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"Local Expert Offers Decluttering, Downsizing Tips"

January 26, 2022

“Less is more” could be the mantra of Suzanne Newman, a local organizing expert whose passion is helping folks declutter and downsize. Her tips are especially helpful for savvy shoppers interested in making smart purchases – and not those purchases that go unused or clutter your home. 

You may, in fact, recognize Suzanne’s name! She’s been featured over the years in Chicago-area TV segments and magazine articles for her work.

In addition to helping clients sort through their closets to find the right clothes “that fit their bodies and make them feel beautiful,” she continues to pivot with the times.

Helping Older Adults Downsize

Today she is seeing growing demand for her consulting services that focus on helping older adults move to smaller homes or senior living communities. While many of her fashion clients have hired her to help their parents, she also gets calls directly from those needing organizing assistance.

A favorite client was Sam, a retired engineer and collector, who needed to downsize the house he lived in for 50 years in just eight short weeks. Imagine sorting through 2,000 books, 1,200 CDs, and a lifetime of family mementos. 

For Suzanne, it was a turnkey process. She assisted with hiring the movers, overseeing the move, and advising on what to keep, sell or donate; Suzanne also helped Sam settle in his new home. She said his favorite part of the process was creating a chronological wall of family photos that brought him comfort each day.

“It was a delight getting to know Sam and making his journey less stressful,” Suzanne explained. “I think of myself as a caring daughter sensitive to the emotional impact of letting go of memories in addition to physical things.”

When it comes to building your own “sorting muscle,” she suggests always asking yourself: “Does this add to my happiness, well-being and/or functionality of my home or future home?”

Suzanne’s Decluttering Do’s and Don’ts

The key to staying clutter-free is creating permanent “homes” for everything you want to keep. In each room, make a list of what you want to improve. Then attach colored post-it notes to big items designating which to keep, donate, discard or recycle. It’s a process that will reap many mental rewards as you enjoy your decluttered space.

1. Did you know most people wear 20% of their clothes 80% of the time? Divide your clothes into four piles:

  • Donate clothes and shoes that don’t fit, or you don’t wear, to friends, family or charity. (Keep NSSC’s Shop in mind for accessory and jewelry donations!)
  • Repair or clean anything that needs alteration or can be updated.
  • Keep and wear items that fit well and that you love. (But consider tossing styles that will make your grandkids laugh!)
  • Keep and save clothes with sentimental value but you don’t wear anymore. Save them in a box labeled “Memento.” Or take pictures of them and then donate the clothes. You can even make a scrapbook with the photos, noting the occasions they signify and attach a piece of fabric to each page for added nostalgia.

2. In your closet, organize the clothes you keep by type like pants and shirts, then by color. Add good lighting so you can distinguish the blues from the blacks. Keep a safe, sturdy stepstool nearby. Install wall hooks for accessories. Tie racks are great for necklaces, and velvety hangers are perfect for scarves.

3. Containers: assess then buy! First, clear out and separate items you are keeping before you buy organizing bins. Then measure your space to know what containers will fit and calculate how many in what sizes you will need. 

4. Keep an emotional perspective. It’s okay and natural to feel a little sad as you downsize. Don’t be a storage locker for your children’s memorabilia (send photos and give deadlines for when the keepsakes need to be removed).

  • Keep the stories, manage the stuff
  • Give yourself time, if possible, so you are not rushed as you sort
  • Focus on what you want and are keeping…let the other stuff go

Special Offer for NSSC Friends

Suzanne is offering a complimentary, virtual 30-minute consultation for NSSC friends. She charges by the hour or by the project, depending on the time required. You can talk with her by Zoom or FaceTime. She is also doing in-person client visits with those who are vaccinated and boosted.

Suzanne Newman

To schedule an appointment, call: 847.721.0607

Email: suzanne@findfashionhappiness.com 

Website: findfashionhappiness.com

As a 60+ Savvy Shopper living in Riverwoods, Caron Blitz gets what folks our age looks for in products and is always on the look-out for “fun finds” and the best values. For future columns, she’d love to hear what you, The Shopper, would like us to feature. If you are a retailer, let us know what special products and services you offer for older adults. Email: SavvyShopperColumn@gmail.com