“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”.

As ruthless as William Morris’ dictum sounds it does express the essence of a beautiful environment.  In all things, it is just as important to recognise what you don’t need in your life as that which you do.  To put his mantra into practice you must exercise some discipline.

Decide what “look” you want to achieve and study your space with a very critical eye.  Is it a mish-mash of styles and eras?  Will that lamp or vase really fit the scheme and are there too many knick-knacks and photographs on that table?  Does that painting or piece of furniture really enhance the room or is it at odds with the other elements?  This process of elimination may take a little time – experiment – eventually it will feel “right”.  Display homes, design magazines, even commercial spaces can be great sources of inspiration.  We can become so complacent about our comfortably familiar surroundings that we don’t always recognise how dated or confused our décor has become.  Reduction is often more effective than addition – the same applies to fashion – remember that famous expression – “less is more” – don’t overdress!

There is great beauty in simplicity – a few lovely pieces artfully placed will have much more impact than all your treasures on display.  The space will seem larger and more harmonious and one can better appreciate individual items without all that competing clutter.  If your home has attractive architectural elements they will be much more evident in a pared-back space – lending a greater sense of style and “design intelligence” to your interior environment.  Movement and maintenance will be simplified and you will introduce a sense of order which will have a positive functional and emotional effect.

It can be difficult to part with familiar things – but it need not be forever.  If you really cannot bring yourself to sell, donate or bin something – then store it! You may find it perfect in a future home and will spare yourself the pain of parting (this particularly applies if you are renting).  In my case, really effective pieces that don’t quite fit a current decorating scheme are relegated to the store room or relocated, if suitable, to one of our other homes (some favourite items are now seasoned global travellers) – but not everyone has that option, so be strong – as an incorrigible hoarder myself I know how difficult it can be to let go…

That said – it is truly liberating to purge and de-clutter!  Change is refreshing – even if it is just regrouping decorative pieces, shifting furniture and ditching those tired cushions. Your surroundings will be more balanced and attractive and that is good for the soul!

William Morris 1834 – 1896.  English textile designer, artist, writer, poet, and socialist – a driving force of the English Arts and Crafts Movement.

Lovely Lifestyles 2018