COTE DE TEXAS: To Clutter or Not to Clutter.......???

To Clutter or Not to Clutter.......???

image I am drawn to two different design looks: the cluttered look and the uncluttered look. My house presently is definitely done in the cluttered look. I love the cluttered English Country Home look where slipcovers are the norm and seagrass was first used. I love textiles - the suzanis and the ikats, once so fine and unusual until Target and Pottery Barn discovered them this year. I love blue and white porcelains and blue and white striped dhurries, and books piled high on everything except the bookcases. Show me a room with a crystal chandelier and a cotton indienne fabric used together and I'll show a room that is perfection. If you mix in a piece of chinoiserie and some papier mache furniture from the Victorian era, I'll be in love! Thrown in a few French antiques to mix with the dark English antiques and the brew is delicious!

That is, until, the new Veranda comes out with some achingly beautiful, sparse, uncluttered pseudo Swedish or Belgian interior with a heavy dose of French furniture, done all in shades of soft aquas or celadon greens or just plain whites and creams. And then, it never fails to happen, I want to chuck everything I own, have collected and saved for for years - chuck it right out the door and start over fresh with a home that looks like it could be in the middle of Provence.

Bow-windows avec vue sur la plageActually, the two interiors - the cluttered vs. the uncluttered, the English vs. the French, share some similarities and I suppose that's why I drawn to both: both looks are heavy with antiques. Both use seagrass and striped dhurries. Both use checks and linen fabrics, but the uncluttered French look eschews patterned fabrics on the whole. The uncluttered palette is serene and calm, no jarring reds or yellows. And so, in truth, both looks are beautiful. and I'm in a constant state of flux: I want both looks and yet it's impossible, short of having two homes, one cluttered and one, pristine. Hmmmm......not a bad idea! Actually, it would be a lot cheaper to just cancel my subscription to Veranda and Southern Accents. Can you relate to this? Are you torn between two looks, one cluttered, one not? Do you suffer like I do? Do you lose sleep over this dilemma?

Above, is a picture of Nancy Lancaster's famous butta yellow library in England - this room is the epitome of the English Country Manor's cluttered style. To the right, compare Lancaster's library to a library in a French country chateau. And hence, the question: to clutter or not to clutter?

Here are examples of both styles of decorating, cluttered vs. uncluttered, English vs French. While older, established designers favor the cluttered English country manor look, many younger designers have taken up the cause. Below are examples of the younger generations' interpretation of the English Country House style:

The Cluttered Look:


The "cluttered" look: By Alex Papachristidis. Here, a beautiful mix of textiles and fabrics: Fortunys, indiennes, ikats and suzanis all mixed together. This Anglo influenced look is stolen from the English country house and dressed up for the American home. No English country man0r would be so perfect and orderly as this. This is stylized clutter - everything is placed here by design, not accident. The elder statesman of interior design, Mario Buatta, perfected this look. Notice the wonderful mix of fabrics and especially note the exotic sconces.


The dining room with a suzani covered table. Books and porcelains vie for eating space. Notice how even more books are piled high on the spare chair on the left. The antique crystal chandelier pleasingly shares the space with the inexpensive indienne fabrics.


A chinoiserie bookcase separates the living area from the dining area. No English manor house is complete without a piece of chinoiserie or black papier mache furniture somewhere.


Seagrass - a staple in England for decades - has finally become accepted in America, thanks to Pottery Barn. The fabric lampshades recall the English workhouse Colefax and Fowler.


Vogue editor Carolina Irving lives in this NYC apartment with her art-collecting husband. White slipcovers, textiles, blue and white striped dhurrie rug, seagrass, and books all play an important part in this apartment's design. The cluttered effect is much more "real" in this apartment and is less stylized.


A close up of the ottoman/coffee table in the Irving apartment. The fabric and ottoman is by England great, Robert Kime, interior designer to the Prince of Wales.


The dining room shares it's space with the library. An antique suzani covers the dining room table.


The apartment is home to grand art work, similar to what would be found in English country homes.


Here an antique ikat covers a table. Jewelry hangs off the walls and an assortment of accessories clutter up the top of the table.


Art work covers every inch of wall space that is not already covered by bookcases in the Irving apartment.


