“Clutter” is as personal as the clothes you wear. What you buy, where you store it, and all the ways you resist getting rid of it, offer clues to your personality—as well as your skills, talents, and gifts. As we set aside judgment, we leave room to discover how we benefit from our stuff. Here’s a quick look from one perspective.
Some people are just moving too fast to clean up. Their commitment to many things is unrelenting. The clue is piles of unfinished projects. Very little is accomplished. Yet, in each and every pile is the seed of an idea. This person is an innovator, but needs people who will nurture, to maturity, the seeds that have been planted. Give this person an extra-large home office to house the helpers—leaving the pioneer free to create the next, new big thing. Keep things simple. Avoid multi-level homes. And, entice the adventurer into a beautiful home garden to pause, reflect, and rejuvenate.
Others save all things that “speak” to them—favorite things—things that tell a sentimental story. “Clutter” often shows up as a collection of things; Pez dispensers, Barbie dolls, or fifties gumball machines—and they can spread like wild fire consuming room after room. Asking one to “edit” can overwhelm the soulful storyteller. The fear is the loss of one’s self-expression, and one’s very self. If the home allows room for both the expansion and the containment of this dramatic expression, everyone will be rewarded with a powerful display of enthusiasm.
One clutter expert suggested that we must first “envision an empty space.” However, to envision an empty space is impossible for the person who, by nature, cares for everyone. Closets and cupboards are filled with things that make everyone comfortable—sheets and towels, boxes of tea, and umbrellas for a rainy day—for everyone who might show up. We are all less lonely and desolate because of her devotion to friendship and connection. However, caring can become a compulsion, and things take over. From the beginning, this person needs extra storage, especially in the kitchen where people gather. If things begin to overflow, proceed slowly, thank her for her devotion to others, and assure her that the pantry will be sufficiently full when you leave.
My nature is to keep all things beautiful. You will sense an elegant precision, a sense of ease and comfort if I’ve done it right. It’s my gift. But, “right” can become controlling, and order can become a rigid sense of perfection for some. Extracting order from chaos can become a phony display. To help create an atmosphere of intimacy and spontaneity, give the keeper of beautiful things a room for all things utilitarian—easily accessible and painted a stunning color. And, kudos to industrial designers who have a keen sense of style! Even a beautiful vacuum can remain in my sightline and I’m happy.
Some people want to be left alone to dream—to envision what can be—to live in a world of ideas. They are thinkers, and need a large study (far from everyone) to house books, papers, and things that connect them to all things important. Any suggestion to clean up will fall on deaf ears, for cleaning is not worthy of their precious time. Know that all this stuff is filled with relevant surprises—thoughts that may someday change the world (and the person will know where to find each and every one).
Before you beat yourself up about your stuff, celebrate. It’s truly a unique adventure.
Feng Shui practiced with an eye for beauty, a spirit for healing, and a bit of uncommon sense.