How-to: Declutter the Decor

How-to Declutter the Decor

Decor can be confusing when one plans to declutter. Most want something on the wall, but should it be a grouping? Should there be something on each wall? What goes together?
When I was growing up, my mom sold Home Interiors (a network marketing company) and the entire business model was to simplify the process for people: You could buy an entire grouping of a picture, shelf, greenery and ceramic statue. Everything fit together perfectly.
It is a great model, and by the time I got my own home, I was able to decorate quite well. The only problem was, I didn’t dust… so after a couple years, the house just started to look dingy.
At that point in my life, I didn’t know how to dust every week. (Seriously! When would someone do that? How would they remember when they did it last? Why would they even want to??)
When I first embraced minimalism, I got rid of a lot of my decorations. Letting go of all the cutesy knickknacks meant I didn’t have to think about dusting. At that point in time, I needed to be able to solely focus on decluttering and moving things out of my house.
Now that I’ve figured out how to clean the house regularly and actually enjoy doing it I’ve added a lot more to my walls.

Accept where you are in your minimalist journey.

  • If you need to remove everything from the walls so you have a sense of visual calm, that’s perfectly ok! Take as much time as you need.
  • If you need to leave your walls full of decorations so you don’t feel like your home is stark and boring, then leave them there until you change your mind.

Wherever you are, if you want decor a certain way, do it that way.

If you are ready to limit your decor, follow these steps:

  1. Pick only one room at a time to work on at a time.
  2. Do not take any decluttering steps in another room until you are done with these steps.
  3. Take all decorations from around that room and put them in the middle of the floor. Pictures, shelves, lamps, knickknacks, etc.
  4. Pick them up one at a time and decide how you feel about it: do you like looking at it? Does it lift your mood? Does it bring you joy? Does it weight you down? Are you tired of seeing it?
  5. Put anything you don’t want to be displayed in a donation box.
  6. Look at what is left. Pick out your favorite piece first, hang it up or set it where you want it.
  7. Step back and evaluate how the decoration looks. Does it need anything near it? Does it look pretty by itself?
  8. Add things back onto the shelves and walls one at a time, with your most favorite pieces first.
  9. Each time you add something, step back and ask if it’s enough. Each room has a “sweet spot” where the decor seems to be perfect. It’s enough, you feel pleased with it.
  10. Stop when you see the sweet spot in the room.
  11. Remove the remaining decor from the room. If you enjoy that decor, you don’t have to get rid of it yet. But you do need to get it out of that space. Decide to either donate it or box it up for now and decide if you want to use it in another area of the home later.

Decorating tips to remember:

Uneven groupings are the most visually appealing.

  • Even numbers create symmetry, but odd numbers create interest. An odd number of details is more effective at capturing your gaze. Odd numbers force your eyes to move around the grouping–and by extension, the room. That forced movement is the heart of visual interest. It’s for that reason that a set of three is more appealing and memorable than something paired off in two’s. ~Why Are Odd Numbers So Visually Appealing?

Not all walls need something on them.

If you enjoy having a blank wall, then have a blank wall. This is your home, make sure that you enjoy it.

  • A new study looked at whether such classrooms encourage, or actually distract from, learning. The study, one of the first to examine how the look of these walls affects young students, found that when kindergartners were taught in a highly decorated classroom, they were more distracted, their gazes more likely to wander off task, and their test scores lower than when they were taught in a room that was comparatively spartan. ~The New York Times
  • After identifying and eliminating a design element to create some negative or white space, sit with it. Don’t give it just a few minutes — the immediate result will be like first seeing someone without glasses when you’ve only known them as a glasses wearer. Sit with newly negated space for a few days or a week. ~Your Home’s Negative Space: What It Is and How To Use It to Your Advantage
  • We can all agree on one thing: your home should be comfortable, right? But how do you define and recognize a comfortable space? Is it just about how plush your sofa is? Not just! It’s also about how comfortable you feel when you are moving around or through the room. So no matter how fluffy your cushions are, your room should also feel comfortable when you’re not sitting down. And this is where negative space comes in. Do the exercise and sit on your sofa for a minute but close your eyes. Does it feel nice? Probably! Now open your eyes. Do you feel as relaxed? Well, chances are, if you have lots of things on the walls and lots of decorative pieces on the furniture, it won’t feel quite as peaceful. By giving your brain lots of things to look at, you get it to work which goes against any feeling of relaxation! ~Negative Space in Interior Design: The Power of Nothing

Keep pictures (in groupings) several inches apart.

