Working as a nanny in 2008, Mara Clements had a wild time cleaning out and rearranging the family’s utility closet – a task she thoroughly enjoyed. She decided her true calling was to deal with other people’s mess, not their children.
“I wanted to make money doing something I love and am really good at,” she says.
Clements had a long-standing natural penchant for organizing homes and offices, so she started doing it for her family and friends, and began building her business by word of mouth.
After happily spending most of his time caring for his own sons, now 13 and 11, Clements worked with a SCORE mentor and more formally launched his business, MoreSPACE Organizing, in 2015, once they were in school full time.
What Clements has discovered over the years is that caring for others is still a big part of what she does. MoreSPACE isn’t just about decluttering people’s homes, she says.
“It’s almost like a shift in mindset that I try to invite people to consider,” she says.
A clean home can help people live and work more efficiently and creatively. It can also help relationships. Perhaps more importantly, styling a room in a way that maximizes space can not only inspire, but create a sense of peace and calm, says Clements, who has a naturally soothing demeanor.
Most clients who contact Clements are at their wit’s end.
“I only work with people who are willing to let go of things that no longer serve them,” she says. “We only keep what fits the function, and what they need or like.”
Letting go is not always easy. Everyone has their problems when it comes to clutter – and their home. Clements is the first to admit that she hates housework and loves clothes. Sometimes, she says, she struggled to get rid of her own things.
“I’m a sentimentalist, so I’ve always had a lot of things that meant a lot to me,” she says. “It’s not easy to invite people into your mess. I’m not going to judge them.
When Clements works with a client, she often suggests starting with the bedroom. It’s not a room that others are likely to see, but when it comes to organizing, decluttering, and simplifying our spaces and lives, there’s something deeper at play than simply make a home more presentable to others.
“Your environment is a reflection of what’s inside,” Clements says. “The bedroom should be your sanctuary, your refuge.”
Her favorite room: The bedroom
Given his advice to clients, it’s no surprise that Clements’ favorite room in his own home is his bedroom. But the creation of this sanctuary did not happen overnight.
Like many townhouses, Clements’ 1880s Chestnut Street townhouse is full of charm, but no storage. She and her husband have the second floor, which includes a small bedroom with French doors, an open office space at the top of the stairs, a bathroom and a walk-in closet.
Before its transformation, the room was furnished with cherry wood furniture. Although it was beautiful, it made everything feel “dark and trapped,” Clements says. So the first step was to remove all the furniture – except the bed, of course. In its place, Clements has captured the Danish concept of hygge – a sense of cozy contentment that embraces simplicity.
“I like to mix natural wood, iron and soft things,” she says.
A small live-edge table with iron legs sits next to one side of the bed, holding a desk lamp that casts a warm glow. On the other side, a diffuser rests on a soft white ottoman stool.
About the diffuser, Clements says, “If you take care of all your senses, you sleep better.”
Stacks of books line the wall opposite the bed, creating colorful plinths for a variety of organic elements, like a rounded wooden vase filled with greenery, a glass vase with white flowers, and a wooden sculpture of a woman in meditative yoga pose. On the practical side, a battery accommodates an alarm clock.
“I love to read and I love to learn, so I have books everywhere,” she says, adding that they make her happy.
The color-coordinated stacks reflect a range of interests, from self-help titles to the New Testament in Greek to classics like “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Another meaningful piece hangs above the bed: a watercolor landscape in muted blues, purples and grays painted by Clements’ grandmother.
Clements finds gray to be a soothing color, which is why she also chose it in various tones for her walls as well as the textured bedspread, blanket and pillows on the bed.
A large full-length mirror adds the illusion of space to the room. Sheer white curtains keep things light and bright, especially since the sunlight is always perfect in this room, she says.
While not everyone’s vision for a bedroom sanctuary is the same, Clements says it’s important to create one.
“It’s good to prioritize yourself,” she says. “Once you start believing you have that value, it will carry over to the rest of the house.”