As we boldly go into the new year and new decade, many of us will be making (and breaking) those New Year's resolutions intended to make yourself and your life better. Thanks in part of Kondo and her philosophy of decluttering, one of the most common resolutions I've heard is that people are actively wanting to reduce and refine what they store in their homes.
As someone fully aware of the deep psychological and physical benefits that a well-designed and curated space can bring, I applaud this kind of resolution. It shows a greater awareness of the importance of the environment we spend a large part of our waking and sleeping life in.
Perhaps deep down we are all aware of this. But occasionally it might need pointing out. The spaces and environments you spend your time in have a significant impact on your physical and mental health and the trajectory of your life.
The reason for this is not just the satisfaction of action. It is also the element of control in this seemingly uncontrollable world this action gives us. This feeds into our most basic needs from shelter, which are not just to keep us safe and warm but also to define territory and develop identity.
This goes well beyond the impact a little bit of clutter can have on your sense of peace in your home, it can literally make the difference between feeling capable and motivated in life to feeling directionless and adrift. As many a life-coach has counselled, if you want to change your life, start by tidying your room.
Then there is the impact that a space can have on us. We can instinctively all appreciate the difference between a well-designed space and a lesser one by the way they make us feel. The impact is also behavioural. If you want to watch less TV, simply turn the furniture away from the TV or better still, remove the TV from your living room. If you want a good night's rest, make your bedroom a sanctuary. These are prosaic examples, but begin to show how spatial design and choices can have a significant impact on your habits. An as we all know, if you've ever read a self-help book, your habits make you who you are.
Whilst I take this appreciation of the impact of space for granted, it is not by any means obvious. Kondo aside, we are often encouraged to treat our living spaces as storage units. It is not unusual for house-builders to use cookie-cutter designs to build homes which ignore the impact of space, light and nature to the detriment of inhabitants. Or we see extensions which prioritize future financial gains and square footage over quality of life.
So this year, it is my hope that there will be a greater recognition of the importance of a high quality home environment. Whether this begins with decluttering your junk drawer or a full-on renovation, my advice is to do it. Of course, we'll be delighted to assist with it if you decide to go for the latter, but if your ambitions are more modest, see our list of 20 Spatial Design Changes to Change your Life in 2020 (Coming Soon).