Stuff and Clutter

Frank Lloyd Wright and Henry David Thoreau never met but would have agreed on clutter.

We recently toured Cedar Rock; a home designed by Wright near

Quasqueton, Iowa. Lilly, our tour guide, explained that the famous designer disliked garages and basements. “They gather clutter,” she said.

Thoreau once said, “Things are more easily acquired than got rid of.”

Acquiring Stuff

Modern Americans would have trouble living in a Frank Lloyd Wright home because there’s no place to store their acquired stuff. They’ve probably never heard of Thoreau’s wisdom.

As we drive around, we see open-door garages piled high with stuff – clutter, while an expensive car is parked outside in the weather. Inside, closets brim with rarely worn clothes. Sometimes we even see parked cars brim full of all sorts of rarely used things – stuff.

More Storage Means More Stuff

We’re amazed at the proliferation of rows of rented storage buildings. They seem to be everywhere. Probably they’re filled with items a family never uses but just can’t seem to part with.

If a family thinks they need something, odds are they’ve forgotten where it is. If they remember they may not be able to find it in the heap of clutter.  And, if they can find it it’s likely broken or dated. So, people buy a new one that likely will eventually become more stuff tossed on the pile or crammed into a closet.

Clutter Strategy

Our clutter strategy comes from two sources: raising two kids in a garage-less 750-square-foot house, and, cleaning out others’ homes full of stuff. The rule was, that when something comes into the house, something must leave.

We like clothes, tools, and recreational equipment but if we haven’t used something in a while it goes. We can be ruthless in this. Only rarely have we thought, “Oops, we could have used that.” We also keep bins with emergency items that we recycle periodically.

Items we no longer use but are in good repair, we give away or sell. Broken and out-of-date items go to the landfill. Success is empty space in closets and drawers. The house is more tidy, spacious, and lighter. We easily locate what we need. Life is simpler. We find that in today’s consumer-frenzied life, both Frank Lloyd Wright’s and Henry David Thoreau’s wisdom is useful.

Good Yankee Saying

Yankee Saying

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