Saturday, May 25, 2024

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Taming your inner “Stuff Monkey”

The incessant pressure to buy, collect and acquire puts us in a state of “clutter-induced stress”. Interior designer Erica Fay offers suggestions to stop you from acting like a "Stuff Monkey."


First some definitions:

Stuff: a substance, especially when you do not know or cannot say exactly what it is
Monkey (vernacular): one who repeatedly engages in silly behavior

In a world gone mad with material goods, we Earthlings are searching for peace and calm within our minds and our homes. But the incessant pressure to buy, collect and acquire puts us in a state of “clutter-induced stress”.

Who could work in a place like this? Take photos to show yourself what’s surrounding you. These pictures can reveal what you may have stopped noticing.

Clutter. It has reached epic proportions and so have the number of solutions being offered. Just today I received no fewer than three articles from design sites telling me how to address my clutter issues. A self-proclaimed designer’s coach is selling a book to teach interior decorators how to build a business as a clutter-control expert. There was an offer on Facebook for a 6-week online course to teach me how to live clutter free. Hundreds of books on the subject clutter the market. Every shelter magazine I see features articles on controlling clutter. They look great, demonstrate tips on gaining control over your stuff, and then feature products you can buy —cute and attractive baskets and boxes to add to your stuff.

We have become Stuff Monkeys.

The only long-term solution I know of is to develop a new awareness by asking lots of questions. They can look like this:
Why do I have this? Does this serve me? Does this (in current parlance) bring me joy?

Shelving from IKEA. Artist Carole Allen uses these units for a pleasing display of her books and ceramics.

If you are concerned with the health of the planet and the environment, you will ask about the integrated impact of not only how something was made but what will happen to it after you are through with it.
You can follow a common sense directive on what to do about clutter:
● Notice how clutter in your environment makes you feel. This can be an excellent way to motivate you to do something about it.
● Keep together like things for like uses where you use them.
● Create a “quarantine” place for things you are undecided about.*
● Remember OHIO – Only Handle It Once. Pay attention to what comes your way and make a decision on how you will handle it immediately so you won’t have to think about it again.
● Apply the PITA (Pain In The derriere) test — a way to evaluate items, especially the sentimental and decorative ones. This asks you to grade items on their usefulness, sentimental value, monetary value and most importantly – how much trouble are they to keep? Email me and I will send you a grading grid for this process.

A conventional closet with sliding doors and custom shelving. Massage Therapist Nancy Costerisan keeps her linens convenient and neat in her treatment room.

And if this isn’t enough instruction, you can
• Ignore it.
• Hire someone who claims to be a specialist and turn them loose on your stuff.
• Choose a method or approach and go forward.
• Buy lots of containers, some books on the subject, and maybe even an online course.
• Rent a storage unit and forget about what you put in there.
• Choose a method or approach and go forward.
• Keep going forward. As long as things keep finding their way into your life, you will continue to deal with clutter.

This custom-built shelving houses a collection of CDs.

Not to be facetious (believe me, I deal with the clutter stuff as much as anyone), there are some basic mindset perspectives that will help you along the way.
● Open and blank space is an element of interior design. Don’t feel obligated to fill every place. Empty space can create balance and serenity.
● Don’t judge yourself – judge your stuff.
● Be considerate when giving gifts – try offering special time together instead of more stuff.
● Begin to notice what is and what is not of value to you. Question your emotional attachments. Of the things in your home, ask “is this worthy of being in my home, taking up this precious real estate?”
Don’t feel alone, we’re all in this soup together. Good luck.

*Remember, the road of life is paved with flat squirrels that couldn’t make a decision.


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The Edge Is Free To Read.

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