Hey! Minimalism! I’m SICK of YOU! Tabletop Decorating.

Remember when I completely snapped one day, then sold everything I owned and painted my whole house white?  Well, I snapped again.  In the opposite direction.

I already stated this in the title of this post, but it bears repeating.

HEY! Minimalism! I’m SICK of you!  Take your big, airy,  ball of nothingness and suck it!

Now, I know the whole reason I redid my house was because I was getting so sick of all the “stuff” everywhere. But … now I miss my stuff.   The truth is I need something in between minimalism and utter chaos to feel comfortable. I can appreciate the beauty of a perfectly clean slate. A room so void of accessories that you truly appreciate the single big vase on the floor. Mostly because it’s the only thing in the room other than the couch, a table and a lamp.

I’ve always been drawn to rooms that look as though they’ve been lived in forever. And most appealing, is a room that looks as though it’s been lived in forever by a Count with lots of old money, books, artwork and do-dads.   And an Irish Wolfhound.

My favourite coffee tables are always the ones that are so covered in stuff you can barely fit a coffee cup on them. Books and board games and magazines and plants.  I love a room to feel as though it’s for living in, not just presenting to the world.

It was while skimming through some rooms decorated by Vicente Wolf that I snapped.  Vicente likes stuff too.  And he kind of looks like a Count, so that’s an added bonus.  So, fully snapped, me and my twitching eye started to re-do the top of my dining room table.

In the past, my dining room table has looked like this.


And this …


And this …


And even this …

Looking at Vicente Wolf’s pictures I realized, I can have a whole bunch of junk on my table if I want.  And I want.  So taking inspiration from him … I did this.  Now be forewarned.  This is not for the faint of heart, and not for everyone.  And I’m sure most official Interior Designers and decorators will look at this and gasp.  Things aren’t at varying heights, and it looks  a bit off … but I like it.  Besides … it’s a work in progress.  I’m sure I’ll fiddle with it , adding and taking away different things.  But whatever I do … it’s going to stay un-minimalistic.  And it’s going to stay that way for exactly until I get sick of it.


Yup.  That’s a whole lotta stuff.


Now to do something like this on your dining room table what you put on it should make a little bit of sense.

For instance, I have plants … it makes sense to have those on a table.


I also have books … including one of my favourite cook books.


Some food makes perfect sense … in the form of a bowl of oranges.


A candle in a candleholder with a bit of shine or sparkle to it.   Plus salt and pepper shakers.  Which of course, makes perfect sense for a dining room table.


And finally a couple of vases just in case I ever get any flowers.  There’s nothing wrong with having empty vases on a table by the way.

Don’t let anyone tell your differently.

I’m sure I’ll continue to tweak my dining room table.  Maybe stick some silver candlesticks on it, or a silver jug.

Who knows what I’ll do!  I’ll have to restrain myself a little bit, but in this case more really is more.

Take THAT minimalism.

When I snap, I snap good.    A complete and utter snap show.  I’m sure if you give me another month or two I’ll snap back.   But for now, I’d like to say once more, HEY!   Minimalism!  I’m sick of you.  Really, I am.  For now.


  1. John Shostrom says:

    I’m a professional designer, and I must say, well done you! Your new tablescape looks natural, welcoming and not a bit contrived.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks John, but it’s alllll changed now, lol. That post was from a few years ago. :) But yeah, I’m still sick of minimalism. Here’s my kitchen. I like stuff. ~ karen!

      • Avery says:

        Yes I was into minimalism for a few years, and I got bored with it my family complained I only had 4 spoons etc lol, and no hospitality I’ve since given it up and really haven’t looked back my heart primitive country and I’ve since gone back I have hobbies I like my house is alive with happiness,and fun, I left minimalism for other reasons I won’t post here, put HOORAY for you standing up to it and I agree with you!!!!:)

  2. Susan Dulley says:

    Karen, I found this old post and thought it was great! I am, at present trying to minimalize my home and am having some success. When I first started I did not miss the items that I had been taking to “Snooty Fox” a consignment shop here in Mariemont, (Cincinnati). I began this project mainly because I was planning on moving. My apt is too large, my son has moved out (for good this time), and I do not need all of this space. I seem to spend more time cleaning than actually enjoying living here. But, I have to admit, I miss my things…my comfort providers. I have specific items that I could never get rid of, such as my Ethan Allen Sofa $3,600.00 which I purchased for $450.00 almost new, my coffee table which I purchased 20 years ago for $25.00. That would be the coffee table that has a glass top but no one would ever guess it, do to the fact that it is covered with wonderful collectables. One of my friends calls my home the “Where’s Waldo” home. It really is not that bad, but it is very pretty. I would love to send you some pic and get your opinion and advice. Thank you, Susan

  3. nancy @ {COZAMIA} says:

    I love that you are living on the edge like this Karen! Seriously, I almost prefer a hoarder over a minimalist, I like to snoop around and get my eyeballs on as much crap as possible…but yeah there should be a balance though I guess.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Nancy! Yes. It’s all about balance. I’m actually getting close to clearing off the dining room table again. Winter brings out the clutter … spring brings out the clean. ~ karen

  4. Andi says:

    EXACTLY! Suck it, indeed. I’ve had a mid-mo bungalow, sparingly decorated in all things cold and white, for over 5 years. I’M SO BORED! Ready to cash it in for a farm house – move OVER kitschy mid-mo chairs and minimalism, hellllllo STUFF. ;)

  5. girlrudy says:

    WHAT. IS. THAT. PLANT? The big one. I love, love, love it. I’ve got a fern that seems to be on the way out, so there might be a space opening up… Whatisitwhatisitwhatisit??!?!?!?!

