It’s All Too Much

I’m intentionally writing this post now instead of in two weeks after I get back from Tanzania. Because you might think that I only feel this way because of my trip and blame poor Shaun Groves and Tanzania and the truth is, I’ve been feeling this way for months. Months, I tell you.

It started last year with the decorating for Christmas with a rock.  Remember that?  Wait, it didn’t start then, I know exactly when it started, The Cottage. Two years ago.  When we went to the cottage I was so inspired by the quiet atmosphere–both outside and inside.  So we can blame the cottage on my wanting more of less.  Really, the cottage was like an intervention for me. “Nester, well all love you but honey, you are addicted to accessories, you rely too much on them, be free, stop the madness.”

I’m longing for less and less stuff because less stuff for me = more life.  I learned that last year after I decluttered (remember that Hoarder’s marathon? blame that).  The less stuff I have the easier it is for me to keep our house clean, the less stuff have to take care of.

I’m not going minimalist, no way.  I love me a purposeless pretty pink pouf BUT, I want everything in my home to be there on purpose.  And even though I decluttered last year, and the year before had the great yard sale of 2010 decluttering is an ongoing process plus, I’ve found that the more I get rid of them more I want to get rid of.  It’s really great–even though I haven’t made many purchases in the past year, my tolerance for stuff has declined so now I’m craving the idea of LESS.  It’s addicting once you start.

Then I suddenly couldn’t stand it any more and wanted our family room white.  YESTERNOW.

Y’all, we have too much stuff.  Our two car garage is full.  Our closets are fullish.  Our surfaces get covered every day and then I don’t clear them because I’m not sure where stuff goes.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about being annoyed about the boys school work being out or a crumpled up blanket on the sofa. Oh No!  That is the stuff of life.  That’s not clutter, that’s our everydayness showing.  That’s the stuff I need to plan for and make room for.

And I’ve hesitated to do anything about it because a magazine is coming to my house to take photos (a week after I get back from the trip, oh my) and I hate to wreck it all up before they get here.  Not that I want to wreck it all up but you know, when you start tweaking things you need a little adjustment period before it looks right again.

Anyhow, I’ve been living with my own pretty clutter for a few months on purpose and it’s about to drive me crazy and I just wanted you to know that.  The end.


  1. if you’re trying to get rid of those candlesticks on the mantel, i will totally take them. they look like clutter to me, so you should probably just hand them over haha ; )

  2. I am in the exact same boat … we have downsized, garage saled, craiglisted, consigned and dumped. It is liberating! I still have a ways to go ….baby steps! Missi

  3. Thank you for sharing this! We are hearing from so many bloggers and others in our community that “less is more,” and what a great feeling it is to let go of some of the clutter that stacks up in our lives. Have a great vacation!

  4. Just want to say how GORGEOUS the pic at the top of the page looks, a beautiful, fresh, inviting room which is obviously being lived in and is ‘real’ but nevertheless so lovely. I struggle with hoarding so many bits and bobs – my husband and friends are all bemused by the number of family photos and frames we have, and knick-knacks and special, sentimental somethings scattered over all the surfaces (no wonder it took 3 hours to deep-dust the room last weekend, and I avoid doing it!!). But I wouldn’t change the lived-in, ‘clutter’ for the world. Thanks for the inspiration! :)

  5. Nester,
    My wife an I don’t “live small”. We have many treasures and have things where we will use them. We believe if you have it it should be used. There are very few things in our house that you just look at. That being said, we constantly pare down what comes in and let go of things that have lost their meaning or are less important. We like to entertain and use every room and pull out this china or those placemats. That is part of us but too much and it tips towards overwhelming.
    We all have to edit our homes and sometimes something goes out when something comes in.

  6. Every time my husband comes back from an overseas trip in a 3rd world country he struggles. Mostly, with food – and the waste that our 4 very normal American kids accumulate every night at dinner. We live blessed, but sometimes with all that we have, I think we miss much too.

    It is good that on this side of your trip, that God is already working on your heart. Praying sweet friend!

  7. It’s so easy to collect piles of “when I have time” or “for so and so” that before you know it, it sucks the oxygen out of a space! I’m certainly due for a day devoted to “lightening the load”! I hear ya sister!

  8. “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
    – William Morris

  9. I so get you. As my life becomes more hectic, clutter begins to bother me more and more.

    We are about to move to Austin. Lemme tell ya, when you look at something and think, “Do I love you enough to pack you up and PAY someone to move you across the state?” The answer quickly turns to NO.

    And on top of that, a friend of mine is adopting a little girl from Bulgaria with Down Syndrome and is holding garage sales to fundraise. If my kids stand still I might pack them up in a box and give them to her to sell. Nothing is safe in my house!

  10. I started reading home blogs two or three years ago, and immediately felt like my new to me home was lacking in everything. Being young and recently married and in my first home I got to decorate, I felt so inadequate. I did a few projects, such as homemade apothecary jars, and it didnt make me any happier. I’m glad I went through that phase because it made me pinpoint exactly what I wanted and how I wanted my home to look. I now only read a few home blogs, and have since thrown or given away those early projects. I know now I want a clean, light, airy, traditional, minimalist home. I spend less time shopping for and cleaning my home and trying to make it perfect. I spend more time living and loving in my home.

