30 Days Without Accessories :: Your Thoughts


During the month  of June I cleared out most of my accessories (read about it here) and asked if anyone wanted to join me. Here’s what I learned in my 30 Days Without Accessories::

1. I Rely Too Much on Accessories

A few years ago I realized that I was addicted to accessories. It can easily happen when there is the perfect storm of a woman who loves beautiful things but doesn’t feel she has the budget to do much more than buy $5 tchotchkes. I’ve been quieting the house for years, but for the first time ever, when I removed the surface accessories my house still felt warm and personal. Slowly I’ve moved from forcing my accessories to carry the burden of personality to finding larger items that will more easily carry that weight. Even with the accessories removed, it still looked like my house. I feel like I’ve turned a corner in my decorating ways. It feels good and grown up.

2. I Crave Cleared Surfaces

There was no good month to do this experiment, and June proved to be the worst. That book I told you I wrote? It’s a crazy amount of work and this month has flashed by in a blur. Even though I don’t feel like I got the benefit of sitting around and contemplating my cleared off surfaces, I was pleasantly surprised almost every morning when I came downstairs to work and was greeted by what seemed like a really clean and calm family room.

Having a feeling of calm and clean in our home made a big difference in my internal dialog with how I felt about our space. I didn’t have the constant urge to get up and put stuff away because even though we had computers and shoes and cameras and sunglasses sitting around, that’s all that was out so it still seemed clean.

3. Less is More

I still think my house is pretty. And I still want my disco ball out front and center. After weeks without accessories I retrained my mind have a lower threshold for stuff. This is exactly what I was hoping would happen. You know how if you don’t eat sugar for a week and then suddenly you have an iced white mocha? And you are all Woah, these drinks are way too sweet!? You lowered your threshold for sweet. That’s what this month did for me. It was like a cleanse.

I still think my house is accomplishing its purpose of being warm and welcoming and meaningful and beautiful and a place of rest even without a million little things sitting around. I want to be more mindful of what I bring out–because I’ve yet to clear out the room of accessories. If I can create a beautiful meaningful home with 1/2 the stuff, that sounds appealing to me.

I definitely will have more things to add to my next Big Sale

I know there were a few brave souls who joined in the 30 days with me, we’d love to hear your thoughts too, link up here, I’ll leave it open for a week.

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  1. I was curious to see how this turned out for you. At this point, I don’t even think I have time to clear the clutter :) I don’t feel like I accessorize nearly as much as I use to, but I’m not sure I could do all clear surfaces, either… I totally get the part about less stuff making you feel better internally. Isn’t it strange how our surroundings can make us feel a certain way? I’m a nervous wreck looking at my desk (and kitchen…) right now. That being said, I’m looking forward to your next big sale!

    • yes!!! so many things can affect how we feel, I wish people would talk about that more, even just having the blinds open can change my mood!!! xoxoxo Good observation Emily!

  2. Your comment about growing up in your decorating style makes me think I could stand to remove a few things from my rooms :). I think it may be time to reconsider some old standbys (i.e. the fake ferns from Hobby Lobby…although, really, there’s no way I can maintain real plants, so how am I going to get some greenery inside?!)

    • It really forced me to see things differently, which is what I needed. Also, plants I’ve been able to keep alive (so far) : fiddle leaf fig ($12 from Home Depot) and succulents that hardly ever need water (donkey’s tail is my favorite)

  3. I have a love/hate relationship with accessories. I love the way they look, but at the same time, I hate the “clutter” they can create. I know that the way my house looks affects the way I feel. I work from home and it can make a big difference in how productive I am. I love the way you wrote about how you feel about your home. I can definitely relate to that.

  4. After just having moved my dad from a house he lived in for 35 years to a retirement home with one bedroom, I was amazed at how much “stuff and clutter” he had sitting around that couldn’t be taken with him. What’s more he really didn’t want it. When we 4 sisters pawed through it and took what we wanted, I got home and thought, now what do I do with it? I sort of dread opening the boxes. I agree…about less is more. Hobby Lobby right down the street and headquarters where I live, has made getting more, much easier, but at a high price to peace of mind.

    • Going through the same thing w my grandparents right now! My mom is taking so much stuff and her house is becoming over run with items b/c she doesn’t want to “let go” I’m trying to take only what I can really benefit from.

