Clutter Clearing Myth-Buster



Absolutely not! Another myth perpetuated by the TV decluttering programmes and organisational ‘experts’.

If you REALLY want to live in a show home or live a minimalist life then I am not the person to help you do that. Not only is it a totally unrealistic goal, it’s also not achievable unless you’ve got a team of people to help you maintain that show home and minimalist lifestyle.

Besides, you should know that show homes are staged, especially new build show homes. If you ever go and look around one, take a tape measure with you and a notepad. Measure the beds, the sofas / couches, list how many cupboards and storage units there are. There will be fewer and they’ll be smaller than the ones you have in your home. Here are 3 reasons why this myth is a myth.

1. Fear of the Void

Evolution has meant that your brain has evolved to have a ‘Fear of the Void’. It interprets a void – or empty space – as scarcity, and our survival is at risk when there’s scarcity, so it triggers fear and fills it.

I’m sure you’re familiar with this concept if you’ve ever cleared some clutter, created a clear space, and then discovered the clutter grows back within a matter of hours, days, weeks or months. It’s a frustrating consequence of evolution because we don’t even realise we’re doing it.

So if you create a show home which, by definition, has not much in it, your brain will panic, interpet it as scarcity, and start to fill the void with ‘stuff’ so our brain can see to feel safe and secure.

If you’re someone who likes to be able to ‘see’ what you have then you’ll be familiar with this concept because it’s the epitome of ‘Out of sight, Out of mind’. Your brain sees a void, so presumes you haven’t got what you want or need for survival.

It’s one of the reasons why I have shelves in my kitchen, not cupboards and clothes rails in the bedroom, not a wardrobe or drawers. 

My husband and I take comfort from being able to see at a glance what we have.  It stops us impulse buying things because we can visualise the shelf and rail at home. Picturing a wardrobe or drawers wouldn’t include what’s in them. For us, if things were in cupboards we’d try to fill the void.

2. Signs of a Life / Conversation Starters

Show homes always look, sound, feel and smell lovely don’t they? There’s comfy sofas, couches, beds, plumped pillows, pretty pictures, lots of light, it looks and feels like a hotel room. There’s a candle, difuser or plug in air-freshner that makes it smell lovely. There might even be low level, background music. It’s easy to imagine living there – which is the whole point.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the trick estate agents use to sell more houses – fresh coffee and baked bread to make people feel warm and fuzzy. It’s the same trick supermarkets use with the smell the bakery when you walk in. It’s to make you and impulse more. 

We can of course, recreate these things in our clutter free home, yet the one thing missing from the show homes (and supermarkets) are what I call ‘signs of life’, or conversation starters. These are things that if someone came to visit they’d ask us about the things they see, and that would start a conversation.

In a show home, where are the photos of people in your life, things you’ve done, things that are unique to YOU and YOUR life? Yes, there might be the perfect looking family in the perfect family photo-frame, but they’re just the models who are used to sell the photo-frame. They’re not real. They don’t make you curious to find out more about the person who lives there.

Imagine your home was on the UK TV programme ‘Through the Keyhole’. A presenter looked round a celebrity’s home, and a panel had to guess who’s home it was. If there are no ‘signs of a life’ in your home, no one would ever guess it was YOUR home unless they’d actually been to your home before.

I’m sure you want to create a home that someone would instantly know is your home. I’m sure if, as part of your Clutter Free Goal, you want to invite friends or family into your home, you want to be able to share conversation about the memories that are triggered by the things they see in your home.

3. Maintainence

If you moved into a show home, how would you maintain it? You wouldn’t be able to keep most of your belongings in the show home, because as soon as you move your things in, it’s no longer a show home.

So you’d probably need to put your things in a self-storage unit to maintain the show home.

However, because of the fear of the void and because you haven’t broken the clutter accumulating habits you have (and may not even know you have – yet), you’ll simply fill the show home with new clutter.

The things in the self storage unit will be out of sight and out of mind, so you’ll forget what you’ve already got and end up with multiples of everything.

Before you know it, your show home will no longer be a show home because you’ve filled the void to feel safe, any signs of life you had in your show home would be hidden by the new clutter that’s filing the void, and you’d have the additional financial burden of a self-storage unit.

The truth is, even if you created or moved into a show home, you wouldn’t be able to maintain it for long, and you’ll end up with MORE clutter than you have now.

Trying to create a home that is what you THINK everyone expects you to create, may actually be causing you to sabotage your Clutter Clearing success. You may know that a show home is unrealistic and exhausting to maintain, so easier to stay cluttered.

When we’re clearing our clutter our aim is to create a home that is safe, comfortable and most importantly reflects US and our past, present and future lives. It has signs of a life and conversation starters. It’s something we can maintain with minimum effort.

Stop believing this myth and start thinking about what a safe and comfortable home looks, sounds, feels and smells like for YOU. After all, you’re going to live there

If you’re ready to learn how to create a home that’s right for YOU and you want to know how Clare can help you do that, visit her free online help centre now:

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