The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #11 Clutter-free Home (or Clutter is So Not Chic)
I am not exaggerating when I say Famille Chic’s home was completely clutter-free.
There was no pile of mail waiting to be sorted through on the kitchen table. There was no accumulation of shoes and coats by the entryway door. There were no remote controls, game controls, errant CDs and other entertainment paraphernalia hanging around the living room. Monsieur Chic’s slippers weren’t in the middle of the living room floor. There was no diaper bag on the coffee table (OK now I am just describing my own home).
In short, Madame Chic kept her home completely clutter-free. Everything had a place and in the entire six months I lived with them I never saw anything out of place.
I also didn’t see Madame Chic running around like a maniac trying to pick up after her family and keep her house in order (and she did not employ a cleaner). She was the most calm and collected housewife I have ever seen.
I do have my theories on why French homes remain so enviably clutter free:
France is not a heavy consumer society. They do not constantly buy things and bring them into the home so they have less stuff to manage and ultimately find a place for.
French women tend to do the majority of the housework (France is a bit behind in this area). But having said that, French men seem to be very respectful of the home and do not leave a mess. Monsieur Chic and their son never left a mess around the house- I have a feeling that Madame Chic trained them early on the art of maintaining a clutter-free home. They simply didn’t leave stuff everywhere or anywhere for that matter.
They lead very disciplined lives with a lot of structure- they love a routine and rarely stray from it. So, for example, you would never see Monsieur Chic leave his pipe on the end table one night and on the kitchen table the next. He had a place for his pipe and it went in the same place every single night after he used it. No exceptions.
The French love to live well and living in constant clutter is the antithesis of living well. Clutter is probably the domestic equivalent of snacking – it is so not chic.
Finding the path to a clutter free home is one of my life’s missions and trust me, the minute I figure it out I will share it with you. Now that we have a baby I am dealing with a whole slew of new clutter issues (like I said, the diaper bag is currently on our coffee table.) But for now, I am giving myself a free pass to figure it all out.
I do have a few systems in my home that are works in progress at keeping the clutter at bay (*please note these tips work particularly well for small spaces like apartments and condos):
A (hidden) place to keep one’s keys, cell phone, wallet, sunglasses and purse. This is preferably by the front door so that these items can be tucked away immediately. It is also handy to always have your keys in the same place so you never lose them…
A filing system to deal with the mail. Recycle the junk mail immediately upon checking the mail and store the bills and important correspondence in a receptacle or file folder (again, hidden away) to deal with at a later date.
Furniture that doubles as storage. We just purchased a large tufted ottoman that we are using as a coffee table. We love it because it opens like a trunk and stores all of our remotes, game controls and DVDs.
Encourage yourself (and any others that happen to live with you) to create a routine. For example, if you never leave your bedroom slippers in the same place twice, get into the habit of leaving them in the same place every night. At the foot of the bed, for example. This takes extreme discipline and can be applied to almost everything that you have: shoes, coats, newspapers, magazines, etc. …
…and lastly. When it comes to things like mail and dishes, it is best to deal with them immediately before they pile up and get out of control.
I would love to know… how clutter-free is your home?
Won’t you stay tuned for #10?
A typical Parisian bridge over the river Seine is pictured above. Do you spot the statue of the man on his horse? Those sort of ornate statues are laced all around the city of Paris... beautiful.
My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.