Clutter’s a slippery concept, because there’s no generic checklist, no boxes to tick. You can’t print out a list of things to declutter and know if you get rid of them, your home will be clutter free. You and you alone get to decide whether something in your home is clutter or not.
One way to decide is to run it through the love, want or need gauntlet. Let’s imagine my cupboards are knee deep in mugs.
- I love one particular mug. That’s the one I reach for even if it’s right at the back of the cupboard.
- I want to have enough mugs so if people came for coffee, we could all have a mug.
- I need about eight mugs. For me, that means any more than eight mugs could be considered clutter.
Are Projects Clutter?
But what if I plan to use mugs to make adorable Christmas gifts this year? Before I keep on keeping them all, it’s helpful to consider:
- How long have I had this idea for?
- Why hasn’t it happened yet?
- What are the odds this year will be any different?
Move these mugs out of the mug cupboard and take them to your projects area. Give yourself one more year. If they’re still hanging around unmade and ungifted this time next year, it’s official, they’re clutter.
What About Sentimental items?
But what if six of those mugs were made by my adorable children for me in pottery class? What if the sight of those mugs has become so familiar that they all seem special?
Mugs you’re keeping for sentimental reasons but never use (too small, too big, not sure about the safety of the glaze) are clutter in your everyday cupboards. They become not clutter when you spread them through the house as pen jars and toothbrush holders. Proudly displayed on a shelf or in a glass fronted cabinet (down with dusting!), you can see them with different eyes. Do all six of my kids’ mugs make the cut or would one or two be just as good?
Everyone has different comfort levels for how much stuff they like to have around them. All I ask is that you consider whether you’re using or enjoying the things around you. There’s a world of difference between an attic filled with bags of stuffed toys that haven’t seen the light of day for decades and a creative display like the one I once found in a Louisville front yard.
Someone with quite the collection of stuffed animals decided to make dioramas to illustrate a favorite children’s book. They have a copy of the book out there and even a basket with flashlights in case you happen to come by when it’s dark and want to see better.
Bags of toys in the attic are clutter. A whimsical garden display created using those very same toys is joyful and creative.
Can your clutter can be transformed into something that brings you active joy? And if it can’t, can you release it so someone else can enjoy it?