When I start an organizing project with a client, I always ask them the same four questions: what is your timeline, what is your budget, what are your goals, and what is your aesthetic preference. The answers to these questions define and direct the project to completion. Clients can usually identify answers to the first three questions, but the fourth one (aesthetic preference) can stump clients. Some tell me that they don’t have an aesthetic preference or that they have never really considered what this would be. In these situations, it’s my job as their professional organizer to help steer and guide them towards an answer. No two clients are the same as they all have different items to organize and different needs and systems to consider. The same is true for a design aesthetic. This blog post will provide a road map for you to help determine your design preference and will focus specifically on pantry design as an example.

It All Starts with an Inspiration Board

After an initial phone call with a client, we schedule the in home consultation. Prior to the consultation, I create a private board on Pinterest and invite the client to collaborate on this board. I’ll pin 5-10 images of the requested space (in this case, a pantry) to the board. The images that I pin all showcase different colors, textures, etc. I ask the client to also scroll through Pinterest and also pin pictures that they like, even if it’s only a small part of the overall image. I also encourage the client to save images in folders on Instagram as well, particularly if they are more familiar with this platform.

Reviewing the Saved Images and Narrowing Down a Design Aesthetic

When I meet with a client for the in home consult, we discuss all the necessary components of the project. At this point, we look at the saved inspiration images and I help the client zero in on a design preference. I ask the client what specifically drew them in to the various images pinned. Was it a color? A texture? A font? Or, perhaps the configuration of the shelves? In the case of a pantry, does the client like the look of decanting containers? Will they be able to keep up with the system(s) depicted in the pictures? For this pantry, the client told me she wanted a farmhouse feel with stained shelves, textured baskets, shiplap, and containers with white tops.

Mixing and Matching for a Custom Look

After meeting with the client and pinpointing a design preference, I get to work sourcing organizing product for the space as well as coordinating any necessary vendors, such as a handyman or painter. For a pantry, I will typically select 1-2 types of bins/baskets, lazy susans, a can riser/organizer, decanting containers, and stackable containers.

For this pantry, I chose The Container Store water hyacinth baskets and stackable guzzini baskets. The client wanted to mix and match colors, so we did a combination of the natural and mocha colorways in the water hyacinth baskets as well as both the white and grey colorways in the guzzini baskets (this matched her white shiplap and grey ceiling). The decanting containers are from Amazon and the white tops are repeated in the white of the guzzini baskets and the white can riser. Repeating a color (or no color in the case of clear bins) provides repetition and gives the appearance of a more calming space.

Labels: The Icing on Your Organized Cake

One of the most important design considerations to make in a space is the label. Some baskets/bins require label clips while other organizing products will have the label added directly to the item. Again, to elevate the look of the pantry and provide consistency, it’s important to create a uniform look right down to the labels and the color and font used. For this pantry, the client chose black bin clips with white font, black font on clear containers, black font on white baskets, and white font on grey baskets. Therefore, there was a mix of black and white font color, but the font remained the same look throughout by using printed vinyl labels.

Creating a Custom Pantry

One of the most fun aspects of an organizing project is determining the overall design aesthetic. While it requires some decision making up front, pinpointing the overall look you are naturally drawn to will ensure that the end result is something you love for a long time. After all, you’re investing time, money, and energy into organizing a space so you might as well love how it looks not only from an organizing perspective, but also from a design perspective. There are so many ways to create a custom look – from wood stain, to brackets, to wallpaper, and labels…there truly are endless ways to design your custom, organized space. If you need some help identifying your design aesthetic, reach out to me here. And, if you are an interior designer, I’d love to hear from you too so we can discuss avenues for partnership!

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