Thoughts On Mindful Living at Home

June 28, 2013

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about serenity, peace, simplicity and uncomplicated, mindful living. As much as I crave those things in my own life, I can never seem to get to that “place” because I am constantly seeking new territories and adventures; it’s very hard for me to sit still. My mind is constantly onto the next thing. Can you relate?

Thoughts On Mindful Living at Home
Thoughts On Mindful Living at Home
via beeldsteil

I am fueled by others, fueled by my own mind and constantly fueled by imagery online. Yet, through all of the colors, sounds, shapes and the drive I have to do more, I still go back to serenity, peace, simplicity and uncomplicated living. And I still love blogs that give me this feeling of being mentally clutter-free.  So I’ve been thinking lately – how can I get these things that I desire so much, despite how big my life is? How can someone who can’t sit still have space enough to think, breath, reflect and enjoy the moment? My friend is a mindful living coach and has consistently been trying to help me to learn how to really get into the moment. I’ve tried so many times to listen to her wisdom, apply her practicies and breath in… breath out… Yet I am an unstoppable force. What can be done?

Thoughts On Mindful Living at Home

via woon blog

Recently my husband said something that made me think. He said, “What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?”, the classic irresistible force paradox. I thought about it and my conclusion was that one had to give up, or destroy, the other. I see this in society a lot lately. One person has an immovable opinion and the other, an unstoppable opinion – in other words – both feel strongly about their beliefs and neither will stop until they overtake the other or covert them totally.

So I asked my husband, “Ok, so what should happen when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?”. His answer was completely opposite of mine. I wondered if it was because I am American and as a culture, we tend to be right or wrong, left or right, black or white. I notice in Europe there is a lot more gray, and not just in the weather! His answer was much less threatening. It made sense. It actually warmed my heart and made me feel quite eager to explore this topic, this classic paradox, even further. He said,

“It’s simple: when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, they surrender.” He also said that you need to know when you need to be unstoppable and when you need to be immovable, within reason.

What a beautiful statement. Isn’t it? So I then applied it to me and my need for serenity, peace, simplicity and uncomplicated living when I am, by nature, such an unstoppable force. I simply need to surrender. I simply need to cease resistance and just go with the flow. I need to respect the need I have to run fast yet feel at peace and live slow. But how?

Thoughts On Mindful Living at Home
via jeltje fotografie

I thought more about this for days and days and I then I thought to take out my recent book, Decorate Workshop, and I went through my own words line by line. I don’t know how many authors out there read their own books months after they’ve been published, but I do. I am a big believer in, “Practicing what you preach”, so this was my way of doing just that. As I read, I started to think more about my home, my personal style, my systems of organization (and lack of), my “clutter” problems around the house and after some time my own book made me realize that this was exactly how I could have the simple life I crave while still being me.

I need to redecorate.

I need to view my home in a fresh, new, uncomplicated way. I need to scale back, sell things, move things around, and get rid of things that I simply don’t use because I may use them “someday”. I need to reconsider my color palette. I need to think about the floor plan, the flow, the focal points. As I started to think more about my home and how I live in it, I started to see why I’m often stressed at home. I have, for my personality anyway, too much visual clutter. Too many “stories” going on around me with my objects. I am easily distracted anyway so I certainly don’t need help with my wandering mind. Do I really need magazines that are 8 years old? Do I really need design books that I don’t even feel a connection to? Do I need to keep all of the sewing books that I own because I never use them anyway? As for my clothing and shoes, that’s a completely different area of concern altogether. Do I still need size 7/8 jeans because I’m not a size 8 anymore and once I am again, will I really want THOSE jeans anyway because aren’t “mom jeans” with zippers at the ankles terribly outdated anyway?

Thoughts On Mindful Living at Home

via behance

And so I’ve been thinking about SO much over the past few weeks and I wanted to share these thoughts with you. I’m going to work on my home this summer, scale back on stuff I don’t need, I’m even thinking to throw a sale in my home (by invitation only) to sell the many gorgeous things that I have that I no longer need. This is the one part of my life that I can simplify – my home/work environment. I’m confident that once I do, then I’ll feel more balance and peace. Your home is so integral to professional and personal growth. I wish more people believed in this fact.

Thoughts On Mindful Living at Home
via: aya goa

Do you have any thoughts to add on this topic? I’d love for you to chime in! I find your comments so encouraging. And please, visit all of the links below the lovely photography above – they are all people and sites whom I admire deeply and find much inspiration from.

