image for the beauty of things that do nothing.

The Beauty of Stuff That Does Nothing.2

I wrote a column about this in May of 2016, and I thought it deserved an addendum… not necessarily an update, it’s still valid, but just some additional thoughts.

Being bombarded with the admonition to ‘declutter!’ in almost every, magazine or self-help group we look at has brought me to thinking about accessories. You know, those little bits and pieces we have in our homes that really don’t do anything except add to the mood and feel of a room. 

In today’s fast-paced, digital world, these seemingly purposeless objects are taking on a new significance.  They actually do mean something. They’re becoming anchors of nostalgia, conversation starters, and tangible connections to our experiences in an increasingly virtual world. This is what accessories should do. Not just be decor pieces.

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically shifted our relationship with our homes. With more time spent indoors, people are craving spaces that tell their personal stories and provide comfort. A study by the Home Improvement Research Institute found that 70% of homeowners undertook home improvement projects during the pandemic, with many focusing on creating more personalized spaces (HIRI, 2021).

This desire for personalization has led to a trend called “Curated Maximalism”. It’s about creating vignettes of meaningful objects that reflect our travels, relationships, and values. For instance, a shelf might display a mix of locally sourced artisanal ceramics, a vintage camera from a flea market in Paris, and a small sculpture made by a child – each item with its own story.

The rise of social media, particularly Instagram and Pinterest, has also influenced this trend. People are creating “Instagrammable” corners in their homes, filled with aesthetically pleasing and personally significant items. According to a survey by Houzz, 34% of homeowners consider how their space will look in photos when decorating (Houzz, 2021).

But.. the minimalist movement hasn’t disappeared; rather, it’s evolved. Today’s homeowners are embracing what can be thought of as  “Mindful Maximalism” – a thoughtful curation of meaningful objects within a clean, uncluttered space. This approach aligns with the growing focus on mental well-being and mindfulness in interior design.

Sustainability is another key factor influencing this trend. As consumers become more environmentally conscious, there’s a growing preference for quality over quantity. Homeowners are investing in fewer, but more meaningful pieces, often handcrafted or vintage.

When it comes to displaying these meaningful objects, consider the following tips:

  1. Create thematic groupings: Arrange items with similar colors, textures, or origins together.
  2. Use varying heights: Create visual interest by mixing tall and short objects.
  3. Incorporate negative space: Allow room for the eye to rest between groupings.
  4. Rotate seasonally: Keep your space fresh by changing displays with the seasons.
  5. Tell a story: Arrange items in a way that invites questions and sparks conversations.

Remember, the key is to create a space that feels authentically you. Whether it’s a collection of stones from various beaches you’ve visited, a gallery wall of family photos, or a shelf of items from your travels, these “useless” objects serve a profound purpose – they make a house feel like home.

Creating spaces filled with meaning and stories is more relevant than ever. In our digital age, these tangible connections to our experiences and loved ones are not just beautiful; they’re essential to creating a sense of belonging and well-being in our lives.

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