Spring cleaning is a unique practice depending on who you are, what culture you’re part of, and what you’re seeking during this time. It can be a time to reset and start anew, detox your mind, body, and space, and in some cases, celebrate the mark of a New Year now (rather than in January). For me, spring cleaning has always been a chance to become a bit lighter, letting go of things that felt burdensome, and giving space for things that bring me joy. I’ve always been intrigued by the connection between how we feel and our physical space.
As we look to define what this season means, it always helps to have an informed perspective. I talked to Rebekah Bashorun, founder of the wellness and lifestyle brand Organize for Love, that provides in-home and virtual organization.
Where did your passion for organization start?
I’ve been asked this question so many times, so this is where I am – I pretty much was born with an obsession for the home. Since I can remember, I’ve had an affinity to clean, cozy, and organized spaces. As a young girl, I binged Extreme Home makeover and Hoarders with my mom. I also played Sims just to recreate my family and build homes from scratch. And let’s be clear, playing Sims on the computer is the only acceptable way to play.
I can’t say exactly when I decided I wanted to be a professional organizer but I know I was young. My childhood home was such an inspiration because there was so much potential that neither me nor my family got a chance to fully tap into. My genuine curiosity about decluttering, and having too many things is honestly what led me to want to do this work. Especially since I felt black folks in particular had a unique relationship to things that I didn’t exactly see represented in the shows I loved.
To me, clutter is simply something you haven’t made a decision on – that’s it.
I’ve lived in over 25 places so I have so much experience in different spaces and managing my own clutter. I’ve been using the same principles, particularly around keeping my stuff at a manageable level by having less of it. I don’t necessarily call myself a minimalist but most people would consider me one.
I’ve managed the clutter in my homes from a practical place, and it’s always worked for me. I also hate the idea of having to pay to have things – whether it’s with my piece of mind, or having to pay movers more because I have more boxes. Paying for my stuff never sat right with me lol.
I know how a space looks can usually dictate how someone feels, or is sometimes a result of how they are feeling (drawing from personal experience). What are your suggestions for keeping things organized when someone is feeling depressed or anxious, or even just uninspired?
I’ve personally battled with depression and most recently postpartum depression- so I resonate with being overwhelmed with managing your home. This is why I try to be careful about giving advice because depression is a personal journey and I never found advice helpful. However, when I’ve felt overwhelmed, I started with the basics. Being clear on what I need in the moment has served me well.
Although cleaning and organizing are separate, they can go hand and hand. If I can’t do anything else, cleaning and clearing the kitchen counters, sink, and tidying up the living room typically make me feel better. Focusing on 1-2 rooms rather than the entire home and tidying the space you’re going to be in most of the time. Often, a clean space can make you feel lighter and the act of cleaning (even light cleaning) can give you a sense of empowerment and control.
Safe spaces for Black women are so important. I think the focus is often on the uncomfortability outside the home but feeling uncomfortable inside is also very possible. How do we combat that, as it relates to your work in organization?
Creating safe spaces for Black women is going to take several efforts across long periods of time, however I love what exists today. There are so many amazing organizations and initiatives just for Black women. And this question is so incredibly timely, like I’m so excited to answer it lol. This month I’m actually launching my new membership program Abode which addresses exactly that. I mean exactly!
Abode is a membership program that brings virtual organizing and a sister circle together so we can organize our homes as a community. I truly feel this program is my divine assignment and soul mission. You can learn more about the program here.
What is your process? How do you work with each client to address their specific needs?
Organize For Love is all about the internal and external clutter – they definitely go hand in hand. I combat the two by creating space for them to exist together. For example, before I enter a client’s home, we have a 1 hour call to get clear on what they want for their home.
This looks like going through their Pinterest board if they have one and locking in on what they actually want their space to look/feel like. This means deleting (decluttering) the images that no longer resonate. What typically happens is a process of elimination within the client’s mind. They’ll be like “I don’t want my home to be all white, but I do like the simplicity and the way the all white home feels.” This helps me help them get more comfortable with what they want and how I can help bring it to life within my process.
On my platform is where I start with mindset, so by the time someone is ready to work with me, they’re already warmed up and thinking differently about their space. We dive deeper with our one on one conversations.
Next, we determine what needs to leave the space; this is so very important because this is how we create room. Not coincidentally, this same principle applies to letting go of other things that no longer serve us like people and beliefs.
What are your favorite things/last minute touches that really bring a room together?
Definitely plants, candles, flowers, dried florals, oil diffuser. When I’m adding those final touches to a space it can get overwhelming because when I’m shopping, I want to get all the things. Complimentary accent pieces as well like trays, vases, and baskets are last minute things I add too.
As someone who lives in NYC, I have to ask, how do we maximize space in a small place?
I have to be 100% honest, my current space is not small at all, especially for New York standards. With that said, I have lived in very small homes so I know a thing or two about maximizing space. I’m going to repeat what I said earlier: focusing on the essentials, using discernment, and having less things is the first hack. Again, I don’t identify as a minimalist, so this is not about that. I feel like when I tell people to focus on getting rid of things, they think it’s unrealistic or an agenda. But getting rid of things is where we start, I can’t emphasize that enough.
Next is maximizing your vertical space which is your walls, doors, and extra tall cabinets. There’s so much underused space there. Lastly, condense, condense, condense.
What does spring cleaning mean to you?
I love this question. Spring cleaning is aligning your home and life with the natural transition of the season. Learning from nature and what she’s doing to renew herself. Using those same principles of renewal from the trees and flowers to renew our life and home.
Ashley Fern is a Brooklyn based writer. She is a health copywriter by day and holds an M.S in Publishing. Her interests include exploring health, wellness and beauty through the lens of Black women.