Buffalo Grove organizer suggests tackling one room at a time
Michelle Prima, owner of Prima By Design Inc., at her home January 20, 2013. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
BUFFALO GROVE — Dozens, maybe hundreds, of Buffalo Grove residents are trapped in their houses, owing more than they are currently worth or unable to find a buyer; dozens more are trapped for an entirely different reason, though. A house that is too cluttered to tidy up is just as hard to sell.
Michelle Prima, owner of Prima By Design in Buffalo Grove, tries to make life in any house better for its occupants, by organizing one room at a time. She helps families convert disaster areas into functional spaces again, and also manages moves from one residence to another.
Three weekends into the new year, many who resolved to get their messes straightened up have either not attacked the monster yet…and with no football on TV this weekend, husbands and sons may be more amenable to performing domestic duties. Prima offered these tips for everyone thinking about getting a room, a workplace or an entire home organized Saturday and Sunday:
• Focus on one room at a time, she said. Too often, homeowners wander from room to room, picking up and putting away things here and there…hours later, they turn around, see no visible gain in the overall mess and give up. Taking a day to organize one room will give a sense of accomplishment, and something to protect against the re-spreading of clutter.
• Throw away duplicates, things you have not used in ages, and broken items you meant to repair years ago and just have not gotten around to yet. “Are you really going to fix it?” is the question Prima often asks. “Either follow through on getting it fixed, or throw it away.”
• Scan paperwork into your computer — then shred the hard copies. Then sort your newly digitized documents into a system that works for you.
• Compartmentalize everything you can, which makes more things easily accessible…which makes those things functional again, and gives you a reason to stay organized. “I’m a big proponent of bins within bins, and dividers within drawers,” Prima began. “Labels, labels, labels. I even label the clear containers.”
• Before you buy new containers, look around at what you already own. “Most of the time, they already have what they need, even if it’s a cardboard box,” she said.
• But if you buy new bins, drawer dividers or any other organizational tool, first know the measurements. Make sure that what you want to put in it will fit…then make sure the container will fit where you want to put it.
A resident of Lincolnshire, Prima came to home organization from the medical field, where she worked with hospital records.
“All the really detailed stuff, checking for signatures and that type of thing,” she said.
She started Prima By Design on Jan. 1, 2005, and said she enjoyed helping people reclaim their living spaces.
“Being organized is not about being perfect, because that’s another misconception,” she said. “It’s all about being able to find what you need when you need it. A lot of people stress over the fact that they’re never going to have a pristine house. That’s really not what being organized is about. It’s OK to have a pile of shoes by the front door, if you know what shoes are in there.”