It took me a while to figure it out, but I realized that once something is out of sight for me, it may as well be gone. Well, gone to a certain extent. Gone until I find myself remembering and then wondering about and then needing and then frantically searching through mountains of closet junk for some certain object that I had probably shoved away behind closed doors at some point in time. Additionally, it oftentimes translated into accidentally buying multiple identical items because I had forgotten that I already had ten of the same thing buried in the back of the pantry.
I also realized that if I knew some functional object was going to be tucked away anyway, I didn't really care what it looked like or how many I bought. I became a slave of sales— what, 5 packs of neon sponges for 50 cents ??? cha-ching!— instead of thinking of whether I really needed or wanted a certain object. If you know you aren't going to have to look at something everyday, why does it matter whether it's attractive or not?
The change came when we moved into our current home, removed the kitchen cabinet doors to paint them, and found ourselves loving the look and idea of open storage. What we didn't love was our dishes. Of course I had realized that previously. In fact, I realized it every time I sat down to meals and had to look at them, but then I'd move on, shoving them from dishwasher to closed cabinets until the next meal. Having to look at them on open shelves everyday made me want to do something about them, and about other items in our house too.
It helped me hone in on a consistent style, become more deliberate about what I bought and how I displayed it, and take care that things that I already owned. It has also forced me to clean more regularly. And believe me, for packrat slackers with visual ADD, that's a good thing. Clutter bothers me much more quickly when I have to see it everyday, and it allows me to see it as clutter instead of "something I may need someday. "
Of course there are exceptions, and with kids, a dog, and a hobby-obsessed husband I'm thankful to still have a few closets in our house. In common areas though, we've switched almost exclusively to open storage and it has helped us maintain a more aesthetically pleasing, clean, and peaceful home life, as well as a more deliberate approach to what we own and accumulate.
What about you?