Issa Guico Reyes suggests that in arranging a kid’s bedroom or playroom, the layout should be “simple and understandable, very
much like the way children’s books are created.” —PHOTOS FROM @NEATOBSESSIONS INSTAGRAM
Letting go: Home organizing tips for ‘senti’ Pinoys
It’s not just about rearranging things to make them look nice
Issa Guico Reyes refers to her home-organizing business as a beautiful accident.
She started her Instagram and blog as a passion project after leaving her career to embrace the role of a full-time housewife. Three years since, Neat Obsessions has amassed 119,000 followers on Instagram (@NeatObsessions). She works with celebrities and regular clients and has published the book “Neat Obsessions” (available on online shopping platforms).
“Neat Obsessions came as a surprise. When the business opportunity came, I just wanted to see what lies ahead given that organizing was something I was passionate about doing,” she said.
She’s always been organized, she said. Her dad set rules and standards in their home but she didn’t always agree with him. That’s how the two started working together to improve their space.
As a human resources practitioner, Reyes organized her files in colors and created a system to find documents easily. She even used Microsoft Excel to list down her son’s toys.
Reyes said that she is not as strict as her father when it comes to teaching her children how to keep their space neat and tidy. She tries to lead by example.
“I am happy to see that my children know how to pack away their things after homeschooling time, for example, or how to take ownership of their space and their things by cleaning up and taking care of them.”
She has toned down, she said, after having three children and running a business. Knowing that she can put items back where they belong when she regains her energy helped her loosen up.
Creating a system
Reyes said that the most challenging part of her profession is when a client does not get involved in the process. Ideas are executed easier when the owner is present. When they’re not, it’s up to Reyes to create a system that will be easily understandable for them.
“We pay more attention to the items that they own and we put more effort into sorting so that they will easily understand the categories we set up. Organizing homes is not just about rearranging things to make them look nice. The owners should be able to understand the system just by looking at it and maintain it on their own,” she told Lifestyle.
Part of decluttering is always letting go of things, or letting go of items that no longer spark joy, a concept popularized by Japanese TV host and author Marie Kondo. However, this is difficult for sentimental Filipinos. Thus, Reyes advocates a belief.
“When it comes to letting go of things, I always believe in the importance of readiness. I can never dictate on my clients to let go of their things because doing so might result in them buying the same items later on or resorting to other unhelpful habits, such as buying and shopping more,” she said.
The disposing of items should be initiated by the owner and not anybody else.
Reyes developed the Homeward Technique, a three-step organizing technique, for Filipino homes.
“The word ‘homeward’ felt so right to me because the word home always had two meanings: physical and emotional. The organizing process I designed begins with the home (physical) and ends right where it started, the home (still physical),” she said.
“When we look at it more deeply, at the end of the process, the owners come back to a feeling of home (emotional) that they might not have felt for a long time.”
Her technique starts with sorting or putting items in general categories to help create an inventory. Detaching is the second step. This is where the elimination comes in. Reyes says that getting rid of items is a lot easier when items are sorted.
“You are not compelled to throw anything in this step, but you must think about which items serve you in your life’s current season,” she said. “You may ‘re-own’ items, or rediscover the importance of things, or ‘de-own’ items that no longer serve your life’s current season. You may give away or discard items that you’ve ‘de-owned,’ but make sure that you are ready to part with them.”
The final step is rehoming the items that will help the owner and the household have a more efficient everyday routine.
She suggests placing items that are frequently used in easily accessible areas, while storing the ones you rarely need in hard-to-reach places.
This system has worked well for Reyes and her clients. Her skills were even tapped for packing Miss Universe-Philippines Rabiya Mateo’s national costume.
Thinking how tricky it must have been to pack such a bulky item, we asked her how she did it.
“Think two steps ahead,” she said. As soon as she saw the costume, she asked how the item would be transported. Will it be shipped or checked in? Packing should not be the only concern, she says.
“The bodice was fully beaded and no part of it, most especially the wings, should be bent out of shape. I had to know whether my kind of packing will pass the requirement and standard of the shippers or the customs, or else my effort will be put to waste,” she said.
The beauty queen is not her only celebrity client. Actress Julia Barretto, for one, credited Reyes for her organized closet in her own vlog.
Reyes said, “I am inspired that all my clients—celebrity or not—have the humility to accept that they need help. I am also humbled that they acknowledge my expertise in professional organizing that they turned to me for help. There’s more to this business than just organizing items in the home. It’s really about relationship building and passing on the joy of something I enjoy doing: homemaking.” INQ