Posts Tagged ‘clutter’



Sometimes, I write a blog, and never publish it. I read it, and it sounds boring, or too personal, or too big, or too much like a decorating lesson. That’s what happened this week; I wrote two, and I liked them, but they just didn’t feel right. It was a Goldilocks moment.

I’m not silly, I knew why nothing was working; it was because my office was a diabolical mess. Motivated by the conference that I attended a couple of weeks ago, I had decided to reorganize. What began as a simple clean out, turned into this avalanche of ideas scribbled on bits of paper (lots of them, that I didn’t even know I had) countless pages torn from magazines, files that no longer made sense, two old keyboards, a small television that I had forgotten about in the closet (don’t ask – the box isn’t even opened) and a pile of cardboard airplanes from when my daughter was in pre-school.

Impatient to get going, I did the classic mistake of trying to do it all at once. And, I got distracted. Opening a drawer revealed a pile of decorating goodies that I didn’t even know I had, and more notebooks than I could count (well, there were nine actually). They are very pretty, but I tend to use the same, spiral-bound 79 cent notebook for most things; I like it’s size, the space of the lines, and the ease of turning over the pages. In this case, function trumps beauty, and I know the pretty notebooks would be happier living somewhere else.

It’s been a few days since I started, and I am finally seeing my serene, creative office space again. I realize it is a little bit like the cobbler’s children having no shoes (do children even know what cobbler’s are anymore?); I am great at organizing (really) and know what I should be doing, but when life gets busy, my office is usually the first place to suffer. I tell myself I can work around it, but I really can’t; I juggle for space on my desk, and my thoughts become as scattered as coffee cups.

This happens to us all at some time or another; it feels okay for a while, then you turn around, and you wonder what the heck happened. You swear it happened overnight, but it didn’t, you just forgot to notice.
When this happens, which is normal by the way, here is my strategy for coping…..

– I panic.
– Close the door, go downstairs and make a cup of tea.
– Sit in the sunroom, drink tea and look at the trees.
– Make a list of absolutely everything I need (and want) to do.
– Give myself a realistic, generous, time limit.
– Turn on some really loud music.
– Grab a couple of garbage bags, and a box for miscellaneous things.
– Put on comfy, old clothes and bare feet.
– Begin.
– Add more music and tea as needed.
– Stop when I am done.

It’s not complicated really, just feels like it for a moment….

p.s. The photograph above is one of the inspiration boards in my office.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

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Sometimes, we are reluctant to give up the much-loved items that we covet. We become disorganized collectors of things that we simply must have (and keep). But, for many of us, excess can be just another reason to decorate!
Keep what you have, but be creative.  Often, interesting (and decorative) solutions can be found for the same price as a hum-drum piece of rubbish. Don’t hide things away in boxes or cupboards. If you love it, show it… 


Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/ Thanks to: Pottery Barn, Urban Outfitters and CSN stores for the photographs.                 

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Hoarding has become the ugly sister of clutter;  an in-your-face television representation of lives that have tipped the scales of common sense. We are shown piles upon piles of paper and belongings, showcased in homes that haven’t been cleaned in decades, a public process that sometimes seems more humiliating than helpful.

Are we really that extreme? No, but many of us are busy and overwhelmed with our “stuff”.

According to the IRS,  “You must keep your records as long as they may be needed for the administration of any provision of the Internal Revenue Code”…..

So, with that helpful sentence, here are some easy ways to try and control it (clutter, not the IRS) without losing your mind, or your mail.

