Order In The Fort: Introduction

As we all know—or as we intuitively sense—outer order contributes to inner order. I am one of those people who must clean my desk before embarking on a big project. Some of this is procrastination, but much more of it is about establishing a sense of control over the physical environment so I can access my mental reserves.

Mr. SmartyPantalons and I are both orderly people. You would not necessarily know this by just showing up at our house and taking a peak in our offices or in the bedroom, as our ideal level of order is difficult to achieve and maintain, but people are often impressed by our simple systems. We value practicality above beauty. Sometimes form wins, but we're too realistic about how we leave to forsake the practical for the pretty.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="I would love drawers filled with wrap, but who am I using all of that wrap for? I barely finish a roll each holiday season."][/caption]

We moved to this house four years ago, and it has been the first place we’ve lived where we’ve had room to put things away and space to spread out. (And, four years later it feels like we're just getting settled.) In our old one-bedroom apartment in midtown, my idea of rearranging was taking stuff to off-site storage. At that point, we kept everything because the idea was we’d someday be somewhere where we might need it. Fortunately, that day has come, which has mostly meant we’ve taken all of that stuff we stored for years to a donation site.

I love looking at decorating magazines, especially when the photos show neatly organized closets, cupboards, offices and garages. (Who doesn't love decorating porn?) But the reality is that my house does not look anything like the houses I see in Lonny or Elle Decor or Martha Stewart Living, and I’m guessing neither does yours. Most of us don’t have the money or the time or the where-with-all to get organized and be beautiful at the same time. And, most of us do not have full-time hired help to keep things beautiful after we get there.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="266" caption="Whose pantry looks like this? What would a modern family do with all of those potatoes?"][/caption]

So, Mr. and Mrs. SmartyPantalons to the rescue. What we hope to do in this series of posts—“Order in the Fort”—is demonstrate how we’ve managed to put simple and inexpensive strategies to use in our quest for an orderly and livable home. Let’s get started.

Here are the general principles we use when organizing.

  • The person who uses it most gets the most say in how it’s organized.

  • Like things go with like things.

  • Use what you got to sort and contain. You might want to buy something—don’t we always—but what you already have will likely work. (Believe me, I've learned this lesson the hard way.)

  • Idiot-proof it through labels and containers.

  • Get rid of anything you don’t use or love. If it doesn't make you money, make itself useful or make you happy, out it goes.

Stay tuned for the first post on organizing the linen and medicine cabinets. Let me tell you, my linen closet does not look like this, but mine is neat and orderly.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption="Let me tell you, my linen closet does not look like this, but mine is neat and orderly."][/caption]

As always, you can visit my Pinterest Boards for organizational inspiration. You might want to set a time limit though, so you don't get sucked down the rabbit hole.


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