The Fastest Way to Clutter

It’s like there’s some right of passage we must all make to grow up and be able to fill a home with furniture. Don’t believe the social lies.

I honestly think the quickest way to clutter a home is to overload it with furniture. Furniture is big, bulky and often offers some form of storage, giving more opportunity to hide smaller things.

Ten years ago I was 27 with a new born preemie child. I worked a full-time job in a career I loved and we had bought our first home two years prior. My husband and I lived in a split-level 1800 sqft home filled with furniture. We had no idea what we needed so we bought what we thought we were supposed to buy. We bought a couch, loveseat, end table, TV, and dining room table. The only thing we still have from that list is the TV, and not because the rest was poor quality, but because none of it really worked for our life at the time or the house we put it in.

The Couch and Loveseat: We purchased them because they were big, deep, and comfy. They were so big they didn’t fit in the living room and we didn’t realize it until they were delivered. We sat on them for 12 years and just made it work and I always hated them. The couch suffered a horrible demise when we tried to donate it. Our donation center skipped the pickup day and it happened to rain, leaving the couch wet and full of ants. We did what anyone else would do – hacked it down with a chainsaw, threw away the cushions, and burned the rest.

The End Table: I purchased it from Pier One with a gift card because I liked it… until I had a kid. The square glass top was terribly child unfriendly. After the baby bumpers popped off for the tenth time, I donated it and replaced it with a tacky table tray because the corners were rounded.

The Dining Room Table: We had a room upstairs right off of our eat-in kitchen. My 25 year old self felt like it should be a dining room because grown-ups have formal dining rooms, don’t they? So we bought an eight seat table for the two of us, plus we had a four person kitchen table. My 27 year old self quickly needed a play space for the baby, so the dining room table eventually had to go.

And that’s the last ten years of regretful furniture purchases. Ten years later and we are newly into our second home. I’ve never been more comfortable with empty spaces because I’ve learned what happens if I fill a home too fast with too much furniture. Filling a home with furniture means nothing to me anymore, but filling a home with functional pieces is everything.

When we moved into this home, we were both attracted to the large kitchen. My husband wanted to add an island to the middle of the floor – something I’ve like about kitchens in general for a while as well. The previous owners left a table they had been using in place of an island and I learned just how fast it collected clutter. Everything landed on that table and it drove me nuts. We decided to take it out and the clutter disappeared. Some might say it looks empty, but I think it looks peaceful.

There’s a cyclical relationship between clutter and stuff. Having less stuff leads to less clutter and having less clutter leads to less stuff. Furniture is big stuff, which, if not used properly will always lead to more clutter. It’s sometimes easier to try to manage all of the little bits of clutter that reside in the big pieces of improperly used furniture than it is to remove big, bulky pieces of furniture.

In my three examples, the selling point on our purchases was “because I liked it”, but I never gave enough thought into how it would work for me. I’ve learned to put better stipulations on how I decide to buy furniture and it’s helped reduce the overall clutter in my home. I feel like my home is becoming my oasis and I’m looking forward to spending the next ten years in it. Ten years ago I was just looking for a good excuse to get rid of that couch!

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