The Neat Kids on the Block

Meet our latest Lemon Ladies – Catherine Zinn and Raelynn Johnson. With Neat Method’s recent expansion to our nation’s capital, I was lucky enough to sit down with the ladies of Neat Method DC to chat a bit and learn a little more about the Neat life. (You may have read some of their tips from color coding to kitchen organization here before, as the two write for Sweet Lemon each week!)


Neat Method is a modern personal organizing service specializing in basic home organizing and moves, with a dedication to making your home life efficient, comfortable and stylish through organization. With an eye for all things neat, no space is too big or too small for this duo.

I was able to experience these talented ladies hard at work during an amazing kitchen makeover, and was in awe as a “Neat Freak” myself – let’s just say they definitely live up to their title.

Sweet Lemon Mag: Tell me a little about the start up of Neat Method.

Neat Method DC: It all began in San Francisco in 2011 when Founders, Molly and Ashley, met while shopping at a boutique.  They had both been relocated from Chicago and became instant friends.   They discovered their mutual OCD-like affinity for creating clutter-free and organized spaces within their homes and began discussing what their passion would look like as a business.

The Organizing industry has been around for quite some time, but The NEAT Method was developed to bring a fresh new face to the industry.

After much success in San Fran, they began spreading The NEAT Method to other cities.

SLM: What did you do before you started working with the company? 

Neat Method DC: We were both working together as Loan Officers in the mortgage industry for a new home builder.  Our mutual obsession for color-coded calendar activities and labels galore created an instant friendship.

SLM: How did you start working for Neat Method?

Neat Method DC: The highly regulated and cutthroat mortgage environment was taking its toll on the both of us.  Overwhelmed with stress, we dreamed of finding something we were passionate about, where we could truly help others create a new lifestyle. We decided take the plunge and  and start our own business.  The heart of the business would be centered around organizing.  After tons of research, we came across NEAT Method and instantly fell in love with their brand and business model.  Eager to be a part of all things NEAT, we reached out to Molly and Ashley to inquire about a possible DC expansion and partnership.  After months of phone calls and heaps of legal work (blood, sweat, and tears is an understatement), Neat Method DC launched.

SLM: We would love to know about the day in the life of a personal organizer! After you arrive at a client’s house for the day, what are your steps to get the job done?

Neat Method DC: Before we jump in and organize, we hold a brief consultation with the client so we can assess their space.  Afterwards, we discuss ideas and determine how much time the organizing will take. We then provide the client with an estimate and schedule the job.

The day of actual organizing is a bit of a whirlwind.  We walk into their home and there is literally not a minute to spare.  Depending on the job itself, we will either divide and conquer or will tackle one space together. We always enter a client’s home with a game plan – but often there are surprises we uncover along the way that are impossible to anticipate.  The first stage begins with sorting, grouping, and color-coding.  After the space is organized, we make a trip to purchase any necessary storage solutions, and then implement the products.  The final stage is the big reveal, which is our absolute favorite.

SLM: What’s your favorite part about this line of work? I bet its fun to shop for someone else!

Neat Method DC: Our favorite part is hands down, the instant gratification.  It’s awesome to see your hard work revealed and appreciated within a relatively short period of time.  Nothing says transformation success like a good ol before and after picture! Most people would not find it fun, but we definitely enjoy organizing.  Creating a customized, refined solution for our clients is truly rewarding.  And what girl doesn’t like shopping?!


SLM: It seems a completed day of work would be super gratifying. How do you feel after a job well done?

Neat Method DC: It is such an amazing feeling to see the look on someone’s face after we have transformed a space.  Alleviating the stress of a cluttered space or creating systems where spaces are lacking, is gratifying.  We consider ourselves a form of therapy for our clients.  There is a real psychological benefit to de-cluttering your life and words cannot even express how great it feels to be a part of that process.

SLM:  How is being a personal organizer a good fit for you? 

Neat Method DC: Despite being Type A with OCD tendencies, we take pride in the unique talent to visualize a space, and transform messiness into functional and aesthetically pleasing.  Planning is our best friend and check boxes our favorite shape.  We have an appreciation for a beautiful, comfortable home, and the desire to share our tips with others so they can relax in a well-appointed space.  For us, organizing just makes sense, and it’s also in a weird way, therapeutic.

SLM: Now take us through the day in the life of a personal organizer, without a scheduled client.  

