Less is More

I was looking through photos for a blog post the other day and discovered several “before” and “after” One-Day Redecorating photos.

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Katy, my past design partner, and I did One-Day Redecorating in the following rooms.

The rooms were greatly improved by removing tchotchkes and clutter. Comfortable furniture arrangements made a difference, too.

Nothing new was purchased for these rooms.  It’s not always about what you have, it’s often about what you do with what you have and what you get rid of.


A typical decorating mistake: cluttering the mantel with a hoard of photographs or other objects.  We urge our clients to keep a few special photos in one area (not scattered) for display and put the rest either in albums or, even better, scan them into their computer.  046

This room looked beautiful once it was edited and rearranged.  It went from average to elegant.047 (1)

Katy and I loved working on the home below.  The homeowner had beautiful things, but needed help arranging them.  The mantel arrangement in her bedroom was not terrible, anaheim hills 1day masterb-4

but we discovered this artwork, which was being stored in a hallway cabinet. The size and repetition of the new artwork helped the room feel restful.DSC04880.JPG

The room in this “before” photo, below, is drab and looks unorganized to my eye.

Our client had great instincts.  She purchased items in pairs, which made balancing the composition above the dresser simple.  The matching lamps added cohesiveness and brought much needed lighting to this side of the room.

We met the owner of the room below when we hired her to help us with our business.  She gave us the key to her house and allowed us to let ourselves in.  We wanted to see if there was anything we could improve. We moved a few things around and drew new floor plans for the home’s 8 ground floor rooms.  To our thrill, the homeowner and her inventor husband loved our plans.  Their home was under full construction a few months later.

The simple shift and edit of accessories and furniture made this room more inviting.DSC05800_1_1

The homeowners use this movie screen for outdoor movie night in their dreamy backyard.  They are consummate party throwers.DSC05749

They had quite a few beautiful collections including Murano glass paper weights and antique clocks.  We were able to corral most of the collection of paper weights on a tray we found and we placed three clocks on a sofa table behind the long bench.

Collections should be kept together, as opposed to spread throughout a room or home.  Also, too many items in a collection minimizes a collection’s impact.


Below:  This client felt that she had to display every tchotche.  Even though each shelf was orderly, the wall looked like a mess.  The shelves hanging at differing heights and the scattering of artwork and accessories looked chaotic.DSC04742.JPG

I removed all of the shelves and replaced one at a lower height.  Then I hung the homeowner’s collection of plates where they could be seen.  The plates were previously hanging above the backsplash.  I drew an elevation of new upper cabinets, so that when the client had time and money saved, she could implement the plan to finish this wall.


This client was stuck.  She was paralyzed by her clutter.  This office space, attached to her bedroom, was rendered useless because she couldn’t let go of books, collectables, photographs, containers and papers that were no longer serving her.DSC03725

It’s amazing what a clean slate can do for someone.DSC03748Wasted floor space.DSC03724_1We found the nice looking chairs, below, buried and unused.  Look how much better this room looks just by getting rid of things!

This was a lovely room, Hryniewicki LR

but can you see what a difference minimizing an unwieldy collection of photos and reworking a furniture arrangement makes?IMG_4133.JPG

Over all, this room felt welcoming and orderly.  I rearranged the furniture to create a comfortable conversation area and established the fireplace as the focal point.  IMG_3524.JPG

I removed clutter from the mantel and moved the piano (yes, it was very heavy).  IMG_3572.JPG

This was a beautiful room that no one used because the focal point had not been established and the room was arranged in an uncomfortable way.DSC03037

We rearranged the furniture to create a cozy conversation area around the newly established focal point… the fireplace!  We exchanged the painting above the fireplace for the painting hanging above the piano.  We took the clock off the piano and added two matching candle sticks for balance.

Simple and beautiful.DSC03046

This is the “before” and “after” of a remodel. med cent kitch b4

See how much more beautiful and restful the room looks without all of the clutter on the counter?  This is a medical office, but it isn’t different than many home kitchens when it comes to clutter on counter tops.IMG_2304

If you are someone who has a tough time letting go, consider the following things:

  • Beautiful accessories and collections make a room feel unrestful and stressful when they become unwieldy.
  • Unattractive accessories and collections make a room feel unrestful and stressful even when they are not unwieldy.
  • It is okay to retire things that were once your favorites.
  • Clutter is proven to be a major contributor to stress.
  • Never allow guilt to cause you to stay imprisoned by your clutter.

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