Snow globes line the shelf behind the sofa in Chucky Bologna’s small yet orderly house in East Hampton as she talks about the new business, Declutterbug, that she started six months ago. The collection is of sentimental value. “I started when my son was a baby, one a year for Christmas. I ask my friends, if they are somewhere wonderful and far away, to bring me back one,” said Ms. Bologna. “Now that he’s 29, I save the most important ones. I have no problem throwing stuff away, it feels so good to purge,” she added.
This makes sense from someone who is paid to organize other people’s lives. “I can walk into a space, and all of a sudden my brain goes into a machination. I see where it [the clutter] needs to go,” she said. Ms. Bologna used to be a landscaper and a personal chef. Her proclivity for tidiness stems from circumstance. “I’m not a type A personality. It’s become a necessity to be organized because I’ve lived in a small house and boats. It’s become how I’ve learned to live, and taught me the difference between need and want,” she said.
Ms. Bologna’s business endeavor was born after she lent a hand to a friend who was cleaning her basement. “Another friend heard and said, ‘Oh, you can help me,’ ” she said. “It’s been word of mouth. One job keeps leading to another.”
Client projects range from a day to four months. “You decide what you want to do with it; it’s your stuff. I help you organize it. I’m not there to throw it away. But if you want to get a Dumpster, I’m there too!” Ms. Bologna said.
“Clients are all different,” she said, “Some people are sentimental about their attachments, some aren’t.” A large part of her job is “talking people off the ledge,” she joked.
While people have a natural tendency to accumulate things, Ms. Bologna advises getting rid of any clothing that you have not worn for the past two years. “If you get back to your high school weight, reward yourself. Buy something new. Don’t wear your high school sweater,” she said.
The act of decluttering is a process. “I have clients [some have her there weekly], they have an anxiety attack when I show up,” Ms. Bologna said. “I remind them of how good they feel when I leave.”
“When someone’s house is cluttered or chaotic, it’s indicative of your mind-set at the moment,” she said. According to Ms. Bologna, eliminating the physical factor of a mess can bring you into focus and clear your mind. “I don’t do any jobs where I have to wear a mask or where there are animal carcasses under the dining room table,” she added.
Her greatest undertaking so far involved clearing out a basement of 35 years of yard sale finds.
“Step away from the yard sale,” she advised. “You don’t need it.” Although in compliance with her mantra, “it comes down to need,” she does make exceptions. If you “really need a pie plate . . . you go looking for that one item,” she said, but “go home without the poncho.”
“This is a good time to organize your house for the holidays,” she said, “It takes a little soul-searching. Everything you don’t need, throw it away.”
Ms. Bologna laughed as she sang her own version of the song “Let It Snow.”
“Let it go, let it go, let it go.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.