A glimpse of Carolina Irving's own country home. Rather than decorate her second home in a different style, Irving stays true to her cluttered roots. An antique textile hangs behind a mirror.

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Another devotee of the cluttered look, also named Carolina, is Ms. Herrera, Jr. Here is her city apartment's bedroom: all textiles and fabrics and clutter. Again, the look is not stylized clutter, but a normal outcome of it's owner's lifestyle. Note how two different fabrics cover the french settee. Antique suzani covers a cluttered table top.


A close up of the bed, with it's textile canopy. Carolina Herrera Jr. sits in the French settee.


In sharp contrast to an uncluttered all white tiled and carrara marbled bathroom, Herrera's is, instead, a study in clutter. Red patterned wallpaper covers the walls and a large cow skin covers the floor.


Herrera too has a country home, an estancia in Spain. Here in her studio in the country, a suzani covers the desk, while an antiquw shawl covers the chair. The walls are wallpapered in toile.


Another view of Herrera's estancia in Spain: a suzani inspired fabric from Brunschwig & Fils hangs at the windows.


English born, now living in California, fabric and interior designer Peter Dunham practices the cluttered, English country manor look. Here, his paisley fabric covers the walls and the french antique chair. Other textiles cover the bed.


Here Dunham uses bright yellows and red, typical of a cluttered design. The sofa is covered in his indienne inspired fabric. Seagrass layered with a dhurrie completes the look.


Here, Dunham mixes African art with contemporary art. Apple matting is on the floor, layered with a cow hide. An antique suzani covers the table, topped with the clutter that adds to the charm of this room.


The real deal: Chatsworth, a quintessential English country manor home. Here, the private living quarters are a study in what Americans try to emulate with their cluttered look. Slipcovered furniture, fabric ottoman piled high with books, and paintings cover the walls. Nothing is styled here. Every generation adds their own stamp on the castle, so that layer upon layer of clutter is piled high.


The former Lord and Lady of Chatsworth sit waiting by the back entrance underneath a gorgeous portrait of one of Chatsworth's horses.

The Uncluttered Look:


Veranda, the magazine that brings such pain! Here on the cover, a home designed by Houstonian Jane Moore for her daughter and husband who live in Dallas. A pseudo Swedish design, heavy with French antiques, this home is in direct contrast to a cluttered, English country home inspired interior. Sparse, devoid of clutter, pattern, and bright colors, the look here is soothing and tranquil.

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The walls are stuccoed white and the wood floor is bleached white - both provide a calming canvas upon which the furniture sits. Here, two Swedish chairs, upholstered in white, sit beneath an antique screen. Note how the accessories are sparse and oversized.

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The living room - French chairs upholstered in linen. The only pattern used is a muted seafoam green and cream check from Chelsea Editions.

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The other side of the living room, with its antique Swedish chairs and tables and Chelsea Edition checked sofa. Even the rugs are serene and plain - here, an antique celadon green dhurrie.


Close up of the living area, serene and uncluttered: you won't find any jarring reds or bright suzanis in this house. Note the choice of lamps here. Somehow, the contemporary pieces are just the right touch.

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The dining room with a french inspired iron table, french dining room chairs and a french light fixture. Hard to call this Swedish, though a Swedish Moro clock stares down over the scene.


In the entry hall of this Houston home designed by P. Joe Shaffer, a French settee covered in a seafoam linen sets the quiet tone of the home.

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Another French settee, this time in the living room.


Another view of the living room. The only pattern is the antique Fortuny curtains.

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The dining room - an iron table similar to the one in the previous Dallas home wears a cream slipcover. Blue and white striped dhurrie rug - similar to one used in a cluttered home, here the rug calms rather than stimulates.


The beautiful bedroom - French draped bed, blue and white garden seat, blue linen fabrics - all add to a serene, quiet interior.

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Another view of the sitting area of the bedroom. Though sharing in elements with a cluttered look - the blue and white striped dhurrie and porcelains - here the lack of pattern and color gives the room it's quiet and restful appearance.


This Houston house, also featured in Veranda, is the home of designer Pamela Pierce. Again, white walls, plain linen upholstery, and oversized accessories, combine to make an interior that is a complete opposite of the cluttered, patterned, and stimulating English inspired interiors.