  • If you want to keep receipts, papers and household bills forever, put them in plastic storage boxes, label them and put them in an attic, cellar or neatly stacked in a closet or laundry room. If they will be visible, buy neat, black containers to minimize their visibility. Don’t let them take over your “living” space.
  • Spend a day recycling. Check your town for guidelines on what you can recycle. Ask about recycling paint and oil cans, computer equipment, cell phones, anything that can’t go in the regular garbage. Load up your car and dedicate a nice, sunny day to getting rid of it all.
  • Don’t keep things you don’t need (or want).
  • Throw away broken and damaged items if you haven’t repaired them in over 6 months. 
  • Have a system for the mail that works for your lifestyle. Promise yourself you will take care of the mail every day.  
  • Give away ugly and/or useless things that annoy you on a daily basis. Someone else may appreciate them.
  • Keep things that are important to you (but not necessarily want displayed) in a keepsake box or vintage suitcase, somewhere safe, dry and together.
  • Get rid of clothes that you no longer wear, or don’t fit. There are so many organizations that will take them, re-use them and sort them for you. At the very least you could put them in bags and drop them in one of those clothing bins.
  • Don’t buy more storage bins to control what you have – it will just grow and evolve into something uncontrollable. Challenge yourself to use what you already have.
  • Consider decoupaging your old newspapers onto the wall.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/  With thanks to Ligne Roset and Pottery Barn for the photographs.

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“It’s all very well being all “designery”, and living a Polly-Perfect life, but what about the rest of us? Those of us with four children, two jobs and a home that wasn’t our first choice. Never mind telling us to spray paint the brass chandelier with chalk-board paint, what are we supposed to do?”

That’s a really good question, and, honestly, it’s not easy. None of us have charmed lives filled with matching doodads and champagne coming out of the faucet. Decorating a home isn’t about that. As our grandparents used to say, it’s about making do, but I prefer to call it “pretending as if”.

“What Not To Wear” is one of my favorite shows, and having a home, to me, follows the same principles that they teach. Their credo is that you have to accept the body you have right now. Even if you hate every nook and cranny of it, it’s yours, and that’s what you have to work with. If you dress that body as if you love it, then you will get nice clothes that fit, you will look better and, gradually, feel kinder towards yourself.  Maybe you will never, ever be the size you wish you were, but if you enjoy what you have, and take pride in it, you may begin to fall in love with it. 

Your home is exactly the same!  Even if you are not happy about where you are, you could still pretend as if it is the most perfect place in the world to be.  Make some changes as if you really do care; fix things that bother you on a daily basis, don’t cost a lot and can be done in an hour or two.

Here are some quick fixes for “the rest of us”:

  • Change ugly, dated lampshades or light covers (check out local Hardware and Retail stores for cheap, but classic, options). 
  • Declutter your kitchen. It’s often the most used room in the house;   keep the surfaces clean and remove what shouldn’t be there. This will make it a much happier place to be in (and it might be bigger than you think).
  • Place a decorative bin somewhere for each of your children (and yourself). Toss in everything that should be put away. When the bin is full, empty it.
  • Check your front door;  remove dead plants and fix anything that is broken (doorbell?). Coming home should be a good experience.
  • Buy everyday items (dishwashing soap, laundry powder and liquid soap) in colors, designs and scents that you like. Making daily decisions that please you will sneak into your well-being.

See, nothing wrong with a little pretending….

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

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I am, admittedly, a technological dinosaur. I don’t like    things that beep, flash on and off, have a lot of wires or machines that come with a booklet and an instructional CD. I get by on the bare minimum. I am in the category of people who would rather write long-hand than use a computer. 

Having said that, I have noticed, lately, that most households struggle with the  amount of electronic equipment that they have. Many have multiple computers and televisions; this seems to have just added to the clutter, instead of minimizing it. Mountains of paper sit alongside the computer, and a tangle of wires often creates an ugly image hanging below wall-mounted televisions.

I know these things are here to stay, but maybe we can decrease their impact on our lives? I have never studied Feng Shui but I firmly believe in homes needing positive energy. This is often brought about by  placement, plants, light and striving for a clutter free environment.

Thinking about all of this prompted me to list several quick, easy ideas for controlling technological clutter.

– Organize the wires under your computer or television. Fold them into loops as short as they can go, secure with a twistie tie or rubber band. Maybe they can be taped to the back of your desk or file cabinet?

– Attach wires, neatly, to the wall with telephone cable wire nail-in clips. (These are less than a dollar at the hardware store).

– After they are attached to the wall, either paint them to match the wall color or hide them behind a piece of art.

– Buy black  if possible, it is less obvious than silver or beige.

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