Pantry

What. The. BLEEP.

I follow a lot of other professional organizers on Instagram - it’s fun to see what people are working on and get inspiration from their projects! But something I saw the other day really shocked me on a visceral level.

Below a picture of a spare pantry shelf featuring neatly categorized snacks in open wire baskets was a caption with a “pro tip”. The organizer suggested that to give your pantry a desirable, high end look, you should purchase attractive snacks and fancy water (SmartPop and Fiji were mentioned by name), store them in pretty rows and wire baskets, and then… Never. Eat. Them.

WHAT?? Guys. Wait. No. Seriously??

The first pantry I ever organized - nicely labeled and containerized, but still very functional!

The first pantry I ever organized - nicely labeled and containerized, but still very functional!

Let’s unpack this for a second. I’ve been processing this for a few days now, and I’m still just staggered that this organizer is suggesting you devote storage space to things that you do not need and will not consume in order to create a certain look. In a room in your house that NO ONE EVER GOES IN.

First of all, we’ve got the straight up waste. I don’t know about you, but food waste really bothers me. It’s not just a waste of money, but also of the resources used to grow, manufacture, and package the food. Food waste is also a huge environmental problem, taking up space in sewers and landfills. And there are hungry people in this country for goodness’ sake - it’s just extraordinarily poor taste to flaunt never-to-be-touched food in a public forum.

Second of all, this is an epic case of Keeping Up With The Jones’ (or Kardashians, if you’ve seen the pics of their cookie jars that no one eats from). It’s another example of mindless consumption at its least constructive. If you actually eat SmartPop and drink Fiji water, and have large enough pantry in which to store them in pretty wire baskets with lots of white space, awesome! But if you don’t, create your own custom version of a well organized food storage area and live your truth. I find it extremely ethically suspect to recommend that people put on a facade of a lifestyle they do not live. It can only lead to feeling more empty behind that false front.

Another straightforward pantry I organized for a busy young family.

Another straightforward pantry I organized for a busy young family.

And third, we’ve got the total perversion of the entire point of organizing a home. The reason to get organized is to make your life easier. Full stop. Organized living means you spend less time and energy dealing with your stuff, and instead devote those resources to the relationships and activities that truly matter to you. A pantry full of pretty uneaten food contributes to an easier life in exactly zero ways.

I’m just… I’m agog. It’s all well and good to create an aesthetically pleasing home. But to go to this degree in a PANTRY? Where no one goes except the people who live in that house? Just so you can post pictures on social media? Of measuring up to somebody else’s idea of what “high end” is and why that is desirable? I am so squicked out by the whole idea.

I’ve now been helping people organize their homes for over five years. And I can tell you conclusively that happiness does not come from more stuff, or fancier stuff. It comes from feeling love, connection, and contribution. A fake “high end” pantry will not make anyone any happier.

LMW

How to Spot a Great Professional Organizer

There are approximately nineteen zillion articles published about how to organize your home this time of year.  I try to read as many as I can because I want to know what kind of information my clients have been taking in, what ideas I can use myself, and what silly myths or hacks I’ll have to dispel!

The article I want to talk about here is actually a year old, but I find the content evergreen: How-to: Declutter Your Home in the New Year.  It’s from our friends at goop, which might make you suspicious (I am… strongly ambivalent on the entire concept of the site), but I can tell you that the organizers profiled in it are the real deal and are sharing great tips you can really use.

Photo courtesy of goop.com/The Home Edit

Photo courtesy of goop.com/The Home Edit

How do I know?

1)   They’re thorough.  Some organizers don’t actually want to go through every single piece of everything in the space they’re working on, whether it’s to save time and effort or to avoid stressing out the client.  Those are both worthy aims, but in the end the main goal is to leave the client with a fully organized space that they can maintain on their own.  If the client hasn’t seen absolutely everything they have, this just won’t happen.

2)   They tailor solutions to each individual client.  Everyone loves the idea of a beautifully curated pantry a la Gwyneth Paltrow’s as shown at the end of the article.  But decanting everything you buy into labeled boxes and bins only works if… you’re willing to take the time to decant everything you buy into said boxes and bins!  For some people this is realistic, and for some it’s not.  A good organizer will find out what works for the client and tailor their solutions accordingly, rather than imposing their idea of what an organized space should look like.

3)   They focus on simplicity.  People who struggle with organization need less, not more, of everything: less stuff, fewer places to stash it, fewer types of containers, fewer steps needed to complete a task.  Simple organizing solutions are the ones most likely to last.

4)   They understand the intersection of stuff and habits.  This intersection will be at a different point for each client.  Some clients are so excited about a new organizing scheme that new habit formation easily follows.  Others need the organization tailored to the habits they already have – even if that solution isn’t the most aesthetically elegant.

After working with a great professional organizer, your space will work for you… and it will look beautiful!  See for yourself: schedule a complimentary phone consultation with me today.

LMW