Smart Solutions: Give yourself a good home edit

by Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News
Displaying pieces at different levels adds interest while acrylic holders keep the look light.

While we may already know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the art of editing your possessions might be a bit subjective, too.

This was a decorating lesson I learned the hard way not too long ago when my first attempt at ridding my rooms of excess ornamentation failed to earn the recognition I expected from others. I thought for sure a family member or frequent visitor would be impressed by my efforts. Sadly, that was not the case.

It took some time for me to realize that the reason no one could see the difference was that there was still too much stuff left behind to make a significant dent.

Though I know the “more is more” movement is having a moment in home décor, I often take this concept too far. After packing an entire storage container with surplus accessories and other miscellaneous items, I still had enough on display to stay in that category.

So, here I am again in another attempt to send a new message to all who enter my home because one too many objects can prevent anyone, including me, from appreciating a single one.

In addition to paring down the remaining pieces, I plan to try a few more strategic moves to see what works best in my quest for well-edited rooms.

For instance, I’m in the process of rearranging any objects without enough color contrast in their current locations, such as a neutral tray that gets lost in the shuffle when positioned on a pale piece of furniture.

Though my penchant for small accent pieces may never wane, I’m swapping some with heftier accessories that take up more space and make a dramatic statement like a pair of black and white striped magazine holders.

Lean a few of your favorite photos on ledge shelves that keep knickknacks from cluttering up your tabletops.

The art of layering can also lend a sense of order to your décor. Grouping elements closer together in a vignette lets them read as one piece instead of too many random items. 

Organizers can take on a more decorative tone with a slight adjustment. For example, I always fill my trays with reading materials when in fact they offer endless opportunities to hold more dimensional accents.

Papers pose a constant challenge. For every one that can be discarded, another seems to appear out of nowhere. Investing in a new label maker after my antiquated one finally broke down was all the motivation I needed to create new file folders that allowed me to clear my tabletop.  

A recent trip to the Container Store with a friend yielded plenty of inspiration as well as some decorative boxes to stash my Homestyle copies.  As I told my friend that day, I wish my life looked like the tidy aisles filled with organizing solutions.  

Functional holders, like these utility shelves that blend into the wall, can contain your gardening gear and other items.


As I continue to reduce my visual clutter, I have to keep our dog in mind as some of my ideas could put accent pieces within easy reach for him. In that case, his curious nature may cause damage to a few old favorites and that’s one method of editing I’d rather do without.

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