More With Less :: I Got Rid of Little Junk

Our home has changed a lot over the past year and a half.

It feels much more peaceful and calm and pulled together and meaningful and useful to our family now.  You might have liked it better before and that’s ok because you don’t live here.  I’ve been going through a stage where I want to be surrounded by less stuff.  I still adore homes filled with all sorts of trinkets and collections and tchotchkies but I’m not organized enough to keep my house with them.  I’m finding that it’s much easier for me to keep our home running smoothly when I have less stuff.  And I’m finally learning how to have less stuff and still feel like my house is pretty.  It was hard and I had to learn a new skill.

I had to learn to EDIT.

Yep, for me, getting RID of stuff was actually the key to starting to get the home I wanted.  Ohhh, ouch that hurts!

And although our house looks really different, I didn’t get rid of very many large pieces {although I did makeover most of them}, I mostly got rid of small things, or Little Junk as Emily and I like to call it.  When we were younger and played Barbies for about 8 years straight, we called the box of Barbie shoes and hats and cameras and dishes and sunglasses and plastic brushes and pretend foods and anything else accessory: “Little Junk”.  I looooved, the Little Junk, no surprise there.

My Process

I didn’t start by emptying out a room and selling everything, I started by moving out all of my little junk things that I loved, like pillows and plants and tchotchkes.  I quieted the house.  And when I did I was left with the sofa and chairs and armiore and rug and lamps and tables. I knew I had a problem when I didn’t really like what I saw.  A worn out red toile sofa, lots of black painted furniture, a green hued area rug and a weird layout.  Not to mention renter walls with a pink hue.  Instead of trying to mask all of that with pretty pillows and potted plants, I finally decided to tackle my issues head on.

I moved everything out of the room but the big stuff and then found the best placement for those things. I kept most all my little junk packed away in the garage for a few months so I could concentrate on the big stuff and not get distracted by a cute birdcage.

I’ve written an entire long post about the slow transition from toile to white sofa which will explain how we lived during the SLOW, enjoyable, developed over time evolution of our home.  But, today I want to tell you how or why I was able to get rid of things.

I got MORE of the house I wanted by having LESS stuff in it.

It’s magical irrational decorating math.

Even though this stuff is pretty, I simply didn’t need this many things but I didn’t realize it until I loved my basic items, I wasn’t willing to risk letting them go until I knew I could still love this room.  Now I love it 100 times more without this stuff.

Once we made those changes in the family room {fresh paint, slipcovered sofa placed in a better position, thrifted leather chair, window mistreatments, gallery wall, poster board sunburst mirror, Ikea shelf, pair of lamps from Home Goods, yard sale dresser, moving the tv} I didn’t want to clutter it up with my precious Little Junk. And Little Junk quickly adds up to make A Bunch of Junk.

It was that simple.

Once I liked our basic, big stuff like the sofa and walls and windows and rug and tables~ the small things didn’t matter as much. And I noticed if I put too many small things in the room {like pillows and vases and birds and nests and on and on it goes} they seemed to take away from the look.  Now I want more and more of less stuff.  It’s like I’m addicted to Less.

Most of you already know that secret.  But some of you are like me.  Some of you have gone for so long with something you don’t like you forget that there are ways to change it without buying all new stuff.  And sometimes, those are the best solutions~but they still cost, maybe even a greater cost because they involve risk and creativity and you are right now making excuses why you can’t do it and then complaining about what you do have and what you don’t have. But, I promise the results can be even better than buying all new furniture.

And maybe it starts with Little Junk.

{our house is always in transition, right now my friend Angela is painting our coffee table}

Clearly, I’m no minimalist. I still have lots of Little Junk.  But, it’s probably only 20% of what I’ve had in the past and it’s all past my ruthless evaluation.  If I don’t love it, it’s not here.

Next post we’ll talk more about how to declutter, destuffify, destuficate, quiet the house and edit out our Little Junk.