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Another view of the living room in the Pierce house. French day bed is seen on the left.

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View into a sitting room with white slipcovered chairs and antique French fireplace mantel. Large santos on the left.

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In the library, Pierce hides the cluttered books behind a drape. Seagrass matting. Again, the only pattern is a Chelsea Edition brown and cream check on the slipcovers.

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The breakfast room with it's light limestone floor and antique table and benches.


The kitchen. Plain, uncluttered. Large lantern and cow's head are accent pieces.


Pamela Pierce's daughter, Shannon Bowers lives and designs in Dallas. She, too, favors the French inspired country home look. Here in a client's living room, large accessories and plain fabrics lend an air of uncluttered serenity.

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Bower's client's dining room. All creams and whites, slipcovers, linens, and pale painted woods - this room could just as easily be in a French country home.

The Real Deal: A French Country Home that inspires the spare, serene, and cool palette of the uncluttered homes of America.

The dining room in the French Country Chateau. Limestone floor and mantel, all creams and white, crystal chandelier and rustic furniture living happily together. Spare, oversized accessories are in direct contrast to the clutter of the English Country Manor.

The living room in the French Country Home. Cream upholstery on antique French chairs. The armoire is painted in whites and creams. Linen curtains and creamware dishes.

Which look do you prefer? The patterned, suzani and ikat textile interiors with it's vibrant reds and yellows, cluttered with small accessories and books piled up everywhere? A look that take its cues from the English country manor? Or, do you prefer the uncluttered, patternless, white walls, soothing greens, blues and aquas, linens and checks, cream painted furniture and oversized accessories? Interiors that are based on country French homes, homes with a Swedish or Belgian influence?

Myself, I can't decide. Can you? I'll let you know if I make up my mind.


  1. Oh my gosh! You must have read my mind....last week after a friend and I made our "Cote trip" to all of the lovely shops in the West U area of Houston I was in a state of flux. The soothing colors of the French vs. the use of color and clutter in my eclectic home!

    These are beautiful pictures, Joni. I'm glad I'm not alone in this love for both settings.

  2. Hmmm....wonder what my answer will be?

    Love layers and layers and punches of color -- not necessarily tons of clutter, except for the Irvings' home of course -- but I respect both looks very much.

  3. Joni, I meant to say well done too!

  4. I definitely prefer the uncluttered look. I get all anxious and upset when I see an interior that is full of pattern, 'stuff', clutter.

    The decor war that rages in me is the contemporary vs. traditional war. I see images of more contemporary interiors, or more accurately, transitional interiors, like those by Barbara Barry, and I think about how much I love that look. Then I see streamlined traditional looks that lean towards European/Swedish/French, with beautiful old antiques and a soothing neutral palette, and I think it is 'me'.

  5. Hahahah guess I'd better watch my blog critiques...! Sadly, most of the readers of my blog are 20 something law students eager to see clips of guys drunk driving lawn mowers. lol. Oh, the things law school drives us to! If you need a break for some funny videos or silly law humor, please come back!

    Oh, and yours is now on my daily blog list.

  6. Joni,

    I wanted add....your comment about stacking books every place but on a book shelf has helped give me a bit of new found freedom with my books. Honestly, just recently have been inspired to do that and I am so loving my stacks of books here and there!

  7. Joni,

    The "other" stalker here. I'm having a coronary while viewing the cluttered photos. I'll have to print them out for my files. They speak to my soul: books, textiles, mish-mash of fabrics. These are such eye-candy. But...I drool also at the sight of the "new generation" touch of spare, clean, soothing. But, give me jolly ole England and gay Paris any day. Thank you SO for this post. Yum.

  8. I spent years thinking I should de-clutter our surroundings and it totally went against my true soul. I admit it. I LOVE the *cluttered* homes. Although I refer to them *and my own home) as "Controlled and carefully planned clutter."
    The varities of fabric and pattern and color, the textures, the use of blue and white pottery, the eclectic mix of styles, furniture and eras...the layers and layer of fabric and rugs and *stuff*..the *stuff* that speaks to who I am and where I have been. And books, books, books and more books. Stacks of books, bookcases brimming and chairs over flowing. All speak to me of a life well loved and a home full of joy.
    It is just who I am.

    I adored this post and seeing all the gorgeous rooms.

