Hello friendly faces! It’s that time of the week! We’re back with a new CNSM Meet a Mom spotlight brought to you in part by Mary Gifford of Gifford Law. This week we’re are excited to introduce you to Glenview mom of two amazing little humans and founder of Design. By The Duchess of Declutter, Brooke Milton!
Brooke Milton’s kindness, compassion and openness are evident the moment you meet her. During a recent coffee date with CNSM and Brooke, she spoke openly of her struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). She has taken control of this aspect of her life by channelling it into a profession helping others as the ultimate Duchess of Declutter. Her skills are a true gift to those who seek it. In this interview, you’ll read about how she became the duchess of declutter, how she’s helping others who struggle with clutter and the act of letting go. There’s great advice for those of us who wish to start this process now. Welcome, Brooke!
Hi Brooke! Please introduce yourself. Where are you from originally? What city do you live in now? What brought you here?
My name is Brooke Milton. I’m from Highland Park and live in Glenview. I’ve never lived outside of Illinois. My parents still live in Highland Park, and my whole family is nearby.
You’re a mom! How many kiddos do you have and how old are they? Feel free to brag away!
I have two kids. My son just turned 13 (wow), and my daughter is 8. My son is an athletic powerhouse. His stamina is nothing like I’ve ever seen. He was singing songs the other day, from artists way off my radar, and I couldn’t help but stare. He’s a beautifully gifted human being that’s destined to do great things. My daughter is a constant reminder that there’s purity and decency in the world. She’s an older soul with a heart made of gold. Her humor is quite something too. She has comedic timing and an uncanny ability to make anyone laugh.
What are one or two fun facts to know about you?
1. I never missed one class in college. I went to every single one…and sat in the front.
2. I know the lyrics to Ice Ice Baby. It’s one of my favorite songs.
What gets you through a tough day?
Knowing that I’m trying to help people live smarter and easier. The foundation of my work is deeply rooted in transforming spaces to change the ways in which we think about those spaces. That’s my mission, and my commitment to it is energizing.
What are you…. reading, watching, listening to?
Reading: I’m currently educating myself on house siding. It’s not a sexy beach read for sure.
Watching: I’m constantly watching home improvement videos. I love learning the tricks of the trade. My Instagram reels are a series of how-to and DIY.
Listening: One Republic + Panic at the Disco.
Please introduce Design. By The Duchess of Declutter?
Design. By The Duchess of Declutter is a design trifecta – professional organizing, interior design and custom woodworking. Every project has branches and takes me in different directions. I can redesign and organize any closet. I can build out a mudroom and set up a system. I can update a kitchen and enhance its function.
When did you launch this business and what are your credentials?
I could’ve started my business in 1984, but I officially launched The Duchess of Declutter in 2010. I’ve been very open and honest about living with OCD. It’s a blessing and a curse. I see the world in symmetry and organization and live for a “before and after.” While it runs deeply through my veins, I’ve learned how to channel my energies into helping other people streamline their spaces and their lives. I incorporated interior design in 2018 and custom woodworking (made by jbm) in 2020.
What do you want our readers, specifically moms, to know when it comes to taking control of their clutter?
It’s vital to know that emotional and mental clutter is often more of a problem than physical clutter. At the end of the day, it’s just stuff. If we can’t reconcile the emotions and feelings around that stuff, it’s virtually impossible to declutter. A lot of people associate a memory or feeling with an item, for example. Transitioning an item out of your home doesn’t erase that memory.
Clutter is also more than just stuff… It makes you late…causes arguments…decreases concentration…increases stress…etc. Think beyond what’s in front of you.
When a client reaches out to you for help, what happens next? Walk us through the process from start to finish.
This isn’t a one-size-fits all approach. It’s not about coming into someone’s house with containers and labels. It’s about understanding habits and behaviors. I start with a phone call to determine the scope of a project, which can be a pantry or an entire house. The phone call can turn into an immediate booking, or it can lead to an in-person consultation. It can also just be a conversation. Not everyone is ready to commit. I always ask for pictures though. I never want to overpromise and underdeliver.
If a client is on my schedule, the project scope dictates my approach and how I tailor my plans. We discuss goals, aesthetics and supplies. I’ll also handle donation and garbage logistics.The process is really different for everyone. All spaces aren’t created equal.
What are one or two pieces of advice you’d like to pass forward to our mama readers as it pertains to keeping order or preventing clutter?
1. If the habits don’t change, a system won’t work. Your systems are only as good as you’re willing to keep them.
2. There’s a huge difference between “need” and “want.” Think about how you live and then separate the two. What you end up with may shock you. Ultimately, we need very little.
What’s on the horizon for Design. By The Duchess of Declutter?
I have some awesome renovation projects lined up in my queue as well as larger-scale woodwork installations. There’s always a mix.
Do you have any workshops coming up that you’d like to promote?
I’m going to put a master class together in the fall or winter. It’s a good time to reset. I love coaching and talking my clients through obstacles. My class will be a combination of how-to and talk therapy. Follow me on Instagram to stay tuned.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know about Design. By The Duchess of Declutter?
I’m always looking for ways to pivot. I love collaborating with other business owners. My husband, the master craftsman behind made by jbm, and I are meeting with local design/build firms this summer.
Give us all your contact dets!
Website: www.theduchessofdeclutter.com Instagram: @TheDuchessofDeclutter
About our Meet of Mom Sponsor
A very heartfelt thank you to CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom sponsor, Lake Forest mom of three and owner of Gifford Law, a solo Estate Planning Firm (wills and trusts). Mary, we appreciate your support of local moms in our North Shore communities! Learn more about Mary by visiting her Meet a Mom spotlight here! Contact Mary directly here: [email protected].