By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established;
by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
I don’t like clutter. For the longest time I would blame my stifled creativity, my unfettered procrastination, my demotivation, on the excessive clutter in my home.
Who can get anything done with clutter?
Cult of decluttering
So many articles and books rave of the benefits of decluttering. So for years I have been trying to remove clutter. I’ve been throwing out old memories to avoid hoarding strange things. I have moved almost every year for the last decade, so if I kept everything I wanted to I would exhaust myself filling boxes.
It makes sense. For a long time I had minimal decorations on my walls, few pictures, everything had a place.
But then I began seminary.
The love in clutter
I remember visiting homes of fellow students while I lived in Minnesota. Zach and Jules had a modest sized apartment, but it was filled to the brim with crosses, pictures of them together, books, nick-nacks, etc. Ben and Mandy’s place was very similar. It was a larger space but had the same feel. Ben’s artwork filled the floors in his studio and the walls in the living room.
They had white Christmas lights around the ceiling, candles on the table, and dozens of mason jars displayed above their kitchen cabinet. I knew that both couples were planning on moving out of the state at the end of the school year, but it felt like they had been living in their homes for decades (and being in their late twenties/early thirties I knew that wasn’t possible).
Their homes were filled with a loving clutter that I thought only time could have created. When I asked them how long they had been in their homes, both couples answered me that they moved in at the beginning of the school year.
Five months, with only four months left in these places. Although it would have been easier to leave things in boxes, maybe put some items in storage, to throw out all these things that they had to move constantly, both of these couples chose to unpack and find a place for every item, to keep things that could have easily been thrown away, they chose to fill their homes with memories, comfort, and love.
They were cluttered. They moved their clutter from place to place every year, moving to different states, and making every apartment look like a home. It inspired me. I want my dwelling place to feel that way, to feel like the home of some one I love.
Cluttering our home
My husband, Greg, and I just moved a few weeks ago, and in the move there were plenty of things that were donated or thrown out. Somehow in the short year of living in Vancouver we managed to accumulate a lot of stuff. But before we started packing, I looked around our apartment. And I smiled at the loving clutter that we had created. I smiled at the photos and paintings hanging on the walls. The way some areas felt a little bit crowded because we just had so many pictures and only so much wall. I looked around at the cluttering we had done to our home. I took in the stuff that a few years ago I would have thrown away or put in storage, and I smiled.
Stuff doesn’t necessarily make a home. Obviously. We do.
What makes a home is us
What makes a home is us – our little family together in a space that we can call our own.
And what kind of clutter might help our home to feel like us?
Those pictures, crosses, and knick-knacks that we have collected. Even though I’m still wondering where I’m going to put that poster from the movie I was an extra in. Although we already have more crosses than any one family could ever “need”. And sure, most adults might not have as many action figures as I do. But each one holds a memory of sci-fi excitement or comic book action.
And so as Greg and I build our home together with Hadley, we avoid the cult of decluttering. Of course we will probably always struggle to keep things tidy and organized with a young one running around. And it’s true that stuff and clutter doesn’t make for a happy home. But we can also look around at our loving clutter, and be reminded of fond memories, of family and friends, and of the love our little family shares.
What do you prefer in your home? What kind of home did you build for you and your family? Is it a home filled with memories and love? How can you make your space one of love and joy?