Organize your home one simple task at a time





Mixing the shine of metal with painted wood and fresh white mums instantly perks up a front entrance.


Now that it’s summer I can’t help but notice I’ve yet to do my spring household shovel-out. The listing piles of paperback books and dusty nests of wires in my so-called wireless world seem to be multiplying, and my response is to flee to the seawall.

This general overwhelmed feeling is how I once found myself absorbed in a book about housekeeping at Chapters. Now before you jump to a more sensible article, hear me out. This how-to book would not get the Martha Stewart stamp of approval; it was written not to perfectionists but to regular people who occasionally find their spaces getting away from them.

The author of this book — I’ve forgotten both names due to my own cluttered mind — was all about the kitchen sink. Her view is, even if you’re paralyzed by the chaos all around you, get that kitchen sink sparkling clean. She then proceeds to give specific instructions on how to achieve gleaming sink glory.

I was like you: I sniffed at this apparently useless bit of advice, but it stuck in my head. After a very long time I started to see something ingenious about that tactic, and it comes down to the design of the sink. It’s really just a mini, self-contained room that is easily conquerable. All it takes is what my mom likes to call elbow grease and 10 minutes’ commitment.

There’s also something about the material of the sink. The rest of the place may look like it barely survived Hurricane Katrina but the high shine of reflective stainless steel from that sink is like a beacon of hope. It’s just another example of how physical design can affect our psychological state.

Zeroing in on one small task and basking in the small glory of a job well done creates a domino effect.

That instant sense of accomplishment gives us heart to take on another small task, like the one in this photo.

Even if what’s behind the door may look like the scene of recent cockfights, the outside holds the promise of calm simplicity. In this example, I took a cue from the kitchen-sink advice lady by focusing on a very small space and bringing in some shine in the form of two tin buckets. All front-door clutter was reduced to a few elements limited to white and black — just enough to brave the rooms beyond.

Carlyn Yandle is a Vancouver journalist with her own room-planning business, Home Reworks ( She dwells on urban-home issues every Thursday in Metro.