What is clutter….exactly?

I’m just about to embark on another pile of stuff.  Yesterday’s news, a bank statement, a clothes catalogue, a letter from Anglia Water offering me pipe insurance, a scrap of paper with a phone number of who knows who, a folded shopping bag and an unread paperback. There’s a plant label (must keep that), and a pair of dressmaking scissors. God I was hunting for THEM.


And that’s just in one corner on one surface.  In the hall there’s a huge box containing a genuine Stetson Hat. Its a Montana Crease to be precise.  The sort of Stetson John Wayne himself wore.  The very best type of Stetson apparently.  It doesn’t even belong to me.  So that’s not MY clutter.  That’s someone else’s’ so that’s ok I can ignore it. Move on.  My camera bag hangs on the back of a chair, husband’s old binoculars are always on the side, a mini set of screwdrivers, a pile of CD’s, a roll of sellotape – AH, there it is.

In our house we don’t seem to have surfaces.  Just piles of stuff.  I suppose its clutter.  Or maybe its not its “stuff waiting to be put away”.  And most of the clutter is classed as “mine” – no-one else seems to have any, or share responsibility for it.  Maybe boxes for clutter with names on is the answer –  MINE, YOURS, HERS, THE SISTER’S, GOD KNOWS WHOSE? Meanwhile my husband has the garage, which is, yes you guessed it, full of “my clutter”. It resembles a cross between the Old Curiosity Shop and Steptoe’s yard.  But that’s a story for another day.

If I buy a special zip up bag to keep my wrapping paper and ribbons in is that like when I buy Cillit Bang and I think it means my taps will be shiny?  Yes,  What it actually means is I have to go through it all, throw away the annoying 20cm piece on the end of a hollow roll not-quite big-enough-to-wrap-a-present and the crumpled stuff and the knotted stuff.  I’ve got to do it. And before I know where I am I’ll have too many rolls to fit in it, and the zip just won’t quite close and there’ll have to be an overflow bag.

I’ve got to the age now that if anyone comes into the house bearing a gift if its not edible, or a plant I have palpitations worrying where I’m going to put it.  This can’t be right. I’ve turned into my father.  We recently moved house after living in the same place for 30 years.  I sorted clutter for Britain.  I thought I’d got it tamed.  But no, I just moved a whole load of it with me because its sentimental, beautiful or useful.

One of my clutter busting tactics is to go around collecting up little bits and put them in a small container.  My best friend despairs of my little pots.  To be honest, so do I.  Once in a while I trawl through them.  Round up the ballpoint pens and emery boards, the business cards and the odd champagne cork (?) and put them where all those things should go.  But before I know it another one starts to fill up.


Sometimes we have a *big clear up* which involves going through stuff and putting away what you can identify, and leaving a smaller pile for someone else in the house for them to go through.  I don’t think those piles ever get fully sorted.  They just become the bottom of a new pile.

In a bookshop I flick longingly through a Conquer Your Clutter self help book for some inspiration as to where I’ve gone wrong.  Take one room at a time they tell me, take one drawer at a time they entreat.

I’ve just found the door to the Duplo house.  My children are 29 and 31….I wonder where its BEEN?

I’ve decided to follow The Organised Home  not least because they have beautiful photographs of the most lovely objects to help ease your clutter chaos, but also because there I think I found the answer to my lifelong problem.  The sage advice which is as plain as the note on my face and yet I’ve ignored it all these years – which is

put things back where they belong …..

Wish me luck with that.  Now, where should I put a little vase that looks like a hand grenade?

Let me know how you control your clutter.


4 thoughts on “What is clutter….exactly?

  1. I’m afraid I’m a pile shifter as well. I have bought the Kon Mari books – The Joy of Tidying but haven’t joined the cult yet. The husband claims none of the clutter is his – hmmm – old bike bits, computer cables, manuals – must be a ghost then!


  2. I’ll let you know where to put the “hand grenade” if you tell me where to put the ladder that came off of Snoopy’s fire engine that the kiddies used to play with. The engine is somewhere, but clearly not with the ladder. And as for Snoopy – the cats love playing with him. As your best friend who despairs about “your little pots” I love your article. 😘 x


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