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Get your home in order with the help of area professionals


by Darcie Dearth



It’s finally time to switch off the furnace, draw the drapes and crack open the windows to let in the first warm breeze of spring. Unfortunately, drawing those drapes might reveal dusty corners, streaked windows or scuffed baseboards, creating a long list of household chores that tend to pile up over winter. It can be difficult to find time for essential spring cleaning alongside the usual workload.


Fortunately, you don’t have to tackle it all yourself. There are dozens of experienced professionals throughout the Triangle who not only specialize in cleaning, organizing and redecorating your living space, but who also thrive on organizing a cluttered closet or bringing a dingy carpet back to its intended shade.


Clean it — and mean it

The old saying that if you want something done right, do it yourself doesn’t necessarily apply to all situations. This is especially true when cleaning your own home, says Sarah Benken, founder of Triangle’s Other Woman Inc., a full-service cleaning and personal assisting company.


“When I clean my own house, it takes me forever,” she admits. “I get sidetracked with so many distractions.”


If you find yourself skipping from room to room without much progress, then it might be time for a third-party intervention.


“This way it’s done — and it’s done right,” Benken says.


Between running a business, finishing errands and taking care of her family, Benken knows firsthand how difficult it can be to juggle a busy workload.


“We help people who can’t find the time, who need a work-life balance,” she says.


It sometimes can be a challenge to figure out where to begin. Dave and Mary Dickinson, owners of Molly Maid of Chapel Hill, recommend first preparing your home if you decide to hire a cleaning service.


“It really helps to have things picked up and organized,” they say.


“A cleaning service then can relieve a homeowner’s burden of getting that deep cleaning job done,” the couple adds. “Afterward, the feeling is great. It’s one less thing to tackle this spring, leaving families with more time to spend with each other and do the things they really want to do.”


Molly Maid, which serves Chatham, Durham and Orange counties, offers weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly residential cleaning. The couple recommends keeping up with cleaning on a regular basis to avoid feeling overwhelmed.


“The best way to avoid spring cleaning is to clean year-round,” they say. “Choose a frequency that works for your lifestyle, and stick with it.”


Get — and stay — organized

Jessie Bennington tackles to-do lists like it’s her business — and it is. Bennington founded LFC Inc. in Durham, which grew out of a cleaning company she launched in 1990. The business has grown to include an array of services from professional organizing to personal assisting, all with a goal of helping her clients become more productive through shrinking their own to-do lists.


“Your environment affects your most basic functioning,” she says. “It impacts your mood, general health and productivity.”


Bennington and her staff work with clients in their homes and offices to remove clutter, help with storage systems, and enhance workflow.


“Clients usually contact us because they have hit a road block and need help with one project or one goal,” she says.


“This work makes space for peace and balance in their lives.”


Bennington suggests spreading out and breaking down a project’s workload into certain areas of the house, one week at a time — perhaps beginning with bathrooms and ending with bedrooms. She doesn’t recommend taking a week off.


“It’s just good to get those things done that you normally don’t have time to do,” she says.


“You’ve got to find out what works for you, and once you find out what works for you, stick to it,” Benken adds.


She suggests setting aside one day each month to go through paperwork.


“When you organize your life, you feel a little freer,” she says. “I know I feel a lot more relaxed.”


Laura Koshel, an interior decorator and owner of INTERIORS by Decorating Den in Chapel Hill, agrees with this philosophy. Organization, function and design can go hand in hand, which is why Koshel focuses on bringing these together for her clients.


“Properly designed space creates a place that functions well and gives its owners opportunities to do things comfortably, be it hobbies, homework, working from home, casual entertaining, or gatherings,” she says.


When there’s too much stuff and not enough space in which to store it, Chapel Hill-based Carolina Closets Plus can help.


The company specializes in customized storage solutions to make the best use of a home’s useable space.


“We offer a unique approach because we manufacture everything right here in our warehouse,” says Mike Hoffer, co-founder and president of the company, which serves both the Triangle and Triad markets.


According to Hoffer, one of the best ways to make the best use of existing space is to add a pull-down hanging section that folds up into a room’s ceiling. The company also regularly installs Murphy beds, which fold up and out of the way to allow for maximum use of space.


When cleaning for spring, Hoffer recommends finding a place in the home to efficiently organize seasonal winter items.


“These tend to be bulkier items,” he says.


Deck the halls — again

Redecorating for a fresh and airy look doesn’t have to break the bank. Koshel recommends letting in as much light as possible, switching out heavy draperies for light sheers or adding a fresh coat of paint to a main living area.


“Take knickknacks and décor out and start from scratch, or add new pillows or a new throw,” she says.


 “Sometimes we start from scratch, sometimes we work around items homeowners have, and sometimes we just finish the look with gorgeous window treatments, pillows, and accessories.” 


Darcie Dearth is a freelance writer based in Apex.