Is the sign of a misspent life. So proclaims Mary Randolph Carter in her book. The first thing that came into my mind — someone paid her to publish this book? But as I flipped through it, the book became more and more comforting. Its main purpose is to help people “live creatively with collections, clutter, work, kids, pets, art, etc….and stop worrying about everything being perfectly in place.”
How noble and novel! Instead of showing us model homes filled with beautiful furniture and impossibly groomed people, we get clutter and more clutter. Nevertheless it is rather artistic clutter made beautiful with artful photos.
There are chapters on living with bric-a-brac, living with children, living with dogs, the purposeless room, the unmade bed, living with junk…you get the drift. She features a different person in each chapter.
There is Nathalie, an artist living in Paris with surfaces filled with her ceramics and artwork. And horrors! a mother who gives her children permission to draw on their sofa.
Another woman who shares her home in New Jersey with husband, four children and four dogs. There’s also a baker whose kitchen is filled with her baking paraphernalia.
And my favourite is the ultimate hoarder who puts me to shame. Her name is Natalie and she lives in London. Her four-hundred-year-old house is filled with cat and bird paraphernalia, not to mention live cats. Every surface seems to be filled with something.
Her husband would plead with her as she went to the market “Please don’t buy anymore junk.” But he’s also decided if you can’t beat them, join them and decided to turn her clutter into paintings he calls “Kitchen Kitsch”.
The book is also peppered with quotes that we can remind ourselves with.
“Comfort is born out of use, therefore the most comfortable houses seem to be the ones that have been lived in.”
“I think I am better at making a house warm, than keeping it organized.”
“I don’t collect, really, things just sort of pile up.”
Of course it helps that these people are living in nice and big houses and not trying to cram everything into a 3-bedroom apartment. But clutter is clutter. The bigger the space, the more room to add. Viva la clutter!