For a Peaceful Home, Clear the Clutter

The other day my son picked up a glass Buddha statue and fiddled with it, then set it down on the shelf with all my old photographs. When I pointed out that he’d misplaced it, he laughed. “Mom, even your clutter has designated spots,” he said.

When I got over feeling hurt, I took a good look around and saw that my son was right. I love all the knick-knacks and collectibles that I’ve brought into my home, but I have too many of them. They’ve become organized clutter.

This is particularly poignant to me right now because I’ve been talking about creating serene spaces while promoting my recent book, Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House. The book includes an entire chapter about clearing clutter and making space. I know a little bit about clutter, and I’ve let it creep up on me, anyway.

Clutter–especially when it’s perfectly organized–is stealthy, and it’s a burden. As Bill Adler points out in Outwitting Clutter, its very presence creates a paralysis that renders us incapable of doing anything about it. “One of the dearest signals that something healthy is afoot is the impulse to weed out, sort through and discard old clothes, papers, and belongings,” Julia Cameron writes in one of my favorite books, The Artist’s Way. “By tossing out the old and unworkable, we make way for the new and suitable.”

In The Zen of Organizing, Regina Leeds points out that an orderly mental and physical environment frees the soul to seek the highest level of creativity. Clearing space is a reflection of self-love and self-esteem–our willingness to give ourselves room to explore. The purpose of decluttering, says Michelle Passoff, author of Lighten Up! Free Yourself from Clutter, is to “harness the power of the physical universe–to bring your physical world in line with whoever you are or want to be.”

The task in front of me is ridiculously simple: eliminate, eliminate, eliminate. I need to pare down the number of items on each surface to three or less and say good bye to things that can’t find good homes. I need to remind myself that my stuff doesn’t define me and stop thinking like a kid reacting against Mom’s admonishments to clean my room. I need to see and feel the peace that comes with space.

Anyone want a glass Buddha?

In his quest to stop his clients from filling the homes he designed with clutter, Frank Lloyd Wright built in furniture.

Photo by Terrence Moore


Selkie Paget
Carolyn Padget4 years ago

I would take a glass Buddha...

Robert O.
Robert O6 years ago

De-cluttering is one of my favorite things to do. Everything feels so much lighter and more open when I do. Thanks Robyn.

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran6 years ago


Jane Warren
Jane Warren6 years ago

It does not seem to work, this de-cluttering.
Mostly because I am not good at "re-packing" after I de-clutter.

Helen Camren
Past Member 6 years ago

I enjoy allowing clutter to transcend.

If I find there's the gathering of clutter, I like to clean house and, whatever I'm not usin and I don't really want it, put it into my heavenly bank account. Give it away.

That keeps pleasure flowing, to me, from me, to someone else, to continue to bless me with positive karma.

I don't have to spend my valuable last years of this life cleaning things that are soooooo unimportant.

It gives me the freedom to keep the simple life I enjoy so much while allowing the unessential to slip away into someone else's temporary joy.

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B6 years ago

thanks for the tips

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B6 years ago

thanks for the tips

Francine P.
Francine P6 years ago

So tempting to keep objects that remind me of happy moments, places and people I love. Thank you for the reminder. even though I moved 5 times in the last 2 years had many garage sales, given away things I still have to hold back everytime I walk on the beach, in a decor store or receive presents. Circulation is a good answer, give to friends and relatives, so I can be surprised again and again. Then if everyone declutters... what then... will we be free... to express love ?

Deepti P.
Deepti Patil6 years ago


Sharon S.
Sharon W6 years ago

Difficult to release sentimental objects with special meaning or memories, especially if they're from a deceased loved one.
Good plan, though......