This is a statement which I heard years ago & find it rings true. This is a bit of a hard topic to traverse for me as I have ‘hoarders’ in my family, but in this privileged country of ours we have so much ‘stuff’ in our homes. Right now if you were to look around I’m sure you could count up dozens upon dozens of items you are surrounded by. And on top of that if you really considered it, how many of these items do you really need?
Now it’s not just about need. We want to live a certain way & with that comes tangible items – I would rather have a bed than no bed. But when our houses become a shrine to consumerism, we need to take a moment to decide if it is important to keep it all.
As an Interior Designer I have seen minimalist interiors, with only those few precious items perfectly placed on the mantle. And then I have seen the houses with items smothering every surface, stacked on top of each other & layers of dust on top, making it abundantly clear those pieces haven’t been moved for years. There is no right & no wrong way to live. I am not dictating that everyone needs to clean out to be perfect. I am stating that in my experience the original saying sees to hold true – A cluttered house is a cluttered mind.
When you look at an area of your home (and we all have them) where items tend to gather, you can see all the work you need to do… the jacket is there because it needs sewing, the paint can sits there until I touch up the hallway, Grandma’s baking dish needs to be returned to her & the shoes are there because they need polishing. So consider that your whole home was covered with these areas. The mental toll must be exhausting.
From a different perspective, the Ancient Chinese belief of Feng Shui is based on Chi being energy or life force. In a cluttered home, the Chi cannot flow through the home safely creating stagnant or damaging energy to pool in areas.
From a scientific or medical perspective, when air cannot circulate correctly, this can lead to mould growth or dust mite being present which in turn can cause respiratory problems in humans. Long term the mould can cause damage to walls, ceilings & stain carpets. In areas that cannot be easily cleaned insects & rodents tend to live which can also create more heath issues for occupants. Sounds dire!
But that is the worst case scenario, the sort of thing you would see on an episode of Hoarders. Luckily most of us don’t live in houses such as these, however we all tend to have that area or two which does need a bit of attention.
Interior Decoration is a fickle field as every season there are new colours, new décor items & new furniture to adorn our homes. This can make it really difficult to stay in vogue without having an overload of clutter.
If it is important for you to keep your Interiors updated with all the new fashions, then consider a white based colour palette for the walls & window furnishings, & a neutral coloured floor. Note, when you hear the word ‘neutral’ this includes white, black, grey, brown, stone, taupe & linen colours. This will allow you to create a colourful & attention grabbing décor range which can be updated as often as you like.
If you prefer to have a consistent style & only add a couple of pieces every now & then, you need to consider which style you like. Pick a theme. Research the style you like. This may be Industrial or it may be Classical. Allow most of your interior to follow that theme & ensure that when you add a Contemporary piece the overall feeling of the room isn’t disrupted.
So how do you clear out?
Well Spring is always a good time for this. Just start in one room. Each time you pick up an item, think about if you really like it or could put it away in storage. With the items you choose to keep, make sure this is for YOUR reasons, not because it has always been there, or that one family member you never see likes it there. This is YOUR home everyday. Make sure it is YOURS everyday.
If possible, move these ‘keep’ items to another area of that room. A change is as good as a holiday. If you like that cushion, you may as well keep it fresh. Even move items from room to room. You could also re-purpose items, like taking all those old picture frames & arranging them into one large photo wall collage. Or clean out the old books from the bookcase & use it to store extra cushions or throw rugs when they are not in use. This not only re-invigorates the bookcase, but also softens the look. And can save cash as you are not needing to shop for new items.
For the pieces that you have ‘put into storage’, what you do next is up to you. If you are the type of person who is happy to part with them, passing them onto family or Op Shops then it solves the issue. If you are the type of person who cannot let them go, you may want to ask yourself ‘why?’ And this answer will probably be different for each item. However one truth will always remain – we can’t take it with us when we go, so do we really NEED it?
“Love people & use things. Because the other way around never works.” – The Minimalists
So with Spring only a week away are you going to de-clutter, freshen up that interior & consider a new way of living? Ha, ha! It’s alright if you’re not. We don’t need to adopt a new religion to decorate our homes but a little bit of mindfulness can help you focus on what is really important to you & ensure that you’re not overloaded with a cluttered mind.