A new year, and new beginnings. A clean new slate. But what’s all that stuff getting in the way of your new, green life? It’s clutter. Just what defines “clutter” is a very individual thing. When does a collection cross the line into a mess? How many pillows are too many? We all have our clutter comfort levels, and that impacts our décor choices.
So the question is, what is clutter to you, and what can you do about it?
First, figure out where you are on the clutter comfort continuum. We each have a sense for what feels “cluttered” – it may not be something we can define, except to say, “I know it when I see it.” Some are perfectly at home in a country cottage crammed with antiques, vases, potted plants, lots of pillows and bric-a-brac. For others, anything more than the most stream-lined of modern rooms feels cluttered.
If you are drawn to heavily saturated colors, layers of interesting textures, and lean toward displays of multiple objects and art, you may be a maximalist on the clutter comfort continuum. On the other hand, if you’re more inclined to look at the underlying structure of things, prefer simple lines, neutral colors and feel that your eyes need some empty spaces on which to rest, you’re in the minimalist camp. Most of us lean strongly to one side or the other.
Now, how to find and define the clutter in your space, and then do something positive about it! Take a look at each item in your home and ask yourself these questions.
- Does it get in your way?
If you are regularly annoyed by something, it’s probably clutter. Frustrated by all the pillows you need to move to get into bed? Clutter. Hate dusting the knick-knacks? Clutter. These are the big problem areas, and the easiest to tackle first.
- Does it resonate with your sense of style and beauty?
Our homes reflect who we are, how we want things to look and feel. When you look at something and it “feels” right to you, or you say, “This is so me”, it’s a keeper. If you have a home overflowing with “keepers” you’ll need to ask yourself hard questions, and start with “Does it get in my way?” then move on to the next questions.
- Does it inspire you?
Things that make you feel good, or that inspire you should stay. Get rid of things that make your feel irritable or down. Donate the stuff that makes you feel uninspired. Take a careful look at things like that backlog of magazines, a big book collection and cabinets full of pottery. Are those things clutter? Or are they inspiring to you? Once you recognize the inspiration you find in these things, you can figure out how to house and display them neatly, transforming them from clutter into a beautiful collection.
- Does it evoke happy memories?
Family photos, children’s artwork and family heirlooms can fill your heart with joy. If they don’t, they have no place in your home. If you can’t get rid of them entirely, at least pack them away neatly so they aren’t a part of your day-to-day life. Make sure your home is filled only with things that bring you joy and happiness. If you’re a nostalgia nut and your memorabilia is getting out of hand, edit things down by displaying things seasonally and store the rest.
If you still have an over-abundance of stuff, you might need to take a break and come back to things with fresh eyes. Start by picking out your favorites, and then packing the rest away in storage. Live with your choices for a while and see how it feels. You might find that in a few months, you can simply donate that entire box. And if not, swap things out for a fresh new look.