This is NOT an easy mantra to live by if you are a lover of many things like I am – or if you feel a need to display every single trinket or momento or souvenir that someone gives you for your birthday… or Christmas… or from their last vacation. I love knowing that someone was thinking of me, and I try my best to give any tchochkes I receive a place of honor… somewhere.
The problem is, I don’t have all that many places to display things. Our home isn’t large enough for me to display everything, and having kids makes it more difficult to give “classier” items a place of honor. This is how it usually goes down in our house: “Hey Mommy! I made this (beautiful-yet-hideous tissue-paper vase) for YOU! Let’s put it HERE!” And then proudly places said hideous object directly in front of a fancy candle or vase. And naturally, I fall in love with whatever crazy project was brought home because, well, I’m a Momma. We do that.
But my poor house pays the price. Specifically, these bookshelves.
Originally the idea was to get thick, open bookshelves that were large enough to hold the giant scrapbooks I’ve been completing since high school. Then the idea of storage for Emily’s toys came into play, so cupboards were necessary. Anyway, as we thought about our needs these bookshelves seemed to fit the bill well. I staggered the shelves to create interest (I think in the end it added to the visual chaos). And of course we filled the drawers and cabinets with junk. And then the stuff on the shelves started to accumulate. And accumulate. And accumulate.
Photos and my beloved Lenox collection went up first, then other doodads we’d been given. Then a green bin for Jay’s video game cords. Then giant baskets for our movies, which we had to hide because Julia was chewing them up like a teething puppy. (See evidence below). And for some CRAZY reason any gaps that were left looked sad and lonely and naked to me, so I went to yard sales to actually find things to fill those spaces. All you minimalists can feel free to bonk me on the head now.
Then I go to my friend Crystal’s house for Bible Study. She’s got these amazingly tall bookshelves, and each shelf only has one or two things on it: a book or photo here, an award or decorative item there. And another friend Melissa steps in and says, “Less is more.” Dude, I can’t even tell you how my over-filled bookshelves popped in my head and would not go away. I think I dreamed about them. Maybe had a nightmare. It was such a “duh” moment for me. Why did I have all these things? Yes, almost all of them meant something to me, almost all of them had some value to me. But I realized right then that all that stuff was making me feel cluttered… and I hate feeling cluttered. Just knowing that I’d bought things just to fill the space kinda icked me out.
So, naturally, I woke up the next morning and jumped right on them. I pulled everything off and dusted the shelves (it hadn’t been done properly in ages – another reason it’s a bad idea to over-accumulate: more to clean!). Then I leveled all the shelves out to create a more symmetrical and balanced feel. Bringing the shelves down above the black baskets made a HUGE difference all on its own, since we can no longer see the movie craziness going on in them when we walk by. I also fixed the cabinet door on the top right, as it had somehow come loose and was hanging crooked for who knows how long. After that I arranged my Lenox, put out the larger photos along the top, and sorted my photo albums by size. MUCH better.
Anything that didn’t make it on was either put up for sale or stored in a cabinet until I can figure out what I want to do with it. I still want to change the middle frames out along the top for Lenox frames (probably need to wait for my birthday and Christmas for that), and I have plans to make some other major and minor changes down the line. But for now, I love how open it feels. I love seeing the things that I love displayed proudly and not crammed in there fighting for attention. And I love that I have less to dust.