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How to Avoid Clutter by being a Curator


Fun Fact: I have collected shells since I was a little kid and still do but I am very picky about the ones that go into my collection these days!

I love the word Curator it reminds me of a wonderfully talented art major or writer that handles some kind of master piece. While most of our homes don’t contain priceless Degas, they do contain our treasures and things we have worked hard to own. What happens when your home is no longer your sanctuary but a storage unit? The psychology of clutter is quite clear: it reduces productivity and raises stress hormones. Of course, when I think of clutter and getting organized, I imagine an aisle from the container store, Maria Kondo’s home or the Minimalist movement. But, for most people trying to achieve these lofty ideals they are neither achievable nor practical and most of the time the idea just makes us feel bad and robs us of the power we have to beautify our own homes. When I heard the idea of curating your items- I loved it, it was a romantic notion of placing in your home the treasures you wish to display just like famous museums do.


While most of us need to actually reduce the collection of items we have and a lot of time and energy is spent thinking about this, have you ever thought about putting boundaries on the items you are willing to bring into your collection? Yes we should all declutter, but let’s not just declutter. We want to curate what comes into our home because if we don’t change our mindset, all the decluttering in the world will just be a an endless cycle of cleaning. (By all means if cleaning is your hobby please stop reading immediately.)


Tips for curating current items:


  1. Begin with Unshared items: Example: if all the cookbooks belong to you start only keeping only the ones you use or treasure and let the rest go to new collections (aka homes). Shared items require joint curation!

  2. Set a physical boundary for types of items: Example: I will set aside these 3 shelves for art supplies and if I fill it up, I can’t buy more till I use some up and make more space. This helps our brain stop the buying and if the space is manageable and visible, it keeps us from duplicate buying as well.

  3. Purge “YES”: Example: is saying yes to everyone’s hand-me downs that can be tools, kitchen gadgets and so on. By saying yes and not thinking it through you may get items you won’t use or don’t fit your family very well. Let them go, someone else may see them as a treasure and give them more love than you can.

  4. Downsize the Collection: Example: you like nutcrackers or snow globes and enjoy hunting for these, now suddenly everyone is buying them for you at garage sales or thrift stores and you have duplicates and even ones you don’t like. Curate down to the ones you do like and don’t feel guilty. The love message of those gifts that was received and now you can let them go (Based on a Maria Kondo’s philosophy).


Tips for curating future items:


  1. Stop Filling to Fill: Example: when a young couple or family moves to a new house and it may be larger with a lot of wonderful storage space. The gut reaction is to fill the rooms until they look like a picture from a home catalog. Stop and take your time and don’t fill it if you don’t need it. Instead of a hallmark house, think of how your home was staged when you did the walk through before purchasing the home. Staging leaves lots of space around items so you feel relaxed.

  2. Set a boundary goal and stick to it: Example: Christmas decorations are a perfect example -if you start with one Rubbermaid to store items in then decide how many ahead of time you will keep. We have chosen 3 bins and so anything new means if it doesn’t fit then we need to get rid of a Christmas item.

  3. Say “No”: Example: if your Parent says “do you want the old clock from our house we are getting a new one”, you say “No thank you”; that is unless of course you love it and have always wanted it. There is no rule you have to say yes to every free hand-me down or take other people’s stuff.

  4. Know the Number: Example: sweaters, as women we get tired of our clothes, so we like to shop for new varieties of sweaters, but this can lead to an overwhelming collection of them. We are only capable of wearing 1 possibly 2 sweaters in any given day, so if you have 30, this may exceed a reasonable amount that will ever get worn. And if you are really honest, you probably only wear about 5 of the 30 anyways, so when you are standing at Target thinking that grinch sweater is so cute- stop and think about how many you actually have. Then you either decide that you are going home and letting go of several sweaters or you put back Mr. Grinch. You can do this because you are the display case and are curating what you wear on your body during the winter season.


In our home I have always been drawn to a more minimalistic approach, I like calm and always put things away, clutter literally makes my brain feel itchy. However, I have been on a hamster wheel cycle of get and then declutter -even planning it into our lives before Christmas and other times of the year. I am working now to change my mindset and curate what I ask for birthday’s for myself. I am excited by this change as it will be more peaceful and also less wasteful with an endless cycle of in and out. I also love the idea of my home being a sanctuary of things that inspire me!

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