Does leading a simple life, really mean less clutter?

cityhippyfarmgirl

Living small in the city with a family of five as I do, often means that our household can look well, ‘fairly lived in’. Cluttered, is another term that comes to mind, and rather consistently so I might add. Julie from Country Living by the Sea recently did a post on clutter and living simply, and just what it all meant to her. This got me thinking…Does leading a simple life really mean less clutter?

I too strive for a simple uncluttered life and yet, I never, ever seem to achieve it.

Despite being careful with what comes through our doors, constant reassessing of what is needed and wanted, ample op-shop giving away, secondhand selling and generally just being mindful of ‘stuff’ levels. It still seems to mount up.

So what makes up the bulk of our household clutter?

My kids play– that’s what they do best. Lego pieces, craft projects, cubbies of various blankets and cushions. It’s a steady stream that really is an indication of them having fun and using their imagination. Fun, it really can be cluttered.

I cook– my bench tops are full of proofing bread, fermenting foods, and seasonal foods ready to be turned into family meals for the day. In a small kitchen, of course this amount of activity is going to make things look cluttered. I don’t have a dishwasher, or cleaner…actually or an internal laundry. I make bread over a washing machine. Yep, things are going to look a little cluttered in the kitchen too.

Things need to be repaired– sometimes things break and need fixing, mending, a good looking over. Sometimes there isn’t enough hours in the day and these things slowly pile up. It doesn’t mean I want to throw it out, it means I will get to it when I can. Fixing piles can look cluttered.

No dryer– we don’t have a clothes dryer, that’s a conscious choice we have made. Our dryer is the clothes line so if it rains for consecutive days, well the clothing comes inside to dry. In a small unit this can get reminiscent of a commercial laundry, (actually no, a commercial laundry I’m sure would be more ordered…and the kids probably wouldn’t have turned the clothes rack into a cubby.)

Books– every book on our shelves holds a reason, a story, a purpose and a right. A right to be there. Books will always happily clutter up our household.

Extra stuff– Then there are the extras, the things that accumulate in order to be ready when they are needed. Things like glass jars and jam. I don’t make jam regularly, I make it in batches when the season tells me too, this means they have to be collected, and stored. Stacks of empty glass jars are incredibly useful but they can make things look cluttered.

cityhippyfarmgirl

Now if I’m painting a blissful existence of excepting my small living clutter and embracing my full corners in our household, fear not. No it drives me crazy regularly, BUT I know that (after having a long hard think- thank you Julie) everything I’m surrounded by is part of living a life that I want to be doing, and I’m simply choosing to do.

I want my kids to have fun and play, sure sitting at a screen would be keep things neater but pffft to that. I want to keep cooking, baking, preserving, and no I don’t want a dishwasher. That all means the kitchen will remain ‘busy’ looking. The clothes rack will continue to be dragged out, the mending pile will surely grow and you might occasionally hear some whispered words coming from my lips.

Words to remind myself… that leading a simple life, really might not mean less clutter.

 

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37 thoughts on “Does leading a simple life, really mean less clutter?

  1. “De-clutter” is the new buzz word. I am sure that everyone who is Paleo de-clutters ;). Seriously, real life is a chaotic blend of “things” trying to reach equilibrium with other “things”. Should we even attempt to destroy the space-time continuum by taking away the chaos that physics demands? Goodness me Ms Cityhippyfarmgirl, nature knows about physics, kids know about physics and so long as you have a big and very deep teapot and at least 2 bookshelves of those gorgeous books you can find a way to escape that chaos for a little while. I am a proponent of organised chaos. It’s just a pity that nature keeps creeping into the corners and collecting there and starting little seral communities of nature around the house. I am coming to accept that nature will endure and that she is a most stubborn force to be reckoned with.

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  2. Even without kids – things can still look very lived in Brydie and that’s because they are:-) And collecting jars etc essential but I know adds to that cluttered looked. I must say I would rather yours and mine cluttered life with lots of interesting projects, ideas, cooking and reading than that of someone who is obsessive with tidiness:-)

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  3. I am such a declutter junkie! Slowly paring back our life to only have the things that we love or that allow us to live the life we want. We still have more ‘stuff’ than I’d like – less stuff does appeal to my Virgo-ness- but I live a messy life with jars and seeds and work clothes and useful things packed away for when we have a little farm…so life is never going to be truly ‘uncluttered’… I do love challenging my own beliefs about what’s necessary though!

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  4. I’m constantly de-cluttering! Frequent drop offs at the op-shop and giving books or clothes or toys to friends. My, you have small quarters. Our house gets so messy with food, craft projects and gardening. I always have broken toys or equipment lined up on benches or the window for Rob to glue or try to fix:) It’s a conundrum with simple living because for us that means small spaces and making things from scratch and that involves a lot of parapheranelia!

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    • It does involve a huge amount of paraphernalia Zena, it doesn’t have to but it can be pretty darn enjoyable having a rummage through a yarn or material stash, clothing that had been tucked away for another sibling or finding the right jars for preserving. All that stuff does take up space. But it’s good stuff, really good stuff.
      And yes to us living small!

