When I look at the magazine spreads in January on Organizing for Good, Banishing Clutter, and How to Have the Best Year Yet, I feel a tremendous surge of hope that if only I would Sort, Purge, Assess, Containerize, and Equalize*, I would never misplace anything again.
But if you look closely at all the photos from Real Simple and Martha Stewart, you notice some disconnects between your objective, organizing real stuff, and their objective, selling an ideal.
First of all, the magazine features on storage rarely have anything to store. These vignettes seem to have gotten all their material from the prop department rather than a real, working pantry or a mom’s closet.
- The purpose of their closets is not to house clothes but to showcase color themes. Entire walk-in closets have contents that must have come from the same panel of a paint deck, usually five shades of beige (the better to showcase features such as pull-out shelves, tipping hampers baskets, and laminates finishes available in your choice of colors).
- The formula seems to be five white shirts, two dresses, and three pairs each of pants and shoes. Obviously, such spartan limits allow no fluctuation in size (talk about false hope!).
- Canned goods are the same brand and size, and they’re perfectly faced on each shelf. Imported tomatoes with labels written in another language are always preferred. Stewed, diced, whole, who cares whether you can tell?
- It’s not a pantry without six Pellegrino mineral water bottles aligned in a basket.
- Would you dare use a bundle of sheets that took 30 minutes to fold and tie with a satin ribbon, color-coded for size? No, you would sooner sleep in a Snuggie.
- All dry goods must be decanted into coordinating canisters, whether laundry soap or cereal. Never mind all that mumbo-jumbo that comes on the package like serving suggestions, nutritional information, or directions on how to use the contents. The zen of seeing white powder in a glass jar is more satisfying than the certainty of knowing whether that powder is flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch or Borax.
Even though I’ve accepted that January’s hype about perfect storage is a little unrealistic, I haven’t given up hope. I’m labeling and stacking this month just like you are. Unlike Martha, I will be stacking cans of house brands and whatever was on sale last week, and I won’t bother decanting the toothpaste into a generic silver tube.
*Gospel of Julie Morganstern, Organizing from the Inside Out