The Master of Disciplined Editing – Darryl Carter
On Day One of this little series, I was all lecture-y about giving some order to household chaos by maybe throwing away a newspaper or two, and shredding the utility bills from 1998, that sort of thing , because it really does help give a fresh perspective on a space and abates the mental clutter if decisions need to be made about a fresh coat of paint or a to-the-studs full gut renovation. You just never know about these things. But having a clear field of vision is the best place to start.
For day two, let’s consider the idea of letting things go. Clutter is created by more than just stuff that belongs in the trash. Sometimes really nice things cause more problems than junk because – well – nice things are nice! There are issues of sentimentality, dollar value, MODS (maybe one day syndrome), unrealistic expectations – suitability (there’s that pesky word again). You can go from “carefully curated eclectic decor” to “that person needs to have a garage sale” in a single visit to an antiques market. As a decorator/stylist/creative-ish person, editing is the skill I most admire, and the one I work the hardest to perfect. Anyone can learn the traditional principles and elements of design – it’s not rocket surgery, and the very nature of interior decorating is sharing your work, so excellent examples of all sorts of styles from myriad gifted and generous designers are just a click away.
What you can’t necessarily learn from a photo – what isn’t so easy – is the delicate art of restraint, of saying when, and stop, and no.
This is not a call to minimalism – unless you want to be a minimalist in which case go right ahead on – only a gentle suggestion that if you feel like you have a bunch of stuff that you can’t seem to make visual or practical sense of, it could very well be that you simply have too much stuff. It’s worth considering, right? Most of us have too much stuff and it can be a barrier to creating the calm and inspiring space we need to be our most productive, or to be able to relax for one flipping minute.
I won’t go into the various methods that are all the hype just now – I’m telling you if I sat there and hugged everything I owned trying to decide whether or not I should let it go, I would either keep all of it, because I wouldn’t own it if I didn’t like it, and/or fall asleep by the third item because it would take hours as I daydreamed of all the brilliant ways I will never, ever actually use it.
My favorite method is the “HELL YEAH or no!” decision making process*. If you can’t say HELL YEAH, I want that __________ , full stop – then it’s a definite no – out it goes. Sold, donated, gifted, trashed, whatever, but it is out of your house and your life and you don’t look back. Start with what’s easy – old craft supplies, the because-it-was-on-sale store bought accessories, broken things – and then move on to the things that can be a bit harder, like the maybe someday category, the duplicates, your kids artwork, etc. Throwing things out and donating them aren’t the only options – if you need new shoes or eye glasses or whatever, selling a few of your nice (at someone else’s house) pieces is a great way to offset the expense of things that will better serve you, and might make it easier to let go.
Edit ruthlessly. Do it now. Even if it’s a five square foot area, commit to winnowing it to the bare bones (the pantry, the fridge, the broom closet are all legit places to start, by the way, and have the advantage of being self contained) –
and repeat to yourself:
HELL YEAH!!!! or no.
At the end, you’ll be many steps closer to the lovely, suitable space you’re shopping for.
*The “HELL YEAH or no” practice is applicable to nearly every scheduling matter or material thing – it is life changing
and as for the 10:
THE TEN THINGS I GOT RID OF – KITCHEN EDITION (Thursday’s haul)
- two mini Springform pans – donated
- a cookie tin and platter leftover from Christmas baking – donated
- thin/stained dish towels and napkins – repurposed for general cleaning
- canned sardines – donated (I just can’t eat them, I tried)
- vintage Henkel maple knife block – posted for sale
- set of 12 silverplate knives from a mismatched set – posted for sale
- set of 12 vintage Hilton Hotel silver spoons – posted for sale
- bag of plastic grocery bags – recycled
- out of date spices (like by years) – thrown out
- several dozen egg cartons – bagged and ready to take to my friend who keeps hens
THE TEN THINGS I GOT RID OF – SMALLS EDITION (Friday’s haul)
- pair of lanterns – posted for sale
- small Chinoiserie cabinet – posted for sale – SOLD
- small tabletop cabinet – posted for sale – SOLD
- outdoor fire kettle used for plants – posted for sale
- wall mount corner cabinet – posted for sale
- pair of landscape paintings – posted for sale
- glass lamp – posted for sale
- accent table – posted for sale
- builder grade chandelier – posted for sale
- vintage wooden porch columns – posted for sale
Happy weekend, sweet friends!
With love and optimism –