Giving rooms new life

Don Mills pals Maria Turcotte and Margaret Jelsma get into the business of home staging

Though neatness is a virtue most people aspire to, it can be a difficult goal to realize, not least of all when trying to sell a home. Years of clutter lurks in corners, messy collections linger in forgotten places and once fresh rooms, on second glance, are decidedly in need of refreshing.

That’s where the Eunomia Home Solutions gals come in. Though they’ve only been at it professionally for a short while, neighbours and pals Maria Turcotte and Margaret Jelsma are slowly building a reputation for home staging and decluttering in their neighbourhood, northeast of Don Mills and Lawrence.

“It’s a passion,” Turcotte says. “We’re organizing, we’ll declutter, we’ll do whatever the client needs a hand with.”

The idea took root in January 2010 after the two women found themselves at home with more free time — Jelsma recently retired and Turcotte needed to care for a child with a medical situation.

“Our priority is our families, but we also wanted to get out and use our heads and do something,” Turcotte says. “Margaret and I have been doing this for some time for family and friends.

“We thought, we’ve done this with our own parents. We realize how difficult it is to go through some of these transitions, whether it’s moving from a house or moving from a condo to just a room. We thought we could probably help a lot of (people) in that way.”

Taking on an appropriate name — Eunomia is the Greek goddess of order and harmony — the pair set about researching. After spending months building a website and researching painters, storage facilities, furniture rental companies and other aspects of the business, the pair finally handled their first formal client a few months back.

“We had a client whose basement was completely cluttered, just enough space to get to the washer and dryer,” Turcotte says. “We decluttered everything and put up new shelving and reorganized so she would know where her crafts were.”

More recently they helped a gentleman get his home ready to sell.

After two weeks and $1,200 worth of work, the pair had brought in painters, cleaned it themselves and rented furniture to show off the rooms.

“It seems to be a good 80 to 90 percent of (homebuyers), unless they can see things, question whether the size is right,” Turcotte says. For the case in question the object was to show a king-sized bed could easily fit in the master bedroom and that a couch and dining room set could fit in the living room.

In terms of clientele, the pair say there’s a particular need in their area where there are a lot of seniors who might be downgrading or moving to retirement residences.

“Sometimes it could even be an estate,” Turcotte says. “Some mom or dad has passed away and now there are all these things that need to be gathered.

“Decisions need to be made as far as ‘do things get donated, do we put up a garage sale?’ There’s the paperwork of lights, electricity — it might be overwhelming.”

As former special needs assistants at the Toronto District School Board, the pair say they bring patience and empathy to each unique situation. In addition to her own personal experiences relocating her parents, Maria also brings some insights into the anxieties about relocating from her time as an account manager in the property legal department at the Bank of Montreal.

To boot, the pair boast enthusiasm and creativity as an important part of their work.

“That’s the fun part actually — the running around. Women like to shop, right?” Turcotte says with a laugh.

Because each situation can be so different, the pair say it’s difficult to put an exact dollar figure on their work at the moment. Two weeks worth of decluttering might cost around $1,200, while larger, more involved projects might run much more. However, their services are flexible and they offer a free, on-site consultation for prospective clients.

So how, taking on such potentially daunting tasks, do they keep up their energy?

“We’re not young chickies, but we are in spirit,” Turcotte says with a laugh.

About this article:

By: Joshua Freeman
Posted: Mar 3 2011 4:51 pm
Filed in: Business
Edition: Toronto