Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Accessory-Free Zone

Last week I was reading The Nesting Place, and came across this post, where the Nester is going to go accessory-free in her house for 30 days.  And a light bulb went off for me.

I don't really like accessories.  I mean, I do, sort of. I like to look at them, and I see things and think, ooh, that's so cute, and I have plenty of tchotchke crap in my house.

I don't think I really want it.

I do not have the "vignette" talent.  I cannot for the life of me make a decent vignette.  I tend to like accessories that are sculptural pieces, like a foot tall and a foot wide.  Smaller pieces make me think of clutter.  I'd rather have a clean, bare surface than one piled with tchotchkes.

About a week ago, I was thinking about the two boxes of tchotchkes in the garage that weren't unpacked yet.  I realized that I had nowhere to put them.  That will never do! I must have places to put my stuff!  So I decided...oh, you will laugh at me, but I will tell you anyways.  Remember when I said I had two tall bookcases in my family room, but I moved them out to the garage and brought in two short bookcases instead, so that I could hang my childrens' art, because the art was more important than the tchotchkes?

Riiiiight. That. So, I was having a hard time deciding how to hang the children's art, because there is just so much of it, and I wanted a system that would allow for frequent rotation, and the clean fresh white walls without holes were sort of making me think, hmm, how about I don't poke 400 holes in there and....I know! I will bring those bookshelves back in and put my stuff on them!  So I had the Mister move the bookshelves back in (he was thrilled), and then I unpacked all the stuff, and given my lack of vignetting skills, all the stuff is just stuffed up there.

Then I read Nester's post. I thought, maybe the reason I think that all this stuff up there looks terrible is because I DON'T NEED ALL THIS STUFF.  I'm tired of being the Stuff Manager and teaching my children to Manage Stuff too.  I want LESS STUFF.

I've been working on this for the past year.  I have already gotten rid of stuff galore.

I've thought consciously about What I Like (Lisa's Decor Rules).  I like lots of bright white with lots of color, I like jewel tones, I like art, I like books, I like sturdy and comfortable furniture, I like large scale patterns, I like pictures of my family, I like busts (heads of people/animals busts, not your chesticular area type busts).

I do not like dainty or fussy furniture, I do not like pastels, I do not like dark without lots of bright white to balance it out, I do not like things that need constant cleaning, I do not like small scale anything, and I do not like clutter.

So why do I have tchotchkes?

I started reading design blogs about five years ago.  Design blogs put a lot of emphasis on stuff.  The acquisition of stuff, the managing of stuff, the painting of stuff, the "refreshing" of stuff.  I enjoy reading about this.  But I need to stop feeling that in order to be like these cool design blogs, I need stuff.  I don't. I can enjoy someone else's stuff without needing that stuff for myself.

I have my design rules, I need to follow them. I need to stop trying to be other people with their cool stuff and stop trying to live how other people live.  I'm just going to be me with my books and my art and my 400 (slightly clutterish) pictures of my kids and all their art.  Is it clutter if its hanging on a wall instead of sitting on a table? Because I am still working on liking less art. I like more art. Lots of art.  Like, all the art, all up on the wall.  But we won't have any furniture or tchotchkes; we will be sitting on tatami mats.

(To recap the accessories rule: books, yes, art on wall, yes, pictures, yes, busts, yes.  Everything else no unless it has great personal meaning.)

So, I packed up all the tchotchkes again.  I kept the busts out. (Not sure where they will live, but they will find a home.)  If you are wondering what survived the purge, that is a vase containing a collection of rocks and shells from foreign vacation locales, two Japanese sumo wrestlers from when I visited a friend in Japan, a birdhouse my uncle gave me, a picture of my father in law dancing with his mother at my wedding, two small busts and a big horse bust, and a red marble apple with a lovely inscription the Mister gave me for my first teaching job.  All the rest of the tchotchkes, in a box.  I think the horse bust is probably going to join the box.)

And now I have room for more books.

I love young adult literature.  I had an enormous collection at one time, but lost it during a flood years ago.  And it occurs to me that I have the space and the inclination and a number of children who will one day read young adult literature, and what better time than now to start rebuilding that collection?

This weekend the Mister and I found a local used bookstore where all the books were a dollar apiece.  I went to town.  I bought thirty-six young adult and children's books.

