Although recent years have seen a huge swing towards minimalist design and decorating, there is still a place for stuff in our lives.
A combination of moving about a lot in my 20’s and 30’s combined with a genetic predisposition inherited from my tough as nails maternal Grandmother (who’d literally throw out photos when moving house) mean I’ve become pretty practical about stuff. And the ultimate hand brake on buying stuff is because like many families, most of our disposable income goes towards raising our children. If anything, we would rather save for holiday experiences.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t like stuff. Stuff connects me to people. It reminds me of the past, grounds me in the present and helps me to focus on the future. There’s a difference between mindless consumption and savouring special treasures and mementos.
The hand-made kaleidoscope from Stewart Island that seemed like a folly at the time, the butterfly candle holders from our wedding, the teacup and saucer decorated with a deck of cards for fortune telling inherited from my Grandmother – all have a special story and connect me to people, places and treasured memories. In short, they make me smile.
These objects are not useful in any real way but they do enrich my life. It’s pleasing on an emotional level to have some things in your home that are valued for their beauty, the message or the craftsmanship that created them. If it brings pleasure, then it has a place.
People (okay mostly women) often talk about needing retail therapy. Buying stuff for the sake of it to feel good isn’t healthy. Just like any addiction, the high is bound to be short lived and lead to guilt instead of fulfillment.
But there is a middle ground to be found between minimalism and hoarding. I think designer, artist and writer William Morris summed it up best when he once said Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.