  5. When is your next B I G S A L E??? I must know! :)

  6. Amen. I don’t buy things without a purpose, bc gifts alone will get you enough “stuff.” I grew up in a house where every flat surface had so much “stuff” on them you couldn’t see the surface, much less all the things on display. Drove me batty. I think I found a good balance now. :)

  7. Heather says:

    I know I’ve commented before that I am not much of an accessories person, but I do know how much better I feel when surfaces are clean. Right now I’m looking around our main living area and seeing multiple surfaces that are cluttered — not with accessories, but with the creative junk my kids generate. That is my bailiwick — how to reduce the piles of paper, the projects, the “books” my 7 year old writes without cramping their creativity. Because it really is a lot of stuff. And the minute I stop containing it, it mushrooms to the point that I get a headache just walking into the room. And let’s be clear here: I am no neat-freak. I actually have a very high tolerance for clutter. But lately, if I can get a room swept clean of all the stuff, I feel so much calmer.

    The kids and I are not seeing eye to eye on this.

    I have enjoyed your cleanse, (remember, I am the one who said “She’s changing things AGAIN? Motrin!) but I am curious to know how you deal with all the stuff that comes with kids. That’s where I always feel like an epic fail as a housekeeper.

    • I only began doing this for the first time this year and wish I started way sooner-photograph your kid holding the craft or picture and then you won’t be upset discarding it. The reason I say photograph the child holding it is because it documents the age of the child and makes it even more special. Then, I gather these photos for the year (kindergarten or sixth grade) and make a scrapbook page for just that year of school projects. I don’t scrapbook, but this is fun to look at. You could even just create a file on the computer with a folder for each grade.

  8. I think this was an amazing idea and journey for all of us!

  9. When you had your linky party at the beginning of June, I was amazed by how much better everyone’s place looked sans accessories, so I decided to try. Ahhhhh. SO Much better! Thank you. I think I am a minamalist at heart, but a pack rat by nature and married to a very sweet pack rat. :) Summer is a great time to declutter!

  10. Calm. I’m feeling more calm.

    I’m convinced that external clutter clutters my head. And my heart. It steals my creativity. I’m deleting not just accessories (like those dusty silk ficus trees–silk because I like how they soften a corner and because I never remember to water the real thing) but unnecessaries. Like this entire set of colorful chicken dishes that I love but seldom use. The plates are too wide for a cupboard, so they’re stacked in a wrought iron pie server simmering in dust and grease.

    I have this vision of the peace I’ve had in a lake cottage with the just simple things–the bare necessities.

    I’m feeling more creative, too.

  11. It’s hard when you see some item you could use or might use in the future! It’s also very easy to get so cluttered fast haha thanks for sharing your journey of 30 days without accessories.

  12. I definitely feel better with a lot of clear space on my surfaces. I do like some things out that make me happy (baskets of books, a few pillows, etc.) but I want to get to the place where my big things (lamps, furniture, famed art on walls etc.) do most of the work to make things pretty. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this.

  13. About two years ago, I quit shopping just for fun. I realized I was buying junk hoping it would magically transform my home into a place I loved, but after years of doing that it just wasn’t working. I started buying only what I actually needed, and found that the $5 junk just wasn’t a need.

    Because I’m finishing up a bedroom makeover, I went to Hobby Lobby to try to find a couple of things to fill in some gaps on table tops, etc. It had probably been close to a year since I went shopping for accessories, and I was so sure that HL would be the place to go. I walked out empty handed. As I walked out with my husband, I realized that I had broken my obsession with cute little stuff. It took that one last trip to make me “get” the fact that I’d rather have one amazing piece that’s $50 versus ten $5 make-do items.

    And now I’m sick of all the accessories that are filling up a cabinet in my living room, because I *might* need them. It’s a hoard-fest in there! If I really needed them, I guess I would have used them by now, huh?

    I’m so glad you did this experiment, it’s like you were giving permission for those of us who are horrible at setting up displays to give ourselves a break and embrace the clean tops. Just reason one million and two that I love ya to bits!

  14. I think this was an amazing thing you tried. I don’t have very many accessories as it is because I’m too afraid of overdoing it, but eliminating them all for a month would definitely give you a whole new perspective on your home- what you missed terribly and what you didn’t mind living without at all. Kudos to you! And for the record, I’d miss the disco ball, too :)

  15. I watched from the sidelines. I’ve got two little ones and most of the “accessories” in my home are their tables, toys, and other little kid clutter. It was interesting to see how you described your home as feeling clean and calm. :) Who doesn’t want a home that feels clean and calm! I’m looking forward to reading the link ups!

  16. Thirkellgirl says:

    When I look at your house sans-accessories, I still think it’s accessorized! It’s entirely a personal taste issue, but the way your house normally is accessorized would make me itchy in five minutes. I tend to keep my accessories/doodads gathered together – like on my china hutch – and most of my flat surfaces are cleared. I do rotate stuff in and out often, but I just have a low tolerance for doodads.

