Caught as I am between overwhelmed and lazy, a Better Homes and Gardens publication, Storage Ideas, wound up in my shopping cart. Solutions that Work! 120 Projects for Baths, Kitchens, Closets & More. 10-Minute Room Updates. I mean, with headlines like that, my life could only get better, right?
At home and flipping through the pages, I found I had landed squarely among the gullible public. By which I mean those of us who hope against hope that there are quick and easy solutions to the combination of a small house and kids who move out without taking all of their stuff; relatives who leave you furniture and other things; and this western consumerist 21st century where one seems to acquire possessions without even trying.
The only real solution is to throw everything out. I know that. But that requires decisions. Lots of decisions. And that is so tiring. Storage Ideas plays to one’s fantasies. It does not advocate minimalism. What it does advocate is labeling. Labeling means organization. And organization means a happy life.
For instance one tip is to corral all your excess ribbons in clear glass jars, while tying a pretty tag around the neck of the jar to let people know what color ribbons are inside. Do I have to comment?
Or it advises you to take white wooden hangers and wrap colorful washi tape around the necks. One color for sleeveless clothes, another for short sleeves and still a third for long sleeves. I don’t even know what to say here. Why wouldn’t you just group the clothes that way?
Or how about creating a label to show where the small appliances go on your kitchen shelves. Use old Scrabble tiles for maximum impact. The editors don’t appear to think it would be annoying to start dragging a heavy mixer or crockpot or food processor forward, only to come to a thudding stop against a curb of Scrabble tiles. The illustration for this particular gem showed a pretty tight fit of appliances and shelves. It didn’t look like there was room to lift them over the Scrabble tiles. Oh, well. If you can’t access the crockpot, I guess you don’t have to cook dinner.
This next suggestion really made me crazy: go out and buy chalkboard paint and paint the inside door of one of your kitchen cupboards. Wait for it to dry. Then very carefully, in a nice row, trace the outline of each of your four measuring cups (1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/4 cup). Pound a hook in the handle of the chalked body outline and hang up your cups. Now you know where to put each one back after you use it!
If you really want to organize and de-clutter, you don’t want to go through all this cutesy nonsense and you especially you don’t want to have to take time to label the obvious. You want to sort, stack and be done with it.
Or perhaps I should be more accurate and say I don’t want to go through all this cutesy nonsense. But, I’m Not The Target Market, so what do I know? Maybe there are people who find labels on clear jars useful.
Still, I couldn’t help thinking back to a conversation earlier in the afternoon with The Sparkler. For all that she lights up a room and cranks up any party a few hundred notches, The Sparkler is a very practical and wise woman.
I had delivered some proofs for a company brochure and we were sitting in her office catching up on this and that, and she mentioned an organization tip I consider the absolute best I have ever heard.
The Sparkler has a lake house and in season it is packed to the rafters with family and friends who know that to be in her vicinity is to have a fabulous time. This constant crush of humanity naturally entails lots of laundry and bed re-making. Did I mention that The Sparkler hates to change beds? Loathes and detests it.
So, being the practical and wise woman she is, she figured out how to organize and automate the process. When guests come to her and ask “What can I do to help?”, instead of being like the rest of us put upon saps who do all the work ourselves, a wan smile pasted on our faces, she answers: “You’ll find the extra sheets for your bed in your room, all folded into one of the pillowcases. Strip the bed, re-make it with the fresh sheets and leave the used linens in the laundry room.”
How simply sparkling brilliant is that? A tip for the ages. Even if you don’t have a lake cottage, you surely have guests. And best of all, there are no labels involved.