What we're reading

We just finished a great read & wanted to share our thoughts with you. There are a lot of “organizing” books out there, and most of them are highly focused on the practical and tangible aspects of the process. New Minimalism: Decluttering and Design for Sustainable, Intentional Living has so much more to offer than just the “how to” organizing info. It feels like they speak our language, when it comes to listening and understanding a client’s specific needs before prescribing what to do and how to do it.

“The key to making the decluttering process feel easy and light is to exercise gratitude. We focus on gratitude because it helps root us and makes us feel calm as we enter this process. It is an antidote to anxiety, fear, and shame. Guilt dwells in the past. Gratitude grounds you in the present.”

- New Minimalism, Cary Fortin + Kyle Quilici

They offer a framework of 4 Archetypes that expound on how individuals personally relate to their possessions. The archetypes are used to help express why it’s hard for a particular person to declutter, while keeping the focus on the positive side of how we relate to our things. This framework can be such a helpful tool when learning your own archetype or the archetype of people you live with.

Here’s a real brief overview of the archetypes:

The 4 Archetypes.png

We love the way they offer a process and plan for helping folks declutter and organize, but they do it in a fluid and flexible way that is tailored to each specific client. In our five years of experience, we find this way of organizing is helpful for clients — there is no one right way for everyone to simplify their lives.

Here’s a few other excerpts we loved from the book:

“Here is the place where we can’t help but expound on one of our favorite philosophies: the myth of choice. Somewhere in our cultural evolution toward a consumer heavy lifestyle, some great advertising goddess came up with the brilliant idea that more is better. This idea has become so ingrained in our American ethos that we believe having more options liberates us and allows us to be our most fulfilled and most creative selves. Even that language - liberty and creativity - is at the very core of what we’ve always held to be the cornerstone of enlightened civilization. Yet it has been proven that having more choices does the exact opposite of giving us freedom. It leads us to feel overwhelmed, unsatisfied, and confused.”

- New Minimalism, Cary Fortin + Kyle Quilici

Cary + Kyle

Cary + Kyle

The gals who wrote this book have a deep appreciation for being conscious consumers, as well as kind to our environment. They even venture to say “ the choices we make in the kitchen, just like the choices we make about our wardrobes, echo through our day and our communities”. We couldn’t agree more with the idea that our choices effect much more than just our own lives and well being.

In regards to mail, they preach the same message we’ve been empowering clients with for a long time… “Make sure that as soon as you get your mail from your box or front door, you open all important pieces, then shred & recycle them once they are no longer needed. If you don’t have time to open your mail, we would recommend leaving it in the mailbox until you do have time, rather than bringing it in and not sorting it. Otherwise piles start to grow”.

We really appreciate the way these women highlight and credit other professionals in the organizing realm, like Marie Kondo & Karen Kingston. This collaborative posture is one we can totally support.

At their best, our homes are a reflection of our hopes, our current values and our history. While having meaningful objects from our pasts can be beautiful, we need to achieve a fine balance, lest we become rooted in our history and unable to move forward into our future.

- New Minimalism, Cary Fortin + Kyle Quilici

This read is chock full of wisdom about making thoughtful decisions and shifting your perspective. We found ourselves nodding our heads and underlining so many pages. If you want to be encouraged and equipped to live more simply and intentionally, we highly recommend grabbing a copy.

We are cheering Cary and Kyle on as they continue to serve clients in the San Fransisco area. Follow them on Instagram to see glimpses of what they do! Grab a copy of their book and stay tuned for their second book, New Minimalism Guided Journal, set to come out in early 2020. They also have a wonderful blog.

donating and selling books


As organizers, one of the questions we consistently get from our clients is how and where to donate or sell the books that they are ready to pass along. We've compiled our list of recommendations and are eager to share it with you.

If you are ready to organize and purge your books, we recommend that you take the time to look through all the books throughout your home. Rather than simply purging a bookcase in one of many places that you keep reading material, plan to put your hands on every book in the house! Don't forget cookbooks, textbooks, and children's books. Once you've gone through all of them and have your purge pile, the following steps will come in handy...


Step 1: Determine whether each book is donate-able/sell-able or whether it simply needs to be recycled. If it's water damaged, dry rotted, or torn up it's not worth donating. Go ahead and recycle that sucker.

Step 2: Donate: If you don't want to fool with selling, simply donate your books to your local library or to a thrift store. If you have children's books to donate, you can also drop them at one of the many free little library's around town.

Step 3: Selling: There are many approaches and ways to go about selling your books. For a quick way to offload mass quantities of books, McKays is our recommendation. The amount of books you drop off will determine how you sell/how long you wait. For guidelines check out this link. In addition to McKays, Amazon now has a buy back program for certain books that they will pay shipping for and purchase from you in exchange for an Amazon gift card. For textbooks we recommend Barnes and Noble's buy back program.

Step 4: Enjoy the space you've created in your home by purging the books that you no longer need or want!


books, books & more books


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Consider these questions when sorting through which books you'll keep and which you are willing to part with: 

  • When was the last time I read this book?
  • Will I read it again?
  • If it's a cookbook, do I use it? Hint: the presence of food stains indicates a keeper.
  • Is the book a classic?
  • Does the book have specific value — is it a signed copy, first or collectible edition?
  • Is the book out-of-print or hard to replace?
  • Do you have mulitple copies? (Just keep one)
  • Do you have an electronic version of this book? (Let the paper version go)
  • Is this a book I've borrowed and need to return?


  • Donate to: Friends of the Knox County Library, KARM, The Salvation Army, local churches
  • Specifically gift relevant books to: family members, neighbors, co-workers, or friends.
  • Recycle: if a book is beyond repair & has seen better days
  • Consign: your books at McKay's Books



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Here's a fun video showing a few different ways to style your own bookshelf. And a cute infographic drawing of the different styles!