Friday, October 24, 2008

Clutter and Cleaning (or Not)

Some of you have read my previous posts (which I still don't know how to link to) about the fact that I love my house and how I didn't even covet the mansion that I visited in Bel Air. But on Monday I went to a house that I now covet (Hi, J.N.!). It was clean and clutter free. It had a modern style with natural materials. The inside blended with the outside. It had simple lines, built-in bookshelves, and great details. It had a water view. I loved it. And when I came home, my house seemed small, dusty, dirty, cluttered, and kind of lame.

So now I'm dealing with this. A great step would be to de-clutter the house. I bought a book on clutter last spring, and it's a good one. But I just haven't gotten around to purging. When can I find the time?

Not only that, but it seems that I just do not know how to keep the house clean and tidy. With four people in this house, including two young kids, I just don't know how to do it. Perhaps some sort of system would help. In the "olden days," I think maybe people cleaned on Saturdays before doing anything else. Mopped. Beat the rugs. Etc. In fact, when I was single, I cleaned on Saturdays while listening to Morning Edition and NPR. By 1:00pm, I'd have a clean house in which to read and relax. Easy peasy.

But now? There is always crap everywhere. Cleaning takes much longer, and The Girl has dance class on Saturday mornings so that's out. Plus, if the Husband and I aren't dividing and conquering on the weekends in order to prep or grade papers/exams, then we like to play and go on outings with the kids. Not clean. Perhaps that's the problem?

The stuff, the stuff! I can't even deal with the mail, let alone the laundry and the dust. When did I last mop the floors? Do not ask. Why is the kitchen ALWAYS a mess even after I just cleaned it? I know it's entropy at work, but I do not know how to successfully fight this physical law.

So far, I am NOT a good enough housekeeper. Any tips, dear blogosphere?


baxie said...

you can get a link to old posts by clicking on the time at the bottom of the post.

baxie said...

as for the rest of it, no help here.

my decorating style is objectively PRO CLUTTER.

I may dream of tatami mats, sanded pine furniture and airy spaces with clean lines, but that all vanishes with a soap bubble *pop* when I awake..

I have the collector's gene- even after the epic purging of the past few months the number of things I find irresistible will always overwhelm the number of shelves I can dedicate to them.

penelope said...

Oh my gosh, we are twins. With the kids, it's nigh impossible to keep up. So I don't have any suggestions, but I do want to say, I definitely understand.

Louise said...

I am definitely learning to deal with a not-so-perfect house these days. You know my anal retentiveness is sky-high when it comes to this subject. However, when you have a live-in love who is not quite so A.R. then there is give and take. I do like that he appreciates a clean home and is a partner in that. He does the chores that I hate to do and does them without complaint. I do have an issue with his closet, but it's his and I have to let it be.

I recently am having a similar issue with my clothes. I saw a new episode of Tim Gunn's Guide to Style on Bravo. There was a 37 year old woman who had an eclectic style and penchant for brand name labels. Tim read her the riot act for being a label 'ho and not dressing age appropriate. I suddenly freaked because I loved a pair of her boots that Tim shunned. I am now rethinking my entire wardrobe as a closet of clutter. Damn.
I am trying to de-clutter in general because I just save too much crap. I recently purged a truck bed of stuff to Goodwill to make room in the attic for some of the Candyman's stuff. This needs to happen about 10 more times. A lot of what I have that I DO NOT want to part with is my sewing stuff. Someday, I will have time. Someday, I will have room to spread it out. Someday I will want it again. Someday will be when I retire, I'm sure. Besides, the one who dies with the most fabric/floss/yarn wins. I'm in a dead heat (no pun intended) with your mom and Karla Kunoff, my tailoring instructor from college.

One rule of thumb for me is, it needs a place to go. If I can't think of an immediate storage spot, I'm not allowed to buy it. For me, that means I'm not allowed to buy any more art. That's a tough one because I find really cool stuff overseas. I already have a closet shelf of unhung art. I seriously must walk away from art vendors I love in Hong Kong because I simply have no more wall space. It pains me.

As for cleaning, I get it done more now on an "as needed" basis versus the Saturday morning purge, although we try to do that too. I clean the bathrooms and the kitchen while he's out and about in the morning. When he comes home he does the floors and takes out all the trash and helps fold laundry (something we both detest). It seems to work.

Amstr said...

For cheesy (but helpful) decluttering help, check out In addition to a page on how to declutter, she's got daily "missions" for tasks that never ever seem to get done. (and now I'm looking at all my clutter . . .)