It’s not always what you think it is that keeps you from being organized…

Have you ever walked into a house (maybe even yours…) and you couldn’t tell what room you were standing in? There’s a sofa and TV, but there’s also a desk and several computers, and there’s a dining table and 6 chairs, but there is also a library worth of books all over…what is this room?

I just did an organizing assessment/clutter intervention for a couple who are living this story in their home.  Every room contains furniture and personal items which would ordinarily belong in some other room.  Additionally, every room is filled with clutter, bits and bobs that land in one room, but really belong in another. 

For example, their dining room has a large table and full set of dining chairs.  It also has a bedroom bureau and 2 office filing cabinets.  As it happens, their office is right across from the dining room, and in additional to a full office for two people, there’s a sofa and a large TV in that room.  I am a fan of “repurposing furniture“, but only when that furniture suitably solves the problems it’s brought in to handle.

And as we traveled through the rest of the house, other rooms suffered from this same identification process…only the kitchen could be readily id’ed as such.

Now, it’s true that everyone gets to decide how they want to live in their house.  And if it’s working for you, then so what if you want to blur the use of a room.  However, these people called me because they don’t like the way they are living in the house, so I have try and help them see what is going on and offer suggestions to “fix” it.

Using the dining room as an example, I asked why they had a bedroom bureau right next to the dining room buffet…because they needed something to hold all the loose items and paper the dining room had accumulated, and they happened to have bureau that was available. And why were the two filing cabinets there?  Because they didn’t fit in the office across the way because the sofa and TV in that room took up the space the filing cabinets would occupy.  So why is are their papers in the dining room when the office is right across the way?  Because one of them doesn’t like the office and wants to work in the dining room instead.

Digging deeper I discovered that in fact, while this a 3 story house, they rarely venture upstairs or downstairs…they prefer to live on one level, so that requires surrounding themselves with everything that they might need or want, so they can avoid going to the other levels of the house.  Digging deeper still, one of them is no longer physically able to even use stairs and the other feels it’s too much effort to go up and down.  And, most importantly, neither will entertain the thought of selling the house and moving to another that offers a better layout to suit their physical requirements.

So this organizing assessment is actually about something other than just “getting organized”…it’s about uncovering what is going on with these 2 people that has resulted in a living situation that neither likes but that neither is willing to give up.

A lot of the things I pointed out to them they had long stopped noticing or thinking about.  The first step in this journey is for them to acknowledge the situation and decide if they really want to make changes…it’s going to take a lot of work to turn this particular ship around.  So, they will take a vacation and think about it…


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