Design Dilemma: Five Simple Questions for Clutter-Busting | Home Design Find

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Design Dilemma: Five Simple Questions for Clutter-Busting

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It’s right after the holidays that many of us take a look around our homes and decide to PURGE. Maybe it’s a New Year’s resolution, or maybe it’s just the prospect of several more months stuck inside with a lot of stuff. Whatever it is, something about the start of a new year makes us want to start afresh at home, with an interior that welcomes and nurtures — not overwhelms.

Do you have the urge to purge, but you’re not sure where or how to get started? Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you try to determine what stays and what goes:

1) Is the object you want to toss useful? We’re not talking things that once were useful. We’re talking about objects that are useful right now. Yes, perhaps those five winter coats were useful when you lived in Alaska, but now you live in Miami. Time to toss four unnecessary coats. (You might hang onto one for those trips back to the tundra.) Toss things that serve no purpose. Needless to say, things that are broken and can’t be fixed fall into this category, as do clothes or objects you can no longer wear because they are too small or large. If you’ve been hanging onto an old radio that you had resolved to fix but five years have passed, it may be time to face the fact that you will probably never get that radio fixed. Toss it!

If the object in question is not useful (let’s say it’s a decorative object, such as a sculpture) then you need to ask yourself something different:

2) Is the object in question beautiful? And by this we don’t mean “objectively” beautiful (if there is such a thing). What we mean is do you find the object personally appealing? If you have a beautiful gold vase that an aunt gave you but you really just don’t like it, give it away. Why should you surround yourself with objects that other people love but that drag you down every time you see them? On the other hand, you may have a quirky little figurine that you made in 3rd grade that you find funny and uplifting. Keep it!

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3) Does it really feel like YOU? Remember when you saw that something  — a piece of furniture, a textile, a painting or a pillow — and you instantly recognized it as YOU? Well, if your home is filled with things that resonate strongly with your personal sense of style, keep them! On the other hand, we all have had the experience of receiving gifts that are nice, but they just don’t feel like “us.” Sometimes, it’s stuff we bought years ago that no longer jibes with our sense of style. In those cases, feel free to let go of these objects.

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4) Does it get in the way? Now here’s a question most of us don’t ask ourselves often enough. Do you have to move pillows out of the way to sit down on the couch or lie on the bed? Do you have to remove a gazillion knicknacks to clean? Then you have too much stuff. That’s what clutter is. Eliminate it.

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5) Does it inspire your creativity? Sometimes, we collect objects not because they have a specific purpose but because we find them personally inspiring. Maybe it’s a bright pillow or fanciful throw that gives you energy and makes you feel happy every time you see it. Maybe it’s an object d’art that provides you with a sensation of possibilities. If you’ve got stuff like that hanging around the house, count yourself lucky. This is the kind of thing that uplifts and makes a home feel like home. Hold onto it.

A final note: Sometimes, we are afraid to let go of stuff because we fear that it is a waste, that we are sending objects to a landfill, that we are polluting the earth through unnecessary disposal of perfectly good items. It’s a valid fear but remember that there are countless ways to “toss” an item. Perfectly good coats can be donated to a charity or a used clothing store. Old electronic equipment can be sold on Craig’s List, or sold to a shop specializing in refurbished objects. A beautiful vase that you no longer want can be re-gifted to someone who appreciates it.  You can even throw a swap party with friends to let objects you no longer need find a better home. With countless ways to donate, sell or give away objects, there’s no reason to hang onto things simply because you fear being wasteful. Happy clutter-busting!

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