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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:


    And QUIET:


    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.

    47 thoughts on “quieting the house”

    1. I can really relate to this – we moved into our house 18 months ago and for two weeks, while we waited for our furniture etc to be delivered, we lived in an empty house with a blow up mattress and two cane chairs. No TV, a handful of books, some utensils from my mother in law. It was heaven on a stick. 18 months later, the house is crammed! And lately I’ve been feeling as you did – needing to breathe, remove the excess (most of which I love but do we need it all??) and go from clutter to minimal. Finally, my husband agrees so I think a car boot sale is on the horizon! And saying no to more things no matter how much I love the colour/cuteness/perfect look – except for books as I’ll never be able to say no to more books….

    2. 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.

    3. 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 :)

    4. 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!

    5. 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!

    6. 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!

    7. 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!

    8. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

      1. 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.

    18. 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 ;).

    19. 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?

    20. 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!

    21. 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!

    22. 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 motel rooms.

      1. 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.

    23. 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!

    24. 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.

    25. 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!

    26. 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 the tranquility that all white brings.

    27. 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:)

    28. 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

      1. 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 :)

    29. 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!

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