White Shelf

The White Shelf Approach to Home Organization

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Your home is more than just a place to get out of the weather.

It’s where we often spend our most important moments – with our families. Your environment directly impacts your mood – and a cluttered environment can cause stress where a clean, uncluttered and organized environment can bring tranquility and inner peace. Open any home decorating magazine and look at the advertisements. Are they selling products, or the sense of peace and calm that comes from contemplating a well-organized and clean space?

The White Shelf Exercise

Imagine your home as a single shelf. On this shelf you can put anything you want, but you can’t fit everything. You need to be selective in the items you choose to keep, otherwise nothing will stand out as important. Put every item to the test — does it have a truly useful function? Is it beautiful? How does it improve your life? Does it truly belong on The White Shelf?

You’ll find as you begin to organize your home you may also begin to organize your life in the process. Possessions are responsibilities and as you begin to de-clutter and consciously choose which items to have in your home, you’re reaffirming what is important to you. Your home is bigger than a single white wall shelf, but hopefully this analogy will help you see why prioritizing is important and how it can make a difference in your home and family.

Learning how to organize your home this way can help you discover how to organize your life in other areas as well.

Home Organization Means Everything In Its Right Place

One of the first tasks in creating a comfortable, elegant home is to have a place for all your possessions. Getting organized is difficult when you have a lack of closet space or storage shelves. It’s also hard to find motivation when every available surface including the white corner shelf is covered with clutter. What good is a white floating shelf when you can’t even tell that it’s floating because of 3 weeks of accumulated mail, school paperwork and other items that simply do not belong there?

White Shelf Organization
White Shelf Organization

The solution is to get uncluttered, find a home for everything, reevaluate your furniture and decorations and then document the result for ease in maintenance. You may need to purchase some storage shelving like cube shelves or other home organization tools to help make this a reality, but don’t buy anything until you know exactly what you need. Choosing the right home organization products is key, but so is looking for organizing ideas that fit your lifestyle. Then choose home organizers that fit your lifestyle, needs and personality.

The White Shelf Approach

Here are some organization tips to help you get started:

  • Make a list of all the rooms in your home.
  • Prioritize them by how much time you spend in each room.
  • Create a donation box (or several) and/or an eBay box to fill as you organize and get rid of clutter and unnecessary items.
  • Buy needed storage furniture, storage containers, shelves or even shelving systems as needed.
  • Take pictures of each completed area

Begin at the top of the list and begin to reorganize each room. Use the “laundry basket” system for cluttered areas. A cluttered area can be an entire room, but most often it is one area of a room like an overused white bookshelf or an entertainment center that houses your plasma TV but also happens to collect the mail.

The “laundry basket” system simply involves grabbing an empty laundry basket and removing everything that doesn’t belong. Rearrange the items that do belong in the area. Continue to add to the laundry basket until the room looks clean and well-organized. Be sure that any items left in the room are there because they provide function or beauty. This is the easy part. The hard part is dealing with the contents of the laundry basket.

Most items will go to one of several places (a) the donation/eBay box, (b) another room, (c) the garbage. As you evaluate items in the laundry basket and consider the white shelf exercise, don’t just ask yourself where it goes, but if the item is really needed. What is the item used for, is it an essential part of your lifestyle? Does it provide some kind of benefit on a regular basis? If not, can it be donated or sold?

Buy needed furniture, accessories and storage systems once you know what you need. As you begin to declutter, you’ll find that you’ll have more space to display photos, artwork and decorative objects. A white decorative shelf or even a shelving system may be needed – you may also realize that curtains and other accessories just don’t fit the mood you’re trying to create. These items can also go into the donate box.

Take a photo of each “completed” room. If you have children this can be invaluable. Create a photo book showing how each room should look in its “perfect” state. The level of detail you want to capture is up to you. You can simply take one photo of the whole room, take photos of each area within a room, or even open drawers to show what belongs in each place.

At first, this may seem like a lot of work; however the effort will pay off. When it comes time to do a deep clean, simply hand the book to the family member assigned to the room, and say, “Make it look like this.”

Involve the Family

Your household is likely made up of several people – and everyone has a unique style. You’ll get more mileage from the white shelf approach if you involve every member of the family. Ask each person to visualize a white shelf and what objects they’d put there. What are their biggest priorities? What are their most important possessions? You may find that these white shelves have more in common than you may have originally thought.

By going through this exercise together, you not only teach your children the value of a clean environment, but you are also helping to teach them the value of prioritizing.

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