    My visits here are always a pure delight!

    Thank you for that Joni!


  9. I struggle with to clutter or not to clutter don't worry you are not alone! I recently went thru my house and really decluttered... but of course my sparse look is still more than some have!Two houses really is the solution. Now if we can just convince our DH's of this!?!?!? LOL

  10. I think the uncluttered is lovely but it's not how we live. Every room in our house has books and we read them here and/or there. For my birthday my husband got me two lovely pillows and a beautiful cinnabar vase. We can't stop! I try to "edit" but another treasure finds it way into our hearts and home. We both love to go to antique malls and flea markets. We're hopeless. However...I lust after the swedish clock...and I know I could find a place in my clutter.

  11. Ah Joni - that is the million dollar question! I suffer from the same problem...

  12. If there is such a thing as clean clutter then I could stand clutter!

  13. I have been the same thing for weeks now. I've decided that I will do my country house in cluttered and my city house in uncluttered.

    You know, once I have those.

    I think I will go with uncluttered, though. I hate the idea of having to move one thing to get to another thing. I don't want to have to move books to get to a tray on a shelf, for example. (Actually, I have to do this all the time, but it's not on purpose -- it's because I'm not the best housekeeper.)

  14. Nope, not torn at all...I love the clean, uncluttered look. My problem is, I am so totally visual, that if it's not out to see, it might as well not exist. Which totally ruins the uncluttered look. :(

  15. Joni,Where are the Shots from Shannon Bowers House from?

  16. Love your blog, and especially this post. You need two houses to satisfy both design cravings. Have you seen Lars Bolander's new Palm Beach house on New York Social Diary? Books everywhere, lots of art, but somehow still spare.

    Liz in Upstate NY

  17. Joni- I can't make up my mind either. I prefer to look at photos of cluttered rooms- perhaps because of all of the interesting layers of "stuff". In my life, though, I can't do cluttered. I think I fall somewhere in between.

  18. You have read my mind. Is there a cure for this disease? I was so taken with a post from Desire to Inspire with Alex Papachristidis' apartment that I spent most of yesterday trying to remember which blog it was on. Imagine my surprise when I found the same pix on your blog this morning. And I had to laugh when I read your sentence about Veranda bringing so much pain. In the meantime my study and my bedroom remain undone. Like the song "Jenny" I simply cannot make up my mind. Love your blog.
    Marion from Kentucky

  19. Clutter and spice and everything nice.

  20. Torn between the two wonderful looks here too! I live in a very small cluttered suburban home and long for one of those elegant uncluttered "Veranda" homes! But I would miss my books and accessories so I'd be constantly battling my own cluttered nature! I'd love to be tall and willow-like too -- but my own "cluttered" teapot shape will have to do! LOL!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

  21. Joni - my problem is, I love it all. Cluttered, uncluttered, sleek and chic or shabby, country, city, I can't give up any of it.

  22. Oh my goodness - did you read my mind before writing this post? Fantastic pictures and a perfect description of the schizophrenic design world I live in.

  23. I'm with MB! I love it all too. I am definitely a schizophrenic when it comes to my own house. I can never parts of my house are uncluttered, and some are too cluttered. I do love a mix however: antiques mixed with contemporary art, and traditional sofas with a Barcelona table. Yup, definitely torn. :)

  24. I am definitely on the same page as Things That Inspire. I prefer the uncluttered look, but my internal war is between contemporary/transitional and traditional. I also struggle between color v. soothing neutral colors a la Suzanne Kasler. I usually am paralized to purchase anything big because I know the next week I'll see something in a totally different style that I will equally like. I can't commit!

  25. Wonderful post as usual!!! You never disappoint! For me, the answer is simple, no clutter and great art!!!!!

  26. I love them all! Cluttered is much easier, as uncluttered requires so much thought and editing and perfection! Great post!

  27. I a design schizo too. But I will say that I tend to favor uncluttered more than cluttered. Unless I inherit a true English manor. In that case - it'll be like the first photograph!!

