quieting the house

I couldn’t take it any longer.

There was just too much stuff cluttering up the visual space in our home. I’m in a weird spot in my emotional life – deeply craving light and calm, direction and needing a deep exhale – and it has translated into this crazy lady pulling off and packing up every accessory just to let the house (and me) breathe a little.


My friend Myquellyn calls it Quieting The House.  By removing all of the stuff (the accessories, pillows, picture frames, cute things!) it reduces visual distractions, clutter and loudness that I just need gone right now. I’m an accessory lover, but sometimes it gets out of control and quieting the house becomes necessary to help figure out what I like, what is just there for the sake of being there, what works, what doesn’t and why I insist on putting so many pillows on the couch.

So this past weekend, I shushed the house. Mostly just the living room and entry/hallways. The kitchen is next.

Here was the entry being all LOUD:


And here it is QUIET:


Here’s the living room LOUD:




It’s looking a bit sparse and blah – and maybe like we’re packing up to move – so eventually accessories will be brought back in and curtains will be hung and the shelves will be re-styled. We’ll probably move some furniture around.


But for now, it’s sort of refreshing.


By getting rid of all of the stuff, I can see each space for what it is and assess what we can do to make it work better for our family.  One thing we’ve noticed is how dark the walls feel. They are a light-ish neutral, but the paint is 8 years old and looking a little rough and it’s probably time to put on a fresh coat of paint. White. Everywhere, white. And that carpet. Oh how we want to pull it up! Hopefully soon.


For now, I have a chair-less dining room with stacks and bins of stuff that may or may not make its way back into our lives.

Shhhhhh … quieting the house is good for the soul.

46 Responses to quieting the house

  1. Lora September 2, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    I have been feeling this way recently too.. I know most people do “Spring Cleaning” but honestly I’ve always felt the need to do Fall Cleaning. This describes my process exactly.. I like to “quiet” the house before I begin holiday decorating etc.. Fall always feels like the beginning of the year to me.

  2. Jenn from Texas August 31, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

    It is amazing how just a few extra things (even if they are pretty) can clutter up a space. I just cleaned most everything out of my kitchen (papers, recipe box, bread box, etc.) due to some family coming over today. As I sit here and read your post, I look around and realize how relaxing it is to “quiet the space”. Thank you for the reminder…I didn’t even realize I needed it :)

  3. Kelly August 31, 2014 at 7:43 am #

    I just love this. We moved in July and for the two months we lived in our old house after it sold it was so refreshing. Most of our items were packed away for staging and it was so refreshing. Now that we’ve moved and are settling in I am enjoying unpacking and sorting, but I have noticed that I haven’t pulled out as much stuff. I will have to remember to do this once a year or so- it is definitely good for the soul!

  4. Nancy August 30, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    I don’t know why, but for some reason it always feels nice to know I’m not alone! I completely agree with Quieting the House. It’s the calm it brings that’s so satisfying and refreshing. Thank you once again for putting a concept into words so well. I will have my husband read this post so perhaps he will understand why I do what I do a little better!

  5. Anissa August 29, 2014 at 6:06 pm #

    I did this exact same thing yesterday! I even instagrammed about it and honestly I think I confused some people because they wanted to know when I was going to sell it all:)
    But I had that same feeling! I feel like I cant breath in my own space sometimes and so it all has to go away and return slowly. Not to mention its a opportunity to refresh to your space in to something brand new!! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Mary August 29, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

    I feel the same way after Christmas when everything is put away again. Like I can breathe in the space. I’ve also been trying to declutter…and it made me feel better (and it was easier) once I realized that, instead of the “keep in the room” or “give away” piles, I could have a “box up for later because I still love these things…I just don’t want them in the room right now” pile.

    I’m hoping one day I’ll shop from that box and be thrilled to see the things I love again!

  7. Anna August 29, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    I may just have to tackle this this weekend! Where is your dining room light fixture from? It’s gorgeous yet simple!

    • emily August 31, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

      The dining room light is from Restoration Hardware. We found it at the local outlet store, but I think it is available online as well.

  8. Amanda August 29, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    I think one of the perks of waiting about 2 years to really start decorating (newlywed in a new house) was that I got to experience living in a home with very little decor. It’s not something I could do long term because I LOVE art, but I’ve gained an appreciation “quiet” spots. I noticed that I have become very strategic about what decor I purchase for my home (must be either functional or something I love)and where I put it. I’m actually purposely planning what walls I’m going to leave blank which is definitely not something I would have done two years ago.

    Too much decor can easily become clutter, in my opinion anyway. Plus, I’m a lover of clean countertops and allergic to dust, so keeping accessories minimal just makes sense for me.

