Starting from the outside and working in, this month we have taken a holistic approach to prioritizing ourselves, starting with our personal space.
Does our space have an effect on our self? We called in the pro, Jen Robin of Life in Jeneral, Jen is all about beautiful, functional spaces and putting yourself first. She let us ask all of our burning questions...
On the heels of the Marie Kondo craze, have you seen an uptick in interest?
The show has been great for us, especially in January. January is always the month of weight loss and organization! We’re busy year round, with spring cleaning and getting organized in the new year, but with the Marie Kondo craze—the more business the merrier! We are so grateful for it. Our philosophies are very much in line—it’s all about the feeling that it gives you; what you gain from decluttering and purging and creating a life for yourself. It’s fun to watch everyone catching on. There’s a lot more awareness, which is great. We’re not Kondo-ing, we’re Life in Jeneral-ing!
Do you still get excited about tidying even after all these years?
Every day. Every single day. Actually, I think my excitement has just grown. I’m not in the field as much anymore, but I’ll still stop by jobs because it fills my cup. I love seeing how clients react. We get testimonials on Sundays, and we will actually start crying because these people will tell us how inspired they feel, how much their lives have changed, and it really affects people which pushes us to keep going. I know the feeling that we’re going to give them, and I’m genuinely so excited for them. So I just wait for the call.
Is there a psychological component to what you do and how do you approach this?
We contract out when there’s a hoarding situation… but honestly, this business is people. It’s all about connection with people and not being stuck behind the clutter. I would never claim I went to school for psychology, but I’ve talked to many psychologists that will tell you that happiness and organization go hand in hand, and I truly believe if you are organized at the core center of your life, your life will be happier, more fulfilled and you’ll be able to prioritize what it is important. I feel and see it every day with my clients by giving them the tools.
What are your thoughts on feng shui?
I am big on aesthetics, aesthetics and function need to marry. You must have both. While yes, your system needs to be created properly, you still want to be able to look at it. For me, it goes back to learning about people and what gets you up in the morning—I need to know your lifestyle, what are you wearing every day, are you a coffee drinker, etc. Something as small as re-arranging your kitchen can save you 5 minutes a day by changing the flow of a room. You don’t need objects you aren’t using and the mental capacity of seeing it everyday, you don’t even think it’s bothering you—but just remove it; you don’t need it front and center.
That’s very in line with Lunya, in the way we approach things, beauty and function.
Function has to win, but it can be perfectly in line and in sync with each other. A beautiful marriage!
How do you connect with your clients to help them get on track?
Every single question we ask in our consult—I want to learn about you whether that’s over coffee or tea. It’s so much bigger than organizing a closet, space, or pantry. It’s about creating a life for the client and making sure that I'm hearing and seeing them in that initial consult, because it’s going to be the best investment they’ll ever make.
Have you seen it affect relationships and marriages?
Yes! We are not therapists, but we do learn how people function and it’s really fun to work with people who are on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Watching the organized one have a revelation and vice versa. It’s great to watch it transpire and see the magic happen. We never make decisions where it’s 'he’s right and she’s wrong.' We’ve learned so much through the approach of just listening and having them feel heard. It’s also very situational, every couple is different across the board. We listen to what they really need and developing a solution in that moment. They usually need an outsider to tell them what they think is best, and we know what’s best.
Once the system is put into place, is it easy to maintain?
Yes. I joke because I have a terrible business plan in that you never need to call me to come back. It’s a forever thing. Your life will evolve and grow, but the tools and systems that we use are forever. That’s why it’s a one time investment.
Do you think that your clients experience a real mental release?
Our goal is that we want you to walk into your space and feel like it is a sanctuary that you have created for yourself. Once you have that feeling, you’ll want to keep that feeling forever and do everything you can to maintain it.
What about the people who want to hang on to that feeling of contentment, but don’t know how? Do you have any best practices?
For one, I don’t leave my house without making my bed. It’s a small thing, but mentally my bed is made and I can leave. Take those few minutes each day of making sure you’re putting those things back. One of my clients takes Sundays to tidy and deep clean, and that’s her ritual and what works for her. Schedule the time; prioritize it. You’ll feel so much better about relaxing in your space.
What about kids?
People ask me all the time about playrooms, is it always going to be like this?! You have to create systems and teach your children that clean up time starts before the next day begins. Having that boundary with your family goes a long way. It’s a family dynamic and a group effort.
In terms of curating a closet, how do you know what to keep and when to get rid of things?
My golden rule is: do you love it? do you use it? do you need it?
Those are the three things you think about with really anything in your home, but with clothing it’s whatever works best for that person. Living in the present day vs. the future or past. We’re so big on the present, going back to the mindset of, "anxiety lives in all the 'other" and decluttering and having that calming moment is being in the present. Being at peace with yourself, but also in your space... it’s like you’ve done your laundry list of to-dos, you’ve tidied your house, everything has a home. Do it once, upkeep it everyday, and get that peace of living in the present day and feeling good.
Any limit to how many pjs one should own?
At Life in Jeneral, we’re of the limiting philosophy… but we do love a couple of sets of Lunya pjs on hand at all times ;)
Do you think you can have a messy, cluttered home and truly be at peace?
No, but there’s a caveat to that: I met an artist once, and going back to the psychology of it all, I had this long conversation with this client... she was so happy but she said, “I want to throw this here,” and I replied, "ok, if that’s what makes you happy, I’m not changing that for you,” and that’s the corner we chose where her creativity can spark, for lack of a better word. She has that corner.
I firmly believe that if your house is in perfect order, and I say perfect as in ‘perfectly imperfect’, you will feel great about it.
So, I’m not an artist and I don’t have this excuse, but there’s always “The Chair," that one area for paper and bills and stuff that you usually don’t want to deal with. How do you break out of that habit of using that crutch?
Take the time. Schedule that time in your day today or tomorrow or on the weekend and make sure you are specifically, intentionally creating time for that one space. I had a client like that, so we moved the chair. We had a sign saying, “Remember that feeling, don’t put something here,” and for two weeks we had that sign up and sure enough, she never puts anything there anymore.
It’s coming up with these solutions—every single person in this world is different, so we have to design what’s going to work for them. For that client, putting a sign on that chair, another client was removing the chair, but it’s also taking the time to intentionally go through that basket of paper, or setting the time because it’s actually so much more daunting having that build up; it’s really important to deal with it.