Make a little space

Make a little space

I was house-sitting the last few weeks in a lovely home. Lots of wood and old-ish sideboards and dressers, quite a few botanical prints on the walls, lots of light. A very comfortable open-concept space.

It took me and my embroidery stuff about one hour to turn it into a topsy-turvy clutter bug.  I took the dog out for a walk and when I came back I was a bit shocked. The place was no longer calm, it wasn’t inviting, and it actually made me rather nervous.  My own home is certainly not monastic in aesthetic, but the contrast between the calm of this home when I arrived and the chaos of an hour later made me stop and think.  

I corralled the embroidery project, designated one space— the dining room table — and made a pact to myself to smarten up.

So, of course, I started thinking about how clutter impacts us. I had an almost physical reaction to seeing the house all cluttered up.  I can’t say it made me feel ill, but I certainly noticed a downward dip in my attitude.

Clutter does a number on our brains as well as on our physical health and safety (No stuff on the floor to trip over, for a start.)  It can make us feel stressed or anxious all the time. That kind of constant stress boosts our cortisol levels— which can lead to fatigue, and depression, and even make it harder to think straight. So, yes, all that clutter is actually cluttering up our minds, too.

And, living in clutter can really drag us down emotionally. It can make us feel embarrassed or even stop us from inviting people over. There’s also this annoying way it has of reminding us that things are out of control, which just makes us feel worse.

Clutter is a huge distraction, especially in places where we need to think or get things done. If our study or workspace is cluttered, good luck concentrating.

If you can’t declutter the whole house, why not try for one small section? 

Imagine a space that makes you feel calm and peaceful just by being in it. That’s what a clutter-free zone does—it turns your space into a sanctuary from all the chaos out there. Pick a spot where you can sit, drink a cup of tea, read a book or watch a bit of TV, or look out the window. Make it a space where your back is to the rest of the clutter. It’s your decompression zone. 

Make yourself a promise that this little zone will stay clutter-free. Do that as a gift to yourself for creating that space. Spending time in this one little bubble of calm will undoubtedly spur you on to create more spaces like it.

 Ever fought at home because someone’s stuff was everywhere? Clutter can truly strain relationships, stirring up friction over who’s leaving what and where. A well-designed space can help everyone get along better, keeping our home more peaceful and cooperative.

Please, never underestimate the impact of clutter—it affects more than just the eye.  Our living spaces should support us,  not suck away all of our precious energy. It should offer a place of healing, not zip up the cortisol levels.  It needs to be a place of rest, of gratitude, of abundance.

By understanding and tackling the clutter, by making our home a place that looks and feels calm—we create a place that actually helps improve our quality of life. And in doing so, we’re not just enhancing spaces, we’re enhancing lives.

Linda Erlam

Written by