"What could go in that space?"

"I could put something there."

"I need to get something to fill that gap."

These phrases were pretty typical of my Grandmother and, perhaps oddly, tended to refer to a section of exposed wall. The walls of my Grandmother's homes (I remember her living in three different houses during my lifetime) were rarely exposed; at least not from floor to ceiling. She had sideboards, sofas, display cabinets. Something occupied the space between doors even if there was only a foot or so of gap to squeeze into. When furniture was rearranged or removed the question was always the same; what should the space created be used for?

I think it's perhaps a (slowly fading) British thing. My Grandmother also crammed every available surface with ornaments, keepsakes, and decoration. Her TV wore a hand-crocheted doily upon which rested some little ornamental knick-knack. I think this speaks to how our culture changes over time, and to my Grandmother's personality. Clearly I have not inherited her aesthetic sensibilities. In fact, one thing I have come to understand is that space itself is precious and is justified by its own merits. Space does not have to be used.

Perhaps it is not the common experience but I find space to be intrinsically relaxing. Too many objects and, even when they are not in my line of sight, their presence can become subtly oppressive. There is a clarity to a section of unadorned wall and a freedom to room that contains little more than the minimum of functional items. Limiting the objects that you fill your home with also capitalises on the value of those objects. When there are fewer of them each one is more significant in terms of your appreciation. Each picture is more visible when it doesn't compete with ten more hanging nearby. The choices you do make become more distinct, more personal and more noticeable; the details are not lost in the noise.

When use of space is no longer a requirement of owning that space it becomes a privilege. You can surround yourself with a few cherished objects instead of a multitude of things that feel necessary without justification. of course life has necessities, but even your choices of the truly necessary become more substantial when they don't have to be balanced against a surplus of possessions. You'll even have a greater proportion of your resources to dedicate to style and quality — both aspects should be considered. When you do find that item that serves only frivolity and/or luxury, and decide that it is worthy of your space, you will appreciate it that much more.

Cognitive Cost