After I re-organized her kitchen, my friend Pam offered to pay me to help her daughter (S) with her room. I wasn’t so sure about being paid — free parking space, laundry facilities, use of the shower & occasional meals worked for me — but I said sure, I’d be happy to help S. Then I took a closer look at her room.

messy room

a messy closet

Not even sure if she could get to her closet, much less use it.

It wasn’t the messiest room I’d ever seen, but it was pretty impressive. Some of the chaos was stuff that her mom had moved into her room after cleaning the living room while S was away at camp, so she hadn’t been living in it like that, but it wasn’t a one-day sort of mess. It was the type of mess that was going to require an even bigger mess in transition.

So last week, while S was still away, I tackled the first part of the job: organizing stuff.

a messy bed, piled high

Everything soft went onto the bed.

stuff to be sorted

Stuff to be sorted in boxes and piled high.

I wound up with boxes of stuff that I thought should probably get thrown away — lots of plastic stuff, even more old school books, worn out art supplies, and so on. Also stuff that I thought was probably ready to be donated — anything that a 14-year old had probably outgrown, from clothes to toys. Everything else was sorted: books, art supplies, stuffed animals, dolls, clothes, hats, jewelry, scarves, head bands, knick-knacks, electronics, games, photos, miscellaneous stuff.

When S got home, on Monday, we got to work. We tackled one corner at a time, one set of stuff at a time. We set aside a plastic crate for nostalgia items — things she wanted to keep but didn’t need to have out. Then we looked at and considered every object in her room: did she need it, did she want it, did it bring her joy, was she ready to let go of it? If she was keeping it, where did it belong? Where would she look for it when she needed it?

A neat book case

Books, art supplies, a few knick knacks in a new corner of the room. Yes, the books are in alphabetical order.

A reasonably neat closet.

The half of the closet that can’t be seen is full of boxes for an eventual garage sale, but this half has shoes and outside gear, including bags, organized by type.

A clear dresser top

This side of the room wound up looking a little barren, but I’m sure it’s a transitory state. The white shelving unit will eventually go, when she gets a new bed.

An empty floor.

Zelda, admiring the empty floor space. Well, probably not really. She might be wondering where the cushions went.

This is not actually my future career. I think I’m probably too allergic to dust to make a life out of clearing out rooms. But it was very fun and very satisfying!