  9. Claudia August 29, 2014 at 6:49 am #

    I know what you’re talking about. I’ve been experiencing a similar feeling lately. But I wouldn’t take out every single accessory from the room. Too plain. Every room needs some “jewelry.”

  10. Lisa August 28, 2014 at 11:35 pm #

    Yay, for peace and quiet. Oh, how we need more quiet in our lives. Stillness. Thank you for the perspective. Loving the light above the dining room. So sleek, but still traditional enough.

    I am just jump-starting a website/blog (I am finding out that it is a more drawn-out process to figure out all the details) and so I have enjoyed reading up on your ideas/tips for starting a blog. I will be setting up a shop for selling my watercolors/oil prints. I saw that you use Wazala. Have you been happy with it? Was there a reason you didn’t use Paypal? Just trying to figure this whole thing out! Thanks!

  11. julie Carter August 28, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    I LOVE your house quiet! I actually prefer it more I think. Sometimes I feel like your house becomes a “Target Trend” or cutesy (not that this is a bad thing… to each their own) that in the end requires more money drained out of your pocket through the year…instead of a clean classic home that stands the test of time with solid accessories and pieces. Make since maybe?? Maybe not.

  12. Corinna August 28, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    I do this from time to time too. I just need to leave the rooms blank and quiet. It’s always a nice exhale after a holiday too. Mine’s been quiet for awhile so I can’t wait for some Fall decorating.

  13. Kristin August 28, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    I wonder if this has something to do with your recent trip and coming home to the excess we all have. My first question was going to be “Where did you put it all?” because I don’t know where I’d put all of my accessories but I see your dining room is storing it all. My theory is that people who like to accessorize in their dressing also like accessorize in their homes. Is this where I confess my scarf to neck ratio is about 35:1?

  14. sheri August 28, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    Oh..I’m there too. Two weekends ago we ripped everything out of the master and patched holes and painted for 3 days…soft off white. This past weekend, the boys’ rooms…we’re on a roll! Forget spring cleaning, it’s more like a Fall purge.

  15. Carole August 28, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    Hello Emily
    It’s funny, when you talk about dark colors, because when you read the article and we pass the mouse over the photos, they are dark and become lighter with the logo to put on Pinterest !! I do not know if I’m clear enough !! I mean you see the photos and thus spare more informed when the mouse moves over it! So we see things differently … This gives a different view of things and actually (I know my comment is a bit choppy!) That can be given what you want with this quiet in the house, and another idea another vision. So another idea to life!
    Have a good day!

  16. Rebekah August 28, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    Such a wonderful exercise. I did this a year or so ago — when Myquillin first blogged about it — and was surprised to find that after living without accessories for a month, I no longer wanted to look at most of my stuff. I learned that I love clean, bare surfaces. I brought back a very few favorite things, and have so enjoyed the visual quietness that is, most days, in stark contrast to the noise of every other kind that fills our lives. Also, the dusting! So much easier to do when I don’t have to move a ton of knick-knacks. Which doesn’t mean I do it any more often. It’s just less of pain when I do. ;)

  17. Tamara August 28, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    I think this is exactly what I need to do! Thank you for sharing, Emily :).


  18. Julie August 28, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    I have never heard of this before, but it is wonderful and makes me feel less crazy! When we built our home three years ago, no one was more surprised than I was when I chose white walls! The whole house…white! When we moved in, I was months and months before I put a single picture on the wall. And then I only put up my favorites! (My house prior was very beautifully accessorized! Smile!) I love my home and the simplicity of it. However, I will admit to browsing the fabric store just last night for throw pillow fabric… I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, but as I re prioritize and draw nearer to Christ, I crave simplicity.

    • emily August 28, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

      Oh, I’m just craving white! And maybe that’s part of it … instead of covering up and adding more to make me feel better about life, stripping away and simplifying helps us truly appreciate what we have.

  19. Jodie August 28, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    Possibly my favorite Jones home living {as I call it} post yet. Love how you’ve edited down, and can’t wait to see how you perk it back up. Especially the white walls. Very curious about that ;).

    • emily August 28, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

      Thanks Jodie. And I like your phrase: Jones home living :)

  20. Alicia August 28, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    That book is great and transformative. She has some of the best advice I have ever received. I’m apart finished. By the way. What is that tiny tree on your windowsill?

    • emily August 28, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

      Isn’t her book great?!

      The little topiary is a myrtle from IKEA. I kill them about once a year and then get a new one.

  21. Peggy August 28, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    Emily, I know exactly what you mean! I am at the same point in my life. We have had so many changes in our life and more to come I just need a quiet space to rest my soul. I’m currently dragging out all our empty bins and removing all the clutter. Some things I know will come back out because they hold dear and precious memories all the way back to my childhood, others well they are being returned or donated. It must, absolutely MUST fit the criteria of: Is it useful? Is it beautiful? Will I miss it if it were gone? The camera we used all of my childhood, the red venetian glass vase that we bought in Venice when I was 6… precious items that I hold dear and that my children remember since their infancy these I will keep! The big clunky candle, maybe not so much…. I think my candle loving son will get to burn it.

