— MARIE KONDO —
The spaces we spend our time in have a huge impact on how we feel, our creativity and how we live. But few of us appreciate the true extent of this fact, myself included - it wasn't until I decluttered our home that I really understood just how true this is.
Tidying provides us with an opportunity to understand what we value and the things that really matter to us because we have to decide what we want to devote time, energy and space to.
The more space I created, the more I was able to realise what I really valued and what just didn't matter - and this applied to everything that filled my home, not just the objects.
When I sat and thought about it I realised that I'm not really a 'stuff' person. I like everything to have a place with no visual clutter and I have always loved the beautiful simple spaces of Japanese traditional houses and clean lines of Scandinavian furniture design. But my house was a far cry from this...
My house was a complete clutter-fest until I decided to declutter it using the KonMari method. I was living my life the way life was rail-roading me into living it. There was stuff everywhere, on some days it honestly felt like it was shouting at me 'hey, I'm just sitting here waiting to be dealt with, when are you going to do something about me, huh?!'.
I had spent more than a decade working hard to have everything I thought I wanted and that I thought a successful person was supposed to have - but all this stuff didn't make me happy or make our house feel like our home. It was actually a source of stress and irritation.
At 'peak clutter' both our spare bedrooms were full of 'things that needed sorting' which included work clothing, things from moving out of our family homes, hobby stuff that we might want one day, stuff you keep because you haven't got the heart to sell / throw / give it away, things earmarked for eBay etc. It was our feeble attempt at trying to keep the clutter contained and trying to create space in the rest of the house.
Both of our work schedules just didn't allow us any time to sort it all out and when we did have a spare moment the last thing either of us felt like doing was devoting our precious spare time to tackling the 'junk rooms'. So the stuff kept piling up.
Elsewhere in our house there was self induced clutter, we had kitchen drawers full of items we'd kept as spares just in case the new higher quality item we'd replace the original with broke. There were shelves full of paperwork, credit card statements, university coursework and textbooks that 'we might need one day' and books that neither of us had any intention of ever reading again and had just stored them away.
One saving grace was that I've never really been a big shopper - in fact I hate it. I'm sufficiently vertically challenged (5 foot not so tall) that nothing ever fits, which has meant that clothes shopping has always served as a reminder that I'm small, insignificant and not the right body shape. It is usually a case of 'well that just about fits and nothing else does, that will have to do' and as a result I ended up with a wardrobe full of things that didn't fit, I didn't like, didn't make me feel good and weren't really my choice.
But as I have a lot of guilt associated with buying things for myself I just held onto them and didn't buy anything else because I already had clothes.
So I had to work really, really hard to turn my clutter-fest of a house into a place that I wanted to spend time in and would help me grow into the person I want to be. It was hard to start with, but it got easier as I got into the process; 20+ bin bags, 9 large cardboard boxes of charity donations and countless eBay auctions later we had reclaimed our house and raised over £1000 from selling the things we didn't want or need any more.
I'm very happy to be able to say that my home now has interiors that are a beautiful blend of the Japanese minimalism and Scandinavian simplicity. The former takes care of the clutter and the latter adds just enough creature comforts to make the spaces feel cosy and soften the hard edges. They are bright, calm spaces that allow us to do the things we love, appreciate what we have and enjoy spending time in.
The most difficult aspect for me was starting, in my next post in this little series I'll share how I got started; it was a combination of various tidying methods I found that I felt I could work with and seemed to work wonders for me. I am also going to give you ideas and inspiration for beautiful things you can do to help you create the space in your home for the person you are want to become.