Ever noticed how some houses just seem to work? They’re never that untidy, there seems to be space for everything and organisation is low key and efficient rather than military. It could be that the householders are just effortlessly organised and impressively capable, or they have a housekeeper! Or it could be that they’re using ‘home zoning’, a technique that promotes natural organisation by grouping items that serve a similar purpose together in the same space.
What is ‘home zoning’?
It’s designating certain spaces for certain purposes. For example, you’ll probably have two ‘in and out’ zones in your house already, by the front door and the back door. If you always come in through the front door, drop your keys and phone on the table then take off your coat and shoes, organise your hallway with coat racks, a shoe cupboard and a bowl for keys.
If you always leave items in the same area, it stops them ‘drifting’ into other areas of the house and means you’ll save time wondering where they are. If the only time you use the back door is to take the dog in and out, put up hooks to hold leads and dog towels.
How do I do it?
For home zoning to really work, track your habits and that of your family for a week or so, through a range of normal activities. You may not always use the space in the way you think you do!
For example, you might have a comfy sofa and reading lamp in your living room, but you might always end up sitting on a hard chair by the window to read because the light’s better. Organise each zone by the specific type of activity that takes place there – work, craft, admin etc.
It’s also useful to have a ‘storage zone’, for things you don’t need on a day to day basis but don’t want to throw away. Most of us already have this under another name (spare bedroom, under-stairs cupboard), but designating an official storage zone will help you decide what really is worthy of storage, and what you just haven’t got round to throwing away. Organise the zone with lots of storage baskets and boxes, and stack bulky items towards the floor so you can use them as a platform for smaller items.
Make a note of where you perform certain activities. Do you always sit in the same place to open your post? What about answering letters – does that involve balancing your laptop on a cushion in the sitting room? If so, perhaps it’s time to invest in a storage chest/coffee table in that room to hold your admin files, rather than trying to keep them in an office.
Going with the flow of your own habits in this way means that everything will end up where it’s supposed to be, and your other half won’t constantly nag you to put those files away – because you’ll have already done it. If your children like to draw and paint at the weekends, turn out a kitchen cupboard for their paraphernalia so it’s easy to tidy up afterwards.
Other zoning ideas
If it’s done correctly, zoning will work effortlessly to help keep your home tidy and organised. Create zones to relax in, as well – for example, put an armchair near that window, pull up a little coffee table, a storage basket for books, a couple of cosy throws and cushions and you’ve got yourself a reading zone.
It may only be a tiny space that’s part of a bigger room, but there’s no reason you can’t make it look individual. If you like, you can visually divide the zones by painting the walls a different colour or shutting them off with a screen.