room reset challenge | part 1 | everything out

Marian ParsonsDecorating, decorating dilemmas27 Comments

I’ve talked about doing a “room reset” often on my blog, in my book, and in our Design Ramblings on YouTube.  If a room is feeling busy, boring or it’s just not “right”, a room reset is my go-to way to either get back on track or give the space a fresh look.

I first introduced the “room reset” five years ago when my living room was starting to feel over-crowded, dark and heavy.

room reset

I stripped all of the accessories and wall art…

room reset 2

…and eventually ended up with the lighter and brighter space I envisioned.

room reset 3

And just to show how it evolved from there, this is what the room looks like today…


So, remember Leigha’s bedroom?  The one that felt heavy and dark?  Here’s a reminder…

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Here’s the look I put together for her space…

Leigha's Bedroom Collage

And I suggested she start with a room reset of her own along with a fresh coat of creamy white on the walls and a pale sky blue on the ceiling.

And, guess what?!  She did it!


Can you believe it’s the same room?

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The blue in the ceiling is gorgeous.  Leigha said her husband loves it and it reminds him of a southern “haint blue” ceiling.  I think it looks almost like a skylight.

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Right now, it’s sparse and unfinished, but that’s the point.  Now Leigha can better see the bones of the room and what it needs.  It’s a room that’s been stripped down, now a clean slate for her to build her dream room on.

We’ll talk more about Leigha’s space in another post, but I was so thrilled that she was plowing forward and even more thrilled that she was sharing pictures (and even a video) of her progress, that I was inspired to start a series, challenging other readers to do their own room reset.

Are you game?

If so, pick a room in your house…one that is bugging you or doesn’t feel right.  Maybe a room that’s a dumping ground or has never reached it’s full potential. You probably know what room that is right away.

Step one of a room reset is to clear it or, as I said in the title, everything out!  

(Now, do yourself a favor and don’t get excited and do this right before you’re hosting Bunko night or having out-of-town guests!)


Remove all of the accessories, wall art, textiles (pillows, throws, bedding) and small pieces of furniture.  

Rugs and curtains are optional.  If you love them, keep them in the room.  If you’re iffy or you don’t like them, remove them.  

This part of the process is messy.  It definitely gets worse before it gets better, but this is a very important step.  That clean slate will help you look at your room with a fresh set of eyes.

Once the room is empty of all but large pieces of furniture, do two things…

1.) Sort through the things you removed from the room.  Get rid of what you don’t love and set the rest aside.

2.) Look at each piece of furniture, on its own and how it relates to other pieces in the room.  Can you rearrange?  Are there pieces that should be removed?  Is each piece functional for the space?  Do you love each piece or is something just a place-holder?  Do you have pieces in other rooms that might work better in this space?

Once you have the large furniture in place, you’re ready for step two

If you’re “playing along”, share a bit about your room in the comments, the challenges, the look you’re moving toward, etc.

You can find step two, “time to play”, HERE.

room reset challenge | part 1 | everything out

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27 Comments on “room reset challenge | part 1 | everything out”

  1. I actually did a “room reset” to my living room about 2months ago! I took down my cute, but dark brown, curtains and it instantly felt brighter. I did that after looking through your pictures when you decided to take yours down! I changed the color of the walls from a light bluish green chameleon type color to China White by Benjamin Moore. I LOVE the way my living room feels now. During the process I took down 2 really big canvas prints from Pier One. For once my walls were bare. I was patient (which was realllllly hard for me) and I finally found the perfect art for the main focal wall. I moved the Couch and love seat around and I also switched out two matching painted end tables for two industrial looking smaller scale pieces to hold a lamp and plant . It’s so refreshing every time I walk into that room. Its bright, has tons of natural light, with lots of textures thrown in with pillows, throws, old wood pieces, and some greenery. Your “room reset” is the perfect concauction of what to do when you’re in a rut! 🙂

  2. I love the term “room reset”, I never heard that before… I have been doing this A LOT recently. I love removing all the excess “stuff” but then feel sooo guilty with it sitting in the garage. I get stuck with whether to have a yard sale or just donate it. both feel like a huge waste of money. But it’s soo rewarding to have a fresh room and reminder that I don’t need any more “stuff”

  3. My Dining room has 5 doors, 2 windows, a chimney, & an air duct in it…HELP! I have been blogging about fixing up our little 1800’s farmhouse for about a year now and sharing the process with everyone. This dining room is beyond anything I can do. I have reset a few times as you have suggested, but I can’t seem to find a solution. It always feels like an overgrown hallway. I need you to come to Kansas and fix it 🙂

  4. The room reset and fresh paint really did the trick. Of course, I’m a little impatient and want it all redecorated yesterday, but as Marian stated, it is a blank slate! I’m dreaming each night as I lay in bed looking at my blue ceiling….dreaming of what the room will be. I’ve also sold off two pieces of furniture that were not serving a purpose in my home and that has padded my budget for the room makeover!

    1. Hey Leigha, your room is looking very nice,it looks so calm and restful. We did the same thing to our room last Feb. Now it is beige and white with blue accents. No rugs, totally different pictures and accent pieces, as well as all new bedding and window treatments. I even painted two peices of furniture, but left the bed and the highboy alone. It is so different, before it was cozy and I was alright with it but it was missing that light and airy feeling. Good luck and hope your patients last until the end.

  5. Leigha’s room looks like a completely different space. I love the “room reset” idea–something you don’t mention (but have done!) is to take pictures of the space. I don’t know about other people, but looking at pictures forces a “mental” reset–I find it can be so easy to NOT see a room the way others do, and looking at a picture helps me see a space (or, for that matter, an outfit I’m wearing) in a more objective way.

