Freedom from Overwhelm: Are you a Concealer or Revealer?

“Are you are concealer or are you a revealer?”

Knowing the answer can help free you from overwhelm.
Here’s how and why.
concealer revealer office nook
The last few weeks our Happy House Rules have focused on “Letting go” (read part 1 & 2) and The Psychology of Clutter. These are principles in understanding who you are, in order to truly deal with your stuff and make those changes you seek permanent.To go with this we have a few key questions we ask clients that helps them further understand how they need to design their spaces (and lives). “How minimal are you?” is one. “Are you are concealer or are you a revealer?” is another. This was coined by Nate Berkus and our clients find it really helpful.

I’m a concealer and Tip’s a revealer so we, as a team, understand both ways! And it is understanding what you are (or, more correctly, how you store your stuff) will help you prioritise different systems and solutions for keeping on top of your space, keeping it happy, organised and healthy. How it works:

If you cherish pieces and you want to show everything off, chances are you’re a “revealer.” On the other hand, if you prefer a simpler, Zen-like look, you are probably a “concealer”. Ela Lindsay, Managing the Mess

If it’s not obvious to you which you are, answer these two questions below:

A. “I mostly like my things hidden in storage except for a few key pieces”

B. “I mostly like my things on display”


A. “My mess is mostly hidden, there are rooms and cupboard you can’t open in my house”

B. “My mess is everywhere”

If you answered A, you’re a concealer or B, a revealer.

OK, so now you know, what do you do with it?

Your concealer or revealer tendencies basically translate into different stresses and therefore different tactics and solutions.

A question Tip asked me the other day was, “Is it easier for concealers to deal with their stuff and their mess, is it less stressful?”. In the short term it may seem like it is, because you can close the door or drawer on it, you don’s see it and therefore it’s unlikely to stress out / annoy the other people that you live with. But in the long term, a full attic or basement that is stuffed to the brim but no-one sees still weighs heavily on the (subconscious) mind and can still create stress, overwhlem and fear (of starting, of letting go etc) and all the other things that happen when it. JUST. GETS. TOO. MUCH.

Basically, whichever you are, when it gets too much or too full – hidden or exposed mess, stuff, clutter…is STRESSFUL.

Why do we keep harping on about how important it is to understand where you’re coming from as a way to designing a happier healthy home (and life)? Because when you understand who you are, you can take the appropriate approach to clearing your clutter. And, make the design decisions that suit your needs for your home, especially in terms of storage.

 living room design files and kara rosland

Let’s start with clutter clearing.

For concealers: A quick way to reduce the stress of having an overwhleming room for me as a concealer is choose a drawer or shelf and emptying it into public space – i.e. revealing it. What, you say? Isn’t that counter intuitive? Not at all! If you’re a concealer you’ll know that just because it’s hidden doesn’t mean you don’t think about it. It just means other people don’t know about it. Revealing it … is very freeing. Because I can’t handle much ‘stuff’ in my public space I’m more likely to deal with it…and FAST! So, once you have a pile out in the middle of the room, take 5-20 minutes to deal with it – deciding what stays and goes. Then return what stays to its correct home (Everything in it’s easy place.)

For revealers: A quick way to reduce stress is to clear a corner or pile of stuff into a box. Then, clean the surface and create a lovely vignette or collection of items that you love in place of the area you’ve emptied. This is because for many revealers, empty surfaces are scary and will naturally accumulate even more clutter then before so ensure there’s something appealing in place. Then take 5-20 minutes to deal with the stuff in the box – deciding what stays and goes. Then return what stays to its correct home (Everything in it’s easy place.)

As always, if these tasks feel too overwhelming, it can help to bring in a friend you trust to help or call in a professional to guide you through. (That’s us!)

kitchen open shelving hidden storage

Now let’s move on to storage and organisation. Use concealer or revealer to guide your storage choices. Because we know that when we organise our stuff in a way that makes sense for us, we also feel more organised in our work and lives.

In a kitchen, a revealer would love showing off their goods while a concealer would probably want more closed storage (as the above photo shows – left fits with revealer and right, concealer).

Now, let’s take your desk / home office as an example. A revealer would probably want somewhere for big piles to be easily stored in open space, say with a pretty paper weight, and binders. I would recommend labeling the binders. A concealer would probably also want nicely labeled binders & boxes, a simple in tray, but they would likely also need a closet / drawer to put most of it away by the end of the day.

Finally, a concealer needs a home that prioritises good closed storage with drawers, shelves and containers inside of that to easily organise things. A revealer would probably prefer balancing open shelving and happy vignettes with some closed storage so that they can store things to be rotated for the open shelving, to prevent them from getting too ‘full’.

So, now that you know who you are, we dare you to take a before picture of the mess you’re concealing or revealing … and then take 5 minutes (or half an hour) and make it happier and healthier in a way that honours who you are … and take the after picture. Share it with us via email or by tagging us on Instagram (or however else you’d like to share).
Can’t wait to see and hear about how this changed your space!


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