finding your style under clutter

Marian ParsonsDecorating, Design Ramblings20 Comments

For those of us who love collecting pretty things, there is a problem.  When is enough, enough?  When do the amazing things we own prevent our style from even being visible?  Our style is buried under the clutter.  Too much furniture and collectibles wedged into a room not big enough for it all.  But we love it all, so how can we get rid of any of it?

I went through this in my living room, especially.  It’s a really small space, but I wanted to fill it!

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While I loved everything in the room, I realized it wasn’t really the look I was going for.  It felt too busy and crowded.  I wanted it to feel light and airy, so I started rearranging and editing.  I remember having a moment when I stepped back, took in the space, and thought, “There it is!  There’s my style.”

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(Sorry, I need to take some pictures without the Christmas decor!)

It made giving the piano and curio cabinet away totally worth it.  I loved those pieces and felt sentimental about both, but they weren’t supporting the look I wanted in this room.

Kriste and I received a question along those lines, so that’s what we’re rambling about today…


You can also check out our latest blooper reel…

finding your style under clutter

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20 Comments on “finding your style under clutter”

  1. Hi Guys, just wanted to say that I’m a very sentimental person and have the absolute hardest time parting with things. I saw a show on TV once where a professional organizer suggested taking a picture of the item that you want to remember and to keep that instead of the piece itself. I’ve tried this method and have had great success with it! I thought I’d share it with you all.

  2. Thank you for sharing this! I am working on adding some personality to our still somewhat new home, and it’s good tobe reminded to only add things that I love, and to be aware of how much. I don’t have living room curtains hung either, and love how bright it is!

  3. This is a topic that so many of us struggle with in our homes. When I looked at the “before” and “after” pictures of your living room it was like night and day. Its like the room woke up and said “Here I am”.

    I have become much more selective in what I buy and collect and I want a clean, airy and simplified look. It can be a fine line between enough and too much otherwise like you said it becomes buried and weighted down. Because I have a walk-in attic that is easy to access, I have labeled storage tubs and will swap out my décor and collections so I get to use it all but just not all at the same time.

    If I find that I have not used something in several years or it doesn’t fit my style anymore then its time to sell or let it go.

  4. Your rambling chats are so timely and applicable to my life. Amazing.
    I bought a few pieces last weekend and after strategically placing them, my husband said,”the house is full, we can stop now, right?” He is so cute. “Good try”, I responded. 😉

  5. Hey Marian! Totally unrelated to your post, but as a fellow “Whole 30’er” I just wanted to tell you that you look absolutely fantastic! I love seeing you without a scarf…the chunky necklace looks awesome—you should show off your neck more!

  6. This will sound very nit picky . . . But, I find the flowers so distracting in the videos. Really, the two of you are fun to watch and the flowers feel like they are in the way of seeing you both clearly. I do love the videos!!!

  7. Enjoyed this. I had a beautiful antique breakfront that was a gift from my parents prior to my marriage. I LOVE this piece and it was a major part of my dining room for years. I had no desire to change it. Then, my mother sold her home and we were faced with a choice about her antique dining room set, which is a beautiful (and probably valuable) set but very dark, heavy, ornate and not my style at all. The set did not fit in my brother’s house and I took the set out of obligation. This displaced my beloved breakfront which cluttered up my entryway for a couple of years. Finally, last year I decided to separate the top from the breakfront and use the bottom in my living room as a TV console (which we needed anyway). I stored the top in my furnace room and hope that one day I will have a use for it. I am picturing it somehow built into a kitchen renovation down the line. In the meantime, I enjoy looking at my tv console.

    I am still stuck with a dining room set that doesn’t fit me or my house very well though. I can’t seem to sell it and I fear painting it will diminish it’s value. I am thinking about splitting up the set and just keeping the buffet and china cabinet. The table is too large and bulky – a different style would be more practical with simple upholstered chairs to offset the ornate victorian carving on the buffet. I am mulling it over more seriously recently. So, your ramblings episode was timely.

    1. Don’t worry about the value. I have frequented auctions in NH the past year and it is sooooo sad to see lovely diningroom sets going for If you had a 1,000 dollars you could furnish your entire home in fine auction and tasteful furniture. My father painted a 1930’s furniture set
      and dry brushed white over oak and it was stunning. Another friend does decorative painting and
      painted the same type diningroom furniture in cream and beautiful decorative flowers. So don’t
      be afraid to paint. Another thing about the auctions. Furniture is cheap but people will spend hundred of dollars on plastic action figures wrapped up in plastic from the 1960’s. I don’t get it?!

  8. I absolutely love watching y’all’s design ramblings. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!

  9. I just LOVE watching your videos! The two of you have such a fun way of bantering w/each other. It’s exactly how my girlfriends & I chat w/each other 🙂 I enjoy hearing the different perspectives of someone who is just beginning her journey of creating a home and someone who knows her style and is refining it. As much as I love the “decor talk” I am always intrigued by what the two of you are wearing (clothes, jewelry, other accessories). Would you be willing to post your clothing sources at the end of the videos or on your blogs? I was watching the “blooper” video and I am in LOVE w/the floral shirt and headband Marian was wearing!!! I also loved the blue & red shirt in this weeks video. Thanks 🙂

    1. Yep, we can start doing that! I got the headband on clearance at Anthropologie, so I doubt it’s around anymore. The shirt is this one from Mod Cloth. It’s out of stock, but it’s a pretty popular style, so I imagine it’ll be back again.

