Do your spaces reflect what matters most to you?

My friend Brittany (whom I’ve mentioned so many times on this site that I’m starting to think I need to add her to our About page) sent me a link to the following video, which I’ve found to be incredibly inspiring. As an unclutterer, there are numerous things that caught my attention with this piece and I want you to see it, too. This is a video that fashion icon Anna Dello Russo recently made for the clothing store H&M:

Dello Russo’s home is a perfect example of what I refer to when I say, “it’s important to clear the clutter so you can focus on what is important to you.” What is important to Anna Dello Russo? Fashion and, specifically accessories. Her place has a lot of accessories — more than I’ve ever seen in an individual collection — yet her home is completely uncluttered, simple, elegant. She doesn’t have anything in her home that detracts from her passion for accessories. Even the books on her bookshelf exist to provide her inspiration for new accessories and outfits. And, she is truly organized. Everything has a place, and everything is in its place.

Did you notice the descriptions she has written on her shoe boxes? Did you see how she keeps the packaging for her tights and carefully returns each pair to that packaging when she’s finished wearing them? Did you see how few clothes she actually owns? My guess is that she is a loyal follower of the one-in-one-out rule for her garments. Her purses and clutches are lined up in beautiful rows, and it’s obvious she knows exactly where each piece of jewelry is located in her home.

My favorite thing about this space is how it represents her love for accessories and that love is directly reflected in the decor of each room. She has some artwork on the walls, but mostly she lets the bracelets and hats and other items be the artwork. This is a woman who knows exactly what matters to her and doesn’t let anything distract her from her passion.

What matters most to you? Have you made room in your life for whatever it is you love? Have you cleared the clutter, the distractions, so you can spend more time focused on what matters to you? Do your spaces reflect who you are and what you love as well as Anna Dello Russo’s do?

33 Comments for “Do your spaces reflect what matters most to you?”

  1. posted by WilliamB on

    Her home is organized and clean but I wouldn’t call it uncluttered and I certainly wouldn’t call it simple. That’s some darn ornate furniture, wallpaper, ceramics, etc., to be called simple.

    To address your basic thesis – I agree. It does reflect what we see of her in public.

  2. posted by Polly on

    That’s definitely not uncluttered. Just because someone is very rich, doesn’t mean that they don’t have a hoarding problem.

  3. posted by Krystl on

    WOW! sensory overload! I agree that is is ornate and full of visuals–many more than I personally could handle in my living space (plus the videography style DID emphasize that).

    What I appreciate is showing that clutter/unclutter does NOT equal home decor style. Too often, I think people consider an uncluttered home to be full of post-modern simple straight lines and multifunctional furniture (dare i say IKEA) which is style and not an uncluttered home.

    Her decor style is over the top! But the floor space! I have to say that the ornate furniture pieces are not gratuitously placed “just because” and there is tons of space.

    She is “half-raccoon” and has tons of shiny sparkly things neatly sorted and tucked into drawers AND on display. That is her. I don’t see that as hoarding. She is an artist and that is her work. If that is her complete closet–I dare most women to truly step back and evaluate how large theirs TRULY is. Okay, she has A LOT of shoe boxes (probably holding more than just shoes), but they ARE organized.

    Agree with her style or not–I bet she can find anything fairly quickly and isn’t THAT the main goal of uncluttering, simplifying and streamlining?

  4. posted by bradw on

    [disclaimer] I haven’t had my morning coffee yet[/disclaimer]

    To me, Dello Russo appears as an extremely focused, yet organised hoarder. Simple, uncluttered, streamlined, and calm do not pop into my mind as I watched the video.

  5. posted by MichelinTexas on

    I agree with bradw.
    I couldn’t deal with that much “stuff” in a space for more than five minutes! I wouldn’t call her a hoarder, but she has a great quantity of possessions.
    Organized? Perhaps.
    Simple and uncluttered? I think not!

  6. posted by VeritySa on

    Interesting video!

    Not what we usually see on here, but I really love some of your points! I think this post helps me to evaluate the rooms in my house from a different perspective!

    At first I thought she seemed like a hoarder, but no, I think she uses what she has. She loves it. It’s not stifling her like clutter stifles. It helps her accomplish her goals. In the same way, I have a box of baby clothes sitting here for our new addition due in 5 weeks. 🙂

    I watched the video twice. Thanks for the post.

  7. posted by Paige on

    Gutsy post, Erin. You will likely receive lots of criticism. I totally agree with you. Uncluttering is different for each person. I get so tired of people trying to impose their personal style on others or put a limit on how may possesions one should have. If one can answer yes to each question that is asked in your last paragraph then one is truly an unclutter. Thanks again for this post. Very inspiring!

