In college, a friend of mine had issues with tidiness. She had a tendency to toss things on the table, the couch, or the chair, when she walked in the door. She just wanted to unburden herself and relax. The problem was she had no plan for keeping her surroundings orderly while she put her feet up and wound down for the night.
This was a habit in need of change, but her space wasn’t set up to support that change. So she made some simple adjustments. First, she added more waste baskets to the space so she could open mail anywhere and discard the useless bits right away. That way the bits didn’t pile up. She also created a more functional entryway so when she walked in the door there was a designated place to hang her jacket, bag, and keys. These basic additions curbed her habits by a huge factor. Yes, she was a bit unorganized, but in accepting that fact, she was able to proactively meet the issue head on, and find solutions. In adopting these simple changes, she became conditioned to expect neatness from herself, raising the bar for her house habits.
Though it may sound silly, these changes could be thought of as little DIY “design” moments. The paradigm shift that sprung from a few tiny changes in her environment improved her experience of home greatly. As the years went by, she felt empowered to make other small changes that had a big impact. She painted her bathroom french blue, which she said made her happier each and every time she walked in. She also used the wood shop at her art school to build small, bespoke shelves for awkward locations (under the bathroom sink or next to an intrusive radiator). My friend came to love identifying problematic areas and finding solutions.
It is likely that you have come up with workarounds to some of your own tendencies. Even if you don’t struggle with organization, you’ve probably arranged parts of your home for personal habits. You may even be planning around your “good” habits. Whether it’s creating a workflow in your kitchen, or the right mood in your solarium, your home is an organic entity that can respond to your needs as they evolve. If we design our environments thoughtfully, we can be continuous with our surroundings. This is similar to the symbiosis plants and animals experience in their natural habitats.
Habits are such a huge part of how we structure our surroundings. The question is are you consciously creating a home that responds to your habits? If not, your environment may reflect your habits, but not in the most efficient or beautiful way. Getting to know yourself – and accept yourself – will clear the path to making conscious design choices for your needs. Done right, these changes will also improve your space visually. Great design marries function to form. You can have the best of both worlds.