Have a lovely weekend! – Holly xo


  • Reply Gabrielle Treanor June 28, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Such a great post, Holly, and it feels so relevant to me today, thank you. I’ve been running my own business for a couple of years and while I love it, have so much I want to do and ideas running around my head all the time, the last couple of weeks I’ve felt overwhelmed. My mind has been running at too fast a pace, thinking about what I’ve done in the past, how I’m taking my business forward in the future and the pressure to ‘succeed’, whatever that might be’ if just stressing me out! I realise I’ve gotten to the point that unless I have a specific reason not to work, such as someone’s party or a guest to stay, I feel like I should be working on moving my business forward all the time. I bought yarn to crochet a blanket two years ago and still haven’t started. I really enjoy baking but haven’t touched a mixing bowl in probably over a year. I almost exclusively read business books even though one of my favourite things is to lose myself in a great novel for hours. But I do none of these things because I feel guilty that they’re not directly benefitting my business. However, this week I had a little epiphany (i.e. meltdown) and realised that I need to enjoy the now, and do things for the joy of it now, not when I’ve reached a certain milestone in my business. So, I’ve been baking and I’m about to start on my blanket! And already I feel more excited about getting back to work with lots of ideas in my head in a positive, not stressful way. So while you’re decorating I’ll be crocheting and we’ll both have beautiful results in a few month’s time! xx

  • Reply eva June 28, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    oh holly – my thoughts! i am right now working with your book to declutter our house and feel comfortable.
    I work through every room to make it feel as our private place to calm down.
    I wish you a wonderful weekend, xo eva

  • Reply Rebecca Portsmouth June 28, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    If you really are happy running your life at a pace, then it’s likely that you change quickly and hardly a surprise that your home and surroundings at the moment no longer reflect who you are.

    I recently had a clean-out of my main bookshelf. About two-thirds of the books are going. I am redecorating my lounge. Virtually everything on the walls is going. It’s just part of the flow of life – allowing a fresh breeze and sunshine to sweep through everything.

    Nature does it so well – think of a crab shedding its shell when it is grows.

  • Reply Zoe June 28, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    I can totally relate to what you say. I get stressed if my environment is cluttered and messy – it has a huge impact on me. I think surrendering is such a beautiful way of describing what you need to do. I feel a big need to surrender too and am planning some big changes in my life. We only have one life and if we are not happy and fulfilled, then I think we need to do something about it – even if it means stepping out of our comfort zones. For me serenity comes in the form of yoga each morning – it’s great for de-stressing and grounding yourself, especially if you spend a lot of time in your mind rather than doing physical things – and it’s great exercise too, so very efficient time spent!

  • Reply Micala June 28, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Hi Holly,

    I am in exactly the same place as you at the moment, dreaming of calm, simplicity and an uncluttered interior. I also have serious redecoration ideas and I also pulled out your book! Your honesty is so refreshing and really inspiring. I’d love to know more about your uncluttering and organising plans.

    I studied interior design but am often afraid to put paint or nails to walls as I get so overwhelmed by the choice with all the beautiful images on the internet, and I worry I’ll change my mind the minute it’s up.

    Personally I’m dreaming of a laidback, white, bode & fou interior.

    Have a great weekend,


  • Reply Jamie June 28, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    I felt like I was reading something my subconscious wrote! I recently wrote a thesis similar this topic and find it difficult to practice what I preach as well. Overcome by inspiration, I often drift in and out of social media – “dieting,” if you will – and never seem to pause and reflect on what I have and appreciate. I think it is ok to morph and change your surroundings, as it refreshes the soul. However, too many “stories” make for a complicated and cohesive home story. I hope you find peace in space and self. I mysel will try to “surrender” more…

  • Reply Heather Boissonneau June 28, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Fantastic post, Holly. I’ve had a long-term practice of voluntary simplicity and I can say with absolute authority that the state of my surroundings directly affects how mindful and peaceful I am.

    What’s really strange to me is that the mere knowledge of the physical clutter creates mental clutter for me, I don’t have to see the extra stuff, just the fact that I know it’s there is enough to weigh on my mind. I used to have a goal to be conscious of everything I own, I may make that a goal again. It definitely puts limits around how much stuff I can acquire anyway (or maybe my memory just isn’t that good.) :-)

    Our house is still a construction zone, and all of the displaced “stuff” is affecting my moods and thought processes in a negative way. I can’t wait until I finish and can get everything settled.

    On another note, I love paradoxes and I think that we often engage in unnecessary dichotomous thinking, creating either/or scenarios where none really exist. You can both be an unstoppable force and a practitioner of mindfulness and simplicity. Gandhi seemed to do both pretty well.

    Many thanks for this timely post! It’s been on my mind too! Maybe you can tell ;-)

  • Reply Desiree June 28, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    I wrote a really long comment on my I pad… But it skipped to another page… i just hope it was sent :( anyway I loved your post and can only encourage you to get on with the life. i spot a lot of Dutch interiors with a scandinavian touch… Although I wonder if you could live without color I do think starting frommwhite will give you the airy light feel you see in the pictures.

    Happy weekend !

  • Reply Desiree June 28, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Meant to say to go on with taking life easy :)

  • Reply Marjory June 28, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    What a thougthtful post Holly. Love the idea of slowing down and surrendering at the encounter of the unstoppable force and the unmovable object. It is only when we slow down that we can appreciate more nuances of our adventures and explorations.

