There’s something so very soothing about things that match. How I envied those girls in grammar school whose hair accessories matched their outfits, down to the socks, but by the time I had my own clothing budget I was wearing all black anyway. In a home, the unspoken matching rule is sets and pairs: matching dining room chairs, dishes in sets, matching bath and hand towels, sheet sets. If you go the distance with organizing and the budget allows, all the hangers in the closet will be of one type as will all of the containers in the pantry and the plastic tubs in the garage. When a conscious, artistic choice to mix up something that traditionally would match, like dining room chairs, it is that much more impactful on a background that is coordinated in color, style and other factors.
To get a clean look, say in a closet, it is more important that the hangers match than that they are expensive cedar wood or whatever. I have seen beautiful closets with every garment on a lowly dry cleaner wire hanger. You could have two types of hangers or even three and still get a clean and serene look. Keep pressed shirts on wire, use velvet covered hangers for sweaters and items that slip off a hanger easily, and save the matching wooden hangers for coats and jackets.
I discourage my clients from keeping hangers from stores like Target. The weird short necks and the colored size information on the hooks makes the closet look cluttery. I don’t love hangers from expensive boutiques either. They are usually very distinctive in some way and often scooped, which takes up more space than a flat hanger. If you don’t want to be wasteful, leave the hanger at the store, don’t bring it home.
I like matching containers in closets and pantries and prefer white or clear plastic, which are easy to wipe clean, important in the case of food or make up storage. In a clothing closet, your clothes and accessories are easier to appreciate against the simple, plain storage system. Cushy celebrity closets with chandeliers and champagne refrigerators have nothing on a clean white closet with excellent lighting.
One of the most annoying facts of modern life is that once you commit to a matching set of something, the manufacturer inevitably ceases producing it. Thus, if you break a glass or plate, you may no longer have a complete set. In these cases, wait until you break a few more things and then buy a complementary few pieces of something that will work as a blended set.
For example, when you get down to three water glasses, buy three or four of a different type that will look interesting with the ones you already own and alternate them when you set the table for an “I meant it to look this way,” dinner party. Try it with cloth napkins, dinner plates and forks if you find that forks tend to go missing or get mangled in the garbage disposal over the years.
I find that it is easier to be organized if the décor of the whole house is built on a thoughtful color palette. That way when sheets and towels are washed it’s not a big deal to match up sets. Either everything is white, gray or tan, and it doesn’t matter which go in which room, or each bedroom has a distinctive color attached to it and those sheets and towels have a particular place to be. If each bedroom has different size beds, it is much easier to give each room different colored sheets rather than try to figure out the white Kings from the white Queens out of the dryer.
Sets of things like mixing bowls and serving platters are nice because they usually nest well and take up less space. If you prefer not to match things exactly, you might still choose all oval or all rectangle platters so that they stack well, or a variety of bowl sizes so that they still might nest together in a cupboard.
It can be fun to think about when you want things to match and when you prefer variety. It is far more important that it is a conscious choice than that everything match (or not). It’s the thinking behind the system that not only makes for the order but creates more aesthetically pleasing results too.