Not Every Space Needs to Be Filled

by Kelvin Belfon

Not Every Space Needs to Be Filled

“Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”~ William Morris.

A few months ago, my wife invited some girl friends to our home. It was a completely unplanned and unscripted get together. Everyone had a wonderful time of sharing and laughter.

During the visit, one of the girls wanted to see our food pantry. In our kitchen, we opted for a stainless steel rack so that we can track everything and be forced to keep it all organized. Our friends loved the idea. But while looking at the area added, “But you still have space to put another rack next to the one you have and make it look nice.”

It was an innocent comment, one with the best of intentions. But later that night Camilla and I reflected on the statement, noting how much our values have changed. In the past, most likely that space in the kitchen and others throughout our home would have been filled with stuff, perhaps unintentionally, but nonetheless…filled.

We all struggle with this issue. The human tendency is to add, acquire and accumulate more stuff. Having things is not bad; it’s about knowing what’s enough for you and resisting the tendency to add something to every blank wall or vacant corner.

When I was a boy, I noticed that the tendency was to fill every space available in the home. The living accommodations were small. Yet the rooms were filled past capacity with furniture. There were an abundance of trinkets on tables and counters, wall decorations, posters, plastic plants, boxes, and electronics. The closets and cupboards were crammed with things we seldom used.

Empty spaces were a symbol of misfortune, disappointment and lack. It made us uncomfortable. So we fill it. Filled spaces mean economic stability or represents success. But I’ve learned, Not Every Space Needs To Be Filled…even when you can afford to fill it.

Empty, clutter free spaces can save valuable time. There is less cleaning, reorganizing and maintaining required. Empty spaces can be calming because they don’t overstimulate our mind. When we create space, we can more easily appreciate and cherish the things we do have that matter. The spaces that are intentionally filled stand out with more beauty and meaning.

As we’ve committed in our home to reduce clutter and create more spaces over the last 11 months, we’ve gained so much more space without changing real estate. The spaces we’ve gained are reminders to be content, live unattached to material possessions, avoid engaging in the comparing game (something I’ve done too often), and resist the impulse to accumulate.

I’m also reminded to value people, not things; because my relationships are most important. But even more significant, empty spaces have taught me to accept myself. Retail therapy is not a healthy solution most of the time.

Empty spaces don’t have to be boring or unimaginative. Allow your personality and creativity to be reflected within your living space. Make it welcoming and inviting. It’s your home. Embrace uncluttered, clean space. Most importantly, embrace yourself!

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10 thoughts on “Not Every Space Needs to Be Filled

  1. Marcos says:

    LOVED THIS PIECE MY FRIEND. AGREE. THANKS FOR THE REMINDER.

  2. David Price says:

    Love it!! Such a powerful truth!

  3. Terri says:

    Oh my God, you are so right!! I remember my brother in law telling me a story one time of how when they had just moved into their house, he had found one place that had a completely clear surface (I forget whether it was a book case or a table.) He looked at it and sighed in content and then turned around. He saw my sister with her box of knick knacks walking toward him – he was like “no!!! just one space!!!” they had a good laugh. I also remember growing up with rooms bursting at the seams because of so much stuff. God it’s so much better to have less stuff and more empty space.

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      This is a funny story but loaded with truth. It’s such a natural thing to add more to our space. I don’t think it’s always intentional. Also seems like you had a similar experience growing up with clutter. It does feel good to live clutter free. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Christy King says:

    So true. We’ve been really good at keeping our island cleared away in our new house. It’s so nice to have a convenient place to set things down temporarily, like the bags of groceries and to have a ready-made work area. Most of the time, though, it’s just lovely empty counter space.

    The coffee table is usually clear too, except for the cat who likes to shed her white hair onto the black wood 🙂

    Other spaces tend to have some stuff, but perhaps one picture frame instead of the three that would fit.

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Hi Christy:

      The island is a tough place to keep clean. Like you, it’s the place where everything gets collected from school, work, grocery store, homework, toys, etc. It was a stressed zone but it’s now under control. Well, sometimes 🙂 I don’t worry as much like before. We do our best and then move on.

  5. I’m so glad you wrote this. Ever since you’ve started your blog I’ve been working hard not the fill up every space. This piece makes me feel less crazy lol we’ve been making it a habit not to buy items for the sake of HAVING them. I enjoy my living room so much more for it’s space and comfortability. Excellent points!

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      You are welcome Chloelle,
      Super proud of you both.
      I’m glad you are on the simplicity track. It take time minimize clutter but it’s worth it in the end. Our lives can be less complicated when we eliminate the unnecessary burdens from our lives or from buying things “just because.” Thank you for following me over the last 2 year sis!

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