My house and I are ready for a simpler time.
Every fall I find myself slowly adding in layers of coziness–a few extra pillows and throws, a stack of books next to the sofa, an extra candle here and there, and by the time January rolls around, my surfaces are overflowing with coziness and cute clutter, and I kind of forget what my room truly looks like naked – it’s a type of can’t-see-the-forest-for-the-tree-situation. The forest being our house, the trees are my hoard of cute stuff.
What’s Quieting the house? It’s backwards decluttering!
Everything in your room has a voice. Some voices are louder than others–if you have a bright red chunky mirror its voice is louder than the white taper candle that sits on your dresser, but both have a voice taking up visual, physical and even emotional space in your room.
Over time, most of us add things in but rarely take the time to purposely remove stuff from our house. Quieting your space removes all those voices in a room at once. It requires that the cute decorative stuff you’ve become house-blind to will need to prove its worth before it comes back in.
Instead of holding every item and assigning an emotional rating to it, or evaluating every individual item one-by-merciless-one, I just remove it all! This gives me instant reward of experiencing my house with less and then I wait 24 hours to let it sink in. After experiencing my room without clutter, I’m naturally more picky about what should come back into the room. It’s a simple way I trick myself into letting go of things and it works every time.
When it comes to decluttering visual decor, don’t start by making individual decisions, start by experiencing the result of a decluttered room. Backwards decluttering.
Here’s our family room after stuff buildup, it needs to be quieted:
How to quiet your space (or hush the house) in five simple steps:
- Pick one room to quiet.
- Find a temporary holding place to put the stuff that you’ll remove from your room.
- Remove all the knickknacks/geegaw/little junk/tchotchkes/decorative smalls–if you need a bigger change, remove everything from your walls too–even the drapes!
- Let your space breathe for at least 24 hours so you can reconnect with it.
- Only bring back things that you really love, miss and need, don’t fill a space just because it’s empty, get rid of the rest.
photo above is before I quieted this room
photo below is after I quieted, during the time where I let it sit empty and quiet
If you’ve never done this before, read on for a little more explanation for each step. I promise this is worth it. The smaller your house is, the more stuff you have, the more powerful this practice.
1. Pick one room to quiet. Even if you think you’re in a super ambitious mood, I don’t recommend starting with your entire house–start with the room that is annoying you the most, or the room that confuses or overwhelms you. If you get it quieted and want to do another room, then start the next room. I usually quiet our family room and then decide if I have enough energy to start another room.
2. Choose a holding area. In order for quieting to have any kind of effect, other than your kids asking if you are moving, you’ll want to have a place to temporarily store a pile of stuff for at least a full day–think of it as a holding area. You’ll want a minimum of 24 hours (two days is better!) for a little purge like this to work its magic on you. I’ve stored my stuff under my bed, in a corner in another room, in the basement, on the porch, in boxes stacked in a corner of kitchen. It’s okay if another room is temporarily weird, this is a process that will ultimately kick-start you being able to see your space with fresh eyes – it is SO worth the trouble! As long as you store stuff in a room other than the one you are quieting you’re doing it right!
3. Remove your decorative stuff and random stuff and put it in the holding area. The goal is to have your furniture, lamps you use daily, TV, rug, and drapes in the room and nothing else. No magazines, books, plants, clocks, photos, pillows, throws (but feel free to bring one in if you are cold and need it!) candles, flower arrangements, baskets, or any decorative stuff. I sometimes remove my wall art too, depending on how much of a fresh start I’m looking for, you can take it as far as you need – remove the drapes if you need to!
4. Let your space breathe. This is my favorite part. The room is quiet, those voices are hushed, and you created room for the voice of the room to be heard. What? I know, I’m talking crazy. But really, sometimes we put so much cute stuff in a room, that we lose sight of how a room works best. This process really does help you see your space with a fresh perspective & will trick you into considering any changes you need to make!
Pay attention to how the room feels.
Are there things that need attention that you’re ignoring? I usually ignore cleaning, dusting, and repairs I can easily hide from myself.
Also, 100% of the time I am now motivated to clean! Yes, dusting and vacuuming is so fun, okay, so EASY when nothing is there.
5. Bring things back in. Once 24 hours have passed and you have fully enjoyed a quiet room, you can slowly start to bring things back in.
After enjoying the rewards of having less, without the decision making process of going through everything, you will be more motivated to let go of things you don’t truly need or love. I find this an easy way to declutter my pretty stuff because I don’t want to mess up that peaceful feeling I already have, so I’m very picky about what I let back in the room.
For most of us, during this period we also realize that we need to make some changes in the room – move the furniture around, paint the walls, repair the ceiling, invest in a new sofa. Whatever it is you’ve learned, that is progress and great information to have!
If you’d like guidance bringing the right items into your room in the correct order or with making decorating decisions, this is where the Cozy Community can help – click here for the waiting list, we’ll open again at the end of January.
But no matter what you do next, Congratulations!
You created an opportunity where you could truly see your space for what it is.
Maybe you’ll bring everything back in, maybe you’ll get rid of everything. The important thing is that you made space for evaluation, purpose and change. You are so far ahead of most people who are frustrated or overwhelmed with their home and have no idea why or where to begin. Way to go!