    Life is really a dance of stillness and flow; our spaces are no different and therefore reflect this magic. I love that my offerings revolve around this meaningful soul work! Finding that sweet spot is what it’s all about.. :)

  • Reply Caitlin @ Front Porch Art June 28, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    One way we keep things simple is by not having surfaces just to put something decorative on. While I love photos of homes with a pretty table and a single vase, not doing this is a way to keep our home minimal. For decoration we have art all around the house collected from travels or to commemorate a special moment in life. Everything means something and it adds color and uniqueness to our home without any clutter.

    • Reply decor8 June 28, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      @Caitlin – I’m not, nor ever will be a minimalist. For me, if a table doesn’t at least have a flower arrangement on it or a mug, or a newspaper, it’s absolutely sterile and void.

  • Reply FrauSchmitt June 28, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Dear Holly,
    you are speaking right from my soul. That’s exactly how I’m feeling at the moment. And I’ve just started to throw things out, to sell, donate or just throw stuff away.
    I had to smile when you mentioned the piles of old magazines, I just put them into the paper garbage and it feels so good. There is so much inspiration online that I definitely don’t need sooo many magazines here at home. BTW thank you for those beautiful pictures. There really is calmness in all of them and it is great inspiration.
    Since we are planning a whole makeover here due to the fact that the twins need their own rooms, the task of getting rid of clutter is and will be a thrilling one and I’m excited to see how it will turn out here at our home and at yours.


  • Reply The Country Mouse June 28, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Holly, I have the exact same issue. I’m looking to buy a home and looking around my current residence thinking “dear Lord, I need to get rid of some of this stuff before I move” but then I wonder, what would I get rid of? I would love a Zen-inspired home. I have a lot of pruning to get there. Thanks for the digital camaraderie in this quest! :)

  • Reply Wendy June 28, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Food for thought.. such a wonderful post. My home is light, it feels like a blanc page. Open for new ideas or to simply remain bright and quiet. It depends on my mood and needs.

    I look forward to your plans for the house and thank you Holly, for using my pictures to your inspiring story. I feel honored :)

    Go slowly and enjoy your weekend! Wendy

    • Reply decor8 June 28, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      @Wendy – Your two mood board photos were lovely, thank you in return! In fact, your blog is such a restful and inspiring space to me – so thank you for writing it. I hope to meet you someday, your work is wonderful.

  • Reply emily June 28, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I am facing kind of a stressful summer financially, and I decided that to embrace my new frugal lifestyle, I will spend more time at home and avoid shopping/spending temptation. But my home stresses me out too, due to the amount of stuff. So, I am taking control of two things at once- working on culling the excess stuff to make my home more of a relaxing place, but also taking all that stuff to consignment shops to make a little money off of it too. It has been a slow start, because I have to take it one small area at a time, but I think it will make for a much happier vibe by the end of the summer!

  • Reply Marianne June 28, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Wow your are really a thinker! So am I, I have to admit. But yet I enjoy calmness and stillness once in a while. I even need it. When I started reading this post I thought, why doesn’t she accept the (wonderful) person she is. Unstoppable and all. Remember in bootcamp you told us not to be too much in your head.
    Have a nice weekend!

    • Reply decor8 June 28, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      @Marianne – I do accept myself very much so please be careful not to read words I’ve not written (smile). I am a person who puts BIG heart and soul into everything that I do – and I think about things actively because I enjoy exploring options and trying to identify key areas of improvement. You can’t be so much “in your head” that you don’t make progress, that is what I said in bootcamp – because we can impair our own progress if we get analysis paralysis. This is something I teach and live by.

      But one does need to put thought into their direction and decide if it’s where they want to go. Then, once you have weighed a few options, you step forward in the direction you’ve chosen. For me, it’s redecorating my home to reflect the 2013 version of myself. We are always evolving as human beings and I believe the home should reflect that. What made us feel good one year may cause a different response later on. J

      ust as you can grow apart from a friend of partner, you can grow apart from your home. It’s like owning a file cabinet when you have an office, it makes sense because you store your files in their. But later, if you no longer have an office, you may decide to give your filing cabinet away or repurpose it because you simply do not need it. It’s the same with other objects in our home and even furniture and other things. For me, this process is wonderful, beautiful and makes me happy. It’s not impairing my progress but pushing me forward – and I’m happy and accept that and who I am, where I’m going and that even in another year, I’ll still be writing a post on my blog about how I made more changes in my home or life in general. And I think that’s absolutely awesome.

  • Reply Juliette June 28, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    I just notice a huge difference in my attitude and work ability (creative or otherwise) when my environment is inspiring and clean. That last bit can be a bit of a challenge sometimes as I’m definitely a ‘piles’ kind of person! =D

    Still, I know what you mean about the whole home. We’re coming to some life conclusions on our own and are feeling ready to shrug off so much of what we have. It’s almost like shedding an old skin in favor of a new one; you -in a sense- are the same, but your surroundings need to change.

