Clutter Guyd David Pevsner answers your organization questions with a touch of anal.
Queer: I still have a million books, Kindle’s be damned, and want to make sure they don’t get destroyed. I was at my aunt’s house the other day and noticed she had all of hers in plastic wrap, but still on shelves. Is that tacky, like putting plastic on furniture, or a smart, preservative move?
Anal: Tacky? No. Insane…yeah. Are they all signed first editions of great novels by the literary geniuses of generations gone by? Chances are, no. And when you say “destroyed,” are you expecting earthquakes, fires, or torrential rains to knock the roof off your house and obliterate all you love in this world, particularly items of the written word?
That can happen, as we’ve seen of late, but relax and stop living your life expecting the worst. Having said that, be particular about where you put your books. If there are some books that you are so concerned about, then, yes, wrap them up in plastic (but not just any plastic; make sure it’s specifically for storing paper, like comic book bags), and put them in a safe, moisture-free environment. However, don’t you want to be able to look at those beauties, as well as the rest of your library? First, be tough and get rid of some of the books. A lot of the books. Purge. People have too many books. Keep the ones you really want to have around. I know you think they’re all important, but really, really consider losing some of them, giving them away, selling them at a yard sale. Most people have nowhere near the shelf space they need. Then, use your bookshelves judiciously and make your library a lovely, focal point.
Queer: My boyfriend never throws paper out—ever. Newspaper, bill envelopes, junk mail, old magazines, holiday cards. If I don’t gather them together every day and recycle, the place looks like a paper factory. Is there any smart way to get him to be more organized, or am I stuck living with Oscar Madison?
Anal: He does the cooking, you do the paper tossing. You can try to get him to do it, but I’ve found in my organizing gigs with couples that unless both of them have the same commitment to keeping things organized, things will go into Hoarder-ville if someone doesn’t take the reins. That’s you. Encourage him to help out, show him how easy it is to do, put the recycler in a most convenient place, whatever you need to do to get him to participate. If it doesn’t work, you can do the aforementioned drawing of the line and threaten to leave if he doesn’t change. But is it worth that? I’ve also found that when you show someone how good something looks clutter- and paper-free, it can be very eye-opening. Get it started, and see how he reacts.
Queer: Stupid question, but is white always the smartest way to go in a small apartment? I’m in New York, and it seems like a staple. At the same time, it makes me feel like I’m not creative or living in a hospital. Suggestions?
Anal: White certainly helps give the impression of space, and if that’s what you’re handed, put your creativity in design. You can warm up a cold white space with homey pillows and throws, rustic furniture, area rugs…there are no limits. White can be clinical, but it can also be a perfect backdrop for funky or contemporary chic that will really bring attention to your taste in furniture and accessories. I love white walls as a clean, blank canvas to work my creativity. Don’t be afraid of it.
David Pevsner answers your organizational questions without encouraging you to refinance your home. If you have a question for David, email him at email@example.com.