4.11.2011

Clutter-Free Home Part 1


My husband and I were recently looking for an investment property and toured various open houses in the Santa Monica and Los Angeles area. I enjoy attending open houses because I love to look inside people's homes and to see how they live. Generally, when people put their home on the market they make an effort to clean it up and get rid of the clutter. There were two homes we toured, however, that... (how shall I say this delicately?) did not! The display of clutter was so shocking in these homes I left bewildered and turned to Mr. Connoisseur saying, “I just don’t know how people can live like that!”

These two homes stand out in my mind like something out of a horror film (or at least out of that reality television show entitled 'Hoarders'). They each were so massively cluttered with stuff- everything you can imagine from books, to paperwork to Christmas decorations to clothes to miscellaneous junk. Every counter top- every space was filled with something. The effect made my skin crawl.

You would think seeing these overly cluttered homes would make me feel better about my own clutter situation- which quite honestly pales in comparison- but not so. I started to think, what if these homes started off like mine, with only little pockets of clutter? An unorganized junk drawer here- an overstuffed coat closet there...

For the first home we toured, the actual owner and not the real estate broker, gave us a tour (I’m still not sure why this happened- but it did). The woman was probably in her mid-sixties and warned us about the clutter before we entered the home. She said, “You will see there is a bit of clutter- it’s just the state of my mind right now”. I remember thinking, how true that statement was.

Clutter is a definite reflection of our state of mind. This woman’s house was overcome with clutter- she must have been going through a hard time.

It got me thinking. In my house I have small pockets of clutter- but clutter, nonetheless. I try to keep the main rooms and surfaces clear, but there are corners or piles where clutter just naturally forms. So what does this say about my state of mind?

As I have mentioned before, Famille Chic not only didn’t have pockets of clutter- they didn’t even have an ounce of clutter. Madame Chic's clutter-free home continues to act as a model and motivator for me- I know it can be done!

As a side note, last year I befriended a French couple that lives in California. They graciously had me as a guest in their home and gave me a tour of their beautiful and modern living space. I remarked with amazement that I didn't see any clutter in their home. They laughed knowingly and shrugged their shoulders. I think they might have heard that before from previous American guests. Which makes me wonder- do they teach a mandatory course on clutter management in the French school system? Or is maintaining a clutter-free home merely in their blood?

The de-cluttering process I’m going through in my own home is rather thorough. My plan is to eradicate clutter for good and I am happy to report that I am making breakthroughs. I have surmised that the pockets of visible clutter exist because our hidden storage spaces (any closets, drawers, etc.) are also cluttered, thereby not providing the proper space for our things. Our clutter pockets are symptoms of a greater problem- the general lack of organized systems in our home.

Next week, in part 2, I will explore the de-cluttering process further, including my personal experience with banning clutter for good and musings on the necessary mindset behind having a clutter-free home.

I would like to know... do you have issues with clutter?


The bust of the young woman above is in marble and dates back to A.D. 120 - 130. She is thought to be from Cyme which is now present-day Turkey. Her braided hairstyle was popular during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian, who ruled between A.D. 117 - 138. She can be found in the Getty Villa, Malibu.



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22 comments:

Mrs. Jenner said...

I love the blog "Clutter Busting with Brooks Palmer." I really like how he deals with clutter. He has a book as well that develops the ideas on his blog.

Leah

Sarah said...

Most of us honestly don't have a "hoarders" level of clutter, but it requires constant attention. I must declutter my laundry room every two months, my closet every five to six, and my dining room table constantly. So far my greatest tool has been flylady.net. She has a system that really works and isn't overwhelming. now my house practically runs itself. I'm gonna check out Brooks Palmer. thanks Mrs. Jennifer! Great topic BTW!

Tiffany said...

I think most people have clutter simply because they have too much 'stuff'. My house is tiny but basically clutter-free (ignoring kids' rooms) because I don't keep anything I don't need or love, and I don't buy 'stuff'. The 'life' clutter - sports equipment, camping gear, etc - lives in designated spots in the garage.

steppingmywaytobliss said...

Like you, I find it is a constant effort (and struggle) but it is getting better. Through my many recent decluttering purges, I have gotten rid of clothes, shoes, knick knacks, older magazines, books, unused kitchen items, excess linens, etc. but I still find I want more to go. Yesterday I decluttered a hutch to the point that it (the hutch) was no longer needed. It got moved to the garage when my husband got home (not after I caught the roll of his eyes, the unspoken "here we go again"). Major garage sale coming our way! Looking forward to next week. xxBliss

the gardeners cottage said...

i don't anymore! but i used to. the greatest piece of advice i've ever read or gotten said to remember that storage in our homes is for the most frequently used items. not long term storage. that made me look at things v differently. hope it can help you.

xo
janet

Julianne said...

Boy do I ever. In my dreams I would have an immaculately clean and clutter free environment, but it is not so. It is a source of stress for me.