As we checked out, the cashier asked "you guys homeschoolers or sumpin?"  I am befuddled by this question.  Only homeschoolers like to read?  Only homeschoolers buy young adult classic literature?  No, I just love to read and am attempting to instill that love in my kids.

You might think that I am just trading one type of stuff (tchotchkes) for another (books).  I suppose that might be true.  I guess the difference is that I love books, and books serve a purpose in my life of giving knowledge and exercising imagination and providing entertainment, while my tchotchkes that I don't deeply care about just take up my room and my time without giving anything back.  (Maybe your tchotchkes give you great joy--that's great!--but mine don't.)

I also went through a book purge when we moved in, and donated various books that we did not need or want anymore.  I have room for our book collection to grow.

If you are wondering, "what about all the other tchotchkes in the rest of the house?"  I don't have any.  No, really.  I have the large busts of Gary and Elaine in the foyer and my bedroom, and that is it for stuff.  I had collected all the tchotchkes into one display, and now I'm packing away 90% of them.  This may not work for you, but I'm getting back to following my rules.

(You might also be wondering about the children's art--problem solved, different location, post on that soon.)

How do you feel about going accessory-free?

Edited to add: I joined up with Nester's accessory free link party.


  1. Hi Lisa,
    I think the no accessories experiment is a great idea. I am trying to keep more of the surfaces in my house clear and it certainly makes things easier and quicker to clean. Your barometer of 'does it have great personal meaning?' is something I will try to follow. My husband cheers every time I get rid of something, good positive reinforcement.

    When I read some of these blogs, I can't believe how much people shop for junk at Target, Marshall's, etc., and it really turns me off. People must be rotating things constantly and spending so much money, especially when decorating for holidays, seasonally, etc. I just don't have the time or energy, and would much rather be doing something else.

  2. I haven't actually thought about what I like in the way of tchotchkes. I should do that.

  3. You should be surrounded by what you love. That makes it your home.

  4. I also love young adult fiction, and just yesterday went to a used bookstore to but some summertime read-aloud books for the kids- Pippi Longstocking made it into the pile. And a note to the boys room- I was also thinking of more understated superhero art. I have a couple of old show stills from Batman- maybe some old ads with superheros from the 30's/40's/50's might fall into your love of older travel posters??

  5. I'm guessing you already know what I'll say, but here it is anyway:

    Just say no to vignettes. Please. Decoration for the sake of decoration just isn't something I do any more. Even paintings have to have a purpose/meaning.

    Here are our questions for stuff:
    Does it have a function?
    Do we use it?
    Does it have meaning for us?
    Do we love it?

    If it doesn't have function or meaning, it's gone.
    If it has a function but we don't use it, it's gone.
    If it has meaning but we don't love it, it's gone.

    Am I perfect in this? Of course not. But I really prefer less, for all the reasons you explain here. We love art and books, so we have lots of those.

  6. LOVED this post!! well said, fun to read!

  7. I agree. We stopped buying accessories a while ago and most of what we have is put in our tv set. We don't have a lot of table space around here and so there's not much space for them! Your shelves look so great and I know as a kid I would have sat down my butt in that red chair and read away all the days with your book collection :)

  8. Girl!! Between the hilarious homeschooling readers comment and the tchotchkes (great word, great word)...your post won for today! Happy Nekkid June!!

  9. I love when you said that you don't want to be a Stuff Manager anymore. I'm with you, my friend. And that's why I am loving this challenge!


  10. 1 You are fun and I like your wit. 2 your curtains are awesome and only the moms with the most refined taste have those (clearly I have those too) 3. Yeah! For less stuff

  11. I am not big on accessories. Practically minimalist. Some jewelry. A couple of vases. I like clear counters, clear tables that just have flowers in the center. If there's too much stuff, I stop seeing each individual thing. Plus then you have to look through all the stuff to find the thing you're looking for, plus all the stuff makes it harder to clean.

  12. I kept being annoyed with the bookshelves in my living room... kept trying to perfect those damn vignettes, and finally I said "to hell with it" and got rid of the stuff. My bookshelves now contain only books and baby toys. I now feel like I can breathe. ;)

  13. Chesticular..... Made me laugh!


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