On Monday morning I found myself alone in a friend’s office just waiting. I couldn’t go through his files or use his computer. The view from the window is currently a pile of scaffolding  and a tiny square of sky. Nothing to do. His fellow worker suggested that I make coffee and do something useful while I waited. On the desk was a newspaper, one I don’t usually read. It was open to an article about hospital chapels of all things– one very elaborate one in the Rather fussy Victorian style and the other a very ultra-modern minimalist room with imitation windows. It did however have what looked like comfortable chairs, rather than rigid upright pews with narrow seats.

I saw the modern room as flexible  - you could have added things, made room for a wheelchair, used it for meetings of members of various faiths or none. A useful space.

According to the writer though, by far the majority preferred the over elaborate Victorian chapel  - perhaps because we have a mental image of what a church should be like and this fits it. There are images that aid their contemplation, an alter to which the eye turns, sunlight streams in. It is welcoming. This isn’t just a Victorian thing of course. I think of places such as the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Liverpool. It can be said to be relatively uncluttered. The space is flexible as in many modern buildings. Yet it is welcoming and full of sunlight and colour in a glorious combination which lifts the spirits.

I can look at a minimalist home and think ‘This looks nice. Clean and uncluttered.’ The tones tend to be harmonious.  Clear surfaces which make a place seem bigger. Then I begin to wonder ‘Where do they keep their Christmas trimmings? What about children’s toys? Where is the ironing board?

My oldest daughter used to have a tiny minimalist flat in a converted Georgian building. What had been one family home was now four flats of various sizes. Hers was the smallest. She always made us very welcome, but if I even put a coffee cup down the wrong place it looked wrong, especially if it was the wrong colour. She was very happy there however, and when she eventually moved into a larger place minimalism still reigned, although a few other things did creep in – elaborate candle sticks, books began to be on view instead of hidden away, and there was an ornate window blind in the very basic dining room. The bathroom shelf began to become a little cluttered with clashing colours instead of having just containers of a certain shade. Then I looked in the spare room - clutter piled high. Her excuse  ’ You have to have somewhere to put your bits.’

She is now living back at home and has the best of both worlds.  Her bedroom is relatively neat and tidy with a nod to minimalism, but she has also taken over the room next door where the wardrobe and cupboards are now full of her possessions. We also have a massive loft and she has her own corner up there and her own corner of the garden with the heathers and other favourite flowers that she loves. She also of course makes use of the rest of the garden with its pond, bird tables and lots of fruit and veg to enjoy.

Humans in general seem to like clutter. My desk would seem to some people a little on the cluttered side, but everything I need is to hand  - nothing is there without a purpose. My printer and paper etc to the right. Reference books and my Bible on a shelf to the left. Papers I need in the next day or two tucked in front of me. Things I might  need to the left. The bin behind, my teacup to hand , the radio of course, and a card from my sister ‘Keep Calm and Eat a Cup Cake.’ – perfect advice when a deadline is looming.