Intentional Shopping: Clutter-free Living

by Kathleen Luttschyn SOURCE Apartment Therapy

People who aspire to a life of simplicity, in a space free from clutter often consider themselves practitioners – in the sense that a doctor might say she practices medicine, an un-clutterer might say he practices simplicity.

At the same time, living simply requires practice. No one goes to bed one night in complete chaos and disorder and wakes up the next morning master of an organized and clutter-free wonderland. Transformation doesn’t happen over night, and achieving and maintaining it most definitely takes practice. And it takes a keen sense of organization and planning. Take a look at some of these helpful ideas to get the mess out and the find that old bottle of wine or sweater you have been looking for.

liz fabry

While looking at a newly organized closet or room can leave you feeling great, keeping things neat can be a true test of willpower. What you choose to buy and bring into your home can undo all your organizational efforts in a hurry. If you're determined to keep your home organized this year and to stop impulse shopping, here are 5 tips to consider.

1. Think Before You Buy. While this might seem obvious, impulse shopping gets easier all the time. From the ease of using Paypal to the deals on Amazon to the wonderful boutiques popping up everywhere, it’s easy to find well-designed things. And while that’s not bad, it helps to pause a minute before paying. Do you really need that new vase or your 15th black sweater? If the object of your desire is one-of-a-kind or thrifted, are you just thrilled by the find? Is it cheaply made and likely to need replacement soon? Is it so trendy that you’ll hate it next year? Where will you put it in your home? If it’s a seasonal item, where will you store it when the season is over? By reflecting briefly, you might pass over a purchase that was destined to become household clutter.

2. When you go to big box stores, make a list. Then stick to it. This is a hard one for me — I may shop thoughtfully at other times, but put me in a Target and I start throwing things in the cart I never knew I needed. Making a list will force you to think through what you really need and what you actually have room to store. It’s too easy to load up on great finds at Target and Costco without thinking about where they’ll go and if they're necessary. While these finds are sometimes worth it (and often the joy of shopping at these stores), resist the urge to stockpile cheap trendy shirts and discounted entertaining pieces.

3. Don't Shop to Alleviate Boredom. An afternoon spent antiquing or checking out boutiques with friends is a great way to spend time. But if boredom has you perusing Etsy for hours after work or buying things as a way to pass time, look into starting a new hobby or activity. Even rearranging the things you already own can ease restlessness.

4. Buy Natural Materials Whenever Possible. Eco-friendly objects might be pricier, but you’ll probably think twice before replacing them and enjoy them more while you own them.

5. Beware of Sales. The prospect of a discounted find can lure even the most reluctant shopper. And while sales often allow us to buy things we might not be able to afford (I know more than one person whose Knoll furniture came from the annual Knoll sale at Luminaire), resist the urge to buy twice as much as you would have otherwise or to blow your budget because you couldn’t pass up a deal. This is especially hard when internet shopping, where there's always a sale somewhere.

Photo credits: Liz Fabry