Posts Tagged ‘controlling clutter’

more-tree-scarvesTruth is, I would rather look at snow, than gray dirt and brittle trees, but what drives me crazy is the eternal pile of boots and coats that seem to reproduce by my doorway. I organize them, I really do, and many of them are mine, but there is something about these cold, wet days that make us all so grateful to be inside, that we peel off our clothes (well, sort of) the minute we walk in the door.

Like many of you, I drool over those entrance ways with lots of hooks, and baskets for mittens and boots, but that isn’t what I have; I have a front door that opens into my living room. With no apologies, and no place to hide, that is where the wintry pile has to go. So, I accept the small space, do the best I can, and on a good day, it all seems to work.

It’s a busy place in Winter, and rarely does it look neat; wire baskets are jumbled with socks and shoes, boots fall in and around their trays, puddles melt into salty shapes, and coats hang crookedly on the back of the door. The only decorative bit is the assortment of vintage umbrellas, because they rarely get used, sitting in my umbrella stand (shaped like an umbrella, of course – one of my favorite things). Mary Poppins moment aside, none of it is perfect, but it is a system of sorts.

Sometimes, I think it is a good lesson in letting go, and slowing down; accepting that some things are out of our control, and a home will be messy if it is truly lived in. A pile of wet gloves could mean that you have been throwing snowballs at a friend, or building an igloo for your dog.

Even if you do have the perfect place (with a bench to sit on while you pull on your boots..sigh..how lovely that would be) it still might not look like the pages of a magazine;  most people have more than one scarf, the little, tiny loop on your coat is made to break after one season, and it takes time and effort to make those boots stand up clean and straight. Time that is often better spent putting on your pajamas, getting warm by the fire, and heating milk for hot chocolate…..

(p.s. Maybe I should take up knitting, and keep my trees warm and colorful during the Winter months).

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

This photograph was borrowed from the Urban Cozy Project

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Years ago, I asked a friend for a phone number, and she immediately opened her kitchen cupboard. Inside, was what appeared, to me, to be a giant mess of business cards and notes. Not wanting to be rude (but wondering if she was a little disorganized) I asked why she had them all in her cupboard; I was used to seeing nice, empty wooden doors, not ones littered with phone numbers and pieces of tape. But, when she explained, it was one of those crazy light bulb moments, and I totally understood….


Do you know what actually happens to all those business cards and small notes that we need?
a. Neatly transferred into a notebook (3%).
b. Kept in our wallet (16%).
c. Put on the fridge (25%).
d. Thrown away (7%).
e. Somewhere, until we need them, then we forget where they are (49%).

The inside of our kitchen cupboards is actually found Real Estate; prime space for all sorts of things that we need to remember. With a roll of tape, and a few minutes, you will be more organized than you could ever imagine. Phone numbers and notes will be right where you left them, and all you have to do is change them as needed. No damage to your cabinets, no chalk paint, corkboard or fancy systems, just a roll of tape.
Whether you line them up alphabetically, sort them into categories, or plonk them on higgledy-piggledy (my method of choice), they are always there.

I admit, it takes a few days to get used to the inside cupboard door clutter, but you are the only one who knows it is there…….sweetly hidden, just waiting for you to find your favorite phone number!

p.s. No actual surveys were consulted in the writing of this blog (percentages were totally made up).

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

Photograph from House Beautiful

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They say that the world is divided into two types of people; those who collect, and those who don’t. I never thought of myself as a collector, but I do know that I accidentally accumulate things, and I am sometimes reluctant to let some of them go.

Never a fan of sameness, I tend to like things for all different types of reasons. I buy necklaces for their uniqueness, used-worn-down pencils (not sure why, but they always make me smile), photographs of people being happy and spontaneous, and old childrens books (I love the stories, the care with which they were created, and of course the words…). I also like to see, or use what I have, so I don’t buy something unless I really want it. I guess it still counts as a type of collecting, but I rationalize that if they are labors of love, and in neat little categories, then I am not really a collector.

(Sometimes, when I am having a moment, the word collector conjures up visions of a Star Trek Convention, with grown men wearing plastic, pointy ears, waiting for Captain Kirk to sign their original lunch box from 1969). Although I am a big fan of William Shatner, I don’t fall into this category of collecting. If you are a person who does, then collecting is probably a constant quest to accumulate everything connected to your favorite subject or hobby, and where you will put it is a secondary thought in the process. The fun thing about this type of collecting is that it is never-ending, and the joy is definitely more about the chase than how you intend to display it in your home.

Some collections often start out as gifts. We might notice that a friend likes to drink tea, so we buy them a new teapot for their birthday. She loves it so much, that we decide that surely she would like three even better than two. Before we know it, other people have noticed, and they are thrilled to give her a gift that she will automatically love. We remember that she always wanted to visit Paris, so we order a Parisian teapot for her online. Before you know it, it has become a bit of a gift-giving game; we discover the wonderful new world of teapots, and we present her with a new one for every occasion. Years later, she still looks at them fondly, but realizes that all she really wants is a cup of tea (made with a teabag) not 57 teapots scattered throughout her kitchen…

Whatever may have prompted you to collect, here are some thoughts on living happily (and decoratively) with your favorite obsessions:

– If you don’t absolutely love it, store it, sell it, or give it away.
– Be realistic. Don’t hang onto it just because “it may be worth money some day”. It may, but will you, or your children, ever really sell it?
– If it’s very important to you, label and date, or catalog, each item when you get it.
– Choose one or two areas in your home for your collection; a shelf, a room, a basement, a wall etc. Don’t expand these spaces as you collect; just pack away what doesn’t fit, and rotate the items every now and again.
– Be creative, not formal, with your displays. If it is something small, consider piling them in bowls, jars or boxes. Layer items on shelves, instead of lining them up like soldiers. Not every single thing has to be seen completely at all times.
– Don’t be afraid of change. If you are getting bored with your collection, store it away for a while. If you miss it, bring it back, if you don’t, then don’t.
– Store it properly. If it is worth taking up space in your cellar, then take care of it, and invest in proper containers and packing materials.
– If it is useful, use it.
– Tell your friends and family, kindly, if you are getting tired of collecting something. They won’t know unless you tell them, and no-one wants to give (or receive) gifts that are no longer appreciated.

I have to confess, that sometimes I buy fruit just because I like the way they are going to look in my cast iron bowl. Perhaps this could be called a temporary collection? Would love to hear what you collect. Drop me a line, and I will post it on my blue giraffe Facebook page.

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

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