If you’ve been hearing about de-cluttering, you will see it is linked to the winding down world of acquiring material stuff; since goods are cheaper, rich people don’t need to own a lot, that’s for the (poor) masses. Minimalism (see NY Times, Feb. 17, 2015 back page editorial by Pamela Druckerman) is the new feng-shui of home design. Space is the thing to show off.

For once, I’m ahead of the design curve. I’ve been de-cluttering for years now. Don’t count all the unread books still on my shelves, they are part of an overall design (in my head). This summer’s paint job for the first time in umpteen years threw my apartment de-cluttering act into high gear.

Well, it started before that when my mom moved in 2012 after my dad’s death from her ┬áspacious Long Island home to a crisp, new apartment in a senior living community. Luckily, four adult children and their families were able to divide, toss, or re-assign all that she couldn’t take with her. This is how I came to inherit a large number of tchotchkes. No one else wanted them.

A ‘tchotchke’ is an item of dubious purpose and some artistic but mostly sentimental value. My dad, an artist himself, had coffee maker tchotchkes, miniature wooden furniture and other objects (possibly to use in still life painting) tchotchkes, tiny amber glass bottle tchotchkes, and the usual repurposed gift and indescribable tchotchkes.

I didn’t want to clutter up my freshly painted shelves and sills with my dad’s tchotchkes when I had enough of my own. So I created little diorama-ish tableaux–a green vase, a quartz crystal, Dad’s medieval candle stick holder that never held a lit candle, stuff like that. Art work was hung by color or theme above the tchotchke assemblages. Old crafts handbooks might refer to these as “home arts” pieces. I prefer “found art collage.”

So if you want to start de-cluttering, make it fun. Turn it into a creative art project. But be mindful that emptied spaces do not necessarily bring emptied minds. That requires some effort, intention, or meditation, the subject of other posts. In the meantime, start with one small step, one tchotchke at a time. What can you toss or assemble today?