“I’m so happy because today True and I are moving into our dream house,” says Khloe Kardashian, one of the sisters of the world’s most popular celebrity clan, looking into the camera. Immediately, images of his new Los Angeles mansion appear: a large living room in warm, muted tones, a huge kitchen with a huge island in the middle. And suddenly a giant closet that the cameras spend more time on than the rest of the house. Her mother, Kris Jenner, walks in to check on her, looking amazed. Cupboards open on one side and on the other, lit as if they were shop luxurious in which instead of shoes or bags are shown glass jars of biscuits and cereals, cans of preserves, jars of sauces of all kinds, and in the background – dishes on display.
Khloé Kardashian is a lover of large closets, like other celebrities such as actresses Reese Witherspoon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mindy Kaling or Drew Barrymore. Behind them all are businesswomen Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, who founded the company The Home Edit in 2015, according to their own website, with “the aim of reinventing the traditional organization and fusing it with design and interior style to obtain a specific and exclusive a look that is now known around the world.’ Today, Shearer and Teplin are bestselling authors and have their own reality show organizing large and small spaces in Netflix: closets, dressers, bedrooms, laundry rooms and, of course, closets. A trend on the rise, that of extreme home organization, since the advent of Marie Kondo and her Konmari method.
From 2015 until now, closets, once considered the room of relief, in which appliances such as the washing machine, cleaning utensils such as the bucket and mop, the broom, the cans or the toolbox can be placed, have become photographic spaces. If writer David Sedaris said in his autobiographical novel Calypso that the best thing about reaching middle age is having a guest room, displaying it as a symbol of bourgeois status and a sign of how well you’ve done in life (“Follow me,” said the writer, feeling “thrills of pure satisfaction ” showing his guest room), now the closets look real relief of an aspiring middle class. Pinterest is full of boards giving ideas on how to stylishly organize your broom closet; and Instagram has more of the same going on. The quest for an organized closet is largely due to the time spent at home during the pandemic, where everyone was looking for new projects, but also to the particularities of the spaces we now inhabit.
“The key is to establish what a pantry is: in the original sense of the term, it was a small space, whether a cupboard or a room, for storing food, and now we understand it as service room, what the English say is more like a wet room of a bourgeois house, where there is the iron, the washing machine, the sewing… and all the tasks that cannot be seen, “explains Beatriz Blasco to EL PAÍS Esquivias , professor of art history at the Complutense University of Madrid, as well as director, coordinator and one of the authors of the book At home. Evolution of domestic space in Spain (El Viso Editions). “A status symbol? If we look at the status as a certain way of life that the size of the current housing has led us to, especially if we live in big cities… it is more of an aspirational symbol,” the professor points out. In this sense, it is necessary to organize a house with very few square meters and get the most out of it, in addition to making it obvious: “This is turning the most unworthy part of the house into a small pride.”
As Blasko points out, it is possible that the phenomenon is happening more on the Internet than in homes: “Instagram, for example, is a window to the outside world where we all put aspirational elements, the network phenomenon manipulates the image, magnificent and turns it into a desideratum more than reality”.
“Most people don’t live like that. But what you see on social media is so blown out of proportion that you start to think that you are doing something wrong. It’s a very harmful cycle,” said Rachel Hoffman, author of the book Free your habitat: You are better than your mess (Get rid of your habitat: you are better than your disaster, in Spanish), in an article in ICON Design. For Hoffman, who defends not sharing what’s perfect on networks, there are also “a lot of questions of class and money” behind many of these posts. It was especially relevant in pictures of pantries in which everything is out of its original packaging, in matching and well-labeled containers. “It’s visually very attractive, but storage is extremely expensive. Buying all these things is beyond the power of many people.
The reason for the rise of closets on the Internet, where anyone can literally enter the kitchen of another home, is related to the evolution that kitchens have experienced in recent years: “The kitchen, before the industrial and social revolution, a place that was an exclusive element of work: it was an uninhabited place,” explains Professor Beatrice Blasco Esquivias. It was not a pleasant space and the odors were often unbearable as canned goods, pickles, vinegar were stored. At the end of the day, the remains of the house were collected, from bodily waste to ashes from braziers and fires. “Later, in the 20th century, we gave way to an open space, less segregated, thanks to the inclusion of women in work and in public and social life,” explains Blasko. Curiously, the urban kitchen goes through a revolution and eventually becomes the heart of the house: a meeting place where you eat, receive and have a social life.
These new kitchens, full of life, now have so much storage space through cupboards that small cupboards have become useless spaces: “Pantries in cities were small and became unnecessary from the end of the 19th century, especially because in many cities such like Madrid, mass stockpiling of certain foods was banned to avoid shortages,” adds Blasco. Over the years, those who owned it often got rid of it to make room in the kitchen, and now those who keep it often see it as a treasure, especially if you look at the gorgeous cabinets on the internet.
It happens with them like small bathrooms that people turn into spaces of enjoyment, looking for that feeling of Spa center at home. After all, they are beautiful compromises of those who live in limited spaces: “The need compels and what is sold is more image: a modern form of comfort is the appearance, the search for beauty and in this case the closet.” As the professor points out, the house is ultimately a living and changing thing. “When someone moves into a new home, the first thing they do is transform it into a reflection of who they are or what they aspire to be,” he explains. A space that must meet certain needs, but also reveal the brilliance of personalities. “Follow me,” said David Sedaris, perhaps meaning, “See me, know me.”