Redo of the office area

Office Area RedoI actually sketched a layout of this a few times years back before doing it. I had so much clutter in this corner that for years it seemed like I was never going to get to it. I removed stuff, sold it or took it to Goodwill. Then bought more stuff. De-cluttering can be like dieting. Unconscious eating is no different than unconscious consumerism. Before long the weight lost is back plus more and you’ve acquired more than you got rid of and find yourself cluttered again.

We never encouraged visitors. My father lives with me and my mother is here a lot. We never invited anyone over. When no one is around but people who tolerate a thing, it tends to stay that way. It’s embarrassing…and depressing. The cycle of removal and buying again probably would have gone on for many years were it not for a “disruptive event.” This summer a friend offered to come visit. When I got the text I said yes, knowing that a lot of stuff had to be taken out of this room. At first I picked through it, like I always do. I managed to get a few things out. Then I bought a tub and dumped everything into it and moved that into the garage. That allowed me to get at the floor. I spent a few hours most weekends in July and August to get it to the state in the upper image. It still looked like that when my friend was here. A few days after she left I took everything off the shelves, vacuumed several litters of dust bunnies, took a huge load of stuff to Goodwill and put the bookcases and desk in place.

Keeping the space clear will always be the challenge. I’ve never been a constant cleaner. I hate cleaning things. I put it off wishing things would never get dirty. When I do clean something I want to put it in a plastic zipper bag away from the elements and people getting it dirty. Not a rational desire. This is where I live. You can’t shrink-wrap your living space once you’ve cleaned it. Someone has to vacuum, pick up, toss, etc. I’m doing a better job of all that. I probably need to vacuum more often. But I cleaned it just a few weeks ago. I want to see it this clear a year from now. Unconsciously clean is the state I want to get to.


Dust Collectors

Shelves in the living room with lots of things. Coming soon to a thrift store near you.
Shelves in the living room with lots of things. Coming soon to a thrift store near you.

Fifty to seventy years ago, perhaps farther back than that, people accumulated, gathered, collected stuff. Growing up in the late 60s through the 70s, I remember my grandparents’ house and the houses of other kids having many small items on shelves. You’ve probably heard the term “bric-a-brac shelf.” These were always well-made items handed down from one generation to another. Some of them were one-of-a-kind. Now they’re most likely mass-produced by underpaid workers in Asia. defines bric-a-brac as miscellaneous small articles collected for their antiquarian, sentimental, decorative, or other interest. It also attributes the word’s origin to 1830-40 middle French. So the practice of acquiring stuff goes a long way back.

These miscellaneous small articles go by another name, “dust collectors.” Other than whatever emotional attachment we have to them, their only purposes are being looked at occasionally and collecting dust. The exception to this rule is the  small clock that still works.

I guess it doesn’t really matter if the stuff is cheap mold-press plastic from China or handmade porcelain in Hoboken. Too much of it piled up around you is going to cause problems in your life. Getting rid of it is the biggest of these problems. I’ve been told that my habit of buying “dust collectors” is something I inherited from my paternal grandmother. I didn’t know her very well. So I’ll take Mom’s word for it. I do remember there being a lot of stuff in that house, though.

I live in a 2/1 and my house has a lot of stuff in it. There’s a lot less now that I’ve been clearing it out. But I have a long way yet to go. There are three, maybe four items on those shelves I am going to keep. The rest goes in a bag or box to Goodwill. I’ll also be taking the shelves down and hanging a picture there. I’ll probably send the shelves to a friend. Will I be done? Will this project be complete? Hell no. At some point, possibly in 2014, I’ll have the clutter eliminated. Then there’ll be the matter of keeping it away. But that’s the subject of another post.