De-cluttering, like weight loss is often presented as a universal good. The ideal – of the tranquil, stuff-free home has some curious assumptions underpinning it, though.
The first assumption is that we have a lot of stuff we don’t need. Set yourself the challenge of getting rid of a hundred things! The second assumption is that the ideal living environment doesn’t have much stuff in it.
I imagine I’m not alone in finding largely empty, pristine spaces a bit intimidating. I like having things to look at – colour and disarray enhances that experience for me. I like the friendly feeling of being surrounded by life.
Not all clutter is created equally, but for me, life is messy. The table we work and eat at is fairly cluttered because it is also home to art equipment and books. There’s a pile of things people are reading, or intending to read on the footrest. By the sofa, is the mayhem of a yarn stash being turned into things. In the bedroom, there’s a fabric stash I use for making, and rather a lot of books. There’s musical instruments, shelves of crafting gear, and the kitchen is a tad chaotic not least because food from scratch happens most days.
When looking at ‘clutter’ I think it’s important to look at the lifestyle that goes with the clutter. If you’re surrounded by things you don’t use and that are in the way, that’s an issue. If the mayhem is the side-effect of creativity, of people doing stuff (games, toys etc) then to get rid of the clutter is to get rid of the life. In a perfectly tidy home, with no piles of work in progress stuff, what would I do?