How do you tell a story?
There are many ways to answer this question. From a wife, mom, and professional organizer’s perspective, my simple answer is this: make sure that every part connects.
A story only makes sense when the beginning, middle, and end parts connect. When a detail is disconnected from the rest of the story, it will feel like the story is unfinished.
When I first saw this huge bookcase in a boy’s bedroom, I got excited to organize it. Notice how intentional it was built! There are narrow and wide shelves, tall and short ones, which means that there is no need for shelf risers to maximize space, and there’s no need for fillers to make emptier shelves seem full. Every shelf was meant to house a special piece from the collection.
How do you tell a story with a boy’s bookcase?
There are many ways to do it, but I chose to do it by connecting to its owner. I first asked his mom what his favorite color is. His mom said green, so I made sure there were shelves dedicated to highlight the color.
Because I have three children, the characters of Toy Story became all too familiar to me. I pulled the Toy Story characters from different shelves and clustered them into one. By clustering them, I learned that one of their Buzz Lightyear robots came all the way from the time the first version of Buzz Lightyear was released! Now the bookcase also held shared stories from different generations.
The mom’s love for organizing and putting value in her own things shows in the way her son keeps his things, too. We saw manuals of Lego neatly kept in a binder, and a collection of travel brochures in a clear plastic envelope. The mom shared with us that his son loves to reread these travel brochures, which most likely brings him back to the exact feelings from their travel.
A lot of sorting happened to organize this bookshelf, but for me, it was more of connecting stories. What kind of story does a collection of cars tell? I clustered them with the sign that said, “The adventure begins,” and suddenly, the cars told an inspiring story.
There were also small plushies of Sesame Street and Disney. Since these all-time favorite stories became iconic because of the characters, I made sure that they too are clustered! The process felt like going back to our childhood; putting the characters in their own groups made us reminisce the good old days.
The other plushies that used to be cramped in the topmost shelves were now properly grouped like families going back to their own homes, or like a group of friends coming together. Books now stood in line by color, and while we were organizing the rest of the shelves, the mom took the “baby books” from the shelves one by one so they could share them with his son’s younger cousins.
They had a lovely, tiny figurine set of the Holy Family that they bought from Spain that perfectly fit one of those small shelves. Beside it, I placed three Bible books for kids, and the story was smooth and seamless.
The bottom shelves now house his worksheets, learning and arts and crafts materials, so the young boy will have easier access to them, and also so he would not exert so much effort to put them back.
When we’re almost done, the mom brought in R2 D2s, perfect for the last shelf we emptied because of clustering.
I stood back and felt satisfied with the bigger story we were able to build out of the little stories that came from each of the shelves. What made me happier is of course the mom’s reaction to how we organized her son’s bookcase. She sent me a video later on when her son saw the newly organized bookshelf for the first time, and his reaction was even more priceless. It was the only way to end this organizing story: knowing that the owner of the bookcase felt the connection between him and the wall that witnesses the stories of his preferences, passion, and growing up.
What stories do your drawers, shelves, and rooms tell?
Are you still in the process of thinking where they need to connect?
As a wife, mom, and professional organizer, my simple answer is this:
When your story begins with an intention to make you and your loved ones feel more at home than ever, then it will end exactly the way you envisioned it, no matter how long and difficult the process takes.
Stay Neat, everyone!