Take What You Need And Leave The Rest

August 19, 2010

Take what you need and leave the rest. Let’s discuss. I like this expression because in an effort to live a bit more simply, some of us work extra hard to tame our wild shopping ways. It’s a challenge to purchase only what we love, what we need and what matters (and not something because it is trendy or on sale). Take What You Need And Leave The Rest. Words to live by, not just a casual expression but also a dreamy painting by artist Lizzy Janssen as you can see below. The colors captivate me and the message is inspiring.

Take What You Need And Leave The Rest

More and more, I’m learning that the best shopping days are ones where I allowed myself to buy one or maybe two of my favorite things and to leave the rest, no matter how much “the rest” had been marked down or how I imagined I may use “the rest” someday. I buy only what I love now, even when it comes to mundane things like a veggie peeler. I buy the veggie peeler that is the best quality but also within my budget and that matches my kitchen so when I open my drawer and see it there, it looks nice resting next to the other things in the drawer because hey, why shouldn’t your veggie peeler look decent? As a result of buying the best, which also means buying less, I am shopping smarter and with more confidence and joy. Funny how upping your standards changes how you feel and how you live, all for the better.

Take What You Need And Leave The Rest

What do you think about Lizzy’s work? I’ve shared here some gorgeous paintings — I see watercolor-y prints and patterns everywhere these days, from graphic design to fashion, art, housewares, it’s all so lovely don’t you think? And what do you have to say on the subject of buying what you need and leaving the rest? Do you believe in this? Or are you a bit of a shopaholic unable to really put on the brakes? What are some ways you have learned to shop smarter?

(images: lizzy janssen)


  • Reply Anke August 19, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    I’m obsessed with simplifying and only keeping what is necessary and what I truly love. I think I appreciate space over stuff, and I loathe clutter. It’s much easier to think, focus and work with less stuff around. :-)

  • Reply Coco August 19, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    What a horrible question Holly! No. Just kidding of course… but i think that most people who are watching decor blogs and magazines must have a little shop addiction. You see so many beautiful stuff for your home that its almost impossible to not wanting some of the beauty…

    But, since i’m watching more and more images of houses i like and declining the things that aren’t ‘it’ for me i’m getting more a hold of myself for wanting to have EVERYTHING. So in a way, blogs and magazines are very helpful for the phrase: “take what you need and leave the rest”

    Okay, obviously decorating stuff aren’t necessities. But they do make me feel happy. And in that way i probably need them. This year i bought one object that’s standing next to my tv. Its not something that i needed, it wasn’t something i was searching for but i know that i will have it for a very long time. Because everytime i look at it, it makes me feel so happy. And everytime i want to buy something out of the blue i’m thinking about that one object next to the tv and i often don’t want to have anything else anymore.

    I now only want special object, mostly things that not everybody has. And since that is hard to find i’m fortunately not buying everything i like. But I think its hard though to keep in mind what we REALLY want. At least i have difficulties to keep that in my mind ;)

  • Reply La Belle Vie August 19, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    I’ve become obsessed with only buying second hand! That way even if I over indulge here and there, it’s more environmentally sound. Plus my pocketbook is happier!!

    I love her prints! Very inspiring!

    Jessa xx

  • Reply PioneerValleyGirl August 19, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    A lovely sentiment, and one I think we could all do well to remember (perhaps with the help of a beautiful print, but only if it’s really fulfilling…) A sign at my CSA instructing us to “take what we needed”, showed me just how divorced I was from consciousness of what I really needed, not just what I could have for the amount I’d paid.

  • Reply Terri August 19, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    As our budget has tightened, I’ve had to move more towards the idea of “take what you need and leave the rest.” In a way, it’s become enlightening. We’re not adding to the clutter that we already have & never use. We’re buying more quality instead of quantity. And we’re also learning to reporpose & reuse what we already have instead of tossing it and buying something new. I hope we take our lessons learned with us when our budget loosens up again.

    I’ve also discovered that my blog has become a great outlet. I can collect and share all the pretty things that catch my eye there. It actually decreases my impulse to buy!

