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The Clutter Culture

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By Jack Feuer

Published Jul 1, 2012 8:00 AM


A Clutter Culture Coda

art

"If the house is an instrument of display for family history and memory,” the study observes, "the single most emphatic way this is materialized in the U.S. is through family photographs."

A lot has happened since the Life at Home study concluded in 2005. If invited into the same kinds of homes today, what do the researchers think they'd find?

Same stuff, different year.

"If we were to study the same types of families in 2012, I don't think the results would be significantly different," says Graesch, whose home refrigerator boasts 66 magnets on three vertical surfaces, most of them letters and numbers that his toddlers play with. "We are still a child-centered society, we still have trouble managing our massive inventories of objects, and we still struggle to find a balance between work, school and family."

Well, perhaps not completely. Ochs agrees that if the CELF researchers returned to knock on the same families' doors today, "most of the homes would look the same," but "having said that, one family talked with us about our study and redesigned their home dramatically to allow for more open, less cluttered family living."

No word on what they did or didn't do to their refrigerator.

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