Jay Johnson -- In the world of people who love home design, there is a huge subgroup I like to call The Organizing Army. This legion of dedicated souls will track down storage and neatnik tips to the ends of the earth. They will do anything it takes to make sure their apartments and homes are spotless, picked up, alphabetized, and labeled.
I first became aware of The Organizing Army when I was in 8th Grade summer school Biology class. My friend and classmate Charlie asked me home for lunch, and I expected a bowl of soup, a great sandwich, and snacks galore. I got a bowl of Fruit Loops instead -- but I got an amazing peek at the World's Most Organized Refrigerator as he reached in for the milk.
Charlie's mom (he nicknamed her "Static") was the quintessential neat freak. She had each shelf in her refrigerator organized according to strict food group. Within each group, large containers were to the left, with smaller containers lined up in descending order to the right. The shelves on the door were similarly organized. Containers were color coded as well, and it was clear that Charlie's mom liked to buy things according to the colors of their packaging. Wild. Crazy. Neat.
"Watch this," said Charlie, with a conspiratorial wink. "This will drive old Static crazy!" He took one of the shorter jars on the second shelf of the refrigerator door and placed it on the far left. That was the spot where only the tallest containers were supposed to go. Static arrived home shortly thereafter, opened up the refrigerator door, and started yelling. Her eye went to the non-organized food item, and she asked her son why he insisted on "destroying my perfect system!"
In the over 200 home videos contained in my Design2Share Video Diary on YouTube, you will see examples where I have taken my video camera -- a sturdy palm-sized Radio Shack $99 camtastic special -- and tried to document tips to keep The Organizing Army happy. Typical of the neat freak genre is my Bedroom Closet Tips video. We're pretty proud of our organized master bedroom closet. It's in a NYC apartment, and it's tiny. But it fits everything for two adults and everything has a logical place. It's not always neat looking. We don't try to emulate Static and her system. And we just got one of those new plastic, collapsable hampers on wheels (our laundry is in the basement of the apartment building) and it completely stunk up the closet for weeks with its New Plastic smell.
I admit that a nice-smelling messy closet is much better than a foul-smelling organized closet.
Are you like Static, a charter member of The Organizing Army? Please share your tips for keeping things neat and tidy with the rest of us . . . .