  • Reply Christine August 19, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    I am loving these paintings, they’re just lovely.

    A shopping trick of mine is to leave at the store and if days later I can stop thinking about it, I know I looove it and it deserves a home with me ; ) It’s a great way to only buy what you love – no impulse shopping!

  • Reply Jane @ The Borrowed Abode August 19, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    So true. I’ve been focusing on this very idea lately, and have found it to make life so much better. I’m trying to only purchase items that were created in fair labor situations…and when it comes to housewares and furniture, sometimes it’s tough!

  • Reply Tracey Chalk August 19, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    Definitely been using and buying less recently but probably more of a money issue than anything else. Feels good though. Makes life feel more simple and i like it.

  • Reply Ann August 19, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    I definitely have too many things! But I really do want less! I am attempting to make-under my house, but it’s a very slow process. Some of my methods for stopping the madness include only allowing myself a very short amount of time in stores I know I over-indulge and if I buy four new items, i also get rid of four. I dream of starting over in a new house with only items that I really love! No random coffee cups or unmatched towels or utilitarian furniture!

  • Reply Sherry Smyth August 19, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Beautiful art and beautiful sentiments/thoughts. Take what you need…and leave the rest. It’s working for me these days when simple is more…and just what I need makes me happy. Too much doesn’t mean “happy” it just means clutter. There are others who might like and if I take more than my share? I’ve done someone else out of something enjoyable. Loved this post!

  • Reply petro zillia August 20, 2010 at 12:04 am

    i luv this site!!!
    it is SOOO creative and gives me ideas

  • Reply Melissa de la fuente August 20, 2010 at 12:11 am

    First of all..I absolutely LOVE her work! So very much.. And I agree with you 100% Holly, take what you need or absolutely LOVE and leave the rest. I feel like I spend less and love the special things in my home more. Thanks for this hun!

  • Reply julie August 20, 2010 at 12:43 am

    Some of my happiest shopping days are ones where I have a good browse and maybe come home with one items or none! Of course it depends on where you are shopping, if you are far from home then you have to make a decision then and there – and maybe have a tendency to overindulge because you won’t have the opportunity again. Sometimes things are so obviously right and other times I like to let them float around in my head for awhile to figure out whether they are right before I buy. But less is most definitely more.

  • Reply carolyn (one of the Spring gals!) August 20, 2010 at 1:02 am

    I love this sentiment and adore Lizzy’s work. I use a “cool off” list where I put items that I really *want* to cool-off for a bit and then re-evaluate at another time. I find that it cuts down on impulse buys and allows me to focus on quality rather than quantity.

  • Reply Emily@theNest August 20, 2010 at 1:03 am

    I really love this sentiment! Making every simple moment of your life peaceful and joyful… a great aspiration!

  • Reply Mandy August 20, 2010 at 1:05 am

    I LOVE the typography! Totally digging this.

  • Reply Nicki August 20, 2010 at 1:09 am

    I try my hardest to only buy what I need, but at times it’s very hard for me! Although, for some reason…some days it’s evil…I have a pretty good head that keeps me from buying everything in sight! Unless, I really need it…I don’t tend to get it. I’ve even had days when I was going to go buy something strictly because I wanted it and ended up talking myself out of it because I didn’t really need it! Ugh! ;o) However, I do see myself as one that doesn’t like clutter so if it’s not going to be purposeful in some way, it’s not coming home with me. :o)

  • Reply Jennifer August 20, 2010 at 1:11 am

    Lovely artwork!
    I was laid off more than a year ago, so my budget is very tight. At first I felt so deprived because I couldn’t buy every little trinket I wanted (“but it’s only $25… $15… etc.”), but now I enjoy browsing through stores and don’t even feel the need to buy. There have been several times when I’ve walked around a store with something I planned to buy but looked at again before going to check out and decided I really didn’t need or want it. I am a lifelong gatherer and live with so much clutter, so I also think about whether or not I really want to add to my “stuff”.

