Design Matters

Emptying the nest can open space and clear the mind

by Val Nehez
Posted 9/28/23

Our last article pointed to where to source the perfect pieces. Now we are looking at how to organize or get rid of them.

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Design Matters

Emptying the nest can open space and clear the mind


Our last article pointed to where to source the perfect pieces. Now we are looking at how to organize or get rid of them. 

And for anyone who caught Lois Volta at the author's event on September 20th at Booked, I say bravo! You’ve got a head start. Lois, a professional organizer and has a full service cleaning staff, she is a superstar plain and simple. 

Lois and I are both members of the Germantown Friends Monthly Quaker Meeting, and she lives in the "cottage" on the GFS campus. I have watched her transform this small cottage into nothing short of dreamy. She has planted gardens in the small front and back yards, and they are now chock full of flowers, veggies and even a few chickens. It’s a magical spot. 

Lois writes prolifically about the profound connection between order and our spiritual well-being. Her book "Confessions of a Cleaning Lady" is a must-read. 

As a full-service Architectural and Interior Design Studio, Studio IQL’s ultimate goal is to create beauty. I would assert that beauty cannot exist without order. This doesn’t mean you have to live as a minimalist. I have enjoyed beautiful homes packed full with very thoughtfully arranged art and collections. It is the unintended clutter that fills our homes and gets in the way of beauty. 

I once attempted to ride my bike down the coast of California. Every time I would stop for the night, in the morning when it came time to pack up my bags,  somehow there would be things that would not fit into the bike's two saddle bags. This illustrates that we are all human magnets for ‘stuff’.

For most of us, however, such a purge can be very emotionally challenging. A useless object can have sentimental attachment, and useful ones can lose their purpose – like the exercise bike that has become a clothing rack. This ‘Stuff’ has karmic weight. The weighty consideration of stuff gets in the way of ease. And beauty and ease are also inseparable. 

So if you are looking to “empty your nest” and see your space anew, your goal should be one of taking away whatever is clogging up your enjoyment of your home.

An experienced organizer is a therapist for your stuff. They understand that the purging of personal items has to be done with love, compassion and communication. They ask the right questions. Just having someone show up and hold the time in your calendar to focus on the task at hand can be priceless.

They can also help you see your things anew. In our experience, every home has hidden treasures. When we pull them out, edit and rearrange them, our clients often fall in love with them, either for the first time or all over again.

For manuscripts and paperwork, and much more, we use Yasmine Goodman at Organized at Last. She works from her home in Chestnut Hill. 

On the other side of the river working from a historic Fairmount Park mansion is Hilary Jay. From her years as founder of Design Philadelphia, there is no one better at curating significant art collections and antiques. Her company is called Department of Better, and she will most likely know the perfect buyer for what our clients are not keeping. 

But whoever you choose, let them hold your hand while you take the plunge. You don’t be sorry. 

Val Nehez is the owner and principal designer at Studio IQL in East Falls. You can find her at, on Instagram at @studio_iql or @quickandlovely_design.