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Home Organization Tips from a Permaculture Expert

By Tanner Sagouspe Rise Writer
Mar 24, 2020

Permaculture is a set of design principles centered on mimicking nature and working with nature's natural cycles. Once achieved, this leads to agricultural ecosystems that can be both sustainable and self-sufficient.

How Can Permaculture Principles Apply to Home Organization?

Zones are a fundamental part of permaculture and play a significant role in efficiently managing your outdoor environment. But what if we wanted to bring the zones inside? Would they still work in saving us time and potentially money?

The answer is yes. So today, we will look at how to zone the inside of your house for efficiency. But before we begin, Rise has a great article on zones (and sectors) for your outdoor space that I would recommend reading first if this is the first time you've heard these terms.

Zone 1

As with your typical Zone 1, the indoor Zone 1 is your most heavily used area, visited multiple times a day. Go through your house and think about how your routine goes. What's the first thing you do in the morning? Do you turn on the coffee or stop by the bathroom first? What about after work? Do you like to lounge on the couch, or do you prefer going right into cooking dinner?

Towel Storage

Find the path you often take and optimize that space with support features. Not a lot of extra space in the spare bedroom or bathroom? If there is a closet between them, you can have storage for either area, bedsheets, and extra towels are always a couple of feet away when you need them.

Herbs on the Window Sill

The kitchen is a guaranteed Zone 1 because you use it multiple times a day. Planting herbs in your windows gives you extra flavor an arms reach away. Do you have a table or island that the kids like to frequent? Including some shelves with cookbooks, coloring books, and others goodies will keep them appeased while you're finding the recipe for dinner.

Zone 2

This zone is where you spend at least some of your day. I like to consider this the "cleaning zone" because this would be your typical Zone 2 task. If you're planning on doing laundry, you will be going to the laundry room, and you likely won't spend much time there, other than for that reason. This space may have things like an ironing board, or clothes hamper, meaning it will be used between once a day and several times a week.


With that as a metric, think of areas in your home that may have these similar features. Cleaning bathrooms or vacuuming rooms aren't really zones, as much as they are the use of the zones. If your home has hardwood in the kitchen and living room areas, but carpet in the bedrooms, you would want to place your vacuum in a location closer to your bedrooms. Likewise, you would want to locate your dust mop closer to your living areas.

Find ways to maximize the areas you frequent in this manner. If you're needing to run back and forth across your home for cleaning supplies, you're losing time and spending your energy in unnecessary effort.

Zone 3

In permaculture, Zone 3 is the farm zone. These areas are visited between a couple of times a week to once a month. I like to consider this indoor zone as the "hobby zone".


Let's use crochet as an example. This hobby can be relaxing and enjoyable, but maybe your busy schedule keeps you from doing it every night. When you do finally have time, where do you like to crochet? Are your yarn and hooks already there, or do you have to search for them? If you have your area already prepared, there's less hassle getting started.

With the extra time gained from maximizing the efficiency of your home space, maybe you can finally finish that scarf. Or better yet, finish a scarf a week and then keep doing it. When winter comes, you can have lots of gifts on hand or even sell your extra items at a craft fair or online. Turn your Zone 3 hobby into an income source!

Don't want to clutter your living room with your hobby supplies? Consider a storage chest for your coffee table or maybe an end table with extra storage space. Remember to integrate, rather than segregate, and give multiple functions to your furniture choices.

Zone 4

Zone 4 is the least managed zone of the property. Typically, this is a place you'd visit a few times a year. But you're in your home every day, so how would a rarely used zone function?  

I like to consider this zone as the "seasonal zone." These are places in the home that you will store away your winter coats or summer beach towels. How many times have you had to go out and buy new seasonal accessories only to find last year's tucked in an unknown closet?

Ski Storage

Choosing the right areas for your seasonal storage isn't going to make or break the flow of your home. It can make the transitions easier if you decide to place the majority of one season's accessories in easy-to-remember locations. No more fumbling for snowshoes tucked in the back of a closet with lawn chairs.

These areas are meant to be low maintenance, so try to place these storage locations in your least used areas of the house. This way, they are out of the way until you need them and not cluttering up space that you do need.

Zone 5

Finally, there is Zone 5, which is an unmanaged zone. In permaculture, you would connect with nature in Zone 5 by taking only pictures and leaving only footprints. In the home, you're not going to have a beautiful waterfall or towering forest, but you may have views of those.

Backyard View

Consider choosing a few personal views of your yard that you like to sit and admire. Enhance those spaces with chairs, coffee table, and maybe a few plants to bring the outdoors in. This time allows you to admire the yard you designed using permaculture and appreciate the hard work you've done.

And when your day is "go, go, go," sometimes it's okay to say "no, no, no," and take a few minutes for yourself. Sit in your Zone 5, have an herbal tea fresh from your garden, and take a deep breath. 

How Would Zoning Help?

So how does this equate to sustainability? By designing your indoors efficiently, you cut down on time looking for things or pacing across the house for something you forgot.  

By using the permaculture design techniques of noting current zones, you can see how your home is laid out now. Then you can rework those zones into something more comfortable and efficient.


As you get accustomed to the new routine of your repositioned zones, you'll begin to notice the few minutes here or there saved. That time can be put into your food forest, which produces for your family, or into picking up trash around the neighborhood, which builds community. You could even put more time into your hobbies, which in turn could produce a side income for those little sustainable upgrades you've been putting off.

Or maybe, after all the rezoning, you can sleep in a few minutes later, knowing everything you need is in a straight-line from a bedroom to the car.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-07-02T11:58:59+0000
Tanner Sagouspe

Article by:

Tanner Sagouspe

Tanner Sagouspe has a Masters in Environmental Management and is a Permaculture Designer who promotes tackling the climate crisis at home.