  • Reply barbara August 20, 2010 at 2:49 am

    Beautiful poster, I love her work. The sentiment seems to resonate with more and more of us all the time. I started some time ago only buying what I really loved, and getting rid of as much clutter as possible. If I see something I really think I can’t live without, but I already have too many of, I snap a photo, print it out and put it my journal. I can admire it, but it doesn’t add to the clutter.

  • Reply Rachel @ La Bella Bungalow August 20, 2010 at 2:56 am

    Love these prints and definitely feel like these are words to live by. I’ve really had to teach myself this concept over the last few years. After moving out of my last home and getting rid of so much “stuff”, I told myself I never wanted to accumulate that many needless things again. I really try to remember that when I’m out and about. Sometimes I falter, but I’ve gotten better over the years. I consider myself a reformed shopaholic, but I’ve still got a lot to learn. This was a great post. Thanks for sharing!


  • Reply patrick August 20, 2010 at 3:27 am

    Less is more, now more than ever. Personally, I feel much better jettisoning possessions than I ever did acquiring them. Simplicity is the new black.

  • Reply jan : daisy janie August 20, 2010 at 3:37 am

    Such pretty paintings and sentiments – thank you for sharing, esp b/c I haven’t seen these beauties before. I am wholeheartedly on the ‘leave what you need’ bandwagon! I never cared for shopping aimlessly at big box stores, but craft shows and antique shops represent a huge challenge to keep my hands in my pockets!! So hard when everything stirs an emotion. I do well, tho!!

  • Reply Kathy August 20, 2010 at 4:44 am

    The past few years I have really changed my shopping habits. I try to only buy things I really need and I buy secondhand and also refurbish/re-purpose what I can. It’s amazing what you can get at a thrift store, on or craigslist. I have found the most amazing furniture, clothes and housewares and really never see the need to buy new. My house feels so fresh, colourful, eclectic and everything has a story behind it. It just makes me feel happy to look around and see the unique things we have found.

  • Reply Jessica @ Reclaimed Marketplace August 20, 2010 at 6:21 am

    I love her work! The colors are fabulous! Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply Verity August 20, 2010 at 7:55 am

    This work is so soft, delicate and beautiful. It really speaks to me. And so does your post. Buying quality items that last and that you really love means you won’t be wanting a new one next week or next year.

    My husband likes to tell a story about his father who grew up on a small farm near the black sea coast of Turkey, basically in the middle of the forest. There they were very self sufficient and had to be careful with how they spent any money they had. When my husband’s father went to Istanbul one time he saw that everyone was wearing these cheap rubber shoes and he asked his father (my husband’s grandfather) to get some for him. When his father refused he was very upset. He wanted to have the shoes that everyone else was wearing. But his father told him that they couldn’t afford to buy cheap shoes.

    By which he meant that they needed to buy shoes that would last, even if they were more expensive. They couldn’t afford to buy something that would soon be thrown away.

    This is something that we are trying to do in our own lives. Thank you for this post to remind me :)
    He knew that

  • Reply Priya August 20, 2010 at 7:58 am

    I am definitely buying less and reusing/repurposing more. In fact, the more I blog about beautiful things, the lesser I seem to be actually shopping and buying. I think I am learning to look, love and appreciate the creativity behind something and then to let go.

  • Reply Traveling Mama August 20, 2010 at 7:58 am

    I love these watercolors! I am thrilled to see them coming back because it is a style that I truly love!

    As perpetual nomads this is a concept that we had to learn several years ago when we sold about 90% of everything we owned to move to Morocco. We lived so simply that I’m actually enjoying buying things so my new place will feel more like a home to us. But I’m much smarter about it now. I used to buy all kinds of things because they were on sale or just cheap and when we sold everything those were the first things to go. But things that I had bought that I “just couldn’t live without” are still with us because they were so precious to me.

    One of my biggest challenges right now… and perhaps something I would love to hear more from you about is how to choose. There are so many great styles out there and I love so many of them! I’m so ready to buy, buy, buy for our new home but I’m scared that either none of it will look good together or I’ll hate half of it in six months! Since I try to buy for the long term these fears have kept me from buying much of anything! So, I guess my question is this: How do you sift through all the styles out there and truly discover the style you love?