Do you have a name for your Little Junk?  Do you even have Little Junk or is it just my sickness?



  1. When we moved a year ago, I sold all of our little “trinkets” and sold and sold…I didn’t move with anything I didn’t love! It felt great coming into our new house with less. But… I love to shop!….and I think it is safer for me to buy little trinkets than to save a little and get what I really need like tables, chairs, lamps, and pillows.

    I loved the topic of your blog today, making my home comfortable with less is what I’m striving for. I know what I need to do is buy more of the things I need, and less of those little trinkets I don’t. Thanks!

    • Jackie, I suffer from the same sickness~somehow I’ve decided that it’s more frugal to buy 15 $10 items over the course of 2 months than to buy ONE $150 item that I need. Poor stewardship, impatience, lack of planning, and a love for little junk is to blame.

      • Ok, I’m not one to use “mind blown” much. But that really did it. I am so bad about that! Thank you for saying the words! Love your blog and thoroughly enjoyed the book. Perfect for me!

  2. I loved your post. I do need help with decorating. Not because I have lots of little junk – I grew up in a house of little junk and really don’t have much of that. what i do need to do is only have in my house what is intentionally, purposefully chosen to be there. i am not a decorating genius and so often i will take what people give me or i find that i like and do one of two things – leave it in a pile somewhere for someday when i am going to use/hang it somewhere OR i just put it up immediately and it stays with everything else that is already there and nothing really seems to have purpose. i like your idea of move it out, figure out the big pieces and then slowly bring back in what makes the cut. i am going to try it!

  3. “Treasures” are simply one man’s junk and another man’s treasure.
    How much inherited stuff does one need!
    I refuse to lug it through my life!
    So I choose a few to eventually pass to my children, to pass on the family legacy of a FEW precious things.

    We are purposely moving into a smaller, fully paid for, home.
    Putting our somewhat larger mortgaged home up for sale.
    Choosing financial freedom. AND freedom from stuff.

    ‘Peeling the onion that is our lives’ .
    One of those peels: my Dania Queen size sleeper sofa (some pain here because my parents, now gone, helped my choose it. Yes, one of those ‘treasures’).
    Another peel: the chair-&-a-half my son and I snuggled in to read stories and pray.

    These items do not make our home.
    There will be more memories as we host and relax on our ‘new’ covered patio.
    Gather round our ‘new’ fireplace.
    And, yes, snuggle times in our ‘new’ bedrooms.

    Memories we choose to carry with us.
    ‘Stuff’ we choose to release.

    May it bless others needing to make memories via new-found ‘treasures’.
    And may they, too, learn how to ‘peel the onion of life’ when needed.

  4. This post with the photos has definitely inspired me to do the same. I have so much “little junk” that I fear someday ending up on an episode of “Hoarders.” I don’t exactly know how or when it happened because when I was raising my sons I kept our home streamlined and uncluttered. I have been walking around in circles not really knowing where to begin. Thank you for sharing your process!

  5. Um, no way are you the only one who <3's Little Junk. I just called it "Barbie Stuff" . . . and now it's "House Stuff". ;o)


    Since you first posted about the Cottage, and about good bones, I've been reevaluating my House Stuff, (and all of my stuff, really . . . the whole garage full!), and we're headed for a big-time de-stuffing come the neighborhood garage sale. Woo-hoo!

  6. I have decluttered and gotten rid of “little junk” twice over the past year. First when I was pregnant and expecting my first baby and I wanted to make sure my house was easy to care for when I was busy learning how to be a mom. It really helped in being okay with the amount of guests you get when you have a precious new baby in your home. The second time I decluttered was because when my sweet angel figured out how to crawl and stand up, I realized how much “little junk” I still had that needed to go. I am selling it all in a garage sale next weekend and I can’t wait. I love that my baby can go into a room and yes be a little destructive (curious really in a babies eyes) and it only takes me a couple of minutes to put the room back together because I am prepared for her curiosity! I look forward to hearing more about your path to decluttering!

