I have watched Marie Kondo on Netflix and then graduated to ‘Consumed’ in which a rather bossy American with luscious shiny hair briskly tackles families affected by hoarding. One woman with a lifetime Tupperware obsession left no space in her young child to play and yet remained determined to cling on to her hoard.
I clutter clear as a side–career and I love it, people freed from the weight of their stuff are lighter happier and open to enjoying new experiences. I’ve been doing this for years and I have noticed that loss and unexpressed grief can kick start hoarding. Hoarders often suffer under the misconception that what they actually require is more storage or a bigger house they also, in my experience, struggle with decision making.
My own tactics for keeping my life clear of clutter involves routine — the turn of the seasons generally heralds a clear out. At the end of summer I launder my clothes and pack them away, this gives me the opportunity to check what no longer fits, what is simply too dated (relegated to gardening/decorating clothes) and what can go to charity shops. I don’t have a lot of clothes anyway because I don’t buy a lot. I’m an author and contrary to popular belief, J. k. Rowling we are not; wealthy authors are as rare as hen’s teeth.
I downsized to a cottage where my kitchen is tiny; it makes the Little Paris Kitchen look generous, so labour saving appliances have to earn their place. Kitchens are mega hoarding venues where sandwich toasters, fondue sets and all manner of gadgets to whip, grind or pulp lurk. I once went to one of those demonstration events in a friend’s house where you feel obliged to purchase something, I turned down the pizza stone (pricey) in favour of a cheese grating gadget with several differing barrels for grating that required you to break the cheese into small bits to feed into its mechanism then turn a handle, it was quite a fiddle to put together. When I got it home and set it down next to my sensible square cheese grater I saw how ridiculous it was. It got some use as an ice–breaker at the beginning of my creative writing classes; I got participants to see if they could put it together in record time, which caused much hilarity.
It’s not just about getting rid of stuff. It’s about consumption versus calm. If you hoard you consume in a way that begs the question what is it that you truly need in your life? Because it probably isn’t 200 hundred figurines or condiment sets. And just because you can’t help buying a lot of objects in the same category doesn’t make you a collector.
I only ever dallied with modernist minimalism, because I do love objects of beauty (see my copious Pinterest boards) although I am less enamoured with shopping. I find shopping stressful and depressing, this might of course be because I’m not J.K. Rowling, but actually shopping doesn’t bring me joy and I absolutely loathe trying on clothes in changing rooms, I’m better at home-wares. Apologies to the high street, but I often find shops nerve–jangling, bright and noisy places where I suffer from sensory overload. My bright place is the summer house in the meadow, it’s full of colour and some endearing Gypsy/boho trinkets. Whereas Meadow Cottage is designed to be visually restful and calm.
Using a natural/neutral colour palette I create vignettes, simple arrangements with paintings and objects. One of the things my inner stylist craves are areas where it appears that someone has just got up and stepped out of the room. I treat my home as I might a story composing a visual narrative within it to create areas of calm; in a frantic, overstimulating world I find it soothing and I feel sure it helps me create and write. If you want to improve the look of an area in your home and create a calming space take things away, it really is that simple.