Off the Page: ‘Southern Chaos’

Martha Carol Stewart and Lisa Hutchinson Clement know what it’s like to live in the chaos of the South. Mardi Gras, crawfish boils and hosting are in a Southerners’ blood, but it all comes with a fair share of mayhem. That’s why the duo wrote Southern Chaos: Organizing the Southern Home, a step-by-step guide to surviving and thriving in the boot through every holiday and season.

The idea for the book started when the pair moved their daughters into a college dorm room. During the moving process, the two moms’ organization methods clicked instantly.

“When we were unpacking our daughters to live together, we kept doing things the same and discovered we had so much in common,” says Stewart, who is the founder and CEO of Baton Rouge-based Chaos Organizing. “When I brought up doing the book, Lisa was all in. I am so glad I had a partner in crime to write with.”

The book begins with Stewart and Clement’s CHAOS method: a detailed organizing system applicable to every room in a home. The method is intended to provide permanent results, so readers have less stress and more time for iced tea on the porch. The book also teaches readers how to use the method throughout the “Southern calendar,” which is from August to May for any yankees reading this.

“Everyone thinks the calendar year starts in January, but for us Southerners, August really starts off the new year,” Clement says. “New school. New teachers. New football schedule. New hunting schedule. And it feels like most major holidays start during the winter months.”

From organizing a car for carpool to setting up a hunting closet, Stewart and Clement check every box for special events and regular occurences in the South. They also cover how to move into a dorm room and decorate the perfect guest room for the holidays.

“In the Southern home, we do a lot of entertaining, so we have a chapter on Mardi Gras organizing, tailgating and the Southern bar,” Stewart notes. “We mention butler’s pantries, outdoor kitchens, sculleries and other things that are common in the Southern home.”