Have you read the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up?” It’s an easy read about de-cluttering your home. You’re not going to discover anything revolutionary here. But rather, Japanese organisational consultant Marie Kondo somehow manages to transform a most unexciting chore into something magical. She re-imagines our inanimate objects as having energy and encourages you to only keep the ones that “spark joy.” This basically means getting rid of things that don’t excite you anymore. That could be an old skirt you bought that you loved years ago but haven’t worn in awhile, or that pair of jeans that you used to love wearing but is now at the bottom of your jeans pile. Or “if a pair of pants pulls at a weird way in the crotch, banish them,” says this article about purging your closet. I love to throw or give things away so I could not agree with her more.
I grew up in Hong Kong where space was limited. We lived in an apartment where my sister and I shared a room. This meant a communal closet, a communal desk, a communal bookshelf, and a communal bathroom shared between my brother, sister and I. We never had room to accumulate much more than what we needed and always purged what we didn’t love. A big purge was done every year right before Chinese New Year when tradition requires you to go through your home and get rid of anything you don’t want or need so that you can start the year with a fresh and clean start. But throughout the year, my Mom (who detested clutter) also made us toss or give away things she deemed as junk. Small knick knacks that overtime could accumulate or things we hadn’t worn or touched in awhile. And just like with most things mothers do with good intentions, we absolutely hated it (we were more in agreement with this back then). It’s only in our later years did we appreciate the value of what she was trying to teach us. And because of her, we buy smarter and value quality over quantity.
As an interior designer, I apply the same philosophy to my designs. I find it more relaxing and functional to be in a room that is not cluttered. I also think that it just looks better which in turn makes me feel better. In the book, Marie Kondo writes about the importance of having a place for everything and making sure you return everything to its proper place once you are done using it. But who says the things that spark joy in you have to be hidden and tucked away? When it comes to decorating my clients’ homes, I always encourage them to display ordinary objects that they own and love because they can become art when adorned on walls, tables and shelves. Beloved things like jewelry can be organised in plain sight and become part of your room’s interior design. Here are some ideas that inspired me and might inspire you too.
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