Interior Life

How to decorate without clutter

Marble Plates Copper Cutlery Salt Pepper cover

How to decorate without clutter – three rules I live by

Rose Gold Cutlery set | White Marble Dinner Plates | Marble Side Plates | Marble Bowls | Marble Cup and Saucer | Watercolour Cup and Saucer | Marble Base Table Lamp – all by Salt & Pepper.

I grew up in a home where decorating meant filling up every surface with things – replica artwork prints on every wall, porcelain figurines in every corner, even my Kinder Surprise toys had pride of place in the glass display cabinet (which from a certain point of view, count for artwork, really). Though my childhood homes had that lived-in feel that only years of organic knicknack accumulation could achieve, the suffocating sensation of being surrounded by clutter was probably what first set me on the path of minimalism.

Now, in my little house with my staunchly anti-clutter boyfriend and giant Ragdoll cat, I endeavour to retain only what is necessary – something to sit on, somewhere to work, something to eat with. But there is a balance to be struck between elegant simplicity and abject emptiness, and, for that matter, charming homeliness and cluttered magpie’s nest. For me, a successful interior is not predicated on the calibre of its ornaments or the allowance of empty space, but an optimised pairing back that makes for an easy and happy lifestyle within.

Here are three rules I live by to decorate without clutter.

1Keep to a single focal piece

The minimalist might be scanty with her things, but she is not the monastic type that shirks all worldly possessions. She keeps only a select few treasured things, chosen against specific aesthetic criteria and for a designated purpose. Accordingly, each facet of a living space should contain no more than a single focal piece, whether it is a favourite chair, a piece of artwork, or a distinct textile. For example, in this corner of my bedroom, my Salt & Pepper marble base rose gold lamp takes centre stage.

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Pictured: Salt & Pepper Rose Gold and Marble Base Lamp

2Find the nexus of the functional and ornate 

The more business-like spaces in the home – the kitchen, laundry and bathroom – present unique decorating challenges. These have a tendency to look rather clinical when stocked with only the essentials. However, beware of the urge to fill the void with superfluous decorations: the oversized novelty fork wall ornaments, the faux needle work ‘Home is where the heart is’ plaques, and those little potpourri sacks (aka dust magnets). Rather than adding more bric-a-brac, inject personality by opting for functional pieces that are also decorative. I have chosen marble plates and bowls over the archetypal white basics, and ultra-fresh rose gold cutlery set over the ordinary stainless steel (both from Salt & Pepper).

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Pictured: Salt & Pepper ‘Marble’ 16 pc Dinner Set; ‘Marble’ Cup and Saucer; Rose Gold Cutlery set

3Use accents of colour

A minimalist’s attraction to a monochrome palette reflects a love of simplicity. However, there is a fine line between simple and monotonous. One way to strike a balance is to use key accents of colour. For me, I have introduced warm metallics and pale blues (being in complimentary colour families), expressed through small accessories, like my Salt & Pepper watercolour inspired ‘Cumulous’ cup and saucer and rose gold cutlery.

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Pictured: Salt & Pepper ‘Marble’ 16 pc Dinner Set; Rose Gold Cutlery set‘Marble’ Cup and SaucerWatercolour Cup and SaucerMarble Base Table Lamp

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(Styling and photography with the assistance of Tracy Dinh)

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  • Lei Lei Clavey
    30 December 2015 at 7:03 am

    I’ve just moved in my new house and so I’ve got the fun task of putting everything in its place. This post is a great inspiration, reminding me to keep it simple!

    • Jiawa Liu
      1 January 2016 at 4:34 pm

      Oh how exciting! I’ve moved quite a bit in the past few years so I’ve come to really appreciate the first few weeks of putting your home together. I’m so glad you found my post helpful, and I’m looking forward to seeing the photos of your new decor!

  • Heather Lisa Noire
    30 December 2015 at 8:41 am

    This was really helpful and inspiring me to remodel some of my stuff I have. I just loved the details you added especially the photos just put this so well together! thanks for sharing! 🙂 Happy New Year in 2016.

    31 December 2015 at 6:39 pm

    What an inspiring post – love all the ideas, marble is so chic!
    xx. Mirjam

  • Seana Turner
    7 January 2016 at 9:12 am

    Love these tips. I see so much clutter and it actually takes away from the decor. Also important that when you bring in a new piece of decor, take one away!

  • Ramona
    7 January 2016 at 9:28 am

    Lovely! I actually am a person who likes to deco-clutter her flat but this style is fascinating and probably much easier to clean! 🙂

    7 January 2016 at 10:27 am

    Such nice plates and cutlery! <3

    I always feel inspired to go minimalist and have a monochromatic room when I see these kinds of pictures, but then I know I love colors too much and can never do it. 😛


  • coffeeslag
    8 January 2016 at 12:35 am

    I’m in the same boat. Small NYC space + anti-clutter boyfriend. I’m currently looking for ways to make the bedroom look larger while also adding some much needed storage space. Love that marble lamp with the gold base, hitting all my aesthetic feels.


    COFFEESLAG For Love & Lemons

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