  • Reply decor8 June 28, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    @Desiree: I don’t see your longer comment which is such a shame because I would have enjoyed reading it!

    By the way, have you seen my home? My base is white so I’ve always started from white. Most of my furniture is from Denmark and The Netherlands with some pieces from Germany. So I already have the Scandinavian/Dutch aesthetic with a touch of the US/UK.

    I couldn’t live without accent colors, you are right, but my walls are already white and my floors wooden, and my furniture white, gray, linen-colored or natural wood, so my redecorating process will go pretty easily I think because the base is perfectly simply and what I love.

    I’m thinking to just change out my sofa table, get some new rugs, do something fantastic to the wall behind my sofa, and move stuff around and store some of my artwork. I want to buy some new art and prints and try some creative projects I’ve had my eye on lately. But overall, I don’t want clutter – I don’t want a ton of stuff around, I don’t want lots to look at. While it inspires my students and clients who visit me, it doesn’t inspire me in the same way as it once did. So it’s time for a change!!!

    Holly xo

  • Reply Eunice June 28, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Thank you for this fantastic thoughtful post. I echo everyone else here (especially Gabrielle’s comment) on craving an uncluttered space. I live with my family in the same home (for the past 20+ years) and needless to say it is full of clutter. I’ve given up trying to de-clutter and pack the space as it just overwhelms me. I’m also in the midst of moving a lot of my business stuff home as I will be working from home for a few months and that has just increased my stress levels.

    I am a firm believer that we are affected by our physical surroundings and working/living in an inspiring space will produce great work and vice versa. I dream of having an uncluttered space and am embarking on a plan to move out to another space where I can live and work (and decorate as well!). Pinterest and looking at calm white spaces are my means of escape until that happens. I’ll definitely be looking here for more inspiration!

  • Reply Sharon June 28, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Hi Holly, this is a great post, firstly because it’s about mindfulness…and that in itself is a huge topic of discussion. Whatever you are doing, to be mindful of it and focus entirely on what you are doing, instead of allowing one’s mind to wander around on other topics. This morning I did a HUGE declutter. My husband came home a few weeks ago with ‘things’ his friends had given to him – they had emigrated to Aussie and he thought he might find them ‘useful in a few years…’ Needless to say, I got rid of it all this morning, but instead of taking it to landfill, it was all recycled, and as I unloaded the car, a woman next to me was packing it in the boot of her car…so I’m glad someone else got to use what I couldn’t, or more precisely, wouldn’t! Sharon

  • Reply Jessica June 28, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    Such a great post, thank you for sharing this!! I have been having similar feelings, as well! Living in New York City and working in the design industry, it’s so easy to be drown in hustle, bustle, pattern, print, color, mix, people, keeping up with trends, etc. I love how you say “I need to respect the need I have to run fast yet feel at peace and live slow”. Sometimes it’s so hard to juggle the two because business and work can take over. But oddly, the most important thing that living in a busy city has taught me is that it’s so important to make sure you take those peaceful time-outs for yourself (“surrendering”), and how important it is to make your home a sanctuary space. I also make sure I take time out to go on walks near the water, catch a sunset when possible, and center myself through yoga. You know what instantly calms me and slows me down when in the middle of work craziness? When I come across calming, harmonious photos very much like the ones you have shared above in your post! (especially love the last one with the cat!) So thank you for sharing and bringing me back to center zen-mode today :)

  • Reply jessica June 28, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    Such a good, good post! I have these thoughts in my head constantly as well. I love my objects and the stories they tell so it is difficult to part with them. At the same time, the stories are still there in my mind, in my heart. So why not pare down?

    I live in a very small cluttered happy space and am going to be moving into two rooms. One for sleeping and one for my own. How I am going to pare this all down is scary but i aim to do it even while those around me snicker and fail to believe in me.

    I love your husband’s words. He makes the word surrender sound dreamy and I am going to try it. Thank goodness for blogging and photography. We can always document our current lives and mini pasts before we move to our futures.

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It has helped me with the looming pile of boxes immensely. Happy almost July!

  • Reply Bonnie June 28, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Great post, Holly. I love that you share your thoughts on matters like these. And also think it is great that although you seem to be a person who goes at 100 miles per hour, you take time out to reflect on how you want things to be, how you want to live. (That’s the life coach in me) I personally try to live by the notion of “does it nourish me or drain me”. If it is nourishing, then go do/get/be more of it. If draining, let’s change it or at least reduce the amount it drains. I now aim to apply that across all areas of my life really: physically, emotionally, socially, etc. For me it is a practise of awareness, I guess. Being aware and becoming more and more aware, in the moment, what nourishes me, keeps me feeling resourceful and at my best; to go at top speed – or nourished, resourceful and at my best to be still, in the moment, calm. Hope you surrendering will give you the kind of mindfulness and calm you wish for.

