January Money Diet Day #21 – Less is the New More



Many of you know that I’m a full-time, self employed writer. One of my favorite side jobs is writing articles for home design magazines. Studying the beautiful rooms created by talented designers always inspires me.

Let’s look at the lovely living room vignette above, designed by Jennifer Hoey Interior Design. I fell in love with Jennifer’s work in 2012, when I wrote about her for Western Art & Architecture magazine.

We see that the room above does not include a lot of stuff. There are no Tuscany-themed throw rugs or gyro snack bowls or Brookstone TV remote pillows. Jennifer moved the furniture away from the walls in this beautiful, serene space, and kept the emphasis on just a few well-chosen pieces.

Most of the top designers I talk to invest in clean-lined, classic furniture of good quality and scale appropriate for the size of the room. They accessorize sparingly.

Are we ready?

In ten short days we’ll be reaching the official end of the January Money Diet, and we’ll be re-entering the world of shopping malls and impulse buys.

Much like addicts in rehab, we need to start preparing now for how we will deal with the inevitable temptations.

Many of you expressed joy after undertaking Monday’s challenge to clear stuff out and give it away. Let’s join our hands and pledge to honor those happy feelings and not crowd our homes with More. Doesn’t it feel good to have Less?

When I am at Target and I’m tempted to buy, say, a Tuscany-themed throw rug, I need only to remember the serene, simple rooms I love. Our home is a happier place with more space — and less stuff.

How about you?

What is the one area in your home that you’d like to edit and clear, so it’s a place of order and calm? (For me, it’s the basement. No, it’s actually the garage. No, wait — it’s my office closet.)

Your challenge is to take one step toward that vision of Less, and organize one space — one drawer, or one shelf, or one square foot — in that too-full place. Take one step, and tell us about it in the Comments section.


The signature for Eliza Cross

P.S. WELCOME to those of you just joining the January Money Diet, and feel free to jump right in with today’s challenge! You can also visit the main blog page and scroll down to read the previous posts.

P.P.S. I was so inspired by all of your comments from Monday’s post about taking unwanted items to a charity, I’m loading up another batch today! If you donate more this week, be sure to post a comment so it counts in the contest. The person who gives away the most stuff by midnight this Saturday will win an inspirational money book.

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

January Money Diet Day #21 – Less is the New More

  • Tricia

    Congrats to all who accomplished this challenge. Although it was a crazy week for me last week, I did manage to pull together a few things to donate. I wish it could have been more, but we had done a major purge last spring when we put our house on the market. It was such a huge relief to see all of that stuff go last year. And except for a couple things, we don’t miss any of it. And those couple things that we did need after they were gone, now belong to friends who are wonderful enough to let us borrow them back for a short time!! Win, win for all!!

  • Cindy

    I cleaned out the den – one corner had gotten filled with clutter that had nowhere else to go. I went through the bookshelves and gave away a lot of books, so then I had room for the stuff that was in the corner. That room feels great now.
    I’ve also made a lot of progress in my office and that continues to need work.
    The other area that needs a little concentration is the garage. It’s not bad, but if I free up some shelf space in there, I cam move some things from the house to the garage, thus freeing up more space in the house.

  • Catherine Godfrey

    My office needs a good cleaning out. I work from home so it’s easy for me to let it get cluttered. I’m soooo done w/ stuff everywhere. I’m going to continue purging stuff out. It’s amazing how much stuff & fit in a tight space.

  • Well… I did get my desk cleaned off. I knew it was under there somewhere. Unfortunately it only lasted a few hours because soon the mail arrived, and guests for dinner, and there’s just no other place to put stuff. Clearly, I need a better system!

    • Jennifer

      Isn’t is amazing how fast those “hot spots” can catch fire?! I have trouble sticking to a system. I tried the handle it once method, but really I do not have time for even that so into the pile it goes. Baby steps 🙂

  • Lyn Miller

    What I love is how cleaning spaces seems to create ‘new’ space for us to be creative, gather family, or just feel at ease. For me, it has been an ongoing struggle to create a truly productive working space in my home office. It has always been a mix of family things and personal projects – overwhelming all the time. Last week, when I cleaned the attic, I was able to move all the ‘stuff’ that I hope to use in future projects, to the top of the stairs in the attic – accessible, but not cluttering up the space in the office. Wow, what a difference it makes!! LIke Rosemary, I have been working on this process for a year, starting in ernest during last year’s money diet. Last February, I thought I had done the ultimate clean-out of this space…until this year, when I needed to go a few steps farther. It is an amazing process, but the more space, the more room – for ideas and conversations and the things that really matter. So cool! I hope this space will be even ‘freer’ next year at this time…

