How to Edit a Room

Yesterday I told you how I made it a point to evaluate the larger pieces in our home and how that led to a more put together look.    Once I liked the big things I could finally see what little things worked.  But in order to even SEE the big pieces in their full glory, I had to remove the little junk, deco-clutter, geegaw, dustables {I love your names for it}.  I had to Quiet the House from all those small things calling out for attention.

Have you ever started to pack to move and after the first few hours where you just packed away the nonessential decorative nothings you look around and think, hmmm, my house looks kind of good like this..? That’s what we are doing when we Quiet the House.

We’ve talked before about how to quiet the house, or room here are the main steps::

you don’t even have to move your husband to quiet the house/room

How to Quiet the House

  • Remove every thing smaller than a football and place it on some surface in another room {the breakfast or dining room table will do for now}
  • Don’t forget to clear off  your coffee table, shelves {you don’t have to count books but what if you did!} mantle, even walls
  • Remove baskets, magazines, plants, pillows, every thing but furniture, lamps, rugs and big art
  • Sit in the newly quieted room and soak in the feeling

Choose Your Own Adventure:

At this point you have two choices, if you just want a quick pick me up and room freshener you can move on to the next step. If you need to go deeper and you look around and really don’t like what you see, you need to go to the Overhaul step

Freshen Up: you cleared out the little junk and you like what you see, each piece of furniture has a voice, you can see it and the space has breathing room now you should…

  • Look around and notice any huge “holes” or areas that are too quiet and cold start with the area that is the main focal point {a mantel maybe} and fill it in with a purposeful item or 3 if you must~just make sure it’s something that you love, move on to the next important empty space and find the right item or three to place there, lather, rinse, repeat.
  • Pack away anything you love that you aren’t using for a few months and re-evaluate it in the fall and donate or sell those things you don’t like or need or that don’t go with the style you are after
  • Enjoy your new quiet home, that cost you NOTHING!

Here’s the little junk I currently have in our family room.

Overhaul: these steps are if you are sick and tired of your room and once you move the little junk out you become depressed and want to throw the remaining things out your window.  STOP. Don’t throw anything away just yet, there might be something that can be salvaged, can you paint that table?  slipcover the chair?

This is the time to vacuum and dust, it will make you feel better to accomplish something and give you time to process and start to evaluate the following:

  • Do you have too much furniture?
  • To little furniture?
  • Do you like the colors?
  • Does the layout work for you and your family?
  • Is something falling apart?
  • Are you decorating around something you don’t like?  Never buy something to go with something else that you hate.

If you really dislike something in your room try to remove it.  I said try because I know if that something is your sofa then that could be a problem.  But if you do hate your sofa, make a plan. Give yourself a deadline to change it.  Can you sell it, switch it out with a different sofa, move it to a different wall, slipcover it, barter with someone, buy a new one, buy a used one… anything that will make you like it better?  The blog-o-sphere is full of room inspiration this is the time to think about what you need, what you like and what is worth investing some time or money into.

And maybe when you look around, you might realize that the house you’re surrounded by isn’t inspiring. Maybe the guest post coming up on Thursday will completely inspire you with how she completely changed her house and FAST.  Or maybe you just move the sofa. All you have to do is take that first step and risk making a change.


  1. It’s so funny how much it changes a room to quiet a space. And also funny how many different ways you have had this room and I’ve loved them all!

  2. I like these ideas, especially during the summer months. Less is more during the warm weather, rooms feel cooler to me when they contain less “stuff”.

  3. I love how your drink moved with you across the room. Hate me. And all your little junk is 10 times cuter than my big junk.

