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Extreme spring cleaning

November 16, 2009 8:01:51 AM PST
The more we collect the harder it is to clean and organize our homes. This can be especially true for the elderly. So when spring cleaning becomes more of a case of extreme cleaning, a local company showed us how to tackle what can be an overwhelming job.

This small sun room was filled with dozens of antique irons, sixteen brooms and mops, boxes of used candles, weaved baskets, colanders, newspapers and books.

"It was a convenient spot to drop things," said Ellen Weiss. "You could walk through it there's a nice door that gives you access but it's blocked up with stuff."

Ellen calls herself a collector but admits that after decades of accumulating without disposing, her Lower Merion home has reached its capacity.

"Collect is the word, you know it's a disease," she said. "Well, it depends if it gets, takes too much control and it sort of has with us."

That's where Call2organize steps in. Founders, Melissa Bollman-Jenkins and Cecile Steinriede say this is a problem they address with many elderly clients. That means being sensitive to the things the homeowners may feel attached to.

"Sometimes it is really hard to let go of things so we have tips on how to let go of things but not let go of the memory of it," Cecile explained.

For example, taking pictures of some items and making a photo album. Melissa and Cecile say the most important thing is to start small. It took more than 12 hours to clean, organize and label. They only got rid of about 6 bags of trash. The rest was clearly labeled and organized. Other items are now hung as decor. Ellen can now use the space to continue her passion: writing.

"I guess it's just the idea that I'll be able to sit and work here," Ellen said. "For 30 years it was just over-looked or neglected, so this it's just marvelous."

"The idea is not necessarily with every client is to get rid of everything and make it perfectly clear, the idea is to make it very comfortable and usable for them," Melissa said.

But not all projects Call2organize tackle are this extreme in fact many of us can relate to Ann Frey's cluttered closet.

"The door I open, I just have never been past the first 2 feet in 5 years."

This is the spot Ann put everything that didn't have a spot in the home old jewelry, cardboard boxes, chargers, Christmas wrapping and even $150 worth of savings bonds. After a days worth of work this is the closet Frey hasn't seen in half a decade.

"I didn't realize there were old paintings that were in there I had been looking for one for a long time."

Here's how you can get started. Call2organize says think about how you would like to use the room. Then label bins and boxes to put in things you want to trash, recycle or donate.

Call2organize charges about $90 an hour but they say if you have a huge job they are willing to negotiate their price. Ellen tells us she was so impressed with the job they did on sunroom, she's considering hiring them to work on her dining room next.


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