Monday, April 26, 2010

Q&A: Rehabbing a Stuff-oholic

Dear Jackie,

My problem is that I'm a stuff-oholic. I have stuff everywhere, on every surface! I'm not exactly a candidate for A&E's "Hoarders" quite yet, but I'm afraid without an intervention I might get there! I see pictures in magazines of people's lovely tablescapes and vignettes -- how can I get my stuff to look more like that?

Clutter Junkie

Dear Clutter Junkie,

The battle against clutter is a neverending one, like the war on terror or my ritual morning battles with my hair. Some people are more successful than others...

Image from Remodelista

Image from Design*Sponge

... And yet, both places look equally stylish! Some looks rely on having a clean and austere room, while others benefit from cool knickknacks at every turn. Still, both of these are at the extreme ends of the spectrum. For you, let's aim for something a little more in the middle.

The first step is to evaluate the objects you have cluttering up your space so that you can determine what to do with them. But it's hard to do it when they're in their usual places. Ever get a stain on the carpet that's been there so long you just stop seeing it? You can stop seeing just about anything, from vases to candles to picture frames. To get a fresh perspective on them, take everything out of the room -- no really. Take everything from every surface and put it somewhere else, like your kitchen counter or your bed. Once your objects are out of context, it's a lot easier to look at them with new eyes.

With those shiny new eyes, figure out what to do with each item. Some items you'll want to keep, some items you'll realize are actually kind of fugly and you don't know why you were hanging onto them in the first place.

Now that you've got your keepers, do another edit. You want to keep only about half of the objects you already have. Don't worry, you're not getting rid of your other things! Those can go into storage so that when you're bored with your room later, you can go "shopping" in your own closet for new stuff!

By now you should have WAY less stuff than when you started. You're on your way to a home where you live, not your clutter! Take the objects that made the cut back into the room, and put them back out on display. Keep your objects in groups of three or five, and try to have varying heights and textures in each group. Your groups should still have something unifying theme, whether it's an artistic motif or color.

Image from CasaSugar

If you're still having trouble arranging your vignettes, go back to those magazine pictures you mentioned and blatantly rip them off. No one will know, and your place will look fabulous! Another place for item-arranging inspiration are home stores in your local mall. Those folks at Anthropologie and Pottery Barn sure know how to put out an attractive display, so the next time you're shopping make a mental note of how they do it.

Images from CasaSugar

Clutter will inevitably start to creep back into your life, but just repeat this process every season or so, and you'll have that ish under control. Clutter may win a few battles, but you'll definitely win the war!

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