The William Morris Project 2014: What it is and what it isn’t

The William Morris Project | 2014

I chose to make this picture of Mikey’s corner of the bedroom the picture for The William Morris Project this year for a reason. In its own way, it says more about the project for the year than I ever could, and faster, too.

We paid a professional to have the walls painted a soft white (Moonlight White with Simple White trim, both by Benjamin Moore). The bed is from Craigslist and the bedspread/quilt is one I made. The table to the left is a plant stand we spray painted gray. Mikey uses it to hold the books he reads most often at night, and the pile is his to manage however he likes. The stuffed animals are his and stay out all the time unless one falls out of favor. I don’t have a say about who goes on the bed and, frankly, I could think of a million other things more important to think about. It’s why the bed has wrinkles; Mikey had to position each one just-so. The cord hanging from the blinds could have been edited out, but wasn’t. That is real life.

A brief history if you are new since this will become an informational post as the year goes on. In 2011, my friend’s parents unexpectedly died a little over two weeks apart (aggressive pancreatic cancer and a broken heart, basically). They left behind an overwhelming amount of “stuff.”

Here’s what I had to say about that time and how it changed my life.

I’m still plugging along two years later, and that’s what I’m hoping the picture makes clear.

The William Morris Project began as my attempt to create an intentional home for my family. This year, I’m broadening it a bit to include my efforts to apply the William Morris quote to my health and personal life. This means more walking, less drama. Running a more efficient home–whatever that means (must Google!). Trying–really trying–to wear purple before I’m old. That was figurative, by the way. You’ll have to wait until next year for 365 Days of Wearing Purple.

The William Morris Project is a lot of things, but there’s a lot it isn’t, too.

The William Morris Project is not a race. One, I have a life I would like to enjoy and two, there is no finish line. OK, there is, but I’d like to avoid focusing on it because death is the only way to effectively prevent the production of clutter.

The William Morris Project is not a competition. Some people DIY everything. Some people pay professionals. Some people can afford top dollar and others are on a budget. I’m firmly in the middle and don’t see myself moving from that spot anytime soon. I guarantee there is a blogger out there doing what I do cheaper/faster/better/more pinterest-y. I think that’s great.

The William Morris Project is not about my quest for minimalism. I’ll talk more about this as the year goes on, but any of the posts I linked to in my brief history above will give you an idea of where I stand. I will not try to reduce my possessions to some magical number. I do not believe a magical number exists, or at least not a universal one. I once did a post on organizing my boys’ shoes and a year or so later someone commented that they still had too many shoes. I emailed her and suggested that “to each their own,” but she replied that, no, I was wrong. Too many shoes! She grew up very poor, and if I grew up as poor as she did, I would realize that my boys had far too many shoes.

I thought about what she wrote for a long time and debated replying back, but then I remembered something important.


Also, see above “not a competition” paragraph.

The William Morris Project is not a posting marathon. Even though the project is 365 days long, I won’t post every day. I’ll use my best judgment and hopefully that means I’ll post when a project is more interesting than not. I will post the mundane minutia projects because we all have those hanging over our head. Not every project can be a coffee table made out of antique fruit crates.

That’s it. I hope for this to be a mellow, low pressure year, and I welcome anyone who wants to join me! I won’t be doing link ups since my posts won’t be limited to one day of the week, so if you’ve done a project you are free to leave a link in the comments.

Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. Lan says

    A perfect explanation of your WM project and a great guideline/reminder for the rest of us who might want to do the same.

  2. Penny says

    Hello, I just wanted to say thank you for making me smile yet again. At the risk of sounding gushing and insincere, I Love your blog, your anecdotes and pictures of your boys never cease to give me pleasure! So thank you! I am an in my fifties mum of two, my son is in his third year of uni and my daughter is in her final year of secondary school. The years disappear so quickly, so carry on enjoying every moment you can with those boys! Have a fantastic and blessed 2014. Much love Penny L in Dorset U.Kxx

    • says

      Thank you so, so much! The years do go by fast. My husband and I were just talking about that last week. It’s distressing, but I’m determined not to freak out about it and instead live in the moment.

