Organizing Your Household, circa 1910

While my husband was in bed with a cold and my daughter fast asleep, I spent the evenings of a recent weekend watching Downton Abbey late into the night. Yes, I know I’m late to the game. I started watching season 1 of the series and was hooked immediately.

What does Downton Abbey have to do with organizing? In such a vast estate as Lord Grantham’s (OK, he lives in a castle), there has to be a large ensemble of household staff to keep everything in order.

How does the staff remember what they need to buy to keep the household running smoothly? In an episode near the end of season one, I saw a vintage organizing tool. In one of the scenes in the kitchen I noticed something intriguing hanging on the wall behind the cook. It passed out of sight quickly but I re-wound and paused it. It was what I thought I had glimpsed: a Household Wants Indicator.

The Household Wants Indicator is a metal board with a pre-written list of items in alphabetical order: from almonds and ammonia, to vinegar and wines. There are metal flags next to each item that you’d flip over as a reminder to purchase the item. The tag is red on the flipped side so it stands out in the list. It’s the original automated checklist!

And while searching online for photos of a Household Wants Indicator, of course I happened upon this app for the iPad.  I might just have to toss my pre-printed paper grocery list for this cool one.