Designing a Minimalist Yard with Professional Organizer Shira Gill
One of Yardzen’s early projects was with organization guru Shira Gill for her Berkeley, California home. In her words, Yardzen was exactly what she was looking for: “a simple and transparent process”, which fits well with her brand of minimalism (read the makeover story on Yardzen and a review on her blog). No mess of blueprints, samples, and swatches, or the challenges of mid-day meetups—Shira could visualize her outdoor space all online with Yardzen’s photorealistic renders. And, when it came to installing her yard, Shira loved our design team’s minimal approach: “I didn’t want a ton of stuff or messy plants to maintain. I wanted an open, easy-to-care-for space where we could host family and friends.” Over a year later, the yard still looks fantastic and is one of the family’s favorite rooms at home.
Our team recently caught up with Shira to see how she was enjoying her yard— “we love it” —and talk about her forthcoming book, Minimalista, which is available for to order now! The gorgeous coffee table book is a download of everything she’s learned as a professional organizer over the last decade. The book is broken up into two sections, 1) Shira’s Five-Step Organization Process and 2) Room-by-room hacks and projects, and will help any reader “clarify their goals, values, and priorities to create a home that reflects what is important to them.”
Five-Step Process for Organizing Your Yard
Our big question (surprise, surprise) is how to bring Shira’s streamlined approach to the interior to your outdoor spaces. The minimalista breaks down her five-step organizing process, which she describes as a strategy to “shift your relationship to your space and feel less overwhelmed.” Here’s how to apply that process to your yard.
Figure out the function you want the space to perform. How you want it to look, feel, and function.
Any successful project starts with a solid plan, which is why the Yardzen process begins with questions about how you want to live in your outdoor space. In Shira’s yard, she knew that her two goals were creating space for the kids to play and an area to entertain, including seating for a couple of families.
Strip away the clutter and excess and everything that doesn’t support your vision.
In the yard, this could mean old furniture, broken pots, long-forgotten sports equipment, or that dreaded pile of cardboard. Be sure to donate or recycle anything you can!
Come up with a simple storage solution that is easy to maintain.
In Shira’s yard, they had a large emergency kit that still had plenty of storage room. She now uses that to store pillows and throws along with the emergency items. In other yards, we’ve seen people build out shelving, including open shelving for plants and weather-proof pieces, to keep things organized. Weatherproof trunks, which can double as seating, and long-lasting garden sheds are also fantastic solutions that your Yardzen design team can help you source and work into your plans.
This is the fun part! This is all about adding decor and styling so that you love your space.
In Shira’s yard, she chose a palette of neutrals to ensure a timeless look. She also chose high-quality furniture that her family would use for years to come. To add personality to the yard, she adds pillows, throws, and rugs. The hammock in the backyard is also a functional favorite that brings style to the space and is her pre-teen’s favorite place to hang.
The hardest part of any organization or yard project.
One of Shira’s best pieces of advice for maintaining your space is shifting your habits. For example, using the one-in-one-out method, always cleaning up before heading inside, or finding a better solution for cast-off cardboard and furniture that often ends up outside. Shira practices what she calls the “15-Minute Win.” Instead of letting your yard accumulate waste, spend 15 minutes clearing the space of unwanted items to ensure that you love being in your space every time you step outside.