  28. Oh Joni - as usual you have "wowed" a lot of readers! I love the photos you chose, and have been struggling with my own response to the latest Veranda. I think the furnishings in the uncluttered rooms are fabulous,beautiful, exquisite - but the rooms you call cluttered just seem warmer and more human - interesting... and they make me want to see more and know about the people who live in them. One thing I have realized is that I am not pulled into a perfectly styled, staged room for a magazine shoot (although I realize I am nuts because, of course, they are all styled) but rooms that show signs of soul and life. That is why I love Peter Dunham and Kathryn Ireland. With that I am off to read my new House Beautiful - chock full of rooms with soul!!

  29. OK, me again..... one more thought... I think there is a difference in styling a room to deliberately look cluttered - meaning filled with books and accessories that are there from the start - and creating a beautiful space with rugs, fabrics, art and antiques, that then grows cluttered over time from the living that happens there. Did you see my reference to you in my last post - the gorgeous room in the Charleston house that I said looks like you,only you would fill it with your personality! Now that is what I love! Thank you for the design therapy today!

  30. This post is amazing - hats off to you for this! I tend to lean towards the uncluttered but not for every room in the house (love a cluttered library or den). The Pierce library is beautiful. Loved the bookshelves w/the curtain - I've never seen this before.

  31. I'm with you I love both looks, I however lean toward the cluttered look. I think that I'm drawn to the color and life that the clutter provides. However looking that the uncluttered photos, it seems to me that there is still plenty of stuff around I think it's just the palette that makes it seem a little more serene and uncluttered.

    I love and appreciate the soothing colors of the uncluttered look, it really is lovely, I just don't think that's me. I guess yourself that too.

  32. I'm with you I love both looks, I however lean toward the cluttered look. I think that I'm drawn to the color and life that the clutter provides. However looking that the uncluttered photos, it seems to me that there is still plenty of stuff around I think it's just the palette that makes it seem a little more serene and uncluttered.

    I love and appreciate the soothing colors of the uncluttered look, it really is lovely, I just don't think that's me. I guess yourself that too.

  33. Yes, that is the question!! Well, I personally like an in between look..some clutter is good clutter and some just looks messing. Seems like a challenge in itself to take the mess out of clutter and few can do it well! Great post Joni and thanks for you comment today :)


  34. Why do the uncluttered rooms have to also be only one color? There is no clutter and all grey or earthy. Maybe it's more vivid in person but it looks a little lifeless. Gorgeous but oddly without energy.

  35. I think you def hit a nerve here.. I'm having this same dilemma... I am re-decorating my bedroom and I cannot decide if I should do bright punches of color & fabrics or go the more neutral parisian route. I tend to go towards neutrals because I am always afraid to commit to color & fabric. I wish I could have it both ways.. As for clutter I do tend to naturally clutter so I think that will always work it's way in.

    P.S. I am obsessing over these french empire chandeliers... I keep seeing them everywhere.. Any suggestions on where to get one?

  36. Thanks for the comment, Joni! I'm drooling over Julie Neill's chandeliers.. thanks for the info! Happy weekend to you!

  37. My house is both. I can't sleep in a cluttered bedroom so it's all whites and grays and creams and quite sparse. But my library is mahogany and golden yellows and a 19th century italian mirror and books and objects everywhere. I adore both looks but I fear they don't happily co-exist in my home.

  38. I love the fact that you are torn between two styles, like myself. I've been all over the place lately. I'm leaning toward the French, but right now, I'm cluttered like the English. It's a hard decision to make, especially since we're doing some remodeling soon!

  39. Well great question - although many of the "uncluttered" examples are really just as "cluttered" - it's just that they are much more monochromatic colour schemes - so they appear "plainer". I don't think "cluttered" is the most flattering term - I think of it as "layered". The eye keeps moving around the room as there is so much to look at. The "uncluttered" is more visually restful as there is not so much distraction from colour - and so it can "rest" on the form of say the major piece of furniture in the room.

    I do love the "uncluttered" look but couldn't live this way. I love what I mentally call "pale silver blue" but to carry it off I think one needs to look like Grace Kelly - ice blonde smooth hair and all. Being a robust brunette I'd probably get bored and want to paint something a rich dark plum colour. I have been debating the same issue myself and have thought that perhaps the answer is to have a room with "good bones" and then dress it seasonally. Summer in Australia is far too hot to carry a "heavy" cluttered look - so I am thinking of having at least two seasons in my home - paring down/stripping off for summer and "rugging up" for winter with the richer colours and heavier textures. This may be the answer - so long as I can sort out appropriate seasonal storage!

