One Key Element to an Ordered Space

Does your space feel chaotic? Would you like it to feel more ordered? There are many ways to improve the function and appearance of a space. One key element that can help is the use of “borders.” I know this word can usher in a variety of emotions, especially in the context of nations and politics. However, when it comes to a room, closet, drawer, or shelf, borders can be a huge asset.

So, what do I mean by a border? A border is simply an established boundary between one space and another. Take a moment to look up and scan your space. What borders do you see? Here are a few of mine:

– A rim of black around my computer screen

– Frames around my window and my bulletin board

– Wooden trim between my wall and floor

– A fabric edge around my area rug

– A decorative line around the collar of my sweater

– Frames around the photos on my shelf

– Dividers in my desk drawer

These are examples of physical boundaries or borders. During the recent pandemic, we’ve become accustomed to another kind of “border,” namely the physical distance between ourselves and other people. In many aspects of life, this has been difficult. However, in some locations – for example, a busy restaurant – I’ve actually enjoyed the extra space between tables and diners.

Borders can also provide a transition from one type of space to another, such as the foothills between a mountain range and the valley below, or dunes between a beach and a residential area. In addition to providing functional benefits, these transitional zones help our minds adjust as we move from one situation to another. Wouldn’t it be weird if we crossed the street from a snowy field and were suddenly standing in a tropical rainforest? That would feel abrupt and wrong, and we would find ourselves trying to hastily change our clothes and adapt to the new climate.

This concept of borders and boundaries is very helpful to us when it comes to organizing and planning our space. To be organized, we want our belongings to rest in specific, predictable locations. When our possessions pile up, fall over, slosh into one another, or otherwise mix in with dissimilar items, odds are that they are “overflowing their borders.” Spaces end up feeling crowded and muddled, making it hard to find, process, and enjoy what we have. If you are struggling with a space that isn’t working, you may have insufficient and/or blurry borders.

So, what do borders look like? They appear in a variety of forms, such as:

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