Julia lives in a two-room apartment on the third floor of a nationally-recognized historic building in Middlebury. Its back room looks down on the winding Otter Creek, where she actually saw an otter a few months ago! It’s also within easy walking distance of the town’s many shops, cultural and culinary attractions.
She was a bit unsure if we could conquer her clutter, since she has “pack rat on both sides of the family.” Would we be able to slay (what her sister calls) the Paper Dragon, too much saved paper needing to be filed better or recycled?
We scheduled a Saturday morning session for early May. As it turned out, the afternoon’s client had to cancel so, if she was up to it, we could do a “double session day.” The morning was cloudy, with rain threatening. The sky cleared, though, and Julia opened the windows wide to welcome the warm, soft air. Listening to classic rock, we got to work in the back room that holds her bed, sewing table and kitchen area.
We first moved a white bookcase out into the hallway, with a sign declaring it free for the taking. My goal was to open up as much space as possible, to make the room feel bigger, while using every remaining inch to store items efficiently. We grouped small appliances, some food items and cookbooks. We reserved a prime spot for her juicer, which she uses every day. Pot lids that had hung on cupboard doors were moved to nails below them. We strategized about smaller aspects of the kitchen project that Julia could do on her own, before our next available time together.
We cleared her bed, stowed laundry in a corner, organized books. With our remaining time, and as the tired Julia directed, I cleared two shelves in her tiny bathroom, so that some of its space could be used better, too.
Deciding to delay battling the Paper Dragon until after addressing a more pressing need, we spoke about clearing her front room next. After all, it’s where she writes and enjoys crafts and other projects. Looking forward to our next session(s) together, Julia now has a bigger-feeling back room. All the better for spotting otters!