Thursday, February 7, 2013

What is your clutter level?

Since moving into the casita I've learned I have a lower clutter level than I thought. I've never been a fan of clutter, but I figured it was just a necessary byproduct of living.

But I'm changing my mind. 

I've documented on this blog, and on my P365 blog last year, my love for baskets and how they corral some of the clutter. Here are a couple photos of how I'm using baskets right now. On top the wardrobe in the bedroom I have six large square, fabric-lined baskets that hold everything from extra vitamins and supplements to DVDs and make-up:

In the kitchen I use baskets to hold small packets that don't stack neatly on the pantry shelves (not shown), and on the hutch to hold storage containers on one shelf (square in one, round in the other) and opened bags of bread, chips or snacks on the lower shelf:
I've also become a fan of open shelving in our small space, as evidenced by the shelf over the kitchen sink that holds our most used dishes, glasses, cups and mixing bowls:
The trick to open shelving for me is keeping colors to a minimum and sorting by like items.

(We also have open shelving in the bedroom and bath -- where I use baskets to keep things tidy).

But quite honestly, having an open pantry (we're just using a bookshelf) and all the stuff displayed on the hutch, really bothers me. I have exceeded my maximum clutter level! 

So last week Ivan and I began brainstorming ideas for a piece of furniture that could replace the mix of pieces we're currently using in the kitchen, and make the space more functional -- and less cluttered! Here's a rough drawing of our final plan for a long, shallow cabinet:
It will be 2.4 meters long, but only about 55 cm deep. The five separate cabinets will be tied together by one long countertop (ahhhh, I can hardly wait!) that will give me not only space to work but also room to keep my crockpot, stand mixer, blender and toaster oven on top. Neatly, of course, since everything except the toaster oven will have coordinating fabric covers.   

Two of the cabinets will each be 60 cm wide, and be primarily for pots and pans, plus a drawer for spices, and room to tuck our 3-tier vegetable stand out of sight. I'm planning to put a fabric skirt on the front of this portion, for easy access to the shallow drawers.

The other three cabinets will each be 40 cm wide and have the same number of drawers (4) in the same configuration, which will allow the drawer fronts to be uniform and symmetrical. And you know my love for all things symmetrical!

Pretty sure we'll just tile the countertop, since we have plenty of tile left over from other projects and I think that will tie in well with the rustic nature of our casita. We've already priced materials and I'm anxious for Ivan to get started on it, but we have a few other projects to complete first. Just knowing it's on the horizon is enough to keep my spirits up though.

As I've been thinking about how to make better use of our small space, I find myself drawn to articles on the topic and have found a lot of inspiration on both Pinterest and Houzz. In fact, one of the articles on Houzz was so fun and helpful, I decided to share it with you. You can find it over on my sidebar, just above the "about me" info. Click on that, and it will take you to the full article "Clutter vs. Keepers: A Guide to New Year's Purging". And then, if you wouldn't mind, come back and tell me which one you are!

Although I have what many might consider a low clutter threshold, I am an artist at heart and could not stand to live in a completely minimalist, sterile environment. I must have the things I love and enjoy around me. Especially books! And art, and fabric, and baskets...

What I'm learning is that it isn't just about the quantity, it's also "what the what". It would make me crazy to live in a place with a lot of knick-knacks or doo-dads, but a few special items are not only okay, but necessary. The African baskets we brought back from Uganda, the watercolors we've begun collecting whenever we go someplace new, the beautiful blue/green vase that my SIL's husband made, the blue glass paperweight I picked up in Ireland... For me it's about the meaning attached to the item that determines whether it's something I want to keep.

But the fact is I have a lot of things I really love, and the casita simply isn't big enough to hold all the pieces I've brought in. So I am starting to go through my home again, with an eye to not only form and function, but also how it all fits together. I'm fairly good at editing words; we'll see how good I am at editing things.


The Bug said...

Oh I REALLY need to work on this in my life. ugh. I've mostly let Mike handle the clutter because in the past he had more free time than I did. And really that's still true, but I think it's time for me to take over!

The Bug said...

BTW - I checked out the article. I think that if I lived alone I would have a riot of color, but minimum actual STUFF. Mike on the other hand likes soothing colors & loves to have stuff around that makes him smile. Stuff that *I* dust by the way - ha! So I think for harmony we'll have to compromise.

But my tolerance for clutter is pretty high, and my desire to declutter is pretty low, so our house will probably not change all that much :)