Photo of Jill's closet open, accessible, and in full view.  

Conscious Design Magazine Archive


Clearing the Closets Quiets the Mind


Jill Butler




From Jill's book, Create the Space You Deserve, the chapter on storage titled: finding spaces and places for everything imaginable

The issue is storage, or is it? What to do with all that stuff.
Lurking in the closets are things to try on to see if they still fit. I hate trying on my old favorites because I'm afraid. My body has shifted, shape-shifted. How dare it. Gratefully, some things still work. Pants I wore this weekend I've had for 25 years. I love these white pants. I loved them from the first day I bought two of the same. Hallelujah, something old is to be kept and continues to be appreciated and fitting.

But there’s more lurking at the back of the closet waiting to be discovered. The "comfort habits” of old ways of thinking; the assumptions about life and what works and what doesn’t. Old ways of being are asked to be tried on. Some things (ideas) pinch, some are discolored, some are simply out of style. Goodbye! Well, maybe not so easily.

How hard it is to give up the favorites; the behaviors and beliefs that have carried, covered, warmed me for years. I believe that the reason we have so much trouble with this issue is because much of what we have we don’t actually want but we’re hard pressed (or lazy) to make the decision to get rid of it. Having only that which is truly needed and appreciated is liberating both physically and emotionally! Trust me.

I dislike clothes shopping. Dislike it in a big way. So trying on the new is another kind of shopping that's equally not easy.
When the more than enough is cleared what’s left is the challenge of storing, arranging, organizing and making it easy to find, that’s the challenge.

Here are two basic ideas around storage: adjacencies - what needs to be where to have it at hand as needed. and hierarchy - what’s get used often and is of greater importance? so, where should it “live? Example: everyday glasses are stored in the kitchen close to the frig and the sink while wine glasses are kept close to the dining room table where they are most often used. The lobster pot is seldom used, not high on the hierarchy scale, so it’s goes in the pantry on the way to the basement so it doesn’t take up valuable space in the kitchen where sauce pans and frying pans are everyday necessities.

Storage can be a game to be played. When there’s an oversized basket, ask it what it wants to store? For me, it’s the tablecloths. The mantle both stores and displays as it shows-off favorite pieces of art. The stairwell to the “guest nest” had a cavity of space waiting to be punched out and generous shelves created to house the bed linens and cumbersome comforters and blankets.

Enjoying More Of What I Already Own
Curiously the bedroom closet wanted no doors and to be left open; in spite of the newness of it and the fear of having to actually see what’s there. It surprises me to live with this new idea. It makes me and my stuff visible to the world. It’s a metaphor of what I'm ready to see in the emotional closet as well. Some part of me is smarter than I know it is: next step, next step, one step at a time.

Now that I can see what I actually own, I don’t need to buy more but rather to enjoy more of what I do have. It’s comforting to just be open to trying on what works, what doesn't, make some adjustments and enjoy the dance. . Everything is exposed. It's upfront and visible. It's my way of practicing of seeing what is.  

The closet doors are wide open. There's no-thing to hide unless there is and then we have a choice; close the door to protect ourselves from the darkness, stay with the old or.........keep it open and see what wants to Be.


if i can see it
i can find it
i can enjoy the ease of knowing where it is
i can use my favorites often

if it’s out of sight
it’s mostly likely out of mind
most likely it’s time to let it go

Jill Butler



Conscious Design Magazine - FebArchive2010 Clearing Closets