Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Why Clutter isn't a Problem for Me Now

Many years ago, in a different time and place, I worked in an office building across the street from a lovely outdoor mall. Naturally, I spent many happy lunch hours shopping.

At Crate and Barrel, I bought all sorts of things for my kitchen. They even had a discount corner, which I always made sure to check out. Then there was Marshall Fields, where I could drool over linens and housewares. At John M. Smyth, I worked hard to find just the perfect solid wood sofa table and end tables to go with our living room sofa and loveseat.

The difficulty back then was staying within my budget. So when I found a great deal, I pounced. That was the start of my clutter habit, I know now. But it was also a time when I learned to identify high-quality furniture, fabrics and household goods.

Today, my clutter problem really isn’t a problem at all. We downsized a few years ago, and since then it hasn’t been hard to keep from filling up the house again. Why? Because when I go shopping now, I see very little that I want.

Everything looks so boring and cheap to me! I used to agonize over which set of sheets to buy because there were so many pretty choices. Now I look at them and think “Meh!”

Furniture is so poorly made and ugly now. Fortunately I'm intimately acquainted with an excellent woodworker (here’s my solid red oak coffee table), but I see nothing like what he makes in the stores.

My adult kids buy furniture and home goods, but they don’t seem excited by it, and I understand why. To them it’s just a sofa, or just a chair. They found it at Target, or Shopko, or the cheap chain furniture store across from the mall. No big deal. And it’ll fall apart in a few years and they’ll buy another one.

This makes me sad. I love good design, beautiful fabrics, wood with distinctive characteristics. You used to find such things in the stores and the malls. But not any more.

(Fortunately my most-loved pieces survived our downsizing and we continue to enjoy them.)

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