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Simple, soothing style

She helps others fight clutter as part of her job, and her sense of organization shines in her own home.

Published February 14, 2007



Kim Bohan knows the secrets to an organized home.

A former manager for Benetton stores, she learned the tricks of the trade on the job.

At 39, Bohan, a married mother of two boys, ages 7 and 11, has created a stylish, uncluttered nest in the family's 2,500-square-foot home in Lexington Oaks. A passionate decorator and home organizer, she also skillfully painted the interior with scenes from vineyards and chic graphics from wine labels. She has painted faux crumbling brick walls, catchy French phrases and a harlequin-patterned chair rail that looks just like expensive wallpaper.

The house not only wears her signature style, but it's organized down to the labeled baskets in the pantry.

Her secret?

De-clutter, use what you have, then "take out the junky and add nice touches so your own style shines through," she advises.

She launched her business, Room Renew, about five years ago, shortly after she and her husband, Robert, a general manager for Northwest Airlines, moved to Wesley Chapel's Lexington Oaks community from Orlando, where they lived in a similar development.

The couple had seriously considered Fishhawk Ranch, a large community near Brandon, but liked the Pasco area better, particularly the schools.

They were drawn to Lexington Oaks, she adds, because "we fell in love with the community, and my husband fell in love with the house. We also got a lot for our money."

Very true - it's enough to make real-estate latecomers weep.

They paid $162,000 for the four-bedroom, two-bath house with sweeping views of a large, sparkling pond big enough for paddleboating. The house came with a built-in spa and swimming pool that visually melds with the pond, creating a tropical waterfront effect.

Though they used a Realtor, how they found the house is even more serendipitous: "Through an ad in the newspaper," Bohan recalls with a laugh.

The house is so attractive, that, about two and a half years ago, it served as a backdrop for a national advertisement for vacuum cleaners. A Lexington Oaks interior-decorator friend, whose home was also used, recommended the Bohans' home to the filmmakers.

Over time, she has tweaked her decor, giving it her own personal stamp.

"It used to be modern. Now it's more Tuscan," she says.

She arranged the closet's retail clothing-store style, organizing items by clothing type, color and use.

For example, she says, "Think of setting up your closet like you're setting up a store; keep together tank tops, casual shirts, silk shirts and arrange by color."

She advises female clients who don't have closet systems to invest in a lower-hanging rack: "Use the space from top to bottom," carving out separate areas for shirts, pants, shoes and handbags.

Shoes are another issue, since "most women have at least 100 pairs," she says.

Pare down to the basics, she advises: Keep sneakers, sandals, work and dressy; toss anything that's grungy or that you're not wearing. Organize shoes by season: Winter shoes can go in a large plastic storage box and get stored until next season; shoes you're wearing now should be organized in shoe racks.

She helps clients sort through heaps of clothes, helping them decide what's out of style or duplicated. Get rid of things by giving to charity or family members or hold a garage sale.

"I try to be realistic and to educate clients," she says. "Many say, 'I will never go back to living that way,' but I do look at their lifestyle and how easily they're able to get rid of things. If they like to shop, I advise them to leave extra space after they clean out so they have room for new things."

In the kitchen, organize by task and frequency of use: Put spices within arm's reach of the stove; and store glassware that's not used daily in out-of-the-way storage spots.

Bohan uses the cabinets around the built-in kitchen desk, which she rarely uses for its intended purpose. Cabinets beneath the desk store serving platters and baking sheets in vertical racks.

"You have to try to really maximize space in the kitchen and make the most sense of the kitchen," she explains.

She organized her drawers with baskets from Wal-Mart and a dollar store, creating individual spaces for plastic measuring cups, chopsticks, toothpicks and scissors. In the pantry, foods are separated by category: rice and noodles; breads; chips, cookies and snacks.

"With a husband and kids, in the morning it has to be no-brainer because everyone's on the go: boom, boom, boom," she says. "When people want to know where something is - it's my responsibility."

The rest of the house, brightened by her faux painting, remains uncluttered and free of junk. Typically, clients who invite her in for a room makeover and de-cluttering session end up wanting her to paint - possibly because it adds a personal touch without clutter. One woman even asked her to help decorate the reception hall for her daughter's wedding.

Her home, she says, became her accidental showroom; friends who came over couldn't help but notice her exquisite painting: jaunty poems and bright colors in the boys' playroom, globes in the study for her husband, who loves aviation.

People are also taken aback by the sense of organization that allows Bohan's sense of identity to shine through: a creative style that's always clutter-free. Says Bohan: "I find it much more soothing to live this way."

Elizabeth Bettendorf can be reached at

Fast Facts:

Get organized

For information about Bohan's business, Room Renew, visit www.simply organizingrooms.zoom

[Last modified February 14, 2007, 07:36:19]

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