Banishing “Make Do” or Why That Ugly Chair Has Got To Go.

Make Do isn't good enough, Sunshine.


I currently hear a phrase swirling around too often. This phrase does nothing but keep people stuck in their clutter.

Make do.

You know:

  • This will make do until the right thing comes along.
  • I will just have to make do until I find the time to do it correctly.
  • This will make do because I can’t be bothered to deal with it.

Side note: “Make do” is not to be confused with “good enough.” Good enough is when it’s not perfect, but we still like it. Make do, on the other hand, is something we don’t like but forced to work anyway.

The problem with make-do is that 1) we don’t like it thereby breaking the cardinal “need, use, and love” rule of organizing and 2) it occupies the space that could be taken by something we do like.

An example many of us can relate to is the “ugly chair.” If you’ve never had an ugly chair, consider yourself blessed to have never encountered this blight on home design. The ugly chair usually appears when we’re trying to furnish our first apartment. It also appears when we’re trying to re-establish a home after a breakup or any other number of upheavals that life can throw at us. It’s often a cast-off, hand-me-down, or super-cheap purchase. Nobody sets out to acquire the ugly chair. The ugly chair just sort of happens from the need to “make do” and have a place to seat your tush.

But here’s the thing with the ugly chair – now it’s taking up space as well as making your space ugly. While it’s there, you’re not seeking out a new chair that will make you happy. Why? Because this is making do. There’s a place to sit. It doesn’t make you happy. Matter of fact it probably subconsciously weighs on you every time you see it. But it’s making do.

You know what else makes do? Sitting on the floor. Is it glamorous? No. But neither is that hideous chair. And with that free space, you have a place to put a great chair that you love. You have the motivation to seek out a great chair instead of just making do with the ugly one. You may even decide that you don’t need a chair at all.

With all of my clients, they almost ALWAYS find what they really want when they create the space by getting rid of those make-dos. The make-dos weren’t making them happy so why not embrace the space instead? It’s certainly not any worse.

So how do we go from “make do” to “good enough” or even “fabulous?”

  1. Take a look around your house. Make a list of all the things you don’t like but are “making do.” Write down every single thing big and small. If you don’t love or even like it, it goes on the list.
  2. Look at the items on your list. These will be broken down into three categories:
    1. Eliminate completely. Most likely you’ll have some, if not many, items that you don’t want and don’t need to replace. Examples include: un-liked/unwanted gifts and ugly hand-me-downs. Get these things out of the house and enjoy the newfound space.
    2. Eliminate until a replacement is found. These are items that just don’t jazz you anymore. You’ll want to replace them, but it’s not necessary that the new item exists before you find a replacement you love. Examples include: wall art and unused chairs. Let go of the items and then start researching what would make you happy there instead. When you find the right thing, the space is already ready for it!
    3. Keep until a replacement is found. These are typically larger items that are in regular use or hold other things. Examples include: couches, bookshelves and entertainment centers. Start researching and saving up for what will make you happy. When you find the right replacement, remember to schedule extra time to get rid of the piece you’re replacing.
  3. Work through the list until you’re finished. I like to group my list by room. Then within each room list I put in order of the most sensible way to go about it.

Additional note: is it an organizational system that you’re making do with? Take the time to evaluate what is and isn’t working. If necessary, break it down completely and rebuild to work a better way. Before you say “I don’t have time” think of all the time you’re currently wasting and will continue to waste with a broken system. Cut that out. Make an appointment with yourself (or a professional organizer) and get it taken care of for good!

“Make do” wastes the space for “just right.” Worse, it says you’re ok with mediocre.

You are SO much better than mediocre, Sunshine!!

Let go of the things that are just “making do.” Then have the patience and trust that what you truly need and love will arrive. When it does, you’ll be SO MUCH happier with the final result. Being happy with our home makes it easier to maintain.

What in your home is just “making do?” How are you going to change it so it’s something you love?



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2 Replies to “Banishing “Make Do” or Why That Ugly Chair Has Got To Go.”

  1. Micheline Hynes

    Well written, as usual, Melinda Massie. Gave me just the extra nudge I needed to commit to dealing with the ‘ugly’ in the room. So here’s my commitment: I will get a quote from an upholsterer to have it repaired and refurbished, or it will go in the next 30 days. (Would be sooner, but I have a major car repair that has to come first.)

    Thank you once again for challenging me to give up making do, and put some energy into making it better!

    1. Melinda Massie[ Post Author ]

      Hooray!!! Now I’m holding you to this. 😀 Let me know what happens.

      Glad to challenge and gently nudge. Thanks so much for your comment. Always happy to help.

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