The Spectrum of Clutter || Why Having Too Much "Stuff" isn't Always the Problem

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A few weeks ago, I asked my Instagram followers which “type” of clutter most weighed them down. The answers were, as you’d expect, all over the board, with most saying that physical clutter distracted them the most. But regardless of which type bogged an individual down more, one thing stood out to me as I read the comments of the photo.

Not one person said they felt like clutter didn’t affect them.

No one said that they had all aspects of their lives squared away and didn’t struggle with at least one area.

This struck me because, despite our obsession with Kon Mari-ing everything, downsizing, and ensuring our wardrobes are neatly edited and capsuled, it’s still not enough. We still feel stressed. We still feel overwhelmed…sometimes (for me at least) it’s an overall feeling of overwhelm that I can’t peg on anything in particular.

These moments of “general overwhelm”, I’ve learned, usually boil down to an excess in one of the following areas that I haven’t recognized until it’s too late.

Sure, we can’t weed out every aspect of stress or “extra” from our lives, but we can do our best to recognize when we’re doing too much, owning too much, or taking on too much and learn when to cut back. It’s been one of the healthiest mental exercises I’ve started doing for myself, and I hope that once you’ve become more aware of which area of clutter stresses you the most, it will do the same for you too. Learning to think of clutter in a broader sense can be much more helpful than you’d realize.

I’d love to hear which clutter-style you most relate to in the comments below ;)

*Disclaimer, I don’t claim to be an expert in any of these areas, nor am I a psychologist. The following areas are simply describing things I’ve noticed both in my own life and in the lives of those I love.

  1. Physical Clutter

The first “pillar of clutter” gets the worst rap of them all, likely because it’s the most visible and the most publicized. Physical clutter is out in the open, for you (and everyone who enters your home) to see. Our possessions are a reflection of what we value, so of course, they’re the first thing that gets attention when we get stressed or in need of a detox.

For some, myself included, untidiness is a major area of stress. I usually feel like I can’t sit down to write or be creative unless my space is at least a little bit cleaned up and I have a cup of coffee in hand. I’m drawn to aesthetics, so I like my space to reflect the kind of creativity I’m trying to conjure up. That’s likely why I was so drawn to minimalism after becoming a mom — it felt like the only way I could regain a sense of control and identity. Lots of you said the same thing on Instagram. You feel like you have too much stuff, too many clothes, too many unnecessary “junk drawers”.

Clearing out this clutter is a great and important step towards feeling more free, but it only scratches the surface.

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2. Mental Clutter

It usually takes a bit of a “self-discovery” journey to figure out whether mental clutter weighs you down or if you’re able to stay more or less “on task” when it comes to your thoughts. Through learning more about myself via the Enneagram, I’ve learned that as a type 9, I have an exceptionally hard time learning which tasks to prioritize. This often leads to a brain fog where I’m aware of everything I need to do, but can’t quite nail down which item needs checked off first. Usually, I end up doing something less important (scrolling Instagram or picking up after the girls for the thousandth time) instead of doing the more intimidating but important things first.

Mental clutter can look different for everyone though. Some people are able to mentally keep track of everything (Type 1’s i’m looking at you), but for others, it’s really their mental clutter that weighs them down more than anything else.

3. Calendar Clutter

Oh, the glorification of staying busy. We get bored, so we schedule more. All too often, we subconsciously assign ourselves value through how many playdates, or meetings, or business calls we schedule for a particular week. How much we do, or achieve, instead of who we are. Having things to do somehow makes us feel more important/valuable/validated.

I wrote a few years ago about this “glorification”, making the case that being busy isn’t better. In this post, I break down a list of “why’s” for doing something — for example, I sometimes sign up for something because I think it will make someone else happy, instead of doing it because I want to do it.

I try to use the same “spark joy” mentality that I use for the belongings I keep when it comes to the way I schedule my time.

4. Emotional Clutter

Physical clutter gets a bad rap, but it only scratches the surface when it comes to other types of clutter than can weigh you down. Which type do you relate to most?

For those who feel before analyzing (feelers vs. thinkers), emotional clutter can be debilitating. Oftentimes, this boils down to drama with family or friends or stressing over an important decision and being unable to prioritize anything else.

