I do enjoy a Saturday morning relaxing read of the newspaper, and always enjoy checking out the Domain section. I love reading about decorating trends and the latest in home design.

But as an organiser of some 14 years, I always keep a critical eye open for organising tips as well. And sometimes I find something that immediately triggers a response in me, making me rise up and refute/defend/challenge the ideas that are so often peddled in the media. This time it was about open shelves.

I came across an article entitled “Seven interior trends to avoid if you’re a messy person”. My attention was grabbed and I was keen to learn these trends too, even though I am only moderately untidy. But this was not about me. It’s about what might help my disorganised clients.

I soon saw that these were not organising tips. They were “how to appear tidy when you’re not” tips. To be fair, the writer hadn’t claimed to offer organising tips. I had made an assumption on that score. And you know what they say about assumptions.

I would argue that of the 7 trends listed to avoid if you’re a messy person, all but two are entirely appropriate for people who are disorganised. What do trends 1 (Open Shelving), 2 (Visible Clothing Storage), 5 (Glass Cabinets), 6 (Glass and Industrial Fridges), and 7 (Open Vanities or Bathroom Storage) have in common? They all offer visibility.

Why is Visibility so Good?

One of the guiding principles of good organisation is being able to find what you need when you need it. Visibility is the key.

Some people are able to stay organised because they know that for instance, the cereal can be found on the left side of the 3rd pantry shelf, and that’s where the cereal goes back to when they’ve eaten breakfast. They know that clean pyjamas are in the 2nd dresser drawer on the right, and when they washing is done and clothes folded away, pyjamas have a predictable place to live.

Open Shelves

For others, creating visibility with the use of labels and other triggers (colour coding, for example) can help them stay organised.

However, there are some people whose talents do not include organisation. For one reason or another, they may be chronically disorganised all their lives. They may always struggle with not finding what they need when they need it, and with putting things away in their rightful place, because there is no “rightful place”.

For those people, visibility is even more important. Open shelves, glass refrigerator doors, visible clothing storage can provide easy access to the things they need and peace of mind that what they need is within sight.


The Lesson

There’s a big difference between Tidy and Organised.


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