By David Wulff, AIA

 Everyone has clutter.  Clutter is like a fast-spreading kudzu that we see around here.  It seems to multiply without any intervention, and the more you cut it back, the faster it grows.  Cupboards, shelves, drawers, attics, cellars, and garages hold boxers, bags, and containers for the things we save intentionally, or just can’t part with.  And if these storage areas aren’t enough room for all the stuff (like my house), then it is piled in corners, or crammed on shelves.  My Dad used to have the philosophy that “I may not need it now, but someone at some time may need it”.  

So, why do we accumulate stuff we no longer have a daily use for?  There is a biological basis for storing.  Stocking up for times of famine or, like last year, for the pandemic.  You would think we would have the intelligence to put this survival mechanism aside.  But that just doesn’t seem to happen.  Instead, we seem to go on and repeat the pattern of collecting stuff.  

In the study of fung shui it is known that when we alter our environment, something inside us is altered also.  Therefore, by clearing out clutter you can change your life.  Did you know that each category of clutter is symbolic of emotional baggage?  The sorts of objects we stash away have a meaning, and recognizing the underlying implication stored in the symbol may help us to get rid of stuff or organize it rationally.  

Consider this:  The objects you chose for your home, as well as the locations you place them, express who you are.  The same thing applies to clutter.  There is a meaning not only to the kinds of clutter you stash away but also to the locations it is in.  It is no accident that you put things where you do.  Consider the meaning implied by the location of your clutter to determine if you are willing to let it remain or take action to sort it out or build appropriate storage spaces.

Your storage spaces and what you put in them should contribute to your life.  Remodeling or building gives you the opportunity to design the kinds of storage that suit your unique needs.  Storage spaces might include the following:

  • Visible storage space for rarely used but valued objects.
  • Accessible storage for items used daily
  • Places for seasonal things
  • Places to keep things waiting to be used, sent as presents or passed on.
  • Places for piles and other tabletop clutter.

Here’s a simple test:  If you have not admired, used, or enjoyed an object within twenty-four months, in all likelihood you don’t need it.  Give away or toss out those things that make you feel as if you’re wasting your hard-earned wages storing things that have no usefulness.  When you lighten the number and amount of things you accumulate, you will find your personal life less encumbered.

For me, I’m waiting for the day when the swap shop building at the convenience center is opened.  

 David H. Wulff, Architect Emeritus, is an architect, living in Lake Lure.