Thursday, July 4, 2013

Lessons Learned from the Tchotchke Challenge.

Following a nudge from the Nester, I cleared all my surfaces of all the stuff that was on them for the month of June. Here's the post showing what I did, with befores and afters.

I decided to participate in a Home Tour without the tchotchkes. (Side note: Has there ever been a word whose spelling has never been more matched to its meaning? I mean, really, look at all those letters!)

Cleaning up for the Home Tour led to some significant insights for me.

The most consequential of all? My clutter threshold is even lower than I thought it was. It has been getting steadily lower as the years have gone by, but my tolerance for clutter is at zero. Really. Absolute zero. Without the tchotchkes, the only things out were the things we left out --both intentional things, like projects I'm in the midst of doing) and unintentional things, like dishes, socks and shoes, and you know. Both were unacceptable.

I found myself getting antsy, uncomfortable and, unfortunately, cranky. I wish it were not that way, but there it is.

A few other take-aways:

1) More real things, please. As I mentioned in my mid-month musing, I want more plants in my life. Tricky, as I have North facing windows and a black thumb. But, I'll try.

Look at that vast expanse of uncluttered surface space. I like it. It's a great example of how negative space certainly helps define the focal point!

2) I want more flowers more regularly. I had some lovely white and yellow mums this month--I carried them from the kitchen to the living room and back again. Without tchotchkes they were indisputably the focus of the room. I liked that.

3) Something about store-bought tchotchkes seems highly artificial to me. I really only want things which are meaningful or hand-made. I am resisting putting things back because I do not want to re-introduce all that artificiality back into my house--but we'll see how dedicated a purist I really am. I loved the punch of red my artificial tulips gave the entry way.

trying out some picture frames in the tall "holes" of my dining room/home office/craft room shelving

4) I love landscape paintings made by amateur artists that I find in thrift stores. I purchased a new one just last night. I have decided to hang my modest collection en masse, bad frames and all.

5) I want to paint my own landscapes.

6) Even without tchotchkes, I have too much clutter.

7) I am beginning to seriously examine my attachment to my books.

This was a great challenge. In fact, I think we should go further. It brought home just how much I enjoy clutter-free surfaces and it helped me define and refine what I want around me in my home.

I will be taking my time putting things back.

Linking to the Nester's Thoughts Post, of course.


Jessica said...

First, love your house. I agree with so much of what you mentioned. More handmade, less mass produced. And just less overall. I also agree about the book collection. We have seriously pared down our book collection and could eliminate even more. If I'm not referencing the book often or retreading it, why do I have it? Also, I have a kindle, which stores many many books with no clutter.

Alana in Canada said...

Thanks, for your comment Jessica. In many ways, for me, a house without books is a house without soul. But, it would also have a lot less dust! Still figuring it out.

Anne At Large said...

I love the big frames in the shelf gaps above the desk, I hope you can find some nice pictures for them!

And be careful with plants, lots of tiny plants are just as bad as tchotchkes. A couple of decent sized plants is a better way to start. From far away tiny ones look like clutter too.

And I understand your trouble with books. I try to be ruthless with mine as we have a limited amount of space in this house. I only keep it if I know I will reread it, I love it, I need it for reference, and/or I can't find it at the library. And I always take the culls to the used bookstore to trade in for a couple of new ones...

Carrie @ Cosy Carolina Interiors said...

What a great point about the negative space defining the focus. I like that idea! The colors in that landscape painting are dreamy. Love it!

Alana in Canada said...

Hey Anne. Thanks for the heads up about the plants. Bigger plants in bigger pots need less watering, too, so I'll keep my eye out for them.

Thanks, Carrie, the colours are what drew me to that painting as well.

min hus said...

Interesting challenge. The older I get, the less knick knacks I can stand in my space. I also really hate to dust, and the fewer knick knacks, the easier dusting is. It's good to hear I'm not the only one who feels this way, because sometimes when I view blogs and magazines pics and all the perfectly placed objects in all those vignettes, I begin to think I'm the only one cringes at all that stuff.

1 of the Creekside Team said...

yep, for sure ... tchotchkes = clutter! you said it well!


Alana in Canada said...

Oh min--I am afraid I don't dust--even when there aren't things on the surfaces. Well, OK, I do, but not enough!

Thanks Linda.

Melissa McIntyre said...

Hi there! Stopping in from Nester's site. First, I LOVE your couch and second, as a reformed plant killer I can tell you the 2 plants I have found that do well even in poor light and being occasionally neglected are the peace lily and pothos plants. The small one you already have (just in case you don't know because I didn't know for YEARS even though I had one!)is a pothos. You can find both of these plants at most home improvement stores in their garden center and you can find them small or quite large. Just thought I'd let you know! I too have enjoyed the calmer look of my cleared off surfaces this past month and mine will probably stay that way permanently! Enjoyed your post and all of your photos! :-)

Alana in Canada said...

Thank you Melissa. Really? A Peace Lilly is hard to kill? That's great news! I did know that I have a pothos--I have had it for years and years! It was larger once, but only had one "vine" and looked silly so I cut it back. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it.

onshore said...

Love your points two and seven. One small vase of flowers can be the best thing in a room if it just has room to shine. I should follow your thoughts on this one and have more cut flowers at home.

Debbie said...

I took the 30 day challenge, too, and and am trying to add more of your number 1 and 2 to my life, too. I really enjoyed your post!

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