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From the Architect's Desk



In From the Architect's Desk
Rants and Wisdom

By lthomas


On 01, May 2016 | In From the Architect's Desk, Rants and Wisdom | By lthomas

In honor of Mother’s Day, I have decided that it is way past time for me to write an essay about clutter.

Yes, clutter. That stuff that slowly builds up over the years in every drawer and closet, slowly taking over the available air and space in a home.  And it seems that everyone, no matter how fastidious, has some clutter. As the spouse of another architect, I have to admit that my home is most likely better than many others. (We architects can be a fastidious bunch.) In fact, I used to dread my kids comments coming back from play dates. Either they would have announced that their Mom would never allow so much stuff everywhere, or they would question me as to why they could not have their rooms chockablock full of stuff.

“No more stuff” has become our family mantra and rallying cry for years. Long before “Marie Kondo’s bestselling 2014 book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, changed the conversation on home decluttering and organizing,  I would complain to my girlfriends that on shopping trips I could heard my husband over my shoulder whispering, “No more stuff!” Browsing the beautiful galleries of full of Venetian glassware and light fixtures in Murano? “No more stuff!!” Lovely decorative items from Williams Sonoma or Pottery Barn? “No more Stuff”!  Fifty-percent off deals on anything from designer dress samples to school wrapping paper? “No more stuff!!” I recently saw a great article in the New York Times by Carl Richards titled “New Rule: All Purchases Subject to a 7-Day Mental Quarantine”. I actually have been following this rule for years.  Everything stays with tags on and receipt attached for a week.  Still love it/need it?–OK, it’s yours!

With less stuff and clutter we have been able to live in our lovely, smaller home with our two sons more than comfortably for over 20 years, with plenty of room for visits from grandma and friends. It is amazing how the removal of clutter, both physical and visual, can open up spaces. As Barbara Hill at has said,“With the visual clutter gone, the house seems much more expansive than its modestly sized rooms would suggest.” How true.

So, how to start? Begin!

Even before Maire Kondo, there have been numerous magazine articles about closets and how to attack those repositories of physical clutter. I will sum it up with one word: purge! Then apply the old rule of reduce, reuse, recycle.

Removing visual clutter is harder, I believe. Visual clutter is the too big furniture, pillows, wall coverings, shelves of bric-a-brac and unnecessary partitions that block the opportunity for view and light. Here you may need the eye of a trained professional (you know how to find me) to help you see through the clutter to the real potential of the smaller room, space or home. As the visual clutter disappears and is replaced with open vistas, appropriately scaled furniture and open surfaces you will be happily reminded that in this case, less is indeed more.

Happy Mother’s Day!