      Oh, and the blue & red shirt is actually a dress, also from Anthro. Here’s the link…

  10. I feel this subject is so true for lots and lots of people. We buy great things, we inherit great things, and we are given great things. Each one of the pieces either has or is in the making of memories and sentimental value. They tug at our heart strings and beg not be let go of; however you are right getting rid of some things can make a huge difference and take a load off. It will open up space and as you said…..”Make things light and airy”. I so need to get started on that type of project.

  11. Try reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tydying Up” by Marie Kondo. Great, great, great approach for folks like us.

  12. This one hit home for me!
    I have a house full of things that used to belong to someone else!
    I’m not talking about just a second hand factor…no I’m talking hand me downs.
    I’ve come to terms with some pieces that I’ve ‘inherited’… by come to terms, I mean–
    I paint them! I change them up and make them my own.
    I don’t have very many pieces that I’d say… hands off to, so when it comes down to keeping something. I ask myself a few of questions.
    Do I need or use this piece? Does it work for me?
    Would I have to replace it if I got rid of it?
    If I answer YES! to those questions…
    Then I figure out a strategy for MAKING IT MINE!
    I make modifications; Adding doors, removing doors and adding baskets, changing hardware, painting, etc.
    If I say NO to those questions… and I’m not over the top in love with it… out it goes.
    There have been those pieces… that present a challenge. For instance someone says…it’s junk. Just toss it…
    That little bit of challenge creates problems for me— at that point, I just want to prove them wrong!
    And make something wonderful out of it!
    I liked your videos today… great points and tips…
    the bloopers, hilarious!

  13. Golly-gee, you talked about me! I have to tell you a funny sequel to the comment I wrote about having too much large furniture for my house. I think it was the same week that I wrote that when I was on Craigslist looking for a bouncy horse for my three grandsons to have a Gramma’s house. We had had one when my daughters were little and they loved it. I had been looking for a long time and they were always too expensive or too beat up or something. But, this time I found one that was a beautiful, sturdy-looking Radio-Flyer and it was within my price range. So I decided I had to get it. I thought about where I would put it remembering having the one the girls rode in our living room for a while, so I tho’t I’d put it in my living room until warm weather and then on the deck. So I went and picked it up–had to drive quite a ways-the folks I got it from put it in the back of my Saturn Vue and I drove home with it. When I got home and went to take it out of the car I discovered how HUGE it was! I had to have help getting it in the house! It is almost twice the size of the one my kids had. Well, I put it in the LR anyway and there it sits, this huge horse right in the middle of all the other LARGE things in that room! So, I’m sorry to say I haven’t gotten rid of anything, but have added a HORSE to the mix! But the boys love it and Spring WILL come, right?

    I do want to say thank you to both of you, Marian and Krissy (sorry if your name is spelled incorrecty) for considering the whole issue of paring down, letting go of pieces to find your real style on Design Ramblings. I think it really is an issue for a lot of us as we work to make our homes the peaceful, comfortable havens we want them to be. Thanks again. You two rock!

  14. We built our country house in 1992. We had a few nice pieces but it was kinda bare. I had taken plenty of pictures because I was sending them home to my mom. That’s back when you took your 35mm roll of film to the drug store and had 2 copies made of each picture. Anywho what I’m getting at is… 23 years I have filled it up and looking back at the photos when it was kinda bare….I like it better. So now that I’m in my 60 somethings…..I’m starting to unload “stuff”. So why do we do this? Why do we have the need for more? That’s my two cents.

  15. I agree that the older we get, the less we need. Have a 3400 square foot home n my husband too states we have too much furniture! Have begun paring down too! However, family heirlooms are, indeed, difficult to part with! I must say, Miss Marion, I am crazy about your before picture, including the blue and while drapery fabric and rugs! Could have never parted with that…so crisp and so clean! The green accents if your green velvet chairs are divine! Looks like a professional decorator had a hand in finishing this room!

  16. This couldn’t be more timely! I went to an estate sale yesterday where there were wonderful pieces but I stopped myself from buying. I realized I am in the process of remodeling my kitchen and replacing all the flooring I my main level as well. I am going to take this opportunity as you stated, to look at the pieces I really value to achieve my style and let go of the rest. Lots of my finds worked in the beginning when we purchased our home as a weekend place but 2 years ago we decided to live here full time. Thank you for giving me the added push to do what is necessary to make this house our home.

  17. I am the “purge queen.” If it is not a family heirloom or something I LOVE, it goes. And since I love going to auctions and “projecting” it is a necessity or I would become a full blown hoarder! But you gave me the push I needed to dig even deeper. I had a buffet I was never REALLY in love with…so off to the flea booth it went today.
    Thanks 🙂

  18. Fantastic ideas, I so love that cow print over that duck blue and brown chest. Where can I get one? Did some research on the internet but have not come across one like it. PLEASE, inform me. THANK YOU AND keep sharing your awesome talent!

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