Sunday, November 13, 2011

Beautiful or Useful?

My dad had never seen an episode of Hoarders before, so while he was visiting, we Netflixed up season 1 and watched the first episode. Horrified and disturbed by the episode's particular hoarders -- piles of spoiled food in one house, piles of stuff in the other -- we both agreed we'd probably have to attack our respective homes immediately.

I'm not a hoarder. But I have stuff. Some days it feels like I have a lot of stuff. When we moved from Tucson to Phoenix, I methodically went through all of our belongings and discarded or donated a lot of said stuff.

The move from Phoenix to Prescott was not so organized since there was a newborn to deal with.

After the episode of hoarders though, I've recommitted myself to going through every little nook and cranny and removing the excess.

William Morris, a British craftsman and wordsmith, said:
"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

So that's the standard.

It is too easy to accumulate things. The fear of wastefulness so frequently has us tossing old rubber bands into a drawer only to find them disintegrated months later unused and it is so wrongheaded. What really should be the goal is to use up what we have, never bring anything in that isn't inspiring or extremely useful, and not attach too much emotion to objects.

That being said, I'm not a person who enjoys stark spaces. I love things. I love layers of things. But I also like organization. So part of my attack on the house is to take the detritus I deem beautiful but messy (photos, little decorative boxes, Ada's most special newborn clothes) and figure out ways to house them that don't feel like they are taking up more than their share of space.

Once I get it all together, we'll probably move again.

Today a huge garbage bag of my clothes, a smaller garbage bag of Ada's old clothes (she's getting so big!), and boxes of extra kitchen crap went off to Goodwill.

What will this week bring?!


  1. Funny how you mention rubber bands. I throw most of mine away because I know I'll never use them -- even though I've never seen one disintegrate. But it always makes me sad, because they *are* useful. I feel like I should find a use for them.

    Same goes for empty jars.

  2. Upon returning to NC I immediately cleaned out my bedroom closet. Bags of shirts and pants and shoes I've been saving for that day when I need a set of old clothes for .... something.

    Made Susan watch an episode and now her closet has been streamlined. A very useful show. I might even get back into the attic again and attack those aquarium tanks!