We all wish to be free of clutter. Everything in its place and easy to find. Am I a minimalist? Well, not quite, but it’s a worthy aspiration (some day.)
Follow these 3 simple steps:
1. If it is an object or collectible, ask yourself, “Do I love it? Does it make me smile?”
2. If it has a function, ask yourself, “Have I used it in the last 6 months? Honestly, will I ever really use it?”
3. Lastly, clear the runway. You have to start with a clean space. Move everything away. Yes, this means the entire contents of a room, if that’s how bold you choose to go. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to start with a blank slate.
Start with something easy, such as the surface of a credenza or an end table. Don’t try to tackle the interior shelves yet. A little bit every day breaks it down into bite-size tasks that won’t overwhelm you. Clutter is more than visual mayhem; it’s a storage vault of guilty reminders, unfinished projects and regretful purchases. Free yourself to make room for what really matters.
All the objects were moved to the nearby dining table to be tackled, one item at a time. First, I grouped all the family photos together and decided to create a family portrait gallery on the opposite wall. (More on creating a gallery wall in an upcoming post.) The Easter bunny finally made it back into the Easter box in the attic. The clay bowl was paired up with two similar ones on the fireplace mantle because they remind me of my mother. The vintage photo props and collectibles were moved to a prop box, which in turn caused me to create a dedicated shelf for photo stuff in the garage. The framed hand-lettered love note was hung. Once I decided these things were not going back to the credenza, I began to see some progress. The credenza was no longer going to serve as an overloaded “shelf” for photos and memorabilia.
I began with my mother’s crystal vase and filled it with long branches of greenery. Placing a tall object off to one side leads your eye up and around to create movement, and greenery always adds a calming element. The vintage books were found at an estate sale and I enjoy reading them, so they stayed. Next up, I knew I wanted music in the living room and had been eyeing my son’s turntable. He was happy to share his record player with the family since his own music is best listened to with headphones. Now the credenza served a purpose by bringing music into the room where we all hang out together.
Lastly, I wanted to create a spot for a few memorable pieces, three sweet African figures, gifts from my mother. Lo and behold, an unexpected theme was forming, so I went a step further and tested out a custom online framing service called Framebridge to frame a painting done by my friend and Santa Cruz artist, Cheryl Moreno. This piece had sat in a drawer for several years, and since it definitely makes me smile, framing it and bringing it out into the light was a no-brainer. Framebridge makes it so easy to get your favorite pieces out of drawers and onto your walls. The service was super easy to use — they sent me a protective shipping package based on the measurements I provided . There are lots of framing options and Framebridge can frame just about anything. If you want to give them a try, pop on over to the SF Girl by Bay site for more samples plus a special discount (expiring 11/30/2015).
Are you warmed up yet? Maybe even having a little fun? Let’s tackle the clutter on your desk next. Here’s a novel idea to try. Place everything on your desk into a large plastic bin. Don’t worry. It’s temporary. You will bring back the essentials, one at a time. Leave everything in the bin next to your desk until you absolutely need something, thereby making it proof positive that this item is useful and not just fluff. After a few days or a week, toss out the fluff or give it a new home (Goodwill, hand-me-downs, etc…) Don’t let the fluff and clutter get in the way of what matters most.