There are two kinds of people in the world: those who can extrapolate.
I love that joke.
When it comes to the way space is organized, there are also two kinds of people: those who prefer function and those who prefer form.
If you and your spouse/partner/housemate fall on opposite sides of this divide, it can save a lot of tension to understand the dichotomy.
Craig is all about function. He’s happy for things to look good, but never at the expense of practicality. He would leave all frequently used items out on the counters, because it saves having to open cupboards and drawers, to take things out and put them away.
The person who values function wants things and spaces to be about usability. Key words they may use are efficient, practical, easy-to-use.
They will sacrifice the way things look for the way things work. Logistics are key.
I, on the other hand, love form. I’ll happily forego a more efficient set-up for the sheer beauty of a clean, uncluttered space. I’m happy to take things out and put them away as needed, so that the counters stay clear.
The person who values form wants things and spaces to be about aesthetics. Key words might be beautiful, design, visual.
For them, optimized functionality can take a back seat to a pleasing appearance.
Form Versus Function And Domestic Harmony
Recently we got a new espresso machine and switched to pods. Craig wanted to put all the coffee pods in wide-mouthed plastic canisters on the bench beside the espresso machine. I wanted to put them in beautiful glass jars in the pantry.
No one is right and no one is wrong*. (*He is self-evidently wrong.) By recognizing that disagreements about the way you organize your domestic space may be no more than a clash of values, you can find a solution that doesn’t drive either of you crazy.
So if you and your partner don’t see eye to (my clearly superior) eye, how do you make your space work?
- Acknowledge your preferences. By recognizing that you have these different values, you can avoid putting each other down for your ‘egregious lack of taste’ or ‘anal retentiveness’ (nope, these phrases have never been uttered in my house). Without labels or name calling, you can focus on negotiating.
- Be prepared for the C-word: compromise. Things may not be perfectly beautiful nor optimally practical, but there may be a mid-point you can both be happy with.
- Notice where it matters to each of you and where it doesn’t. If the form-lover is more worried about the kitchen and living room, and the function-lover about the laundry and garage, then grant each other final say in your respective zones.
So what did we do about the coffee pods?
I bought some beautiful glass jars, filled them with pods, and happily placed them in the pantry.
Later that same day I returned them for practical, wide-mouthed plastic *shudders* canisters, but I got to put them in the pantry.
We are still married.