client? You offer both virtual and in-person sessions, which must be helpful in the age of quarantine.

Yes, our virtual services had quite the spike during quarantine. We start each project with a consultation (either in-person or virtual) so we can understand the goals for the space and come up with a plan. For virtual, you get a shopping list and steps for DIY organizing. We can even ship custom NEAT Method labels! For in-person projects, we provide a full, white-glove service. We will do all of the shopping and organizing for you and you get to come home to your new NEAT space.

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*The image above is from the @nashvilleneat_holly instagram page.

When should you bring in the experts vs. tackling a project yourself?

NEAT Method is a luxury service and we understand that doesn’t fit every budget. You can follow our social channels (@neatmethod and @nashvilleneat_holly) on Pinterest and Instagram for lots of inspiration to organize projects yourself. We have a monthly calendar you can follow to tackle spaces one week at a time.

It is always easier to organize for others than yourself, because of the emotional attachment to things. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes on a space can see the potential of what could be. Finding a use for wasted space is my favorite part of this job!

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*The image above is from the @nashvilleneat_holly instagram page.

It’s unclear whether kids will go back to school “normally” for any of the 2020/21 school year. What are some ideas for keeping your house together with everyone working from home and doing distance learning? 

Get creative and get the kids involved! We all spent a lot of time at kitchen tables in the spring during the unexpected homeschooling. Maybe now is a time to reevaluate their rooms. Is there a large Lego table or dollhouse they no longer use, that would make space for their own desks? I just ordered lap desks that the kids can decorate however they like, and will give us the option to take school outdoors for a change of scenery. Also, I loved our “Art Cart” (available at Ikea, Michaels, etc.). We use a lazy Susan on the top for art supplies, and the kids each have magazine files to put away their workbooks each day.

*The images above are the before/after photos from Mary’s spice drawer

What are your favorite supplies/products to help bring order to messy spaces? Do we really need a label maker??

YES! Do not skip the labels. It is the final step to actually keeping your system in order. It’s much harder for anyone to put something back in the wrong bin if they can clearly read what’s on the outside. If your child isn’t reading, use images with the words on the toy bins (balls, cars, dolls, etc.) to help them learn.

Note: Holly was kind enough to share links for some of her go-to organizational tools, which are easily found on Container Store, Amazon, and Etsy:

*The images above are the before/after photos from Mary’s party-supply closet.

Sometimes it seems like we never have enough storage. What are some clever hacks for utilizing space more efficiently? 

Use your vertical space to get things off the floor. You can also rotate things seasonally.

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*The image above is from the @nashvilleneat_holly instagram page.

What are your top three tips for everyday organization – i.e. just keeping things in decent, “good enough” shape? 

Put things away in the right place the first time, have everyone in the house do their part, and only keep what you truly love/need.

What’s been your most challenging project? This is where you make us feel better about our disorganized spaces by sharing a real doozy – ha!  

We NEAT Method girls don’t “NEAT and tell” – client confidently is very important to us. We create a judgement-free zone with each client, and just trust me when I say that we have always seen worse!

 Be honest: do you ever just let things pile up like the rest of us?

OF COURSE! I am human and a mother of two young kids. We are also in the midst of a home renovation, while working from home! I am always repurposing closets, nooks, drawers, or anything that isn’t moving to make our lives more functional. Organizing isn’t permanent, but with the right system it can grow and adjust just as your family does.

 About NEAT Method:

NEAT Method is a luxury home organizing company with locations all across the US and Canada.  NEAT Method originated in San Francisco more than 10 years ago, and now has over 60 locations (all women-owned). We offer unpacking, organizing, and virtual services and have transformed thousands of homes from chaos to composed, creating the NEAT life in our clients’ homes.




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