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Interiors: New Order

Purchase and position thoughtfully; pare down and put away: tips to help us go forth into 2018 with both tidy house and tidy mind

We spend an unhealthy amount of time poring over certain interiors-focused Instagram accounts – one of which being San Franciscan source of home inspiration, Remodelista. The group of design-minded mates behind it, who make it their mission to “decode all the details that go into well-put-together living quarters,” have now released a room-by-room guide encouraging us to pare down and purchase thoughtfully in order to create calm spaces to look forward to being in. Storage, of course, is key, as well as getting into the habit of organising belongings in a way that enhances routine. The Organized Home includes strategies for combatting ‘problem zones’ like the medicine cabinet and bedroom closet; and interviews experts in different industries – hotelier, stylist, teacher, boutique owner – to see what tips can be taken from the way each of them organises. It’s this element of the book that we’ve found perhaps most interesting…

Think like a shopkeeper

In retail parlance, it’s called merchandising: the art of arranging goods so that they’re easy to access and visually appealing. Here are six principles from kitchen designer Sam Hamilton. Apply them to your kitchen and you’ll have much more ‘shoppable’ space.
• Use shallow pantry storage. The items that are visible are the ones you’ll use (just as with the retail mantra ‘What you can see is what sells’). So line your goods up front and make use of risers in the back. When installing storage, measure accordingly: “You don’t want shelves that hold more than two rows of cans,” advises Hamilton. “Anything deeper and things get lost in the void.”
• Create kitchen zones. Just as retailers group goods by theme, you should set up areas in your kitchen for coffee-making, food prep, and so on. Cluster culinary essentials on trays to anchor them.
• Consider proximity. Daily dishware belongs on the shelves closest to your sink and dishwasher, for ease of loading and unloading.
• Leave yourself elbow room at the sink. Keep your work area as clear as a checkout counter. Ask yourself: “What do I use here all the time?” Relocate the rest.
• Conquer drawer space by dividing it. Size up what you’re stowing and create compartments accordingly, so that nothing is free-floating or jumbled. You can always buy ready-made drawer inserts from places like Ikea.
• Look up, look down. In shops, plenty of stock is kept on hand but out of sight. The same rule applies in kitchens: deep corner cabinets work well as appliance garages. And high cabinets are ideal for storing occasionally used tableware. For access to these spots, keep a step stool or a rolling ladder handy.

Think like a ship designer

There’s no wasted room in marine design – since quarters are tight, storage has to be tucked in here and there. It also has to be built to last (otherwise salt air and humidity take over). These five gracefully no-nonsense solutions, provided by furniture designer and boatbuilder Asa Pingree, can be applied to compact quarters of all sorts, at land and at sea.
• Use every square inch. Look for cavities in your home and ask yourself: “How can I gain access to that and put it to work?” Pingree says. The risers under stairs? Insert drawers. The space under a bench? Add a hinged seat and you have a bin. The hollow under the floorboards? Create a trapdoor.
• Choose furnishings that fold, stack, or disappear. On a ship, tables drop down from the wall on hinges, so they’re out of the way when not in use. Teak and canvas chairs fold up. So do canvas buckets.
• Install hardware that’s flush with the walls. Knobs that stick out are a hazard in tight quarters: as you move around, you’re liable to get bumped. Discover the nautical alternative: flush-mounted ring pulls that are just as easy to install as standard cabinet hardware. No more bruises, and your rooms will feel streamlined.
• Embrace nautical hooks. Unlike landlubber counterparts of plated metal, marine hooks are solid brass, steel, or bronze. Dock cleats work well for securing Roman shade cords and as hooks for hanging towels and robes. And they look good.
• Use canvas storage. Canvas boat totes and buckets are handy all over the house.
We hang them in the bathroom to hold toiletries, washcloths, and kids’ bath toys. Source from nautical suppliers.
Extracted from Remodelista: The Organized Home by Julie Carlson and Margot Guralnick (Artisan Books). Photography by Matthew Williams