Decorating to Declutter: Balancing Form and Function

source: Patrick Q
source: Patrick Q

This post was originally posted in February of last year, but while I’m working on my house tour post as promised, I thought it would be a good prologue:

From the informal polls I’ve done on Twitter and while talking to friends, it seems like most mothers of young children – when forced to choose – prefer function over form simply out of necessity. However, the good news is that there are so many options out there that combine both function – such as organization, accessibility and simplicity – with style.

Having an organized, simple home does not mean that it has to be bare or ugly; it just means you consider both form and function when making furniture and accessory purchases.

A Case Study

On the form versus function spectrum, my husband and I couldn’t be farther apart. An artist at heart, he is the one who has a vision for a beautiful modern home that offers simplicity and serenity, while my focus is almost entirely on how our home runs and how easy it is for me to interact with our furniture and storage. While our differences may come, to some degree, from our differing roles in our family – since I work at home while taking care of our three (now) four young children and efficiency is the key to my sanity – a lot of it simply stems from our personalities.

Update: Since Sean is now a stay-at-home dad, I’ve had the opportunity to debunk this theory. He still prefers form over function, even though he’s the primary caretaker during the day, and I still prefer function over form. It’s just our personalities, I think!

Meeting Both of Our Needs

I think our different priorities is one reason why we love Ikea. And really, if I start to sound like a walking commercial, know that this post is unsolicited and if you were to come visit me at home (or when you finally get to see the pictures!), our house looks like a walking commercial as well.

But in all seriousness, the appeal of Ikea is not just the inexpensive prices or the funky designs. It’s also the amazing functionality of the furniture and their focus on getting the most out of small spaces.

Maximizing Your Space

If you’ve ever visited an Ikea store in person, you’ve probably seen the displays that show how you can transform 450 square feet into a fully functional home – with a bathroom, kitchen, bedroom and living area – simply by choosing the furniture and shelving that maximizes your space.

I’m sure Ikea is not the only company with this type of focus, although it is perhaps the most clearly defined. Combined with the trendy, unique nature of their products and prices that make it an affordable option for most people, it is a unique store that draws loyal fans around the world.

Balancing form with function is all about choosing furniture and accessories you love, but thinking through how you will use them and how easy they are to use before you bring them home.

Have you been to Ikea? Are you a fan? Do you have a favorite accessory or piece of furniture (doesn’t have to be Ikea!) that combines form and function? Tell us about it!