A Month Without Accessories


Right before Christmas I had an idea of a little experiment I wanted to do in my home.

White space and margin and editing are all things I’ve learned to appreciate in many areas of my life. Especially our home. Lately I’ve felt like our home needs some breathing room. Angela and I had a Big Sale, I changed how I shopped at thrift stores after I self diagnosed my Thrift-Store-Shopping-I-Hate-To-Pass-Up-A-Good-Deal-Itus, I continually evaluate what works and what doesn’t. I watched the slow melting of My Somewhat Organized, Nearly Cute Hoard And I’ve been wondering what it would be like to clear our my house a little longer than my usual quieting of a space. I want to have a month without accessories in our house.

But every time I looked at the calendar it didn’t make sense. First of all, home accessories are a big part of what I do. I’m a home blogger. A month without accessories was crazy before Christmas. I mean, it was Christmas. I couldn’t do it in January because of the Christmas photo shoot. The day after that I had to start working on that book with an eight week deadline, no time to play with my accessories then. When that was over I had to work on photos for the book so naturally I couldn’t clear out my accessories, I needed them. Three weeks later I turned the photos in and I needed a break. Ain’t nobody got time to pack away their accessories after that.

Also, I want you to know that I LOVE accessories. More than anyone I know. One of my proudest moments was when an editor from Better Homes and Gardens was at my house staging for a shoot and told me that I have “great props.”  I might be slightly addicted.


my love of accessories knows no bounds, I heart accessories for my person (as the cop shows say) too

Now my break is over and I’m realizing it will never be a good time. So I’m starting today. I’ve got a home tour post to take photos for and update for a summer tour of homes Gina put together, I’m hosting an overnight girls weekend in June with some cute blogging friends, and a local magazine is coming to scout our home for a photo shoot. What have I done? I’m going to be accessory-less.

Here’s my plan:

Take all my home accessories and put them away for the next 30 days. I’m planning on putting them in the guest room. Sorry guests.

picnic table

even the picnic table suffers from accessory abuse. and yes, that is a dead baby snake, I have three boys and a dog, remember?

What accessories count?

I’m counting all things that set on surfaces, pillows, gee gaw, smalls, little junk

What doesn’t count

Lamps that we use daily, plants that need to be kept indoors and alive, wall art, fresh flowers.

Also, I’m going to use the packing party rules that Ryan and Joshua put into place: if I need to use something I’m allowed to get it out. So if I want to light candles, I’ll let myself get out my candlesticks, this isn’t about deprivation, it’s about surrounding myself with beautiful things that I actually use. Also, if I need to do a photo shoot for a third-party, I reserve the right to pull a few things out and the put them back. It’s still my job.

Why? Who cares?!

Probably no one but me. I want to feel what our house feels like with less. For as long as I’ve been homemaking I’ve been surrounded by lots of extra curricular cute stuff. I’m pretty sure I started homemaking as a teenager in my bedroom and I even used to move around my parent’s furniture, so that’s more than 20 years.

In some ways it embarrassing to even declare my non-accessory month. I mean, in light of Jen Hatmaker’s 30 days with 7 clothes, really, no accessories? But I feel like  it will give me a fresh perspective of the beautiful things I use in my home.

In related news:


Today, Wednesday May 29 at 2 EST Joshua Becker is hosting an #unclutter twitter chat including:

Someone should probably warn Joshua Becker that he shouldn’t associate with a girl like me. He’s purposely becoming minimalist. I’m purposely making messes and will always love accessories. I’m afraid he’ll get a bad reputation. Joshua’s approach to minimalist is really about being intentional, it’s the most graceful approach to minimalism I’ve ever read, which is why it’s so attractive.

But we do have something in common. We do things with purpose. I’m a goal writer downer, a purpose statement maker and strive to be an intentional decorator.

I’d love for you to join us for the #unclutter discussion today. If you have a question or comment you want me to be sure to see make sure you add @thenester in your tweet and always use the hashtag #unclutter and I’ll be sure to see it. Here’s more info about how it works.

 Anyone want to join me in 30 days Accessory-less in your home? I’d love to commiserate!


  1. ……… it could change you………..

  2. Sounds like the ultimate challenge, you’ll be great at it!

  3. Oh goodness. This is where I’m at right now. Everything goes except most lamps. Even what’s on the walls. And those cute chicken dishes that I love but only use when the others are all dirty. I’m even thinking of a small storage unit to just get it all out and then sort and dispose. I so need to breathe!

  4. I’m up for the challenge! I love my accessories, but I’m starting to feel smothered. I actually have an empty bin sitting here to start packing up. This article is just what I needed!

  5. Oh boy! This actually sounds fun! I love the idea of minimalism but I usually hate the way it looks. I don’t like to have my senses overwhelmed with pretty but I still want the things I keep out in the open to be pretty. I bet putting stuff out of sight gets even more of your creative juices flowing. I can’t wait to see what you do (or don’t do!)

  6. Funny … Right now, I’m in the middle of my own 14-day challenge to give away 7 items a day, mostly clothing. I’ve recognized over the years that I actually *am* a bit of a decorating minimalist — too many accessories on surfaces makes me feel itchy and claustrophobic — but when it comes to clothes, I am a TOTAL ADDICT. But getting rid of 7 things each day has been HUGE. It’s almost instantly teaching me what makes for a bad clothing purchase for me, and how I know when I’ve found a classic I can wear for years. Total game-change! :) Here’s to a good challenge, Nester!

  7. What a challenge! I don’t know if I could do it! I don’t think my hubby would like it ;)

    • I’m wondering if my people will even notice! I’ve started to remove things and they are so used to antics like this they don’t even ask questions any more!

  8. You are just so much fun. Even your dead baby snake is cute and looks deliberate, but not in a creepy way. LOL
    Best wishes in your de-accessorizing! Kinda tempting for this fresh outdoor season.

  9. I’ve been reading from Joshua, Ryan and Joshua daily lately, I need the continual motivation. And not just our home, but our LIFE has gotten better around here. It’s amazing how much more time you have when you have less stuff.

  10. I can’t wait to see what you the artist creates with the blank canvas in front of her!

  11. “Our ability to accessorize is what separates us from the animals”. – Steel Magnolias

    Can’t wait to see what you do with the challenge. My oldest graduates HS this eve ::gulp:: but will pop into Twitter if I am able at 2P. :)

  12. I am definitely not a minimalist, love my “stuff”. I’m always looking for ways to put more things on a table. I even love taking everything off, dusting, cleaning, putting back. My “therapy”.
    Good luck!!

  13. Christie says

    Show pictures! I love this!

  14. This is such a great idea. It’s amazing how editing your stuff can give you such a fresh perspective on your home. I personally live in a small space so editing is super important or else I feel like I’m suffocating under our possessions instead of enjoying them. It’s tricky when you love to go thrifting but I bet after 30 days of no accessories you will approach shopping differently. Good challenge!

  15. So, funny you should mention this because last weekend I packed my “big” house, got rid of at least half of the accessories – keeping only those I LOVE – to fit into our yet-to-be-found-but-for-sure-smaller house/apartment/living space. It was freeing. Both the getting rid of things I no longer wanted/needed and packing my favorites to bring along. I also enjoyed getting to watch some of my best friends take home things I had, but they loved more!

  16. I’m interested to see how this little experiment turns out!

    I don’t have a lot of accessories myself, but I admire them. I just have a small home and feel it would become chaotic and cluttered if I had too much. Can’t wait to hear about your thoughts.

  17. I think its a great idea!! I did something similar a few months ago, except i cleaned EVERYTHING out of my main areas, except my couch. I needed a break and felt like i was accumulating too much stuff – so i cleaned it all out and only brought back over the next month or so what i really loved and missed. I think its something that i might do every couple of years – it was like having a fresh start. Have fun accessory free!! http://www.sweetpickinsfurniture.com/2013/01/the-great-clean-out-of-2013.html

  18. I’m itching for this too. Just visited a lovely older couple’s home, and their house was so refreshing because it was so breathable and open. There house is not much in my personal style and would certainly never land in a shelter magazine, but I felt very much at home because there was room to move around and settle in. It was all very tidy but still very “homey” (meaningful art on the walls, comfortable furniture). I found it especially amazing because they are 70+ and have maintained their home this way – most older people I know are drowning in 50 years of accumulated stuff. It was incredibly inspiring for my own home.

  19. I am glad you are taking the plunge and just doing it. There’s no perfect time- what, are you going to wait for 30 days where you have absolutely nothing going on? That doesn’t happen. You just gotta go for it.

    I just did a time log for a week (recorded everything I did for a week) and kept trying to think of an “average” week so I could record it. Well…those don’t exist either:)

    Can’t wait to see what you learn! I love stuff like this.

  20. bethinthecity says

    I get it. And I love that you have chosen this challenge for yourself.

  21. Wow!! I’m so excited to see pictures of your new streamed line look!!!

  22. Oh, boy Nester! Here you go! Before you know it, you’ll be ready to live in 665 square feet! By the way, I’ve met Joshua and Ryan – snagged them on their way to Denver one day – good guys.

