Earlier this year, Ingraham called on her prior experience and her natural organizational abilities to start Home Perspective, a business focusing on professional organizing, home staging and moving assistance.
Here, she shares what her job entails, how she got started and what she loves most about being a professional organizer:
What, exactly, is a professional organizer?
Professional organizers are skilled specialists who create order in your home. We’re the people you can call to bring organization to an area of your home or the whole home at once. But we’re different from a cleaning service – we help put systems in order for you to run your home more efficiently.
Who should work with a professional organizer?
Working with a professional organizer is a good fit for nearly everyone. We’re all busy with work, life, kids and pets and it’s sometimes difficult to find the time to organize.
Home Perspective has three distinct facets: Organization, Staging and Moving Assistance. With that, I’m able to help a wide range of clients, whether it’s a growing family trying to wrangle a playroom or homeowners preparing to move or a family who has lost a loved one and needs to pack up their home. I’m here to help and alleviate frustrations, areas that overwhelm and are too stressful or emotional to deal with.
I’ve been fortunate to have a busy summer working with a whole range of clients. I just finished working with a family with three young boys, organizing their rooms and play spaces so they’d be ready for the school year.
I donated a lot of the items the youngest had outgrown and updated the closets to make sure the right sizes were there. When there are multiple aged kids and hand-me-downs, it’s easy for closets to quickly become overrun with mismatched shoes, too-small clothing or a mix of clean and dirty clothes. I sorted through and gave each boy proper sizes, matched all the pairs and added dedicated laundry hampers so all dirty clothes have homes.
What other types of services do you offer?
I also help put clients in contact with other professionals who can assist them at home. This summer, I worked with a woman who is about to put her house on the market. I helped her get rid of the spare items that were overflowing toolsheds, the basement and the driveway.
We consigned some furniture she was no longer using and I found places for her to donate other items. I helped with contractor and repairman recommendations for some electrical repairs and put her in contact with a great carpet source.
Selecting repair services is hard when you don’t know who to call. I have a large list of people I have worked with and trust to give a fair price and do good work.
In the end, I helped my client stage some areas of her house and get it ready for real estate photographs. The first place people begin their home shopping is online, so having your home looking its best and highlighting its assets is key!
How did you get started as a professional organizer?
It’s something I’d been doing for friends for years. When I was a teenager, I had one friend who would be grounded until she straightened up her room. She’d call me over and I’d clean up for her – problem solved!
So I’d had the idea for years, but the timing was never quite right in my life. I began my career as both a kindergarten and art teacher in Baltimore City. After having my daughter, I decided to stay home with her for the first few years. I then returned to a full time job in real estate development.
Last spring, I finally decided to take the leap and start my own organizing business, Home Perspective. I quietly began putting together my business plan, with the help of a business consultant (Annette Walter) and web and graphic designer friends (Molly White and Meaghan Grimm).
And then I got started!
What makes being a professional organizer fun and rewarding for you?
I love what I do and for me, it comes naturally. I get great satisfaction from a good “after” – so I love charging through the process and changing a space for the better.
I love seeing the expressions on homeowners’ faces when I reveal the finished rooms. Last week, my client sent me a video of her middle son seeing his “new room.” He was so thrilled with the space – it made me cry!
What’s something about being a professional organizer that might surprise some people?
There are a lot of days when I feel like a bit of an armchair psychologist. It’s very personal to be in someone’s home. I am very respectful of privacy, but I never realized just how much I would learn about my clients.
Can you offer one or two organizing tips, to give people a taste of what you do?
I’ve shared a lot of tips and ideas in my blog posts and on Instagram. I love giving suggestions!
First, I would suggest you keep a bag in the bottom of all your closets. When you come across an item that is too small for a child, or that just isn’t your style anymore, put it in the bag. When the bag is full, figure out where the clothing goes: donate it, hand it down, consign it or even have some alterations done to make it more wearable. Closets get overrun with clothes and then you end up with the funny problem of having nothing to wear, but being out of hangers. An organized closet gives you so many more options!
Another tip, for people with kids, is about toys. So many kids just have too many of them. I think it’s vital to teach our children how fortunate they are to have so many toy options. With that in mind, it’s just as important to donate toys when they no longer play with or outgrow something. Preschools, schools, daycares, hospitals and donation locations like Share Baby are great resources. Make your children help and they will take pride in their own generosity and be more appreciative.