In cases like these, it’s so important to recognize which relationships are an added weight to your life without adding joy or edification. Of course, some relationships we can’t cut out fully, but there are most certainly times when saying goodbye to a toxic or unhealthy relationship is just the thing to help your mind heal and de-clutter.


Clutter, being the buzz word that it is, can be tricky to nail down. Clearing your life from clutter completely isn’t necessarily possible (or healthy), but being aware of your clutter stressors can help you live life more fully and simply.

Turkish Textiles || Quiquattro

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The longer I work with brands and write about their products, the more fascinated by textiles I become. I find the process from plant to thread to fabric so fascinating and, when done ethically and sustainably, something to be truly celebrated and supported. There are so many ways to “spin it” when it comes to fabric creation, but hand-woven pieces made from natural fibers have to be some of the most heirloom-worthy.

In my pre-slow fashion days, I would run to Target or H&M or *Insert-big-chain-fast-fashion-store-of-choice-here* when I needed something like a blanket or a towel (in fact, my freshman year of college, I literally had one orange towel that I bought from Target). And although I was thrifty, my purchases reflected their true worth. They’d unravel after a few uses, pill after a few washes, or dull in color after a bit of wear and tear.

I’ve been in seasons of life when it’s financially necessary to choose the cheaply made option and, without a doubt, recognize the privilege involved in being able to choose better made alternatives, but let me tell you — the difference between supporting handmade versus unnamed-factory-somewhere-made is palpable.

There’s something about cozying up with a blanket or drying off with a towel knowing that the hands who made it were treated fairly, paid well, and were supported through its creation.

Quiquattro is one such brand who takes the “weaver to customer” mentality seriously.

Their products — a beautiful collection of pestemal towels, bedspreads and beachwear — are all handloomed by women weavers in Turkey using bamboo and cotton. The result? Gorgeously intricate detail and a textile that can withstand day to day use and washing.

I packed the Stone beach towel in my suitcase on our babymoon to Cancun because I loved how beautiful the towel was and couldn’t pass up an excuse to put it to use (no surprise that Colorado winters don’t allow for many beach days). It doubled as a cover up, beach blanket, and towel and was just absorbent enough to keep me dry without becoming too wet. It’s woven with stunning detail, but is still sturdy enough to act as a true towel.

And because my girls are over the moon when they get special surprises in the mail too, the sweet folks at Quiquattro sent over two matching bathrobes to keep them cozy and dry. We use them after showers, at the pool, and most recently, on a family morning trip to our local hot springs.

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We’ve also been loving their Navy Blue Bed Cover and have had it for four or five months now. It’s surprisingly heavy, intricately made, and very high quality. We put it on top of our duvet cover and it’s been the perfect thing to keep in the heat all winter long.

Although running to the closest fast fashion store is undoubtedly the more convenient and instantly gratifying option, choosing to support brands like QuiQuattro to furnish your bedroom and bathroom means that women artisans are able to make a living for themselves, sustainable craftsmanship is pushed forward, and you’re left with a piece that will last you years and years, instead of only a few rounds through the washer and dryer.


*This post was in partnership with QuiQuattro. All opinions, photographs, and creative direction are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make SL&Co. possible!*

A Home In Between Homes

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This was supposed to be a sponsored home tour - a review of my favorite "home brands" that I used daily and displayed in my home. But then we moved. Suddenly and without much of a plan, we had to leave our first home here in CO (a tiny, overpriced two bedroom condo that needed lots of attention and TLC). We've relocated - er, moved in with my wonderful parents - in efforts to save some money for a house of our own and "get back on our feet" after a long period of job hopping for my husband and discouragement for both of us. 

It's a fresh season. It's a good season. But, strangely, we don't have a home to call our own at the moment. All things considered, this probably isn't the best timing to publish a blog post about home goods. But I'm nothing if not an eternal optimist and so, the homeless blogger will blog about home things ;) 

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I've lived in lots of "homes" in the lifespan of this blog - there was the cozy one bedroom house on G street, the loft above the garage, then the three year stretch that we were first time homeowners of a gorgeous Victorian fixer-upper. Home, the belongings we put inside it, and the feelings attached to it, has been in a state of flux for my family and I for years. And as much as I'd love to feel "settled" in a space that was all my own that I could host guests in and decorate to match my dream aesthetic, I've learned a lot about what constitutes the concept of home for me in these semi-nomadic years. 

