9 Decor Items You Can Get Rid of in 2021, According to Designers

published Jan 9, 2021
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Credit: Viv Yapp

Having turned the page on an unprecedented—and, quite frankly, bizarre—year, I’m ready to bring some good vibes back into my home. While getting organized is a great goal, it often is impossible without taking a serious audit of your furniture and decor.

No matter how loyal you are to the KonMari method, many people own decor that’s no longer serving their home. Maybe your design tastes have evolved since you first picked something out, or you just don’t use an item enough to justify the precious square footage it’s taking up. Either way, certain pieces deserve a one-way ticket out of your home, and this is the time to take stock of it and shed the excess. Of course, figuring out what stays and what goes in your own home can be difficult. To help, I’ve asked a few interior designers about the decor items to get rid of in 2021, and here’s what made their lists.

Credit: Cathy Pyle

See you later, shower caddies!

Chances are you’ve been toting around a shower caddy since your dorm room days. While these organizers are incredibly practical, offering a convenient space to stow your shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, they have much more visually-appealing alternatives. “Let’s get rid of shower caddies,” says Dallas-based designer Traci Connell. “These items are inexpensive and unnecessary for an organized life.”

A built-in tiled niche for all of your toiletries may be a pipe dream that requires a gut reno, but other caddy alternatives are within reach. Instead Connell recommends investing in a teak or water-resistant stool to park in an empty corner near your shower, as seen in the bathroom above, or an over-the-tub tray that marries form with function.

Move over, matching furniture

“The ‘bedroom suit’ has gone the way of the cassette tape,” explains Rachel Cannon, a Baton Rouge-based designer, on the matching furniture trend. “If you struggle to say goodbye to all of it, try breaking it up and using the pieces in different parts of your house.”

For example, a bedroom dresser can be used as a sideboard in the dining room, while one of your trusty nightstands can be repurposed into a living room end table. Try mixing pieces in any room where you’ve maybe relied on a matchy-matchy set because you thought that’s all that would work there. Making a few swaps like this around your home will add more personality and visual variety to each of your rooms.

If you do like your finishes to all be in the same family, go for it. You can always add variety by introducing different silhouettes, as shown in the bedroom above; white furniture keeps the look light and airy, but no two pieces are exactly alike.

Credit: Emma Fiala

Refresh your furniture

Speaking of furniture, the new year offers an excellent opportunity to get rid of the pieces that no longer suit your personal style. While it might be hard to part ways with larger pieces that might have cost more than you liked, this can give you the literal space needed to evolve your design point of view.

“We are constantly meeting with new clients who still haven’t found their personal style as adults because they haven’t moved past what they collected as teens and young adults,” say Beth Dotolo and Carolina Gentry, the duo behind Pulp Design Studios. “We are thrilled when we get the opportunity to work with our clients who are realizing they are worth getting to curate their own personal space, find their unique style, and have their home be an outward expression of who they are and what they love.”

Need some guidance for this process? Here are some industry-approved ways to discover your design aesthetic. Try to donate or resell old pieces so they find another good home.

Say goodbye to the overstuffed bar cart

When the widespread shelter in place orders went into effect earlier in 2020, many people digitized everything from work calls and exercise classes to happy hours. Naturally, the onslaught of Zoom entertaining prompted many people to pack their bar carts with wine, liquor, and all the accoutrements. For Anand Sheth, design director at Studio BBA though, there’s a difference between a fully-stocked and overstuffed bar.

“No one needs to see your Triple Sec and cheap vermouth,” he says. “Use your extra time during ‘Dry January’ to find a concealed place for those backbar items and only display the beautiful selections that represent your tastes. The breathing room will be more inviting come February.”

By paring down and visually organizing your alcohol and spirits collection, you’ll only make this spot in your home more inviting and prettier to look at. Another option is to turn your bar cart into a more family-friendly drinking station, as seen in the neat and orderly bottle setup above. There are other ways to repurpose this piece of furniture, too; check out these booze-free ways to dress up your bar cart and potentially relocate it within your home.

Credit: Reid Rolls

Back off of coffee table books

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is such a thing as too many coffee table books, at least if space is at a premium in your place. “Chances are you’re keeping a few that have a good layer of dust over them,” says Karina Lameraner, creative stylist at Modsy. “Consider donating them or even recycling! This will free up your shelf space, making it feel open and giving the books you really do love more time to shine.”

So how are you supposed to trim down your coffee table book collection? Take a cue from the decluttering queen herself, Marie Kondo. As you flip through the stack, you should ask yourself whether or not each tome brings you joy. Ditch the ones that don’t and create a trim stack on your table or more airy shelfie scene out of the ones that do.

Ditch drapery that isn’t working for your room

In case you didn’t get the memo, your window treatments can make or break your space. Thick drapes might successfully protect your place from harsh sunlight and nosy neighbors, but they’re often not furthering the overall look, feel, and cohesiveness of your room.

“Outdated fabric and window treatments can really give the room a mood that may not be in line with your new year’s vibe,” explains designer Adam Meshberg, founder and CEO of Meshberg Group .

If you’re looking for window treatments that strike a balance between form and function, opt for a set of semi-sheer curtains like what’s in the living room above. Fabric isn’t all that matters with window treatments either; length is key, and too-short drapery isn’t cutting it, that is, if you’re looking to make the most out of your space. “Drapery that doesn’t reach all the way to the floor makes the room appear smaller and ceilings seem lower,” says designer Marie Flanigan. “If yours are too short, consider replacing them. Ideally, full-length window treatments should bend slightly where they meet the floor and be hung as close to the ceiling as possible.”

Part with some art

Beauty certainly lies in the eye of the beholder, but you might want to reconsider some of your artwork. “Art shines in a space when it’s deeply meaningful,” says Heather Goerzen, who works in creative and design at Havenly. “It should be a reflection of the things that inspire or interest you—a piece that you truly love. For most of us, that’s not a ubiquitous knock-off print or generic word art.”

Of course, there are times when poignant quotes or artist reproductions can be displayed beautifully, but in general, Goerzen recommends sticking to special pieces that add depth and drama while resonating with you personally, as seen in this varied gallery wall arrangement.

Farewell, flower vases

In a perfect world, each of your home’s rooms would be filled with freshly cut blooms for that photoshoot-ready edge. In reality though, aren’t all of those vases you thought you’d need taking up storage space and most likely, collecting lots of dust? So either make a commitment to actually use them or purge the ones that aren’t in heavy rotation.

“I’m always encouraging clients to get rid of the vases they don’t love,” says designer Christina Kim. “You don’t need to hold onto the glass vases flowers were delivered in!”

If you ever find yourself with an unprecedented amount of fresh flowers coming into your home, you can repurpose old glass soda bottles, wine bottles, or even a Mason jar you have on hand should you run out of dedicated decorative vessels.

Eliminate excess

Why stop decluttering with just flower vases? According to General Judd, designer and co-founder of Me and General Design, you should get rid of excess things in general.

“We have found that there are no particular items that everyone has to eliminate,” he says. “But the one thing we always advise is to look over your home and remove any non-essential clutter. We don’t mean collectables or items that have sentimental value but items that are rarely used and take up space.”

I’ll be the first one to admit that I own way more bath towels, blankets, and bedding sets than I really need. So why keep these types of items around when you can give them to someone else?

“If your kitchen counters are filled with [single-use] appliances and [rarely used] items, consider donating them to an organization,” Judd adds. “We know it’s hard to let go of things, but clutter clouds the mind, and it’s a good time to clear it all out.”