I am an organizing freak. I like complete order, a world in which every item, no matter how small or insignificant, has a designated space. To me, this is utopia. I have yet to arrive there.
It all started for me when I was in college, or more specifically, the first time I lived alone. That was my junior year in college in which I did a year abroad studying in London. I spent a lot of time decorating, as one is oft to do in a college dormitory, finding the perfect posters to reflect my eclectic and unique tastes, or perhaps to create that image. It is analogous to our online social profiles today: do they reflect who we are, or are they created to reflect the person we want others to see? But I digress…
Living by yourself is an awesome experience and I think all people would benefit from the experience. There is an enormous liberating feeling when you close the door and your life becomes completely private. In addition to the privacy and liberation, there is an amazing sense of control. No matter what else is happening in your life, that private sanctuary is yours to decorate, clean and organize as you see fit. Perhaps more significant, it is yours to defile at your own pace.
When I was in college my room was spotless. I could not study unless this was so, I don’t need an analyst to tell me that this was simply procrastination: I know that. I think the point is that one often procrastinates from doing a less desirable task by doing something they prefer. In my case that was cleaning. Or not so much cleaning as organizing. Straightening up. Making piles. I excel at making piles.
Ever since college, I have been searching for my Utopia. I have never had the money, or it is probably more accurate that I have never had the space, to invest in a home organizational system. Thus, in my exploration I search for ways to use what I have, make more out of less. In this journey I enjoy following the likes of the much maligned Ms. Martha Stewart, very simply because I like her ingenuity when it comes to make do with what you already have. So I very often read magazines and websites devoted to organizing for inspiration about what I can do with my limited space and my limited budget.
OK, all that to say, I have uncovered the dirty secret behind the organizing industry. The Container Store‘s website aptly titles their section on organizing products Inspirational Spaces. Take a look at the pictures:
These are beautifully arranged storage spaces. But if I only had ten blouses to hang in my closet, I wouldn’t need to find an organization solution! Who has that much space in their closet! Who can manage to have these perfectly aligned hangers with a half-foot in between each garment? Who’s skirts are all of even length that they easily fit on the lower tier of the closet without dusting across all the other things that are stacked on the floor? And by the way, who’s closet is a coordinated color palette?
Really, I need ideas to deal with the fact that my closet is jam packed with all sorts of clothes, including suits that hang on large rounded hangers. I need ingenious ideas to store my pots and pans when I don’t have enough closet space and my landlord won’t let me install any racks on the walls.
It’s not just The Container Store. Ikea does it too, on their website they have a category called “Ideas and Inspiration” that offer similar solutions to suit only those who own know more than six outfits, like this bedroom solution they call “low price storage“. I count six hangers in the closet. Remember This Old House? They offer this article “Cut the Clutter“. Damn, that closet is bigger than my kitchen. Even Ms. Stewart falls into the deception in “25 Closet, Storage, and Office Organizers“.
I know my problem is lack of space, but try doing a search for “storage solutions for small spaces”. This Old House offers many small space ideas. However, as in this article “9 Small Space Solutions“, I’m sorry, I’ve lived in lots of apartments I would consider small, the apartment in this example is like a palace compared to most of them. I know, the storage market is geared towards home owners who have the flexibility in their living arrangement to install and construct solutions, and owners who can borrow on their home equity to finance the project. Until I own a home, or find a space big enough for all my stuff, I guess I will just have to find peace in the pursuit of my utopia, since the arrival is certainly far off.