A Case for Being A Tidy Anti-Minimalist

I love stuff. I do not love clutter. Does that make me a walking contradiction? No, it just makes me, me. And what you love, makes you, you. As you can imagine, I am not down with all of the minimalism talk that guilts us all into thinking that if we have more than 21 items (capsule wardrobes) in our closets, non open shelves (cabinets) in our kitchen or an Amazon prime habit involving an endless stream of books arriving on our doorsteps, that we are bad people. In fact, I’d like to think that we are always prepared and ready for anything people.

Why clutter should be avoided. According to studies, clutter in your home can lead to stressful living. It can also create the inability to find things, accomplish tasks and feel life satisfaction. So if you want to have a lot of stuff, go crazy, but keep it tidy, especially if you live with others. Having to move things to find what you are looking for, being embarrassed to have people come into your home and tripping over your possessions are what we want to avoid. How does one stay tidy while still allowing themselves to collect and keep stuff? Let’s explore…

Keep only the things that are useful or beautiful. There is a difference between having stuff and having garbage. You are going to have to regularly purge the items which should not be taking up space and could be otherwise occupied by your precious collections and future books, I mean, beautiful things. If you haven’t done so in a while, clear out your storage spaces. Regular clean outs will make this task less daunting in the future. I spend a week a few times a year taking an hour a day to clean out drawers and closets. For more organizing tips, read my post 5 Rules to Organize Anything.

Group like items together. If you are a collector, show off your goodies in a pleasing manner and make them part of the decor. A collection is 5 or more pieces of similar items, and there is power in numbers when collecting is involved! Having all 50 of your globes displayed together will create a powerful visual and is worth showing off. I also enjoy mixing a collection of smaller items among books on shelves to mix it up.

Rotate your collections. Once upon a time, all of the linens in the home were rotated with the seasons. It involves a bit of effort, so perhaps as time has marched on, this has lost popularity for time management reasons. But it’s great to do if you love textiles and have an overflowing linen closet. Besides switching out the obvious like throw pillows and duvet covers, think bigger with curtains and rugs if that’s your thing. Now go one step further and consider rotating your collections and art. This means that part of the time, you will have some collections tucked away to reduce the visual chaos. Although, visual chaos can look stunning if done right, so go for it if that’s your thing!

Be intentional with what you have displayed in your home. I’ve always been a flea market and “junk” collector and have an entire shelf of books that talk about gorgeous ways to showcase these treasures. If you too like to pick up the curious and unique, go for it, just make them look intentional in your home. I have an antique rope on the wall of my living room (see the top photo). I searched for said rope for a year and when I gleefully found it, I had to buy it a suitcase to get it home from NH to TX. So worth it. I not only have the rope, but it has a story. The point is, if you’re a treausre hunter, display your treasures and talk about them! Who would have a thought an old rope would make great decor and be such a conversation piece?

Style tabletop vignettes. I enjoy things on tables. But just the right amount of things and they have to be intentional things. It’s about balance. A variety of heights, color and texture should be involved. I’m almost embarrassed by how many articles I’ve read about styling coffee tables, but only almost as my table brings me constant delight, so I’m glad I made the effort. I also stash remotes, electronics and cords out of site as much as possible unless they are in use. Well, that’s actually the rule for everything in my home. If you are not using it at that moment, it goes away, back in its place (and everything has it’s place). Usually behind a closed door. Which brings me to doors.

Buy furniture which doubles as storage. I’m a bit obsessed with cupboards and armoir type things. I grew up in a house built in the 1700’s and it had no closets. It made you really appreciate a good piece of storage furniture. If you keep the contents orderly and with a theme, they can keep a shocking amount of stuff out of sight. A trunk can double as a living room table and place to house off season throws and pillows. Cupboards as bedside tables can tuck away books. There are so many stunning pieces of storage furniture which can tuck away your treasures when you don’t want them to clutter your home. Pro tip: Make sure that they are sturdy, that the doors and drawers open and close easily and that you anchor them to the wall if you have kids. If you have floors that cause wobbles, pick up some wobble wedges from Amazon or a hard ware store. They will change your life and are under $5.

Shelves can hold more than books. I was delighted when we bought our house to find that we had tons of built-ins. Then I realized that they were not in the rooms where I wanted to keep books. There were also a lot of them which was an issue as when I moved from NY to TX almost a decade ago, I had to make a decision about paying to move my lifelong collection of books. I decided to par down what I kept, selected my favorite art, coffee table and business book and sold and donated the rest (all 5,000 of them! I read a great deal). I have never regretted this decision and now immediately donate anything I would never read again or fiction. As I read 97 books last year alone, you can imagine that I could quickly fill up all the shelves in the house. But I intentionally choose not to do that. Instead, I wanted to display a mix of books and collections. In my office, I currently have my oil painting supplies on the shelves, as I find them beautiful in their repurposed containers. In the kitchen, I have a collection of white ceramics, which I’ll admit, I didn’t even realize I was collecting until I noticed so much white in what I had and then decided to showcase them. Use your shelves for what you want to see, not for what you think you’re supposed to display; remember they’re your shelves.

Get over the guilt. Above all else, you be you. If you love to surround yourself with stacks of books, have papers all over the floor and objects covering every inch of your space. Go for it. Need to clean up quickly for company, read my post about how to Get Your House Ready In Under 10 Minutes. If however, you are tired of how things are, you do have the power to change, it does take discipline and will to do so though. Try reading a book to inspire and instruct you, find a friend to be an accountability buddy, hire a coach (like me!) or a professional organizer to help. Start with one drawer to get you into it the cleaning out phase and give yourself permission to collect. Just don’t allow the guilt over how you choose to live weigh you down. Life is too short for that.

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