Clearing Out Clutter: Which 7 Things Make the Cut?

5229495-xsmallHave you noticed that clearing out clutter and simplifying seems to be on everyone’s minds lately?  I know I have.  We see it on magazine covers at the supermarket.  We see news clips on TV.  And if you’re active on social media, solutions are bombarding us all the time.

Many of my friends are downsizing, now that the kids are gone, and moving to new locations.  Some are facing moving aging parents into assisted living.  And with downsizing comes the questions “What should I get rid of?” and “What should I take with me?”

The thought of going smaller sounds wonderful…and scary at the same time.  We dread the thought of clearing out clutter, when years of living in one house have created huge piles of it.   And then memories get in the way.

So I started thinking about what I would take with me if I were moving to a new place and needed to declutter.  What would I take if I had to limit myself 7 things to decorate my new home?  Let me show you what I discovered…

Chinese pillow boxThis antique Chinese pillow box was the first thing I bought during our stay in Singapore.  I love the history behind the piece.  And I love red!


Balinese IkatI love textiles, and our trek through the Balinese countryside to find the village where these are woven, is a memory I won’t forget.  Only 3 villages in the world create double weave Ikat cloths.


Collection of Mood StonesMy collection of handmade pottery Mood Stones is something that I love to look at, touch, and shake.  I couldn’t pick just one!


Florentine inlayOn a trip to Florence, I lusted over this one of a kind inlaid stone “painting”.  It was a little pricey, so I didn’t buy it.  Imagine my surprise when I opened this the following Christmas!  Hubby did good!!!

Now the real challenge begins!  With four favorite things already selected, I want to layer these two special carpets and roll them together to count as #5.  This is getting hard!  I walked around the house taking pictures of the most special things I would like to take on my “starting over” move.  I’m learning that’s it’s a little easier to choose from a photo.

Kazak tribal rug

Tabriz rug


More tough decisions!  Of course, this Vietnamese painting has to be included!!!  But I really love the red chest…….  Can a grouping count as one thing?

Asian grouping

raku potThis large raku pot has been in our home for over 20 years.  I can see it as a lamp in the future, so it’s a “must take”.  Plus, it shows my “happy colors!”


And now I’m left with 3 or 4 things that didn’t make the cut.  I’ll be sad to say good bye to them.  What I’ve learned from this design challenge is:

  • A lot of things in our home can be replaced or substituted.
  • I would take things that can’t be replaced…art work, antiques, textiles…sofas can be replaced
  • The things I chose have memories attached to them
  • Understanding how hard it is for some people to move from their family home into a much smaller apartment
  • It was hard not to cheat. I really wanted to call all of my artwork one item!

Your Design Homework this week:

Take up this challenge in your own home.  Imagine that you’re moving to a new home in a new location.  You want to start over with a clean slate, a new look.  What 7 things would you take with you?

3 Reasons To Go Green This Year

Last week we welcomed the first day of spring.  And, for those of us that are Irish (aren’t we all on March 17?) you celebrated St. Patrick’s Day.  Each of these events, obviously remind us of the color green.    What comes to mind when you hear the word “green”?

Some people immediately think of the environment and how we can reduce our carbon footprint.  Others envision rooms full of beautiful house plants or walls painted in various shades of green.  No matter what you’re thinking of, we all have our own reasons for going “green”.  I’d like to share with you a few of mine.

1.  Renew your body and soul by bringing live plants into your space. Choose plant combinations in several shades of green to maximize the feng shui energy and add variety. They also help improve your indoor air quality and noise level.  When you introduce green into your home, look forward to these positive results:

  • the color of renewal, fresh energy and new beginnings
  • promotes growth and healing
  • helps us to stay calm
  • relieves stress, alleviates depression, nervousness and anxiety
  • the color of peace

2.  Old is New again With so much emphasis these days being placed on reducing clutter and simplifying our lives, many of us are packing up our “stuff” and getting rid of it.  But here’s an idea to try instead of going “drastic”.  Switch it up, move it to another shelf, or buy a new frame.  Organize a Swap Party with your friends.  My friends and I still laugh about the garage sales we’ve held that end up with our “junk” going to each other!

Before you buy something “new”, visit flea markets or antique shops for the perfect treasure.  This is a great opportunity to buy, refurbish, and reuse antique and vintage furnishings in your home.  And…paint it green!

3.  Eco-friendly When you’re painting those flea market finds, try using a zero-VOC paint that is also odorless.  In every day terms, that means no offensive odors and no fumes.  Benjamin Moore (www.benjaminmoore.com) has introduced a new product called Natura.  It is the greenest and safest product on the market.  The best part is that it can be used with any color!

Another way to reduce your carbon footprint is to consider bamboo when you purchase certain products.  It’s the most environmentally sound plant in the world, and re-grows to full height in only 3-5 years. We’ve all heard about bamboo flooring being used instead of wood.  Today I was in a showroom that sells beautiful bamboo drapery rods. Since my trips to SE Asia, I’ve been exposed to all types of wonderful bamboo furniture.  There are so many opportunities to use bamboo and any other eco-product. How do you plan to help go GREEN this spring?
We have not inherited the earth from our fathers. We are borrowing it from our children. – Native American saying