Keeping your home neat and tidy is a never-ending task. You can shove everything into your linen closet, but then you have to play real-life Tetris to pull something out. You can invent a complicated system color-coding your socks into three different drawers, only for it to fall apart on the third day.
But the goal of organizing shouldn’t be to just put things away, say Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin of The Home Edit. It’s to not have to think. Home organization should be a “roadmap so that everything has a home and that you know where to find it [and] where to put it away,” they say.
Based in Nashville, Shearer and Teplin launched their organization business, The Home Edit, back in 2015. They hit it big on social media, thanks in part to their rapport and mesmerizing, rainbow-colored organizing systems. Since then, they’ve amassed nearly 7 million followers on Instagram. They launched organizing services across the country, introduced collections with Walmart and the Container Store, inked a show on Netflix, and started a podcast. Their fourth book, Stay Organized: The Ultimate Guide to Making Systems Stick, publishes this September, and they’re headed out on their “Summer of Fun” tour this month.
The eight-stop tour kicks off this Friday at the Eismann Center here in Dallas. Teplin and Shearer say it’s a long time coming.
“Things got in the way like COVID and cancer,” says Shearer, who announced she had been diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2022. “And now, we are finally able to actually go on tour this summer and be in person with everyone and see everyone’s smiling faces and connect and hug and just actually have the community social experience that we’ve been wanting.”
The Dallas show will feature previously untold stories from the pair, organizing tips and games, audience Q&As, and a guest appearance from Bachelor alum Catherine Lowe.
We chatted with Teplin and Shearer about the show, how to decide whether an organizing system is actually working, the power organization can have, and more.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
D Magazine: Tell me a little bit more about the organizing games y’all plan to play during the show.
Clea Shearer: There’ll be a Team Clea [and] Team Joanna with a couple of people that we’ve picked from the audience. And we’re basically going to compete on who can organize a pantry rack better within three minutes. And it is a lot of fun.
D: Y’all’s book coming out in September is about maintaining organizing systems. Can you tell me more?
CS: Maintenance is really so key to having a great organized space. And really, what our goal was with the book was we wanted people to, first of all, believe that they can maintain it. Get out of the mindset of like, “Oh, why do it it’s just going to be a mess in a few days?” Because if you put the right systems in place, maintenance is really just plug and play. I like to say that my kids can dump out every single thing in the playroom and I can get back to looking magazine ready in 15 minutes, because everything has a home, and I know where everything goes.
D: What would y’all say to people whose home organizing look more like a “Pinterest fail” than The Home Edit?
CS: You have to be very realistic with your own life and your lifestyle and your habits. Where people, I think, usually fail is that they see a beautiful picture on Instagram, on Pinterest, whatever, and they’re like, “Okay, I can do that.” So, they set up to look just like the picture. But the problem is their lifestyle doesn’t really mimic that. Turns out, when they come home from the grocery store, they don’t actually feel like dumping out cereal into containers. So, they just put the cereal box beside the canister. Or they don’t feel like the decanting crackers into a beautiful canister.
All of those things are great if that is your actual lifestyle [and] you’re gonna keep it up. But you can also have a wonderfully organized pantry with just putting all the snacks in a basket labeled “snacks,” and then might be more realistic for your lifestyle.
D: After you’ve reorganized a space, how long should you live with that system before deciding if it works or not?
JT: You need to really focus on whether or not the system is breaking down around you. Like, again, if you organize your pantry, and next to all of your bins, you now have boxes of pasta and boxes of cereal that haven’t made it into the canisters or into the bins that you labeled, then maybe the system isn’t right.
One thing that we see sometimes [is] people get too micro with their categories. So, if you have a bin labeled “pasta,” and you bring home rice or quinoa, and there’s no place for it, then I think you need to start rethinking the system and maybe calling that bin “dinner.” Like recategorize it, so that everything starts to make sense. There’s no point in doubling down on a mistake. And if a system isn’t working, change it.
D: Stemming off that, is there such a thing as over-organizing?
JT: It’s the micro piece. If you’re organizing every single little thing—like instead of just having a category listed as “dolls,” if you’re breaking down every single type of Disney princess, Barbie, or whatever, I think you’re over-organizing. You don’t need to get that specific, because it’s going to be really hard for kids to understand how to put it away. … You don’t have to get so fussy with how you organize as long as the categories make sense, you can easily find what you’re looking for, and easily put them away without even thinking.
D: If you want to maximize the impact on your day-to-day life, which room would you organize first in your home?
JT: 100 percent the kitchen.
CS: Yeah, I would say close behind it is like any sort of entryway-mudroom situation. Those two spaces where there’s constant traffic, unless you live alone, are big bang for your buck.
JT: And the kitchen is the heartbeat of the home. And having it organized is really a game changer.
D: And how does having an organized space impact your mental wellbeing, especially when you’re going through a stressful time, like chemo or moving to a new place?
CS: It’s everything.
JT: I mean, it’s everything. It gives you a sense of peace of control, especially when the rest of your life is so out of sorts. And it’s such a low hanging fruit when you think about the amount of time and energy you put into something and the amount of reward that you can reap for it on a daily basis. It’s just like a no-brainer, and it’s worth it.
CS: Right. It brings a sense of calm when everything feels so disorderly and chaotic. It’s really nice to be able to be like, “okay, well, at least my bathroom’s organized. It’s just nice to have one less thing to have to worry about and think about. It’s nice to have systems that are just ready waiting, plug and play. You know, if you’re tired, if you’re overworked, if you haven’t slept, whatever it may be, to just know that it’s so easy to just put something right back where it belongs—it’s a powerful feeling.
Get tickets to the 8 p.m. show here.