    • You’re wise beyond your years, Jessy!
      I’m definitely moving towards the “less is more” philosophy. LESS to clean up and take care of, MORE time to do the things I enjoy.

  11. Pretty clutter can be overwhelming. Nothing feels as great as a good purge!!!

  12. I decluttered a few years ago. I like to change things around and keep it fresh so I store things away when I’m tired of looking at them. The next place I live, I want a closet just to hold vases seashells, pottery, mementos etc… so I can switch stuff out more easily.

  13. less stuff for me = more life

    I wholeheartedly agree! While I do consider myself to be somewhat minimal (3 pair of jeans, 2 pairs of shoes for each season and so on), my motivation for being minimal is so I can enjoy life more.

    As a mama of two little ones, it’s so nice not having a lot of stuff cluttering up my house. (The best part, the whole house can be tidied up in 15 minutes or less…including putting away toys!). And desiring to live with less stuff has freed up so much time I used to spend shopping or just browsing. For me, less stuff really does equal more life!

  14. You said “make room for” heh, heh. And also, did you know my one word this year is LESS? It propels many of my decisions not only for stuff, but for time, food, and so on.

  15. I have already told you about our minimalist epiphany in Chicago. You are right. It is addictive! And I agree there are things I want to have sitting out to look at and keep, but it’s almost like I have the opposite of compulsive shopping and hoarding. And I really should have thanked the TV show Hoarders, too. The first time my husband and I caught an episode of that, we each got up with the goal of ridding ourselves of 10 things before we went to sleep. :) I also must throw in that we come from parents and grandparents who lived in difficult times and rugged geographic regions, so you never disposed of something that was still useful. My husband’s family especially. But, we have made great strides and now that the days are longer, I hope we can systematically purge our home fully. Traveling mercies to Tanzania!! God bless you and keep you.

  16. Of course you have a lot of stuff! Much of your blog, from the beginning has been about decorating and shopping the house. You probably have a bazillion ideas going and therefore want to keep things so that if you want to do a post on how to decorate with refried bean chandeliers, you can! In all seriousness, it is good to evaluate and realize where we need to edit. I have a rule or rather a desire to only decorate with things that have real meaning. I only have three little shelves in my living room and they only have things people have given us, or something my kids have made. My art work: must have some relevance or meaning. I only have tree pictures in my living room (because I am inspired by the life cycle of a tree and I equate how I want to live with trees, sounds weird, but it’s simple and really just a metaphor) and photos of our family. My kitchen has only original artwork in it. Our office has framed handmade cloth prints from Africa where my husband is from. I did recently buy a print painting and I totally regret it and am going to be replacing it with framed water colors my oldest boys just made. These simple rules or ideas I’ve made have really helped me edit what I have on walls and shelves and there is barely anything to dust! I even do this for my Christmas tree (only use handmade or gifted ornaments) and though it may not be the prettiest, I love the symbolism in all of it.

  17. i totes get what you are saying. to the max. i, too, am on a similar journey. more is less unite!

  18. Nester, once again, you’re speaking to me!

    For me it started back in 2008 after the collapse of the economy. People started to struggle more, and my family was no different. And I looked around my house and thought, what the heck did we buy all of this *stuff* for?

    Little by little I’ve been paring down, and at some point will probably downsize the house. In fact, the reason I’m not downsizing the house now is because I still have too much stuff to manage. Which is just silly when you think about it. So more stuff gets culled on a weekly basis.

    Enjoy your trip to Tanzania!

  19. You know what you are looking for? (and you are looking…) You want that feeling of peace. And peace comes when we can breathe without feeling that our things own US, instead of us owning them.

    That’s what I’m trying to do. Somedays I get there, somedays not. But I’m on the right track. And so are you.

  20. Judy H. says

    It’s continuous, never ending; the digging out, the sigh and then the refilling. My husband and I have gone on fits and starts of de-cluttering, garage sale having and basement clearing for the last 16 years and we’re still on the cycle. I don’t think it ever ends, especially if you love “things”. Books, odd pieces of furniture, great wall art are accumulated because we just can’t leave someplace without them. They make us feel good. So we take them home, clear out old stuff to make room for the new stuff. We love it! Then we see that the stuff we’ve cleared is piling up, in the basement, in baskets in the corners of rooms and on counter tops and shelves. It’s part of the dance of life. Unless we live in 3 room European apartments or go 100% minimalist, we’ll continue to clutter and clear. Through all of it, we’ll have more joy than not, so let’s all hold hands and jump in!

  21. Have you read “7 — an experimental mutiny against excess” by Jen Hatmaker? Oh man. I’m no hoarder – I’m not super sentimental about “things” and don’t tend to over accumulate. But that book really got me thinking about how excessive our first world lives are. It might be instructive/inspiring in this season you’re in! Praying you have an absolutely beautiful trip! I love Compassion — and Shaun Groves. My two sponsored children were direct results of following a couple of blogging trips, by the way, so what you’re doing is important!

