Architect Frank Lloyd Wright incorporated the following philosophy into all of his designs: "If it can't be displayed, throw it away."
The houses he built had little closet space, no basement or garage (with a few special exceptions) and plenty of built-into-the-design shelving. All shelves were meant to show off items important to the homeowners. Wright saw no need for storage.
While Wright's view may be extreme, it is a very useful tool for de-cluttering. Think of everything you have stored in the basement, attic or garage; games, clothing, artwork, books, knickknacks. Why have these items at all if they are buried away in boxes?Using Wright's quote as a guide will not only help you to save money while shopping, but also simplify the items you purchase and keep in your home.
Along with shopping, you can also use this philosophy while unpacking after a move or sorting through your holiday gifts. Since it's just after the holidays, let's begin there.
Start by putting away your holiday food just as you would groceries. Think of it as actual food, rather than treats. This will save you from eating too many holiday sweets and may lighten next month's grocery bill.
Next, replace your candles. Chances are you received at least one candle as a gift this season. If used correctly, candles can be a very cheap way to add color and design to a room. However, nothing looks tackier than a dusty, never-used candle. At the same time, an old, melted down candle can look quite messy.
Since candles are such a common gift, I suggest replacing the old candles around your house (or ones you never plan to use) with the new ones. This way, not only are you actually using a gift, but you're also changing your décor.
A majority of Christmas cards now are just family photos with a holiday greeting or two on the side. After having the cards on display for a week or two to appreciate them, cut out the pictures from the cards (better than throwing them away or piling into a box for years) and add them to the family photo book.
You can label the page "December 2009," and then create a collage of the photos. This way you're not storing cards that you will never look at again and don't have to worry about losing special pictures.
Common holiday gifts for women are soaps. Bath salts, soaps, even deodorants are easy female gifts and many of these go unused. To save yourself from being taken over by soap clutter, put these gifts in the bathroom with the rest of these types of items. Put your snowflake-shaped soap with the rest of the soap and your sugar-cookie scented lotion with the rest of your lotions.
Clothing is another commonly received and rarely used gift. This often happens when people buy items that were heavily discounted without putting much thought into the recipient's clothing preference.
Not to worry. Just take a good look at the item and determine what you don't like about it. If you like the shirt but it doesn't fit, make a note to have it altered. While this is an extra expense, the shirt was free so the cost should even out. If you just don't like the shirt at all, then you have some options.
First, you could donate it. This way it's not cluttering up your closet and someone else can make use of it. Alternatively, you can use it as a workout shirt or cut it up as a cleaning rag. Hey, at least you're using the gift.
Going back to the Wright quote, I do recommend getting rid of any gift that is of no use to you. Any gift that you put into the attic is not something you need cluttering up your home. If the item has some value, you can try selling it on Craig's List. If it doesn't, you can give it away via your local Freecycle group.
Wright's quote is one you should remember for the rest of the year. Use it as a guide when you're out shopping and see a "good deal" or something "cute." If you can't immediately find a place for it at home, you're better off saving the money for something more useful.