More than a single place or building, home has become a feeling. It's where my husband and daughters are, of course, but it's also where I feel most myself. Home is where my introverted self feels authentic and where I can be at ease. Sometimes home is a cozy coffee shop filled with people (literally. Coffee shops have always felt like home to me.) Sometimes it's getting lost in a conversation with someone I care about. Sometimes home is a place, but more often than not, it's the feelings I associate with a particular object, place, or person. 

So what is one to do when the walls around you change more often than you can track? When your plan for the future isn't set in stone and you don't have that "settled" feeling that so many of us long for? 

For me, intentionally gathering items that travel well from place to place and mimic my "dream aesthetic" has been huge in creating a home-y feeling wherever I'm at. I've gathered these pieces slowly, over the year(s) and some, like the fragrances, will need replacing, but others will last through the years whether we continue to house hop or we find a home to call our own. 

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Organic Cotton Sheets || Jefferson Lane Home

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It took me a long time to upgrade my bedding to a more sustainable option, but now that I have, I can't sleep on anything else. Jefferson Lane, who happens to be one of my sweet freelance clients, sent me a pair of their Organic Cotton Sheets and the benefits of switching from conventional cotton to organic are hard to beat. Even though we're staying at my parent's house, our sheets were one of the first things to come out of the box when we got settled in. 

Candles & Diffusers || 1502 Candle Co.

There's nothing like a beautiful fragrance to instill a sense of calm and home. Even though we're just occupying a single room, I have multiple candles and (my new favorite) a reed diffuser spread throughout. I love lighting my White Sage & Orange Blossom soy wax candle from 1502 Candle Co. at night when AJ and I are settling in after work. The reed diffuser keeps the room continuously fresh much more effectively than a candle and I love how they can function as a decor piece as well. 

Freeleaf

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My handknotted rug from Freeleaf is a statement piece with a beautiful story. Each Freeleaf piece is handmade from a single strand by a woman overcoming abuse or trafficking. That fact alone gives me hope each time I look at my rug.  

Ten Thousand Villages

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One of the "pioneers" of the fair trade movement, Ten Thousand Villages has been supporting artisan craftsmanship around the world for decades. I've partnered with them before, but recently added this stunning Bamboo Reflections mirror, handmade by the Dhaka Handicrafts artisan group in Bangladesh, and it's an heirloom piece I can't wait to display in my home for years to come. 

What pieces make you feel most at home? Is home more of a place or a feeling for you? 


*This post was sponsored by several brands. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Plaine Products || A Closer Look

Plaine Products || A Closer Look

Last month I shared about home goods brand that is doing big things to reduce waste and make organic, clean products accessible to everyone. I've been using Plaine Product's shampoo, conditioner, and body wash for almost three months (I'm about to order a refill- that's how much I love these products) and it's been amazing for several reasons. 

Not only do I completely trust the ingredients in these products (read on to see a full list of exactly what is in each bottle...no chemicals or unpronounceable's), it's changed my mindset about waste and how silly it is that the majority of our body products come in single use bottles that may or may not be recycled, and will likely be thrown out.

I'm so excited to share an interview with Lindsey, the brand's founder (along with her sister), where she gives insight into her long term plans for Plaine Products, what goes in each bottle, and more.  

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Karton || Cardboard Reimagined

Karton || Cardboard Reimagined

If you've been following along on SL&Co.'s social media for the past few months, you'll know that my family and I are right in the middle of packing up everything we own, downsizing, and moving to a small town in the mountains of Colorado. It's been a busy phase, but I can't stop thinking about our new house/condo/apartment (to be determined...) and how I want to decorate it with so much more intention than in our previous homes. 

As I journey into slow living, I've realized that ethical shopping and sustainable living applies even in the pieces I choose to fill my home with. Although decorating sustainably and ethical takes more time, money, and research than just going to Target and buying a new rug, it immediately fills your home with literal culture, value, and stories, without costing the environment. 

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