Bringing you the issues since 1986

View Online Print Edition


Clutter: what we can do about it

October, 2010

If one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, just where is the elusive dividing line between momentos and clutter? Not an easy question, says LaVerne John of Clutter Control, since clutter, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

“Everyone has their own definition as to what clutter reflects in their life,” says the professional organizer who helps her clients with decluttering, home staging and deciding what to do about their extra “stuff” in times of transition.

“We as a society value our things for many reasons, and sometimes there is great emotional attachment to items that have no monetary value. What can happen over time is that as these accumulate, they cause stress or anxiety. It becomes a way of life for some individuals, forcing them to adapt to their environment even though the objects interfere with their everyday functioning.”

The examples John cites include keeping children’s items throughout their lives, or collecting different items with the intent of using them someday but never actually doing so.

While the television show Hoarders focuses on—some say exploits— people with psychiatric problems living in extreme forms of clutter, John says that it does not reflect most people’s situation. “What I have encountered are individuals who have homes and have accumulated 20-40 years of cherished possessions and find themselves having to downsize and having a great deal of difficulty parting with items they either have not seen or used in years. I’ve come to understand that especially with seniors, it is not so much the items, it is the memories they evoke. Talking about the significance of your possessions and finding alternatives for items can be rewarding.” John says a “de-clutterer” has to have a great deal of compassion. “We are talking about a person’s life and history. Respect is paramount.”

Jean Francois Laforte of Creative Visual Concepts (CVC.Designs) agrees that Hoarders does not reflect reality, despite being billed as a “reality show.”

“Everybody goes through it; we all collect and preserve. We all have it in us, but it’s now we manage it that is important.” Laforte says it’s not what you have but how you feel in your living space that determines your quality of life.

“The goal is to enjoy your space, being sensitive to the point where you feel it needs a change.”

To Laforte, living space, like nature, is a dynamic, ever-evolving environment. He talks about the power of transformation, exemplified by the recent trend to alter one’s home, making it attractive to prospective buyers. “What’s happened with “home staging” is that it started out as a tool for people to sell their homes. But in many cases, people have found new value in their living space and are asking to stage even when they’re not planning to sell.”

To Laforte, with his background in theatre set design, the whole world is, literally, a stage. “My goal is to help my clients see the possibilities of painting, rearranging furniture, perhaps taking down a wall, relocating pictures, and, at a cost far lower than moving, being happy in their own home.”



Post a Comment