Acclaimed architect Philip Johnson once said, “architecture is basically the design of interiors, the art of organizing interior space.” If the most important element of architecture is the organization of interior space, how crucial then is organizing the objects that fill the space?
As students of design, we’re also students of the way people interact with and organize objects in their home. This curiosity informs our company culture and drives the way we develop products. Over time, it’s also showed that the lines between styling, decorating and organizing aren’t as distinct as one might think. The types of products we create lend themselves to certain decorating aesthetics, lifestyles, and methods of organization that can be adapted to any home. While everyone will ultimately approach decorating their home in their own way, we think these tips can help those who might need a little extra direction. If you follow our blog or Instagram, you’ll probably recognize many of these tips because they prove themselves helpful in so many of the things we do.
Give Every Item a Home
One of the oldest—and truest—proverbs related to tidying up is that true order comes when everything has its own home. Giving every item its own home will allow you to create little compositions all over that combine form and function. For example, you might normally keep your stapler on your desk, but if you know what corner of your desk the stapler sits on, and what plant you want next to it, and what notepad will go nearby, then you can figure out the right lamp to illuminate the area. Throughout the day, you’ll know exactly where everything is. When it comes time to clean, you can restore everything to its proper home and set the space back in order. From a few sundry supplies of everyday life, you’ve created a workstation and a still life arrangement, all in one.
Buy Less, Buy Better
Modern life makes amassing a staggering amount of possessions all too easy. But quantity doesn’t necessarily translate to quality, and learning to let go of unnecessary possessions—or better yet, avoiding collecting them in the first place—will help to keep your home free of clutter. The kitchen is full of examples of this phenomenon, like the knife block, for example. Many people would rather buy an entire block of mediocre knives for their kitchen than spend an equivalent amount on a single quality chef’s knife. A single chef’s knife creates less clutter than a knife block with a dozen pieces. And if you ask any chef, they’ll tell you how that chef’s knife will be more useful, hold an edge longer, and result in fewer injuries than a block of knives made from cheap steel. Translating this philosophy to all of your buying decisions will keep your home clutter free.
Decorations are a major source of clutter and disorganization in many homes. Displaying, storing, and maintaining these possessions can be a job in and of itself. Leading with domestic utility when purchasing items for your home is a better alternative to buying things out of the misplaced feeling that you need to fill every bit of empty space. There’s a quiet dignity to an intentionally designed and well-crafted object, and a home filled with objects like this won’t need much decoration.
Mix Over Match
Department stores are usually set up so a customer will “buy the room,” meaning purchase a whole set of furnishings in one go. The pitch here is that buying the room will take the work out of decorating and bring unity to the space. In reality, this often leaves a home feeling lifeless and generic. Plus, if one or more piece gets broken or damaged, it may be difficult to fix or replace, and you now have an incomplete set. It’s much easier to be expressive in your decor when you mix possessions of different styles, eras, and materials. This way of thinking also makes it easier to invest in higher quality items when you need to make a purchase because you can focus your available resources on the thing you really need.
The Art of Wabi-Sabi
There is a point of diminishing returns in organizing where a system that’s too elaborate will actually discourage you from following it. The Japanese term “wabi-sabi” refers to the idea of accepting the inherent imperfection that comes with the patterns of daily life. Learning to allow for a little controlled chaos in certain situations can be a form of organization in and of itself.
As you prepare for the coming months of spring cleaning, consider keeping some of these tips in mind. You might just find yourself living lighter and feeling more at peace with your life, your lifestyle, and your home.