  4. I love all these tips! I mentioned this on your last post, but since we just sold our house and had to de-junk it for staging, we love it so much more! It had made us rethink our furniture placement in our new home, and loving the idea of ‘less is more’ :)

  5. i see you have the ‘jesus calling’ devotional – i just got it as a gift and i’m loving it! thanks for such a wonderful blog – so inspiring … LOVE the quiet home concept!!! :)

  6. I love the idea of creating a quiet house, for at least some of the time! I find clutter really “load”, now that you put it in these terms! Janell

  7. Great post! Why am so scared of emptying out a room?? Maybe because we live in a 1970s Colonial with zero storage space, and I know if I see all my little junk out on the dining room table I’m gonna want to toss it. :s Love the way you explained the process. :)

  8. Beth Long says

    Love this. I’ve been attempting to “edit” our family room since we moved in three years ago. I finally realized it was the couches I hate. I just sold them at a furniture consignment shop in our town! So freeing!!

  9. Thank you, Nester! I have been meaning to do something like this in our living room and this is like getting permission to do so!

  10. I love this post…I think everyone is wanting a more quiet house lately…Am I right? ;) I think we all need the peace and quiet to retreat to…

    Xo, Meme

    Come and sign up for my Giveaway Series…First one is a slipcover…A Quiet One, too! ;) I will have a new item on Friday!

  11. Nester, can I send you a picture of my built-ins & ask for advice? My hubby built our home 10 years ago and instead of a formal family room (’cause we’re not “formal” people) we made it a library-style sitting area. Our front door has a small open foyer area and then you are right into the library. My hubs likes to call it “The Reagan Room” since Presidents always have libraries named after them and hubs liked Reagan. LOL. Anyway, I digress. Hubs built floor to ceiling built in library shelves. They are white with crown & adjustable shelves. Problem is, they are massive and everything I do always seems out of scale and like a lot of “little junk”. I don’t know how to “do” these shelves right and I’ve been struggling & re-doing them for years. I love your approach and would love your feedback!

  12. This is good stuff!!!! This NEEDS to be in a book!! your onto something Nester!-good stuff!

  13. Great advice and definitely something I need to try … and soon! :)

  14. Westinflorida says

    Lol!! Any recommendations on marriage counseling that may also be due?? How do you edit items that your husband absolutely refuses to change? (Think of Martin’s chair on Frazier.)

  15. Quieting the house reminds me of when you take down the Christmas tree and related decor. The house never feels so good, plus it’s a new year and everything seems fresh. Great post, as usual, Nester. Thanks!

  16. SarahMay says

    Amen to this! We got rid of a couch that I ha-a-a-ted and lived for a year with nothing to sit on in the living room. (A little awkward for guests, but the kids loved the play space!) We saved and SAVED until we could pay cash for the leather sectional we’d dreamed about. It is the perfect fit for our family and lifestyle… and I don’t regret the furniture-less year one bit.

  17. Great post! I do plan to do this and I can’t wait to see Thursday’s post!

  18. This post is just what I needed to hear! :) I’m linking to it on my blog tomorrow morning. Thanks! Suzanna

  19. This is so interesting to me — and very helpful. I am not a Little Junk person. At all. I feel stressed out with little things on surfaces. I can appreciate it in other people’s home, but I can’t tolerate it in mine. It’s probably the number one decorating taste conflict I have with my mother! My problem is that I’m faced with a living room whose large pieces I don’t like. I keep wondering if Little Junk would help, but DUH, it won’t! Thank you for writing this post. You’re right. I need a plan for making my large pieces something I like. Unfortunately, I hate my sofa and my chairs and my table and… the whole darn thing. I like my curtains. Obviously, I need a plan! But I have other rooms whose large pieces I like and I need to add just a few bold accessories or accents to make the room pop. I love those rooms. Big pieces do make an enormous difference. Accessories cannot overcome them.

  20. Ha! I love that your husband is still in the photo while you are moving everything else around. Mine would do the same. I really love this topic of editing, and I’m definitely going to blog about a similar topic. If I do I’ll make sure to link back here — your blog is so, so great!

