When Sonya Meares was visiting Melbourne recently, she had an odd experience.
She overheard two women she had never met discussing her linen cupboard.
"It was so strange...This woman from Geelong had seen my linen press in Better Homes and Gardens," she recalled.
"She called me an 'influencer'. I couldn't believe it was me they were talking about."
It may sound like a bizarre scenario, but Meares' linen press project caused a major stir when she shared a photo of it on her Instagram account back in April.
It attracted over 3K likes and boosted her Instagram following to more than 9K.
"That picture is still going crazy," she said.
The chic linen press makeover is just one of many home organisation projects Meares has undertaken since moving into her new home in Sydney, with her partner and two adult children, four years ago.
"That linen press was a work in progress for months, because I kept changing my mind about how I wanted it to look," she explained.
"I had a vision in my head of how I wanted it, but I couldn't find the right boxes. It had to be functional but I wanted it to look pretty too.
"Styling is really important to me."
Meares said the first step in her makeover was to purge all the old stuff she hadn't used for years.
"Anything that was old, or I no longer used, I gave away to friends or took to charity shops, she said.
After all the excess items had been rehomed, Meares measured the space in the cupboard and worked out the size and number of boxes that would be required.
But finding the right boxes for her cupboards was no easy task.
"The white boxes are from Ikea, the dark grey are from Kmart, the white and pink are Big W, and the toilet paper one was from Target," she explained.
In total her linen press makeover cost around $250.
"It doesn't have to cost much … for example, the little white boxes are only $5 each," she explained.
Easy organising tips
Another cheap and cheerful idea was how she created the labels on her boxes.
The labels are actually little black picture frames from Ikea that cost about $1 each.
She put white cardboard in the frames, attached custom labels to the front (ordered from Pretty Little Designs), and then hot-glued them onto the boxes.
Meares says labelling is imperative if you want things to stay organised.
"That way everything is at your fingertips … If things are clearly labelled and accessible, my family aren't digging around for things and making a mess," she said.
She also arranged her space so items that are not used regularly (like extra cushions and beach towels) went in the harder to reach spots at the top of her cupboard.
The linen press also acts as a "bathroom overflow" storage area.
Items like extra soap and cotton buds are stored in boxes and the family simply takes what they need into the bathroom, as storage space in there is more limited.
Another hit with Meares' followers is her neat and tidy pantry.
"A couple of people have asked me whether I have been able to maintain how my pantry looked when I first did it," she said.
"The key reason I think I've been able to maintain it is because I made sure it was functional for my entire family," she said.
"Everything has a place, snacks are available for quick access, items I frequently use for cooking and baking are grouped together, things we use less often are stored at the bottom or towards the back."
She recently turned her attention to her walk-in wardrobe, and said reorganising the
bathroom cupboards and garage are her next projects.
The Castle Hills resident said she has always been interested in decorating and organising.
"My inspiration was my late mum — she was the most organised woman you'll ever know," she said.
"She was so creative, she used to sew all our clothes and knit our jumpers. I think I got that gene from her."
The mum-of-two said she only shared her styling on Instagram as a hobby and was stunned when people took such an interest in her linen cupboard.
"That picture doubled my followers … it went viral and I was completely overwhelmed," she recalled.
"I had to turn my phone off. I had to move away from it for a bit."
She put her new-found popularity down to the fact that organising gurus like Marie
Kondo have sparked global interest in the topic.
While she loves Instagram and has enjoyed being part of the online community, Meares said some people have been cruel about her enthusiasm for organising and styling.
"Some people call me OCD and that really upsets me," she said.
"There are people out there with actual OCD … for people to make a joke about it really stresses me.
"I know a person who has it and it's awful. I don't have that, I just like an orderly home."
Meares said she welcomes the attention from her Instagram followers as a way to inspire others to create order in their homes.
"When those two ladies in Melbourne called me an 'influencer' … I thought about it and yes, I guess I have influenced people," she reflected.
"I've had people messaging me and showing me their linen closet … that made me so happy.
"They said I gave them the know-how to do it. That blew my mind."
She even saw one space that "was identical to mine" and was extremely flattered.
"That made my day and I had a little tear," she said.
Meares said she loves interacting with people who want to emulate her designs but urges followers to "do what works for you".
"You're not going to keep it maintained if you don't. What I eat and the products I use and need to store will be different from what you use," she said.
"You have to adapt it to what works for you."
Despite that, the recently crowned "influencer" said she loves sharing the tips and tricks she has learned along the way with her online community.
"I'm happy to help people … I would go and do their bloody linen presses for them if I could," she said.