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Designer tip: Sarah Cooper on cutting out clutter

According to designer Sarah Cooper, kitchens are one of the areas in the home that are most likely to accumulate clutter because of things like junk drawers and unused kitchen utensils. Photos courtesy Sarah Cooper.
Sarah Cooper. Photo by Fred Frey Photography.

Designer Sarah Cooper of Cabell Cooper Design is not content to just accept the reality of clutter. Intrigued by the penchant of individuals to accumulate anything and everything, Cooper has invested her time into not only helping people overcome mounds of clutter, but conquering the psychological and historical reasons surrounding the obsession with “things” in the first place.

“I am really interested in getting down to the meat of clutter,” says Cooper, who will be putting on a free seminar about this topic at the Main Library at Goodwood this Saturday, August 11, at 10 a.m. “We are indoctrinated to save and collect things because of our history. During the Great Depression, the motto was ‘waste not, want not,’ and with the dawn of consumerism this lifestyle turned into getting bogged down with stuff.”

With 50,000 storage facilities in the United States alone, Cooper notes that the issue of amassing mess has taken on a life of its own. Now, people are designating extra spaces in their homes for “bulk buying,” a trend that Cooper notes can be deceiving.

“We think we’re saving money but really we’re just wasting it,” says Cooper. “Many times we buy things just because they are part of a sale, or we purchase so much of something that it goes bad before we can use it. All in all, shopping like this ends up just taking up space in our homes and minds.”

Over the years, Cooper found that when she would enter clients’ homes to propose a new design idea, it was virtually impossible for people to picture the potential of a space while it was filled to the brim with unnecessary items. With a passion for helping her clients, Cooper would roll up her sleeves and take out her Sharpie to label bins marked “keep,” “toss,” and “donate.”

“I’ve had people tell me how amazing it is to have someone guide you through the decluttering process,” says Cooper, who notes that offices, closets and garages typically accumulate the most stuff. “It’s important to understand how ubiquitous clutter is. If we don’t pay attention, it can really take over.”

For Cooper, one of the most important things to remember is that in the age of technology, clutter doesn’t just exist in our homes and offices. Rather, a digital build-up can be just as stressful as a garage filled with unused clothes and furniture, and sometimes even more so. Because a majority of our responsibilities for work and life in general exist in the digital space, it is important to maintain organization in order to not only keep up with bills and schedules, but to hold onto sanity.

“We deal with technology every day,” says Cooper. “If you have over 100 unread emails or tons of unread texts, that can really clutter your mind and cause you unnecessary stress. Simply going through your inboxes on a regular basis can be incredibly helpful.”

In her upcoming presentation, Cooper will cover these topics, as well as more helpful tips and tools for not only controlling clutter, but eliminating the practice of accumulation in our lives in order to create spaces in both our homes and minds that live up to their full potential.

“It’s unbelievable how much clutter there is and how much stress it causes,” says Cooper. “I just want to show people practical tactics for decluttering and discovering all the potential that is just waiting to be unlocked in their spaces.”

Registration is not required for Cooper’s August 11 talk at the Main Library at Goodwood. However, for more information on the event, visit ebrpl.com. And for more information on Cooper, visit cabellcooperdesign.com.

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