Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.

Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.
CLICK ON THE RABBIT ( yes, those are cabinets) TO SEE MY PORTFOLIO, AND LEARN MORE ABOUT MY SERVICES...theartofthehome.com

Monday, January 21, 2013

Organizing turned inside-out...

Are you an organization junkie?  I don't mean "do you exhibit signs of O.C.D.?", I mean "Do you collect magazine articles about organizing, drool over custom shelving, and feel a sense of impending magical transformation when you enter a store specializing in all things storage related?"  How long have you had these symptoms, and have any of the dozens of magic solutions sold at those stores actually made you organized?  Do you honestly need me to assign scoreable answers to these questions?  I thought not.  You know who you are.

Is there a magic solution to make your home look like something from the pages of Martha? Nope. If your home doesn't look sleek and tucked in, chances are, your life isn't sleek and tucked in, and that just might be a good thing. You may have kids, hobbies with no dedicated space, a home based business, a spouse/partner with a matching set of all those things, and you may be packing the whole lot into an apartment the average gerbil would find claustrophobic.
Making it pretty won't make it function better, but once you add a dresser to the spot between the doors on the other side of the room, and swap that silly little (photogenic) table for an old farm table with a drawer, there's room to put everything away.  Then making it pretty just makes it an even happier work space.

There are whole books on the subject of organization, and I used to read them all.  If you really want to add another to your collection, Julia Morganstern's Organizing From The Inside Out is probably one of the best I ever read.  It was the last, in fact.  Not so much that I learned anything new, but that it validated my thinking that I needed to stop trying to pack a round life into square cupboards.  Once I got that for myself, I found it solved a lot of my client's dilemmas, too.  Julia goes into a lot of the psychology behind clutter, among other things, and that can be helpful if you are a true hoarder, but maybe you don't need "fixed".

The basic concept I want to share is that if the house won't stay organized, it's quite likely that it isn't set up for the life you lead.  We aren't all alike, so why should our houses be, even if they're pretty much all built about the same?  In your home, what is consistently out of place, and does it consistently end up in the same "wrong" place?  What if that's the right place, or very near it? No?  Really?  Whatever "it" is, it's already living there.

What if it doesn't have to be an inconvenient eyesore?  Try thinking of it this way:  What if it had to be housed where it usually ends up, anyway?  How could you do it?  Stumped?  For starters, what if you took the labels off of the rooms in your home, except perhaps the kitchen and bath?  

Try this:  Make a list of the activities and people that need space in your home.  Now, how much space does each need?  What kind, and where will make it convenient enough it gets used?  A mom's office with soccer schedules and scout leader's lists will migrate from the back room in the basement to the kitchen counter every time, but it might stay put in a bedroom a few steps down the hall.  Or maybe the bill paying office isn't the same space as the family coordinating hub, and when split, neither needs a whole room.  What kind of possibilities open up when you don't automatically clump things together in the "typical" way?.

Maybe you don't even have a home office, and you're tired of the whole mess having to be piled on one end of the kitchen counter. I'll suggest one possibility that might fit your family, but keep an open mind here:  If you bunk two kids in the master bedroom, and move the grown-up or two into one small bedroom, you instantly have that second small (bed)room for an office.  The off-season clothes that won't fit in the smaller closet, which I know you just howled about (don't marvel at my psychic abilities, this ain't my first rodeo) can go in the closet here.  The bonus?  If the master bedroom has it's own bath, the two creatures most likely to make the main bathroom too gross for guests now have no need to be in it for tooth brushing or baths.  One change, and you might not cringe the next time company shows up without enough warning to do the usual stash-swipe-dim-the-lights thing.

Not that I'm known for immaculate housekeeping.  Good gravy, if dust bothers you, don't bother to come knocking at my door!  I do however like things to be comfortable for myself and my guests, and I don't think there is much point in creating pretty rooms and then having them so jammed with clutter that the decorating just adds to it.  As much as I would love to sell you my services, let me dispel the often touted idea that having a beautiful new space will inspire a person to keep it clean.  I've yet to see that alone work for more than the first few weeks, at best.  It really does need to be beautifully designed to function, too.  

Try making that list of people/activities/spaces this week, keeping an open mind, and considering whether it might be time to let go of the fantasy that you will one day miraculously morph into one of those mythical perfect people, whose homes always look like a design magazine.  Yes, there are perfectly happy people who love and live the real simple look, and there are some who iron their sheets before arranging them in carefully rotated order in their walk-in linen closets (whose happiness I can't fathom, but I'll take their word for it).  However, if you hang out here on this blog very often, I'm just about positive you aren't one of them.  What if you don't try to be?  What if you create a home that works for the life you really do live, the way you really do live it, however imperfect that may be by some standards?  What would you do, if you didn't think you had to do it the standard way?

There might be a cure for that addiction to fancy boxes and handy gadgets, or at least a way to fully satisfy the organizational craving, so you don't have to keep shopping for the elusive fix.  I'll be back late Thursday night to share some of my favorite ways to organize the things that easily become clutter.

I do provide some help with design and organizing, when it's in conjunction with my decorative paint and plaster services.  Portfolio and information at theartofthehome.com.

My perfectly imperfect home, and lots of ways to celebrate a life that doesn't fit in standard cabinets, are featured often on the pages of the quarterly bookazine, 365 Being, which you can read about at 365being.com.  

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