Functional Organization: Organization For Messy People

January 12, 2020

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It might seem like Marie Kondo is the gold standard of home organization. It can feel like you are a disaster if you don’t fold all your shirts so they’re perfectly even, or if you don’t have perfectly symmetrical drawers like the ones on Pinterest.

However, those perfect drawers and closets are the exception and not the rule. If you really want to organize in a way that actually makes your life EASIER, not harder, functional organization is for you.

What is Functional Organization?

If you’re home usually looks like this:

Well then guess what–you’re living a normal life. In fact, you probably love your kids like crazy and have a wonderful life.

But that’s not what TV and the internet tell you. They tell you that organization ONLY looks like this:


Color-coded highlighters. Pens pushed evenly to the bottom. Sticky notes, laying perfectly on top of each other. Even the white-outs are laid out evenly.

I don’t care who you are, your desk drawer doesn’t look like this. And if it does, you might be a psychopath.

Or like this:

Jen Woodhouse

This one actually could work if you do it right, but do YOU have all white towels of the exact same size? Are they always folded perfectly like this? I do not. Do you fold your comforters up perfectly and place them equally spaced apart on the top shelf?

Heckkkk no–I know there are people who do. I’m just not one of them.

As beautiful as this picture is, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t taken in the middle of a day when the kids were driving her crazy and she had a total of 4 seconds to get the towels from the laundry basket to the closet.

Nope. These kind of symmetrical images aren’t taken because they reflect REAL LIFE. They’re taken and shared because they are visually perfect.

But having a visually perfect home does not mean you have an organized home. Here’s a question you can ask to tell the difference:

Does your home get un-organized in less than one day?

Does it take a lot of motivation and time to organize your home?

If the answer to either of those questions is yes–then you need functional organization.

So what is functional organization? First, here are two things it isn’t.

Functional Organization Isn’t Beautiful

is not actually an important factor in how your home functions. That desk drawer is visually perfect, but do you think it functions well? Do you think it’s quick and easy to put things away in that drawer? HECK NO. That’s because it’s not organized, it’s STAGED.

If you look online, you’ll see there isn’t really a great definition of organization. The best definition I could find was, “Putting things together in a logical order.” I think that’s a great definition.

But does “putting things in a logical order” have anything to do with design? Nope!

Because organization that works doesn’t have anything to do with appearance.

Now obviously, when things are organized well, they look better and more visually appealing than when there is clutter everywhere. So when we are talking about home organization, appearance is something that should still be taken into consideration.

But don’t tell yourself that your home isn’t organized because things aren’t perfectly symmetrical. Or because it doesn’t look anything like those Pinterest pictures. It is very possible for a space to be organized perfectly, but not look like a stock photo.

Functional organization happens when you prioritize the function of the space over the LOOK of the space.

Combining Design with Function

When you focus more on organizing a space for function instead of design, you might worry that it’s going to make your home look ugly.

You should never turn your home into something that you hate. How you feel about your home matters. However, there are two parts to this.


First, you need to recognize that homes online are staged, and not set up for actually being lived in.

Staging is actually not that hard. And do you know why? Because it has NOTHING TO DO WITH ACTUALLY LIVING.

So stop looking at Pinterest and thinking your drawers need to be prettier. Stop referring to those images as “organization,” because they aren’t logical. Start referring to them as staged.


Unfortunately, function and design don’t automatically appear together. It takes some effort and skill to blend them together, but it IS totally possible.

The only way you can find the perfect balance of function and organization is by taking a very realistic look at your life, and the way it is right now.

For example, I have two very young kids right now. They are beautiful children and they are a gift to me. But they wreak absolute havoc on my home.

Because of that, I highly favor function right now. If there was a stunningly beautiful space in my home, but it wasn’t totally optimized for function–it would be destroyed and un-beautified within minutes.

However, if you’re a single adult or only have older children, you don’t have the same restrictions as me. You can add some more elements of design into your home.

Functional Organization is Easy

If your home is organized for function, and not for Pinterest, it’s easy.

Let’s use this as an example:

Isn’t that a beautiful entryway? Yes.

Is it set up for easily taking your shoes and jackets on and off? HECK no.

There’s no room for your butt to sit on that bench (and I have a pretty small butt), and the second you hang a jacket up there it’s going to be all up on the candles and the plants.

Now, there are lockers allllllll the way to the left, which would be good storage. However, this image is not showing you how to organize your entryway, or how to make your entryway a less frustrating place. It’s selling design. It’s selling throw pillows, candle holders, and fake plants.

It’s beautiful, but it’s not functional.

This, on the other hand, is a beautiful example of functional organization:

If you have a family of 4 like me, it would be so easy to assign each person a bin on the bottom and a bin on top. When you come in the door, shoes go in the bin, jacks and backpacks go on the hooks, and anything else goes in the top bin.

That’s easy and functional.

Functional Organization is Customized

For example, if you have a family of 7, that entryway picture may not work so effectively for you. To organize your home in a way that is functional, you have to know and understand the way you actually live.

You cannot replicate how someone else organizes and expect it to automatically suit you.

For example, it could be reasonable for a few adults or teenagers to be expected to place their shoes upright and orderly, like this.

Cooking Ruthie

But for my family? That’s just way too much to expect. Trying to organize our entryway that way would be setting us up to fail.

Instead of fighting the fact that your children don’t neatly put their shoes away and getting frustrated over it every day, you could just change the expectations and give them a bin, where they just have to throw their shoes in.

Functional organization is personalized to what works for you, and no one else.

Does it matter how you organize?

If organizing isn’t a struggle for you, then it doesn’t matter.

But if you just can’t figure out why it takes so much work to organize your home, then it matters. If your home gets unorganized faster than it stays organized, then it matters.

If you don’t love your home, then it matters. You should love your home because it makes you happy and makes your life EASIER. That is why functional organization has changed my life.

If you want more information on how you can take the space you have and transform it into a space you love, pop your email in the box below. You’ll get my free five day email course that will help you love your home.

See you there. 🙂

You’re going to love it.

Check your email (and your spam folder) for the first day of the “how to love your home” email course!


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Hi! I’m Kaylee–a mom of 2, business owner, DIY addict, and so much more. You’ll find some fun DIY tutorials, totally honest reviews, and lots of tips for making your home fit YOU. Welcome to Mama and More!