How to Avoid the Dash and Stash When the Doorbell Rings
Ding dong. Gasp! Most people can relate to feelings of angst when a friend or neighbor stops by without warning and your home is not at all company-ready. Embarrassed, you make your way to the door, tidying as you go, and stand in the doorway shielding the disorganization within.
Organizing expert Vicki Norris calls this phenomenon the dash and stash, when we frantically rush around hiding clutter, hanging up coats, or even strategically placing a plant or floral arrangement, before opening the door.
“Many people stuff things in the nearest closet at these moments,” says Vicki Norris, organizing expert, author of Restoring Order™ to Your Home, and featured expert on HGTV’s Mission: Organization. “But you still have to deal with the closet later. To turn panic into poise at the doorway, I recommend people strive to keep the most visible spaces of their home organized 24/7. It’s not nearly as hard as it sounds.”
According to Norris, organizing doesn’t have to translate into time-consuming, it’s just a matter of figuring out what systems work best for you and your lifestyle. It boils down to prioritizing projects, finding purpose for each space and personalizing one’s home. Here is Norris’ how-to for the top three most important spaces in which to create inviting, hospitable spaces that are always ready for company – even when you aren’t.
The Entry Way a.k.a. The Drop Zone
Because the entry way is the easiest place to drop shoes, coats and handbags, and it is the first space that guests see, the focus in this area is clutter control. Implementing a clutter capture system is the key. People must determine what types of items are dropped here, and then consider the ideal way to manage it.
- First, to help identify your storage solutions, judge the quantity of each item that lands in the foyer or entryway. Look around. Do you see a handful of coats or an entire closet full? Do you spy a few shoes or a shoe mountain?
- Second, select and install your storage solutions, whether they are hooks, bins, shelving, benches or other furnishings. Think about your aesthetic preferences. If you simply prefer not to see clutter, perhaps you should purchase a narrow armoire to neatly store your belongings.
- Third and last, personalize your entryway. Make it yours! Welcome your guests with an inviting display of family photos, a favorite collection, or fresh flowers to suit the season. Having these items on tables actually will prevent future clutter from collecting. Also, a strategically placed floor plant can divert attention from less appealing areas.
The kitchen naturally and almost effortlessly has a way of accumulating papers, mail and a variety of misplaced possessions. Yet, it happens to be the most popular place in the home to invite guests. According to Norris, the mission here is search and sort.
- Incoming! Dedicate real estate for daily drop-offs such as mail and newspapers to be sorted into actionable categories.
- Create a plan of attack, including a reference binder to create a permanent home for take-out menus, coupons, gift certificates, membership cards, and commonly reached-for retailer numbers such as the dry cleaner, florist, hair stylist and movie theatre.
- Strategically place a trash, recycle and shred receptacle, essential tools for eliminating junk and keeping the paper from piling up.
- Create a communication command center by setting aside a place to take and leave messages, and write notes to family. And, use your computer as a tool to manage the household calendar.
This household superhighway is the most trafficked room in the home, and that can lead to roadway rubbish. Norris recommends determining the rooms’ direction, de-littering, and finding homes for nomadic items such as backpacks, toys, magazines and everything in between.
- Decide upon your family room’s direction. For example, should it be an off-ramp of the kitchen or an entertainment hub where you will gather to play games? Being intentional will help set boundaries for how many uses the room has.
- Set up a “go-elsewhere” basket, so at the end of each day you can relocate items that don’t belong in the family room to their proper place.
- Don’t be a litter bug! Keep surfaces such as ottomans and tables clear, so you can put up your feet or pull out a puzzle.
- Beautify your interior landscape with flowers or a plant to reclaim the space and make it a nice place to spend time in.
“Perfection is unattainable and should never be the goal,” says Norris. “I want people to feel good in their surroundings and when it comes to organizing, one size does not fit all. By clearing out the clutter and reclaiming your space, you create more time for the things that are truly important in your life.” And how can we maintain our newfound order? There is a simple way for people to inspire themselves to keep public spaces organized says Norris: “Personalize and beautify your space. Placing flowers or a favorite accessory where clutter typically congregates does two things: it brightens the room and prevents future messes from settling there.” Once the public spaces of your home are sorted out, Norris suggests taking the next step toward a guest-ready home – beautifying. “Organizing is the first critical step to increasing the functionality and enjoyment of your home. After you’ve put in the effort to make better use of your space and establish systems, beautifying your home can be an incentive to maintain your newfound order.”
Norris’ four favorite finishes
Fab Finish #1: Flowers and Plants
According to Norris, flowers and plants are two elements of décor that do not actually create new clutter. Not only do they uplift and warm a room, they also prevent clutter from building up, when they are placed on surfaces and tables to avoid accumulation. Finally, Norris suggests sending flower arrangements or potted plants as gifts to help brighten others’ moods and spaces.
Fab Finish #2: Family Photos
Not only are photos of loved ones cherished, but they can be neatly displayed in just about any public area of the home. You can declutter surfaces by arranging frames on the wall instead of propped on tables. Photos give a sense of history, belonging, and fellowship and can brighten any hallway or room.
Fab Finish #3: Marvelous Memories
Nothing personalizes a room better than a collection of family heirlooms. Items such as antique vases, musical instruments, or teacups that have been passed down make great conversation pieces and add personality to any room. The key is to display your collection artfully and with simplicity.
Fab Finish #4: Everyday Extraordinary
Even ordinary items like purses can be organized in a way that maximize access and add beauty to the home. Norris herself displays her own handbag collection on vintage hooks in her closet. Her daily purse contents can then be easily transferred to any purse of her choice to complement the outfit of the day! Norris recommends that as you organize your everyday belongings, you think about those interesting items (like handbags) that you could display for enhanced enjoyment and ease of use.