  • Reply Michele June 28, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    I am right there with you, holly. For me, this is not at all a head issue. It’s spiritual and involves letting go and intentionally making room for what’s next. Is it a refining process? Perhaps. I don’t want my home or belongings or even my blog to own me–I own them. They need to work for me, and sometimes the introduction of tension presents an opportunity to reassess and relearn or renegotiate. Surrender is one of my favorite empowering words! Joy to you on this leg of your journey.


  • Reply Martina June 28, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    Hi Holly, i’ve just made similar experience the last years.
    Sold things i don’t really need or which are not me. I came to the point, that i began to organize my home. The truth is that it was me that needed more organisation. I had to stop for a while, stop taking my mind off things and needed to see clearlier and to capture the essence. And when i realized that i needed to clear some things out and did it, i found a balance in my home too. I reduced it to the essential. When i’m looking for inspirations on blogs i found myself thinking how nice something looks and at the same moment i think if really need this. Sometimes i just close my computer to process the impressions and often i come to the conclusion, it’s fine the way it is. There is no hurry to find more and more inspirational stuff. It will find you when you are ready maybe :) I don’t need to search for it. Trends will always change and for me it’s better to change the way i need to change and to grow. My home will change then too. All what we see and wish isn’t more then distraction. If you realize that you need to get back to the basics you find the balance and all you really need and wish.

    Sorry for my english :P

  • Reply melinda ke June 28, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    What a great post, Holly! I was just thinking the same thing, my life is so cluttered with things that I haven’t used, yet I hold onto things because I might want to use them in the future. I’ve been having problems with clothing moths invading my home, it has been nearly impossible to get rid of them because there are so many places for them to hide…seems unrelated to your post, but, I realized the other day that if I didn’t have so many things lying around that I never use I would notice things like that before they get out of control! I think your post has just given me that little push I need to start going through some of my things and clearing the clutter! Thanks! :)

  • Reply yz June 28, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    wow Holly, what an eye opening story….It is exact the way my husband wants to live and what conflicts with my need for color and gathered treasures (we don’t need anymore). We started cluttering this month and it is so much fun to make people happy with things we used with pleasure for years. We started selling the cradle of our kids. When I put it on the internet, it was sold within 2 minutes. The lovely young couple who bought it, were so happy to find a treasure like this that it felt right. And now we have to move on with other things (which are much easier to sell or throw away than the cradle).
    I love the pictures of beeldSTEIL a lot too. And I know here place is serene and so well styled, just how her blog is.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, because it makes me realize that I have to continue… enjoy working on your new homebase. x

  • Reply Caro June 28, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    I’m glad you’re embracing minimalism! I’ve been on this quest for some time now and life is so much simpler and joyful.

  • Reply Kim June 29, 2013 at 12:06 am

    I normally don’t write comments but your post today is right on, obviously many people are feeling the same way as you, as I am too, I’ve been “thinking” of De-cluttering my home, mind (and closet) for awhile, I think your words today have given me the inspiration to do so.In fact I think I will start today, one room at a time. Good luck with your home and have a great weekend. I love receiving your blog in my email so keep them coming!

  • Reply sasha lee June 29, 2013 at 1:06 am

    i echo everyones sentiments-when i too feel thats exactly what ive been thinking about lately.I am also a go-go person and have 2 small children and am self employed with a retail store ,and am starting a sales website for the store,redecorating parts of our home, redecorating the store,and trying to juggle the end of financial year stuff -phew! I have some amazing help from my husband ,but am having trouble getting to sleep and turning off. I also sit at the computer late at night getting lost in cyberspace-pinterest,reading blogs,trying to keep up with all the inspiring posts and images, checking my emails randomly -its all making me feel a bit tense!! Sometimes-i feel like a dog chasing its tail! I have definitely decluttered the house in the last year and have a antique stall at a local centre to offload my old house bits and store props-that has been a godsend!
    i really enjoy refreshing my environment-and have whitened the whole house paintwise with 2 feature wallpaper walls for interest.At the moment i am particularly drawn to green,white and natural woods-and am buying lots of house plants – i do think there is a move towards simplicity and calmness and natural woods,tribal pieces ,craft as a reflection of people seeking simplicity in this technologically saturated world. My children help to ground me-as they are so in the moment and demand for you to meet them on their level. i am sure regular yoga and meditation as part of a daily routine would be incredibly helpful too -to find a little inner peace and help us ground ourselves amidst our busy lives-i am currently looking for classes right now.
    i enjoyed the post you wrote about healthy eating too,and remembering to exercise whilst your bottom is planted in front of the computer screen-thanks for yr great posts that extend beyond an ordinary blog into more thoughtful explorations of the way we live! regards sasha

  • Reply Bella Edgley June 29, 2013 at 1:51 am

    Great post and beautiful photos. I can relate to this because I am not a naturally tidy person and my mind as well as the objects in my house tend to ‘wander’!.

    One of my favourite quotes about what to keep in your house is from William Morris and when I am tidying I sometimes think about it;

    ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’ – William Morris.

