If you search for #homedecor or #organization on Instagram, you won't be scrolling for long before you come across Joanna Teplin and Clea Shearer's work. The duo may be based in Nashville, but they've racked up an A-list clientele worldwide — including Gwyneth Paltrow, Mandy Moore, Rachel Zoe, and Lauren Conrad, just to semi-obnoxiously namedrop a few — for the way they can transform one of people's most avalanche-prone spaces: the pantry.
Unlike many organizers, whose work varies wildly from project to project, part of Joanna and Clea's rise to fame is their distinct aesthetic. You know 's projects the second you see them — they're light, bright, airy, and often color-coordinated to the point that they're oddly soothing to just stare at, like taking in white noise for a mind that's always going, going, going.
But then reality hits, and you shake yourself out of the trance, convincing yourself that couldn't be your pantry. Ever. It seems too gleaming, too perfect, too dependent on a gift for calligraphy that you don't possess. We can't help you with that last one, but when Joanna and Clea insisted any space can get their look, we put them to the test. With just two hours and less than $100, could they organize a space from top to bottom, while we took care of the decor? Peep the results in the video above, and steal some of the top takeaways we gleaned from their visit:
1. Find Your Space's Purpose.
At the risk of sounding all Purpose-Driven Pantry, the first thing Joanna and Clea do when they take on a project is figure out what the space is most often used for. Typically, they ask the homeowner questions like:
- What do you use this space for, most of the time?
- What do you reach for the most?
- What do you almost never touch?
Once they assess what's there, they'll give the space a theme. "Brand it. Call it something," Clea said.
In the case of this butler's pantry, they noticed a lot of dog and pet food, and a lot of items traditionally used for throwing parties, so they decided to separate them out: pet supplies in the cabinets on the lower left wall, all things entertaining on the built-in china cabinet along the righthand wall.
2. Prepare For The Purge.
C'mon, this wouldn't be organizing advice without the classic beginning move: Separate items into things you want to keep, donate, and toss. If you haven't touched it in years and it holds no sentimental value, cut it out of your life like a bad boyfriend.
This also ensures you're not cramming everything back into the room and you have room to fill in any gaps on your next Costco run.
3. Unbox And Label Everything."If people have a hodge podge of containers, it is the worst thing in the entire world," Clea said. "Consistency is key with organizing. Not only does it fit the space better, it’s pleasing to the eye."
Joanna and Clea swear by containers, which come in a variety of sizes that are perfect for holding just about any packaged food. Seriously — it's so satisfying to watch an entire box of cereal fit seamlessly into a canister (which is airtight, so food doesn't go stale).
"Clean lines and uniformity are key to getting the look just right," Joanna added.
Pro tip: If you mess up — or need to change a container's label later on (you know, if you suddenly go keto and that Oreo container's suddenly off-limits) — The Home Edit recommends using rubbing alcohol to remove Sharpie marks.
4. Map Out Your Color Scheme.
When Joanna and Clea look at the items people want to keep, all unboxed and in clear containers or bins, they look for color patterns. If there are a bunch of vibrant snacks, they'll arrange things in an ombré or rainbow pattern. If things are mostly neutral — as was the case with this entertaining cabinet — they'll go with a more muted palette.
"Once we start seeing colorful candy, then we'll be like, no neutrals! But not really, because somebody has to live there, too," Joanna said.
"Ugh, I guess," Clea deadpanned.
They'll cluster pops of color together, or choose cloth or wicker bins that complement that one rogue shade, so your obsession with, say, green Jolly Ranchers becomes part of the aesthetic. Or it's tucked away in a bin, so it doesn't stand out in a jarring way.
5. Give Everything Some Breathing Room.
Here's the hardest part: Resisting the urge to cram everything in like Tetris. The Home Edit's signature look involves a lot of space between objects, so items look like they're on display. It's a choice every homeowner has to make: "Do you want the stuff, or do you want the space? You can't have both," Joanna said.
Purging and clearing out unnecessary packaging helps with that, but we have a few design tricks you can steal, too: Painting the inside of your cabinets a light color — and adding pop-in LED lights — can make the area seem more open and spacious than it actually is. You may not have Gwyneth's square footage, or her income, but dammit, you can have her chic, gray-on-gray pantry.
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