After the last remnants of the holidays are packed away into the attic, I often find myself with a fever commonly referred to as ‘Spring Cleaning’. For me it should be called ‘Winter Cleaning’ because I’m always too busy in the spring for living in my house, let along cleaning it! Still, this desire to evaluate every aspect from the garage to the closet takes hold of me! It springs to mind an irony: the whole year I enjoy receiving presents and generally accumulate things, but then I also find equal enjoyment in disposing of items so I can have more space, often to only find myself filling it up again.
I’ve been contemplating this inner struggle for some time now, and I’ve come to a rather unique conclusion to the argument: Space is the Ultimate Luxury.
Think about it: when we list your home for sale, what’s highly recommended? Creating space by cleaning closets, clearing countertops, and getting a storage unit for the garage items. Why is that? Because buyers love feeling a home has ample S P A C E in it! I’ve seen homes with 5,000 SF that felt cramped and 1,200 SF condos that felt spacious – it’s all an illusion of SPACE!
The function of this perplexity is a modern day phenomenon I’ve come to believe. In times past, the accumulation of items was directly tied to your economic status. The items you owned increased as your overall value increased. This was due in part to the fact that all items had quite a bit of time and resources put into them from creation to consumer. We all know today that concept is a thing of the past. Consumers can buy more and more for less and less.
Putting quality aside, an individual can essentially purchase any number of decorative items which are functionally the same at an exclusive decorator’s warehouse or a large chain such as Hobby Lobby. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a Chef inspired kitchen, an old world inspired bathroom, a modern living room, an industrially themed office, or antiqued dining room. One can have a similar theme, a similar feel, a similar aura in a broad spectrum of pricing. To put it plainly: monetary factors often do not determine the consumer’s expression of style.
Again, putting quality aside, I would further argue that monetary factors have less of an impact on the sheer amount of items one has as well. And we all know why. Thanks to Craigslist, Ebay, Freecycle, Amazon, and other websites – you can purchase nearly anything at a discount! There are also consignment, resale, and thrift stores that given bargain shoppers excellent options! In essence, you can purchase a luxury, top of the line old world inspired kitchen and décor today, you can wait for the Walmart knock off, or you can wait a little longer and get it on resale - all (quality aside) with a similar look and feel!
In some ways this is an American phenomenon. A consumer, whether lower, middle, or upper class can essentially have more individual items then they could ever want, need, or imagine. Having ‘things’ has gone so far as to become a ‘problem’ in need of a ‘solution’. Entire isles of mega shopping centers are dedicated to storing ‘stuff’ in bins. We even have individual stores like the Container Store which do exactly as the name implies: contain stuff.
So if having ‘things’ is less of a luxury in our modern age, then what is the luxury?
As I said above, I believe S P A C E is the luxury. Or even the illusion of space. In our home state of Texas, we take this for granted in many respects. But in the rest of the world, space is the premium. And in essence, that’s a universal concept.
In light of this line of thought, it’s brought me to the realization that I’ve been preaching this for years but not realizing what I was saying in my own life. HavingS P A C E really does sell a home. We all know that. Smart spaces and good layouts really go a long way, but even simply having a void of items really goes a long way as well.
When we take it a bit further, we find that havingS P A C Eis also what can make a house a home too. The impact of a void on the subconscious frees not only a previously occupied area, but also the mind and spirit. Just like a free moment in a day no occupied by facebook or a phone call can allow creativity and contemplation, so too a free space allows the eye to be unchained from focus. This isn’t a new idea, of course, but it is one that I rarely see practiced in the homes I show.
I have a knack for being a clutter bug and nick-nack decorator, but I am beginning to re-evaluate that expression of my style. Art galleries have mastered this concept: I can have less and express more.
So, as I spring clean this winter in my home I will be capitalizing on my new idea. We’ll see how it goes!
Let me know if you give it a go and how it works out for you!