    • yes, I think we can train ourselves with the tolerance thing, I actually would prefer to have a lower tolerance even than I do now, it’s for sure a personal thing but I love the idea of finding the least amount of things I can use in my home and still having it feel homey and beautiful to me.

  17. I tried my best to go “minimal” last year…………. and had the same reactions you stated. I absolutely love an emptier house and now there is nothing hanging around that I do not absolutely love. Something new in something new out. My house life is much much easier.

    Good for You Nester Girl.

  18. We just moved to a townhouse which is about 500 square feet smaller than our old house. It has an open concept living/dining/kitchen and not much room for furniture. Because of this, my accessorizing has been limited to the built-ins next to the fireplace and the kitchen counter/island. There literally is no room for other tabletops/surfaces. It’s been refreshing in its simplicity and I find it’s so much easier to keep clean and organized. When things get to be too much – I get a little anxious and can’t hear myself think. So now I’m thinking about the boxes of stuff I moved with us that I’ve decorated/accessorized with over the years – I’m that “perfect storm” girl you mentioned too. I really don’t want MORE STUFF. I want a clean, simple, sweet, and welcoming home. You’ve inspired me. Thank you!

  19. Sp funny, I have been living without accessories for over a year now because I have a 2.5 year old who is very curious:) I am glad I am not the only one living ‘naked’! There is one benefit though, it make cleaning REALLY easy because there is nothing to move!

  20. Didnt have to join you since that is the way I live naturally. If a house is full of clutter, cheap or expensive, the eye has no place to rest so how can the mind and the soul rest? I am so glad you discovered that a home is not made warm and inviting by spreading items throughout…my rule is that most of the items I display have some sort of meaning i.e. they remind me of someone, they were handed down or were a special gift or have some sort of story.

  21. Does this mean, for example, that you will be doing without items from DaySpring? Just curious, as you’ve been a big promoter of them….

  22. I think this is a great idea and I’m inspired to try it myself! We don’t have a lot of surfaces but do have several built-in shelves, so it’s tough to keep things bare. I totally agree with your train of thought, though, and could stand to have less visual clutter and a more peaceful home! ;)

  23. Currently, my living room has been reduced to a couch, empty of accessories entertainment cabinet, and TV. I’m preparing to paint this weekend and to have new flooring installed in 19 days (and counting because I’m pretty excited about it after hating the current flooring for the entire 5 years I’ve owned the house). I will not hang anything on the walls until the flooring is done, and, of course, no chairs or accessories will be brought back into the room until then as well. I even emptied the hallways of art and have started emptying the kitchen and dining room to prepare for the flooring (19 days to go in case you’re forgotten) because I want to change things up and see what I can do differently. I’m interested to see if I have a change of decor heart after living in a quasi-empty space for three weeks, but I already miss my accessories somewhat because they are fun and reflect personality. I am 36 and had the grow up my style epiphany this year. I do buy things more carefully and spent more on one couch than I did my last living room suite because it was the same couch I wanted for months – this also explains why I haven’t bought the coordinating chair…ha! Anyway, do you plan to start re-accessorizing and sharing your changes?

    • Yes, I’ve really dropped the ball on sharing as much as I’d like, it’s killing me!!! hoping to continue to update in the coming weeks!! xoxo

  24. well, after keeping a home for over 40 yrs i have too much stuff that i enjoy to take the plunge you did. actually, when i trade out stuff for the seasons or we do a major construction prohect & all is bare bones a few days the guys feel it is too bare while i enjoy the simplicity :-) that said, i a applaud you for taking the effort to “know thyself” & the effort to acheive better balance in this way too busy/chaotic world! i remember finally feeling grown up when we replaced the cider block & board bookcases & the traded the huge wooden electrical wire spool for a proper dining room table! feels good. fortunately i have 2 grown young uns who LOVE getting my cast offs but am also content letting the trends pass me by and simply enjoying all the fun things you super great bloggers do. God has called us to live abundant lives…but that doesn’t mean it all to be lived under just one roof! may He continue to bring to you peace and contentment….

  25. I wondered how this would go for you. I have always been an accessory junkie…..and an empty space on a wall drives me crazy. I paint and so does my daughter so I have things on my wall that have a lot of meaning to me. Years ago a lot of the “things” I had around my house were just things, but at age 63 I have surrounded myself with pieces that remind me of my parents, travels, or items my children and grandchildren have made or given me. I like to have my space clean and orderly, but seem to crave the contrast , texture and color my accessories provide. My mother was a mid-century, clean line, no clutter, earth tone person…we were very close, so maybe my love for bight colors, accessories and covered walls was my way of rebelling.☺

  26. Shelley in Ft. Worth says:

    I did it and I loved it. My house felt clean every time I walked in the door. And now I don’t feel the need to put so much stuff out. Just the things that I truly love. With maybe a little bling here and there. Thanks for such a great idea!!!