  7. I’m in the middle of this process right now. It’s amazing how it starts a chain reaction. I just pared down the living room to bare bones, and now the dining room looks so cluttered by comparison! Looks like that’s on my list next.

  8. I love this! We recently purged through the house, room by room and sold it all at a garage sale. 200 bucks later we have a calmer house that only contains things that are usually, lovely to us or have special meaning. And I’m loving our house more and more because of it!

  9. We have clutter and junk. We’re midway through sorting it out at the moment. Lots of fun but also stressful! x

  10. I love the new look. I always admire houses that look nice with a lot of stuff but I just cant do it. What I have is overwhelming enough to take care of and continueally try and edit.

  11. I’ve made the same discoveries. Less really is more!! I moved house last November and will again at the end of this month, then again in June, and then possibly again within a year! Not what I’d choose for our little family but this is the path chosen for us, so I trust there is goodness there. In any case, one of the lessons I’m learning during all this is the power and beauty of simplification and minimalism. We’ve lived in a 1100 square feet beach cottage all winter and in our shopping for a long-term house we’ve looked at several ridiculously large homes. Each time I come away I find myself grateful for a small living space in that it has taught me SO much more about prioritizing the purpose of what my husband and I own and what my kids own. And I agree with you: once the path of cutting back has started it can become addictive…

  12. Hi Nester. Great post. I’m also addicted to purging. I take a trip to drop things off at the thrift store {and don’t go in} at least every month.

    It started with being a 1st time homeowner. I now know what I want and what I don’t. And I think we have less now than when we moved in only 9 months ago!

    And I do think of you often when decorating, your style is simple and lovely. I think, how does she do it? Now I know :-)

  13. We are in the process of trying to sell our house. It has been such an eye opener to go through my house and realize how much clutter and “little junk” that we have. My house looks so much better without the tons of stuff on the walls and the little pictures and decorative “junk” that I had all over. I just need to remember that for our next house. . .

  14. I call my little junk “clutter” or “knickknacks”. It’s kind of odd to think that I love it, but call it clutter…which pretty much just goes to show I don’t love it as much as I thought.

    Great post – – love that you kept it real! :)

  15. Melanie says

    Oh my goodness. What a timely post!! I was just thinking this morning..”I have so much clutter and I hate my house…I realize my clutter means I have life abundant, but that does not make me feel better about this.” So I thought about contacting you to suggest you post about folks like me who are hating things the way they are, but are feeling stuck because of constraints like time, etc. So thank you for this post, and I look forward to seeing what you say in the near future about this.
    My main problem is I cannot let go of things, and my home is too small and lacks too much storage space. So there is not really a solution as of yet.

  16. Thanks for letting me know that I’m not the only person who tries to find the fine line between clutter and calm. I don’t want my home stark nor stuffed (but with a little more in the winter). Thanks for reminding us that the how-much-is-too-much is right is up to the individual homeowner. (I thought your before was good, but I like the after as well). We each have our own level of comfort and we should “shake it up” every so often as you have done.

  17. I’m with you on this junk thing…but I think you’re so right about using the junk to distract from the things that you don’t necessarily love. As we’ve been collecting a few nicer things over the years (not that we have too many that aren’t hand-me-downs still), I’ve felt the need to distract with busy little do-dads all over the place. Maybe if I saved my pennies and avoided buying multiple sets of throw pillows and whatnot, I could be banking the money for a love seat that might not require the “smoke and mirrors” those littler things provide!

  18. Thank you so much for this post today – I know I will refer back to it again and again. I just started clearing out my art room, so I’m applying some of these principles to that space (taking a month to do it) and then starting on our family’s living space. Spring is the perfect time to do it! I don’t have as big of a problem with little things – my problem is being intimidated to find the big things, and then my walls sit bare while my flat spaces get cluttered – not overly so, but not in a perfectly imperfect way either. Something I’m working on! xo

  19. I have been so inspired by your blog. It is my favorite “decorating” blog. I have learned so much and incorporated many ideas I have found. Keep it coming!!

