The Goal of Uncluttering

February 7, 2012

A famous quote (by William Morris) about a clutter-free home states, “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”  Unfortunately, that statement covers a lot of ground.  Every item that we jam into our cabinets can probably, somehow, be justified by those words.  If the thing wasn’t useful or beautiful, we wouldn’t have bought it in the first place, right?  We can “know” something is useful, without actually ever using it.  We can be so suffocatingly surrounded by things we “believe” to be beautiful that we not only can’t appreciate their beauty, we can’t care for our beautiful things.  So while I love the quote, I don’t know how truly helpful it is as we try to unclutter our spaces.

A not-so-famous quote I discovered recently is a much bigger help to me:  The goal of uncluttering is “….not that you have as little as humanly possible, but that everything you do have counts” (Leo Baubata, blog post:  The Minimalist Principle:  Omit Needless Things).

Look at your home’s storage space as valuable real estate:  stuff needs to earn a place there.  If you have a storage unit rented, you’re paying to keep stuff.  Even if you’re simply paying a mortgage or rent every month, you’re paying to store your stuff.  (Less stuff means, potentially, a smaller house, which means smaller rent or mortgage payments.)  The things you keep should be earning their right to be there!  Everything you keep should count.  It’s taking your time, energy, effort, and money to take care of and store.

My daughter is excellent in this area.  We can go through her things so quickly; I hold up an item and say, “Do you love this?”  And she will respond, “No, we can give that away.”  Obviously, occasionally, items do pass muster, but I’ve never met a young child so willing to part with stuff, all because of the key word, “love.”  She has full recognition of what is truly important to her, and is ready to let go of what isn’t.  Everything that she has, counts.

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2 Responses to “The Goal of Uncluttering”


  1. Love it. This is a great post. I always compare one’s home to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has assigned a value to each square foot in its store. If you don’t make it, you aren’t included. I love how you included the idea of Mortgage payments as paying for your stuff. Fantastic! Thanks 🙂


    • Thanks!! It’s amazing to think that even Wal-Mart, as HUGE as its buildings are, still picks and chooses what “earns” a spot on its shelves. If THEY have to do it, then I think we absolutely have to do it…I don’t have anywhere near as much space as they do. 🙂

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