  8. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Polly — She doesn’t meet a single one of the DSM qualifications for being a hoarder. There are no obstructed pathways and her active living space is not encumbered. There is not animal feces or biological matter or any rotting food stuffs present. Her space does not create significant despair or distress, nor does it create that sensation in others. She does not appear to have any psychological issues with getting rid of items, as is apparent in her small number of garments in her closet and lack of clutter throughout her home. She is a maximalist in relation to her accessories, but is not a hoarder. Please be careful using that word as it describes a very specific medical condition, which does not apply to Della Russo.

  9. posted by Alix on

    I think a lot of people are confusing “uncluttered” with “minimalist”. Della Russo is no minimalist (nor a hoarder), and her style is ornate, but her home is clean, tasteful and uncluttered. Her possessions *are* her décor, and are clearly in constant use. Not my style, but more power to her for pulling it off with such panache. Good post, Erin.

  10. posted by WilliamB on

    @Alix – how do you define uncluttered, other than being different than minimalist?

    In Della Russo’s case, for example, I see that the patterns are all busy (cf 1:38), the empty surfaces practically nonexistent, things piled on top of and in front of other things (such as the shoe boxes at 1:45).

  11. posted by Jeannette on

    True, it’s all very elegant, mostly expensive, and very dust-free, and everything is organized to a fare-thee-well. I’m sure it suits Della Russo just fine, but I got claustrophobia from just watching the video.

    My sense is that she is lucky to have the money — and the inclination — to be able to hire help, possibly with the decorating and initial organization, and quite likely has someone to keep things dust-free. If she did not, this might have been a very different video indeed.

    On the other hand, I may just be overreacting. We each have our own lives to live, and she is living hers as she chooses.

    Excellent, thought-provoking post, Erin. Thanks.

  12. posted by Alix on

    Posted by WilliamB – 05/07/2012

    @Alix – how do you define uncluttered, other than being different than minimalist?

    * * *
    In this case: everything is extremely well organized, clean, accessible and used or simply enjoyed on a regular basis. None of it is *in her way*, nor do her possessions hinder her from doing what she wants, when she wants to. They obviously give her great practical and aesthetic pleasure, as well (and God bless her, she can afford them!).

    When none of the above is true, you have a clutterer. When the above *is* true, you have an uncluttered maximalist, for lack of a better term.

  13. posted by Marrena on

    Very pleased with this post and adding a positive comment to counterbalance the other ones. I couldn’t agree more that she is living an uncluttered life.

  14. posted by jane on

    Wow . . . somebody creates a space with things that they value, care for, can appreciate, and reflects who they are as a person and what they value and they’re called a hoarder.

    I’m glad I know enough about uncluttering to understand that’s not a typical mindset. It’s judgemental stuff like this that gives uncluttering a bad name. What is wrong with surrounding yourself with “busy patterns” if that is what makes you happy?

  15. posted by fairgirl on

    That is one very focused home. There are no cookbooks, cameras, expired coupons, etc. mixed in with her accessories. It is good to see a post that does not equate being uncluttered with minimalism.

  16. posted by WilliamB on

    @Alix – “uncluttered maximalist” – excellent phrase. I shall have to borrow it.

    @fairgirl – your explanation is the best, I think. Despite the ten tons of stuff, there’s nothing in there that isn’t what she’s focused on. Not that we saw the whole house, and she can afford to have someone else do the daily chores that most of us have to do ourselves, and so on. But still – that’s a lot of space just for what matters to her.

  17. posted by WilliamB on

    Me again. Here is an interview with her from New Yorker magazine:

    Among other things she says she has another apartment just for her clothes, thousands of pairs of shoes, and my favorite: “Do you have a boyfriend?” “Yes, but he doesn’t live with me. There is no space because of the clothes.” It’s a very good natured interview and it sounds as if she’s telling a joke on herself.

  18. posted by jen on

    Well, do your things give you energy (and inspiration), or do they take away from it, and/or make you feel guilty for whatever reason? She is certainly obsessed with fashion, but it gives her energy and keeps her going…

  19. posted by Another Deb on

    I just don’t get the shoe thing. I am happy to wear the exact pair every day. The older I get, the more homogenized the closet is becoming.

  20. posted by Kayla on

    Thanks, Erin, for posting this. I’ve been looking for an example like this for some time.

    I’ve had the impression that folks who are really into decluttering (or the ones speaking most about it) tend to lean in the minimalist direction. And though I have read this lifestyle is appropriate for all decorating styles, I can’t recall coming across anyone whose style wasn’t minimalist or very close to it. I’ve even read blogs from minimalists stating that you could have any style interior and be a minimalist.

    This made me wonder if I could ever create a space that was Victorian and minimalist in style. I’m still not certain about that, but this video helps me understand the non-minimalist declutterer.

    Thanks for the visual. It has been of great help! It would be nice to see some examples of cottage, Tudor, or any other style since we know what great minimalist spaces look like already. 🙂

  21. posted by Jen on

    I really enjoyed this post, showing someone surrounding herself with items that inspire her, while keeping it organized, and keeping out distractions. This woman’s apartment really broadens the idea of being uncluttered.

