Home Organization: 3 Lifestyle Questions to Ask Yourself to Create a Peaceful and Orderly HomeBy Chicago Architect Fred Wilson
Organizing your home can be a challenge. Even for a residential architect. Fortunately for Elissa and I, we designed our new house in such minute detail that we knew, months before we moved in to it, where every picture would be hung and every platter would be stored. I am not kidding. It was a long – but also very satisfying – process to make these decisions. It forced us to think about our things, namely, do we really need them all, how do we use them, and how quickly do we want to be able to reach out and grab them? The result was that we moved into our new home and hosted Thanksgiving ten days later, with every book put away and every gravy boat in its place.
We were able to do this because we asked ourselves the same lifestyle questions we ask our clients. They all revolve around one central idea: how do you live? Or, more accurately, how would you like to live? Most people, I’ve found, prefer to be organized. They don’t enjoy chaos. They like the idea of a place for everything, and everything in its place. But their houses prevent that from happening. Their closets are too small; the nineteen pairs of shoes tossed in the entryway really should be in a mudroom they don’t have.
The bottom line is we all have stuff, and we all need places to put it away. If you can’t keep the mess of life under control, your house becomes a source of frustration and even anxiety. This is how most of our clients feel when they first walk in our door.
Here are some of the questions we start off asking them – and the questions you should ask yourself in order to create a peaceful, calm, orderly home:
How does your family spend time together? Does everyone retreat to their own room to do homework, or do your kids prefer to do homework at the kitchen island?
How do you entertain? Are dinner parties for two or three couples the norm, or do you tend to host family gatherings for thirty? Charity functions for 100?
How do you enter your house? When you come home, would you like to enter through a hidden mudroom that corrals purses, packages, and muddy boots, or would you prefer to enter into a lovely space that celebrates your arrival without forcing you to wade through shoes and backpacks?
How do you spend time on the weekends? Do you gather for leisurely breakfasts? Movie nights? Do you catch up on work?
Once we understand a client’s lifestyle, we begin to drill down into room-by-room practicalities. For a family room, we’ll ask about book and media storage – do you like the idea of everything stored on open shelves, or will the thought of displaying them nicely create stress for you? Would you like things behind closed doors so you don’t have to be perfectly tidy all the time, or do you enjoy sitting on the couch and admiring your book collection?
In a bathroom, we’ll ask whether you prefer to sit or stand to put on your makeup. Would a drawer fitted with an electrical outlet for your blow dryer speed your morning routine? Do you like to keep those Costco-size packages of toilet paper under the sink, or in a storage closet down the hall?
Clients are often embarrassed to answer these lifestyle questions, and think many of them point to overly indulgent amenities they don’t really need. But Elissa and I will be the first to tell you from our own personal experiences there is nothing quite like the simple joy that results when you eliminate all the tiny frustrations that arise when you can’t actually see the clothes in your closet or get your hands on a coffee pot you seldom use but need this weekend. It’s interesting to us that time and time again, the very things clients think they can live without are the same things they tell us years later are their favorite things about their new homes.
And that’s what we’re here for. We don’t need you to solve your own storage problems; we just need you to tell us what those storage problems are, so we can design solutions for them. That’s our job. That’s why people hire us. That’s how we can change your life.
Can we change yours? Call us and find out!
Fred Wilson, AIA
Read other post related to lifestyle and architectural design by Morgante Wilson Architects:
Morgante-Wilson Architects provides architectural interior design services in Chicago, Evanston, Winnetka, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Wilmette, Northbrook, Deerfield, Northfield, and Ravinia