You Don’t Have To Declutter To Own Fewer Things!

If you’re not comfortable with the idea of letting go of your excess stuff and having to declutter everything you don’t need or use, then I’ve a smart alternative for you.


It is based on the principle of perception.

The principle says, “What is more important than reality is the perception of reality.”

Some people own less items than others, yet when you enter their house you feel that it is cluttered, not organized and chaotic, and vice versa.

Here’s how your home can be perceived as organized and decluttered while in fact you own more items than others expect.

I learned that alternative from a book called The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda.

Here’s the idea:

“Organization makes a system of many appear fewer.”

That’s it!

If you organize things that have similar functions and assign them a home (a place where they are stored), this home will look like one item. So you will end up with fewer homes that give the perception of a decluttered space.

You simply turn many scattered items into fewer homes.

If you organize your home so that you own fewer homes, rather than fewer stuff, then you will have a perceived decluttered home without actually decluttering.

But remember, decluttering should be your first and best choice. Use this alternative ONLY if you don’t feel like or stuck with decluttering.

What do you think of the idea of having fewer homes rather than fewer stuff?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


* Photo Credit by peapod labs

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10 Responses to You Don’t Have To Declutter To Own Fewer Things!

  1. Moni November 26, 2013 at 1:28 am #

    Interesting post. Yes, I think I can relate to this, we allocated my daughter space in a particular cupboard for her art supplies during a major art project for school, as she’d taken over the dining room table (lighting and space) for the three month duration of the project. She isn’t naturally organised and to cut a long story short, when you open this cupboard it looks very cluttered and an avalanche risk as everything is just thrown in on top of each other, and she often complains she can’t find anything. However there is still a lot of clear space above the shelf and when it is stacked neatly doesn’t take up a lot of room, however that doesn’t seem to work when she is painting. Obviously she needs lots of shallow shelves or drawers and preferably something that she can move with her when she is painting elsewhere, so we are looking into the options for craft drawers and toolbox arrangements so she can quickly lay her hands on what she needs and can see at a glance what supplies need replacing.

    We have also come to the conclusion that the cradenza unit she has been partially using, is now probably surplus to requirement as we decluttered and then re-housed most of the items into our lovely decluttered kitchen, and we find we like them better there and so it is sitting almost empty, except for a pile of art supplies on one shelf.

    • Mohamed Tohami December 1, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

      Thanks a lot Moni for sharing your insightful experience. God bless your daughter :)

  2. Colleen November 30, 2013 at 11:29 pm #

    Having your stuff organised can no doubt make your home appear decluttered, tidy and less oppressive. I know this because my home has always been that way. Nevertheless it has taken me over three years of slow and gradual decluttering to get it to a point where we don’t have a lot of unused and unloved stuff neatly organised into closets, drawers, cupboards, storage containers and pieces of furniture all over the house.

    Being organised and tidy afforded me the lengthy time I used to declutter while still being comfortable in my home. So organise by all means but at the same time question your need of stuff and especially any desire to acquire more of it.

    • Mohamed Tohami December 1, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

      Thanks a lot Colleen for your valuable insight. Decluttering comes as a first choice by all means. The more you declutter the easier you organize.

  3. Lj earnest December 1, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

    Organization is a must, but organizing too much stuff means still leaves you with too much stuff. I think the first step is to get rid of the totally unused and useless things, and then organizing. If you can’t organize it, it needs to go. :)

    • Mohamed Tohami December 1, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

      Love that LJ! “If you can’t organize it, it needs to go.” … sounds like a great principle!

  4. Laura December 2, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

    I think this is quite a useful concept for beginner de-clutterers. It’s especially good for the hard-to-decide about items like books, dvds etc that seem to cause problems for so many people. You can’t thin the herd until you round them up!

    I have also found limiting the space the “home” takes up is a good way to declutter – for example my 1930s pottery vase collection lives inside one display cabinet. A vase only comes out to be used for flowers and it goes straight back in afterwards. The cabinet is at capacity now. If I want to buy another vase, then an existing one will have to go. That idea in itself keeps me from idly browsing eBay, antique shops etc for new ones.

    A bonus is when things are all in one proper place they look more beautiful and give more satisfaction. I look at my cabinet and think perfect – that’s enough for me!

  5. Kelvin December 6, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    Yes, interesting perceptive. I agree this will depend on a person’s stage in the decluttering process. Beginners should focus on minimizing as much as possible. Once a level of comfort is achieved, organizing is appropriate. Balance is key or simplicity becomes counter-productive.

  6. Kaycee December 10, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

    This concept is what keeps my kids’ room tidy… I’m trying to purge most of our home, but toys- my goodness. We have a lot. We use a shelving system from IKEA and my new rule is if it fits, it can stay. We’ve donated whole collections (Polly Pockets, Zoobles) as we have adopted new interests (Monster High, Littlest Pet Shops) and we can always rename a drawer.
    My problem is that I’ve tried using this in other parts of the home, like my sewing corner or our arts and craft cabinet, and it’s much more difficult. I end up feeling like a “container hoarder” as I find things not quite fitting in various organizers.
    Thank you for your blog! I’m on a mission here, and it is coming in very handy!


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