What is home hushing? We explain how it could help you lead a more peaceful life

Heard the term home hushing, but not quite sure what it means? We ask the experts if it’s anything new, or just another way to describe decluttering.

Spending more time in our homes over the last few years has undoubtedly made us more conscious of our belongings. Decluttering your home is a regular activity for many, and it’s a subject we love to help you with at Saga Exceptional.

But as the rise in external ‘noise’ from the news, social media and pressures of busy lifestyles show no sign of abating, when we close our front doors, we’re often looking for the ‘volume’ to decrease.

But what if it doesn’t? Could it be that our homes may still be too noisy – and by this we don’t mean the audible volume. Instead, we’re referring to the visual noise and distraction created by our belongings.

Intrigued? So were we. That’s why we asked the experts for their thoughts on ‘home hushing’. Does it actually make a difference or is it just more chat in an already noisy space?

printers blocks spelling out clear your space with crumpled paper around itCredit: Shutterstock/Marekuliasz
Can a clear space really reduce the ‘noise’?

Why are we suddenly hearing about ‘home hushing’?

The quiet home approach gained momentum earlier this year

Interiors blogger Myquillyn Smith of US-based website The Nester began talking about home noise in January 2023, stating how: “Some voices are louder than others – if you have a bright red chunky mirror, its voice is louder than the white taper candle that sits on your dresser. But both have a voice taking up visual, physical and even emotional space in your room.”

Smith goes on to talk about how she makes her home ‘quieter’ by removing everything (except for larger items of furniture) from a room, before deciding what to bring back.

When it comes to returning items to the space, Smith says it should only be those items you “love, miss or need.” Everything else is superfluous and can be sold or donated to charity.

Subsequently, it’s a trend that’s starting to gain momentum and was instantly recognised by the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO) when we contacted them.

The 5 steps to home hushing

Smith’s blog proposes the following:

  1. Pick one room to quiet.
  2. Find a temporary holding place to put the stuff that you’ll remove from your room.
  3. Remove all the knick-knacks and decorative items. If you need a bigger change, remove everything from your walls, too, even the window coverings.
  4. Let your space breathe for at least 24 hours so you can reconnect with it.
  5. Only bring back things that you really love, miss and need.

What exactly is non-audible ‘noise’ in interiors?

Is it just about colour? What if we like a busy home?

It’s easy to assume a noisy home is one that’s filled with physical noise, bright colours and lots of items. Expert members from the APDO explain how it’s not just about your TV volume or your choice of paint.

“If I think about a ‘hushed’ home, I’d say it is less about bare walls, sparsely decorated shelves and half-empty coat hooks,” says Kate Yiannacou, owner of Tidy Happy Calm.

“It’s more about ensuring that the items you own and store in your home (whether visible or not) are in harmony with what surrounds them. So, piles of papers stacked on your kitchen tops are visually at odds with what the kitchen is for and might feel jarring and ‘noisy’.

“A random assortment of old shoes and a pile of takeaway menus loitering by your backdoor will just feel like noise, too,” she adds, “because they don’t make sense all together in the space they are in.”

Removing the noise could even help you sleep

Jane Lee, founder of Jane Lee Interiors agrees, and explains how even removing the clutter you can’t see has benefits.

“I had a client who was going through a messy divorce, and she mentioned in passing that she hadn’t been sleeping well. As we emptied her bedside table and the area under her bed,” says Lee, “there were piles of legal papers right next to and underneath where she slept.

“It didn’t take long for us to clear everything away, sort and relocate the paperwork to another room – and for her sleep pattern to improve.”

“Strong colours and patterns can be over-stimulating and noisy, especially bright reds, oranges and yellows,” adds Lee, “but it’s also down to personal taste. There’s thousands of stunning, super-colourful homes on Instagram that I love looking at, but know I personally couldn’t live in.”

If you’re after something more calming, Lee recommends warm neutrals and shades of green.

Removing physical noise

If physical noise is also a problem, Lee suggests the following:

  • A squeaky door: get out the WD40
  • Footstep noises coming through the floorboards: invest in rugs or carpets
  • Noisy appliances: check sound levels before buying anything new
  • TV/radio sounds transferring between rooms: move items away from walls and ask family members to use headphones if you aren’t able to install soundproofing.

Is ‘home hushing’ just a variation of Marie Kondo’s ‘spark joy’ philosophy

There are some similarities – but only a few

We asked Sue Spencer, KonMari (the name given to the Marie Kondo method of decluttering) consultant and owner of A Life More Organised, for her thoughts on the ‘home hushing’ technique compared to the one she practises with her clients.

“While it may seem at first glance that there are many similarities, they work in very different ways,” says Spencer.

“The KonMari method is all about creating a better understanding of what sparks joy in your life – this starts with understanding what your ideal lifestyle would look like and how you want your home to look and feel. This sets the goal that we are working towards to create a home that facilitates you living this way.

“It has a longer-lasting impact,” she notes, “as when you work through your whole home, one category at a time, it really can reset the way you view your space and possessions.

“It will change the way you shop and live your life. You don’t need to be decluttering all day, every day – you just need to put aside regular time to work through it and enjoy the changes it makes to the way you live.”

Home hushing feels more minimalist

“The home hushing method feels intuitively more minimalist,” says Spencer. “You are looking to remove visual clutter from your home so you can see all the items you love.

“However, for some of my clients, it’s about having a home that looks more lived-in, where they can see or easily find everything they love,” she explains. “Using the ‘spark joy’ approach means they have still decluttered all the items they don’t love but aren’t left with a minimalist home they wouldn’t enjoy.”