  40. I'm torn between cluttered and uncluttered. I suppose our home is a semi-cluttered look!

    Joni, you have the gift of knowing how to achieve the cluttered look, beautifully. I enjoy seeing your rooms.

    I've seen rooms where artful clutter has been attempted and failed. Not so pretty.

    This post is wonderful! The photos are gorgeous!

  41. Hi Joni,
    I haven't visited for awhile and I want to kick myself for not stopping by more often, what an amazing post, definately love lots of books stacked eveywhere,I have always loved a neutral colour scheme with lots of interest and texture,the country french chateau has me begging for it! but I also appreciate so many other styles and i just love collecting so I guess i'm all for abit of clutter too!will definately be back!

  42. To me, its all variations on french influence. English using french fabric, chairs. Swedish using french shapes and chandeliers and changing the colors. Belgium... But Modern Gustavian is so restricted in color that I find it dull when overdone. (this is strictly personal taste, not prescription). The books I have on old swedish homes have lots of deep blue paint, or green, many houses with large areas of rosmaling, rough paneling. And Linnaeus' house is wallpapered in botanicals, with yellow sofas and green curtains. I will never tire of the collections of extraordinary textiles in rooms like Carolina Irvings. They are old, they are handmade, how can they be unfashionable? Pottery Barn isn't making ikats, just prints of them. And no one can have too many paintings in my opinion. But I'll never want to dust all the clutter of china, books etc... My own rule is that it has to be real. Damaged, chipped, stained ok. Reproduction, no. This is keeping things pretty uncluttered here.

  43. Paired down clutter? :)

    Thank you Joni!

  44. While I think that the cluttered look can look "cozier" if done right, I definitely prefer the un-cluttered. I just feel more at peace and more at home in an open, clutter-less space!

    For some reason, clutter makes me anxious and cranky! Love these photos, as always!

  45. I think both looks are deserving of praise but my favorite is definitely the uncluttered style. I suppose I just feel more productive in an uncluttered, airy and fresh environment. I grew up in a house with the cluttered style and have lots of great memories that took place in rooms similarly decorated to those you posted.

    Love your blog!

  46. Can we have both? In the same house, I mean. After working on my house for some time, I would be hard-pressed to un-clutter all the things I have been so carefully and thoughtfully collecting for "clutter" - strategic clutter. BUT, upon starting my next project of a guest suite, I am tending toward the swedish, uncluttered look - can they co-exist in the same home?

  47. Stellar post, Joni! You know, share the same problem...I like both and am torn between the two. I appreciate both looks for different reasons and depending on my mood, could be equally satisfied in either setting.

  48. HI everybody! Thanks for all the comments - they are all so great and thoughtful. You know - this is just my personal dilemma - and like I said - both looks are similar and share certain qualities and that's why I prefer them both. But there are people like Things That Inspire who has two completely different looks than mine that she lusts after. And yes, I realize that some of the unlucttered houses do have some clutter, but mostly - their accessories are bigger, the color is softer, etc. there just isn't the amount of clutter that makes a cluttered interior cluttered!!!!


    Thanks for ALL the comments - I've enjoyed reading them and they trulyl make blogging worthwhile!!!


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  50. Joni, currently I live in a rather eclectic 'cluttered' home as I'm squeezing 4 rooms into one until my reno's are finished.

    I must say I was absolutely thrilled when I saw you featured Pamela Pierces Houston home as that is my very favourite Vernada issue. I am actually planning to model my new family room from her monocromatic colour scheme and 'uncluttered'style with minimal pattern, even as far as I've had some hessian drapes made up to cover my busy bookcases.

    I am smitten with her harmonious texures of linen, wicker and seagrass etc.

    Anna :)

  51. These are my two favourite looks as well - and honestly I have been struggling with myself as I am starting to plan decor for our new house.

    On the other hand, it is possible to mix them and have the same final effect. One of my new bosses has accomplished that in his house!

    Apart from what you mentioned that they have in common, I think there is a general common link which is the major factor for an interior to appeal to me - both English and Belgian/Dutch style look lived in, they have grown with the people who have lived the interiors, it's accumulation of years and lifestyle.

