The Accidental Organizer

Professional organizer Amber Austin compares hiring her to hiring a personal trainer who loves to eat. It might sound odd at first, but according to the clients whose homes and hearts she’s impacted over the last 13 years, it actually makes sense.

“I am not a naturally organized person,” Amber said. “I grew up in a chaotic, unorganized home. It was out of control. I was hesitant to share this at first, but I found that my story gives hope to people like me – if I can do it, they can too.”

Amber’s journey to an organized life was gradual and born out of necessity. “My family was growing, but my house was not. I was stressed, I couldn’t find things, and I was rebuying things I already owned.”

Realizing the need for change, Amber set out to organize “one thing at a time. I just started mastering one organizing skill at a time until it was on autopilot,” she explained. “It was a slow skillbuilding process. Implementing little tricks here and there started to make a big difference in my home.”

Her husband and three children weren’t the only ones to notice. Soon, friends were recognizing the improvement in Amber’s life and wanting to experience it in their own. Without even intending to start a business, Amber became an “accidental business owner”.

Her business, Dwelling Place Organizing, took its name from Isaiah 32:18, “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.” She’s found her work to have an impact as emotional as it is physical.

“The thing that has really surprised me is that it’s not about stuff,” Amber said. “We put so much pressure on ourselves, and we are always comparing our kids, homes, closets, pantries – you name it! I can see people relax on our first appointment when I tell them, ‘I want to make your house work for you’.

As minimalism and organizational tips flood TV and Instagram, Amber says she enjoys the content, but the picture-perfect approach isn’t hers. “I specialize in using what you have and making your existing space work for you,” she said. “I love getting creative and using things in a new way. I’m not in it for Instagrammable before and afters. This is real life organization.”

Often, the job calls for helping clients clear out clutter, sentimental items included. A 2008 house fire made Amber an expert in this area. “When you are running through your house making split-second decisions on what you’re going to keep, I can tell you it is not the random jars we’ve saved or ‘maybe someday’ items that come to mind.”

For those looking to clear out post-Christmas clutter, she offers two practical pieces of advice. “Put a trash can at the most used point of entry to your home,” Amber said. “For me, it’s the garage. So when I walk in the house, I can throw away the junk mail, cups, and clutter before it even enters my house.”

For items inside your home, Amber emphasizes ease of access. “When you’re trying to come up with a home for something, try to put it as close to where it lands anyway. Where do you use it? Where does it tend to end up? Find a home as close to that as possible.”

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