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello:
We are in complete agreement with you here about the amount of 'clutter' with which people surround themselves in their daily lives. However, as we are sure you would agree, this should not be confused with collectables/ ephemera/mementoes/memorabilia which all serve to add interest and furnish a house.
As new bloggers we are delighted to have found your varied and interesting blog and are signing up as Followers.

Fixing My Thoughts said...

Interesting post! I, too, manage to keep the main areas clutter free "most" of the time, but it's amazing how fast I can start to lose ground with things like junk mail, etc., if I don't take care of it as it comes in. And books. I donate any that aren't keepers to the library because I only have so many places to keep them. (I try to read as many as possible from the library, but some I just like to own.) Looking forward to Part 2. Bess

Shelley said...

In a word: Yes!

Sandy said...

Could you please post this about once a week? You just inspired me to clean up my studio table. It's been sitting there with stuff for months. Removed outdated magazines, old invitations, Halloween mask, etc. So once a week I could use the impetus. I don't know how your French family did it. Then again I don't know how they can wear such flat shoes with out their arches falling!

I tried the bright pink lipstick on my husband after your "Red" blog. I couldn't get away with it. (G)

Sandy said...

One more thing. It's my desk. How in the world do I keep on top of all of the mail, bills, insurance, reconciling, invitations and just stuff that has to be dealt with. right now, some are in files, some sitting on my desk, books open around my computer on how to use Layers in Photoshop, how to create a custom background in Twitter, The Twitter Book, it's all out there!

Merveilleux said...

I'm always decluttering so I don't have a lot of it. I do have a few drawers (nightstand drawer, kitchen drawer and coffee table drawer) that attract clutter more than other spaces so I'm always going through them to keep it under control.

I go through my closet every 3 months and organize, refold and donate anything I'm no longer wearing.

I'm a huge fan of buying experience (vacations, movie/concert tickets, etc.) rather than things.

Rose said...

I am either very tidy or very messy with nothing inbetween. I aspire to a certain level of tidyness, not that so manicured people can't relax level that some people go to but you know, everything in a place with some coffee table books to look at type of thing. What usually happens is everything is very neat by Sunday night and by about Thursday night there are clothes where they shouldn't be and so on. i tell myeslf that is working a very long week and going out on top and everything but I think it might just be me!

Rebekah said...

I grew up in a cluttered house with parents raised post-Depression. I understand some of their psychological need to hoard, but I rebelled against it even as a child.

As an adult, I would volunteer to help my parents clean out their refrigerator or their library of newspapers and magazines. "Oh no, you might throw something away!" was the typical reaction.

I don't have clutter and am constanly going through closets, the refrigerator, my makeup drawer, etc. to remove items not in use.

Maybe I have the opposite problem!

featherfactor said...

Oof...I have some trouble with maintaining a "clutter free" life as well...especially as I tend to be a pack rat. I aspire though :)

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

Clutter stresses me as does a messy kitchen.
I have been thinning out the extras here in the Bungalow and feel might lighter for it...I have not finished yet.

If I had an open house i would put much more away and show the "bones"of the house to perspective buyers...they do not want to see someone else's collection but like to picture their belonging instead.

Gina said...

I'm of two minds on clutter. Sometimes, I do think it's due to good storage and organizational systems. And then I think that maybe if we lack the proper storage buying storage isn't the answer. Maybe streamlining our possession to fit our homes is the answer. Hmmm...

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Hello everyone- I hope you are enjoying a relaxing weekend! Thank you for all of your input on this topic. I actually wrote this post a few months ago and have since implemented a few strategies- so I am looking forward to sharing them with you on Monday as well as answering some of your questions in that post.

See you then!

Jennifer xo

Charlotte said...

Thank you for a great blog! But I have come to miss "Top 20 things I learned in France" Could you not continue on the "France" topic? I think us American has so much to learn from Europeans.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Hi Charlotte- Thank you for your request! I am actually working on the book version of the Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris right now. I am anticipating it will come out by this winter. The book is full of stories and anecdotes I haven't written about yet on the blog so I hope you'll enjoy it when it comes out. In the meantime I will continue to blog about how to incorporate the lessons I learned into our everyday lives. There will be a lot of surprises coming up too on this blog which I will post on special Thursday posts. I hope you'll keep reading! xo

CHE said...

Your observation about a lack of organized storage systems breeding clutter is so relevant to me. When my husband and I moved into our present apartment, I put in place certain systems hat worked for us and kept the house immaculate. But we have since then added a little boy to the mix and our storage systems just haven't been able to keep up. Your post has inspired me to reassess the clutter situation in our home.

lydia said...

5 months ago, I left my husband. Along with 16 years of living with a "pack rat" clutter is one thing, keeping your dead fathers dentures was quite another. Needless,to say I feel liberated leaving all the junk behind, and letting go of so many material objects in my life.

 
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