  3. Fairfax Avenue says

    “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” It’s a wonderful thought and a worthy motto. Doesn’t make a bit of difference: I’m much more likely to remember “I don’t care”.

    This year, legions of Pancakes and French Fries readers will see each other in the market, at the museum, at the auto repair shop, in the library. Nothing will faze us because of our motto: I don’t care.

    Are we going to need a secret handshake?

  4. says

    i do not want tables made of crates…. i love the motivation you leave me with. it can be simple and less cluttered, which makes me feel so good. and it’s never a competition. xo

    • says

      “Never a competition.”

      /breathes sigh of relief. I’m so glad you feel that way. I would hate for it to be the opposite. Blogs that look all perfy-perfect drive me batty.

  5. Suzanne says

    How refreshing! My sweet sister who reads your blog pointed me here and I can see why. Intentional minimalism and moderation are my goals too.

  6. Sarah says

    Amen! I love it. That picture really is perfect.
    This is what I needed to read this morning. I have a book of daily readings from St. Augustine, and then a little explanation paragraph. This fits hand in hand with what I have been reading. Or at least with what I have been getting out of what I have been reading. I am looking forward to this year of William Morris.

  7. says

    Echoing those who have said, LOVE IT. I’m with you all the way and start my own little WMP of sorts on the blog later this week. It’s not about being perfect, but it’s about finding peace. I want to get back the sense of freedom that I had when my husband and I lived out of suitcases, not feeling tied to so. much. stuff. Looking forward to 2014 and your blog posts. :)

  8. Missie says

    William Morris is what drew me to you. I can’t believe you’re doing it 365, I’m SO excited! As my kids fight over something meaningless in the other room, I’m practicing “I don’t care”. :)

    • says

      Hahaha! You should read my friend Zachary’s post (she commented first) on kids and meaningless arguments. :)

      Yes, WMP 365, but don’t be expecting crazy big projects! You should know by now I’m all about the mellow, practical, and achievable. Most of my stuff isn’t pinnable or fancy. :/

  9. Christie says

    I don’t care, either. I’m dehoarding, like I seem to do a lot. I want to have less stuff and like the stuff I have. That being said, I live with the opposite side of I don’t care. Things, papers, crap is everywhere. This year that is coming to a screeching halt. The excuses of my family are is over. If they don’t pick up, I will and they will never see it again. Tough, but I like to see the floors.

    • says

      Yeah, been there. The boys know that I will toss crap OUT. But, to be perfectly honest, I can see a tidal wave of origami paper under the dining room table right now and I won’t toss it. That stuff is expensive!!

  10. says

    Thanks for the morning dose of inspiration, Jules. I love the William Morris project (it’s how I found your blog, actually!) and like to repeat the William Morris mantra as I approach designing/cleaning/updating our home.

  11. roni says

    Can we have that I Don’t Care graphic as a motivational poster? This is my motto too this year. I’ve spent way too much time getting annoyed about little things. All that negative energy just results in my own unhappiness. Ready to WM my life!

  12. Stacey says

    Secret handshake? Yes! I am cleaning out my mother’s house right now. She kept so many things because she had lost so much. It breaks my heart that I am doing now what I could have done while she was here ..all the “stuff” was stressful…reminders of sad times, and just overwhelming. A reminder to me to let go and to leave it easier for my own kids.

    • says

      The Enderman was from Nico! He picked it out and everything. It was very cute to see Mikey’s response. He LOVED it. One of my favorite pictures of them, too. The Creeper was a gift from my mom. Short answer: yes, they had a good Christmas. :)

  13. Barbara says

    Thank you for this. My MIL passed away in November and we are going through something similar to your friend Helena. Tough way to start a new year. I’m thinking hard about what I want our home to be for my little family. Last weekend, I finally unpacked my wedding dishes after 5 years in this house. It was not doing anyone any good in my overstuffed basement. I am not a minimalist, but am starting to not want anything that isn’t useful or meaningful in our home. I also just want my home to be real…

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