How can your house look like a Pottery Barn catalog when a family of
five actually lives there?
At one time or another, every one of our children has been fascinated
with magic. One had a book of magic
tricks that she was obsessed with…somehow leading her to raid our house in
search of household objects that could be configured into the greatest slight
of hand ever (of course if you need a cardboard toilet paper tube for a
project, it really helps to use all of the paper first… as opposed to just
leaving a large pile of 2 ply in your wake).
Another was convinced she could learn how to juggle, leading her to seek
counsel in my multi-talented husband, who also was fixated on becoming a
juggling master. So far, I am glad to
say nothing major has been broken, but we won’t be calling Ringling Brothers
any time soon. And the youngest was
thrilled to have a magician as the guest of honor at his 5th
birthday–let’s just hope that the performer (or more specifically his rabbit
sidekick) has recovered from the ordeal!
Making something appear or reappear, taking a seemingly
ordinary object and making it extraordinary and multi-functioning with the wink
of an eye or the swish of a wand…it does seem to dazzle each of us to a certain
extent at some point and time. For me, a
magician in a top hat with a dove up his sleeve isn’t exactly the form of
illusion that attracts me…instead, it is the ability, rather the talent, of
someone to be able to make household clutter disappear. Because let’s face it, with a dog, three
kids, and half the neighborhood traipsing through here on a regular basis, it
would take magic, or, quite frankly, a miracle to make our house look put
together on any given day.
Older houses make this trick a tougher one–each one is
notoriously short on closets and long on eccentricities, some of which need
their own form of camouflage. We have
one room in our house which is literally C-shaped because one of our past
residents decided to combine two tiny rooms into one and build a beautiful
closet right in the middle of the new
room. A bit awkward? Yes. Somewhat strange? Possibly. Very common when
your house is 90 years old? I can almost feel through the computer screen the
gazillion of you that are nodding furiously in agreement. So along with finding places for all of our
stuff, we need to make sense of the storage options, albeit illogical, we
So how do we approach this clutter conundrum with all the
grace and ease of an expert illusionist?
Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind that for some reason I am
inspired to give you via Project Runway‘s
Tim Gunn style:
Work: We all know the drill…old house,
weird decisions you now have to live with…I say unless it is majorly hindering
your family’s lifestyle, just own whatever you’ve inherited and transform it
into a workable element of your household magic. For example, the strange built -in bookcase
in our second story family room is off-center, off-kilter, and just plain
awkward, but by using a tension rod and one of the fabrics from the room’s window
treatment, I’ve curtained it off and gained a ton a valuable unseen storage
space for all of the junk that seems to congregate around the family desk. At the same time, the fabric and its pattern
soften the hard lines of the computer/desk space and create visual balance.
You would be frightened to know what is shoved behind this curtain, but what our guests don’t know won’t hurt them!
Well: If you want to hide something
in plain sight, be sure to do it right.
Open baskets filled with matchbox cars and legos are just that, and
while this type of display looks great in your son’s bedroom, it may not be
what you are looking for in your fabulously redecorated dining space, so for
goodness sake, get some storage that has a cover and fits the décor of the room
that in your heart you know it will be sitting in. This isn’t just for the kids either–my husband
leaves an electronic graveyard of accessories by our laptop on a daily basis,
and for a while I would diligently put it all back in its proper spot 3 rooms away,
but in order to prevent myself from completely losing my mind I finally found a
place to stash it all that looked like a part of my living room, and peace was
restored to our abode.
The square basket artfully displayed on this lower shelf actually hides
an assortment of cords, attachments, and plug-ins for the nearby laptop
Can’t Hide it, Live with it Out Loud: Ever read a magazine article about organizing
your daily paperwork that tells you to put it in labeled boxes on a shelf in a
cabinet somewhere, then have your child be the only one without an apple on
apple sauce day in Kindergarten because the written reminder got shoved in a
pretty box and was never looked upon again?
I have. Know yourself and your
habits, and if full concealment for some items is going to mess with your mojo,
find a way to make that every day clutter appear artful and on your mind, or
put it in a place that will force you to go through it on a regular basis so
you can take care of what you need to but yet still maintain order. It might be paperwork, laundry (which is why
my hamper isn’t in a closet, because it would be overflowing and I wouldn’t see
it overflowing and be annoyed enough to do it each week), shoes by the front
door…sign a treaty with whatever you use on a regular basis, do your best to
make it pretty in the process, and you may be pleasantly pleased with the
When in doubt, make your clutter a part of your design! These great
magnetic file folders found on etsy store stylishly but still allow everything
to be accessible for day-to-day use…
So while we all can’t be Harry Houdini, there is definitely
something to be said for creating a little magic in your house and concealing
all that annoys you on a daily basis. It
may take some effort, but in the end, I think you will find that it is well
worth it to be creative with your storage.
Magic, I tell you. Magic!