Our family's journey to the heart of a handmade life

Clearing the Clutter

Clearing the Clutter

Lately, I have been totally overwhelmed by the amount of STUFF filling my house. Useless, decorative, or sentimental, it all seems so unnecessary. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to decorating- Victorian, dark wood and antiques, that sort of thing. But today, the stark white modernist approach is almost enticing.


My writing desk. Yes, this is post-organizing. You should’ve seen it before!

I am certainly no hoarder, but I have been known to keep cheap trinkets simply because of their nostalgia potential. (On a side note, ‘knickknack’ is the best thesaurus word: dingbat, fandangle, festoon, parquetry, gewgaws, flummery! Sorry, I am a bit of a word dork…) The trouble comes a few years later, when that super cute doohickey (!) you bought for just a nickel at that yard sale ten years ago is collecting dust on the bookcase. Or that wine cork you saved from New Year’s Eve gets jammed in the back of your junk drawer. This is where I am, and something needs to change.

My craft storage
The first order of business was to go through our (many) books and pare it down a bit. My tastes in high school were far different than what they are now (think Hunter S. Thompson vs. Margaret Mitchell), so we have a lot of obsolete titles filling the shelves. On the first pass, I removed all the obvious ones, immediately placing them in a box. I then asked Patrick to help. Together we took a second look, really evaluating whether the book a) would ever be read again or b) fits in with our moral values. Having a child in the house really makes me think twice about everything. Sure, the little one isn’t even close to reading yet. But if I wouldn’t want my child to read something, I should really think about why. Is it bad language, adult issues, or a bigger reason? For example, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath is a great book, but it’s pretty heavy, and certainly not meant for a young child. So we will remove that one until she is ready, then add it back to the shelves. But Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk is vulgar and relies on shock value instead of literary merit, so that will be donated/sold. The nudity in a classic painting is far different than the nudity in ‘Sex and the City.’ 
Main bookcase, post-op

Next, I madea pass around the house and removed all decorative items that are not sentimental and do not have a significant impact on the style/feel of the room. That stuff went into a box that will either be donated or sold. Then I went back and really assessed my emotional ties to those sentimental things remaining. Many times, I couldn’t actually remember why it meant something. Those items will be boxed and sent to the basement. The next time I do a thorough cleaning, I will take another look. If I still can’t pinpoint a reason to keep it, those items will also be donated or sold.

Newly organized bookcase in living room

Finally, we moved the furniture around a bit. Just moving a table or switching two chairs can revitalize a room. If that is not an option, new curtains, pillow shams, or table centerpieces can also liven things up. Less than one day’s work, and now the house is less cluttered and I feel a little better. Not a bad way to spend a Monday.