    Have a lovely day!

    • emily August 28, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

      So true. I have stuff that I like, but it is meaningless and just clutters our home. When I re-accessorize, it will be more thoughtful.

  22. Kathy August 28, 2014 at 8:56 am #

    Awesome declutter job Jones! Now you have a clean slate to imagine and create your family nest all over again. Glad you left the deer above your fireplace, I love that room!

    • emily August 28, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

      Thanks Kathy. Yes, that deer will stay for a long time :)

  23. Terry August 28, 2014 at 8:50 am #

    This is funny with everyone going to white. First, everyone made fun of all white. They had to have colors. Now, everyone wants white again. White has always been white. People go through fads…but no accessories looks sad..like motel rooms.

    • emily August 28, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

      Oh, I totally agree! It looks sad and blah and so taupe in our living room right now. I’ll be glad to move things back in, but it’s nice to have a few days of rest.

  24. Cindy August 28, 2014 at 8:41 am #

    I so want/need to do this & also want to change my 9 yr. old taupe walls. What is the color in your entryway? Take comfort in knowing your LOUD looks pretty soothing!

  25. MAGGIE August 28, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    Leave life in the room. It will literally help you breathe, and calm you and re-energize you. Rooms without things growing in them are rooms without life.

    Leave life in the room. Get a peace lily. It will give you peace. Peace.

  26. Lesley August 28, 2014 at 8:22 am #

    Oh I am so ready to do this . I saw Nester do it in the spring, and I see the need to do it now .. Right now .. But I must go to work :/ tonight, yes tonight I will start!

  27. Audrey B August 28, 2014 at 8:14 am #

    I did that last night…husband was working late and my girls are back to college…went through the house and packed up the summer clutter. We painted one of the bedrooms “all white” last spring and ready to do the next one..love the tranquility that all white brings.

  28. Ann August 28, 2014 at 8:09 am #

    Emily – thank you – for being the voice or reason out there. I am an interior designer and LOVE accessories in the home!!! BUT about a year ago – I put EVERYTHING away! I MEAN EVERYTHING – and wow my soul was singing – I had quiet in my soul for the first time in a long time. It was wonderful – I find myself now putting out a few things – and within a few weeks – putting them back away – my house go to “loud” again:) AND I have found the few things that I love having out – the little sculptures my son made me. A birds nest my son brought me because he knows I like birds. The FEW things that when they are out – the house is still quiet:) It is wonderful to be able to focus on the people in the house not the things in the house! JUST this morning I was thinking – pinterest has made our lives cluttered and “things” oriented – our souls have no time to listen to Him when our eyes are so full of what we have to decorate or change around next:)

  29. Lisa Smith August 28, 2014 at 8:00 am #

    I am absolutely in love with the term “quieting the house”! And how you said “I shushed the house”. I don’t know exactly why, but that didn’t just speak to me, it roared at me! I agree with you about how too sparse looks rather like “moving in progress”, but to get beyond that and see a new, blank canvas for accessory placement ~ well I sure do need that. Thank you so much for opening my mind to the possibiity that editing doesn’t have to mean purging all your “stuff”, but rather to thoughtfully put items back that deserve a place of honor when turning up the noise in your home!

    Feeling so enlightened and it’s only 8:00 in the morning!
    Thank you so much,
    Lisa in Lake Oswego, Oregon

  30. Dee August 28, 2014 at 7:47 am #

    wow if that is your loud house, i can never let you visit my house. <3

    • emily August 28, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

      I know … it doesn’t look that crazy in the photos and I should have left the random shoes and stuff out before taking photos to show what the truly LOUD house looks like. Part of it is real life, but some is just the added stuff that I don’t need.

      I’m sure your house is wonderful :)

  31. bekka@see what I sea designs August 28, 2014 at 7:08 am #

    I’m so there right now. this summer has been busy, not to mention physically and emotionally challenging. I’m ready to welcome in my favorite season with less clutter, fresh paint. and more space to breathe.

  32. peach August 28, 2014 at 5:46 am #

    oh my goodness this is where i am also…i just want/need to simplify

  33. Kimber-Leigh August 28, 2014 at 5:24 am #

    this is on my list to do too! (and you’re not alone in wanting to change from neutral walls to white walls!) thanks for sharing your process here!

    and can i ask where your couch is from? i love it!

  34. Amanda August 28, 2014 at 4:24 am #

    I love your dining room table! Can you tell me where it’s from?

    • emily August 28, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

      The dining room table is from Restoration Hardware outlet (purchased when we moved in 8 years ago).

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