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How to live ‘tidily ever after’

By MONS ROMULO, The Philippine STAR Published Jul 19, 2022 5:00 am

Her approach to living tidy goes beyond physical space. It provides insight into a more intentional, organized way of life.

A graduate of the Ateneo de Manila, Mica is wife to Jon Canto and mom to Natalia and Santi. She started a short corporate stint in marketing then apprenticed under Patrice Ramos Diaz until she decided to become a full-time housewife and go to where her husband was assigned.

Mica Santayana-Canto, organizing specialist and storage designer.

As newlyweds, they moved into a 36-sqm. condo. “Growing up in homes, it was the first time we both had to assess what was essential enough to bring into our tiny space,” shares Mica. “Like most newlyweds, we started out with nothing and, given the limited space, it was up to me to figure out what to welcome into our home. Doing so made me realize how little we actually needed and my love affair with minimalism began. Living with less does not necessarily equate to living in a bare home. To me it means living with just the things that matter.”

Because of her husband’s work, they moved three times until they both decided to finally settle down and make Manila their home. This was when she started organizing and applying what their family needed to get their home in order, and subsequently laid the foundation for her business “Tidily” as well. Her expertise — space organization and planning through home improvements — is rooted in her artistic background and honed through practice over the past half-decade.

When asked what inspired her to get organized her reply was, “For me, the process of de-cluttering and organizing is a means to a larger purpose. Are you clearing your room to make space for a new hobby? To reconnect with your family after a long day? To run your business more efficiently? Ultimately, we should ask what it is we’re making space for in our lives.”

Having had Tidily for close to half a decade, Mica says that every household and family has different priorities and this is what makes the job interesting. You meet all sorts of people and learn a lot from their habits.

“My team and I are there to help our clients see the possibility of a more efficient home that caters to their lifestyle. Our sessions are structured as mini workshops working closely with our clients or whoever the queen of the space is (sometimes it’s their staff). We do this because we want them to be part of the process and learn how to do this for themselves long after we’ve turned over the project. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

‘Practice the One In, One Out Rule. If you purchase something new, see what it can replace so you can make space for it.’

Read on as Mica shares with us her tips on getting your place organized.

Set your intention for the closet cleanup. It doesn’t matter how big or small your closet or drawer is; how can organizing this best serve you? Are you able to get ready in five minutes, if needed? Or does it take a while to find what you’re looking for? Are you able to use most of your wardrobe? Does this reflect your personal style?

Have fun — figure out which file-folding technique works best to make the most of your space.

Once you know the purpose for the area, it is easier to decide what belongs and what does not. Set aside several boxes for your items that will be repaired, donated or sold. If you have kids, you can also get them involved by leaving a box/ basket in a corner for de-cluttered clothes of theirs. Once the box is full, you may donate or sell.

Remove everything from your closets, shelves and drawers. We do this to see the physical constraints we need to work with and to start with a clean slate.

Regularly schedule a purge and deep clean. Wipe everything down, check for mold. See if anything needs to be repaired.

Before you put things back, figure out a flow that works best for you. As a rule of thumb, seasonal and hardly used items can be stored overhead, while frequently used items should be easiest to reach. If you have trouble deciding what needs to go, place all hanging clothes back with the hanger hook facing you. When using the item, put the hanger with the hook facing away from you. At the end of six months, you’ll see which items haven’t been worn.

Keep similar items together. Have fun — figure out which file-folding technique works best to make the most of your space. If you feel baskets or bins will help maximize your closet better, first use what you have at home. If you must buy, measure the space well and consider cabinet door hinges and clearances. Consider supporting local weavers that make baskets before buying plastic.

Consider using labels if there are multiple people accessing and tidying up the space.

Acknowledge aspirational clutter — items we collect as we buy into the idea that they “promise,” but don’t quite deliver. These could mean clothes we keep hoping to someday fit into or a pile of workout clothes that are left unused.

Be realistic with your lifestyle. Does your wardrobe reflect who you really are and what you do? Before buying something new, assess if it will go with at least three other pieces in your wardrobe for more versatility.

Practice the “One In, One Out” rule. If you purchase something new, see what it can replace so you can make space for it. Otherwise, your clothes will tend to pile up. *