Friday, 14 September 2012

Knick-knacks and trinkets and tchotchkes (oh my)

I hate clutter.
I don't just mean the sort of crazy, over-the-top, piles-on-piles of heaped-up-everything clutter you see on those TLC shows. I mean, clutter of any sort. Visual clutter. 
I really just kind of hate stuff.

Living room, shelf stylingShelves in our home are very carefully clutter-free - a few favourite family photos on one shelf, a plant and one of my husband's black-and-white art prints (he's a photographer) on another; a couple of interesting pieces of pottery on one, a trio of art glass pieces on another. And great expanses of clean, clear, blissfully clutter-free space in between.

Nothing soothes me more than looking at a carefully styled, clutter-free shelf. Visual nirvana.

I have been into so many homes where you can't even see the room for the stuff filling its corners. Dozens and dozens of teeny-tiny photos in teeny-tiny frames filling every available surface. Dried flowers in vases on coffee tables, shelving units, fireplace mantels. Heaps of books and magazines piled high. Candles - dear God, what's with the candles? - and little gifts and souvenirs and collectibles. Can you even see and enjoy your stuff when there's so much of it? And, my God, how do these people dust?

It actually makes my head hurt sitting in these spaces. I develop a twitch.
I don't know how anyone lives like that.

And it's not that we don't have stuff, or that we don't use and enjoy our stuff. We just edit very carefully which of our stuff is important to us, and if it doesn't make the cut, it's gone. Or, if it must be kept, packed away in our very handy crawlspace in the basement. And the stuff that is out on display is the stuff that gives us pleasure to look at.

Look around your house. Do you have too much stuff? Visual clutter?

Try this: pull everything off every surface. Group all like things together - family photos in one pile, those porcelain figurines in another, candles in another. Then cull from each pile. Be ruthless. Do you love it? Do you love all half-dozen of them? Do you need to see them all every day?

Maybe just one piece of art glass standing alone in the middle of the fireplace mantel will have more of an impact than eight or nine of them crammed into the china cabinet. A cluster of your absolute best-of-the-best favourite photos of the kids, the ones that make you smile every time you see them, will catch your eye more often than dozens of snapshops in random frames all over every tabletop in your home - the rest can go in an album where you can flip through them as often as you like.

Think about what you're displaying on your shelves and coffeetables. Why is it there? Is it because you love it and want to see it every day, or is it because it was a gift from someone, or part of a collection? If it's there for any reason other than that you love it and want it to be something your eyes rest on every single day, it doesn't need to be there.

Once you've pared down, put things back in place one group of items at a time. Like items should stay together - group them in threes (you shouldn't have more than three left of anything) or a single item alone; don't scatter them across three different shelves or tabletops. Leave lots of space between items or goupings to keep the eye from being distracted.

And sit back and enjoy the soothing restfulness of a clutter-free home.


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