A Spring Look at Organizing in Seoul Spaces
Written by Deanne Nguyen
Spring-cleaning: the sound of wind chimes to some but the din of blue bells to others. In the wake of the big seasonal scrub-down, which is likely to take longer than you think, it’s time to consider, out of laziness (or efficiency!), if and how we can avoid it altogether.
Top-to-bottom clean-outs have mixed origins, depending the region of the world, but they all seem based around the arrival of spring. In an older, vacuum-less time with coal-heated homes, windows and doors were kept closed in cold weather for heat conservation, meaning certain types of cleaning had to be suspended. So in Korea, where such an indoor-inducing winter exists, spring-cleaning is a necessity in order to dust off the devils of winter.
However, there are some out there who don’t just do spring cleaning, but something else known as “daily tidying,” each with their own variations.
Enter the spotless loft of Dean and Jem, which they maintain “little by little”—everyday. “We both are really clean to begin with,” laughs Jem (aren’t we all). Dean adds a-matter-of-factly, “It [the apartment] just tells me what needs to be cleaned.” While they’ve “never had an argument over cleaning,” their closets are another matter. “I don’t buy or keep things I don’t use or need,” says Dean. However, Jem’s take is to “cram it all in and try to make it work.” And pink, lots of pink. Safe to say, each still has their own domain.
The concepts of separate “zoned” spaces and minimalism are also true in the house of Jillian and Rob. “We have our own designated spaces that no one is allowed to touch,” explains Rob, who describes himself as “project oriented,” even when cleaning, which is done from time to time. Jillian, however, is like a “family circus,” she says. “I just follow everyone around and clean up after them.”
Because they’ve been moving year-to-year since college, they’ve also have gotten into the habit of “containing themselves.” “Everything we have now is multipurpose,” says Jillian. “My clothing, for instance, doubles as decoration.”
Embracing a system
With our individual quirks and needs, devising our own organizational system seems daunting, but it is by no means unattainable. The applications here are simple. Minimize the disposables to maximize space for the treasured, down to the pencil holder. Also, tidy, not clean, daily—even if it’s just for 5 minutes.
In a city where space itself can be a luxury, the home is the most valuable thing we possess. Cleaning it means to reinforce that preciousness, reminding us of our good fortune. It should be viewed not as a chore, but rather, as Jillian puts it, a lifestyle ritual.