I’m a minimalist.
You can tell from my blog, I think.
I hate clutter more than anything. I certainly hate clutter more than I love buying stuff.
Which makes the entire dilemma very easy for me: yes, I live in a consumerist society. I am surrounded by media and advertising messages that promise me the world if only I buy their product, whether it’s a wrinkle cream, a shampoo, or a new mattress.
I prefer not to buy their stuff. I used to enjoy shopping. But over the years I came to realize that shopping results in stuff, and that stuff takes place and creates clutter, and that clutter upsets me. So I would buy things, but then after a few months I would donate them, because they were cluttering my house.
So I stopped buying things.
I make a real effort these days to only buy things that I really need. Of course, “need” is often “want,” and even if it’s a real “need,” it’s still a need that reflects American standards of living. So I could probably get rid of at least half of what I own, and I would still have a lot.
Still, by those same American standards, my house is clutter free. I like it this way, because clutter stresses me out while a clean, clutter-free house calms me down. My cleaning person loves it too, because it makes cleaning the house a breeze.
Almost every visitor to our house comments on two things: the modern design and the lack of clutter. They all want advice on how to maintain a clutter free house, especially in a household with kids. Here’s what I tell them.
Six Tips For Creating A Clutter-Free Home
1. Don’t buy things unless you need them. Once you stop the habit of recreational shopping, half the problem is gone.
2. Everything has its designated place. Look at the kids’ playroom: it’s certainly the room in our house that contains the most stuff relative to its size, but everything there has its place. They have cubbies and baskets and containers and bulletin boards to hold everything, and once in a while we go over their things and decide what needs to be tossed and what can be donated.
3. I straighten up the house every day, several times each day. I don’t wait for clutter to build up – as I walk through the house, if I see something out of its normal place, I immediately put it back where it belongs.
4. We never just put stuff on surfaces. The kitchen counter is clutter free, because there’s no reason to put anything there – everything has its designated place, including drawers and cupboards and a basket for mail.
The dining table is clutter free, because there’s absolutely no need to put items on it when everything in the house has its place.
5. I donate stuff twice a year. I use the “2-year” rule, which says that if you haven’t worn or used an item for two years, you must get rid of it. I apply this rule to everything – even pots and pans – not just to clothes.
6. I never store anything in the garage long-term, and certainly not at a rented storage space. If you can allow something to sit at a remote storage space, then you don’t need it. Stop wasting your money on storage and donate or sell it. As for the garage, it has the 2-year rule as well. So yes, my garage is clutter-free too, although it’s certainly more cluttered than the main house.
My house is clutter-free, but it’s not completely bare. That would be boring! I do have art on the walls, and a few items that I love as decorations.
The reading area has a small table that holds a few beloved items:
And I really like the large bowl on my dining room table:
Since the table is otherwise clutter-free, the bowl stands out even more.