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My response to the Op-Ed in the NY Times “Clutter is Good for you” - February Newsletter

X-mas and the winter holidays can be a lot!


I am so anti-stuff that I was surprised by the growing mountain of boxes in the corner of my apartment in mid-December. What happened to my mindful shopping? I was very disappointed in myself, especially when I realized that I had bought some gifts for people that they already had.


But next year I will be more intentional. My ideas for gifts will include donations in someone’s name, gift certificates for massages and restaurants, or perhaps a meditation app.


And to be sure I retain this information I wrote it down in my date book!


I want to briefly address the recent Op-ed in the NY Times “Clutter is good for you” by Konrad Adam Modrzejewski on December 29, 2022.


Konrad tells a story about his mom, who years before dying started sending him random things.


He sensed his mother, who was decluttering, was getting rid of some things that she still truly enjoyed. His hypothesis is: “What we often dismiss as clutter can actually be good for us.”

This was posited without any data to back it up. Not even any personal examples of how this may be so! He accuses MK (Marie Kondo) of having a blank-space aesthetic.

He went on to explain “Clutter core,” which is the popular concept of having a collection that interests you. Apartment Therapy describes Clutter core as “things they love, no matter how wacky, minuscule, or unimportant it may seem to someone on the outside.”


He misses the point that MK’s main philosophy is to keep what sparks joy and let go of the rest. So, if you have a quirky collection, such as my special rock and shell collection, – if it sparks joy – not only should you keep it, but you should showcase it! I love that about MK.


For example, when helping someone tidy their clothes, they might say: “Oh, my mother made this old dress. I’ll never wear it but it is so special to me.” I will then ask; how can we showcase that dress? Usually, using a nice hanger to hang the special clothing item on the inside door of your closet so that every time you open the closet you see this piece is a great way of honoring those special items whether you wear them or not.


My last thought on his column is this: perhaps tidying experts, Architectural Digest and other purveyors of interior design might want to think about allowing some more of a client’s Mojo to show through. As minimalists, or near-minimalists, we can be accused of having a too neutral aesthetic. To those designers and tidy-ers I would say: let your freedom flag show some more. It might help others feel like they aren’t being held to some Plain Jane aesthetic that isn’t cozy, fun and playful.


Happy tidying! Lots of love and peace in the New Year!


Rebecca Cohen




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