‘It’s a control thing’: why are we so fascinated by super-organised homes?

by Samuel Pordengerg Feb 4, 2023 News
‘It’s a control thing’: why are we so fascinated by super-organised homes?

The trangers joke that Rendall should put a label on his head. The husband would be read in Rendall's design based on her own handwriting. If there was a label on Adam's head, he would match everything else in the house.

At the front door is where the words "Thank you postie" are written on the silver letterbox. The drawers in the corridor that hold the separated bits and bobs are labeled "cables,batteries and tools". The pantry of Rendall has the power to inspire a thousand envious and incredulous comments. There are nine transparent containers full of white, brown, pink and yellow powders, each marked by its identity: "sugar", "hot chocolate", "banana milkshake" There are small drawers of stock cubes and rows of spices. There are six canisters in the next cupboard with the word "cereal" written on them.

There are dishwasher salt, stain remover and softener behind the doors. There is a container of apples in the refrigerator. There is a drawer in Adam's office with the wordsties andclinks on it. Thanks to baskets marked "dress up", "sports" and "dolls", the young daughter of the couple knows where to put her stuff. There is a place for everything.

The period of history in which we are living is difficult to describe. Will our descendants use the name Caroleans? I wonder if this is the plastic age. You could make a strong case that we are living in the decanting era. Things have been removed from packages and put into other packages at a rapid rate. More than 6 million people have watched a video in which KhloéKardashian stacks cookies around a jar to make them look better. Marie Kondo sells packs of 90 labels, including ones for bread crumbs, chia seeds, and food coloring, which are the least decantable substances sold in supermarkets.

Khloé Kardashian’s super-organised pantry

Khloé Kardashian’s pantry: millions have watched a YouTube video in which she stacks Oreos around a glass jar so they look asethetically pleasing. Photograph: Ivan Solis via Poosh

In their book, The Home Edit: A Guide to organizing and Realizing Your House Goals, professional stenographers jokingly label their own gravestone, thinking that it will read: "Pantry perfectionists who were canister enthusiasts, turntable advocates."

Storage-stuffed homes are becoming more and more common, despite the fact that excessive organisation began as a hobby for the rich. B&M has seen substantial growth for the last few years, and shows no signs of slowing down. Storage containers that are clear and nestable are popular.

It is easy to dismiss this as a fad, but if you look closer you will see a reflection of yourself. Modern capitalism, domestic labour, social media and ever-increasing anxiety rates can be seen in the rise of the highly organised home.

Rendall, who worked as a PE teacher until April 2022, says that all she was doing was working, then coming home, cleaning up, making dinner and sleeping. She woke up at 4.40am in 2021. to gain control over her family.

People don’t see the long-term benefit. In the evening, they have to think, shop, cook, tidy away. Times that by seven

Rendall says everything she does is centred around saving time and maximizing it. Rendall keeps her meals in the fridge freezer so she can cook them once a month. She can see what she is running low on with a quick glance, and Rendall says she never has to clean spilled flour because of her containers. It is easier to dress her each morning because her clothing is laid out in seven separate drawers on Sundays.

Rendall admits that it takes a bit of time initially and that she should get a job and stop wasting time. It might take her an hour to unpack her monthly shop and six hours to bulk cook on a Saturday, but then in the evening other people have to think, go to the shops, cook, clean. The times were by seven.

The turning point in Rendall's life was when her father died. She was young at the time. I realized that I don't want to waste time, I want to maximize it, and I want to spend time with her.

Professional home organisers Joanna Teplin (left) and Clea Shearer

‘Pantry perfectionists’ Joanna Teplin (left) and Clea Shearer. Photograph: John Shearer/Invision

Rendall designed her own planners that are thicker and pinker than most bibles. On her website, she sells it for almost half a million dollars. Rendall was able to quit her teaching job because of the boom in sales of her products, which caught the attention of TV personality Alison and her husband.

Some people don't like Rendall's lifestyle. She doesn't understand why people are so angry. Rendall sees educating commenters about the benefits of home organisation as her job, but she knows they are correct about squash. In a cupboard that holds cups and mugs, Rendall has three corked glass bottles filled with red and yellow liquids; on the side of each is a swirly white word, "squash" Rendall concedes that moving juice from a plastic to a glass bottle isn't time-saving. People are really angry about it. I understand that.

I don't think anyone would be able to change their squash in a world without social media. Private spaces used to be shared on the internet. In 2020 a video of crisps hanging on a curtain pole was shared by a singer. She has a show on the British Broadcasting Corporation. When Coco Pops cascade into a plastic tub or lids are clicked on, the sound gives some people a pleasant tingle. Under Rendall's videos there is a word called satisfying.

Lisa O'Neil is a design researcher. While Rendall makes 10 TikToks a week, there are almost 4m posts tagged #organization on the photo sharing site. Home Edit authors Shearer and Teplin got a show on the streaming service in 2020. People feel like they need to aspire to these perfect homes when viewing idealized real estate shows.

