Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Maximalism v. Clutter v. Hoarding, as I See It

(The decorative things on and behind a medium-tall bookcase in my living room)

(A closer look at the Earth Dragon painting by Charlotte Fung Miller, which is obscured by glare in the first photo. It deserves better treatment than that)


Okay, I realize that the top photo is full enough of things that you may have some questions. I want you to know that it's one of the most high-density areas of intentional decoration in my house. There are other spots that might be competitive, but not many. Things are relatively sparse, decoration-wise, in other areas, but who knows... I keep finding and making decorative things, and they have to go somewhere.

I like maximalism. I'm so into maximalism that I'm going to give you another link with more photos of maximalism. Color, texture, pattern, artwork, blankets, rugs, lanterns, plants, mirrors, candles, yes, yes, YES. I think that when it's done well, it's absolutely luscious to have the kind of visual stimulation I'm talking about, the kind where you can see a whole new vista simply by taking a step forward or turning your head a few inches. I would not say that I'm even close to the dream yet in the sense of intentional decorative density, and part of the problem, as I've partially shown in a previous post, is that I also struggle with clutter and having too much of the wrong stuff. While some people might not like the maximalist style because it's visually busy, that's not the same as clutter, which is unintentional, messy, and disorganized.

There's a difference between clutter and hoarding, too, although one can eventually lead to the other. There's a range of how well people tolerate a mess. What I see as "messy and disorganized," someone else might see as either kind of tidy or deserving of a diagnosis, depending on what they can stand. I tend to think that in a messy house, if all the doors and hallways of a house are clear and functional, there's more than one way to navigate through each room, and all the spaces can be used as intended, you're just dealing with clutter. If you have to squeeze through tight pathways between tall, random piles, that's hoarding. If there's stuff piled up in the bathtub and/or appliances to the point where you can't use them, that's hoarding. If the person who is living in a decreasingly functional home insists that they can't possibly get rid of their things because they might need them - especially if there's no chance they could dig out any particular thing in the event of needing it - that's definitely hoarding. 

I can see how it might be tricky to tell when you're crossing from having clutter to hoarding, because the concept of possibly needing something later is just plausible enough that reaching a new level of anxiety might make the difference between finding it hard, or finding it impossible, to let things go. But ultimately the accumulation of things in a hoarding situation makes life harder enough that it cancels out any benefits of having things around "just in case."

I think it's important to maintain some breathing room, and push back against having too many unused possessions. At the same time, I am 100% willing to cover all of my walls entirely with things I like to look at. IT'S CALLED BALANCE. Thank you and good day.

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