  • Reply Melissa June 29, 2013 at 2:19 am

    I really enjoyed reading this post. I love hearing how people choose to simplify their lives. I am getting ready for the move of my life… I’m a city girl through and through– or so I thought. My husband and I have made the decision that we want nothing more than to feel balanced, and free. We are moving to the countryside, and I cannot wait. I won’t be too far from the city, so I can come back whenever I want. I’m just so looking forward to waking up, and breathing the fresh country air. ahhh!
    Can’t wait to see your transformation :)

  • Reply Clare June 29, 2013 at 6:01 am

    Challenging post, Holly! I find decluttering and paring back so much harder in the rental house that we are currently living in (rather than the smaller house we previously owned) as my eye is drawn to all the things about the rental that I cannot change ( horrid floors/ dark kitchen/ cream walls etc). The photos you included in this post all have fantastic light, white walls and gorgeous floors, which feel incredibly restful and beautiful and don’t need extraneous ‘stuff’. My rental needs some distractions, but finding the line between distractions and stuff that is not needed or truly wanted is tricky!

  • Reply fenny setiawan June 29, 2013 at 7:03 am

    I can totally relate your post with my own struggling to enjoy the very moment in life. However, I am trying my best to practice that so called mindful living.

    When I spend my time with my daughter after a long day at work, I let my mind in peace and just enjoy the very moment with her, I say a little prayer to God that allow me to have this moment. I feel contented. And I want the feeling be exactly when I do other things too. Enjoy the very moment, yah that;s the word :)

    Happy weekend…

  • Reply Ellen June 29, 2013 at 8:01 am

    What a wonderful, insightful post — and you are not alone out there.

    I’ve been thinking a great deal about this same topic recently as we are trying to spend more time at our home in Vermont. We are trying to slow down. Live in the moment. Get out of the DC rat race.

    I’ve been throwing away, giving away, consolidating — it is liberating and therapeutic. Highly recommended. And as for color palettes, yes, I am simplifying or trying to in that area of my life., Much more white…and an occasional pop of color. I’m thinking…yellow.

  • Reply Nicola June 29, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Holly, that is how I feel, too at the moment. We just packed all our belongings into sea containers ready to ship and it was so overwhelming to see the piles. But I tend to be more minimalistic already, I hate clutter and I got rid of so much beforehand. This whole process showed me that I need to live even leaner to feel lighter and I am so much looking forward to start from scratch in the new house. Only the things we absolutely need will be allowed to come in again.
    I can not relax or be creative in a crowded house. Living on air mattresses in the empty house will feel like heaven right now.
    All the best, Nicola

  • Reply Libby June 29, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    First time commenter here Holly!!! I bought your book last week and have been reading it over these days. I read it this afternoon too. Cannot thank you enough for sharing your learning over the years with us. Now I am looking forward to decorate my home. Even drew a rudimentary floor plan!!!

    • Reply decor8 June 30, 2013 at 1:15 pm

      @Libby that’s wonderful – enjoy my books!!! :)

  • Reply Stephanie June 29, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Our home is often the reflection of our inner state and working as a decorator and designer myself I am involuntarily drawn to new looks and colour tendencies.As fast as my own mind worked I changed and added decoration items in my own home .And the more cluttered my living space got , the more fidgety and restless I got with my workprojects.
    Just like you I had a long conversation with myself and reflected about the things I truefully liked ,as a child in the home of my grandparents and parents and those that I acumulated throughout my adult life. Things that affected me emotionally then as much as they do today.
    I restyled my home and I felt liberated! I felt that I found myself. I am more relaxed at home and my work, less frantic and more meaningful and I have not made any compulsive purchases yet!

  • Reply Peyton June 29, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Loving those effortless fabulous white rooms! I love white rooms..so classy!

  • Reply Alexandra June 29, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    I’ve been on the same way of thinking lately. I’m 21 so I’m getting older and becoming an adult, and I want my appartement to be more adult, more mature which can be difficult because I want also to keep having fun, I’m young.
    I’ve always been more mature for my age, and I want to be more serious, but not boring. So I’ve been thinking about changing my environnement by applying this : less is more.
    I just want to get rid of things I don’t like anymore et buy things that correpond more to my personnality. I want more white color but still with touch of color because I’m a really joyful person and it won’t change.
    Anyway, I’m changing and the decoration of my house too, it grows up.

    By the way, the cat is very cute!