  22. posted by Dede on

    Is her place uncluttered? Ok, I’ll agree to that one because there appears to be nothing extraneous just lying about (unlike my kitchen/family room, etc). ALL her stuff appears to be put somewhere on purpose. And I loved her closet. I wish I had room to separate out and sort my earrings and necklaces. You don’t want to see how I sort my earrings (in old prescription bottles – told you you didn’t want to know)

    Is her place calm and relaxing? Maybe to her, but for me it is sensory overload. Way too much going on in a small space, but that might be a result of how it was filmed. I’d love to tour her house, the same way I love going to museums, exhibits, etc.

  23. posted by Julie on

    Sooooooooo, having lots of stuff doesn’t qualify as being a clutterer, provided it’s organized? To me, anything that’s useless is clutter. So, go ahead, build a house just for your collection of Cabbage Patch Kids and it’s not clutter? Same goes for jewelry – how much can you wear? And when enough is enough? How about I have an outfit for everyday of the year? Isn’t that clutter, even if it’s neatly “organized” and sorted by color/season/fabric? I’m kind of lost here…

  24. posted by jane on

    I think the point is that if you love looking at something, are taking care of it, and it fits into your life it isn’t “useless.”

    I’d hate to have somebody look at my (uncluttered) home and tell me something that I loved, took care of, and told a story about who I am was “useless.”

    Do you live in a stainless steel cube?

  25. posted by chacha1 on

    I think jane and fairgirl have had great comments. I didn’t watch the whole video because I couldn’t get past all the STUFF out in the open – my horror of dusting sent my imagination into overdrive. 🙂 But that’s MY hangup.

    The fashionista featured has what appears, even in a quick glance, to be a thoughtful and carefully curated collection of things that she loves and uses. IMO that means it’s not clutter TO HER, and because it’s her living space, that is the only qualification that matters.

    We can each do what we like in our own space. My space reads as uncluttered to most ONLY because a) it is more space than we need, so it isn’t full; and b) most of our storage is closed. If everything we had was out on an open surface, people would run screaming.

  26. posted by writing all the time on

    I’m a professional organizer, and I absolutely see the rationale. No, this is not my taste. Yes, it’s organized, everything is useful, and none of it hinders daily life.

    I’ve got a couple clients who have amazing collections of things. The items are well cared for, lovingly displayed, and enjoyed every day. Again,I wouldn’t like living there, but I don’t pay their bills and I don’t judge their taste. It would be a very boring world if everyone’s surfaces were clear and there was only one piece of art per wall. Blech.

  27. posted by earthmother65 on

    Paige said it brilliantly, you were gutsy, Erin! I’m so glad you posted it and I’m even happier at all the debate it generated. To each his own…one man’s meat is another man’s poison…and all the other cliches that confirm that “uncluttered” is in the eye of the beholder 🙂 Keep making us think, Erin!!!

  28. posted by Kelekona on

    Yes, she does have a lot of stuff, but it seems to be working well for her.

    Some people just can’t be comfortable in a space that is too stark or empty.

  29. posted by Erin on

    Eeek, if she has another apartment just for clothes and thousands of shoes, I don’t know.

    I wouldn’t throw out the word hoarder. I do legitimately wonder, without casting judgment, if money is the crux of why she has a lot of stuff that is clean, well organized and non-distressing for her, versus the chaos of hoarding. Of course, I don’t know that answer.

  30. posted by Her from there on

    I loved it all. Loved the house, loved the animal patterned walls, loved the furniture! I dont think its cluttered. I think its cosy, very arty and full of personality. We have been uncluttering for years now but the purpose of that is to have a place for everything and to have everything in its place so we know where it is. I will not get rid of my extensive doll collection nor will I take down the walls full of photos of my family and friends. To me uncluttered means its clean and you can put your hands straight onto something when you need it. It means having procedures in place to ensure the smooth functionality of the house. It doesnt mean barren and devoid of any personality.

  31. posted by Her from there on

    ps: we did take down the photos and put everything away in one place when we were trying to sell the house. Both hubby and I hated the emptiness. But then, we are both extremely creative people and draw inspiration from brightness and variety. As soon as we decided it wasnt worth moving, back out it all came. Most people who visit our house tell me how beautiful, warm and love-filled it is. My boys are happy living in the house. Isnt that what matters too?

  32. posted by gypsy packer on

    Kayla-Look for pictures of Susan B. Anthony’s home. It definitely qualified as Victorian minimalist. My recollection of William Morris’ home is far from recent but check it, too.
    The bombe chest and sofa are elegant and the closet is, indeed, organized, but the rest of the house looks like a ’50s estate before the appraisers and organizers take over.

  33. posted by Naomi on

    I find it hard to believe that she carefully returns hosiery to its packaging after use. She more likely wears each pair only once before throwing it away–she can certainly afford to.

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