When you do a cluster of pictures or have things on a shelf, if everything is very close together, the grouping will be viewed as one thing. If you have lovely art, the only way to appreciate each piece is to give it it’s own space. Keep images at least 5 inches away from each other.

  • Keep the spaces between pictures 2″ to 4″ apart. Spacing should be consistent vertically and horizontally, throughout the grouping. The larger the art, the wider the space can be. If you have too much space between pictures, your composition will look disjointed. The artwork will feel like it is floating away from one another. ~7 Rules for Perfect Picture Hanging
  • If you are still having trouble visualizing how everything is going to relate to the items around it, don’t be afraid to try the “newspaper method!” Cut out pieces of newspaper the same size as your items and tape them to the walls until you get a pleasing arrangement! Don’t be afraid to incorporate dimensional items like shelves and brackets in your wall grouping, again, this adds dimensional interest. Also, great groupings incorporate different sizes, shapes, and frames. After all, variety is the spice of life!  ~Art Hanging Tips

Hang artwork at eye level. (Museum style) 

  • Hanging artwork too high negatively affects the rooms’ proportions and creates an uncomfortable feeling in the room [and it might make you feel short]. ~How to Hang Artwork, Pictures, and Wall Decor at the Perfect Height Everytime
  • If the room is mostly used for standing (entryway) then hang pictures with the middle of it being around 57″ off the ground. (An average of eye level.) If the room is used mostly for sitting (dining room) hang the pictures lower so you can see them clearly when you sit.

Have fun!

  • Embrace your own style. Do you like bright colors? Have bright decorations! Do you prefer rusty re-purposed oddities? Have them hanging on your wall.
  • Don’t let your decorating style be influenced by the “should” thoughts. (“I should have a framed picture of my family.” “I should hang the print that Aunt Lou gave me.” “I should have landscapes and flowers.”

Make your home, yours. ❤

About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, I created a FREE Facebook Group - feel free to join me there: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group and I share videos each week on YouTube


  1. Kris on 06/02/2017 at 1:52 pm

    Thank you for inspiring me! I’m really loving my blank walls!

  2. SueBurleigh on 06/02/2017 at 7:12 pm

    I love my Home Interior items! I have a tip for decorating your walls. Instead of pounding nails willy-nilly into your wall in an attempt to create an eye-catching grouping, use the floor! It’s the perfect practice canvas. I lay everything out as I envision it on the wall and walk away. When I look at it again, I might decide it isn’t as appealing as I first thought and change it. Or it might be just right.

    • Patti DeMars on 03/15/2018 at 7:40 pm

      Great idea

  3. Heather on 06/09/2017 at 1:06 pm

    I totally remember my mom going to Home Interior parties!
    I liked your advice about putting all of the decorative pieces in a room into a pile and then adding back in. For some people who are more advanced in their decluttering journey, though, I found it very helpful to take ALL of our artwork and photos (our house isn’t huge and we don’t have that large a collection), put them in a new pile and start grouping that way.
    We recently used this method in our dining and entry areas after we painted, and we now have a new lovely grouping with pieces taken from a closet, our daughter’s room, and our living room. This lead to redoing a grouping in our daughter’s room, in our living room, and hanging a different piece in the kitchen. It’s like our whole house got a refresh, for free.

  4. Debbie on 11/13/2017 at 3:29 pm

    This is where I am at with de cluttering and it is my all-time favorite post! I did thin in our bedroom yesterday and it felt so serene! Thank-you for your guidance! You have made my day…..I even breezed through cleaning that bedroom! Blessings to you!💕💕💕

Leave a Comment