  22. I had to do something bold and invite friends over for a decluttering party that will happen after the school year ends. My problem has been that my mind is as cluttered as my home, so I need all the help I can get. I look forward to the peace and calm I will feel in a clutter-free home. Praying you have a wonderfully blessed time in Tanzania.

  23. QUESTION: Do you have suggestions for how someone who lives in an apartment can have a garage/decluttering sale? Maybe rent a spot at a flea market or something? Maybe an online sale on my blog?

  24. Whenever you are out an about and see something that you SO want to take home and you know just the spot where you can put it, and you stop yourself from buying it – fold up that money and stick it in a prettied up old coffee can.

    Less stuff = less money spent, less clutter muddling our rooms and minds, less to clean (and around), and less time shopping always looking for that next accessory fix. Good Luck!!

  25. Suzanne says

    I am so on the same page. It’s come to me filling one Goodwill bag a month and the outcome has been amazing. I fee so much better, been going to the gym and just generally happier without all of the Stuff. I STILL find myself looking at more Stuff though – how bizarre. It’s an illness I think and I’ve got it bad. Possessions have become a burden and I’m lightening the load. Good luck with your lightening!

  26. Dear Nester, I totally agree having less is more. And being content with what I have is a choice. If you are so inclined, give up your cable. Fewer channels, fewer choices, more time. Just another way to live more!

  27. Matthew and I have been feeling that way too – and with the house on the market, we have so much in storage and all I want to do is get rid of more, more, more. I can’t imagine the yard sale we will have when we move. For now, I just keep making trips to Goodwill to give more stuff away.

  28. Check out the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker. . .true story of how this gal simplified her life in 7 different areas. It will motivate and inspire you. You can watch the book trailer here :

    Peace to your heart, mind, and home.

  29. I´ve had the same thing some years ago. When I moved in with my ,now husband. I just took every thing that did not matter to me or was going to be boxed up for the next decade to the thrift store, sold it, gave away lots of stuff to work friends who where just getting started. The boxes with all the stuff my mum left me after she passed away with all here household stuff l, that I had in my garage for about seven years or so, took them to the thrift store too. And I made a promise to myself not to buy so much meaningless stuff to fill up my new home. I packed the boxes when she passed and already took every thing that I was attached to. The moment I did that it felt like a huge weight was lifted and I felt truly free and so ready for a new life., and wondered why I did not do that much earlier…..I only took my clothes, Photos, and a little cabinet that I bought with my first boyfriend. THAT´S it. When we decided to move to another country we did it again and left pretty much everything for the buyers and we started over again where we are now in a much bigger house but with just every thing that we need. And I feel FREE . I wish you a great holiday and start looking forward to a makeover of your life. And how chic is it to change every thing after the pictures are taken and published? Just like a true designer! Good luck!

  30. This blog, has grown and grown into such a wonderfully inspiring place to visit. I have loved everything about it so far but now, I feel it growing into something bigger. I am also wanting to be more and have less. Excited!!

  31. I have recently gone through the same thing. Because of my LOVE for design and a good deal-stuff just piles up! I wold love to purchase the pink pouf for my daughters room. I have been slowly getting ready to for the big trasition to a “big girl room” from her nursery!

  32. I have a whole room full of stuff for our yard sale. It is ridiculous how stuff can hijack our sensibilities. There is such a calm with less–one reason why I want to get rid of our massive bookshelves in our family room. Why would I want to buy stuff just to fill it? That’s wrong!

    I can’t tell you how happy it makes us that so many people receive the blessing of the cottage. I’ll just need to talk to her about her manners–chastising you and all! :)

  33. well, this is truth. spoken well, and directly mirrors my own heart. thanks SO much for sharing this! praying for y’all as you minister with compassion. praise jesus! xo

  34. I’m right there with you, friend. I am currently getting rid of tons, boxing, sorting, storing…
    ~ CA

  35. Oh Nester, I wish we could sit down for a cup of coffee. You’re in my head girl! Prayed for your trip. Hope it was life changing in an amazing good way. Happy May.

  36. ShabbyChick says

    What a timely post. I just wanted to say that in the 2+ years that I have been following decorating blogs, I am bewildered by the endless pursuit of acquiring more stuff and the need to change one’s decor constantly. It has often left me shaking my head (and I have worked in interior design!) As a Christian it really bothers me at my core to the point where I just can’t stomach it any longer. Blog after blog it’s the same…Hobby Lobby/Home Goods/Pottery Barn housewives on a never ending shopping spree. I don’t mean to be unkind, just honest. I have made similar comments on different blogs in the past….yet the madness continues. I’m not singling your blog out, it is absolutely across the board. 2 years of observation have led me to some decisions: I WILL NEVER AGAIN VISIT A DESIGN BLOG. I will not allow covetousness to gain a foothold in my life. I will not compare my home with someone else’s. I will be a blessing to my husband and children by being a wife and a mother, not a decorating and shopping fanatic. I will continue to make do with what we have. I will PRAISE GOD for what He has given us…and be CONTENT.

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