Stacked white boxes containing colour-sorted toys

‘People feel like they need to aspire to these perfect homes.’ Photograph: Felicity McCabe/The Guardian

Consuming objects that act in service of other objects is one of the aspects of metaconsumption. She peddles £30 bamboo storage bins on her site, while also admitting that tidying is less of a priority, now that she has.

If you have too many clothes and devices, it's time to buy someplace to store them. A lot of bins, boxes, labels are required for decluttering. Rachel Burditt believes that demand for her services has gone up because ofAmazon. She says there's more accessibility for buying things. I've been in people's kitchens with boxes. People are filling their homes due to quick shopping.

O'Neil studied which brands benefit from how the home organization industry designs the meta consumer. In the US, the Container Store's sales increased over the course of a year. John Lewis has a range of cereals that will set you back around 20 dollars. Storage boxes were only found in her local hardware store when she started organizing.

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Where did the whole thing begin? Curver's latticed storage boxes were the first big plastic boxes to be sold in the UK. Japanese brand Muji came here in 1991 and brought a range of storage units that inspired coverage in Time Out. In 2016 Ikea's chiefsustainability officer said the world had reached "peak stuff", yet in 2022 the company released a turntable that allows easier access to back-of-the-fridge condiments. It exploded across the internet with one TikTok earning over 2 million views.

Rendall told viewers to buy organisation products from Home Bargains and B&M. Organisation is a way to control a world that is out of control.

I can be up and down with my mood, but if I’ve done a full restock and clean, I feel calm and in control

After giving birth to her first child, Killah experienced depression. When she was a child, the mother of two says she never had any mental health issues. I can be up and down with my moods, but if I do a full restock and clean, I feel in control.

Killah has snacks lined up in rows in her pantry. She says Organising makes her feel good and similar to the effects of exercise on the body. She had anxious thoughts about her children before she sought therapy. Staying on top of her home saves her mental health. I believe it is my therapy.

Stacks of clear boxes, each containing a different type of pasta

For many, organisation is a way to find control in an increasingly out of control world. Photograph: Felicity McCabe/The Guardian

Kate agrees. Since she was a student, the marketing specialist from Bath says she has been aping mechanisms and releasing her creativity. When she found out she was pregnant, she struggled with her lack of control, so she organised her baby's clothes by colour and stocked a hospital bag with labels. I like to look at the things I can control.

The relationship between Marie Kondo-style tidying and happiness has been researched by a marketing professor. Many people see their spaces as being similar to their minds. She says symbolic pollution is a concept. In the context of household organization, this term refers to items that are out of place and violate the rules we set for our surroundings.

Mental health is not always helped by organization. There is a myth that obsessive-compulsive disorder is only about cleaning. Tara says to look out for intrusive thoughts such as worry about germs. There are warning signs that include missing out on activities because you prioritised routines, limiting activities in your house because you are afraid it will get messy, and preoccupation with rituals.

Being bombarded with polished perfection could make some feel inferior, anxious or out of control. In 2009, psychologists at the University of California asked working parents to give tours of their homes in order to measure the levels of stress hormones in their saliva. The flatter slopes of cortisol were associated with chronic stress, psychological distress and higher mortality. Most of the husbands were fine. According to the study, women may feel more responsibility and guilt about cluttered homes.

You may have noticed that the word "he" is missing from the article. Women do more housework than men even when the woman makes more money. 45% of female breadwinners did most of the household chores, as opposed to 12% of male breadwinners, despite the fact that the number of women earning the majority of their household's income increased by 30%. Jacalyn Rendall juggled teaching, mothering, cooking, cleaning and managing her business and her customers were mostly women.

Everyone said he was amazing when his wife did a food shop. Every week, he is doing the shop for me. Rendall doesn't get a "Well done" Creating organisation planners for men might reset the balance and challenge society's expectations. Rendall feels like she needs to help women because we have more pressure.

Home organiser Jacquelyn Rendall in front of her kitchen cupboards, full of labelled plastic boxes and jars

‘Everything I do is centred around saving and maximising time’: Jacquelyn Rendall at home in Essex. Photograph: Karen Butler/Pretty Perfect Products

It's not up to the organisation to fix gender inequalities. It will be another expectation placed on women when excessive organisation stops feeling remarkable and is no longer worthy of being written about. Rendall says she isn't afraid to be honest about her messes. She would like to visit mothers in need and organize their homes for free.

Home organization is booming. APDO, the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers, has more than 400 experts across the UK, and when she joined nine years ago, there were only 100 members. Clients used to be ashamed of hiring her. She would have to say, "Oh, I'm her friend." People are starting to say that she is my professional organiser.

When I speak to Rendall, she is in the process of reorganizing her office, with pink Post-its adorning 12 white drawers, marking the future homes of her possessions, which were strewn around the room. Rendall says that he feels a bit on edge. I will sleep easy once it's done.