  20. I too struggle with wanting less. Partly because I have three little boys and time is limited, do I want to spend it shuffling around and cleaning things I don’t love? Also, partly because of all the kid stuff, I am struggling with getting them to let go of some stuff.

    We just moved into a new house and the neighbor gave me a tour on a whim and their house was so clean and nice, and I noticed they did not have a lot of stuff. And what the did have was nice and perfect for each room. I really want to strive for the same.

    I love your simple calming style…working on getting there myself. Thank you for your inspiration,

  21. This is one of my favorite posts of yours. We’re about to renovate and move into (hopefully in that order) a new-to-us house, and I’m already entering the world of Less as we pack. I’m not about to take anything with me that isn’t awesomely fabulous and that I can’t wait to see in my new house. Stuff has become a little gross to me, and this is such a great way to articulate that. Between you and Simple Mom, I’m obsessed with Simple and Less. Good obsessions, I think.

  22. Jennifer says

    I have a slightly different problem, I have “guilt” stuff. My mom passed in 2001 and my dad gave me her stuff to decorate w/ when I got married in 2005. Then my grandma has been passing down her items that she no longer wants. Then a Great Aunt passed and I recieved some of her special pieces. I have so many items that are other people’s treasures that I don’t have room for my own style and treasures. So, I’ve started to choose the pieces that are special to me such as my mom’s italian chicken dishes and letting go of the rest. Thanks for inspiring me to live with less and that I deserve my own nest. So goodbye “guilt” stuff.

  23. michele says

    I am considering the perfect solution to my collecting habit! I may open a booth so that I will be able to enjoy the little junk for a while, then purge to the booth. I love finding antiques to redo so this will satisfy my creative urges, while keeping my house relatively uncluttered.

  24. Love this, Nester… I’ve been going through a similar thought process over the past few months. Getting rid of the stuff that doesn’t MATTER to me and keeping the personal favorites with meaning. More to do, but isn’t there always? Love the evolution of personal decor. :)

  25. Nester we must be long lost sisters. LOL! I’ve been working on the idea in my head for my next post for a while now and it’s about this very subject. We’re moving in about 6 months and our next home will have way less *Stuff*. I am craving a cleaner, softer look but like you will always some *Stuff*. I’m not a complete minimalist. I guess I just call it *Stuff*. Yup, that works. I like Little Junk* too. Great post.

    Warmly, ~Melissa

  26. I am going through this right now, or at least, I’ve been meaning to. Weeding things out takes me a while. I don’t have a garage to stash stuff, so I’ve been excavating rooms one layer at a time and piling things in the hall until they win the right to come back into the room. Hey, it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful, right?

  27. Totally ditto your post today. I have a hallway in a store and I sell my “stuff” there. I couldn’t imagine not having it because I periodically go insane and declutter everything and sell it. The only problem I’m having is buying things to sell and then falling in love with them and they find a “home” in my house. It’s a never ending circle! But one that I like…..for now. Anywho I did clean out the garage today and FILLED my husbands dump truck with junk. Now talk about a purge – that felt GOOD.

    Bless, Lisa

  28. Your posts are very inspiring for where I’m at…our first house (our house year-a-versary was 1 May), unpacking the last of the boxes, and possibly starting a family soon, so am trying my best to streamline the stuff. Thanks for the tips :-)

  29. Oh, I love it! Those pictures make me want to grab a good book and a cup of coffee and crash on that soft white couch. The pretty blue lamp is right there–it would be a great reading spot!

  30. I loved your post. I have been doing the same to our home. Despite oftentimes feeling like it is empty, I have to enjoy the decluttered look and it is much easeir to dust

  31. No thanks to me, I actually only have a small amount of “little junk”. Owing to our combination of small house and large family, I have nowhere to display “treasures”. Sometimes I appreciate this, but other times, when I see of lovely object I’d like to own and know that I have nowhere to show it, I wish I did have a little more room.