    I am afraid I am still trying to answer the question as to which I prefer, but after seeing my boss's house (will be featured soon in a magazine, will let you know via email if you want), it can be done!!!

  52. Happy Mother's Day, Joni!

    What a hit to get the "older" woman critique. I couln't help from giving her my comments in your defense! Advised her that when ever in Houston and eating at a resturant you frequent, she best bring the royal food taster with her!

    As for myself, blue and white porcelains (now have 11 blue/white garden seats) and books everywhere!

  53. On the Border: check my blog - on the left under my picture: I saved that rousing endorsement - thta's the direct quote he/she wrote on her blog about me. it's toooo funny. what a backhanded compliment? I think?

  54. Yeah. I think the comment about "cluttered" not truly being cluttered but rather "layered" is correct. If you look at the photos, the busier rooms in some ways demonstrate tighter editing and greater discipline than the monochromatic rooms.

    My home is cluttered: papers on the floor, clothes draped over the backs of chairs, cat toys strewn every which way. Please take it from one who knows the meaning of the word! None of your gorgeous photos show true clutter.

  55. Wow, great post. I fall on the clutter side of the spectrum but sometimes get a whim to declutter. Controlled clutter with controlled pattern and contrasting colors seem to do it for me.

  56. I with you - I want both. Currently I have clutter and think that overall I lean toward it. But when I get one of those magazines (which have a way of adding to the clutter equation) with the uncluttered interiors I want THAT. Sigh.

  57. Looking around my office I see a definite predisposition to clutter of a eclectic nature. Could do with a swift paring.

    The majority of my house is pretty pared back antiques, with a fair amount of symmetrical furniture arrangements which I find relaxing. I have used rich colours though, and blue and white pottery.

    I like the somewhat sparse look
    of the uncluttered look, but find the colours a little too subdued for my own living surrounds. I use some of these colours as contrast, but a whole room I find it a little intimidating.

    I'd be the guest that spills red wine or coffee somewhere hideous.

  58. Happy Mother's Day! Hope you had a wonderful day with your family.

    kari & kijsa

  59. Opposites Attract.
    That's why I like them both.

    Life with 3 children and 1 dog, hard not to clutter but I dream of that spartan, puritanical life, One chair, one candlestick, one bed, one dish and all neutral. Sounds pretty boring, right!

  60. Clean can be very, very beautiful, but in residential settings, can feel... cold, and more like a hotel than a home.

    However, overly-affected clutter (I have to admit, I start tuning out when I see the word "tablescape") ends up with the same vibe. Personal, lived-in spaces can be directed and refined by a decorator's eye, but... they're going to be cluttered. At With books, with papers, with odds and ends. And somehow, to me, it makes for a friendlier room. At the same time? I wish, really, really wish, that my own home was just a little less cluttered.

    And on the comment? That's right. I forgot. You can't have a good eye or any taste because you live in Houston. Not possible. Good taste can only come from certified, pre-approved places. Gah. It's pretty funny that you put it up right under your picture, though.

  61. Hi Joni! Hope you had a delightful mother's day!

    I enjoyed your post, I know what you mean. I like so many styles. I do not like the look of a home that is too sparse. When it is sparse, it feels impersonal. And too staged. I like uncluttered, but still lived in.

    I like cluttered, but not messy. Layers of things I have gathered over time. But not layers of junk or meaningless clutter. I do not like excessive vignettes of stuff set around in a too obvious display.

    For me, there is a right ratio between cluttered and uncluttered that is just perfect.

    Happy week!


  62. I have always loved the private sitting room at Chatsworth ... especially the table packed with flowering plants under that ravishing Sargent painting ... That combination just seems perfect to me ...

  63. I'm not sure if my last comment made it through- delete this if so. I love this topic, it picks up on one i talked about on my blog a few weeks back about my love of organized clutter (ala miles redd). A room with 'clutter' is a room with a soul and life - it shows it is lived in and is inifitenly more interesting than the hotel-room appearing type spaces that photograph so well, unfortunately.

  64. What a great post, it sparked much conversation!!! All of the photos above are great. I'm somewhere in between. I love to add layers in my home, so it looks like I've lived in my home. It adds interest.

