Finding more with less: When is enough enough?

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • November 4, 2017

It’s an astounding figure: The average home contains 300,000 items.

Tropical leaves in this simple arrangement with a few favorite accessories, set the tone for a less cluttered home without sacrificing your decor. Photo courtesy of Ballard Designs.

Tropical leaves in this simple arrangement with a few favorite accessories, set the tone for a less cluttered home without sacrificing your decor. Photo courtesy of Ballard Designs.

Although everyone is shocked at this number, no one really argues with it.  Let it settle in for a moment. The bottom line: we have too much stuff.

We read a lot about living a minimalist life. You can call it downsizing. Decluttering. Living with less. Intentional living. And other terms that are just part of the solution. But what it comes down to is letting go of what is not necessary.

Color changes everything when it comes to a more minimalist decorating style. Shift into neutral by using white as a blank canvas for art and furnishings. Walls are in Benjamin Moore’s Pink Damask in eggshell (OC-72) and ceiling and trim in semi-gloss Chantilly Lace in (OC-65).

Color changes everything when it comes to a more minimalist decorating style. Shift into neutral by using white as a blank canvas for art and furnishings. Walls are in Benjamin Moore’s Pink Damask in eggshell (OC-72) and ceiling and trim in semi-gloss Chantilly Lace in (OC-65).

If you feel like your home has become a storage unit for items that you don’t even like anymore, can’t remember where they came from and the problem seems to be getting worse, it may be time for an evaluation of what you are doing. In other words: time to stop the madness.

As a Southwest Florida interior decorator, I work with many homeowners who ask for help in deciding what stays and what goes before redoing their homes.  It’s not an easy decision. That’s why they call in an impartial person without the emotional attachment to their possessions. I consider it working toward designing a simpler life. Gaining more space that allows you to focus on what’s really important.

Where do you start? By looking at what you have and working from there to make careful decisions about purchases. Deciding what no longer serves you. Finding contentment with what you have. Letting go of what you don’t need. Thinking carefully about what you buy.

Amy Michele Hutto, a minimalism consultant, works with clients who want to live a more mindful life that is filled with what makes them happy rather than filled with a lot of stuff. We talk endlessly about this topic and I recently attended one of her seminars: Pursuing a mindful life. Check out some of her tips at www.amymichele.net.

She says that there are many benefits to incorporating a more minimalist approach in our homes. Consciously choosing wiser and having less makes room for what we value most. And she recommends not starting with what you don’t need. Instead, decide purposely to keep those items that you use every day. Once you do this, the items that can go will become apparent.

By gaining some control over what stays and what comes into your home, there are instant results. More free time. Less stress. Less worry about how much you are spending. Mindful spending means more $$$ to do something you love.

When it comes to your home décor, there are many small ways to begin to take a more purposeful approach. Pick a couple and give it a try. I think you will like the result. These suggestions go from easy to a little more difficult. 

  • Clarify your decorating.  Eliminate what you don’t love. Only shop for what you need.

  • Instead of stuff, reevaluate your decorating plan with color. Use soothing whites and creams as neutrals and then accent with bright tones.  Having less does not mean boring. Quite the opposite.
Simple and pretty. Without a lot of fuss, white chairs on white flooring with beautiful walls done in Benjamin Moore’s eggshell Welmaraner  (AF-155). Trim is in semi-gloss Simply White (OC-117). A bowl of lemons provides color on the table. Photo: Courtesy of Benjamin Moore.

Simple and pretty. Without a lot of fuss, white chairs on white flooring with beautiful walls done in Benjamin Moore’s eggshell Welmaraner  (AF-155). Trim is in semi-gloss Simply White (OC-117). A bowl of lemons provides color on the table. Photo: Courtesy of Benjamin Moore.

  •  Delete duplicate items. A good place to begin with this one is your kitchen drawers. And then move on to your closet.
  • Get over guilt. When it comes to your home, it’s all about you and not about storing gifts that you never wanted.  The same for antiques and such inherited from well-meaning relatives. If they are not working, say good bye and donate them. Do not let your home become a storage unit for the memories of others.
  • Don’t make anyone else feel guilty. Your kids do not want your stuff so clear out what you have been holding on to for the day when they show up with a truck to clean out your attic or guest room! Do it today and make the space yours.
Less is more with Benjamin Moore’s Paper White (OC-55) matte walls with a red accent in a semi-gloss Ravishing Red (2008-10). All pulled together with the black dining chairs. Photo: Courtesy of Benjamin Moore.

Less is more with Benjamin Moore’s Paper White (OC-55) matte walls with a red accent in a semi-gloss Ravishing Red (2008-10). All pulled together with the black dining chairs. Photo: Courtesy of Benjamin Moore.

  •  We can’t have it all. Check out your collections and ask yourself if they still work for you. There is no harm in admitting that they no longer serve you. That box of tapes that you will likely never play is just taking up space. And you have no obligation to keep every collectible that you have ever purchased. Our tastes change.
  • Ask yourself: is it functional OR do you love it? If the answer is not yes, it’s time to say goodbye. And move on to a more mindful home filled with what is meaningful.

Living more mindfully is not easy. Emotional attachments are the most difficult to eliminate. If saying goodbye to something causes stress, keep it. I will never be able to say goodbye to my grandmother’s china. It is packed away in two boxes and out of sight. But I accept the fact that I just can’t give away all of those memories of family holiday dinners. 

 

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator, A.S.I.D. associate and certified gold member of the Interior Redecorators Network. She has helped homeowners throughout Southwest Florida with timeless, affordable ways to create beautiful spaces and to solve decorating problems. Her article appears the first Saturday of each month. For more information visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips, articles and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog