I finally got my hands on an interesting book and have been pouring over it the last week, seeing what insight I can glean from the pages.
Life at Home in The Twenty-First Century, studies 32 families and their stuff. From an anthropologist, social scientist, and archaeological perspective, which is really fascinating.
One thing that I found particularly interesting is the correlation of a cluttered fridge front and a cluttered home.
I can relate. Before we embraced minimalism I stuck all sorts of things on the fridge- including a magnet that said “A messy kitchen is a happy kitchen and this kitchen is delirious!” Ok- that one wasn’t the best for boosting morale, of course, it had been a gift… But I digress.
Expired coupons, school lunch menus, pictures the kids drew that I felt guilty about throwing away, but I never looked at. Receipts, phone numbers- magnets from anyone and everyone that we got in the mail. Photographs of friends and family that I didn’t know what to do with…
Yes, my fridge matched my home. It was all messy.
In Life at Home, they said the refrigerator displays a link to household consumption:
As the sample of L.A. households expanded during our several years of fieldwork, we noticed an interesting pattern: the numbers of objects families place on their refrigerators appear to signal something about the possessions they have in the rest of the housel. Specifically, the look of the refrigerator door hints at the sheer quantities of possessions a family has and how they are organized or arranged in the home. By organization we mean the visual impact, which is a function of both the density and the neatness of the distribution of objects. A simple analysis using our coded material culture inventories reveals that a family’s tolerance for a crowded, artifact-laden refrigerator surface often corresponds to the densities of possessions in the main rooms of the house.
The difference was staggering:
Houses with the highest amount of items on the refrigerator (averaging 80 items on display) had 1,448 visible objects in the main rooms of the home (living/family room, dining room, office and kitchen). Whereas the group of people with a tidy and minimally decorated fridge had approximately 322 visible objects.
Though the authors of the book conclude that their two sets of counts alone do not reveal a statistically significant correlation, they say:
This iconic place in the American home-the refrigerator panel- may function as a measuring stick for how intensively families are participating in consumer purchasing and how many household goods they retain over their lifetimes.
Want to clean that fridge front? Let’s do this!
Remove it all. Take every. single. little. thing. off the front and sides of the refrigerator. Give it a good scrubbing and then start sorting the pile. It’s easy to throw away things you know you don’t like, want or need- so do those first. Then decide what you really want there. For us, I have a simple print out of the children’s chore list and a timer. On one side of the fridge I kept 4 pictures of family and on the other side I keep the school calendar and my 2015 in 2015 decluttering chart. If I had upper cabinet doors in my kitchen, I would put my chart & calendar there instead, but I have open shelves, so it stays on the fridge.
When we create one clean and clear space in our home, it gives us a encouragement and incentive to keep going.
Removing some of the clutter and chaos in your home will also make a difference in your mental and emotional health.
Do you need more help in decluttering? Check out the Practical Simplicity decluttering site.