DinnerDork [ ˈdi-nərˈdȯrk ]
I’m a bit grumpy as I fruitlessly scour the internet to replace my Kone-like vacuum after it’s given me more than a decade of faithful and fashionable service. I purchased it at a time when I lived in an uber-tiny, one-closet, pre-war urban apartment, and spending $60 on a hand-vac felt like equal parts necessity and splurge. The single closet in my apartment was hardly large enough to hold all of my clothing, thus nearly everything in the place was on display. I’m a very visual person whose mood is directly influenced by the aesthetic of space. Surrounding myself with things I enjoy seeing is a personal necessity that I learned to embrace at an early age. At the time, extending my tight-budget for an appliance that was costlier simply because it was prettier was every bit a necessity. I’ve always believed that anything worth purchasing must also be worth looking at. Nowadays I have a bit more space, but my design and home-organization philosophy is the same: make everything beautiful.
Kitchens and bathrooms are probably the two rooms where we find it easiest to harmoniously blend form and function. Clear canisters of food, countertop caddies of utensils, and apothecary jars of grooming consumables are all commonplace in kitchens and bathrooms. The purpose and duty of a room shouldn’t be obscured, they should be artful displays. Things that are frequently used or difficult to store should be displayed, not hidden. Why shouldn’t the things that get the most use also be the most attractive? The principles are simple:
Make it easy to clean by keeping cleaning products in sight.
Make it easy to put things away by giving them a home where they are used.
Eliminate eyesores by opting for planned, pretty purchases.
Here are a few tips I’ve collected over the years that make it easy to incorporate these principles into everyday living:
- Decant cleaning fluids into attractive spray bottles that are nicely displayed on the counter. Clear bottles are always clean looking and can easily move from room-to-room, while colored bottles can very attractively coordinate with the design aesthetic of a particular room. It’s easier to keep a surface clean when the cleaning products are accessible.
- Swap out conventional laundry baskets for the stackable variety with a lid. Just because it isn’t marketed for laundry, doesn’t mean it can’t be used for laundry. Rectangular wicker baskets are a great option. Clean laundry that hasn’t been folded and put away doesn’t have to be an eyesore.
- Purchase with intent. Even a pile of dirty dishes looks better when the dishes themselves are beautiful. Don’t give in to the temptation to make random purchases that don’t compliment your chosen aesthetic. A simple choice such as deciding that all dishes will contain some kind of yellow allows for nearly limitless options that make everything look pulled together. The rules for my dishware are solid white, cream, clear; or some kind of blue/blue combo. This allows me to mix and match for table-settings, but also store things in a way that always looks beautiful and always coordinates. It also automatically filters every shopping trip.
- Keep a lidded hamper in every room that accumulates laundry – bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens. A small lidded wicker basket is perfect for a powder room or kitchen.
- Every room that generates laundry should have its own supply of clean replacements. Store hand towels on counter/cabinet tops in pretty baskets. Consider purchasing towels in coordinating colors or patterns for the entire house, or by room/level/season. In my home all downstairs hand-towels are orange/orange combo; upstairs are all brown/brown combo.
- Use lost and found stations throughout the house (see Bringing the Lost and Found Home)
- Keep a to-do basket for things that need to be addressed on a scheduled basis (daily, weekly, etc.) This gives a home to objects that need to be pulled out for a specific purpose.
- Use transport baskets. If you live in a multi-level home consider placing “upstairs” and “downstairs” baskets in hallways or the midway point of the staircase. This makes it easy to eliminate clutter and designate items for transport around the house. If you find that the same things are repeatedly found in a transport bin/basket it may be time to consider buying extras or relocating items to a new home.
- Use display-ware for everyday items when not being used for specialty items. For examples, baskets, cake plates, cloches and platters can be used for fruit, bread, towels, grooming items, office supplies, etc.
Every space in a home should be enjoyed at all times. I am committed to enjoying every purchase I make. It’s important that everything I purchase, from a trash can to spray bottle, is beautiful. With careful consideration to the things we purchase and the way we place them throughout our homes, keeping things accessible, attractive, clean and functional can be fun and easy.