  • Reply Shower Doors June 29, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Holly, I have the exact same issue. I’m looking to buy a home and looking around my current residence thinking “dear Lord, I need to get rid of some of this stuff before I move” but then I wonder, what would I get rid of? I would love a Zen-inspired home. I have a lot of pruning to get there. Thanks for the digital camaraderie in this quest! :)

  • Reply Rochelle Greayer June 30, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more! I have been constantly wondering what is wrong with me because while I am utterly overwhelmed with my current book project and should under no circumstances be distracting myself with anything else….I must. The more I write and organize these thoughts on paper the more my home (and it’s lack of organization and a decor that belongs to me about 8 years ago and not me in 2013) NEEDS to change. All I can do is try to manage my impulses, I can’t deny them. I recently found out that chronic sinus problems are caused by allergies I didn’t know I had. Dr. instructed me to remove the wall to wall carpet from my bedroom (I was just looking for a good reason) and it was done in a matter of days (Drs Orders!!). But beneath was a mess of a floor — some hardwood, some patches wood, some 100 year old linoleum). This is my haven now… a bedroom makeover….I write, then I paint, then I write and then I paint some more. Then I go install new flooring….it is keeping me sane and helping me write. And like you bags and bags of stuff that isn’t me are leaving the building and nothing feels better. Streamlined simplicity is what I crave and quite honestly what I need to be able to think right now. I totally get what you are saying. My biggest trick is making sure I stay focussed on just this room…I must not let this chaos reign through my whle house…one room at a time is mantra…

  • Reply sue June 30, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    i can also totally relate. I am also thinking of redecorating, although a major clear out could be a challenge. Would love an invite to your clear out :)

  • Reply Deborah de Roz June 30, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    @Rebecca Portsmouth: Such beautiful words, I shall be applying them to my life, thank you

  • Reply Deborah de Roz June 30, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    I recently went to see Waiting for Godot at a theatre on the cliffs in Cornwall, UK (The Minack Theatre, Porthcurno, Cornwall, check it out, it’s absolutely stunning) and the most memorable and peaceful moments in the play were the pauses between the dialogue when all I could hear was the ocean gently moving and lapping against the cliffs, beautiful. I think we need more pauses in our life to just be and enjoy the moment.

  • Reply Iva Y June 30, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    What a great post! I live in the smallest apartment, not nearly enough place to store all of my things. And being an architect, I have lots of things, believe me – drawings, paintings, models, lots of papers and other materials for different projects.. On top of that I haven’t been able to save much to buy nice boxes and to organize all of these well and also, some of my furniture is still either left from the previous owners (and is quite ugly:( ) or it’s handmade with the cheapest possible materials. I always dream of what I would like to purchase for my home in order to make it better – beautiful curtains to replace these ugly shades; a new storing unit, some colorful cushions and I would totally redo my kitchen and bathroom. But unfortunately, this can’t happen right now and all this c.uttery and ugliness has been bugging me. And I, too have been trying to learn to surrender and just change what I can, little by little.

  • Reply Wendy July 1, 2013 at 1:48 am

    This is a great post! My husband and I run 2 businesses, have a family & home to take care of, are very involved in our church and the list goes on. We are simple, country lovin people at heart & get so overwhelmed sometimes! Why can’t life just be more simple? I love to de-clutter, it really helps so you’re on to something! Lately, we’ve had 2 garage sales, made a couple donations and are selling some other old items online. Not only are we cleaning up our lives and making things more simple, but we have been able to almost totally eliminate our debt by selling things off. Win-Win! I encourage more people to do this :)

  • Reply Sally July 1, 2013 at 9:51 am

    This resonates so strongly with the way I’ve been feeling. I have a busy cluttered mind and have been realising lately that my cluttered home is reinforcing this behaviour. I love to collect things but need to let go of the ‘stuff’ I really don’t need or use. Thanks for sharing this it’s helped me see more clearly what I need to do. It sounds as though your husband’s thinking is very similar to my husband. He constantly surprises me with his different (and usually much more sensible) grasp on life’s challenges.
    Thank you and good luck!

  • Reply dervla @ The Curator July 1, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    I love that idea of surrender. I too find it hard in my daily life. I can barely go for a run without wanting to turn around and finish up whatever task i’ve left unfinished at home. My husband is constantly telling me that i jump from task to task without finishing the first. So, my challenge to myself is to be mindful of my urge to rush tasks (or abandon them) and once i identify when i’m doing it, hopefully i can stop it and rein myself in. We’re all a work in progress :)

  • Reply Cristina LopezCasas July 1, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Sometimes I wish I lived in a less cluttered place, cleaner, than Mexico City. Since I can’t change that, I’m redecorating into white, getting rid of books that I don’t longer feel connected to, as you put it so simply, and giving away clothes that remind me of the past. A new peaceful environment, is what one needs to make the next step in your art production. The myth of the messy artist does not help me. It’s nice to hear all these voices synchronized in your blog. saludos!

  • Reply nancy July 1, 2013 at 10:51 pm


    i am there too. decluttering, getting rid of extra stuff i keep-just in case. Im changing my life and need to unload , the more i do, the more free i feel. thank you for this post

  • Reply Rohit July 2, 2013 at 8:56 am

    Wow… those are some breathtaking interiors..
    Well, I had come across this contest for people who have beautified their homes with some really creative ideas. It looks interesting with some rewarding prizes

  • Reply janne Lützhøft July 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Hi Holly. I can so much relate to your wonderful and extremely honest post. I was kind of happy to read it – because as you can see, you are not alone at all! This is what is happening to all of us, who cares and nourish (too much) about our lovely homes, hoping that it will bring us as much love and energy as we put in it.

