House Diet

By Joseph Pubillones

January 9, 2021 4 min read

Every year for the past 10 years, toward the beginning of the year, I try to tackle a column about living life lighter. Oh, I am not talking about weight or other New Year's resolutions that very few keep up after a couple of days. I try and give advice and lead the way to lightening up your surroundings so that any activity or new endeavor can be done without clutter. This is what you can call a "house diet."

I doubt I will ever be a minimalist. Given the profession of interior design, I am always buying something for clients or myself. My mother, who was always shopping, said: "Shopping is my therapy. I have many therapists (salespersons) all over the city, and each one offers me a kind word or the best advice." I imagine many think that way, but just never divulge it as a psychological treatment of sorts.

At the end of my mother's life, she had two storage units packed to the gill, which took me the better part of three years to sell or give away, bit by bit. There was a bit of everything — clothes, household items, knickknacks and even some furniture that I had never seen or noticed in her home. Some things were never even used or used once and put away for a better day or occasion.

While some may shop and acquire things for personal satisfaction, others may do the same for reasons such as keeping up with the Joneses. Once our needs are met, we shop for our public face or who we want others to think we are. Over time, we end up trapped and confined by those same things that we think are supposed to round out or lives and make them complete.

According to Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of Netflix's "The Minimalists": "Less is now." They explain that the point at which our basic needs are met is relative to the people around us. We judge our clothes, our cars and even our furniture based on the people around us. With social media, we now compare our lives to other people's lives and constantly feel we must keep up.

Most rooms can use some organization and a cleanse of items that have made their way to their present location. The easiest solution, though perhaps not the best, is to put things out of sight. Storing things inside drawers and cupboards is OK for the short term, but not for a long time. If any item has been out of use and away for more than six months, ask yourself, "Am I going to use this in the next two weeks?" If the answer is yes, by all means save it, but if you do not know or know it will be a long time before putting it to use, get rid of it.

So, let's try this personal challenge inspired by "The Minimalists" and remove one item from our lives for 30 days. In my case, I am going to remove one item starting Jan. 15, 2021. Items that can be listed on eBay will be under the name "metro retro antiques" for those curious few that want to follow along on this 30-day/30-items challenge. Good luck, and good riddance!

Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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