Friday, 20 January 2012


I have a skill, cultivated in the small home in which I was raised and perfected in the campervan in which I lived, to find a space for almost anything.  A few inches here and there and some artful stacking and shifting and suddenly we have room for those two stools we bought on a whim. 
It will all fit in but only in one way. 
This drives my husband a bit batty when it comes to putting away the dishes, or cooking, or doing anything really in the kitchen.  I have a ‘thing’ for kitchen utensils and gadgets.  It replaces my ‘thing’ for office supplies (change your ‘job,’ change your obsession for useless items that will make that job easier/more organized).  We have limited storage/counter space in our kitchen, yet I keep finding room for more STUFF.  However, in order to access almost anything in our kitchen you must remove at least two or three items before you can get to the item you want.  If you try a short cut, you will inevitably find yourself the victim of an avalanche of items you didn’t need.  This also results in a lot of crashing noises and not a little bit of swearing (when Pete is really annoyed he starts in with the Croatian).
Maybe this skill comes from a heightened spatial awareness. I am a professional Geographer after all.  However, I am hopeless at Tetris and that tile game where you shift the pieces around to make a picture.  I think it’s just that I like STUFF.  Wherever it originates, this skill means we have a lot of STUFF.
Doesn't look too bad, right?
Except every corner of our flat looks the same.

Our flat is crammed with STUFF.  Most of which is going nowhere.  We have come to accept and love that our home will always be a bit cramped, but cozy.  We love that almost all our possessions have a story attached.  However, we also have a lot that we just haven’t gotten around to throwing out or give away or whatever. 
If we were in the US I would be gearing up for a weekend yard sale.  Sadly, these things are not done here and we really can’t be bothered to rent a car and a pitch at a car-boot sale. 
So we clear-out and put things in bags to give away. 
And then the bags sit in the house. 

This defeats the purpose a bit. 

The bags sit because we are at times reluctant to give away perfectly good items. 
In terms of clothing I have engaged in swapping with the girls, but that usually causes me to bring home as much as I went away with, which defeats the purpose really. 
However, clothes are the least of our clutter, really.  We have a tendency to keep every box that enters our home.  This used to be in case we moved or had to send something off, but now it is just getting ridiculous.  Our entire outside storage area is a mountain of empty boxes.  We have at least three suitcases we no longer need or use, but haven’t gotten around to selling or giving away.  We have a broken iron, ancient TV and VCR, old holiday cards, rats’ nests of receipts, stacks of CD cases, tangles of unused cords of various description, dead candles, random newspaper clippings sent by relatives to entice us home… 

In my search for ease this year, I am about to embark on a mission to simplify our home a bit. 
In the past, I have cleared the clutter for parties and it makes such a difference in the energy of the room.  We still have stuff and stories.  We are still surrounded by cramped curios, but the extra bits fluttering in the corner of the eye are cleared away and the materials of our adventures together are that much clearer. 
Once the extra bits are cleared away, our home almost looks like a purposefully art directed room of cultural clutter.  You know the ones of which I speak.  Those rooms in catalogues that are impossible white and bright with towering windows and white rugs and artfully placed curios and artefacts giving just a hint of the owner’s quirky personality. 

I did say ‘almost.’ 

In fact, I don’t believe those rooms actually exist anywhere outside the few minutes in which it took to take the photo.  What you don’t see is the pile of ‘extra bits’ thrown in the bathtub or behind forcefully closed closet doors just out of frame.   As much as I ohh and ahh over those interiors (even more so now that I joined stupid Pinterest) the housewife in me always kicks in and starts tsking about how those windows will be a bitch to clean and the dusting around those artfully placed curios would be maddening and that sidetable made entirely of stacked books is great until I need the book at the bottom.  Because you know, even though you never need that book, at some point you will be desperate for it in order to prove your friend wrong about some inane reference they keep insisting on throwing into conversation, incorrectly.
Around this point someone, usually Pete, will remind me that the people to which these spaces belong probably have people to do these things for them and aren’t bothered by the dust or the ease of cleaning windows.  (Which is good timing as I was about to start in on a rant about bathrooms styled with tons of stacked magazines, towels, etc.  Do not these people have to worry about condensation and musty smells?  Probably not, as they don’t live in damp rental flats.)
Back to my personal interior mission.

It seems a mountainous task.  But I have decided to solider on.  In small steps. 
Each weekend I intend to tackle one corner of the flat.  We will go through the crap, decide what needs keeping, what needs donating and what we may try to sell on ebay or gumtree.  This will perpetuate the issue of the bits and pieces hanging around the house but, as I said, I am on a mission. 

1 comment:

  1. Is it dorky to admit that one of the biggest things I'm excited about, now that we're *this* close to buying a house, is clearing out all our STUFF before the move???