I mentioned this before but I wanted to come back around to this topic of similarity and discuss how it works in organizing. I suppose one might call this a secret to creating an organized space. I think when we are organizing a space there is some confusion about what to use, how to group and how to decide what goes together. Most of the time the goal in organizing is to help make it easier to find things that we are looking for. But sometimes the goal is to make things look more pleasing to the eye…simpler even. So how do I keep the same amount of stuff and make it look like less Mrs. Organization? Ah…let’s go back to school for a minute. (I never did teach psychology but you’ll get the general idea.)
Psychology! Gestalt psychology is a school of thought that looks at the human mind and behavior as a whole. You may be familiar with the Gestalt laws of perceptual organization. Gestalt psychologists developed a set of principles to explain perceptual organization, or how smaller objects are grouped to form larger ones. I want to talk about two of these laws.
The law of Similarity suggests that we tend to group similar objects together in our perceptions. When looking at a group of similar items our mind sees them as a group. This is helpful for organization because if we can create groups of things instead of lots of individual items our spaces seem more organized, simplified and cohesive. We can group things together based on similar aspects ( shape, color, texture, etc.).
The law of Pragnanz is sometimes referred to as the law of good figure or the law of simplicity. This law suggests that objects in the environment are seen in a way that makes them appear as simple as possible. We have four storage boxes on a shelf but instead of our eye seeing them as four objects…we see them as one. We have three blue bins on this same shelf…again, we see them as one unit.
So, look around your house and see if you can find places where you can group things that are similar. Can you find similar containers for toys on a shelf. They don’t have to be the same….but maybe they are all red, all wicker. I have lots of plants in my home and most of them are in white Ikea pots. It creates a bit of continuity in the space and when grouped together the plants are the real highlight instead of the pots. This is one of the reasons a closet with all matching hangers looks so much tidier than a closet with the same exact clothes but mismatched hangers.