Organizing Chaos: Accepting That an Ideal Home is Not a "Perfect" One

If you read a lot of lifestyle magazines or watch home and garden channels on tv, you might be tempted to feel bad about the state of your home. Between exceptional natural lighting, perfectly complementary accents, and a complete lack of clutter, the tips that come with those lifestyle shows and articles might make you feel like a failure.

But no home that’s lived in is perfect. The sun will not always be shining directly in your windows. You’ll probably pick up or be given a home decor item or two that isn’t in perfect sync with the rest of your decor. And once in awhile, there will probably be toys, tissues, mail, and other clutter out in the open.

On the other hand, organization can help you find items you need and prevent your possessions from owning you. A clean home is a safer home, and it’s worth it to find a balance between not taking care of your home and obsessing over its cleanliness. Below are some common areas of concern in a home and how to find that middle ground of accepting little imperfections.


You’ll rarely see a staged home photo that doesn’t include tons of natural light. Of course, that does look better in photos, but that doesn’t mean you have to have tons of windows in order to have a well-lit space. Once you’ve optimized your existing windows with curtains or blinds that you like, think about what lighting would best suit each room. My living room has some globe ceiling lights, as well as a little side-table lamp for ambient lighting for at night or when we want the drapes closed.

Some areas in your home just won’t get very much natural lighting, like the bathroom or your hallways. There are lots of tricks to lighting hallways, like recessed and ceiling-flush lighting fixtures that don’t take up lots of room. Today you can find light bulbs in all sorts of tones, and some emulate natural lighting really well. Do some research to find the option that works best for you.

Lack of Space

A common theme in “perfect” home images is a lot of space. There’s no clutter, and most of the furniture is against a wall, leaving lots of room to move around in the middle. Sometimes, this aesthetic isn’t an option, especially for people with children. You need tables and other surfaces to put things on for easy access. There are lots of items required for raising kids, and those items need to be stored, usually in drawers or on shelves. This means that if you have small rooms, they will fill up quickly.

The first thing I do when feeling crowded is de-clutter. I get rid of junk mail, start a thrift store box, and figure out what I really need and what I might be able to sell or get rid of. Then, with the rest of the space, I look at function. Where do I want certain items to be accessible? How can I make them as aesthetically pleasing as possible?

In the living room and play areas, I use organizational tricks tomake a small space look bigger. This can involve lighting, mirrors, and using vertical space. Built-in shelving and stackable furniture can be a lifesaver.

In the kitchen, I make use of compartmentalized storage. I love finding unique containers to keep often-used utensils handy. I’ve also hung pots and pans on the wall. Pinterest is full of fun ideas, and I always get inspired by bloggers with examples ofhow they organize their kitchens. If you’re a DIY-er, it’s not hard to find fun-looking projects that help you organize your kitchen ona budget.

Kids’ Stuff

No matter how much you try to limit the amount of possessions your kids accumulate, they will still collect massive amounts of stuff. People will give them presents. They’ll come home from parties with cheap toys and other favors. They’ll win prizes at game centers and bring home art from school.

While you’ll probably be able to get rid of party favors and other generic toys during your regular de-clutter, I think one of the most challenging things to organize is children’s art. Some may fit in binders and scrapbooks, but others you’ll definitely want to display. I’ve found fun ideas for both DIY and commercial options for hanging kids art. I love the idea of using a towel rack or curtain rod, since you can find those easily and hang them pretty much anywhere.

Your house may never look like a magazine cover, but what’s important is that you enjoy living in it. Organization is great for being able to find things and prevent household injuries due to too much clutter. Cleanliness prevents illness and pest infestations in your home. But perfection is not only unattainable, reaching for it will likely take your attention from the important things in life: building a happy life with your family.

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