The William Morris Project: 2014 | Tweaking the Medicine Cabinet

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The William Morris Project

I first cleared out the medicine cabinet in our kitchen in January of 2012. It was a huge success and works very well in our family. I cleaned them up the following October. The only problem I had was with the bottom shelf. This shelf belongs to the Mister and is supposed to be where he keeps all his medicine/vitamins/supplements.

Medicine Cabinet, 1

Medicine Cabinet, 3

Medicine Cabinet, 2

The problem: He likes things out in the open. Not everything, but the medicine always ended up on the corner of the counter. The empty bottles he leaves out to remind himself to buy more. The other bottles are out because he takes them daily. The first aid items are out because he suffered a bad cut fixing something for my mom. The point is, everything stayed out on the counter.

This frustrated me more than you can imagine. I felt that I put in the time to organize the cabinet and, by God, everyone needs to respect the cabinet! How hard is it to take your medicine and put it back in place? Not hard, is what I reasoned. (fumed, muttered, grumbled, etc.)

As with almost every organization project I take on, it took me a while to figure out how to make things work best for everyone, not just me. In this case, it took me a little over one year.

I organized this cabinet the first time around because the shelves are narrow, deep, and difficult to keep organized. The boxes are great for corralling like items and efficiently using a cavernous little hole. I needed the boxes to keep everything neat, so I think it’s odd that I expected my husband to keep it organized when I couldn’t.

Medicine Cabinet, 4

Medicine Cabinet, 5

Medicine Cabinet, 6

January’s video purge gifted me with an empty box to use on the Mister’s bottom shelf.

And that’s what I did, simple as that. More telling is how immaculate the counter has remained since the addition of the 4th box. Lesson learned: sometimes messes reflect more on the system than the user.

Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. Samma says

    Love that. So simple, but kinda profound.
    My mom is a hoarder and I’ve been studying up on how to help her manage the hoard to make things safer for my dad, who is running fast down the alzheimers road. One thing I learned recently, and recognize in myself, is that hoarders share a common trait: Hoarders think spatially and categorically, meaning they prefer stacks of papers on a desk they can see over neat horizontal files in filing cabinets with papers tucked out of sight.
    So the constant battle in our house is to make sure everything has a place, and that place suits both my husband and I’s demonstrated preference to see the stuff.
    Your WM projects always help me stay on track, even when the specific project isn’t one that I can relate to in my life.

    • says

      Phenomenal comment. How interesting to read about spacial and categorical thinking!! Would you mind sharing the source? I think this might help in our house, too. My husband likes to see everything and I like everything hidden.

        • Shannon says

          In addition to this, there is a book I recently picked up about organization solutions for people with ADHD. I don’t have (or at least have never been labeled as) ADHD but I do find I am a visual person. While I can find stuff if its indexed in a drawer its not inherently my style and its impossible for me to maintain. One thing the book suggests is to use open storage (basically ditching lids or stacked boxes) because at the first bit of resistance (Oh No it a LID!!) I’ll start piling stuff up “until I can get to it.” Now, I can find the stuff I need when I need it but heaven help the person (DH) who needs to locate anything…….Its been a really great book for thinking outside of the “pretty” organization methods that abound. The strategies she suggests would never be pin worthy but are really helping me get to a point where I don’t feel so overwhelmed about getting organized.

          • says

            THIS is the type of organization and decluttering I’m interested in. I can’t stand the Neat as a “PIN” pictures of organization and products I see. It’s not practical for the people who really need the help.

        • says

          That would be SO amazing. The kids would love it and we would take very, very good care of them. No pressure–I know how hard it is to part with collections.

  2. Jennifer says

    This would drive me crazy. My husband and I have this same dynamic (ie I’m perfect and he’s a slob :) ). My husband wouldn’t be able to stick to the box for long and I would end up putting everything back in the box myself. That way we’re both happy.

  3. Susan G says

    I have to admit, when I saw the picture I thought “Why doesn’t he have a box?” More because I like symmetry than any great insight into how things work for people. :) Glad it’s working!

  4. says

    Sign of maturity….adding the box so that the system can work for everybody instead of waiting him out to see how long the stuff would stay on the counter. Have you seen the episode of Everyone Loves Raymond where Deborah and Ray have a stand off over who will be the one to put away the suitcase that only made it to the landing? Hysterical…because I see myself a bit too clearly in the portrayal!

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