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Clear Out the clutter!

I talk to Joanne Harte of Systematic Homes about the Clear Out the Clutter event at the Broadway Gallery in Letchworth on Sunday 8 July.

Barry Parker: Architecture for All is the current exhibition at the wonderful Broadway Gallery in Letchworth. It tells the story of the life and work of Barry Parker, a renowned Arts & Crafts designer and architect, who created the master plan for Letchworth Garden City and many subsequent Garden City designs. It also showcases many items from the Garden City Collection in Letchworth. As an advocate of the Arts & Crafts movement, Barry Parker followed William Morris’s philosophy: ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.’ Barry Parker designed many of the homes in Letchworth Garden City and influenced other local architects to follow his style closely. One of the fascinating elements of this exhibition is the photographs of people who live in these homes today. Some of the pale, minimalist interiors created by Barry Parker could happily grace the pages of contemporary interiors magazines.

Let there be light. A home designed by Barry Parker.   Photo: Garden City Collection

On Sunday 8 July, there is a Clear Out the Clutter event where decluttering experts and professional organisers will help us work towards streamlining our own homes. The event is from 4-6pm and will include a champagne reception where you can appreciate the work of Barry Parker. After that, you might like to wend your way home to look at your own environment through fresh eyes. Ahead of the event, I talk to Joanne Harte of Systematic Homes, one of the experts who will be speaking on Sunday.

Photo: Garden City Collection

Joanne, when it comes to how we live in our homes, what can we learn from Barry Parker?

Barry Parker liked to maximise light and create a feeling of spaciousness in the homes he designed. In today’s world we are all surrounded by so much stuff, often things we don’t use or really need. If we followed Barry Parker’s example we could also create that feeling of calm, and this could take away so much stress. When we are surrounded by too much stuff our heads feel cluttered.

Is holding on to things part and parcel of the human condition?

Photo: Joanne Harte

For some people, no, not at all. For others it can become a serious illness. For some people it’s just about not having time to clear the clutter. For others, letting go of things can be traumatic. It’s so important to work at each client’s pace.

A family den in a home designed by Barry Parker.  Photo: Garden City Collection

In magazines there is often advice that if you have not used or worn something for over a year, you should donate it to a charity shop. But often I come across something I wore 10 or even 20 years ago and I put it on and wear it. It actually makes me feel happy if something still fits me!

Architecture For All exhibition, Broadway Gallery   Photo: Garden City Collection

I think that’s brilliant. I sometimes encourage clients to keep some bags and clothes that they have loved but not worn or used in a while for several reasons and if they have the space. I think that’s the key: if you are holding on to a few great things or making a lovely memory box, I would embrace it. But if you can’t see what’s in your wardrobe, or your bedroom is full to bursting, it will become overwhelming.

What will we learn from the Clear Out the Clutter event at the Broadway Gallery on Sunday?

Architecture For All exhibition, Broadway Gallery   Photo: Garden City Collection

I think people will earn a lot about clutter-free living and how clearing clutter to create calm, relaxing, light-filled spaces will benefit their whole well-being. On Sunday I will be focusing on the importance of a clutter-free bedroom: how to create a relaxing haven and how to declutter and organise your wardrobe.

4-6pm, Sun 8 July, Broadway Gallery 2 The Arcade, Letchworth Garden City SG6 3EW. Tickets are £10 to include a glass of champagne and a Private View of the exhibition Barry Parker: Architecture for All.

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