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  5. Simple living has productive clutter, it’s unavoidable. I think there is a huge difference between day to day clutter and mindless consumerism.

    I’ve been thinking about clutter a lot of late. I’m a baby boomer so I grew up in acquisitive times and I was a young adult in the me-me grab of the 80s, it was as if we forgot the “peace and love” and ambition for self-sufficiency of the 70s. And then, as our parents began to die, we were faced with households of possessions and cupboards stuffed to the rafters because our parents were the products of both the Depression and then the post-war good life.

    I think we simple life-ers are getting better at this. Being aware of our consumption and it’s sustainability (or not) is half the battle.

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    • Yes, I totally agree Rose. An awareness is really damn important, I’m trying to teach that to my kids at the moment, well ongoingly really.
      The Depression era combined with post war good life, combined with frugal hippie ways, to excessive 80’s, to now…what is now? I don’t know, somehow a combination of them all? Maybe??…Excessive, yes sadly still a hell of a lot of that, maybe even more so. Intentionally frugal instead of out of necessity?….ahh, musing here, so not making much sense. “Stuff” is a big topic though, and I could easily go off on many tangents along the way with it.

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  6. Hello Brydie, a very interesting post that got me thinking! Firstly, I cannot imagine living in a small city space with a family…I take my hat off to you. Especially when you are constantly baking, making and creating! Having spent almost my entire life in the wide open spaces it easy to take this space for granted.

    We live on a large property in a medium sized house with a generous kitchen. We have sheds for storage and a walk in coolroom for our food supplies yet still there is clutter! There is box upon box of the children’s distance education paper and paraphernalia. Not to mention a dedicated school satellite computer and associated hardware. My small people (just like your small people!) have endless projects both inside and out involving string, bits of paper, old boxes, Lego and pencils…did I mention bits of paper?

    My kitchen bench is built to cater for the occasional influx of farm workers and a busy family yet still it fills up with sourdough starters, baking/cooking/growing books, basil waiting to be turned into pesto, quinces waiting to be cooked, biscuits cooling, a teapot that always needs emptying and dishes that need dealing with.

    Like you, I work hard on culling. But, the ‘stuff’ still exists. It is part of the cycle and colour of life I guess? Happy Sunday to you x

    PS I love The Real Food Companion; it is one of my favourite books.

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    • All that pile are some of my favourites there Jane. Starting with my leather bound notebook at the top for scribbling words and thoughts….and sheesh, that’s important too, to add to the piles of cluttered goodness.
      It would be a huge transition swapping our lives for a bit wouldn’t it. I take my hat off to anyone who home schools. I adore the idea of it, and support it entirely but I know….I really would suck at being my kids teacher. (The school day I’m sure would be one long recess break!) So my hat goes off to you in return Jane 🙂

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  7. As soon as I read the title to this blog post Brydie, I just had to pop over straight away and have a look. Thank you for the link. I have just arrived back from my Mum and Dad’s with a spare table. A table that I was hoping to fit between our dining room table and the wall. A table that I want to work from to make soap and candles. A table that I want to cover with a big tablecloth so I can hide my soap making and candle making equipment under. A table for books I’m currently looking at and a table for our paperwork. Why? Because a lot of this stuff takes up room on our dining room table and in my bedroom and in the bathroom and laundry. Clutter you say…..yep I’m hearing you Brydie. After you mentioned this idea to me about clutter and simple living, I’ve been thinking about it, and I agree with you. If you want to make a lot of things from scratch, yes, you do need extra gear to do it. Even though the clutter still annoys me, I am feeling better about it. Thank you for sharing Brydie. Until you shared your thoughts with me, I felt like I was the only person feeling like this. Now I’ll have a read of the other comments to hear what other people think. xo

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    • Ah Julie thank YOU. I needed to think this stuff through and if you hadn’t have done that post I probably would have been a lot slower to that process. (I do love that about blogs and the conversation they kick start.)
      Life is messy, and busy, and full of colourful things that create beginnings and finish ends. I like that, I want a life that is like that. I’ve never been a fan of beige minimalistic looks. An empty kitchen is one that isn’t cooked in…I want walls that are covered in pictures that make me happy and shelves that hold books I adore. I just have to remind myself now and then…

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  8. Oooooooh …. I’m just taking a huuuuge sigh of relief as I read this as it sounds EXACTLY like my house and I can totally relate. It drives me NUTS but I look around and everything that is here, is exactly that – part of our life. We live in a two bedroom unit which now has a studio (which was completed 6 weeks after my 3.5 year old was born) in the decently sized back yard but it’s still cluttered! The studio is for my art stuff, not a storage room. Being an artist as well, there’s things I want to keep as reference and inspiration AND there’s my little girls toys, activities and craft stuff now too. Besides, I have ideas of storing all this better but due to me wanting to be at home for my little girl in these beginning years, I’ve run out of money to buy the necessary storage pieces to tidy it up a bit. At this point, it seems more logical to use the money that does come in (I do a bit of graphic design work from home), on the mortgage, otherwise we’d be living in the local park in a tent and THEN where would we find a place for all that clutter? Thank you for putting a different perspective on it all. Every blog post, Houzz post or Pinterest post I see these days seems to be about de-cluttering. Don’t get me wrong, I want it to change but for now, it’s going to have to stay as is and you’ve made me feel so much more comfortable about it now!!!