Spencer also adds how emptying by room as opposed to category could mean you still end up with too many similar items.

“I find the category approach gives my clients confidence in their decision-making,” says Spencer, “as they’re able to see all the similar things together when they decide what to keep.”

On the similarities between the methods, Spencer agrees that, “when you return items to a room with the hushing method, you are making a positive decision to keep an item that you love or find useful.” This is undoubtedly like the process of picking items that spark joy.

“Anything that doesn’t spark joy or isn’t an is discarded,” adds Spencer. “So, while you may not love a potato masher, if you love mashed potato, it stays.”

The differences between home hushing and decluttering according to the experts:

Hushing encourages you to take an intentional pause before thoughtfully returning key items. It helps you take stock of exactly what you have and what matters to you.

As well as reducing the amount of items you own, hushing encourages you to further reduce the visual clutter by even storing some of the items you do return. It’s all about reducing visual clutter in as many ways as you can.

Removing things from a space – whether they’re large or small – before deep-cleaning and mulling over what to put back, results in a more curated and peaceful look and feel. Hushing is a great way of stepping back and eliminating all sorts of clutter that can make it difficult to switch off.

It’s a chance to reset your home which is a deeper process than simply decluttering a space or moving items from one room to another.

The flaws in home hushing

Our experts could only list a few

1. You may forget important tasks

“This seems like a great idea in principle,” says Yiannacou. “Who doesn’t want their home to be a tranquil haven? But most of us live busy lives with countless tasks to cross off our lists every day, and unless you are super organised, removing all visual prompts might mean you forget entirely to do those things. Then you’ll have more to worry about than cluttered kitchen tops.”

2. You might not have the necessary space

Lee notes how the main issue for her is the space that’s needed to hush your home, especially if you’ve got lots of items to examine. She suggests that a spare bedroom, dining room or garage may make a good location.

3. You may miss key items during the reflection period

As well as the fact it doesn’t allow you to compare similar items from other rooms, Spencer agrees that one of the main flaws is having to store items for 24 hours before returning them. “Hushing assumes that you have the space and the time to remove everything from a room and then live for 24 hours without the objects.”

Keen to turn down the volume a notch or two?

Try home hushing yourself with these expert tips

Spencer offers some practical tips for making your home less noisy:

  • Decant products such as dry food goods and put them into similar jars and containers with plain labels.
  • Use containers and baskets to contain items wherever possible – by doing this you stop things from spreading and busy food or toiletry labels are hidden within the basket.

Yiannacou still believes visual cues are helpful but notes that it’s important to control them.

“For my clients, I would be recommending using visual cues to their advantage, but within an organised system,” she says. She suggests having designated paperwork in-trays as one of her top recommendations.

Lee’s key tip for starting with any home organisation method? Get started with less emotional items such as a bathroom cabinet, cutlery drawer or under-stairs cupboard. “Stripping back any possessions immediately dials down the ‘volume’ of domestic noise that we encounter in our homes, day in, day out.”

Your bedroom can always benefit from being hushed

Yiannacou says there is one room that may benefit from a little extra quiet.

“Most bedrooms can benefit from hushing,” she says. “There aren’t many practical tasks that need to be completed there, so removing any visual to-do lists from that room would be ideal.

In doing so, your bedroom becomes a more relaxing space to get a better night’s sleep, helping you get ready to face the next day.”

Worried you’ll end up with a home lacking personality?

You should end up with one that has more

“A more considered home allows the things we love to shine,” says Lee. “Personality can be brought in with the pictures, ornaments, furniture and soft furnishings that are consciously held on to.”

Spencer agrees. “With the KonMari Method in particular,” she says, “the curated space is completely bespoke to each client and created by them, so it is the ultimate way to express their personality.”

Would I hush my home?

As someone who understands only too well the negative repercussions that excess noise in the home can cause, (I have a son with ADHD whose difficulties with managing daily tasks can often create an untidy environment that I find ‘loud’ and hard to handle), I’m all for a quieter space.

Would I strip a room to achieve a full home hushing approach? I’ve tried most decluttering techniques, so I’m sure I’ll give this one a go. For now, I’ll continue to keep on top of the clutter as I’ve always been a believer of the phrase ‘tidy space, tidy mind.’

We all find our own ways of coping, and a quiet home for me is without doubt one with less clutter. So please excuse me for a while, I’m off to hush my kitchen.

Sarah Harley

Written by Sarah Harley she/her

Published:

Since first picking up a paintbrush and experiencing the joy of re-decorating her bedroom in a questionable red, white and grey scheme as a young teenager, Sarah Harley was hooked on the world of interior design. This obsession even led to a real life ‘Grand Designs’ project in 2005 when she donned a pink hard hat and appeared on TV screens, project managing the renovation and extension of a Grade II listed 17th century Folly in South Wales.

Throughout her career, Sarah has gained an array of experience in several different roles, ranging from copywriting, PR, events management and photography to interior design and home staging. With her two passions being the written word and the joys of a beautifully designed home, Sarah’s mission is to open the door on the world of interiors, inviting readers in to help them work their way through the vast choice of products, ideas and trends so that their own homes can reach their full potential.

Away from work, Sarah fills her Pinterest boards with more ideas, dreams of where to travel, takes photographs and loves being by the sea. She has two sons and if she absorbed everything they said would also be a football expert. The fact is she is often more interested in the colour and design of the kit – but don’t tell them that.

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