As professional organizers we often talk about what to do to get organized. We tell you about the benefits of being organized: saving money and time and reducing stress. And we talk about safety in the home and having what you need and use. But we do not often talk about the benefit of having other things, the things you love. It’s so important to have the things you love in your home for no other reason than that you love them. When you walk in your home, we want you to smile. The end goal of organizing your home is to create the place where you can let your hair down and relax, your place of refuge. Organize your home to save money and time, to reduce stress but most importantly organize your home and feel good about surrounding yourself with the things you love.
The question is how do you surround yourself with things you love & be organized?
Nate Berkus said, “your home should be the story of who you are and be a collection of what you love”.
This quote speaks to me because clients will sometimes tell me they want their home to be as organized, neat, and tidy as the pictures they see in the magazines. While the pictures are sometimes from real homes they are staged. Everything is perfect, the photo is snapped, and then the family goes back to living their lives. I guarantee you, just like your homes, the perfectly tidy space lasts only as long as no one is using it.
Think about who you are. What is the story you are telling now? What do you want to display to help you tell that story? The story will change as your life evolves.
Ask yourself these questions:
How do you want to be able to find your belongings?
Are you someone who likes to see what they have? Maybe you think things are lost if they are out of sight? If this is true for you then you want to organize your belongings in open cubbies and shelves. Make use of vertical space so that you can easily find what you are looking for and so that you have a place to put things when not in use.
If you are someone who likes to have everything put away with lots of clear space, then you want to have cupboards and drawers in which to place your belongings.
What if the person with whom you live likes their things the opposite way from you? That’s a tough one and it happens often. You know they say that opposites attract, right? My best advice is to compromise. They get to have their things the way they want them in their personal space as do you. Compromise in the shared living space.
What do you want to see that makes you feel good?
My son made me a clay cup one year at school. He painted and glazed the cup and then gave it to me. It is truly ugly, but I love it. It makes me feel good to have this on my desk. This cup doesn’t hold very many pens, so I also have a second larger holder.
Celebrate what makes you happy
I read a post recently from another organizer who was describing how happy her father-in-law was when he found a bicycle. Did he need the bicycle? No but it made him happy, and it wasn’t hurting him to have it. He was surrounding himself with things he loves. I’m over-simplifying the story. The point is you can have the things in your home that make you happy.
What do you collect?
Do you have a collection of things in your home? Are they displayed? Maybe you have a hobby like photography or needlework. You can surround yourself with things you love and put them on display. If you take beautiful photographs, consider enlarging them, framing them, and then hanging them on the walls of your living room.
One of my clients displayed his fabulous, enlarged photos. He loved to take pictures of animals. There were amazing close-up photos he took when on safari in Africa on display in his living room and others of his dog being playful in his office. The point is that looking at these pictures gave the viewer an impression of the photographer.
I love fine needlepoint. My mother stitched some of the needlepoint pillows I display. Others were stitched by my grandmother! Yes. These pillows are showing their age. I love them and have them on chairs in the living room. Eventually, these will be replaced by needlepoint pillows that I make until then I am displaying them because I love them.
Organize your home and feel good
You can surround yourself with things you love as long as there is space for them. Remember your organizing preference: to see what you have or to have it hidden away. Then organize accordingly. One of my organizing friends loves the color purple so she organizes her home and includes pops of purple. Another client loves to decorate for each and every season. It makes her feel good and happy to incorporate seasonal décor which changes every season.
The space in your home is finite. Each person will have their own definition of how much is enough. Keep the other organizing strategies in mind (to save money, save time, and reduce stress) as you surround yourself with things you love. It’s O.K. to only display a few things at a time. Much as my client switches out the seasonal décor, you can switch out things you love from time to time.
If you would like help figuring out how to organize your home so that it tells your story consider joining the Clear Space for You virtual support group I run with Jonda Beattie.
Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia.