9 Simple Steps to Lighten and Renew Your Home by Undecorating

When the sun is shining and trees are in bud, the inside of my house can start to feel stale and uninspired.  I think that's why many of us get into the spring cleaning mode.  We want new energy in our homes as well.

After a winter of adding seasonal decorations, new purchases, and holiday gifts, my home can use some attention.  So this year I'm trying a simple refresh I call "undecorating."  It takes just a little bit of time and makes it easier to thoroughly clean a room.  And it really rejuvenates the space.

Undecorating lets me be more intentional with my décor.  To undecorate, I remove a layer of objects from a room so that I can see it with fresh eyes.

9 quick and easy steps to undecorate

1.  Choose the room(s) you want to revitalize.

I'm going to do my entryway, living room, and bedroom, but this process works in any room of the house.

2.  Locate a few containers that can hold surface décor.

This can be a couple of boxes, a laundry basket, some grocery bags, or anything I already have that I can stash things in for a few days.  I don't have to get sophisticated – I'll use what's available.

3.  Find a temporary storage area for the items you remove.

I have a guest bedroom, so I'll put things there.  A covered or enclosed porch would work too, or a corner of the garage or basement.  It just needs to be dry and reasonably clean.  The items will only be there for a few days, so I can make it work!

4.  Set a timer for 10 minutes and remove the surface décor.

This means knickknacks, photos, vases, plants, candles – all the decorative stuff on all of the surfaces.  I'll stuff pillows and throw blankets into a plastic garbage bag.  Then I'll put everything into my designated storage area.

5.  Take a few more minutes and remove wall art.

Photos, paintings, and the rest can just lean against the wall in my storage area.  If I had to store them on a porch, I'd probably wrap them in a drop cloth or a sheet.

6.  (Optional)  If your room has a bookshelf or a wall unit, take the time to completely empty it as well.

I plan to do that with the bookshelf in my living room.

I've set the stage.

Now, my undecorated room isn't empty, because the furniture is still there.  But the chairs, tables, beds, dressers, etc. are bare.  The floor is bare except for rugs.  The mantel is bare.  The walls are bare.

I've set the stage for a thorough cleaning.  I'll clear cobwebs from the corners, wipe the baseboards, dust, sweep, mop, shampoo the carpet, vacuum, wash the windows, etc. to make the room spotless and sweet-smelling.

7.  Let the space breathe, undecorated, for at least 3 days or up to a week.

This allows my view of the room to reset.  I need at least a day or two for the room to stop looking weird and empty and for me to stop feeling like my usual décor "belongs" in certain places.  Gradually, I'm able to see the room as peaceful.  It also feels larger.

8.  Before you bring back anything else, add a plant.

That's what this is all about, after all – the life and promise of spring.  I won't make my room a jungle, but I'll place a single lovely plant or a vase of flowers in a prominent spot.

9.  Only bring back things that you really love, miss, and need.

Don't be in a hurry, and don't fill a space just because it's empty.

The magic is in the waiting.

By waiting a few days before putting stuff back, I become accustomed to the empty space.  I might even find that I like it!  After undecorating, I might decide to keep end tables bare except for a lamp, or my dining table bare and ready for use.  I might keep fewer throw pillows, candles, or pictures.  Or I might swap things around for a new look.

Related article:  How a Naked Table Makes My Home Life Better

For people like me who enjoy pretty things, giving myself time with an emptier space is a reminder that less can be beautiful too.  It lets me choose my favorite things and put them in the spotlight, and helps me decide what to declutter.

Why not experiment with undecorating your home?

If you enjoyed this post, I know you'll like my book, Comfortable Minimalism: Create a Home With Plenty of Style and a Lot Less Stuff.*  

Does your home make you feel as good as it could?  Does it support the quality of life you need and want?  If not, why not?  What should you do to make a change?

With Comfortable Minimalism you can start making your home more beautiful and welcoming right now, even if you have no money to spend.  Experience more open space, more natural light, and easier home care.  Make small changes for a big impact.

Includes "A Clean Slate: 8 Questions to Uncover Your Style," a fun and informative Style Quiz, and a linked Project Index.

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  1. I love the idea of letting everything bare for at least a few days. That way it gives you time to decide what you really miss. And of course adding a plant to a space is always a good idea! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Letting the space "marinate," so to speak, is the essential step. Like I said, the room looks strangely empty at first, and it's difficult not to feel that certain items "belong" in certain spots, simply because you're used to them. When I was growing up and had to help my mom with spring cleaning, we always emptied the room, but then put everything back the way it had been. There was never a hint that we would reconsider any of those items. I think this method gets around the "it's always been that way" mindset.

  2. At first the idea seemed daunting but as I think about it, I am inspired. Could be a great way to reset for spring. Thanks for the systematic approach - very helpful.

    1. I would be daunting if you tried this in all rooms at once! But one room at a time, not so much. So glad you find the post helpful!

    2. Oops! "It" would be daunting...

  3. Great idea- I've never thought of this. I will give it a try, one room at a time.

    1. Hi there, and thanks for your comment! This process can be fun and eye-opening. I hope it's useful for you!


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