    • Karen says:

      Girlrudy – Thanks! The plant is actually a succulent from the summer that I’ve overwintered. Don’t know the exact name but if garden centres were to have it right now it’d be in the “cactus/succulent” section. You might have to wait until summer to find one. :( It’s like one of those “hens and chicks” but nicer. Added bonus … nothing can kill it. ~ karen!

  6. fabio says:

    I like both the before and after. No question. But I have to say, the new version could hardly be said to clutter the table just slightly less minimalistic!

    : )


    My friend just introduce me to you blog and I am ever so glad she did. Really good stuff.

  7. l-article says:

    Haha! That’s so great! I love the look! It gives the table a little more personality I guess XD Also looks like what my mom does to our dining table everyday she gets home. My dad’s the minimalist and clears practically everything off..and she throws a vase of flowers, candle or two, and maybe her nursing handbook on the table while she does her notes…haha…

    Just was introduced to your blog through Design Sponge! Your stuff is great! :D Can’t wait to read more~

  8. Brigette says:

    Here Here! Plants and books are so homey!

  9. Theresa says:

    And the pendulum swings! I like the table arrangement – its eclectic. Now about that Wolf Hound…

    • Karen says:

      Theresa! I would loveeeee the Wolf Hound! And the farm I’d need to keep it on. So now I need a Baron, a wolf hound and a farm. Phew. ~ karen

  10. Pam'a says:

    Minimalists are suspect, IMHO. I look at their (admittedly) beautiful living spaces and can only wonder where all the “real” stuff is. Don’t they get mail? Have they no ridiculous fascinations they enjoy collecting?

    I err in the opposite direction. My home is overrun with little totems– a WWII tin soldier I got in France, spaghettiware poodles, chalkware S&P shakers, etc. etc. They happily populate my kitchen windowsills and a typsetter’s box as well. Although I once had bouts of thinking no grown-up should own so many toys, that all stopped when my GRANDBABY came along… He has named them all.
    I so rock now. ;)

  11. AMEN! I am soooo tired of the “minimalist” look everywhere, and everything being white! I use lots of white touches in my home, but I’ve never wanted it to look as though no one lived here, which is how sparsely decorated homes look to me. Yay!

    • Karen says:

      Christi – I know! I like stuff. Yay! :) If you haven’t see what made me “flip” in the first place a couple of years ago here’s the post. I must admit, I don’t regret painting all the walls white, cause it makes everything else in the room show up more (art etc) but … slowly I’m adding bits more here and there. Love it. ~ karen!

  12. jen says:

    Oh bless you!! I too have reverted back to my “stuff.” Hopefully not creating clutter but a unique spin on our spaces. It felt wrong at first adding things here, and there, and here and there…Was it too much? But it feels really good now. You’rs looks great. Enjoy!

  13. Oona says:

    Are your drapes pink?

    • Karen says:

      Oona – No m’am. They’re a kind of beige/taupe, but you’re right … they DEFINITELY have a pink undertone which comes out to shock me the odd time. ~ karen

  14. susan w says:

    I have a single table (no dining, no kitchen, just the one). It is adorned with a plastic basket half filled with bright grape tomatoes, a TV remote, two pair of scissors, opened letter from medical insurance provider, the envelope (for the liner paper, a CD case with audiobooks of The Lord of The Rings, and a hairbrush. Striking and yet, still not minimalist.

  15. Mary says:

    Nothing like books to warm up a room, a heart, and a mind.

  16. sundeep @ designwali says:

    looks great…where did you get that bowl?

    • Karen says:

      Hey there! My sister got the bowl for me at a local garden store, but since then I’ve seen similar ones at Terra Nurseries and Homesense! The ones at Homesense have a bronze interior. They’re really nice and only about $19. ~ karen

  17. charlene says:

    I love stuff. My stuff. Stuff I’ve collected, stuff that has been given to me. Old stuff, new stuff. Stuff. Minimalists might substitute the word “crap” for stuff but no matter.

    I’m not a designer. I don’t play one on TV. Less isn’t more. Less is less and that’s just wrong. More is more. More is better. More stuff.

  18. Susan says:

    I am SO with you! I am sick to death of minimalism – boring might be a better word. It takes a more intrepid explorer than me to find a sofa/couch with some pizazz. And you know, I like my stuff: that’s why I have it, and I like to have my book at hand without opening a cupboard.

    I’m really enjoying your blog.

  19. Jennifer says:

    Okay, so this may be a step up from minimalism, but it’s still very well-edited and beautiful. A far cry from anything chintz, baroque, old lady or … maximal. LOVE it! Totally coveting that gorgeous bowl.