  6. Love the room reset – already so much brighter and fresher! Just lovely. Looking forward to trying this on my living room – perhaps on the next rainy stuck in the house day!

  7. I love that “a room that’s a dumping ground.” I have at least two of those. One is my guest room which turned into an eBay room, and the other is the sewing room which is becoming the new eBay room. Both are a mess. Thanks for the “inspiration – kick in the pants!”

  8. I would absolutely love the ironstone as I have a small collection. Also I have some old pieces if furniture that could be made beautiful with your paint.
    I never win anything …. Please choose me, miss mustard seed !! : )

  9. Yes, Leigha’s room looks very serene and peaceful. As for the room reset; I wanna play! I have a very small dining space, ( I won’t even call it a room) and that is where I will start. I recently cleared everything out of my living room, and it does help one to clearly visualize, and experience how the space can feel with either too much, or too little space. As for the dining room, it has to double as a eating area, a craft area, and a desk area, and library, so it can get pretty busy with stuff. My challenge is storage, so I have to keep the armoire and bookcases ( 3) in the room. There is a round french table and 4 chairs. I have been wanting to paint the table white,( it is now black) and the chairs turquoise ( they have rush seats). I have also thought about painting my 100 + year old armoire a lighter color to bring more light into the space. The walls are a taupe brown, which since I am renting, cannot change. I have a lace curtain hanging in the window, and a Southwest Indian design area rug that is white, turquoise, soft red, and a little black line running through. I would like to go for a French Farmhouse look. Any suggestions?

  10. Now you’ve gone and done it……you’re forcing me to clean out and remake a bedroom. I’m sure my husband is really going to thank you when he learns of what I have planned for this weekend. hahaha!!!

  11. I technically qualify for this exercise as my kitchen even has the sheetrock removed. Today the subfloor is being installed. I’m going to be very selective on what I put back into the space because it is my chance to have only what I love hanging on the walls and surrounding my eating space. I hope to then start on my living room but that will have to wait because it its now our makeshift kitchen. I’m saving this post as a strong reminder of what can be accomplished.
    I really like Leigha’s bedroom and especially the blue ceiling. What a difference the light colors have made as well as removing the heavy drapes. I would consider painting the paddles on the ceiling fan white to make them less noticeable. I did that when I lived in CA. and it made the ceiling fan remain functionable but less visible.

    1. MaryLisa, thanks for your comments. I’m not painting the fan b/c I’m on the hunt for a new light fixture. I’ll continue to share the makeover with Marian, and she can pass along to her readers as she chooses. I sure wish I was a better photographer!

  12. I love what Leigha’s bedroom looks like now! What a trooper to take on such a big change but she got a brand new room to live in! Awesome advice Marian – you rock!

  13. Haint blue is exactly what I thought of when you told Leigha to paint the ceiling blue. The room looks absolutely wonderful.

  14. Thank you so much for sharing this idea! I have done room resets many times and love that you have actually pinpointed it to an actual step in redesigning a room! You have truly simplified an otherwise complicated process for some. Brilliant! May I please link up and share this over at my blog? I hope you have a great week!

  15. I love the idea of playing along with the reset game! Our master bedroom is the room. Dark pine furniture. No headboard. Outdated floral bedspread. Discolored yellow walls. Ugly 1960’s yellowish wood trim. It has also become the dumping ground for storage bins that need to go elsewhere! I have a plan for a soft blue/grey wall color, bright white trim and white plantation shutters on the windows (the shutters will not happen right away but they are in the long term plan). The furniture is going to get a makeover. I envision Ironstone – with antiquing wax and slightly distressed. I bought a headboard on craigslist last year and it is in the garage waiting for a makeover. Maybe this could give me a kick in the pants to get moving!

  16. I am going to play along and reset what used to be the bedroom of our son’s 3 room apt before he moved into a condo. Right now it is my husband’s office but we will be switching the office with our guest room so that the apartment will function as a guest suite with bedroom, bath and sitting room with a mini kitchen. I am only leaving the drapes and first things first is paint.

  17. I’m in on the room reset. I started on my kitchen/breakfast nook 3 1/2 years ago and things just stalled out. I’m feeling inspired again with your room reset challenge. I can share my progress on my website.

    I absolutely love how Leigha’s bedroom looks right now, especially the ceiling!

  18. Wow! I really love a blue ceiling and Leigha’s ceiling especially! So elegant! I was thinking maybe she should accent more of that gorgeous moulding and bring the color down into some of the other spaces up there. Or not!
    I love the changes you’ve made to your blog and I am loving opening my email updates from you!

  19. I’m in the process of a whole house reset. I’ve decided that the french shabby chic look isn’t for me anymore. I’ve removed ALL decor, drapes, pillows and pink. So much pink. It’s all sitting in laundry baskets crowding my dining room. I’ve thought about trying to sell the decor on Craigslist but I think I’m going to donate it all this weekend. I just want it all gone now! It’s a little crazy to do this to the entire house all at once. Now my biggest issue is to not quickly redecorate, grabbing whatever I like, just to fill up the space. I want to be more deliberate. I’m thinking a dark moody gray in the living room and dining room, more sophisticated and minimal. I’m not sure about the details yet. I think I’ll live with it empty for a while.

  20. Wow the room looks so much brighter already! That blue on the ceiling is gorgeous good choice 🙂 Can’t wait to see more.

    Lauren Baxter | Lovely Décor

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