The Washington Post

Do you need an organizer or a designer?

How professional organizer Rachel Strisik organizes her children's toys in their Bethesda home. (Linda Davidson/THE WASHINGTON POST)

It made me realize just how fuzzy a line sometimes exists between the two professions even though they do completely different things.

“Both are working in the home and doing important jobs, but they are doing completely different jobs and finding solutions to completely different problems,” says Margery Wedderburn, a designer in Vienna.

An organizer addresses the problem of managing overwhelming clutter, she says, and a designer addresses the frustration someone feels when they can’t get a room to look cohesive and finished.

Wedderburn said there have been times where she has gone on a first-time design consultation only to walk around the potential client’s house and hand them a referral for a professional organizer.

“I will help with space planning and will design built-ins and extra closets so people can put their stuff away,” she says. “But I’m not going to go through their stuff. I’ll recommend an organizer for that.”

To help determine your needs, Wedderburn suggests the following:

When a beautiful home inspires you, think about what it inspires you to do. If you’re inspired to paint and order furniture, call a designer. If you’re inspired to get rid of piles and declutter, call an organizer. If you’re inspired to paint but can’t because you have too much stuff, you may need an organizer first, then a designer.

I asked professional organizer Rachel Strisik for her take.

“Working with an organizer is about creating systems and putting those systems in place,” she said. “Working with a decorator is about making a space beautiful.”

Either way, both professionals agree that it can be helpful to have a third party evaluate a space.

“It’s an outside eye who is not emotionally attached,” says Strisik, “and who can see other solutions.”

Follow Terri Sapienza on Pinterest, a social networking site where people share and organize ideas and information on design, food, shopping and other topics.



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