How to Unclutter the Clutter ~ Learning from the French

We all hate clutter.  We do, don’t we? This time of year, the main topic seems to be how to organize, how to clean out closets, drawers, the garage, the kitchen pantry, the refrigerator. Whether it’s Pinterest, Instagram, or any blog you read, why and how to organize is front and center. Let me show you how to unclutter the clutter.

Sharing how to unclutter the clutter is an update of an earlier post. The characters are the same. The experience is the same. The clutter is the same. There is just not as much of it.

A while back I was introduced to Jennifer L. Scott‘s 3 books in her Madame Chic series.  (Read about Jennifer and the books here.) Since I love reading about people who have lived in or traveled to France, speak French, eat French food, drink French wine, love French decor ~ well, you get the idea ~ I thought the books looked intriguing.

So what did I do?

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I ordered the books and they arrived last week. I started reading Lessons from Madame Chic ~ 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris.

By the end of day one, I was hooked. Jennifer’s premise is that the French don’t have clutter because they don’t accumulate STUFF like we Americans do.  They have fewer clothes (10 items per season) and fewer possessions ~ and they are happier than we are.

So, of course, I started looking for clutter.  Now, I am happy to say, Sweet Shark and I don’t like clutter. We both like things neat and put away.

 I have an Organizational Ideas Board on Pinterest. I post neatly organized offices and laundry rooms on Instagram. I love to shop at Container Store.  But I also have to admit I have a few “clutter spots”.  (In her second book, At Home with Madame Chic ~ Becoming a Connoisseur of Daily Life, Jennifer calls these “hot spots”.)

Inspired by Madame Chic and Jennifer Scott, I decided it was time to cool down those “hot spots” and unclutter the clutter. The process took me less than an hour and I can’t tell you how happy I am to have the clutter gone.  It is really a freeing feeling and lessens the stress of looking at clutter and trying to find something that has disappeared in a pile.

LEARNING FROM THE FRENCH HOW TO UNCLUTTER THE CLUTTER

Last Saturday morning (it was too cold for tennis drills), I decided to tackle these two hot spots.

FIRST ~ MY OFFICE COUNTER:

At this time, I didn’t have a designated office, my computer sat at the end of one counter in the kitchen. The area next to it accumulates what Sweet Shark calls “piles”.  

Yes, it’s true: piles of magazines, piles of mail and receipts, piles of recipes that I’ve pulled out of magazines. They are piles, but they are neat piles.

My new camera is still sitting where it’s been since I brought it home. (That’s another story.)  When I am holding a cooking class and need the counter space, the piles get shoved into a drawer or moved to our other “hot spot”.

cluttered kitchen desk

First I threw away the recipes (they are all on my recipe software) I didn’t need and filed the sales receipts (since in Texas we could deduct all our sales tax ~ another reason I love my state ~ we keep all our receipts in an envelop file.). UPDATE: We can no longer deduct sales tax, so no need to keep all the household receipts.

receipt holder

I threw away the catalogs that I had already looked through or didn’t want to.

stack of magazines

I opened some mail that had piled up. I found my new debit card with a chip and my new insurance card ~ big oops.

I did keep some of the magazines that I have not yet read.  If I don’t keep them out, I’ll forget about them.

stack of magazines

I keep some of my vintage mason jars on the counter, but I lined them up which gave me more counter space.

mason jars

Now I have a neat “office” area and the counter is uncluttered.

My Erin Condren day timer and my notebook are out and easily accessible.  I often use both my iPad and my Mac together.

uncluttered kitchen desk

What an improvement!

HOT SPOT #2 ~ THE BUTLER’S PANTRY

You enter from the garage into the butler’s pantry which is a pass~through to the kitchen and the laundry room. It’s where magazines pile up, where things that are destined for the garage are in a holding pattern, things to put in the car, things for the recycle bin (the pizza box) in the garage, items from the store (I went to Sam’s the day before and didn’t get far with the Kleenex boxes.)

My old PC laptop stays in there (I still occasionally use it.)  Sweet Shark sets his keys, watch, ring, wallet, and anything else he brings in the house from his car. He always has a to~go cup of water and he takes mints with him every morning.

supplies on counter
cluttered counter

I went through the pile of magazines and filed a few and threw away the rest. The Kleenex boxes went to the bathrooms. The recycling boxes went outside to the recycling bin. I left the laptop there because there just isn’t any other place to put it.

Now we can see the beautiful paintings my friend Jane painted for me.  I love seeing them when I leave and come home.

The hard part was finding a place for Sweet Shark’s stuff.  He likes neat, but he also likes his things where he wants them. I used an empty candle holder to corral his mints.

jar of peppermints

An empty box top left from Christmas became his temporary “stuff holder”.  It will work for now.

organized box

A much nicer place to view when you enter the house, don’t you think?

uncluttered butler's pantry

What are your “hot spots”? Come on, you probably have one or two.

Here is how I recently reorganized our kitchen drawers for a more efficient space.

It’s been almost a week and so far we’ve resisted the urge to re-clutter our just uncluttered hot spots.  I just hope we can keep them this way a bit longer because the clean spaces are so much more enjoyable than the previous spaces.

I didn’t stop there. I also tackled what Jennifer Scotts calls “stagnant spaces”, the out-of-the-way areas that attract clutter and we tend to forget about.

All I can say is thank you Madame Chic.

pin for later graphic in blue

Let me know what areas you’ve uncluttered. Madame Chic would be so proud of us.

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