In early January, as our family’s holiday regalia is packed and stored in the rafters, I am happy to welcome in a quieter palette and simpler décor at home. With the shine, color and plethora of Christmas collectibles gone, I am now left with a sparsely set dining table, a relatively spacious corner where the tree stood, and a plain, empty fireplace mantle. It feels lovely and open to new possibilities.
Our interiors often reflect the seasons, and winter is a time of calm, with cold, barren landscapes and an inherently slower lifestyle. The new year offers beginnings, opportunities and promise. In the spirit of change, I encourage you to pause before simply filling up those aforementioned empty spaces. Let’s discuss a few ways to incorporate more ease, calm and options to your home’s interior.
Through our lifetimes, most of us naturally accumulate numerous mementos along the way: photos, clothing, artwork, and books, for example. A cluttered house is often a reflection of a full life; ironically, those same collectibles often dominate our home, resulting in a feeling of inertia. You can’t see the forest for the trees, as they say.
Before any changes occur, it is important to create a clean palette, in order to start from scratch and imagine your options. (As a painter and writer, I cannot begin a new painting or column with a used canvas or remnants of previous work!) I remember, as a child, the feeling of a potential I felt when looking at a clean piece of binder paper. I wondered: What might happen here?
The same is true of your home. If it is already filled with things and memories, it is nearly impossible to see the possibility of change. We succumb to the feeling—its fine the way it is. It works, why change it?
Emotionally, however, I believe that physical inertia leads to mental and emotional stagnation, as well. The less you move, the less you want to.
That’s why my favorite way to create a new space is to clear a room of its contents and begin again. In an empty space, you can ask yourself the big questions: What is the true focal point? Where do I want to sit? What do I need to do to create balance? What am I attracted to? Is there anything here I no longer want/need? What could be added?
I create a new feeling in my home for the change of year by minimizing the color, texture and whimsy of the holidays and simplify by introducing whites, creams, metallics, glass, sticks, pinecones or greenery. These are all clean, clear or natural elements that remind us of winter snow, frost, and the earth’s treasures.
Pillows, throws, candles and accessories have been pared down in scale, quantity and color. Open spaces can remain that way for the time being, giving us room to clean and time to reconsider.
Let’s live with less for a while.