Space to breathe

by jenny on 11 April 2012 - 09:49am

It’s slowly dawning on me that not all organizational tips are created equal. If I’d had a blog a couple of years ago, I’m sure I would have shared with enthusiasm my new shoe pocket organizer behind my bedroom door.


It’s shown here mostly empty only because I’ve been working hard to clear it out and didn’t take a proper before picture. It used to be home to many more random items and had every pocket bulging. I thought this was a good thing — a great drop spot for items that had no other home, all compartmentalized and easy to see.

…and it was a good thing, for a while. I could probably write volumes on my journey to organization (maybe someday I will). But the short story is I wasn’t born organized. Not at all. Organization was a skill I had to learn from the ground up and this little device was useful in the beginning. It corralled items from the four corners of our home and gave them a place to live in an easily accessible fashion.

Now that I’ve mostly mastered the art of organization, though, I’ve been turning my attention toward other areas of my life which need mastering. Like how to turn my home into a place that makes me smile. Much like the beginning of my organizational journey, I’m finding myself with a goal in mind but no idea how to get there. What is it exactly about my space that I don’t like? What’s one small thing that I could change today to take a step in the right direction?

Enter inspiration in the form of other people’s blogs (and pinterest). Sometimes inspiration is instantaneous… you’re reading along on your favorite DIY blog and suddenly you’re jumping up from the computer to attack something in your home. Or is that just me?

Other times it’s more insidious, as in this case. Almost a year ago, I ran across this YHL post about removing cramped shelves to create breathing room in their new home. And then more recently, they did it again in their laundry room. Huh. I got interested in YHL in the first place by seeing some before and after pictures of their first home: it was exactly the direction I wanted to be going. Not too fancy, not too unattainable, just clean, open, functional, personal and beautiful. So when it comes to things like this, I tend to take their advice at face value. Just because something is an organizational tool doesn’t mean it belongs in a space you want to be beautiful. Light bulb. Time to take ‘er down.

Step 1: Relocate items to less visible storage space.


Step 2: Remove screws and anchors, leaving gnarly holes in the wall.


Step 3: Consult previously mentioned YHL article for appropriate spackle.


Step 4: Use putty knife to fill in holes.


Step 5: Consider painting the spackle, then back up a few paces and realize you can barely see it against the light colored wall. Give in to laziness.

Step 6: Forget to take a picture at this point before changing something else. The picture below is actually while the anchors were still in the wall, so the holes are more visible than after spackling.

Still, major improvement.


After a couple of days of smiling as I walked by that wall and enjoying the newfound breathing room, I started analyzing the other stuff hanging up there. Now remember, I’m not against storing items out in the open on hooks, as I do in my new entryway (for which I still owe you before and during pictures). However, I’m realizing that the goal is to have as much “visual breathing room” or “negative space” as possible while still maintaining easy access to the things you use on a very regular basis. If you try to hide regularly used things away, they tend to get left out anyway, creating visual clutter. Similarly, if you create an ultra-convenient accessible spot for something you almost never use, there’s an unnecessary cost in visual clutter and the space starts looking messy.

I wish I’d zoomed in on the dust on that hook full of purses in the corner of the space. I used to store my everyday purse there on top of all the other purses, but now I store it on the entryway hooks. And despite owning several cute purses, I’m extremely lazy and never take the time to move my things from one purse to another before going out. Fashionista I am not. I thought having them all really accessible would mean I’d use them more. Nope. They’re just collecting dust. So down they came as well.


Even better. (Now you can see the spackled version with the less visible holes.)

If you’re curious, the other hook contains my gym bag and sweatshirt which I use about 5 days a week… so they can stay for now.

Perhaps this blog should be called “How I’ve implemented YHL advice in my own home”. Though that would make for a messy url. ;) But seriously, inspiration via other blogs has been so key to my progress thus far that I almost feel in debt and want to provide some inspiration of my own. Perhaps somebody out there feels intimidated by other DIY blogs and needs to start at the very very beginning, like me. One step at a time.