Anyone who's ever lived in a condo will tell you: Condo living necessitates smart living. When it comes to your stuff -- clothes, kitchen items, laundry essentials, mail -- you can't be frivolous with a condo space the way you can with a 2,500-square-foot house. That said, a home can get just as messy in 2,500 square feet as it can in half that.
The key to household sanity is, of course, organization. But if organization was simple, everybody would be organized. In my experience, entropy is the rule rather than the exception, and home spaces aren't easily kept free of clutter.
Thankfully, there are lots of smarties out there to offer some solutions for organizing your home. John Loecke is one of them. He wrote Organizing Idea Book, a handy guide to getting your house in order.
Organizing Idea Book has lots of tips from professionals and suggestions on different methods of storage and display of household items. There's more than one way to skin a cat, of course, and one of the best features of the book is that it gives the reader lots of different means to get to the same happy-home goal.
To be sure, much of Loecke's advice is common-sense stuff, such as the suggestion to "place things at their point of use" in the kitchen. And the book has a love of hooks and pegboard that's borderline fetishistic. To be fair, hooks are a hit at my household too: My 2-year-old daughter gets a kick out of hanging her little purses and necklaces on hooks in her room. (The book also states, "Rooms exclusively devoted to the activities of children don't have to be chaotic." Says you.)
The book can also be a little frustrating in its suggestions for storage in the kitchen. I'd love extra cabinets too, but where am I going to put them?
But the author evidently grasps human psychology, as when he suggests: "Avoid forcing yourself to learn new habits. If shoes are always piling up by the door, create storage for them there by adding a large bin or basket." This is helpful advice coming from a realistic perspective, and it's far preferable to phony rah-rah cheerleading that readers must change everything about themselves to have an organized home.
Some of the kitchen storage ideas and cabinetry are the stuff of dreams -- I may have drooled a little on page 37. But the book's best suggestions are universal: "Getting organized isn't about changing the way you live, but rather it's about accommodating your lifestyle" or "Pretend you're a stranger and write down the things in each space that need improvement."
One of the better features of Organizing Idea Book is the resources it lists, including companies that sell containers and organizing supplies, furnishings, and storage systems.
True to its name, there's lots of ideas in Organizing Idea Book, and lots of them are good. And, really, there's no excuse, so armed, that your own space can't be relatively crazy-free.
So, buy multipurpose furniture: a bench for putting on shoes that also has storage spaces, an attractive coffee table that can conceal magazines and remote controls. Use see-through and open-topped storage bins to teach your kids to clean up their toys. Repurpose items that are no longer useful in one part of the house and give them new life elsewhere.
In a world where there's such a thing as the National Closet Group (www.closets.com, natch), how hard can it be? ■ -- GA