  21. Last fall I had an inspiration epiphany! I had seen so many beautiful, personally decorated homes that I had to make over my home! I did exactly what you are talking about. I took out the little junk that cluttered up my house. From there I painted the walls. It was amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do to a space. Once everything was down I decided that I would take my time decorating the space so it felt more like my family’s home and less like a pottery barn copycat. It took me almost 6 months to put a nail in the wall and hang anything but I have started slowly. Piece by piece I have added things back into our living/dining room space and now it is starting to feel like our home! Now I just need to overhaul the furniture (the big stuff) and I will eventually have a space that is not only screaming my family’s style but a more home like environment as well. I am totally loving this post because it puts into action what I have been doing in my home for a while now!

  22. Love this! You are so right! Every time we move (and we have moved 6 times in 8 years), as I’m packing the first boxes of the non-essentials, I look around think about how “quiet” my house is. The last time we moved (about 9 months ago) I purposefully lived in a non decorated home for several weeks just so I could see what I really wanted to put back. I currently have a box in the attic with lots of miscellaneous tchotchkes that I didn’t want laying around the house, but didn’t want to get rid of just yet- now when I want to change things up, I check the box first before going shopping. For now, I like the quiet!

  23. I love this post! And love the tree stump in the living room – looks so good!!!

  24. i’m so with emily on the your junk is cuter than my junk statement. i still love your “junk” that i bought from your yard sale all those years ago…but truth be told, i’m thinking about selling that cute green loveseat… it’s just so big…but doesn’t seat more than two! but then, i’m thinking, maybe i should keep it as one of my big things, and then style the little things around that?!? oh, decisions, decisions. :)

    • That’s exactly why I got rid of it: it was like a volkswagon parked in our family room/ even though I still think it’s so pretty!

  25. If anyone has ideas on making a tiny living room livable for a lorge family, I would love to hear them. There are 11 of us, and our living room/dining area is 20.5 ft x 13 ft. There is also a small area (about 6.5 to 7ft x 10ft) in between the living/dining area and kitchen (also tiny) that I suppose was intended to be a dining room, but in a 5 bedroom house, it is really is a joke. I can post photos somewhere if that helps. I love my house, but I’m starting to hate this living room because I just don’t know what to do with it. Thanks.

  26. Nester,
    Where are the new blogs?….mistreatments, etc. Did I misread? Inquiring minds want to know!

    • They are a few weeks out, but I wanted to let everyone know what was coming instead of ebooks, no worries you will be SICK of me talking about them once they go live! Thanks for asking!

  27. I LOVE this post! Right now our whole house is going into boxes for the remodel, but when the house is done in five months or so, nothing will come OUT of a box unless we love it, we use it, and it has a home. Yes!

  28. Where did you get that This IS the Life sign. i need it. :-)

  29. Aaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. How, on earth, am I supposed to wait until Thursday, when I want to change my house, FAST, now??? {laugh/chuckle/small sob/laugh}

    I suppose I’ll live . . . right?

    Thank you, too, for all of what you’ve written and learned and shared. I’ve just finished reading the archives, and it has really helped me in making my own home feel more like, well, home. (And we’re renters, too.)

  30. I am sure you’ve already been asked this, but where is that white side table from? Looks like IKEA? I like the size of it…been looking for an oversized side table. Thanks in advance!

  31. Where oh where did you get the “This is the life” print??

  32. I love this post. I am a newer reader to your blog…found it through pure&lovely (the handmade home) because I was one of the 3 winners of the free room giveaway (mine posted yesterday). We have 4 kids, so I have lots of little stuff getting in the way of quieting my house. Thanks for the simple steps to follow and different ways to approach inspiring our home. :)

  33. “Never buy something to go with something else that you hate.” That should have been obvious, but it turns out I needed someone to tell me that explicitly :) Thanks.

  34. Love the quiet room concept! I am giving it a try tonight! Please let me know where you got the “This is the Life” sign… LOVE IT!