  27. Thanks so much for this. Will you do it again? I was wondering if you took many pictures of your accessory free house–or did you just not have time? I admit, I was hoping you could use your stripped out space (though not bare, or boring) to show us how fabulous a home could look without the tchotchkes.

    I’m not sure what to put back and where–and why I should except to remove any impression that we just moved in–any thoughts on that?

    Whatever, wherever we go from here, thank you for such a thought provoking experiment.

    • yes, I almost wrote a hugely long post about how this month was full of me working and I wanted the non-accessories to last longer, I’ve pulled stuff out 3 times to do photo shoots which actually made me curse them even more. I have the bare nessisities to add extra color to photos out right now, and I’m itching to put more of it away! After reading these comments I’m encouraged to keep it on the lighter side, even though I LOVE it without accessories, I was worried people would complain and say my photos were empty and blank–challenge accepted!!! and yes, this is something I’d like to do every year!!

  28. Dear Nester,
    I’m hesitant to link up my blog post, since it doesn’t strictly fit the “30 days” with no accessories criteria, and I technichally didn’t join you in the 30 days challenge… You see, I just spent 10 months with all my non-essential (read: pretty) possessions packed up in boxes living with my in-laws. I did however, have quite the decorating epiphany when I started unpacking and refilling my china cabinet last night! The post is here: My Dream China Cabinet. I was inspired to write my post after reading yours, however!

  29. Judy H. says:

    I’ve always been a person who can appreciate accessories in other’s homes, but never had many in my own home. My 33 year old daughter is an interior designer who has always ascribed to the the “less is more” theory. Her home is 6400 sq. feet and would seem like an auditorium without a few personal pieces in each room, my home is 1700 sq. feet and needs far more white space and fewer things due to its size. I think it’s all about balancing white space and filled space as if one can feel their home breathing and the exhale is the white space. However, I don’t think we can live for too long without a little dessert in our homes. We need a small piece of chocolate after our evening meal to satisfy our palette, we just don’t need the whole box.

  30. LaurelW says:

    I inadvertently joined you in the accessory free month. We put our house on the market the first of June and prior to doing so removed about 75% of our stuff. Accessory wise, I left ONE thing on the mantel, ONE thing on the piano, etc. It was amazing to me how much I liked it that way! So simple and clean looking! And surprisingly, with that much of our stuff stored away, we have not missed a single thing. I thought for sure I’d wish I would have left this or that out, but nope! Everyone should try it, it’s really liberating to realize you don’t need as much crap as you think you do!

  31. Thank you for creating the challenge. I added my thoughts (#6) and then had even more thoughts… Like sometimes you have to go extreme to find your way back to the middle. {Although my de-accessorizing took place in layers, not all at once.} And that I want to have less stuff but nicer stuff. So, again, mucho thanks for thinking of this and inspiring me to give it a whirl! It’s helped me to enjoy being in my house a little more.

  32. Removing your accessories was brave. I used to visit The Nester daily, because I loved your philosophy that things don’t have to be perfect. However, I took a long break because the amount of accessories in your photos made my head spin. I will be eager to see what comes next. Rotation is good practice for more than mantlepieces. The best to you!

  33. Thank you for sharing this challenge. Unfortunately June wasn’t a month that worked for me to join you, but I too have been having some decorating ephiphany moments along the same lines. Some of the realizations came about due to moving, building, etc. Others I like to think are the result of growing up:) However they came, I am enjoying the freedom to decorate seasonly and enjoy fewer, more simplistic accessories. My favorite items have ended up being natural ones: pinecones, stones, seashells, branches, feathers, leaves, etc. that get switched out with the changing of seasons or moods:) Now if I could just find a place for all of my plants! They keep multiplying!

  34. I’ve always been a cheerleader for fewer small things. It’s probably b/c I’m a bit claustrophobic. Also, I was raised in a small house with few nice things. I cannot breathe emotionally when things are cluttered.

  35. I didn’t join you for 30 days free. But I have been applying the principle of “less is more” to home decorating, retraining the senses and thoughts. I “unsubscribed” to all retailers who somehow get my email address and send me notices of sales. My inbox breathes, finally, and I’m not clicking to see what’s on sale. I have stopped visiting retail stores that market cheap stuff I can definitely live without, even if that thought creeps in–well, just maybe, there will be a really great item that sneaks through at a bargain price. We are keeping a detailed budget for each month and now I can see exactly what I spend on home decor and whatever I did end up buying, I ask myself–do you love it? is it beautiful? does it do more than fill a spot? I visit just a handful of decor websites now, compared to my long list before, and those websites are “real,” like yours. The author strives to deliver helpful information with a strong desire to add meaning to her readers’ lives, not just images to drool over, or expensive designs to strive for. Posts are teaching moments as creating a real home matters.

