When you've been living in a space for a while, it can be hard to see the possibilities. Quieting your space is a simple practice that will jump-start your creativity and give you a fresh perspective. It's kind of like a body cleanse for your home, only there's less time spent in the bathroom (unless that's the room you're decorating).
If an empty room is visually quiet, a full room is visually loud. A room slowly gets louder as we add furniture, accessories and everyday items. Each item in your room has a voice and adds to the chorus of the room. The more stuff you put in a room, the louder it gets. We often don't even notice the visual roar our rooms create until we make them quiet.
It's time to quiet your space.
You are going to remove as many voices as possible from your room so you can see it with fresh eyes. This means you're going to temporarily take a bunch of stuff out of your room and give it a chance to breathe.
Quieting a space is something I've done for years, and this practice always has a profound effect on my ability to identify what I need in a space. I'm always a little surprised how quieting a room motivates and teaches me. It allows me to see my room a little differently and uncovers things I've been trying to hide from myself, such as walls that need paint, stains that need attention, and furniture that needs to be replaced. I'm really good at hiding things from myself, and I bet you are too.
How to quiet a room
This is going to be such fun, but also a little uncomfortable. I really believe that rooms can tell us some of what they need if we take the time to listen. So this is where we are going to start.
You are going to remove everything from the room except the largest pieces. If you are working in your family room, you'll remove all the pillows, lamps, plants, books, wall art, clocks, photos, magazines—everything. You'll even want to remove the drapes. Yep. They probably need to be cleaned anyway.
To do this right, you'll even roll up the rug. You better believe it. And you'll want to empty those bookshelves. The degree to which you whine and complain about this part is likely an indicator of how long it's been since you've done any of these things. The more you grumble and start to wonder if I'm playing an evil trick, the more likely it is that there is excess stuff you probably aren't appreciating or using. The harder this is, the more important it is that you follow through, and the bigger the payoff.
Now you are wondering where in the world you are going to put all of this stuff, right? Figuring that out is actually part of the assignment. And the pain-in-the-neck work is a reality check about how much you actually have. If you have so much in a room that the thought of moving it all out makes you want to die, that's a red flag. That doesn't make this method bad or wrong; it simply means you have a whole lot of stuff. Which, again, just proves how much you need to do this.
The good news is you aren't going to get rid of anything just yet (unless you absolutely know you don't want or need it). See how risk-free this is? I'm not going to tell you to make all sorts of editing decisions now. You are simply going to get reacquainted with your space and let the room tell you what it needs and doesn't need. That way, you can make decisions with confidence.
You'll need to find a temporary holding place for everything from this one room. Yes, another part of your house will look cluttered for a few days or a few weeks. That's fine. This is how people do projects. It will get messy before it gets better—that's a sign of progress, so give yourself a high five.
Find a place to stash your stuff. I've put things outside on a porch and covered them with a tarp, stuffed artwork under my bed, placed everything in the basement. I don't care if you have to put things in the trunk of your car; you must find a place out of the room you are working on to relocate all the stuff that's been filling it up—ideally, a place that doesn't make your partner want to divorce you.
This is where warning everyone ahead of time pays off. You don't want to unnecessarily annoy your family while you are doing this. In fact, after you spend a day with your quiet space, feel free to move a lamp and a pillow back in if they are routinely used and needed in the room. We want to keep everyone as happy as possible during this process.
Relocating everything will obviously be messy and weird, but the end result will be worth it. Yes, this is inconvenient. Yes, this is work. Anything worthwhile is both. You'll know you did it right if the only things left in your family room are a sofa, a chair or two, a coffee table, the TV, and whatever the TV sits on.
Plan to quiet your space during a time when you'll be able to spend some quality time, preferably during the day, with your room. Don't quiet the room the day before you leave for a three-week vacation on the French Riviera.
You might have an introverted room, and it could take a bit of time for your room to speak up. That's why it's important to keep the room hushed for at least a few days. In a perfect world, you'd give it a week.
When you quiet a space, something magical happens. Your room has a chance to speak to you. If every item—no matter how big or small—has a little voice, a room can get so loud it becomes a rumble you get used to, block out, and then ignore. When you remove all but a very few of these voices, you can start to listen to your space again. Now you get to pay attention. Give your quieted space some time to settle and do its work. When you start to notice things, you know you are on the right path.
With the drapes down, you realize you never finished painting the walls.
With the rug gone, you remember how much you love the wood floor.
Without the bookshelves, you see how large the room truly is. And you wonder why you need all those shelves anyway.
When you take down the artwork, you feel happy—or afraid or sad.
These are all really useful things to be aware of because these insights are your room speaking to you. Pay attention to these thoughts and decide what needs to change.
Excerpt from Cozy Minimalist Home with permission by Zondervan.