Weekend Project: Knick knack round up

I will confess that I have a few knick knacks decorating my home. They don’t serve a great deal of purpose except to bring me happiness when I see them — but I think that’s okay. Surrounding yourself with beautiful things is fine, especially when it helps to set the mood of your home as a place of sanctuary and relaxation.

However, some knick knacks have a way of sticking around past their prime. They can stop representing who you are and what you want for your space. Sometimes, they just seem to appear without anyone remembering how they came to be on that table top or in the corner of the bookshelf.

This weekend, I want you to round up all of your knick knacks and evaluate them. Heck, while you’re processing them, you may even want to give them a good dusting. And, as you’re holding them, I want you to ask yourself the following questions about each item:

  1. Why do I own this and choose to display it?
  2. Does it represent who I am right now and the mood I want to create in my home?
  3. Do I care for this object the best way I can care for it, or is it really just clutter?
  4. Will my place be a better sanctuary or place of relaxation without this object in it?

After asking these questions about each of your knick knacks, make the final decision as to if it should stay and live in your home, or if it should find a new home. Also, if you decide to keep the item, make sure that the place it lives in your home is the best place for it. At the end of my knick knack round up, I chose to keep about 15 items, which meant 1 or 2 per room. Things like our cookie monster cookie jar, an olivetti typewriter, and two vases we received as wedding gifts were allowed to stay, but most objects weren’t right for our space any longer and were donated to charity or freecycled. (I didn’t include picture frames, by the way, but you could definitely include them in your evaluation of knick knacks.)

I’m interested in hearing if you were surprised by the number of knick knacks in your home and if you decided to get rid of anything. Have a great weekend!

13 Comments for “Weekend Project: Knick knack round up”

  1. posted by N. & J. on

    I did this right before I moved out to Colorado and ended up keeping five. I found that I would fall in love with something and then decide to start a collection but I didn’t love everything in the collection and it got the point that I was just collecting for the thrill of the find not the actual owning. I got rid of almost all the collections and kept a few pieces I really loved and I’m happy for it.

  2. posted by Hade on

    I ‘m having the opposite problem to the one tergeted in this article.
    Until maybe six moths ago, there were simply no such things as ‘nick-nacks’ in my life. I would systematically get rid of anything that even came close, on the grounds that I am an unclutterer to the nth degree: everything is clutter, unless it serves a demonstrable practical purpose.
    The problem with this way of life is that it got to a point where my home was a place that continuously looked as if the inhabitants had just moved in, and hadn ‘t quite decided what to do with the place yet. My ex tried her best to stay away from here because it was ‘too empty’ for her tastes. And to be perfectly honest, I found myself spending entirely too much time in fast food restaurants, coffee shops and public libraries, and feeling more at home there than at ‘my place’. Speaking of pathetic …
    So in a recent effort to redeem myself, I decided to actively start trying to make my two-room flat a real home. Most of the ‘nick-nacks’ that have since slipped in here, however, still aren ‘t really what other people would call ‘nick-nacks’. They are design elements, in a sense, but much more than that, they ‘ve become indispensible things that serve a real practical purpose in my daily routine. The prime examples are my giant wall clock (which I strictly don ‘t need because I ‘ve got clocks all around: on my laptop, on my iPod, and so on) and the dry-erase to-do board I recently hung beside my front door (which I payed entirely too much for because I liked the way it looked, despite the fact that I didn ‘t strictly need that either since I already have a to-do list in iCal.)
    I personally feel a lot more at home now, and I don ‘t have to feel guilty for ‘cluttering up’ my space, because all of the items I ‘ve recently acquired have turned out to be really handy in some sense, despite the fact that it should be perfectly possible to live without them.
    And yet, other people still feel there is something ‘not quite right’ about my flat. I don ‘t feel comfortable sticking random items to my walls just for the benefit of others, but I don ‘t want people to avoid coming to my place because it ‘s so ‘cold’, either …
    So, for those of you feeling that vague sense of guilt about having ‘too much clutter’ in your house: it turns out that ‘pure clutter’, by some definitions, actually may have a real purpose too, in some cases.

  3. posted by [email protected] on

    We hardly have any knick knacks around here, b/c normally I view those as dust-collecting clutter. We do own a few items that we brought back from our trip to China. Those represent a very special trip which created some wonderful memories, so I do plan on holding on to them.

  4. posted by Fuji on

    We have a few old tonka trucks that were my husband’s when he was a child as well as a couple of vases and decorative objects, but I’m trying to pare them down. Do paintings/pictures/posters count as knick knacks?

