DESIGN YOUR LIFE

by STACEY MARCUS / photography by HOLGER OBENAUS

EVER SINCE SHE WAS A LITTLE GIRL, Laura Simmons believed everything had to be in its place. “I always had an eye for color and liked to work in an organized way,” says Simmons, who earned her bachelor’s degree in interior design from Texas Tech University.

While she loved many elements of interior design, she found its subjectivity did not align with her personality. (Spoiler alert: This response was a foreshadow of her destiny to be an organizer.) Ultimately, Simmons decided to work in the Design District in wholesale. When the showroom where she was working relocated, she found great delight in reorganizing the space and discovered her true calling. One of the designers asked Simmons who curated the resource room, and when she revealed that she did it, the designer said, ”You should be doing this for a living!”

“I see spaces and objects as a giant game of Tetris,” says Simmons, who joyfully announces that she can box up an office in a day. She took the designer’s advice and began taking on clients while she was still working at the showroom.

Her first client’s husband was an avid reader who had mountains of books sprinkled throughout the home. Simmons took all his books, boxed them up and carried them to the backroom. She then alphabetized them and made a remote library. The husband was resistant at first; however, when they were ready to bring the books back into the freshly carpeted room, the husband said that he loved the library so much that he wanted to keep it. She then boxed it up again so they could carpet the small room and set up the library again.

“People didn’t really begin to understand organizing until the DIY show Hoarders was launched,” says Simmons. Soon people were hiring her for one job and then commissioning her to organize their entire house. She left the showroom and took a job with a furniture store called The Dump on the weekends so she could devote her time to her new business Monday through Thursday. “My entire goal was to dump The Dump,” she jokes.

“I do a lot of downsizing, taking 4,000-square-foot homes and moving people into 1,200-square-foot living spaces,” Simmons says. Although she jokes that people don’t need 14 roasting pans, Simmons recognizes that change is difficult for most people. “All my team members have to be compassionate and know how to help people navigate through change.”

As for her own residence, she is in nirvana. “We now live in Double Oak. The house was on its way to foreclosure and needed everything redone. It was the perfect time to reflect on our family’s needs. We relish the tranquility,” says Simmons.

Her one piece of advice to homeowners is to take the time to clean out the garage. “Make it say, ‘I am glad you are home,’” she says, noting that she considers organizing a gift she gives to her clients.

Design Your Life and Get Tidy Tips

Put at least two boxes out in your home.
When you pick up something to use, put it back where it belongs. If you pick something up and don’t use it, donate it or give it to someone who will find a good use for it.

Don’t worry about other people’s standards.
“I love to sew and had nowhere to store my sewing machine and supplies, so I stored them in my living room,” says Simmons. “Now I can pull out my pop-up machine, put up a quick hem and go on my merry way.”

Make allowances for things you do on a regular basis.
If you travel frequently, get a second set of make-up and leave a full set in your travel bag so it’s ready to go when you are.

Make things easy.
Store games in the buffet rather than the china that you use once a year. You will enjoy them more often.

Live in reality.
While getting ideas from TV shows and Instagram is inspiring, realize most of these spaces are staged and not designed for real living. Life needs to make sense. It does not need to be perfect.

For organizational inspiration, follow Simmons on Instagram @designyourlifels.

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Stacey Marcus is a Boston-based freelance lifestyle, luxury and travel writer. Her works have appeared in Art New England, Boston, Boston Common Magazine, Coastal Design Magazine, Charleston Style & Design, Modern Luxury Chicago, Ocean Home Magazine, Playboy.com, RD.com and many others. A lover of big words and little white dogs, Stacey’s biggest joys are found in life’s simple moments.