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Santa Rosa strategic coach helps clients sort through their lives

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Nancy Korbet’s 5 Space Planning Tips

Less is more. If you don’t use it or love it, get rid of it. Make that deal with yourself before you start your project.

Start with a few small things you can be successful at. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and encourage you to continue. Don’t get overwhelmed with the idea you have to do it all at once.

When organizing, keep your ultimate goal in mind. Write it on paper and tape it on the wall. Having a visual reminder helps keep you on track.

Use space saving hangers in your closet. Korbet’s faves are Mangano huggable hangers, available at Target, Amazon, Container Store.

Hang your shoes. Her favorite space saver is the Container Store’s 24-pocket, over the door shoe organizer.

Every block of stone has a statue inside of it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.

— Michelangelo

Nancy Korbet is a sculptor of sorts who sees a home as a block of stone. She can see the beauty buried beneath clutter and has been trained to identify the order within disorder.

“After talking with someone, I get a sense of how to best use the space,” she said. “I can see how I can best help someone, even if a client can’t verbalize it.”

Korbet, 57, said her specialties are space and wardrobe planning, but in the final analysis, she’s really a life coach who guides women through the emotional issues that arise when sorting through their lives.

“Whatever the size of the project, there is always some type of emotional piece,” said Korbet, a Santa Rosa resident. “Let’s face it. Most women run until they are out of gas and keep going on fumes. Sometimes you just need someone to give you permission to take space and time for yourself. That’s a part of what I do for my clients.”

Korbet said many women are caught up in shame, and judge themselves harshly for not being perfect.

“Really what I do for women is to ‘hold space’ for them,” she said. “By that I mean I hear what they are saying, but I hold a space where there is no judgment. Physically I’m helping them get organized or put a new wardrobe together or create better flow in a room, but emotionally my hope is they come to a place inside where they let go of self-judgment. It doesn’t serve anyone.”

Korbet said the emotional piece is what she finds most compelling about her work. “That’s the beauty buried beneath the clutter,” she said. “One of my favorite quotes is this one by Leonard Cohen: ‘There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.’”

With big brown eyes, bright red lipstick and a stylish, red wraparound sweater, Korbet looks the part of a fashion designer, a world in which she worked for many decades.

Armed with a degree in marketing from Milliken University in Decatur, Illinois, she spent nearly a decade in New York City in the 1990s as director of sales for Judith Ann, an eveningwear manufacturer that supplied clothes to highbrow stores such as Sax Fifth Avenue and I. Magnin.

Before landing in Sonoma County, Korbet also worked as buyer for a high-end women’s boutique in Dallas, directed sales for a couture designer in Chicago and served as director of sales for the San Francisco-based maternity retailer Japanese Weekend.

Her organizational skills are self-taught, learned from living in “small but fabulous studio apartments” in big cities where space was at a premium.

“This is one of the reasons why, when I work with a client, I can’t stand to see space wasted,” she said.

A year ago, Korbet moved to Santa Rosa with her English husband, Richard Allum.

“We have been coming to Sonoma County for years, and it was our dream to someday move up here,” she said. “We decided why wait for someday? Why not now?”

Nancy Korbet’s 5 Space Planning Tips

Less is more. If you don’t use it or love it, get rid of it. Make that deal with yourself before you start your project.

Start with a few small things you can be successful at. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and encourage you to continue. Don’t get overwhelmed with the idea you have to do it all at once.

When organizing, keep your ultimate goal in mind. Write it on paper and tape it on the wall. Having a visual reminder helps keep you on track.

Use space saving hangers in your closet. Korbet’s faves are Mangano huggable hangers, available at Target, Amazon, Container Store.

Hang your shoes. Her favorite space saver is the Container Store’s 24-pocket, over the door shoe organizer.

After acclimating herself to the Sonoma County lifestyle, she printed a new business card that reads: “Strategic Coach/Change Maker, nancykorbet.com.”

Case in point. Korbet was hired by a woman with breast cancer who lived near San Francisco and was newly retired. The woman was excited that she now had time to devote to her sewing and craft projects.

Korbet was hired to help with space planning for the living and dining rooms, but after chatting with this woman, Korbet realized the most important place to begin was by creating a space for her projects.

One of the woman’s guest rooms was being used primarily for storage, so Korbet suggested using it. Decidedly less cluttered, the room now has a sewing zone, a reading corner and mats for yoga.

“We were doing the room transformation during the time of her chemo treatments,” Korbet said.

She told me she would have restless nights and in the middle of the night go into her room and sit in the chair and feel peaceful. That space was cozy and just what she needed to feel cocooned, part of her healing process.”

Korbet said she feels fortunate to have the tools to help people with design.

“I work with clients who are brilliant at other things. This is just not their forte,” she said. “Sometimes we need help to get a new starting point.

“My gift is that I can work with almost anyone, whether they think they’re a hot mess or just have a little something to take care of. I do it with compassion and humor, and there’s absolutely no judgment.

“Everything is perfect,” Korbet said with a broad smile. “You just have to laugh through the mess.”

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