do you actually need to declutter?

Is it that time again? That time when you feel like you “should” declutter, “should” clean up, “should” get rid of all that stuff in your house? Well, before you dive in, let’s see if you really need to let go, or if you actually just need to show off your beloved stuff a little better!

Recently I enjoyed a fun and fantastic {QA Session} with a super-cool gal named Cindy. She wanted me to figure out some ways to pull together what she already owned in a more serene and visually appealing way so that she’d feel “calmer, more organized, and more peaceful” in her already-beautiful space. She was already living in her dream home in her dream location, but didn’t feel like she was doing the place justice.

When I arrived at her home the first thing she did (like soooo many of my clients) was apologize for the clutter in the space. Pretty typical, since everyone assumes that, as an interior designer, I’m judging them. (For the record, I’m not.)

The thing is… I didn’t feel overwhelmed by clutter in her space. Was it Pinterest-perfect? No. Were there some changes she could make to achieve her goals of being a bit more organized and at peace? Of course (even *my* home is ever-evolving and organic!). But where I’d felt near-despair from other clients at the clutter in their space, I didn’t feel that from this lovely gal. So I asked her a question: did she *actually* feel there was too much clutter in the space, or did she feel like she *should* feel there was too much clutter in the space?

Did you catch the difference? One feeling came from her own heart, and one came from what others might think of her space. Without much hesitation she admitted that she loved the things in her home, and that it wasn’t really clutter at all – it just needed a little curating.

I define clutter as things that are of little meaning. Stuff that you keep because it was “expensive,” or because it was a gift, or for any of a dozen reasons that are unrelated to you loving it. That kind of clutter Has. To. Go.

But the stuff you love? Why should it go? Just because someone else might think your collection of Star Wars Gallactica figurines is tacky – does that mean you should toss them? Nope! (Head’s up — that person may be just as geeky as you, and totally jealous that you have the cajones to keep them. And if not? Seriously, who cares?)

The key to taking your space from 17-year-old’s bedroom to grown-up’s dream home is to put your treasures on display. You’re old enough to decide what you love, and what should go. Once you do, you are successful enough to buy some kick-ass display shelves and give the stuff you love a place of honor in a quirky, eccentric, and awesomely-you way, whether that is in a well-equipped man-lounge, or front and center in the entry to your house.

If you truly love your vinyl collection, or your vintage maps, or your 18th century delftware, then it’s time to get it out of the corners and off the window ledges and embrace it. It’s time to dust regularly and show your stuff a little love. It certainly does not mean that you have to see your collectibles as clutter, and it doesn’t mean you have to live a minimalist life.

In fact, I would suggest that a minimalist life isn’t necessarily a spare life. It’s just a life that contains only the things that give you joy. For some that means a tidy space with just the perfect lamp, the perfect pillow, and the perfect sofa. But for most of us that means a space with lovingly displayed pictures of the people we love, the places we’ve been, and the treasures we have collected.

If you need a hand curating and editing all that lovely stuff you have, give us a call. I’ll bet there is a picture rail, wall ledge, or display shelf with your name on it. We’ll help you brainstorm the right way to love your stuff (again). And if you already have the shelves, we can spend a few hours helping you display your stuff with style!

May your home always be happy!


Hi! I’m Rebecca West.

I’m not your classic interior designer because, frankly, I don’t care if you buy a new sofa. I do care if your home supports your goals and feels like “you.” Remember, happy starts at home!