Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Accessory-Free Month: mildly successful

You may recall that at the beginning of June I decided to join Nester in removing all accessories from my house.  I packed away nearly all the tchotchkes in my house, keeping out only a few that had great personal meaning. I also kept out all the busts, because I really like them. (I broke all the rules in the first two minutes by not putting away everything.)  Everything else was packed in two large moving boxes and went up in the attic.

So, the majority of my busts (I cannot say the word "bust" without thinking of "we must, we must, we must increase our busts") were used as bookends.  Actually, pretty much all of my remaining tchotchkes ended up being bookends.

I used the smaller upper sections of the skinny bookcases to showcase the pictures and items not heavy enough to use as bookends.

I originally packed away all my ginger jars.  After two days I went back up in the attic and pulled them back out again, not because I feel the need for decorative ginger jars, but because my ginger jars are where I hide things like the checkbook and SD cards, and I missed their utility.  (Form follows function!)  The cigar box is the Mister's stuff-putter-downer place.  The yellow elephant is a piggy bank, and should be donated, because it doesn't have a home.  I like to leave that shelf empty, actually, so that I have a spot for library books. successful was I at going accessory-free?  So-so.  Not so great, not so bad. I did not start with a clean slate.  I could have removed even more stuff. Overall, however, I think it was a success.  I am glad that I packed away all the tchotchkes; it really helped me define the aesthetic I wanted in our family room.  It is not overly cluttered, and I am happy with the tchotchkes that remain in the room.

Unfortunately, as I was looking through the last remaining unpacked boxes in the garage, I discovered that what I thought were boxes of art were actually boxes of MORE TCHOTCHKES.  This was horrifying.  I started to cull the extra boxes, but it quickly devolved into the entire garage being covered in packing paper and MORE TCHOTCHKES.  I am ashamed to admit I simply packed it all back up into the boxes and shoved it back in a corner so as not to deal with it.

The tchotchkes that remain in boxes are older items that I have owned for a long time, and were given to me by loved ones.  I would not say that I am greatly attached to them, but I feel guilty getting rid of them. I need to sit down and go through ALL the boxes of packed away stuff, and get rid of it.  I don't need it, I don't need it, I don't need it.  If I can leave it in a box for years, I probably also don't really want it.  I just need to take that last step and get it out of the house.

Thus, I'd say that the Great Accessory Free Experiment was a draw, because while I managed to get all the accessories out of my living areas, there are still a number of boxes of tchotchkes taking up space in my attic and garage.


I do have a  related problem that I didn't really deal with during this challenge.  I have a million gazillion picture frames.  Like....three large moving boxes full?  Plus more not in boxes?  I am at a loss for what to do with them.  I have long wanted to do this picture wall (which I did do on a smaller scale here), but am now having second thoughts.  I am attempting a cleaner, less cluttered aesthetic with this house.  On the other hand, I am trying to live by my defining values, and pictures of friends and family make me happy, and need to be included.

I love having pictures of the kids and our family and friends around.  But a hundred pictures on a mantelpiece looks cluttered.  A hundred pictures thrown up on a wall looks cluttered.  I don't WANT to tightly edit my pictures so that I have one picture of each kid and one of each family member and that's it. Since the Accessory Free Experiment, I only left out one picture of all the kids, two pictures of me and the Mister on our wedding day, one picture of my grandparents, one picture of my father in law with his mother, and one picture of Peter that I just came across during the garage debacle.  Six pictures in the entire house, and four of them were taken on the same day.  That is not enough. I want more.  How much is enough? (More than six, less than a hundred, apparently.)

I love the thought of the picture wall, how it is layers of history and family.  I just wish I had a more out-of-the-way spot in which to do this.  Currently all of our living space walls are large, enormous, vast expanses of space--the bookshelves cover most of the walls in the family room, so the side of the house with the vaulted ceilings is the undecorated side.  It would be hard to do the picture wall on a reasonable scale in our house.  Also, all the remaining spots where I could do a picture wall are visible from the front door.

Maybe I need to take up scrapbooking. (Mother! I have a project for you!) (My mother is a scrapbooker extrordinaire. not very good at small-scale art projects.)

So....what do you do with pictures in your home? Do you have lots of pictures on every surface?  A gallery wall of family photos?  Are you over the whole gallery wall thing?


  1. HI,

    I am not a pictures of family person, but my sister in law is.
    My favourite display of her photos is a wall where she just has the santa photos of her family on one wall. They are all the same size and it is lovely to look at a history of her family in one place and see how her family has grown each year.
    Kind Regards

  2. I am totally stalking this post to see what your readers come up with, because I'm having the same issue. I want a giant wall of photos, but where? and how?
    Also I love you... "we must! we must! we must increase our busts!"

  3. LOVE your thoughts, and yes 'we must, we must, we must increase our bust" is exactly what I think of too! I hope you find a solution for your photo frames!!!

  4. Do you have an upstairs hallway? Could that be a place for family pictures? I'm thinking of doing something like that for the hallway that leads back to our bedrooms. Somehow, that more private space seems like a good place for family photos to me.

    I can relate to ALL of your questions--and the box of things you can't get rid of. I say, if you're not feeling ready, don't. You'll know the right thing to do with them when you have a right thing to do with them. Putting things away works for me.

    And I'd call your experiment a total success! It's gotten you to think in new ways about your relationship with things. Maybe you don't have all the answers right now, but it seems like you're exploring some new ones. I think you get to make your own rules and your own scoring guide with this kind of stuff.

  5. I have three square photo collage frames hung vertically in my living room. Each frame holds 4 photos. All the photos are black and white. The top has wedding photos of my husbands parents, grandparents and us. The bottom frame is the same, except it is my family. Middle frame has baby pictures of me and my husband along with a photo of each of us with our son when he was an infant. I love it!

  6. Yep - I've been thinking that the next thing that needs to be pared way back is all the framed photos on my mantle. You've confirmed it for me!

    Thanks, my fellow-30 day challenge-taker!


  7. I am having the same sort of struggle with creating a gallery wall, and in thinking about your problem, I have come up with a solution for myself--maybe it will work for you?

    Gallery walls have become extraordinarily eclectic--or, less kindly, cluttered. There is a way to do it well, (see Kate Spade) but it is a lot of work, really. If, however, you are craving a less cluttered look, unify every component. Same frame. same sized frame. Same colour of frame. Coloured photos or black and white? Doesn't matter, be consistent. Arrange the photos in a grid, from floor to ceiling. This will be fairly formal and I don't know where you would put it. But it is a thought.

    For myself, I think I might just arrange my photos in one sized frame (though in walnut and black beause I need to have both) in a single row of five or seven. I'm not sure--but there is no way that would look cluttered.

  8. I meant to mention that the frames I'm using are the IKEA ribba frames which hold an 8x10 picture, so they are quite large. Five of them, arranged vertically, (with a 2" space between them) are the same length as my sofa.

  9. Hand made home has a family picture collage that I may try, using Instagram photos. We've had the picture colleges before, and liked them, but then took it down a couple of years ago for a break. It may be time to start one again.

  10. I have way too much clutter in my house. I like some accessories, but to be honest, most of what I have I'm not in love with. So I should definitely purge! Add it to my list....ha

  11. Youre a brave girl. if I packed all mine away it would be empty. I admire your experiment! Very fun post,
    xo Nancy


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