  35. When we put our house on the market a year ago (and it was for sale for 3 months) I did a major “quieting”. And I grew to really love it! It was easier to clean, for one thing-and it just gave me a sense of calm. During this time we went to visit my mother in law-and she is Clutter Queen-there is not one surface (walls, tables, kitchen) that was not filled with stuff-and we were all totally overwhelmed by it. I felt like the walls were closing in on me. We’ve since moved, and as we’re settling in to our lovely new home, I’m seeing clutter accumulate slowly. You are reminding me to slow myself down, put stuff away, and stay away from Target & Home Goods!!!

  36. Cameron says

    is that sweet man reading his bible? love it….

  37. I hope that you can help me because I am going out of my mind!

    I only read a few blogs—this one, Young House Love, Pioneer Woman, and Tatertots & Jello—and I have already asked there and no dice, so I hoping it was this website, but here’s my problem:

    I read somewhere (in the comments section I believe) the mention of a particular blog (something along the lines of “don’t go here unless you have a lot of time to spare bc you’ll get hooked!”) and I went there and LOVED it but didn’t bookmark it and it isn’t in my history. I have Googled what I remember about it and nothing! Here’s what I know: it is a couple who redesign people’s homes with what they already own or with very little, and they also offer couples counseling and coaching. I think they have maps on their walls of different places they’ve lived, and jars filled with wine corks, etc.

  38. As I am in the process of making my home ready to sell (got to be done by Sunday night) your posts has been a big help and inspiration to me as I declutter and depersonalize my place. Thank you for sharing with us all your tips and tricks for making your home such a great place.

  39. GREAT post! I love minimal decor in my rooms, but sometimes they feel like we’ve just moved in. I know i need to risk a little more like you suggested, but I also love the idea of quieting a room. Good stuff to think about.

  40. I’m wanting to whiten or lighten our living spaces. I’m wanting it very badly. Problem: Hub will have no part of it…says we need color. I don’t want to get into an altercation over this, but….geesh, I NEED some “white” air. Your edited room looks so inviting.

  41. I love that first shot with your This is the Life canvas. Love the mix of color, texture and simplicity. Good stuff as always.

  42. This is great advice! Weirdly enough I did this very thing over the weekend. I kept in mind a rule I heard somewhere of “No more than three items on any surface.” It is amazing how much larger a room can look with less in it! Love your post.

  43. I would love to do this! I have done this to an extent in the past in the midst of moving. My problem now is how do you convince loved ones that it may be necessary to clutter-down which includes the knife collection, the dragon collection, the shot glass collection, the picture frames on every empty surface, the mug collection, the cookie jar collection, the salt and pepper shaker collection? This is where I am stuck right now :/

  44. Thanks Nester! We accidentilly quieted our family room when we had to clear it out to pull out carpet and replace it with tile. Once everything was moved out and the tile was finished, we only moved the large pieces back in and it felt great! It felt like we could breathe in our small space. I don’t miss the junk. I haven’t gone through the getting-rid-of-my-junk phase yet….

    Also, we realized we weren’t happy with some of the big items that live in the family room so we set out to find things that we loved. When we couldn’t find anything (or rather didn’t want to spend the $$$) we decided to make it! I hope you’ll take a peek at our DIYed Media Center:
    What a rush to build something for cheap that you love and is custom for your space! The piece keeps the room quiet and functioning.

    Thanks for your inspiration to keep the room quiet. Feels sooo much better.

  45. AMAZING! how can a place full of everyday stuff can be as “quiet” and neat as that?! I need a serious quieting of our own living room. I plan to put a non-intimidating happy art on our living room wall.

    Thanks for this post you inspired me!

  46. Seriously can I just say I love you. I love not only your great taste in design, but also your heart! I have been a follower for a long time but haven’t left a comment in a while!!

  47. Jennifer says

    In the first picture of the shutters hanging together, do you know what paint color and brand?

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