We've all heard the axiom "A place for everything, and everything in its place." I have often seen this statement attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but in researching the phrase, it seems that there is some question as to its actual origins which might date back as far as 1640. Whoever said it first, one thing is clear: this is a truth that has been understood for centuries, and with good reason.
The proverb actually emphasizes two principles of organization. The first is that everything should have a designated place where it is stored. The second is that things should be returned to their rightful place when not in use. These truths seem obvious enough, but the fact is that both aspects of this maxim can, and do, present challenges for some (if not most) people.
Does Everything Really Need a Place?
Yes. The answer to this question is yes. Which probably leads you to ask another, more direct question: why?
The simple answer to the second query is clutter. Anything that doesn't have a home is clutter, and clutter is the enemy of us all. Clutter causes confusion, frustration, anxiety, stress, and irritability. It zaps our time, energy, creativity, productivity, and even our money (ever had to buy something you knew you owned but couldn't find?).
In contrast, a home where everything has its place, and everything resides in its proper place is peaceful, relaxing, inviting, and inspiring. When you walk into such a space, you want to sit down and stay awhile - after admiring all the lovely order.
When things have a designated space, they aren't just easier to find, they're easier to appreciate. Cluttered shelves, countertops, and surfaces swallow up everything that resides on them. It's as if they fall into a visual hole. Their identity is lost in the jumble.
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Finding Everything a Place
The first step to finding a place for everything in your home begins with determining which things deserve a place in your home. That means decluttering, or purging your belongings.
Once you've paired down your belongings to those things that serve a purpose and/or speak to your heart, it's time to determine where they should reside. Try implementing these suggestions for finding a home for all the things within your home.
Consider Logical Locations
I'm a big fan of creating a whole house storage plan. This involves thinking through the storage spaces in your home and determining what should go where. During our recent move (and numerous previous moves), I applied this concept to every space in our home, not just the storage spaces. For instance, I mapped out my kitchen and decided (before unpacking) what items should go where based on ease of use.
To determine the best location for things, there are some basic guidelines you can apply.
Consider Space Limitations
Almost everyone wishes they had more storage space. In many cases, you can increase your space's storage capacity by adding a shelf here or a storage solution there. For example:
The laundry room in our new home was spacious but it bothered me that there was a large swath of wall above the sink and washing machine that was completely unused. I asked our contractor (who was completing other work in the house) if he could build me some shelves to match the existing wall cabinet, and I'm so glad that I did! The addition of the shelves significantly increased the room's storage capacity, and I think it looks much more attractive as well.
Consider Storage Options
When finding a place for things, the method of storage can be as important as the location. Different types of items require different types of containers. What's suitable for certain things, won't work well for others. Consider the following as you plan out where to place things:
Of course not all things are intended to be tucked away in a storage bin out of sight. Some things are meant to be viewed and enjoyed. Too much can be said about how to store and display specific types of items to go into the topic in depth here. Suffice it to say that those things you love to look at should inhabit a place of honor in your home. Display them where you can see them and in a way that does them justice.
What to Do When You Don't Know
Everything In Its Place
Apply the Ancient Wisdom
Wow, what a difference those shelves make. What a great way to utilize that space. My daughter needs shelves like these in her laundry "closet". It would add SO MUCH storage. Problem is, she is in a rental, so not sure what the rules are. But I know if would definitely be an improvement to the place, so might try and figure it out. You've inspired me to give this a try!
I'm so glad to be a source of inspiration. I hope the shelf thing works out for your daughter. As you said, it would be an improvement to the space - one that any other tenant would appreciate, so it seems like a no-brainer, but landlords don't always see it that way... I know that it has made a world of difference to us.
I'm a big fan of everything having a place. It not only helps the family find everything but it also helps parents not have to work as hard locating things when the kids can't "find" their .... . =)
So true! Our grandkids know where everything is in our house just about because they love to go snooping about looking in cupboards and opening drawers. That said, if you ask them where their shoes are, half the time they "can't find them". The same was true for my own kids. If everything has a place, then you can give them exact instructions about where to find things - or easily find them yourself.
Wow, that shelving in the laundry area made a HUGE difference! This post is full of great advice for approaching the home as a whole.
Thanks, Katherine. It really did make a difference. I appreciate your comment.
This is such a fabulous post. I love the way you talk about the way to store things (where you use them) and the ease of accessibility. Your updated laundry is fabulous!
Thank you, Diane!
The before and after photos of your laundry room is wonderful! I love the shelves and bins you installed. It makes a 'dead' wall so much more useful. It's a beautiful thing when we can find what we need when we need it. And establishing specific places and 'homes' for our things helps with this process. As you said, part two is developing the habit of returning or resetting things to square one.
Thank you! We love the way the laundry room turned out. It was a simple solution, but it really made a huge difference. It really does relieve stress when you know where things are and you can find them with ease.
WOW, I love the laundry room transformation and emphasis on using easy/unused vertical storage space. Well done. The ket to maintaining ANY organizing system truly is to make sure everything has a designated home. Great post!
Thank you, Melanie. It’s true that finding a little space that you can unitilize, especially in an aesthetically pleasing way, can make a huge difference. I also think that having attractive storage options that are part of the decor makes you want to keep things tidy.
I love how you not only gave a great introduction to all the ways that the right "place" can offer sensational options, but you illustrated them to. That laundry room with the shelves makes all the difference!
Thanks, Julie! Am interesting side benefit of adding storage like our laundry room shelves is that it can increase the aesthetic appeal of the space overall in addition to the functionality.