Assuredly as I write this, the fuss and flurry of the holidays has come to a close. Thence it is time once again to restore our dwellings to their anterior state, cleared away of the ornamentations, seasonal botanics, and other festive detritus scattered about. Suitably so, this is an exemplary time to initiate a ‘Pre Spring cleansing' of sorts — to rid the home of needless objects that add clutter and create imbalance. This practice of decluttering, in its native form, is the basis of the minimalist movement that began in post WWII Western art and naturally influenced design and architecture. Reducing my home to only the necessary elements is a ritual that I perform each quarter as I have grown increasingly sensitive to objects in my adulthood. If an object is mass-produced and serves no needful function, it must be promptly removed by my maidservant. This protocol should extend into all areas of the home, including the vestibule, study, cook’s room, powder rooms and children’s quarters.
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
― A N T O I N E D E S A I N T - E X U P E R Y , 1900, French writer, poet, aristocrat and journalist.
In my discussion with design enthusiast, Birgit Maeve Piersön, she examines which objects in the home ought to be removed, and which are admissible to stay.
“Maintain a curator’s judgement,” says Piersön. “Survey the expanse of your entire dwelling and discard of all non-functional objects that are mass-produced, made of plastics or obstruct the view of valuable art pieces.” She adds, “No less than three, but no more than five non-functional objects are acceptable in each room, and it’s imperative that these objects are handcrafted only in the following materials: ribbed artisanal glass, raw brass, and other earthen materials such as clay, petrified wood, stone, or Italian white marble.”
“Only keep objects that maintain the natural color palette of your home,” Piersön says, pausing before reminding me that, “evergreen is the ‘new neutral.’” She continues, “Unrefined and hand-dyed textiles and fabrics, gathered from exotic regions, can be framed as artwork or sewn together by your chambermaid to create a tapestry of your journeys. They may also be fashioned into throw cushions that rotate seasonally.”
Piersön still minds the aphorism of her great aunt, Brijanna, who only allowed furnishings of a refined strictness into her Paris pied-à-terre. Piersön states that Brijanna believed that “no seat be wider than the width of one’s posterior, and not to be discouraged when those rumps and bottoms might be clinging to some extra earl grey chocolate cake with honey lavender glaze.”
“A decluttering of one’s home must be met in tandem with the decluttering of the human vessel.”
Minimalist author, Beckford Phillipès, states in her essay, Expunging the Unnecessary: A Theoretical Analysis on the Order of the Home, that one must also rid the self of superfluous foods in the cook space. Phillipès advises that, “the pantry should remain bare, save for fourty-seven leaves of loose Chamomile tea, and one burlap satchel of each of the following: unpolished brown rice, locally foraged mushrooms, wild onion and three cloves of hand-dug garlic.”
“Naturally,” Phillipès concludes, “a decluttering of one’s home must be met in tandem with the decluttering of the human vessel.”