26 Steps to Simplicity: Living Room

living room tootsie rolls

“One can furnish a room very luxuriously by taking out furniture rather than putting it in.”    (Francis Jourdain, 1876)

Over the past couple of years, we have remodeled our kitchen, living room, and the kids’ bedrooms. I have since been struggling with how to decorate these spaces. As an aspiring minimalist, I am trying to find the balance between less clutter and more meaningful, tasteful design. 

In seeking out guidance for minimalist decorating, I have been disappointed with my findings. The standard minimalist decor is black and white (or blocks of primary colors), very modern, and, quite frankly, sterile. I am a Midwestern mom with five, lively children; this doesn’t exactly fit our vibe.


During the toddler and preschool years, we  were forced to strip our walls and surfaces bare because anything we left hanging or placed on a table was promptly destroyed by a stray ball or body.  Therefore, our artwork and home decor items were stored away for the future, while toys, games, and books cluttered the space.

Finally, I think it is safe enough to try decorating again (although my 10yo son did recently kick a ball in the living room, breaking a clock).  When I look at those stored-away items, though, they don’t inspire me the same way they once did. The truth is, I have no idea, despite the myriad interior decorating books and articles I have read over the years, what our family’s style is. Throwing in this minimalist perspective makes it even more perplexing.


A while back, I showed my husband magazine clippings I had collected of rooms that inspired me. He pointed out that they were all filled with stuff.  I never even noticed this until he drew my attention to it: all the little, creative touches (a stack of books here, a vase of flowers there, a figurine or sea shell, glass bottles, extra furniture to display and store it all) that completed each lovely room.

Is that what I want, though: more things to buy to fill up the space to make a decorating statement?  What does all of the extra stuff mean?  How does it add to our lives? (I have since thrown those clippings away.)


I have slowly been adding artwork to the smaller areas of our home, like the hallway and my girls’ bedroom. As I do so, I find that I am being more intentional about choosing things that reflect our family’s faith and values. They aren’t expensive works of art, but they “spark joy” and give meaning to our space.

In our living room, with the exception of a large mirror, a small, glittery wreath, and a new clock (to replace the broken one), our walls remain uninhabited.  In some respects, I prefer it that way.  When people enter our home now, they say how much they like our living room.  They are immediately drawn to the peaceful wall color (Sherwin Willliams’ Agreeable Gray) and the clear maple, hardwood floors my husband installed.  With only a few pieces of furniture (one couch, loveseat, and chair; one table; and one set of shelves with a three plants and a handful of meaningful collectibles on it), it is a calming space, where the eye and soul can rest- at least until our children invade it. 🙂  I am contemplating a verse to write on the larger living room wall that will offer encouragement to those who enter.  (Be sure to share any ideas you have in the comments!)


I definitely identify with Joshua Becker’s approach.  In his post “The Pictures We Hang On Our Walls,” he shares his family’s process of applying minimalist principles to their decorating style:

A few years ago, we decided we wanted our home to better share our story. Our desire was to decorate in a way that clearly communicated what was most important to us as a family. As a result, we removed outdated objects, knick-knacks collecting dust, and any decoration bought only because it matched the color of our couch. . .Nobody hangs images on their walls of a hurried, busy, stress-filled life. Nobody displays photos of more money. And nobody decorates their homes with pictures of another day at the office. . .We hang photos of our family. We display photos from places we have visited or would like to visit. We post inspirational words about love and laughter and living life to the fullest. We frame images of a life filled with quietness and rest.

Yes, that is what I want to see when I walk into any room of my home.  I want our home to offer rest to the weary and joy to those of us that live within it.


For those that struggle to let go, I found this strategy for removal helpful:

Take a close look around the rooms in your home. Minimizing decorations is a way to eliminate clutter and create a simpler, more streamlined look. Start by removing one item per surface and see how things look. Take away a vase, picture frame, clock or figurine. Then take another. Often we allow things to clutter our shelves and surface space, simply gathering dust and taking up space. Remove anything that is not useful or adding to the feel of the room. You may like the streamlined version better. If so, donate or store the removed decorations.
(Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/guide-living-less#0QPj5Q6bVrqE5VIj.99)
What is one thing you can remove from your living room to make it a restful, welcoming place?

Blogging from A to Z:

Day 1: Assess

Day 2: Beauty

Day 3: Cull

Day 4: Donate

Day 5: Encourage

Day 6: Faith

Day 7: Gratitude

Day 8: Health

Day 9: Intention

Day 10: Joy (Ike)

Day 11: Kindness




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