The Lived-In Design: What she wanted to know about when she asked how anyone could live in a beautifully designed home.
A client once asked me how some people can have “cute things and display them.” She wanted to know how some live in such a way they have space to display décor items and make them look good. From her perspective, this was impossible.
The question does not surprise me, given that some people engage a Professional Organizer because they don’t want to live in a chaotic environment any longer. That means they call an Organizer because they do live in chaos.
But I have thought about this question for a long time and realized the answer lies in that inverse relationship between clutter and design.
What A Stylish House Doesn’t Need
Look at this picture (@flamingos.home). What do you notice? Or rather, what do you not see?
You can appreciate this design due to the absence of elements that pull your attention somewhere else, like clutter.
And clutter happens for two main reasons:
(1) Owning excessive stuff – Renders even the best storage space incapable of containing and concealing all the stuff.
(2) The lack of decision-making about things at any given moment – Causes stuff to land (and stay) anywhere in the home.
Although most people would not consider their homes magazine-worthy, as long as we have four walls and a roof, we can make the space as beautiful and incredible as we wish. Elegance, style, and luxury have less to do with money and the size of your home and more with taste, simplicity, and attention to detail.
But it seems challenging for many to envision the possibilities in their homes. Could this be because their homes’ clutter prevents the imagination from visualizing what they desire?
What Happens To That Magic?
Clutter prevents us from seeing the beauty of the home’s potential. But clutter also physically occupies the space that should be left available for new and better things to come into our lives.
I have extensively discussed the model home magic Vs. the nightmare of moving day. We fall in love with a beautifully designed, perfectly appointed model home, but somehow the magic disappears on moving day as quickly as it came.
Why does it feel so different even when we selected the same model home, building choices, and décor? This probably happens because:
(1) It is our stuff there now. And our stuff seems less than exciting in contrast to our new home.
(2) We see all our stuff together while moving in. It makes a big difference. This wonderful space now seems overcrowded and will be for a while until we get it under control.
(3) With the moving process as messy and disjointed as it usually is, stuff seems even messier and uglier than ever.
Puff! Magic gone.
Where The Stuff Is
Add to this scenario the prospect of living out of boxes for a while (there’s no time to put things away, and life is hectic anyway).
And at some level, we also recognize that wherever and however things land in the home on moving day, they will remain for the next three years or so.
Things might quickly improve if we engage some help, like a professional organizer, designer services, cleaning personnel, and such. The new home will probably thrill us again soon. And this better happens soon. A home is one of the most important investments we will ever make. So, we should care how we feel about it.
Life After Moving In
Everyone gets crazy about model homes, HGTV shows(the reveal is grand, right?), architectural digest magazine, and all those amazing home designs on Instagram and Pinterest. However, only a few make the connection between a marvelous design they love and the reality of the day-to-day living in that space.
No one talks about what happens after people move into a new home or back in with their belongings after a renovation. Having this conversation requires people to confront their mess demons and out-of-control buying. But, of course, nobody wants to go there.
Enjoying the beauty and style of a new home does not happen automatically. After moving in, we must work on it. Even the best design might get drowned in clutter. Clutter is the noise that distracts our senses from the beauty of the space and interrupts how we experience our home.
The Role of Empty Space
And aside from speaking of design, it is essential to honor space in the home. So many have issues with unoccupied space and try to stuff things in best-left-empty areas (“because I have some space there”).
However, a house should be a living space, not storage. Space is our friend, and it is best to make peace with it. Space is to the home like a white mat is to a piece of art – it enhances its beauty by isolating it.
It is possible to have a lived-in design. Clutter just has to go.
Many say they need to become more organized, especially each January. Some will even call an Organizer. However, those unwilling to adopt new habits will always struggle with clutter. No matter how easy or difficult that initial push to get the home in top shape might be. That is just a start. Without maintenance, that initial organization is just a waste of time and money. Organizing is not a project; it is a lifestyle. So, here are 11 key habits of an organized lifestyle. These will make a big difference in your home and how you live.
1. Make The Bed Every Morning
Making your bed makes the room feel in order and makes you feel accomplishment from the time you get up. In addition, this action helps you face the date with a can-do attitude.
2. Keep A Donation Bag In Each Closet
Having a bag for things you no longer need or want allows you to make those decisions when you think about them. You will have a designated place for these items and won’t need to remember to gather them later. When the bag is full, schedule a donation run. The moment you put on a piece of clothing that you feel is no longer suitable or is ripped or screams dated, instead of hanging the clothing back (or God forbid, throw it on the bed or a chair), you will place that item in the bag.
3. Create A Home For Everything In Your House
You will decide where things should go based on their use pattern in the home. The important thing is to assign one specific place to each category of items, preferably. If using an item requires storing it in more than one space, formally set those spaces up. Also, labeling storage areas allows everyone to know where to put things back. Finally, remember that If anything can go anywhere, everything will go everywhere.
4. Put Things Back In Their Place
To maintain an organized home, everyone must put things back where they belong every time. Hence the importance of labeling spaces until everyone knows the proper place of things. “I will put this here for the moment” does not work. It never has. It never will.
The words “free,” “save,” and “discount” act like a drug on the brain. Please don’t fall for it. Before you buy, ask yourself if you need the item and have the space to store it. If not, please walk away. The less you own, the more living area you enjoy in your own home, and the less you have to take care of.
When bringing home bags or boxes, remove the contents and strip those items of outer packing as much as possible. That is making the stuff truly yours. It also makes the item(s) ready to be organized within your home. This process is a critical step we follow when organizing a space. You want to have everything as visible and ready to be used as possible. Removing all unnecessary packaging also saves lots of space and makes all items of the same kind look the same. The more homogeneous your collection, the more functional the system is and the prettier your areas look.
Entertained garbage makes up for most of the clutter in every household. If you commit to removing the packaging of what you bring home, then go the distance and trash the garbage instead of allowing all the extra packing to linger around your home until who knows when.
Keep a recycle bin, a shredder, and a tray or sorter to process the mail. Preferably have your filing cabinet where you process the mail. Most of the mail you receive is junk. Throw it away before it can clutter your home. Also, be a knowledgeable shredder; only those documents with account numbers, social security numbers, medical information, or bank offers need to be shredded. Having a shredder right where you sort the mail allows you to take care of this immediately. Too often, I find boxes full of documents that need shredding cluttering my clients’ lives. Over concerns about safety compounds the problem. When we do not know what we should destroy, we accumulate more paper over time. Also, it is critical to have a mail sorting and filing system that works for you. This way, you process bills on time, and things needing filing won’t float around the home. Every piece of paper to keep needs a file.
9. Plan Ahead
Take a few minutes to prepare for the next day at the end of each day. Evaluate your “to do” list and set out everything you need to go through your planned errands the next day.
10. Practice Strategic Scheduling
Scheduling is logistics 101. College business programs include courses on administration and logistics, with algorithms to determine the optimal sequence of events to complete a project or the most efficient routes to get around. Of course, you don’t need to go to such an extent, but you can gain significant efficiency and add more time to each day with some planning ahead.
11. Clean Out Bags Daily
Whether it is your handbag, weekender, kids’ sports bags, or suitcases, emptying the contents of all bags allows you to assess what needs replacement, needs to be washed, trashed, or placed somewhere else. This practice is particularly beneficial in helping you plan for the following day or week. If you are a paper kind of person and love to write little reminders and notes to yourself throughout the day, emptying your bag consistently helps you remember that idea you wanted to pursue. Those reminders might be the start of more significant plans in the scope of your life.
Consistency Is Key
These 11 steps might not seem like much, but when combined and executed consistently, they will show a big difference in your life.