When Decor Becomes Clutter

I discovered something that surprised me when I started preparing my apartment for my impending renovation. I was removing the framed photographs from my living room to keep them safe and to prevent them from getting covered in construction dust. When I had removed most of them, I realized that I like the sparer, emptier look.

When had my decor become clutter?

I started out with framed photos on the mantel of my fireplace, as well as on top of my handsome wooden file cabinets. The photos on the file cabinets did double duty by hiding my cable modem and router.

But as more photos accumulated over the years, I started putting them on the bookshelves in front of the books. A few more things accumulated: a glass plaque commemorating my service on the board of my professional association, an award my husband had won, a framed gift from the cast of a show I had directed.

For many years, one non-negotiable piece of decor was my wedding bouquet, which I had made out of artificial flowers. (You can get away with a lot when it’s a second wedding!) I kept the bouquet in a ceramic vase that my daughter had made in elementary school, making it a double piece of memorabilia.

When I realized that I liked the sparer look, I started reevaluating things. I made the decision that the wedding bouquet had to go. It has been on display for over 28 years, and the white flowers were looking a bit gray. Besides, there is a wedding photo just a few feet away, so the bouquet is well represented there.

As I threw the flowers in the garbage, the punster in me relished the new meaning of “tossing the bouquet”.

When I removed the last of the photos from the mantel, it started to look too bare. So I know that when the renovation is over, I will be putting some of the photos back, just not all of them. I will also be keeping things off the bookshelves. The books are colorful and attractive, and I’m enjoying having them fully visible once again.

Take a look around your home. Have you accumulated so much decor that you feel a little overwhelmed? Is it hard to dust everything? Consider taking everything away and then putting the most important things back one at a time until it seems full enough. That’s what I intend to do.

My photos piled up for safekeeping