The 1 Thing Every Home Needs

cozy minimalist

Every home needs an empty surface zone.

This is a surface in your home that you are deciding is no longer a home for things.

This is NOT to be confused with a surface that you are demanding to be absolutely empty at all times. No way. This is a hardworking surface, preferably the most used surface(s) in your home that you are no longer letting pretty things, often used things, random things live there indefinitely and without question.

I don’t know if it’s a “now I’m 40” thing or a “mom of three teenage boys” thing or a “we moved to a much smaller house” thing but I used to fuss over what to put on every available surface in our home. Now I allow (CRAVE) some surfaces to be gloriously empty.

But that doesn’t mean they never have stuff on them.

I’ve learned to not assign decor objects to a few of the main public surfaces in our house.

Right now those surfaces are the three hardest working, most often used surfaces: the kitchen island, the one main table in our space and the coffee table.

It doesn’t mean they are always empty, but the opposite, stuff is on them often.


There’s something luxurious and quieting in our home when it’s time to straighten up and put away the day’s odds and ends, these much used surfaces are cleaned up and turned into pure emptiness. It’s a feeling so good that it’s not usually worth me junking it up with some decorative item no matter how pretty.

IF I need to get a great photo or want it to look extra special, I will put something pretty on my tables, I get to change my own rules whenever I want. But in our everyday living, it’s nice to have some much needed empty space.

Besides, our mantel is a space that can be filled with meaningful beauty day in and day out without us having to move a candlestick so we can write a check or put our coffee down. Most of us don’t lack in surrounding ourselves with beautiful things, most of us are lacking in a moment of silence in our homes. Some of us have forgotten what its like to experince the joy of an empty surface.

cozy minimalist

Why don’t you join me today?

That table, the one your family eats all the meals at, where the bills get sat down, where the homework gets signed and piled? At some point today, clear it completely off. Empty. Down to the naked bones. And wipe it down with a steamy hot rag. You might just hear your surface utter a cry of deep gratitude like mine did. Then, simply let it sit gloriously empty.

The goal isn’t to keep it empty forever. Oh, that would be a tragedy. That surface is there to serve you well, use it up, spread out, get things done! The goal is to at some point have it empty so you can enjoy the nothingness. It’s a simple way to add a little white space, a little margin to a working home.

You might just get addicted and want to empty it off to nothing every evening or morning or afternoon in between it’s hard working sessions just for the little joy that a quiet surface can bring.

The One Simple Trick To Make Your Space More Luxurious Right Now? A cleared off space.


It’s all too much

On Editing A Room

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  1. THank you for the validation. I tend to live lilt this and have often had people come into my home and ever so kindly refer to my decorating as “sparse.” It’s not that there aren’t beautiful things in my home, but my tables and counters are almost always empty which people find confounding. I’m a lover of white space and the rest that accompanies it. It’s nice to have someone else agree. Thanks.

    • Stacey Joshua says

      “Minimalist” is what I got when a good friend came over last, but I think so much more clearly and feel so much more relaxed with space and light. I tried to place beautiful things, but it didn’t matter how beautiful the things were – it all felt like clutter and it didn’t take long before it felt like mental and emotional clutter. I cleared it all away and took a deep breath of relief. I, too, appreciate seeing space in this article, especially when so much decor seems intent upon filling every blank niche and corner with something.

  2. I’ve never liked any way I try to decorate my dining room table. It always feels over done or too sparse. Until this month when I decided nothing is best. Everything else is decorated in my home but this place needs to be empty. Empty so it can handle anything I’m about to do on it! Art, eat, read, etc!

  3. LOVE this. seriously LOVE this.

  4. I’m pretty good about keeping our table cleaned off for eating…..but, oh boy, do I wish I could make this work for the kitchen island!

  5. Lovely idea! I love that you stress that it doesn’t need to stay empty, forever and always. But just getting it cleared off, in order to make it useable, is a wonderful goal. Love it.

  6. Love this post! Just cleared a bunch of decorative sports stuff from my boys room because I realized that they didn’t have enough room for the real sports stuff they use everyday. It seem gloriously sparse and restful and the best part is they have a place to keep the hats, balls and mitts. Their life on display!

    • Yikes, I am so bad at this. Every horizontal surface in my home is pretty much covered with stuff. But I’m inspired to clear off the dining room table tonight and make it a priority. We’ll see how it goes.

  7. We recently did that with a coffee table. No decor. None. After work it gets filled with papers to correct, cups, and misc. stuff. But, every morning, it is wiped clean and it sparkles until everyone gathers back in the evening around that coffee table to relax and work. It feels sooo good.

    I’m loving your practical decor suggestions this week. Good stuff girlie!!!

  8. Seriously, without wanting to sound overly dramatic, this post and your last post are absolute game changers for me. I live in a rented house (we have been expats for the last 7 years and have not been in our ‘own’ home for that long) and the frustration I feel at not being able to make more permanent changes has been palpable but the whole idea of highlighting what I want to stand out is just soooo good. Add this genius and obvious rule and, phew, I think I can get back to enjoying my space without the constant ‘in my next house’ thoughts! So thank you.

  9. I need empty surface at home…so I have where to solve my puzzles :)
    Serously, I know what you meen. I see all this interior desing blogs and pinterest boards – people put so much useless stuff everywhere just to give it a pretty look. While the good old dinner table needs only plates full of food.
    Have a great weekend,
    Ann C.

  10. Ha! You are my husband’s dream girl. He is always cleaning off my surfaces. You are so right though… kitchen table and island are the best work spaces ever. Sometimes we just need to hear something as simple as…clear that off and use it.

  11. I needed to read this today. Thanks!

  12. Okay, I read this the other day and thought, “Okay, nice idea but seems impossible. Too. much. stuff.” But then, I decided to try it. I cleared off the kitchen table and I cleared off the bar in the kitchen. I also cleared a lot off the kitchen counters. And I really really liked it. And guess what? When my kiddos came home from school, one of the first things my girl said was, “Mom! There is NOTHING on the bar!” And I could tell she liked it, too.
    So thanks for the help on that. I am going to do my best to keep it up!!

  13. LOVE this advice. It reminds me of a line in Gretchin Rubin’s book, Happier at Home (a really great read if you haven’t already), and she makes the point that surfaces should be used for “doing activities, not collecting clutter.” Thanks for the reminder! xo

    • OH we are so on the same idea, Linda, I commented earlier that it reminds me of when Gretchen cleared out her medicine cab (in the Happiness project) and had that ONE empty shelf. Currently reading Happier at Home RIGHT NOW!!!!

      • Yes! And I love the…polarity? dichotomy? of her advice. i.e. Have an empty shelf + have a junk drawer, accept yourself + expect more of yourself… so wise. Now that I’ve finished it I want to reread her first…and just realized yesterday I lent it out and don’t remember who to (this is, something I do embarrassingly often). xo

  14. Beautiful idea! I think everything a room must have is at least one small piece that stands out without overpowering the room! I found some beautiful coasters that fit this theme well, check them out at

  15. My husband says if it’s a flat surface I have something or lots of somethings on it.
    I don’t mean too but it just happens. But I do like the idea of a space being empty even if for a short period of time. ;o)

  16. I discovered this simple truth for myself about a year ago when I was in-between seasons of decor and our dining room table was bare. It got used SO MUCH MORE than when I had things in the center- even just one small thing. (I did try to reduce the size and quantity of things first because I do love to display pretty things.) It is just not as inviting as a completely clear surface. Your pin caught my attention because of it’s uniqueness. I’m sure many will benefit from this simple realization.

  17. Love it! I totally need a little white space in my life!!

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