Saturday, May 31, 2008

The conflicts between thrift, clutter and beauty

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." William Morris

This is hard to explain. I'm not sure why, but each time I try I get bogged down and confused. Let's try, shall we? I'm going to use some examples and go from there.

I have a comforter. It's a double bed size, because that was the size bed we had when I bought it in 1991. It's still in decent condition, looks about the same as it did when I bought it because it's a cotton-polyester blend. I'm tired of it. It doesn't make me happy. It's the wrong size for our bed (though it does fit our guest bed, but we have a nicer comforter that we usually use there). Why do I still keep it? Because, wait for's perfectly good!

It's all a muddle of reduce, reuse, recycle; use it up; wear it out; Depression and Green and eco this and that and thrift and soon my house is full-up of stuff that's still "perfectly good" but that I don't really love or want.

With my bathroom, and now, my kitchen, I'm creating spaces that only have useful AND lovely (to me) things in them. It is harder to do this in other parts of the house, and I need to figure out why.


Anonymous said...

I think it's better to have this problem of wanting to hold on to things rather than to simply discard willy nilly, but I understand your dilemma. I recently meshed households where I had perfectly good household items with many memories tied in as did my new husband. We did not want to particulrly erase those memories as they were part of our pasts, and yet we did not have room to keep everything. We made a deliberate decision to donate to named groups such as Gambia Help that one of my AAUW friends operates. (They also take books of all kinds as the common language is English and building village libraries is a current goal.) I find this more satisfying than simply making a Goodwill drop (though I do that, too.

Momma P.

paisley penguin said...

I totally hear you. More often than not I will place something like that in a donate pile and then retrieve it, then repeat the cycle all over again.

I have come to realize there is room in my life/house for some of these things but I also allow myself to get rid of things in my donate pile that are there for a month and forget about it which means I need to get rid of it.

Good luck, it's really hard but I feel for you!

paisley penguin said...

PS - Thanks for adding a link to my blog on yours!

clutter buddy said...

How about if you try thinking of it this way: so, you now have this perfectly good comforter that you don't love and use. But 'it's still perfectly good' I hear you say. To that I say 'that makes it even better to donate!' Just think how happy this perfectly good comforter is going to make SOMEONE ELSE! I agree with Momma P., try to find a specific cause and bring it there, it may be more satisfying. Just keep it in your head that you are blessing other people with your perfectly good stuff! And you are blessing your home and your family at the same time by not having the clutter!

Riley & Tiki said...

My husband's niece is getting her first apartment and we are sorting though our things to find stuff to give to her. She is thrilled. I find it easier to give unneeded things to a family members or friends. It's more personal this way and I have less anxiety about letting something go.

R&T Mom

Laurel Alanna McBrine said...

I empathize with you. I think you are a thoughtful and kind person. Not only do I have trouble getting rid of perfectly good items (I can always think of another use for them), I also have a need to rescue items from the landfill. Driving down the street I have gotten a hanging rack for my laundry room that looked brand new (much better than the one I already had) and a perfectly good sewing machine in a cabinet, freshly painted in white. I can never understand how people can put items in the garbage rather than trying to recycle them. To me, that is the height of selfishness and disregard for our earth - at least take the item to Goodwill for heavens sake! Anyhow, I think one of the other posters mentioned that someone else could really enjoy the item you no longer need, so I keep that in mind when sorting through stuff.

AH said...

Would changing the verb tense help? William Morris's phrasing was somewhat formal, using "to be". If the phrase were written as "Have nothing in your house that you do not know is useful, or believe is beautiful", would that make it clearer that this is a specific here-and-now aknowledge or belief?

He's not suggesting that you keep things that would be useful if certain things happen. Are they useful right now?

(Things like first aid kits and fire extinguishers are exempt from this. You hope that they will never actually be needed, but it's wise to keep them on hand just in case.)