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    • Awesome! Really glad to have helped Brigitte. It’s a tricky one as someone mentioned here, the ‘simple living’ movement is really important as it’s entwined with not buying into commercialism and excess crap which I wholeheartedly support but….in terms of what I’ve just written for this post, it really isn’t that well…simple. I think everyone (me included) needs a gentle reminder sometimes that life isn’t like a pinterest board, blog post or instagram filter- it’s a messy concoction, and that’s life.
      Enjoy every cm of that studio 🙂

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      • Thank you … I’ll try to … Eventually. And I can’t wait. Yes, I’m all for recycling and non-consumerism but things still accumulate, especially with a child.

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  9. Good thoughts! I also strive to simplify our life, which I have been doing my giving away/selling a ton of stuff over the past couple months. However, I have a busy creative toddler who likes to play all over the house (we have no TV), so I feel like I am constantly picking things up. We also straddle the line between suburbia and small homestead (just added 2 ducks yesterday), so sometimes holding onto something, even though we don’t need it in the forseeable future, will come in handy again. I guess if it is useful clutter, maybe it isn’t really clutter, but just the signs of a hands-on, well lived life?

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  10. Amen to this post! I probably have too much useless clutter in my house but I have been trying to pare back and yet if I just had a hall cupboard I tell myself I could put away so much more but honestly it is probably just as well we live in a small space that disencourages the accumulation of too much clutter. Love hearing about your clutter. I like to think it is just sylvia bringing in all that kiddie clutter that is wonderous to her but I know we big people do it too.

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    • yes, we definitely do it just as much Johanna. A torn article here and there, a stock pile of magazines, scattered…well something or other. It can be just as much as the kids toilet roll towers and cubby corners.

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  11. I find that living simply is choosing what we want in our lives…what makes us happy and brings us joy and satisfaction. Your counters have your life as you live it, so does your children toys and books that surround you…they all spell…your life! I see it as blessed :0) mari

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  12. OMGosh THANKYOU!!! I totally agree! I keep seeing all these beautiful photos of other people houses amidst posts about the simple life and less clutter etc etc and I sit and wonder why my house looks nothing like that!! I have toys everywhere, half finished drawings, a squillion knitting projects, half made dresses, fabric, avocado seeds sprouting on my bench next to leeks and carrot tops, bowls of olives curing, gingerbeer mother fermenting, pressed leaves for projects and glitter ALWAYS GLITTER on my floors etc etc. Being “simple” definitely means a lot of stuff! Always love coming here, to your space! It consolidates everything for me and always inspires xx

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  13. My house has that ‘lived in’ look about it too. I do try to do a de-clutter once a year as I find over a 12-month period things can really start to stack up. I’m actually neat and tidy and love order but I married my polar opposite and it’s a constant battle to keep the mess under control xx

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  14. What a refreshing post! I’ve been looking around my home and garden this week despairing at how much stuff we’ve got, but actually I didn’t want to throw any of it away as I knew it all had a purpose. Thank you for the reminder that actually clutter doesn’t have to be a bad thing, and doesn’t have to stop me living a simple lifestyle!

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  15. Great post Brydie! You’ve inspired me to write one of my own post about it. It’s fascinating to think about, and with simple living such a buzz word, it’s great to see people like you making it your own. Sophie x

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  16. I totally agree Brydie! For me that striving for the simple life means that I need to remove the distractions – and that means stuff. Living the simple life means living in the moment right now. That is something I am really struggling with as my kids are all different age groups! Time for a cuppa. Now, that is my ideal simple life!! xx

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  17. We live the most simple life with heaps of clutter – a house and shed and six acres with piles of collected old furniture, beautiful driftwood from beaches, second hand books and artwork from friends and I could go on and on but it all comes in useful or gets used to build something or make something, like chook pens or recycled into new furniture. And there’s always piles of seeds or harvested veggies stacked everywhere because there’s never enough space to store! Useful stuff is great especially if its home grown, pre-loved or reused. Life has so much control, routine and regulation, I love a bit of mess and clutter to mix it up a bit xx (but I don’t have kiddies which good make a difference!)

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  18. It’s interesting, it often gets on top of me in the winter because I’m stuck indoors more. I love minimalism and do everything I can to achieve my version of it. The family version! But as you say, with simplicity comes extra stuff, especially in terms of food production. It’s just how it is.

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  19. Our house to many would look cluttered, to me, it represents all the parts of me and my family, it looks lived in. 🙂 I love order, and things being in there place, so the clutter doesn’t really ever really get time to get out of control. I don’t think it matters how much or little you have, it all comes with it’s own set of challenges. 🙂
    Hope you had a wicked good weekend.

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