  • Reply Ivy August 20, 2010 at 8:10 am

    Oooh…I love her work. So dreamy! I love her color choices too. Thanks for sharing her with us! xo

  • Reply Stephanie August 20, 2010 at 8:49 am

    these paintings are very pretty. And I can relate to the “take what you need and leave the rest”! I try to shop by finding something and refusing to buy it for at least a week so I know, if I am still thinking about it in 7 days, I must really want it. That said, I very often don’t follow my own rule and end up with a bunch of stuff I don’t even really want! My other rule is to regularly clean out my closet, which at least helps me realized what I do need and what NOT to buy again.

  • Reply Romantic Crafts August 20, 2010 at 9:00 am

    It is gorgeous! I also like the colors! Beautiful art!

  • Reply Ruthie August 20, 2010 at 10:10 am

    What a great post Holly, thanks! I try to live very simply and the fact that I hate clutter makes it easier. I also have a very defined home style (shabby chic/ swedish and french) so whenever I go shopping I look for pieces that match my style and don’t even look at black and brown stuff if you know what I mean. I shop smarter buying less but of the best quality I can afford.

  • Reply Jutta August 20, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I am a recovering shopaholic… Well, to my defence, three years ago I lived in a studio flat and now we have a house to decorate, so some shopping has been necessary. Now that our house is becoming more and more ready (ie. full) I’ve managed to tone down my shopping habits. But I admit, there has been some impulse buys that I’m not happy with anymore and would like to replace with others. Most of the time I get vintage or second hand, so it’s more eco-friendly and if I get tired, I can sell them again at fleamarkets or recycle.

    Like some of the others have mentioned, if I find something nice, I try to wait a couple of days to see if I still want it. But with fleamarkets and thriftstores sometimes when you come back after couple of days, the item has already been purchased. In that case I try to tell myself it wasn’t my destiny :)

  • Reply Laura August 20, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Making wish lists works very well for me. When I see something I’d like to buy I put it in my wish list. It’s a great way to keep the buying impulse under control. Having the item in the list is nearly as good as having the item itself (I know it sounds weird but it works like this for me). After some time you see that you don´t want anymore some items from the list, or there is a new and improved version, or you found it cheaper in another place… etc. For me it’s always a good thing to wait some time before you buy something.
    Plus, your family always knows what you want for Christmas :-)

  • Reply Brigitte August 20, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    I so agree with your sentiments in this post. I’m working to refocus my blog a bit around this topic, actually, because there’s a delicious tension between the lovely things we constantly see and our real-life fixed pocketbooks and houses! I have a rule. If an item isn’t both beautiful and functional, I don’t buy it. And, if you wouldn’t want it at full price, you don’t need it at a discount. Two rules, then. :)

  • Reply Charlotte August 20, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    I am definitely mindful of not buying senselessly and on impulse all the time these days, partly because those small purchases really add up, and partly because my aim is to only have things I truly love in my home. I’m no minimalist by any stretch of the imagination, but I no longer want the quick fix over something I know I will appreciate for a long time, perhaps even pass on to the next generation.

    I shop mostly second hand these days for my home (flea market, ebay, thrift stores) and find that this is a good way of evaluating just how much a potential purchase is really worth it to me. The amount of stuff out there is incredible, and it makes me aware of how much we accumulate (and get rid of) in a lifetime.

  • Reply rebecca August 24, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    what a nice post! I love Lizzy’s work, I’m actually having her design my wedding invitations for me! thanks for posting!! <3

  • Reply erin September 19, 2010 at 5:27 am

    Great post!

    I have a rule that if I don’t love it, it doesn’t come in the house. I started about 2 years ago and it’s been wonderful (mostly). The hardest part is the waiting game…sometimes it takes me a long time to find things when I need them! Especially when most of our stuff is second hand.

    It’s also really nice to be able to look around the house and not cringe over things- if I cringe, it goes. Like those shoes that were just a tiny bit snug or the coffee canister that had a chip in the lid…it’s amazing what it does for your mind to get rid of these types of things.

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