I am a firm believer that everything you choose to own should be display worthy, even if you choose not to display it. My hammer is stored in a toolbox along with screwdrivers, pliers, nails, and other tools because a portable box is the most efficient and uncluttered solution. The way I think about it is that I could hang my hammer on my living room wall, but I don’t because that would be inconvenient and a little odd with our decor. (Now that I’ve written about it, though, I must admit that I’m incredibly tempted to do it. Very dada.)
The fronts of my kitchen cabinets are mostly glass, so even my plates and cups are on display. Since I follow the red velvet rope test for my closet, I’m fine if people see my clothes, although I don’t know why they would want to look at them. My office supplies are stored in a closet, but the closet has made so many appearances on Unclutterer that people actually ask to see it when they come to visit.
For a possession not to be on display in my home, it must meet one of four strict standards: security, safety, efficiency, and anti-distraction.
- Security: If having an item on display risks your personal security, then by all means keep it stored out of sight. Your social security information, your passport, and other sensitive data is more secure if it’s difficult for strangers to find in your home.
- Safety: Cleaning supplies, weapons, and medications should be stored in such a way as to make it difficult for children and visitors to accidentally poison or injure themselves. If you or someone in your home has a mobility disability, keeping things stored away might also help reduce injuries.
- Efficiency: Storing tools in a toolbox is a good example of the efficiency factor — it is more efficient to carry a single toolbox to a project than to take each tool off a wall and carry it individually to a project. It’s efficient to store pots and pans in a kitchen cupboard because it keeps dust, bacteria, and grease from collecting on the items.
- Anti-distraction: This is a tricky standard and should be used carefully. It would be easy to justify storing every note you wrote in middle school in a box in your attic because displaying them would be a visual distraction. But, if you would be embarrassed to have any of the notes on display, you would be abusing the anti-distraction standard. The anti-distraction standard is for when an object being out on display distracts you the same way clutter does. Office supplies are better stored in a drawer if they infringe on your work surface and draw your attention away from your work. Your goal at your desk is to work, so your desk surface should be clear of all distractions.
Another good standard is the embarrassment factor: If I would be embarrassed for someone to know I owned something, it’s clutter and I get rid of it. Socks with holes in them and stained t-shirts become dust rags, for example.
If an object is not on display or stored because of one of the above standards, I recycle, trash, sell, or give it away.
Do you use standards or guidelines to help you decide what objects in your home belong in storage instead of being on display? I’ll admit that my standards are more strict than other people’s, but they work for my family and our small space. These standards also help us keep clutter to a minimum because if I don’t think an object is worthy of being on display (even if I choose not to display the item), I’ll get rid of it. Fewer possessions result in fewer things to clean and maintain — and I greatly value these benefits of an uncluttered life.