I Tried the “Hushing the House” Method on My Cluttered Dining Room, and Was Surprised By What Happened

published Sep 24, 2023
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Before: A dining room with a box on the table and cart in the corner
Credit: Lauren Wellbank

As a busy mother of three who works from home full-time, I get pretty easily overwhelmed by the state of my house. Not only is it hard to keep up with daily messes and routine cleaning, but it also seems like there’s never enough time to tackle the biggest issue we face: clutter

Quick Overview

What Is the “Hushing the House” Method?

“Hushing the House” or “Quiet the House” is a decluttering method created by The Nester in which you relocate all the items in one space to a staging area to let the space breathe (and get cleaned) before moving things back with intention.

I’m not talking about the clutter in an everyday way (like shoes piled by the front door, or mail all over the kitchen counter), but the things that we’ve intentionally filled our home with (like decorative plates and photos). Sometimes I forget that all of that stuff is creating noise in the background of our home, making it feel loud and messy even on those rare occasions when it’s clean. 

The Nester calls this effect “house-blindness,” and describes it as when you’ve become so accustomed to all of your stuff that you fail to see it. The solution? A method called “Hushing the House” — which also goes by the term “Quiet the House” — and involves relocating all the items in a room to a staging area so that you can let the space breathe (and get a deep cleaning) before moving specific things back in with intention. 

Credit: Lauren Wellbank

I was inspired to try this process with my dining room, which always feels incredibly overcrowded and chaotic during meal times, thanks to the way we’ve loaded it up with stuff over the years. 

Because I have three small children I had to be very careful about moving items out of here because the items are so fragile; so I just gave it an overnight chance to breathe while all my little ones were asleep (and therefore less likely to get into stuff). Even then I still ended up with a broken dish and a spilled set of crayons — so parents, beware. 

I moved everything but the furniture out, and set to cleaning, starting at the ceiling and working my way down to the furniture and floors — and I was shocked by the amount of dust that had built up everywhere. After I cleaned the shelving and hutch, I set to cleaning the stuff that I was planning to bring back and set up. I realized that I was guilty of a major clutter no-no at this point because I had been shoving new photos all around my picture frames instead of swapping out the old pictures and replacing them, so that step alone eliminated a huge eyesore.

Credit: Lauren Wellbank

Next, I took a minute to think about what I wanted my hutch to look like. The dishes that I had set up belonged to my grandmother and they were very important to me, but I realized that I wasn’t showcasing them in a way that would allow me to fully appreciate them. With all the extra stuff I piled up around the hutch, the dishes sort of became background pieces instead of the focal point, so I found a new home for everything that wasn’t part of her Desert Rose dishes set. 

Lastly, I found a new home for some of the other stuff I’d been storing in the dining room that didn’t need to be there. My kids’ art cart was moved to the playroom and I returned the miscellaneous tools and batteries that were being stored in a bin on top of the hutch to our basement where it belonged. I think in the long run I’d like to add a carpet to the space (without all the extra stuff jammed in there I feel like the room echoes a bit) but I’m going to allow it to do some more breathing before I truly commit to the idea. One of my favorite parts about this practice is that it didn’t involve purchasing any new items to update the space. 

In the end, it’s safe to say I’m happy with the results of my attempt at “Hushing the House” and I wonder how I’d fare in other rooms where the “stuff” is more practical and gets used each day. I have to admit that I’m excited to find out. 

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: I Tried the “Hushing the House” Method on My Cluttered Dining Room