Lessons from Irvington (a.k.a. removing visual clutter)

Last month, the Mr. and I attended a birthday party for a good friend in an absolutely stunning house. It was gorgeous inside and out and set in Irvington, one of Portland’s nicest neighborhoods. I didn’t take any pictures, but I can assure you this place was a ten out of ten. A beauty queen. A dime. A dish.

I was inspired by the light, open, airy feel of the home. All the walls were painted a matte white, the floors were mostly bare wood, and the windows on the first floor didn’t have any curtains or blinds. The drama in the space came from the stunning art that decorated the walls. From framed photos and prints to modern oil paintings, this space had it all. Live gypsy jazz, exquisite food, a creative crowd, and an adorable dog all made for a great party. And yes, I am bragging!

But back to the point… the point is, I was inspired by this home. While my own humble townhouse will never compare, I decided I could borrow a few ideas to inform my own space.

Primarily, I decided to remove some of the small, visual clutter from our first floor, including:

  • Taking the books and bookshelves out of the dining room.
  • Moving two wicker chairs that competed with the main traffic flow in the living room.
  • Swapping out the bookshelves that held the TV for something less “busy.”
  • Clearing away the chair and clutter at the entry.
  • Plans to lighten up the walls with a matte, pale silvery gray paint.

Here is a before picture of the shelves in the dining room:

And here are a few pictures now:

These two chairs are lovely, but positioned next to our staircase, they were in the way.

Now one lives in the corner by the window and the other lives upstairs in the bedroom.


I was also tired of all the visual clutter surrounding the TV that was sitting on black bookshelves. To make room for the bookshelves in the spare room upstairs, the Mr. and I brought this dresser down for the TV. It’s a bit unexpected, but I actually really like it. And the drawers are great for stashing clutter and stuff to keep the overall look clean and soothing.

I need to move those paintings about an inch higher. Or replace them with something else. I’m considering hanging a floating shelf above the TV, but I haven’t decided for sure yet,

Overall, the downstairs feels much lighter and airier now. It’s also easier to keep clean without all the shelves full-o-stuff. Do you have any tips for reducing visual clutter? Making a home feel more open and airy? Please share in the comment section.

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4 Responses to Lessons from Irvington (a.k.a. removing visual clutter)

  1. Debra says:

    Big difference in the dining room…..get rid of anything in a small scale….all accessories should be larger.

    • Lindsay says:

      Hi Debra. Yes, I’ve found scale to be one of the most important considerations with accessories. Even in small rooms, larger accessories seem to ground the space much better. I’m still working on incorporating this in other rooms of my house.

  2. Take the four small things from dining room table. Put one large thing there. The shelves needed to go. Put books back somewhere. The corner with basket and picture on one wall needs something tall–plant?–to balance it. Paint the chest holding tv a different color, maybe a pillow color? Silvery gray is not a good wall color, in my opinion…JUST my opinion. I, also, get too many of the little things sitting around and I like the cluttered look of my walls and tables.

    • Lindsay says:

      I’ve been thinking that I need a huge plant. Unfortunately I seem to kill plants! But it may be worth one more try. I agree I need some height.

      Tell me more why you dislike silver gray walls. I’ve had good luck in most places I’ve used light gray on walls.

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