The Case of Missing Identity: When a Room Becomes Ground Zero for Clutter

Good design is the balance of form and function – yin and yang. Form is the yin, the creative, the aesthetic, the beauty. Function is the yang, the masculine, the mechanics, the functionality.

This applies to the rooms in your home – each room should be aesthetically pleasing while equally functional. But to be functional, you must identify “functional for what?” Is the living room to be used to entertain book club, to watch TV, to have deep conversation? Is the extra bedroom for a home office, a hobby room, or a place for guests? The identity and function of a room must be established, otherwise the room becomes a fog machine of confusion and clutter.

I often see this with couples who never discussed or agreed upon the identity of a particular room. They might separately have an idea of what they would like it to be, but it’s never explicitly stated by either party.

This can also happen when trying to use a room for multiple functions. The room ends up having split personalities, not being completely true to either identity. Just like when we’re pressed for time, we split ourselves in multiple directions never fully committing to either one. Your guest bedroom probably feels the same way.

When we’re not sure who we are and what we’re supposed to be doing in the world, we experience an identity crisis that sets into motion lots of confusion. Rooms are no different. Those without a clear identity end up becoming ground zero for clutter and usually end up being the least favorite room in the house.

Clutter is distraction and confusion. It’s a big cover-up.

Whatever room or area of your home is your clutter zone, it’s covering something up. Think of each room as an aspect of yourself. What aspect is being covered up? What area of your life is not getting it’s full life force energy? Is it confusion as to your purpose, hurt from a past relationship, pain for betraying yourself, denial or disappointment?

Your clutter zone usually correlates to the section of the Bagua Map used in feng shui or the function of the room. For example, the master bedroom relates to relationship and intimacy. See my book Mind Body Home for a complete list of the mind-body-home correlations and an in-depth application of the Bagua Map.

If you have a room in your home that is your ground zero for clutter, the first step is to get clear on the room’s identity and function. Even if it’s a closet, be clear on what type of storage it’s for. Once that’s clear, you can remove what needs to be removed and have a clearer plan for the future.

If you live with others, then it may require a conversation so that both of you are on the same page as to the room’s identity. Don’t make assumptions. The clearer you can be on the identity of a room, the less likely it will attract clutter. And before you know it, it could become your favorite room in the house.

Tisha Morris