Living in organised chaos? How to find your house sharing harmony

Angry woman

Are you and your housemate at opposite ends of the tidy spectrum with your views on mess causing friction?

Let’s face it, clutter gets everywhere. Some may be happy for it to be on open view for the world to see, haphazardly covering surfaces and slowly taking over all available space.

Others prefer it to be hidden behind cupboard doors, tucked away in pretty storage baskets or cleverly concealed in fancy multi-purpose furniture.

Both situations are fine as long as you are happy. But getting differing personality types to happily co-exist under one roof is tricky, especially if one of you is house-proud and the other is more relaxed about cleanliness.

Two personality types that often clash when it comes to keeping house are the highly organised and the free spirited. Appreciating where each other is coming from is a good place to start in creating a harmonious atmosphere.

The organiser

You love to-do lists and probably have a daily planner, weekly planner and yearly family planner to note all those appointments, birthdays and other important things. As an organiser, you’re good at multi-tasking, rationalising, de-cluttering and keeping things in their place. Being organised helps you to feel in control and you aspire to have a home that looks as if it’s just had a Pinterest makeover.

Being highly organised is not a bad thing. In fact good organisation can lead to positive health benefits.

The trick to staying organised without being a perfectionist – and expecting everyone around you to be the same, is to build some flexibility into your schedule. Things can, and probably will, go wrong. Being adaptable will help you handle any unexpected challenges and still let you keep on track to ticking off your to-do list.

The Free Spirit or Creative Type

Is organised chaos more your thing? You love spontaneity, are unconventional and play by your own rules. You probably know where things are even if it looks like your home has been invaded by a tornado and are able to relax in an untidy room.

Who says you need to be organised?
You can’t understand why others need to be quite so organised and you’ve got better things to do with your time than constantly cleaning. In fact science backs you up here. Research suggests that creative types flourish amongst clutter and a messy room can help with creative thought.

Without being smug, it’s worth reminding your organised house-mate of this and ask them to give you a break occasionally. Just don’t use it as an excuse to grow a pile of odd socks on the living room floor. You’ll need to rein in your ‘creative organising’ a little if you share a home.

Whichever category you fall into, here’s how to find a happy medium:

If you’re an organiser

Create zones in rooms with multiple purposes such as living room/dining rooms. Use bookshelves such as Kallax from Ikea to break up the space. Untidy house-mates can keep their belongings behind this unit out of your direct line of sight.

Ikea Kalex Shelving
Ikea Kalex Shelving can make a great room divider

Set a rule that specific surfaces should be kept clutter-free. Think kitchen and bathroom where surface space is at a premium. Put out baskets, trays or boxes to help house-mates scoop up and move any clutter should you need to free up space.

Appreciate not everyone is organised and being super-efficient and de-cluttered is not necessarily the ideal state. A home with a lived-in feel can be more comforting to many than a sterile show home. Relax your rules a little and accept that your house is not always going to be tidy.

Creative types

Define dirt and mess. The former can be leftover food on a surface, grime in the bathroom or an overflowing bin – potential health hazards. While mess can relate to things being left in the wrong place. Super-tidy house-mates sometimes refer to both things without realising it so ask them clarify what they mean if they ask you to clean up.

Cleaning windows
Appreciate that a dirty house is not nice for anyone and doesn’t make you a creative genius! Compromise by keeping a clean house even if it’s not necessarily tidy.

Keep your clutter to a particular room or corner. Have large baskets scattered about the house and dump anything you’re using there before moving onto something new.

Living with someone who has the opposite view on tidiness needn’t be hard. Smoothing out the extreme edges while compromising on middle ground is the key to house sharing harmony.

See Also
Walk-in wardrobe
Improving Your Home Storage
A cramped bedroom space
Storage for Small Spaces