  • Lisa

    Selling our dining room table opened up a lot of room in our living room/dining room (which is L-shaped). We moved other furniture around and now it looks much more open. I am also learning to like bare walls. Previously, we had something against every wall space. In the process, I have been going through hutches and drawers to clean out and donate/toss items we don’t use. The tall bookcase was cleaned off and is now in my son’s bedroom as a dresser. He has stacks of clothes on it that he can now see, versus items being shoved in drawers. This has also helped him actually put clean clothes away rather than piling them on his floor! Prior to seeing your January Money diet series, I had been planning on going on a money diet in February. I feel I have started early, and am definitely planning to continue watching our expenditures in February. It is a short month with no major holidays/birthdays etc. With our daughter back at school by then I may even be able to curb in our grocery/Walmart bill. Thanks for the early start!

  • Georgina Bowie

    My flat is very small, in fact I have a living/ bedroom as my living space. The problem I’ve had is that I did once live in a flat that had a separate living room and bedroom and am now having to squeeze everything into one. I’ve had to make some tough choices about what I’ve kept, but even though I was a bit upset about some of the things to begin with I’ve now forgotten most of what I gave away. There’s still a number of areas in that room that needs work, mainly the craft area, but I just keep telling myself ‘less is more’.

  • Lisa F

    My sons room and my craft room need decluttering so badly! Over the past few weeks, Ive taken 7 bags to the thrift store. Thats from every other room.

    I need to realize that I don’t need to have so many craft supplies. A few months ago, I put myself on a craft shopping “diet”. I will not purchase any supplies until I use what I already own. Im going through my supplies to find items to donate to a childrens charity. It will feel amazing to have less stuff. My craft room is a very small previous sunroom. It isnt big enough to have a lot in there. I will be so happy when Im done.

    As for my son’s room, that will be a challenge. He appears to be addicted to everything he owns. He has a full childhood in there!

  • Lynn Louise

    Last night I had extra time and I spent it cleaning the top drawer in my nightstand. It had become the “junk drawer” and 90% of the stuff in there didn’t need to be. So I pulled everything out and organized it. I only put back in the few things that I need in the bedroom. The rest of the “stuff” found a home elsewhere where it should have been from the start or it was placed in the donate box, or was tossed. I love looking in there now. Before it use to bother me so much because I knew it needed cleaning but never made a point to do it. The room in my house that needs organizing more than any other is the laundry room. The cupboards in there have been collecting miscellaneous stuff for years. One side is full of detergent, dust cloths (too many)and odds and ends. The other cabinet is full of anything and everything from household tools such as hammer, pliars, and nails to small paint containers, flower pots, a whisk broom, and so much other clutter that you can’t find anything. Not even the hammer! I am going to tackle that room and that cupboard next. It will bring me peace once it is done. I have had a great time spending my January getting things accomplished and saving money. I haven’t bought anything that is non essential and have even been watching the food budget. I have saved a lot of money. My credit card company will probably be calling to see if I am feeling OK! Thanks Eliza.

  • Rosemary Carstens

    I’ve been working my way through my house room by room for the past year. The garage was the worst, but I finally got it cleaned out and reorganized, hauled a bunch of stuff away–and then as I went through other rooms inside, stuff piled up again out there, so I’ve had to do it over and over. I hope eventually that it can stay looking good! The other room that was just stuffed full was my art studio. I am down to just a few papers now to finish going through. I’ve gotten rid of all the decades-old travel books I had in there and downsized to a half-size bookcase for artbooks only, put misc. supplies in see-thru tubs that can be stacked in the closet, and now have more wall space for hanging my artworks in progress. I think I can still do better in there tho once I figure out the best way to organize my brushes and tubes of paint, etc. I’ve tried different things that all end up in a jumble very quickly–could the problem be ME?????

  • Jennifer

    We are almost there! How fun this has been! I think I will do it again in March 🙂
    My biggest challenge room in the living room. We have a family of eight so I feel the need to have seating for at least eight. The problem is that our house isn’t very big and we don’t even use the living room! This week I became inspired to do my own thing. I’m moving our main floor bedroom that is being used as a library (going through the books in the process to donate) downstairs and moving our living room into the bedroom. My plan is to use the space like a den and use beanbags for extra seating when needed. This allows me too open up my living area as a large dining room which is where we do spend most of our time and have room to walk around.

    We will see how it turns out. I may move it back but, hey, why not?

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