The Psychology of Decorating and De-cluttering
By Christina Byers
Christina Byers Design
Right around the New Year, with resolutions in mind, I decided to read the much-hyped best seller, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. I’d heard great things about Kondo’s methods, which teach us to organize our belongings, and eliminate the things that don’t work anymore. As I immersed myself in her philosophy, I found the approach to be refreshing, eye opening, and highly applicable to the way we furnish our homes. Her minimalist view on what we surround ourselves works well as a guiding principal – one that I began to think about in every house that crossed my path, including my own.
Kondo’s method involves putting everything you own into a category (i.e. – clothes, books, knick-knacks), and then into a pile in the middle of a room. One by one, you hold each item and ask yourself if it “sparks joy” in your heart. If it does, it stays, but if it doesn’t you thank it for the purpose it served in your life, and put it in the donate pile. That’s it. Not so hard, right? It seems easier to do with a shirt than with a coffee table or large piece of furniture, but nevertheless it teaches us not to settle for anything less then what truly sparks joy.
I started to apply the principle in my own home. The first items to go were two oversized club chairs that had been the shining stars of my loft-like living room in Manhattan. That was 12 years ago. Today, they’d became ‘furniture nomads’ – wandering in and out of every room, staying for a short time until they were kicked out and relegated to another part of the home, over and over again. What I hadn’t realized until I read this book is that these chairs had served their purpose. But at this point, they were simply clutter – in my house, and my mind as well. Constantly seeing them ‘not fit’ was frustrating and draining as I remembered how much I spent to acquire them back in 2001. It paralyzed me, and made it difficult to move on. I finally put them up on Craig’s List, took the best offer, and off they went to home where they’d surely “spark joy”.
I started thinking of ways to help my clients refine when it comes to their homes and furnishings, and came up with a few rules that could help in the process.
- Before you buy, discard. Weather you are looking for new carpeting, furniture, or accents, make a clean break from your past furnishings and donate them or pass them on quickly. The longer these items sit in your home after you’ve already decided to part with them, the sooner they’ll start to integrate themselves back into the picture.
- Function, function, function. What is the point of keeping a crystal vase that was given to you by your spouse’s cousin’s cousin as a wedding gift if you don’t love it or use it all of the time? Wouldn’t you rather discard it and spend the time using your cherished milk glass instead? Donate the item or bring it to a consignment store or an ebay reseller to do the job for you.
- Minimize your impulse purchases when it comes to home furnishings. Those chevron throw pillows that caught your eye will be the first thing tossed out or stashed at the bottom of the linen closet after the trend has passed.
- Make an investment in what you truly love. Most often the items that cost the most turn out to be the most cherished because you didn’t settle for less that what you instinctively wanted. This doesn’t always have to be the case, but something that didn’t cost much is often purchased and thrown out on a whim.
I hope this helps to put you on the path of discarding and refining, so that only things that truly spark joy surround you. And if you find yourself in a place that’s far from it, maybe its time to do a little Spring cleaning.