  20. As an “official Interior Designer” I gotta say I more than approve! Your vignette looks real and wonderful, and I am loving the collection that has a meaning of memories. Greetings from Australia, where I write an opinionated interior design blog!


  21. ann says:

    Lol! I “snapped” too…out of my white white white thing. Took about a year. I need color! Life! and yes, Stuff! Now off to look at Vicente Wolf rooms….I heart him too.

  22. cred says:

    I love this, too. Your home is beautiful and uncluttered, there is room for an arrangement of beautiful things.

    I have the same question as Emily about your dining room table. What is that wood? And where did you get it? Please don’t say the side of the road or I’ll cry.

    btw- I agree with Lu (or perhaps I’m just indecisive, too) but I love all the photos of your table are beautiful.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cred – Thank you for the compliments. The table is handmade from antique pine barnboard. It’s 40″ wide and the top is only 2 boards. The widest plank is 27″. That’s unheard of nowadays. It was made by http://www.gregorybrand.ca, but if you aren’t from around these parts … I’m sure you can find a furniture maker around you to make something similar. ~ karen!

  23. Gina says:

    Those plants are beautiful!

  24. Lu says:

    Love it! Actually, in all fairness, I love them all. I have indecisiveness.

  25. Lesley H says:

    LOVE this! I think you’ve found the perfect balance. I do stuff like this on my little entry way table and change it out seasonally. There’s always ‘stuff’ just different ‘stuff’. Go with your heart :)

  26. Jacqui says:

    What perfect timing for this post!

    I just escaped from my hall closet where I had trapped myself while moving a LARGE cabinet from one room to another. Thinking skinny thoughts and brute force got me and the cabinet unstuck.

    The cabinet was full of stuff which I was considering getting rid of since I just finished painting my LR and it looks so pristinely minimal at the moment. Why clutter it up?

    Your tabletop must be a sign from the universe that I don’t go off half-cocked and get rid of everything right this second.

    Thank you! Now……… back to getting control of the chaos I have created…………

  27. Steph says:

    I am an official Interior Designer, and I think it looks fabulous! My table currently features a lovely assortment of crafting supplies, kids homework and a random art piece my 6 year old is working on. Try not to be jealous. It’s pretty glamorous.

  28. Janalee says:

    Wow. I love it. I also have the same dining room chairs and this room gave me some inspiration. Thanks.

  29. stephchows says:

    LOL my husband is minimalist and I love making groupings of random things just like this! He’s always asking… why is all the stuff so crammed together?? Why not just put 1 or 2 things there instead of 9 jammed together :) hehe

  30. Beatriz says:


  31. Matthew says:

    “Minimalism” is overrated. To many people get caught up in the latest fads (no offense) even though that isn’t what’s right for them. There are people out there who are happy living in a empty room with one sofa and a table in it. Those rooms look great in magazines but most people need more items than that in their lives.

    I think that most people would be happier with less clutter in their house and I bet the majority could easily get rid of half of what they own and still be happy. But the key is finding out where the balance is for you.

    A few years ago I started going through all of my junk whenever I had some free time. Fast forward 2-3 years: I’ve gotten rid of most of what I own, including my furniture. Not because I’m a minimalist, but because I really didn’t use or like most of what I had. Now it feels like I’m starting over from scratch – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    Just do what makes you happy and not what the latest trends are. And I like your first dining room picture the best.

  32. NOOOOOoooooo! Yorur minimalist switch made you my hero. Are you trying for a broader appeal? I’m worried.

    • Karen says:

      Chris – LOL. If I was going for a broader appeal I’d stick with minimalism. And … heck … you should know by now I’m not doing anything on this site for anyone other than myself really. I’m not taking “appeal” into consideration. Um, the pig’s nipple from yesterday’s post should be evidence of that. No. I’m really just sick of everything being so sterile. I like junk. I don’t want tons of junk … but I like having stuff to look at. I like having rooms feel lived in. I guess … I’m looking for my rooms to have a little more personality. :) That’s all. ~ karen!

  33. niamh says:

    I love this – I think more tabletops should look like a still life – though I am a little afraid of escaped wine making its way directly to the bottom of those books!

    PS I think your bowl might be melting!

  34. Emily says:

    Karen, I LOVE your dining room table. What is it made from? Where did you get it? Where is the tutorial on that piece?

    Way to stick it to the MA-terialism.

  35. christina says:

    Remember Mary Engelbreit? She got sick of her stuff so she got rid of it, sold her house & started over. It took about 4 minutes for her to realize she LIKED her stuff & that the minimalist approach was for the birds! She promptly filled it up with more stuff & wrote another decorating book!

  36. nancy (aka moneycoach) says:

    LIKE! Makes me wanna sit down, grab and orange and start leafing through the books just hangin’ out. So — can I come over?

  37. Katie says:

    I like it! It really looks homey. I want to put books on my kitchen table now… or at least finish decorating my coffee table. It’s been bare since I put the Christmas decorations away. But if I decorate it then there will be less room for all of this wonderful junk currently covering it. What is a girl to do?!

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