walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Link-Fu about Decluttering vs. Interior Design

[I was of two minds about whether to share this one or not, but I think I will. Short form: I concluded that there is some overlap between Decluttering and Interior Design, it's mostly at the less expensive end of Interior Design Services, and more expensive/traditional designers are trying to tie into this and not succeeding especially well.]

I've been feeling like there is something tantalizingly just around the corner cognitively in the Big Declutter. I can watch what I am doing as I do it, and I recognize there's a lot of coherence to what I am doing -- each step clearly builds upon what went before and it is all headed towards making our home more functional and more pleasing to experience sensorily (how it looks, how it feels, the way it smells, how the rooms sound -- I discourage tasting, obviously, altho not always successfully where my kids are involved . . .).

I can also say definitively what this process is not: planned, with a deadline or schedule, visually oriented. I'm not trying to make it "look" a certain way, altho making it more visually appealing is (almost) as desirable as making it more sensorily appealing in other ways (but I'll take a good sounding, feeling and smelling room over a good looking room every single day and twice on Sundays).

It occurred to me that if I were visually oriented, I'd obviously be doing interior decorating or interior design. And then it occurred to me that a lot of the declutter/unclutter/simplification stuff I've been reading is covering the same ground that home decorating material used to cover. And _that_ is where the "there" is. So what _is_ the difference between the two activities, if any?

(1) Personal organizers/declutterers often offer "staging" services to help sell a house.

(2) They also offer "room renewal services", and home blending services. These often involving digging through the crap you have, getting rid of some of it, and then prominently displaying/arranging some of what they found along the way, along with paint and (budget permitting) furniture upgrades (replacement or refurbishment), lighting and window treatments, etc. Since they look for "themes", this sounds like interior design/decorating to me.

I don't know a durn thing about these people beyond what their website says (I'm in no way endorsing them), but it's hard not to think this is what the 1980s and 1990s would have called interior design.


Obviously, there is a different end of decluttering that has nothing to do with design/decoration, and this thread does a fantastic job of capturing a wide range of it:


The question asked is simple and captured by the URL: If you have ever done a massive decluttering, did you have any regrets? The regrets listed are so few that someone re-posted the question as the answers were so resoundingly NO! NO REGRETS! A book here, an album there, a concert t-shirt there, a BMX bike, a guitar, etc., but vast amounts of NO REGRETS. And then there was this:

"Does regretting the way my brother cleared out 3 homes of relatives count?"

The poster then explains how an aunt and uncle, her parents (dad deceased, mom going to nursing home, then mom dying) had their leftover stuff dealt with by a brother, who (obviously) got rid of most of it, including some specific named items in a will that were left to the poster.

"Because of all this I have a hard time letting go of things. I know there were things that were either valuable or historic amongst the "garbage" that was disposed of. Needless to say I'm struggling with getting past this and definitely have regrets."

This answer comes from someone who has never gone through a decluttering process, but rather saw it happen with items whose former owners had died, and who (predictably) has confused what happened to the owners and what happened to the stuff (really, like a textbook hoarder).

This is all describing the therapeutic aspects of decluttering (successful in the case of people who have gone through the process; opaque to the woman who has not), which is presumably unrelated to the aesthetics of it.

Altho maybe not. Which is part of what I am trying to understand.

The original asker came back later to say they had indeed decluttered, described some of what they did, and to say they had no regrets, like all others, quite the opposite.

Some design people are taking advantage of the popularity of decluttering (witness Clean House, Clean Sweep and the various Hoarding shows):


An uninspired piece written for AI by a freelancer, it includes the usual suspects from the design side (The Container Store! Hide Things! Put Toys Away When Company Is Coming!) and the declutter side (Edit things 15 minutes a day so it doesn't build up. Reuse/recycle/be crafty). Plus seasonal rotation, neutral palettes, and throw pillows as color accents. *sigh*

From across the pond:


You can tell a designer is involved when the advice is to get rid of paperbacks on the shelves and replace them with vases (remember to make that a an "ah" ;-).


More of the same: hide stuff, neutral palette, color through accessories, along with the sort mail over the recycle bin.

Over a decade ago, I borrowed and mostly enjoyed a friend's copy of Karen Kingston's _Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui_, which, IIRC, was one of the books Niesslein used in _Practically Perfect in Every Way_.

My first link above included Feng Shui consultation (creating a bagua for your home to analyze the energy flow), as does this:


Urban Dictionary tells me I'm passe for using "declutter". The Trendy Term is "de-hoard".


"The act of removing previously hoarded items or animals from a facility or parcel of land. Due to the rise in the use of the words hoarders and hoarding popularized by reality television shows, people now dehoard rather than declutter."

My anecdata from googling suggests that while people who declutter talk about ADHD, people who dehoard talk about OCD.

The aesthetic sensibility collides with perfectionism, procrastination and hoarding in this blog:


Right down to the pile of half-used cosmetics.

One of the comments highlights the saving-tax-returns-forever issue that makes me see red whenever I see that particular piece of evil advice:

"we have EVERY income tax return we've filed since we got married in 1961"

Best Tumbler EVAH!


Nice young woman's hoarder grandma passes away and she (the young grand-daughter) leads the project to de-hoard grandma's house. The link above is to what (at this point in time) is the beginning of the photo blog, explaining the project. If you go to the main link, you'll be at the current status. I did not dig through the photos, only looked at the top level for each page. As with nearly anyone who works with a hoard and/or hoarder, way, way, way more compassionate and way, way, way less judgy than I suspect I'll ever manage to be.

Boy, when people get all pre-history about clutter, they can really screw up: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-declutter-your-home-129659

"Our stuff has changed a great deal since those early days as well. Back then, everything was biodegradable and disappeared rather quickly so that clutter buildup was less of an issue. Much of our stuff now will outlive us."

Someone has failed to understand "archaeology" and "middens".
Tags: decluttering

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.