The Organized Bungalow

Small Home Gazette, Fall 2008

The Organized Bungalow

This text is based on a presentation given to the Bungalow Club in September by
professional organizer Judy Palmer. Judy owns Hestia’s Hearth—Organizing and Cleaning Services for the Home, and can be reached via email at or by telephone at 612-723-9712.

We don’t live in McMansions and we don’t want to. We love our small homes. They have character, personality and style. They are our safe havens, the places where we can
feel the most relaxed and comfortable. But do we?

Walk through your home—each room. What do you see and feel as you walk around, as you look at furniture and floors, counters and tables; as you open closets and drawers. Do you see order and beauty? Do you feel inspired and energized? Is it a place where you can nurture relationships? Be creative in work and leisure? Share conversation with friends? Be silent with yourself? Do you feel proud of how it looks and feels? Or do you feel restless and distracted? Overwhelmed and tired? Unwilling to have friends over without two weeks’ notice?

Professional organizer Judy Palmer speaks to Bungalow Club members and guests about quality living in small homes.

Professional organizer Judy Palmer speaks to Bungalow Club members and guests about quality living in small homes.

The fact is that our homes affect how we feel—and we affect how our homes feel. And we are in complete control of how our homes look and feel. Order or clutter? Beauty or chaos? Spaciousness or crowding? We can choose how we want our homes to look and feel.

So how do we create the best possible environment to live healthy and productive lives? Our small homes were simply not built to store all the things that we have today. Do we need to find creative storage options? Or do we need to start simplifying and minimizing so that our belongings don’t suffocate us—and so that we can have more “room” in our lives for the really important things?

How do we begin? With the very simple question: “How many things do I need?” Apply it to: shirts, sweaters, pants, shoes, coats, linen, appliances, CDs, toys, tools, books, cookware, catalogs, photographs, etc.! And be ruthless!

Here are some strategies for simplification.

  • Be aware of the 80/20 rule and apply it to your stuff: You use 20 percent of your things 80 percent of the time.
  • Determine how many you really need, write it down—and be ruthless!
  • If what you see in your home is 100 percent, determine what percent you want it to be—50 percent of what you currently have? Then for every 10 things you look at, remove five of them.
  • If you don’t love it, if it doesn’t bring meaning to your life, if it’s no longer useful—give it up.
  • When you have simplified and reached a balance that works for you, remember—one new thing brought into your home means another thing taken out.

And where do you take it? Here are some options.

  • Donations of clothing and household items may be taken to: ARC Value Village Thrift Store, Salvation Army, Goodwill, Catholic Charities, Hope Chest for Breast Cancer, American Cancer Society.
  • Consignment shops are typically for high-end, gently used clothing.
  • The Junk Squad will pick up your junk:
  • The Reuse Center Store, in Minneapolis and Maplewood, accepts building materials and fixtures:
  • Recycling resources are the Recycling Association of Minnesota: and
  • For hazardous waste disposal, visit and search for “household hazardous waste.”

When our homes are cluttered and disorganized, our lives and minds are cluttered and disorganized. So, take care of your home. Honor your home. Help it become the home you want it to be. And try to keep only what you truly need and love, always asking yourself: “How many things do I need?”

William Morris, an important name in the Arts & Crafts movement, is credited with saying: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Words to live by!