Category Archives: Organize Your Clutter

Household Clutter #2: Controlled Chaos


Make Your Mess Look Deliberate


Your piles of magazines/newspapers, homeless  knick-knacks and other odd bits of life can look planned.

Stacked: Make neat stacks of that free form arrangement of magazines or books and top them with something interesting. A plant, bowl or appropriately sized sculpture could work, as could some off beat Objet that tweaks your fancy.  I once saw a very clever coffee table with legs made of stacked Coffee Table Books.

Be brazen.  Show the world that shelves are for sissies.

Home For The Restless: Obviously you have to throw away what is clearly trash, but a lot of what we call clutter are all those little things that have a use but not a location when not needed.

You know the ones. They seem to move from place to place around the room, like nomads in search of their personal Mecca…

Gather these assorted little items and give them a home in a beautiful bowl or even an ashtray if you are big on re-purposing.  You need one of these  Catch-Alls for your dresser or bedside table and another one near the front door too.  Train yourself to empty your pockets when you first walk in the door. Deposit keys, wallet, lip balm, coins etc. You’ll save yourself a lot of time searching for said items when you want to leave again and you will no longer need to have five sets of keys dispersed to the doorman, neighbors and friend.

Tray Chic: Once you master the art of capturing small game like your house keys, gum packets and sunglasses, you are ready to mark your territory with trays.  The trick is to make little compositions out of the disorder by corralling the things you need and other Keep-Ables neatly onto one of these.  Instant Tidy.

There’s a marked shift in attitude between “throwing in a drawer” and “placing on a tray”. This attitude adjustment is the magic key to “ordered chaos.”

Call of the wild. Just by placing all the  assorted Essentials that were previously left wild and free on a tray along with a couple of baskets as back-up receptacles, the new Tableaux will look like there is some sort of method to the former madness.

Put the taller items behind the shorter, smaller ones. Keep like with like and form groupings of odd numbers like three or five of one type of item.  I’ve never heard a good explanation as to why odd numbers look better than even numbers, so you’ll just have to take my word on this.  To re-enforce the Planned Look, add a framed picture and/or fresh flowers where appropriate and voila, you have a lovely display.

Boxing Day: In the same way trays are genius for creating order out of randomness, boxes are great for concealing the left-overs of life.  I always keep a couple of pretty boxes, pretty empty, on my desk for fast emergency clean-ups.  They hide all kind of office and personal detritus. The bonus is that when I can’t find something, I only have to open two boxes at most to find the missing item.

Airing A Grievance: One of the more wonderful experiences of first arrival into any home is that of a great aroma. While stale air and various household odors are not exactly a mess in of themselves, they imply there’s a mess somewhere. Incense has gotten a bad rap because too often what comes to mind are unpleasant memories of some overly sweet Hippie Era smoke. However, a little research will reveal some truly refined olfactory delightfulness. Often times the same company that presents a sophisticated incense will offer potpourri, room sprays and candles. It pays to hunt. In a pinch, use sheet spray. I’ve been known to use perfume too.

The Unmade Bed…. Along with Bed Head, tossed and rumpled bedclothes can look kind of sexy, as though you have a much more interesting life than anyone has ever known about.

However, if this is your Standard Presentation, the jig is up. You just look like a slob.

Under cover: An extra large fluffy throw like a flokati or Mongolian lambskin, or even the common comforter set straight on the bed will disguise the outright dishevelment to look like merely an informal style.

You’re on your own with Bed Head.

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