It’s the beginning of a brand new year and along with giving up everything that’s pleasurable (for at least a week, anyway), it’s also our annual cue to clear the clutter and start afresh.
Generally, we are all ticked off for being clutter collectors by the so-called ‘house doctors’ and lifestyle gurus. We’re ordered to reclaim our space and clear our minds by whirling through our homes like a mad dervish, getting rid of clothes and items that we haven’t touched or thought of for a year or more. However, although I’ve been guilty in the past of passing on this kind of advice, I’ve had a rethink. And here’s why. I’ve recently had a loft conversion and in the cavernous space where boxes were once piled high full of old school reports, a few pieces of my nan’s old crockery, questionable 80's records and my son’s first mobile that hung above his cot, there’s now a spacious, light room with a bed. But instead of feeling light and airy myself, I feel bereft of the loss of these totally useless but sentimental items that I chucked out.
The exercise of past clutter clearing has made me realise that a home is clearly much more than more space, mortgage payments and a bedroom refit, it’s about things that capture the past and say something about who you are and the life you have led. Stuff – any kind of stuff, whether it be a childhood teddy with an eye missing or the first birthday card sent to you from your partner holds meaning and memories. Some de-clutterers say it keeps us trapped in the past, but for many of us that’s a good thing. Advertisers have fast caught onto the fact that nostalgia sells, primarily because those battered and familiar objects tell a story, revive memories and bring about a feel good factor. Dubbed ‘psychological medicine’ it’s why we like looking through old photographs.
Ultimately your home showcases who you are and what does it say about a person who hasn’t a little bit of clutter? Surely it’s a house that’s homesick.