Manolo for the HomeClutter is more than just an eyesore | Manolo for the Home

Clutter is more than just an eyesore

By Christa Terry

Disorganized outside can mean disorganized inside

According to a recent NYT article, clutter is just as psychologically damaging as it is ugly. I tend to agree, but I’m a chronic organizer rather than a chronic clutterer. While I can accept that one man’s clutter is another man’s collection, I’m firmly of the mind that if something is neither useful nor beautiful, it ought to be chucked, repurposed, sold, or given away.

Excessive clutter and disorganization are often symptoms of a bigger health problem. People who have suffered an emotional trauma or a brain injury often find housecleaning an insurmountable task. Attention deficit disorder, depression, chronic pain and grief can prevent people from getting organized or lead to a buildup of clutter. At its most extreme, chronic disorganization is called hoarding, a condition many experts believe is a mental illness in its own right, although psychiatrists have yet to formally recognize it.

Getting organized is unquestionably good for both mind and body — reducing risks for falls, helping eliminate germs and making it easier to find things like medicine and exercise gear.

Makes sense to me. For those wondering how to begin, I recommend starting with some decorative trunks:

Set Of Two Woven Jute Trunks

In a pinch, you can stash your stuff in these babies without having to organize it, and you can come back to it later for organization purposes when you have more time.

9 Responses to “Clutter is more than just an eyesore”

  1. Lori Says:

    Amen. My parents’ house is cluttered and it draws the energy out of me every time I visit. They’re Depression-era people who can’t stand to get rid of anything.

    I keep a box that I put things in to go to charity; one of those trunks would be more attractive than corrugated cardboard for that purpose.

    The housecleaning method I’ve recently started is to declutter one room per day. (And I can’t just put the clutter in another room.) So far, it’s working. I also get rid of one article of clothing for every new one I buy. I throw out the paper the day I read it and don’t subscribe to any magazines. I don’t collect anything. I don’t shop as a hobby. Most of my bills are on automatic bill pay. It all helps.

  2. BarkingDogShoes Says:

    I have lived with chronic pain for 11 years. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when I was 27. I now have two small children and find that I despise cleaning (it hurts my joints!!) but at the same time want a organized sparkly home. I finally broke down and hired some help to do the deep cleaning. It was as if a fog was cleared from my brain. I now have the energy to keep up with the day to day cleaning and organizing because I know the home will be deep cleaned once a month! I love storage bins of all kinds to keep up with my kids stuff. I do make my 6 year old go through his toys from time to time and make a bag of stuff to give away.

  3. Annalucia Says:

    “Clutter’s Last Stand,” the book by Don Aslett, is very funny and gives detailed instruction as to howw to ruthlessly de-junk one’s home (and one’s life, if necessary).

  4. Daniela Says:

    Ooo I love the storage trunks! I’m blessed with the sort of large old home that has many innovative storage closets. The only room that needs de-cluttering is my office frankly because I’m usually too busy working to do anything else in it.

    I find it humorous that in the hoarding photo there is a bag from The Container Store that says “Contain Yourself.” HA!

  5. Toby Wollin Says:

    Lori – let me pass on my experience with parents who were Depression Era folks and who left me with a house filled from cellar to attic with “just in case” stuff: Your parents are not going to get rid of anything. If they are anything like my parents, they will take on the stuff of their friends who retire to someplace else so that when you have to clean out, you will be handling not only things YOU remember, but stuff you have no idea how it came into the house. So, when your folks either decide to downsize or sadly pass on, here is how we got through the experience:
    1) If you are going to do an estate sale or an auction, no one in that business will deal with a mess. You will have to clean out the true junk before they will agree to do anything. So, Get the biggest dumpster you can get.
    2) Do not assume that Salvation Army, The Red Cross or another charitable organization will be interested in furniture, clothing, or kitchen goods from your parents’ home unless it is new and looks new. Salvation Army no longer has training programs in such crafts as reupholstering – therefore, they don’t want old furniture. I was told on the phone that my parents’ things were “garbage”. If you have a school locally who teaches reupholstering, you might want to contact them to see if they need old pieces for the students to work on.
    3) If you are looking to sell the house, again, you will need to completely empty it out, unless the rugs/carpeting are still very nice and will go with the house.
    Going through this experience was very sobering. I found my father’s medical textbooks from the 1930s and 1940s and his notebooks. Why he dragged all of this stuff across the Atlantic, through three moves in the US to our house is beyond me – all of this stuff predates the use of antibiotics. But we all cling to stuff. When the job was finally done and the house sold, the first thing my husband and I did – was get the biggest dumpster we could and did the same job on OUR house. Very freeing, that.

  6. LadyGrinningSoul Says:

    On the other hand, I remember reading an article that said that people who are excessively tidy are “emotionally brittle”… (a quote I’ve clung to as a chronic clutterer!)

  7. La Petite Acadienne Says:

    There’s definitely a difference between the chronic clutterer and the hoarder. When you only have one, narrow little path in between the piles of stuff, and certain rooms are completely inaccessible, then you’re definitely a hoarder. There are support groups online for children of hoarders — it’s really hard on kids because they’re mortified to let anybody in the house, they can’t have friends over, and they often have no room for their OWN things because their parents’ crap has just taken over the entire house.

    As far as your garden-variety clutterbug goes, new storage is only step 2. Step 1 is to start purging your stuff. That’s the hard part, as clutterers are often too scared to throw away or give away something that they might need again someday (even if they haven’t needed it for the last 14 years.) There are definitely emotional issues there.

  8. Lori Says:

    Toby, thanks for your response. My parents are nearly 80 and the day is coming when the house will have to be mucked out. I don’t imagine I’ll get much help from the rest of the family. Yes, I’ve told my parents they should just get a lugger and fill it up so I don’t have to.

    I furnished my house with goods bought at estate sales, where even the good stuff goes for 10 cents on the dollar. Stuff plus time usually doesn’t equal a fortune.

    The house will need a lot of repairs to be salable, since my dad is less able to do maintenance. So, I think I’m about as mentally prepared as one can be for the inevitable.

    Barking Dog Shoes–good for you for getting some help. My mother is finally willing to break down and hire someone to help her declutter. I think if my parents cleaned out their home, it would be a weight off their shoulders (and mine).

    On a happier note, I spent New Year’s Day uncluttering the basement. It was not only hard to walk through, but it was a fire hazard. No longer–yipee!

  9. Never teh Bride Says:

    I just want to say thanks to everyone who shared their experiences and their tips here. It’s eye-opening to read about the many different ways each of us handles clutter…our own and others.

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    Christa Terry
    (a.k.a. Never teh Bride)


    Manolo the Shoeblogger