Neat Method DC: We are firm believers that activity breeds activity, and the key to activity is networking.  Often our days are filled with meeting other professionals and building relationships for potential partnerships.  We are always looking to expand our network of realtors, interior designers, custom closet vendors, and moving companies so we’re offering our clients the finest in the DC area.  The rest of our time is dedicated to product research so we’re implementing the best organizing solutions and maintaining our social media outlets.

SLM: I would guess that your organization at home compares to your Neat Method tasks. Do ya’ll consider yourself “Neat Freaks”? 

Neat Method DC: YES! Most of the spaces in our homes are labeled, color-coded, and sorted appropriately.  Linen closets enclose perfectly folded towels and condiment labels are always facing forward in our refrigerators.   However, we always say, even Organizers could use a Professional Organizer in some aspect of their life.  There’s at least one space in each of our homes that isn’t exactly picturesque.  We’re so busy organizing other people that sometimes we’re unable to focus on ourselves.  Sometimes we go into each other’s home and joke that we need to hire Neat Method.  That second set of eyes can be very revealing!

SLM: Any experience with organizing hoarders? How about a day of work that looked like a crazy, impossible job?

Neat Method DC: We have seen it all!  I wouldn’t say we have ever worked with a legitimate Hoarder, as that requires a true Psychologist who is trained in uncovering the underlying issues, but we have definitely experienced our fair share of “hoarding tendencies”.  The most difficult part of our job is organizing someone’s space when they are not willing to part with any of their “stuff”.  We certainly have walked into a space and felt “where do we even begin?”.

SLM: I’m sure you two have a great sense of home décor style with all this organizing! Give us your top go to items you purchase for clients and your top stores for buying them.

Neat Method DC: The Container Store is definitely our home away from home.  Target is also a go to, and IKEA is great for less expensive storage solutions and shelving.  Depending on the job, we also utilize office stores, World Market, and HomeGoods.  Our favorite online vendors are  and One Kings Lane. 

1) Linen Canvas Bins from The Container Store:  Unlike most clutter, when it comes to these bins, the more the merrier!  Use them in your closets, bathroom, laundry room or mudroom to conceal untidiness.  We especially love the label pocket. (Bonus Tip: download free labels on the Neat Method Website)

2) Black, felt, slim hangers: Available at Target, Container Store, and Costco. It’s amazing the space that is freed up just by using these slim hangers.

3) Acrylic Organizers from The Container Store: These are a staple item for our jewelry, buttons, makeup, etc.  The trays are stackable, sturdy, and stylish.

4) Linen Drawer Organizers from The Container Store:  While these are mainly used in drawers for storing socks, we also prop them up on their sides use them as a stylish display case for men’s ties (Tip: perfect for belts too).

5) Lid Organizer from The Container Store: This rack is the perfect solution for all of those loose lids that fall every time you open a cabinet.  Not only is it very affordable, but it will literally change your life! (At least while cooking)

SLM: Top 3 tips for staying organized in everyday life. Go!

Neat Method DC:

  1. Take the time to give everything a home and put things back in their proper place every day, no excuses.  Can’t ever find your wallet or keys? Get a hook or bowl next to your front door.  When everything has a home, it is almost impossible to lose something.  Additionally, the proper home for your clothes is not piled high in a laundry basket for months.  Stay on top of your chores. Laundry is so much easier when you stick to doing it every week, and keeping your closet organized is simplified when you put it away, right away.
  2. Embrace the purge, and learn to let go of material things.  Family heirlooms excluded, most of your stuff is just, well, stuff.  Refer back to our 8 Rules of Purging.
  3. Getting and staying organized doesn’t stop at your “things”.  Your LIFE needs to be organized too. Pay your bills on time, remember important dates, and be aware of deadlines.  A calendar is a MUST for mastering life organization, and sometimes we find that digital calendars are not always the most useful.  We both still carry paper planners.  Call us dinosaurs, but there is something about having a tangible to-do list and a marked up, color-coded calendar that keeps things in check.  Having one of these also lessens excessive post-its and random “lists” piling up all over hour house.  They will always have a home and you will know exactly where that grocery list is.  Plus, your battery can’t die on a paper planner!

Thanks for the interview and for your inspiring tips, ladies! I think we can all agree that a little Neat Method in our lives would do us good! Find out even more about the neat life. Check out their services and blog at

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