    I am a danish interior architect – selfimployed – and I strongly feel the need for pure and basic living. Not as a new trend, but a a whish from inside – not only concerning, but also in search of an easyer and more meaningful life.

    After living a few years in wonderful Milan, and coming back to Denmark last year, I truly (re)discovered my roots in the scandinavian thoughts and traditions concerning the way we create our homes.

    I could go on writing about this, besauce it really is spot on my mission:), not just for my self, but for the clients I guide and inspire. I’m not so much interested in furnitures, trends and gadgets (because we alredy got enoughj, as in how we can create spaces and homes that will help us find the peace and happiness we all seek.

    This blog is very helpful to me, maybe it will help you on your way too: http://zenhabits.net/my-story/

    Thanks for sharing your frustrations:)

  • Reply Emily Henson/Life Unstyled July 2, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    I’m so excited for you Holly! I’m all for a de-clutter and re-vamp of the home and I think it does wonders for us creatively and spiritually. It can be challenging to part with things we once loved but it’s so liberating to free yourself from the clutter. We sold/gave away almost everything when I moved my family back to London from LA 2 yrs ago, which was really hard, but it was an amazing process to go through many years worth of collections and ask “do I really love/need/want this anymore?” Obviously you aren’t moving so it’s not quite the same, but the idea of re-assessing what you care about and what you want to be surrounded by is the same. We change as people so of course we want our surroundings to change as well. One last thing: As a stylist I do keep bits and pieces as props, but I realized that I don’t need to have it all on display (duh!). It may help you to have a box or two under the bed that stores things you still love but don’t want to see all the time. I know space can be limiting in European houses/flats, but I found it to be helpful. Best of luck!

  • Reply iHanna July 3, 2013 at 2:41 am

    Have you heard about the blog project #crop100 ? It might be something for you? Share items that you crop, one each day I think?

  • Reply Joan July 3, 2013 at 5:24 am

    I too have reached a point in life where all the “stuff” I’ve collected over the years is a distraction and may, in fact, not hold the same affinity as before. So I purged it all and am paring things down. I feel a huge weight has been lifted. More time enjoying other interests!!

  • Reply Kinga July 8, 2013 at 2:17 am

    Loved this post Holly! Cleaning out clutter and old mom jeans IS necessary from time to time. I think it’s so important to let go if things that don’t have a purpose anymore. They’re just weighing you down…

    I feel this can extend to other areas of life too…for example, letting go of people who no longer treat you fairly. I recently felt overwhelmed with the racing mind syndrome. I’m a creative/blogger and my mind is always turning and trying to find the “story” in everything. But sometimes the noise is too much. We live in a world of status updates (which is great and I participate like everyone else) but sometimes I just don’t need to know every single person’s every move so I check out. I call it a social media vacation, which means I stop with the status updates too.

    My husband has one e-mail address and no social media accounts and I find it so inspiring. When he wants to talk to a friend he calls them up, and whatever he is doing he is always in the moment because he’s not thinking “hey, what clever quip could I make about this as my status update” or “how could I turn this into a blog post”.

    When you’ve made your living and career out of being on line an connected all the time I understand that this is near impossible, but perhaps there is a balance to be found…I, much like you, am searching.

    Best wishes…and if you re-decorate, do share the process. I’d love to see a Holly before and after. Perhaps it’s an interesting direction for another book…RE-Decorate….just saying ;)

  • Reply Nichole July 8, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Hi Holly,

    I just spent two weeks getting rid of or donating over 30 bags of things. And that is a lot considering I am already a minimalist. Besides a few memory boxes for each of my family members and some holiday things, I have absolutely NOTHING in my home I don’t use or love. It is the most freeing feeling. I do this quite often, but this has been one of the most ruthless purges of all time.

    I can’t tell you how zen I feel. As our business grows, it was time to let go of a lot of the old stuff and make room for future things. Although the office was part of that, and where the purge started (by necessity, really), it naturally extended to the entire house.

    Enjoy your decluttering! Best feeling in the world. ;)


  • Reply Desha Peacock July 24, 2013 at 4:06 am

    This is such a great topic, one that is very close to my heart. For me it’s vital I create a space that reflects not only who I am, but also who I desire to be.

    I agree that having clutter distracts visually, but worse it keeps from new things, or new energy to freely flow to you. By clearing away the physical space, we can allow new ideas, new projects, and abundance to flow. holding on to things that don’t serve us is a result of a feeling of lack, which I don’t adhere to. But, of course it happens to us all in this materialistic culture we live in. And that’s ok, I like stuff, but it’s good to change it around and only have things that we enjoy as beautiful or inspirational etc.

    I also love the fact that you are learning from your own book. Teaching is the best way to learn, so listen to your teacher Holly!

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