Form and Function: Tidying-Up


When I was growing up in Sacramento, (actually “Sacto” as it’s affectionately known to us “Sacto Wallys”), my mother shopped San Francisco's Union Square at the elegant department stores like I. Magnin, J.Magnin and City of Paris. Periodically my French-born grand-mère visited and carefully edited my mother's closet. If an item no longer served a function or ceased to bring joy, she would say, "It's time to bless someone else with this, my child." My grandmother was tidying up before Marie Kondo!


When designing clients' homes, I evoke my grandmother's editorial eye; selecting items that serve a purpose while also eliciting joy. When shopping for upholstery, I want clients to sit in a chair to determine the comfort level before I order it. If the husband is tall and the wife short, it is essential to find seating that suits both. For sofas, I want to know how many people will be sitting on them at a time to make sure conversation flows and when it’s just one, whether it’s ready for a flop or a nap.


Another essential in the design process is determining my clients’ organization needs. During initial consultations, I find out if they need a custom storage space like a walk-in pantry or designated mudroom. When we define the function of the room, I want the client to feel good when they are in it. For an active family who loves to cook, this pantry features clear glass storage jars and plastic canisters. Chalkboard labels add a personalized touch.


For clothes, whether or not you take Marie Kondo's advice of asking "Does it spark joy?" or my grandmother's practical "It's time to bless someone else with this," a well-organized closet really can be a thing of beauty.

Tricia Kerr