Sunday, April 12, 2009

On Clutter...

I harbour mixed feelings about clutter.

On the one hand, there is clutter that is probably universally acknowledged as bad. It remains quite a feature of my life. It includes:

  • The clutter of laziness. Everyday items that have a home, but don't find them. Simple household chores that don't get done for no real reason. Things that get broken and not fixed because they are not valued properly.
  • The clutter of greed. Stuff that we've accumulated even though we don't need, use, or cherish it. Things owned in multiples, because one wasn't 'enough' or because the original got lost in the chaos. The constant need to 'upgrade' to the next model even when the old one is perfectly fine.
  • The clutter of selfishness. Waste. Food that gets chucked out because of disorganisation or because we 'felt like something different'. Excess rubbish and packaging because I valued convenience over common good.

However, there is also such a thing as happy clutter. I'm never going to be a minimalist. To me, clutter can be welcoming, reassuring, and beautiful. I love:

  • The clutter of creativity. Evidence of things being created in the midst of mundane life - piles of fabric, bits and bobs waiting for inspiration. Old items being reused in new ways. Upcycling, punking, reinventing.
  • The clutter of history. Precious things that have significance beyond their functional or aesthetic appeal. Books. Letters. Memorabilia. Gifts. Things that are accumulated not just because they fit the latest colour scheme.
  • The clutter of real life. Children and their toys underfoot. A well-used kitchen. Books with dog-ears. Dirt.
In essence, my desire is to curb the bad clutter, and to cherish the happy clutter.

I aim to accumulate less, to take care of our household a little more, and to consume more thoughtfully.

I hope to learn to DEclutter, just enough to make our space workable and welcoming for all, but not so much that it is stiffling for young kids, or creative urges, or evidence of real life.

I want to take better care of what I have, to use it carefully and creatively, and to hold on to it lightly, knowing that we are not what we own.


  1. I like this. I like that you can see the difference between good and bad clutter; it's something I struggle with sometimes. Especially lazy clutter; I have the ability to walk past something on the floor a dozen times, get annoyed every time, and still not pick it up. Could be my forgetful brain helps with that, too. Your thoughts about good clutter are very useful! In the zeal to purge that's currently gripped J, there's a possibility for steamrollering the clutter of history... which would make me very sad indeed.

  2. I really loved reading this. Very thoughtful, and has got me thinking about my clutter. Thanks

  3. What a great way of looking at it! I've just come across your blog and really enjoying reading it - will definitely pop back for a visit! x


“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
~Albert Einstein