This is My Day, These are my Cupboards

More often than you might think, it is the seemingly boring and dull parts of our lives that have the biggest impact
on the quality of our lives. When designing or redesigning spaces, most clients are excited by the visible parts, the bits that visitors will notice first that will elicit compliments. Most times these will only work if the unglamorous parts are working well and have been carefully considered. Cupboards and storage, in general, don’t often rank as the most important things to show off, but they should.

There are many beautifully designed spaces that are let down by getting cluttered up with possessions and items
that are needed for living such as jackets, umbrellas and outdoor shoes in entrances, dustbins and hoovers in the
corners of kitchens, power extension cables for laptops and phones crisscrossing living spaces as well as shampoo and toiletries lining the edges of every surface in bathrooms among others. That is why most architectural and design works are photographed ahead of occupation.Homes and offices always have much stuff in them than people realize. Generally, it becomes apparent when you
move or think about it very carefully. People do not have enough storage unless they don’t buy anything or are very
committed to get rid of things. We’ll leave aside this consumption and waste for another time. In any case, how
you organize where to keep your possessions and work is important, and it is no good just measuring what you have
unless you allow for what you will have. Then it is about displaying or hiding, using rarely or frequently. Storage
can be specific or generic, fixed or adaptable, temporary or permanent.

In smaller spaces, it is more important to keep things organized in order to get the full benefit of living in a well-designed environment. Larger spaces clearly have more rooms that make for flexibility with additional rooms on
garages to hide all the unused paraphernalia. Having a space to put things is not the same as storing things. There
are many deep cupboards or attics which have inaccessible treasures hidden deep within. With rising costs of property, many people find it cost effective to convert spaces rather than move to larger houses. Previously under-used spaces can be converted to usable rooms, lifts and garages with basements turned into new bedrooms except they were often not under-used as thought.

It is therefore important that before designing anything, we need to critically access the current situation so as to avoid rushing into misguided decisions. Understanding how you use space and time is fundamental to understanding how to improve your environment through design. Thinking and recording how to occupy space is always a good start, and asking questions will always yield better results. I always ask clients to count or measure their wardrobes, bookshelves and so on, how many clothes are in boxes and how many small gadgets are in the kitchen. But how often do you buy a new book or a new outfit so that you can have a discussion about the compromise that will be required in balancing the storage with the active space.

There is nothing worse than getting a space refitted with a cool design and then realizing there is not enough space for your existing possessions.

It is also a way of understanding something about yourself or your client, in terms of how they live and hence how
design can best improve their lives. Very few people are able to change their habits and certainly not quickly. If someone has stuff scattered all over the place and they would like an empty minimalist space, then they need to look at their own behaviour before redesigning their spaces. The designer should recognize this too and design an environment that accommodates the mess and clutter rather than denying it. It can still be a good design, just more honest about the nature of the user. Design can change behaviour but there needs to be a commitment to it beyond words.

So whether your things are hidden away behind beautifully designed paneling or displayed on glass shelves and
invariably in combination, whether your books are lined up alphabetically or piled up on every surface, the way in
which you keep, arrange and store your possessions will say a lot about how you operate in your life and how you
use the space around you to feel comfortable and at ease. Some people cannot function if things are slightly out
of place whereas others don’t even notice chaotic piles around them. Consider these realities and understand how
best to alter or continue these habits when considering a redesign. Designing a solution to locating and storing all
your possessions is a key part of any project.

Titi Ogufere

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