  5. posted by Dream Mom DBA www.dreamorganizers.com on

    I am pretty comfortable with the amount I have in my home. I have a few things out, but they are mostly for decorative purposes. I always strive for a very edited look though. I also try to change things around with each of the seasons, so things don’t get so stale.

    I try to do things for myself too. I just received some pretty roses yesterday so I put those in a vase and brought out my roses teacup and teapot and created a beautiful breakfast table. Then I lit a candle and enjoyed a beautiful breakfast smelling the roses and watching the little ground squirrel dig up and steal my tulip bulbs from my flower pot!

    I think your post is right on the mark though-you have to constantly be editing to keep it fresh. I also agree with Hade as well. My sister is a minimalist and never has anything in her kitchen. The only problem is that it looks like no one moved in yet. I think it’s important to make a space your own-it should reflect your personality and reflect the mood or image you want to create to get you to your goals.

  6. posted by Phil Sheard on

    Cheers for the post Erin. not much on the nick-nack front for me – except your prompt on photos made me realise that grduation photo that takes pride of place on a dresser is still somewhat relevant but 3 of the 4 friends are no longer close – so I’ve relegated it in favour of my wonderful nephew who’s 2.5yrs.

  7. posted by verily on

    I don’t believe in collecting kitschy crafty knickknacks and decorative items. To me, it is wasted money, a dust collector, and something for the cat to knock over. My one concession is the adorable Mexican band figurines I picked up from Target on a whim and keep on top of my entertainment center. And paintings/framed pictures for the walls. Everything else is functional.

  8. posted by Melissa on

    I have always loved elephants. I have found that once people find out something like that, before you know it – there’s the collection of anything and everything elephant. An old boyfriend’s mother decided that I needed every piece of some horrible elephant figurine collection from Hallmark or something similar (*gag*). When the relationship ended I gleefully filled my trash bag with the hideous things.

    As I strive to eliminate more and more clutter from my home I have held on to a handful of elephants (mostly pretty glass ones or art-type pieces) that bring me real joy when I look at them. They are up high on shelves and serve their decorative purpose nicely.

    My mother recently went to Thailand, and I had to beg her not to come back with suitcases full of elephant stuff (she is a major hoarder and has served as the impetus for my personal clutter-free movement). Only a small Thai purse with elephants on it and a couple of t-shirts for the kids made the trip home. Ahhhhh.

  9. posted by Helen on

    I’ve put a lot of small objects away in a storage box until I have somewhere suitable to display them – sentimental things from my childhood, heirlooms etc that I don’t want to dust right now.

    I find a good compromise between stark utility and clutter is to make functional objects decorative. I have steel kitchen utensils and a red colander hanging on my kitchen wall, along with other wooden spoons in a pot. The notice board above the computer has a purple-painted frame, and cozy throws make the lounge more inviting. A few well-chosen objects and a wall hanging are all that is needed. Scale helps – one or two large things rather than many small items.

  10. posted by M.R. on

    This is the perfect post for today. I can’t even see the top of my dresser right now. This is a very unusual state for me and it’s driving me crackers. Thanks to whomever said that she took down the pictures of friends she’s no longer even in touch with. That alone will save me a ton of space!

  11. posted by Beth - Total Mom Haircut on

    I have currently gathered all of my knick knacks on one shelf so that I can go through them before we move in one month. As I was collecting them from around my house I was shocked at how old some of them were and how much I HATED them. So many knick knacks are just kept for sentimental value and it’s particularly hard to let those things go. For me though, I’m just going to have to ask myself if it is something I like and, if not, just let it go no matter who gave it to me how many years ago.

  12. posted by Josephine on

    I have really scaled back on knick-knacks and have kept so few. At one point I collected pottery, but that proved overwhelming, and I donated the bulk of it to the Salvation Army.

    Here’s a funny story: years ago, I mentioned to a friend that Tweetie Bird was a favorite Looney Tunes character. Big mistake. Word “got around” and before I knew it folks were giving me the most useless presents: Tweetie Bird mugs, t-shirts, you name it. Soon it spread to Disney figurines and M&M candy dispensers. I kept these items on my desk at work when a colleague brought her 4-year old nephew to visit. He began to play with them and when it was time to leave did not want to return them. His niece was surprised, and the nephew, oh, so happy, when I gathered all the figurines and let him have them. Luckily, I haven’t received any such gifts since.

  13. posted by twosandalz on

    Thank you for the list of questions to apply to knick knacks! I just added modified version of it to my PDA to apply to future knick knack purchases.

Comments are closed.