    Your de-cluttering was a wise move. Your home feels fresh and peaceful.

  32. Schtuff.

  33. LOVE——-> “If I don’t love it, it’s not here.”

  34. I love what you did with the stump! I just found one for myself! I am going to put wheels on it and am looking for a round table top for it. I am going to use it as a coffee table in my sun room!

  35. I have a nasty secret. I am undecorated except for 2rooms. I was decorated& I un-did it. I wanted to change stuff& I knew what I wanted to do that time so I packed “sentimental stuff” & “treasures” away. To see if the sentimental stuff still was & to protect the treasures. The general big pic is the same. The colors have gotten bigger&darker &calming. I focused on Mom&Dad. Now I have to figure out more”treasures”&promises. But I have found some wowza deals&packed those safely till they can be used proprly. It looks like it’s been shot at&hit. But I miss so many things in “sentimental stuff”&”treasures” still are. Once I get rolling on the shoveling,carpet-ripping&painting,it will be good. But I hv waited this long, I can wait&refine. & I am glad of that. :) Because Mom&Dad are still priority#1 and I could never forgive myself if I was on a ladder&missed an important call. But me on a ladder without being able to call 911? That wud b stoopid. (sigh)

    • PS-THANK YOU as always for a thought*ful* & thought*provoking* post. I lurk more than used to but always come away thinking. A good thing. :)

  36. The nice thing about not having any money is that I don’t have the little junk.

    I’ve read your blog and other decorating blogs for years. I see the amazing ideas, involving thrift store furniture, dollar store items, and paint. Some have really wowed me. But, I can’t afford to do ANY of them. And, so, I’ve wondered if my house doesn’t look as warm and inviting as other houses that I have been to, where there is more “little junk.”

    It’s not to say that my house in undecorated. My father is a picture framer who sent me to school to learn to be one as well. I have framed pictures in my house, including some really big ones. When I did have some money to spend, we had some artwork framed, and I am so glad that we did.

    I don’t constantly redecorte. I do change things around in the garden a bit, though, so perhaps that helps me with the desire to change things up a bit ( am planting more peppers and flowers in new spots this year in our edible landscape. If these spots work well, however, I’ll keep planting those things there.

  37. It’s called “piddly stuff”. The stuff that, when cleaning, I have absolutely no idea where it GOES, but can’t bear to throw out.

  38. Martha Ann says

    I just looked at the old post about changing your sofa with slipcovers. You mentioned you still aren’t happy with the art above the sofa. Go to and look at an older post about how they hang newspaper cut to frame size to arrange wall art. I think you have too much going on in that arrangement. Simplify and create a beginning and ending. It looks like it is either falling or climbing!

  39. I call little junk ” tchotchkes”. I’ve never acquired them, mostly because I don’t like to dust. I think editing goes hand in hand with maturing, (I’m not implying you are old) although the trend for minimalism is helping to support the ‘less is more’ attitude. I think we have to be careful though with getting rid of everything. Some of the little junk represents who we are – perhaps the quirky in us.
    I for one am starting to tire of interiors that look the same.

  40. I looove that rustic tree trunk side table. It works so well with the shabby-chic room. It’s not overdone–very whimsical!

  41. Oh my goodness, did I needed to read this post. Our 1860 log home is filled with stuff. My stuff added to his stuff, added to my Mom’s stuff (she passed away), his Mom’s stuff(passed away). I can’t breathe and never could function in chaos. Being disabled is just slowing me down big time. Thanks so much for saying what I needed to hear.

  42. Russell Bell says

    Getting rid of old junk in your house is absolutely essential. I needed to get public storage in santa monica
    , and i was very glad I did. I was even able to clear out enough junk so i could stage, and sell my house. Thanks for the post.

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