Monthly Archives: May 2011

Are you a hoarder or a minimalist?

I crave tidiness; a dust-free home of Zen-like calm.

Trouble is, I like “stuff”; I hoard “stuff”; I find it difficult to throw “stuff” away.

That bookmark made in 2004 by son in nursery? Obviously a treasured possession. Certificate for 100 per cent attendance in spring 2006? Naturally, this is something the children will want to keep for when they are older?

CDs, vinyl, novels and text books from school and university – complete with annotations – are brimming with precious memories.

The thing with all the physical manifestation of these memories is that they take up a lot of room after a while.Clutter, mess, piles of "stuff" ready to avalanche

I interviewed Anthea Turner a few years ago – when she was in full Domestic Goddess mode – and she couldn’t understand my need to keep everything. “Keep a few key things; get rid of the rest,” she said. This is a woman whose airing cupboard elicited gasps because it was so tidy – every pristine white towel perfectly folded …

I could never live like that. I tried. I folded my towels a la Anthea for about two weeks and gave up. Life felt too short for getting the spirit level out to check the neatness of my airing cupboard contents.

I try hard to have sort-outs after a while, but I have to be in a particularly hard-nose frame of mind … do I really need that little drawing when I have dozens others? Do I really need to keep that gardening book that I’ve barely read?

This weekend has been my spring cleaning weekend – in my study/office at least.

The book cases are heaving (although, most of them are my OH’s books as he cannot stop buying them) – with the shelves backfilled with books. Other books are on the floor because there is no space for them. Board games are also on the floor. My filing – such as it is – is a chaotic mess.

Yesterday, I was in the mood to clear the clutter – and went to work.

Tidy-ish at last! (I'll give it a week)

Eight hours later and three boxes of books have gone. Actually, they haven’t gone, they’re going into the attic (but that’s OK, isn’t it?). I figured that as much as I am attached to my copy of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, the dog-eared Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and my three copies of Sense and Sensibility, I might not actually read them again…

Photographs have been sorted, boxes of cuttings have been filled (and the rest of the newspapers thrown away) and all my children’s books that are lined up for review are now almost tidy on the shelves.

It feels better already … now for the rest of the house!

I could still do with some tips, though: how do you keep your treasured possessions in control? Are you a minimalist or a hoarder?