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Book Review
The Well-Ordered Home

by Kathleen Kendall Tackett
Softcover, 119 pages

reviewed by by Karen Varney Shaw
Fairfax VA USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 22 No. 2, March-April 2005, pp. 70-71

Who wouldn't love an orderly, peaceful home? Such a project often seems overwhelming, however, requiring too much time and energy. Fortunately, Kathleen Kendall-Tackett's book, The Well-Ordered Home, gently and painlessly leads the way to an organized home.

According to Kendall-Tackett, a health psychologist who specializes in helping people deal with stress:

A well-ordered home simply works. People get to where they need to be, tasks get done, family life is cherished, all with a minimum of fuss and bother. Because, when organization is done well, it fades into the background, allowing you to have a life.

The Well-Ordered Home is written in two- to three-page chapters that are then divided into smaller sections, making the book both easy to read and a handy reference. Kendall-Tackett advocates beginning with small steps and gives concrete examples of how to get started creating order in the home.

Kendall-Tackett offers four basic principles that can help "bring more beauty, order, and joy to your home." Start where you are, have what you need, use active storage, and get rid of clutter. Several chapters are devoted to each of these principles.

"Starting where you are" means working with your own natural inclinations when organizing your home. Arrange your home in a way that works for you; don't expect yourself to change. For those who are intimidated by the thought of organizing a whole house, Kendall-Tackett suggests an easy way to get started:

  • Start by picking one task that you have been avoiding or that makes your daily work take more time.
  • Resolve to spend a short amount of time on it every day (even if it's only 10 to 15 minutes).
  • Gather whatever tools you will need ahead of time and keep them easily accessible for whenever you feel like organizing.
  • Silence that voice in your head that keeps distracting you with all the other tasks you need to complete.
  • Concretely reward yourself for progress that you make along the way.

Following these simple steps will create a sense of organization, which will build confidence and encourage working up to bigger projects.

"Having what you need" is vital for getting things done. The extra time and effort spent searching for supplies at the beginning of each project can encourage procrastination. Kendall-Tackett recommends storing items where they are used, making it easy to pull them out to clean, cook, or organize. For example, keep a caddy of cleaning supplies in each bathroom, a wastebasket in every room, and even a vacuum cleaner on each floor of the house, if possible.

"Active storage" means keeping the most frequently used items in the most accessible places, while less-used items are stored in more remote locations. For example, seasonal clothes go in drawers and in the middle of the closet within easy reach. Off-season clothing goes in the back of the closet.

When things can't be put away immediately, Kendall-Tackett suggests "corralling the mess." Stashing toys in bins or baskets throughout the house, designating a junk drawer in the kitchen, or draping clothes on a particular chair in the bedroom can keep the mess to a minimum. Organizing these spots frequently will prevent the mess from accumulating.

The chapters on getting rid of clutter give helpful suggestions on how to clear out unneeded things and efficiently store useful items. Kendall-Tackett addresses specific areas of the home prone to clutter, such as bedrooms, drawers, closets, the refrigerator, and the freezer. There are sections on organizing family photos, sorting paper, and simplifying grooming routines.

Kendall-Tackett points out that an important part of reducing clutter is not just eliminating things you have, but decreasing what comes into your house as well. Making the most of what you already have can also save money. Simply rearranging furniture or accessories can provide a fresh look, and incorporating colors, textures, and pleasant fragrances can create beauty.

The Well-Ordered Home emphasizes that making big changes takes time, and recommends setting realistic goals, taking small steps, and rewarding yourself in concrete ways. The greatest reward, however, will be an orderly, welcoming home that is a peaceful place in which to live and spend time with your family.

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