Friday, June 24, 2016

"Are We Just Rearranging Our Clutter?"

Clutter is not safe or comfortable to have in a home - for us, our family, friends, or our clients and potential clients. Not only does it create visual distractions and navigation issues in a home, it's hard to find items that are stored randomly here-and-there.

So, manufacturers have come up with and made available to us - through numerous retail and online sources - various storage systems, including bins in a variety of sizes, capacities, and colors. Cabinets also come with bins, drawers, baskets, trays, and other ways to hold all of the household items and personal keepsakes we hold onto.

Foodstuffs that we bring home from the store while we are waiting to prepare and use them, clothing that we purchase (often on sale) before we figure out where to keep it (or if we are going to eventually wear it or return it), cleaning supplies (including paper towels and rags) that are in transition from one location in the home to another, furniture that we are trying out in a new location (plus furniture that is being removed from a previous location that hasn't made it to its new home yet), items that probably should be discarded because they have been replaced by something newer or more efficient, items that we have tired of using, and many other items find their way into cabinets, closets, staircases, hallways, and other locations where they often just accumulate.

All that said, just picking up items (even laundry, outerwear, and other items that we are going to use again rather quickly) and putting them elsewhere in the home - such as in bins, baskets, or on shelves - may just be moving them around and exchanging or relocating clutter or excess in one area of the home to another.

Just keep in mind, are we just moving about or rearranging clutter or storage to clear up one area in the home (a hallway, stairwell, or countertop, for instance) and move it to another? One area gets cleaned, and another becomes the recipient of what was stored elsewhere.

There is nothing wrong with bins, baskets, shelves, and other places to place and retain various items that we want to hold onto or that will be used at some time in the future. The challenge is to keep only a reasonable number of them and not allow them to become so abundant that we almost dread opening our cabinets and closets for what we will find stuffed into them.

What may well happen is that we take the loose, unorganized clutter and organize it into bins, boxes, and containers and then have that take up so much space that it begins to clutter our living environment.

Clutter and excessive contents do not have to look a certain way in order for us to label them as being a distraction, a safety issue, or something that interferes with maneuvering through the home. They can be stacked in random piles, strewn about, placed here-and-there, piled neatly, or placed into storage containers. The issue is not so much how they are kept, in the long run, but that more than we need to live successfully and effectively in a space is kept.

We need to focus on decluttering but more in terms of volume retained than in how it is stored or organized.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.