Solutions: Every house needs a good editor

Jeanine Matlow

Given the fact that my decorating habits lean toward “more is more,” I’m trying to instill a little “less is more” around my house, especially when it comes to accessories. Organizing projects aside, I plan to address the expanding array of accents that have come to inhabit every nook and cranny.

My initial inspiration came from some bookshelves I saw in a magazine feature that had very little on them in the way of objects. Not only did I find the understated aesthetic to be pleasing to the eye, the reduction of clutter created a peaceful environment which is the opposite of my current surroundings.

Although I seem to be the only one in my family that didn’t inherit the math gene, this school of thought is more or less a numbers game. For example, there’s the odd amount of decorative objects often recommended by design experts, such as a grouping of three or five, that can help limit your selection.

There’s also the simple act of counting how many pieces have come to rest on a dresser or a nightstand in your bedroom or an end table in another area of the home. For some, that can be a reality check, which is exactly what it turned out to be for me.

Rather than removing five items from each room like I usually do, I set out to edit every piece of furniture that was topped with too many objects. The results leave a little breathing room for the occasional glass of water or cup of tea, while having the added bonus of a calming effect.

Though it’s easy to become attached to our favorite accents, rotating them can make the heart grow even fonder during their absence. For those who feel it may be time to part with all those pillows on a sofa, chair or bed, removing one or two can make a difference.

On a leather trunk I inherited from my sister that sits in our living room, I counted close to a dozen objects. Though some serve a purpose, such as boxes and trays, there was obviously an opportunity for editing.

I’m inspired by my daughter who has been organizing and rearranging her room on a regular basis lately. Her tall dresser has been left with only a few select items on the surface, which is especially refreshing after all the holiday decorations came down.

Leaving some breathing room for each piece of furniture to reveal itself makes sense, whether it’s a glass tabletop or some rustic industrial-style shelves like the Metro Bookcase from Pier 1 Imports shown here. Loading it up with a bunch of stuff will only distract from the natural beauty.

Besides, just because there’s an expansive surface available for display doesn’t mean you need to fill every inch with random accessories. A little editing can make each remaining piece shine as you highlight some special accents along with the unique qualities of the furniture in your home.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at