  23. I used to have a lot of lovely clutter and accessories. I’ve really pared down to the essentials and a few favorite pieces. I love smooth clean surfaces.

  24. We are moving as soon as our house sells. Running a HUGE sale to get rid of 75% of what we own in June, then listing the house. I am not a nicknack person at all, but the little we do have, never mind all the other stuff that is truly not needed, suffocates me. It is about balance, but if it does not serve a true purpose, why hang in to it? It simply does not fit with in Scripture to hoard and collect and be consumed by its up keep.

    Years ago, I visited in the home of an Old Order Mennonite Bishop. The simplicity and beauty that home had, was wonderful. Simple furniture, in just the right amount. A mantle with a clock. A calender. Quilt frame with a quilt in progress. No fancy gadgets cluttering up the kitchen counters. A stack of family Bibles.
    A large table for eating and fellow shipping around. What more is needed?

  25. yes . simply . yes !

  26. You are my hero. Seriously.

    Well, technically, you are my heroine, but somehow that doesn’t sound quite as good. So hero it is. That is what you are.

    Why? Because you are good, and you are real, and you are honest. You learn as you go, and you don’t pretend to do it any other way. And I love you, which gives you extra points.

    Thank you for being you and for being willing to try. I will love to see what you learn from this experiment!

    • oh blushing Richella, you all have allowed me to feel safe to be real and honest, I love this community of imperfect, beautiful people.

  27. Oh man! I am in the middle of the minimalists book Simplicity and it is so great I can hardly put it down. I am so so glad you linked to them several months ago, my husband is going to take a writing class from Joshua Millburn over his summer sabbatical as well. Yay Nester for awesome links!!! And, for the record, EVERYONE is better off associating with you.

  28. SInce we moved 5 months ago, I’ve been thinking a lot about this. We moved to a much smaller apartment, and I feel like I need to put away some accessories. I will be following you and your challenge and hoping I will get some inspiration to do it in my own home.

  29. Wow, this was timely. I’m trying to sort through stuff so I can get rid of it. I have wanted to pare down the clutter for a while now but get overwhelmed. I think the solution for me will be to set it all in our unused room and divide and conquer! Throw away the junk, take out the largest accessories first and find a home for them(I’ve decided that the bigger a thing is, the less cluttered the look), and work my way down to the smaller stuff. I’m hoping that by the time I get down to the smaller things, I’ll be better able to decide what really needs to go. If a thing isn’t me but I can’t get rid of it yet, into the attic with it!

    That’s my plan anyway. We’ll see how good I am at actually following through!

  30. I am definitely going to need some before & durings (& afters in a month to compare to the befores & see what you’ve changed).

  31. Do we get to see pics?

  32. Good luck with your 30 day challenge. If, for some reason you can’t make it the entire 30 days, DO NOT get down on yourself! You are a VERY creative woman. Most extremely creative people I know set up their spaces or their homes to feed their creativity, they might look at the same object 5 different ways in the same day. Also, it’s true, you do LOVE accessories, BUT you have the talent of accessorizing well, a far cry from clutter. That being said, I also know that you are a motivated and determined person so this challenge may be just a cake walk for you.

  33. I hope you get washed over by an amazing sense of (insert whatever wonderful adjective you like here). It’s a wonderful adventure to go naked.

  34. This is a great challenge. When I was a teenager I started getting into little trinkets and decorating my space and I carried that (and most of the accessories) with me through college and University. A few months ago I really pared back, donated a bunch of stuff and haven’t looked back. I’ve got some really beautiful bits and pieces and things with sentimental value, but I’d say it’s fairly minimal. There are two main benefits; the space feels bigger and free-er, and there is much less dusting to do ;)

  35. This is cool! I’m exploring minimalism. Most of my home accessories are on the walls, so I will include those in my challenge. I’m going to take photos so I remember where to put things back at the end of the challenge, if I choose to do so. Ok – I’m off to pack things away!

  36. I love this idea. I am somewhat of a minimalist. Compared to your average American, I guess I am a minimalist. I found this post through Josh Becker’s site. First time here, but I love your writing style. Totally laughed at your dead baby snake!

    Anyway, this gives me some ideas about how I can cut back on clutter even more. Do I really need three decorative pillows on the couch. Um, no.

  37. This is so cool! I’m actually very minimal when it comes to accessorizing, both in my home and with my clothing. Unfortunately, I’m not minimalist when it comes to piles of papers, books, and things that have not made it to their homes! I’m thinking I should do a 30 day “all surfaces clear” challenge! LOL! I can’t wait to see pictures of your home – you are such an inspiration!

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