    Thank you!

  36. I CAN NOT believe that I am just now seeing this post. I am completely into simplifying right now and this sounds like a great idea. I can still do it, but it would have been much more fun knowing there were others joining in. Also – I have recently come across a new term — “over-propped”. I think I may have over-dosed on over-propping. So much of what I see on Pinterest and in blogs centers on creating vignettes (as if they were movie props or magazine spreads) and many of those look like useless spots. Pretty, yes, but useless. The sofas have so many pillows on them that a guest would be reluctant to sit. Added to my over-dose is the fact that I have a booth, selling lovely vintage decor. I am constantly creating vignettes to make everything I’m selling look appealing. But all of a sudden, the whole idea of having so many useless things has driven me to the edge. I’m pretty sure I could put away all my accessories right now without hesitation. In fact, that sounds wonderful.

  37. Finally put up my link on the thoughts from no accessories June. I applied it to the clutter on my desk – not exactly your concept, but for me, it was dealing with the one worst issue, and it was a manageable size to achieve. Love it – want this to be a new habit – a fresh take on loving the freedom of empty space. Now, I love working at my desk instead of groaning and sliding piles to the side and wishing it could be different. Thank you for the motivation and encouragement to take the steps to make a choice and take action.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Such a great idea! I’ve really been inspired reading your posts and everyones comments. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I decorate and spend money. Similar to other readers, my grandmother is aging and my mom is trying to help her de-clutter her home. She just hauled out 94 pairs of shoes that have been collecting for 30+ years, and her garage is filled with “stuff,” that she just can’t part with. But, as you have said so well, it’s amazing how all the things can actually cause more stress, instead of joy. Here’s to shopping & decorating with purpose!

  39. I’m so glad I decided to do this, too. It opened my eyes to a lot of little easy fixes all over the house that I had been covering up with pretty things. As I gathered everything up from around the house I took time to really give some thought to whether or not it was something that I LOVED or not. If I didn’t honestly love it — it went to Goodwill. Last week I sorted back through my accessories again and put just a few of my favorite things back into our living spaces, but I found there were even more things I could part with after having lived without them for a while. I am left with a much smaller collection of things that are truly meaningful to me, but I don’t feel the need to have them all out at once. Thank you for this challenge!

  40. I just happened upon this blog/ post and have to say, I know all too well the price that haorders pay-both of my parents are hoarders in a bad way and my family has suffered from the repercussions of it more than once. But MY family of 4 is very very neat-we have tchotskies (sp?) cause I can’t live without em but they are contained to certain shelves and one bookcase in the living room. I have never been the person whose kids toys (mine are 15 and 9 YO) were all over the place, I am allergic to plastic storage ( I detest it majorly) so my house has always looked like a grownup space (no toys in living room EVER). I’d like to try this experiment though in a baby step by decreasing stuff by maybe 25%…will have to see how it goes :)

  41. I am hands down an accessory junkie, and sometimes I rely too much on them to say what I want the room to say to others. I feel like this challenge made you step back and really made you simplify your accessories and make better choices for your home. Definitely gave me something to think about trying!!

  42. I just found this post, and I’m so thrilled! have been 2 months with nothing in my living room except one sofa and our kitchen table and chairs–and actually the sofa just came out 3 weeks ago! The blessing that brought this on? Our 1947 plaster ceiling let go of it’s support beams and came tumbling down! The remodel–though welcome and wonderful–was unexpected, so the construction crew has been fitting us in willy-nilly over the past 9 weeks. So me, him, and our 7 kids have been without stuffed animals, dollhouse people, many blocks and Legos, area rugs, side tables, the piano, and endless antiques, thrift store “deals,” and a slew of other accessories, now un-affectionately viewed as “clutter.” I plan to take a couch and two chairs to the dump, store an antique hutch, rehome a dresser, repurpose another, and basically refuse to move anything in that I cannot live without! It seems I participated in a similar experiment, and it has changed my decorating style and tolerance for visual clutter!! Amazing how we can live without SO much!!!

  43. This is fantastic! I would love to have a clean house, clear of accessories – where everything I owe is easy to find!

    Dave and Kelly’s HVAC Kansas City Heating and Air Conditioning Repair

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