clutter free living (part one)

Time to take a bit of a break from all of the Midnight Hustling! Today I thought I’d take a moment to share what I’ve learned from years of exfoliating unnecessary clutter. Any of my friends (or even Mr. Lively) can tell you that it’s rare to find a mess in my apartment. And though it is in part due to the fact that I love having order in my home, I also don’t have that much stuff. After years of End of the Week Exfoliations, Throw Out 50 Things Challenges, and What I Don’t Want for Christmas, I have leaned my possessions out substantially.

That said, my home is by no means sparse or bare. Below I snapped a few shots of my bedroom and bathroom organization to perhaps inspire others who are working on taming the Stuff Monster. And later today I’ll be sharing glimpses of my kitchen and living room as well.

More than any one tip, I can say that using “stuff” as decor has helped keep things beautiful and organized at the same time.

Scarves in a vintage glass bowl add color and texture to the dresser. It also encourages me to use them more often as well.

A vintage plate acts as a perfume tray. The vintage green goblet holds spare change and the clear glass container keeps cotton balls tidy.

This is my nightstand’s second drawer. An organizer from TJ Maxx holds my skinny belts, large scarves, and clutches.

I recently pinned my memento jewelry inside a shadow box from TJ Maxx. Now my grandmas’ vintage jewels are no longer crammed in a plastic bag.

My favorite new way to display everyday jewelry is in a small bowl on my dresser. It’s easier than going into a jewelry box twice a day.

Apartment living leaves little extra space for laundry. I converted my second closet into a place to hang out of season dresses. An over the door hanger is hanging on the closet rod to dry out sweaty running clothes or damp laundry.

This is part of my entry way closet. Large totes hang on S hooks. A shoe organizer hangs on the left to hold my workout gear; small shelves store towels, sunglasses, running watches, and headphones.

One of my little luxuries is weekly at-home manicures. Using a special candle box makes the tradition just a bit more organized and pretty.

Since I have a pedestal sink in my bathroom, this tray organizes and holds my makeup each morning. It’s stashed nearby in a hall closet when not in use.

Here is a link to my entire bedroom tour.

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  1. Helena

    Oooh, I love the idea for your memento jewelry! I have stuff from grandmas and great aunts that is currently in a “memento box” under the bed. When it comes to sentimental things (things I want to keep but that serve no real purpose) I allow myself only that one box, but the jewelry deserves to be on display!

  2. I love the idea of using a shadowbox for jewelry (your grandmother’s bracelets in particular are gorgeous!). We just changed bedrooms (swapped office and bedroom) and I’ve been trying to figure out jewelry storage in the new space. Had considered a bulletin board but I like this idea so much more! What do you do with super-long necklaces?

  3. Jess

    @ Helena and Maggie Rose: I’m glad you ladies like the momento storage! For long necklaces I hang them on the branch stand that I have next to the shadow boxes on the chest. You can see it (though it’s a bit blurry) on the photo at the top of this post. 🙂 I got it at Urban Outfitters.

  4. Kelly

    This is fantastic! I am also a big fan of 0 clutter and love all of your suggestions! 🙂 I think I may have to steal your scarf idea.

  5. Maddie

    I love, love, love your “using ‘stuff’ as decor” philosophy. I tend to cram things into little boxes and drawers when not in use, but I much prefer your way of treating these objects as art. Spare change in a goblet—why the heck not? I’m totally going to adopt your attitude as my own. 🙂

  6. Jenn

    I love this post! I used to be overly attached to the idea of removing excess objects from my living space (ironic, right?!). When I first found MML, one of my most favorite points on the site was that of ongoing “exfoliation.” That simple idea has taken so much pressure off me to create the perfect-minimalist-bare-zen-apartment-NOW!

    Can’t wait to see more.

  7. Jess

    @ Kelly: Good! There are more scarf ideas in the most recent Part 2 post too!

    @ Maddie: Yes! I think making the switch to display beautiful things you have as decor is a great way to decorate – and frugally!

    @ Jenn: I’m so happy to hear that you’ve gotten into the spirit of exfoliating! I’m huge into it too, as you know :).

  8. Jess

    @ Jewel: I got the S hooks at Ikea I think. But I’d imagine you can find similar ones at a hardware store.

  9. J'Ann

    Wow love this feature, I clean the place is organized and then next day the storm that is the “purse guy” enters and I feel like I am in a zoo. So everyday tips helps! Esp since you live in a small space like myself…

  10. 17Perth

    Great post. I am constantly on a tirade through my house saying “what can I get rid of?” Not that I am not sentimental, but I hate clutter. And nevertheless, I feel like I end up with clutter. I love your idea of using “stuff” as decor. Great idea. Love the scarves and jewelry as decor.

    The “throw out 50 things” was music to my ears. : ) I am looking forward to more posts on this!

  11. Jenny

    I LOVE the shadowbox way of displaying the memento jewelry. By far the most attractive and respectful way I’ve seen yet. I may have to steal this idea :o) I always love seeing how people live in an organized, clutter-free way! Keep the posts coming!!!

  12. Jess

    @ J’Ann: Hah, I’m about to enter the handbag zoo myself. I have been thinking that those hanging organizers for closets at Ikea could be good for storing bag inventory. And if all else fails, plastic under the bed storage will work!

    @ 17Perth: Great! I’d also look at the Makeunder My March post for a lot of other exfoliating posts.

    @ Jenny: Great! I’m happy to hear you like the shadow box! 🙂

  13. emilie

    Can I ask where you got your dressers? Or were those another awesome dumpster find?

  14. Jess

    Hi Emilie,

    The dressers were actually a hand me down from my best friend. They were her mother’s childhood furniture. I repainted them and changed out the hardware to get them to look as they do now. 🙂

    Have a great day,

  15. Ginger

    Can I just say that you are AWESOME! I can not wait to read your site, just discovered it today.

  16. Rachel

    I never thought of using s hooks for handbags!! What a great idea and it looks so organized! If you don’t mind sharing, where is your yellow handbag from?

  17. Jess

    Rachel, I got the yellow bag several years ago from a store that is no longer in business, but it is made by Lodis. I hope this helps!

  18. Aliza

    I absolutely love how you highlight your grandmother’s vintage jewelry in a shadow box! Genius idea! I’m going out and buying one immediately! Do you have any recommendations for other inherited vintage items? ie. gloves and hats?

  19. Jess

    Aliza, I’m happy to hear you are going to make your own shadow box! I haven’t tried it with any other items, but hats and gloves sounds great!

  20. erin

    AAAH! This makes me want to totally clean off all my bookshelves, clear my desk and nightstand, and come up with a few DIY decor projects. More de-cluttering this afternoon, thanks to a little inspiration!! (Oh, and I am totally doing the weekly manicure thing… putting the “appointment” on my calendar RIGHT NOW!).

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