Friday, June 14, 2013

Uncluttered Is Not the Same as Minimalist

Jeri Dansky's home office, with cats

The first chapter of Anna Quindlen's book Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, begins with these words:
I have lots of stuff. I bet you do, too. Sofas, settees, bureaus, bookshelves. Dishes, bowls, pottery, glass, candlesticks, serving trays, paperweights. Beds, chests, trunks, tables, Windsor chairs, club chairs, ladder-back chairs, folding chairs, wicker chairs. Lot and lots of chairs.
And while Quindlen goes on to say she doesn't really feel attached to her stuff any more — except for the Christmas ornaments — she certainly did at some point, and there's no indication she's embarking on a major decluttering effort. But there's also no indication that all her stuff is causing her any stress, or any problems — except for having to dust it, and figure out who inherits what.

And this made me think about how often we confuse "cluttered" or "disorganized" with "having lots of stuff."

I've worked with people who, when our decluttering and organizing efforts were done, still had about twice as much stuff surrounding them as I would be comfortable with, if it were my home. But it wasn't my home, and they enjoyed all that stuff. Everything had a home and could easily be found when needed. Things that really mattered to them — like their ornament collection, which they cherished as much as Quindlen values hers — were nicely stored to protect them when they weren't in use. Anything that no longer got used, or no longer brought them pleasure to look at, was given away. So their home was uncluttered and organized, in a way that suited their personal style.

And I'm certainly no minimalist, either, as you can tell from the photos of my home office, one of which I've shown above. I like being surrounded by artwork, and there's a good amount of stuff around for the cats. But that doesn't mean I've got clutter, or that I'm not organized.

Uncluttered and organized can look many different ways. Don't worry if your way doesn't look like a magazine photo or a home staged for sale.


JustGail said...

I always got a giggle of the cartoon I saw about rooms shown in magazines, books, etc. It had a photographer taking a photo of a room, but behind him, was a huge pile of things removed for the photo shoot. I wish I could find it again.

And let's remember, often people will only post photos of their rooms just after a good cleaning.

Job said...

I like to photograph my desks when they really need a good cleaning, which sporadically happens.
Here are some of them:

Jeri Dansky said...

Job, I love that you included a photo of your computer desktop, too!

Marcie Lovett said...

Well said, Jeri. It's hard to get people to understand that being organized doesn't mean getting rid of anything.

I love that Job posts his messy office pictures. The one of him on the desk is the best.