    I don't like the kind of clutter that comes from not putting stuff up (dishes that need to go in the dishwasher, pens that need to go in my bud vase on my desk). That kind of clutter stifles me. But the photos above make my creativity run WILD!

  65. another great post Joni. I also love both looks, but for me, I prefer to visit the cluttered look in someone elses home and then go home to an uncluttered look. (btw I guess I cant count my teens rooms as uncluttered? oh that is something different isnt it ?) I truly think that you can have a comfortable and clean uncluttered look that also gives a home sweet home cozy feel.

  66. Wow Joni, you've really outdone yourself with this post! This is so hard! I really like the cluttered look because it makes a place homey and well lived in with lots of character. At the same time, I adore French inspired interiors and Swedish furniture with the more neutral and calming palettes. Knowing me, I'd end up doing one room one way and another room a different way just so that I could have both in my house lol.


  67. Not an original response - but I'm an in between person. I like clutter that has a past. My grandmother's house growing up had lots of 'layers' to it - antiques, mid-century modern, old paintings, family photos, etc. It was meaningful, so it didn't feel like junk. At a certain point you have to edit, otherwise you'll end up like those horders on Oprah! But in looking at other people's homes, I like lots of things or clutter as long as it's organized - preferably symmetrically!

  68. I love both but I have to admit that antiques , fabrics and collection are in my blood so I am definetely a clutter girl. Even If I'm thinking about having another flat or house with an unclutter style , that will be great to be abble to have 2 houses with 2 different styles

  69. Me? Clutter - tho depends on the style of the house. deep down I think you're a clutter girl too somehow:-)

  70. While the house in my dreams is uncluttered and minimalist, reality is another thing entirely. Clutter it is, though organized clutter, picturesque clutter, beautiful clutter. And clutter hides a multitude of sins and distracts the eye; an uncluttered interior, however, beautiful, will look irritatingly askew without housekeeping vigilence!

  71. good.......I am a antique jewelry manufacturer supplier and looking for partners globally. If any one interest please contact me through this website.

  72. I suffer over this like you wouldn't believe. I fear it will be the death of me.

    The thing is, once I give away all the family heirloom clutter, I can't ever get it back.

    I'd say I've erred on the side of cautuion so far.

  73. I too am on the fence over clutter vs. clean. I am in the process of building and love the french light fixture over Shannon Bowers' library table that was shown in the Veranda layout. Does anyone have any suggestions of where to look? So simple it is impossible to find anywhere.

  74. I have been reading your blog all morning (and as Patricia Gray say, NO FREE GRAZING) so I thought I better leave a comment, not that it's hard to do. Your posts are THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE and long that I've ever seen! Incredible! Something to strive for that's for sure! Thanks for being such a great inspiration to us bloggers!

  75. Hello Joni, the uncluttered look is magnificent! Absolutely goregous, love all the off white... oh! There's even a dining table that kinda looks like mine except for the top. Just beautiful!

  76. For me it is also..TO COLOR OR NOT TO COLOR as well as the CLUTTER delema. Right now I am having to downsize so the clutter is such a problem but at present half my living room is, "SSG", with the slipcovers and all, minus the dhurri which I am about to buy and the other side is soft coffee and cream colors with a mustard colored tole lamp that was a wedding gift from a thousand yrs. ago with the black shade to ground things. I over purchased Liz Claiborne's Breda Nectar fabric for a friend's house I am helping her with so I am swimming in it and now I am wanting apricot velvet pillows on the coffee sofa! I have truly lost my mind. I want to put the Ballard black poem rug on that side of the room. Talk about a mish mash, I have the stafforshire dogs and the statues and so much that is French, HELP! I am like you, I love all my stuff and don't know what to go with. So I will be happy when you let us know what you decide then maybe I will know what to do too. Thank you so much for the kind email regarding my chemo. I appreciate it more than you can know. I thank you for the prayers too.

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  78. Love it!!! Love the tile designs (wish I could be that creative with tile!) Can't wait to see it in person!
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  79. I have the same struggle as well! My house is 1918 craftsman and my taste is opulent eclectic and I'm forever torn between them! I have found a middle ground but long to go one way or the other. I love your blog it never dissapoints ! I have to say for now Clutter clutter clutter!
    Thanks, Tobie