It has been said that if you move three times in five years you may as well have lost your home to a fire. I have to agree. Although our home did not burn down, in comparison to how we used to live, one might think so. The process of packing up boxes, carrying them into a truck, driving them across the country, only to unload them again–at a huge expense–has forced us to constantly reconsider what we have kept in our home.
As a result, my husband and I have been drawn towards following the minimalism movement. Knowing this, one would think we don’t own anything. That is far from the truth. However, what we do own has to fit into certain strict requirements. Because of these self-imposed stipulations we continue to get rid of more and more. In fact, IT IS quite like burning down our house, but only one item that we don’t “need” at a time. For an item to live inside our home it must adhere to certain criteria.
6 Rules for a Simple Home
- Something we use. By this I mean something used daily (dishes, appliances, towels), quarterly (seasonal clothing), and yearly (seasonal decor). However, if I fail to love it enough to be used when the designated time comes, then it doesn’t make the cut to stay in our home the following season or year.
- Good Design. One of us an architect and interior designer, so we love design. The items we have kept are in alignment with our tastes and correspond with the overall feel of our home. Consistency and flow from room to room are important in the design goals of our home.
- Functional. When high-end design meets functionality I get excited. If used daily these become my favorite items.
- Built well and to last. This may mean that we spend a little more money initially, however, it pays off in the long run.
- Something we love. This really has changed the way I feel about my house. When I truly love every item inside my level of happiness raises. It also helps when determining what clothing to get rid of. If I only “like” it then chances are I won’t wear it. But those five outfits I consistently wear–those are the ones I love.
- Aligns with our ethics. An example of this is that you won’t find a plastic cup, mixing bowl, or a case of plastic water bottles in our home. We just don’t believe in using plastics. For more on this subject watch A Plastic Ocean.
Today I am sharing some of our favorite functional design finds, decor, and things we love and use in our new simplified home.
Say hello to the newest addition to the Coover home. THIS is a drying rack. I needed something for my hand dishes to dry on, but I did not want a huge plastic eyesore on my counter. When I saw this design I instantly fell in love. It is made from stainless steel and rolls up for easy storage. I also use it to dry my fresh fruits and vegetables after washing them. The perfect example of good design meeting function. I do not have a full set of knives simply because I don’t need them. What I do need are a few excellent knives. One is the tomato knife pictured above.
This is Mr. P’s bathroom, our 14 year olds get ready area. Our bathrooms do not have hand towel holders, so I used simple over the door hooks to hang from the towel rod. Again, a perfect example of design meeting functionality.
Recently I’ve read up on what is termed as “white space”. It is dutch design which is rooted in minimalistic decor. It doesn’t literally mean the color “white”, but is used more to describe open and clear areas in the home. Studies have shown that people function butter with less clutter. In fact, children are less stressed and learn better in a clean, organized environment with less toys. That being said, I find that for me the color white has a calming effect. Furthermore, white makes it easy during holidays to add any accent color wished. It makes everything look clutter free and rooms flow consistently throughout the house.
In the past I’ve had linen closets shoved to the gills with blankets, sheets, and pillows kept for “what if I need it” or “when someone visits”. I also had blankets that were given to my children that I held onto because my mom made them. I finally took those blankets to each of my children, putting the burden of deciding to keep or donate them on their shoulders. Afterwards I still found I had kept more than necessary. These items kept went unused for years until this last move. Now I use every single item in my linen closet and when I open the door it makes me happy instead of frustrated.
When eliminating I found that there were many items I loved but did not use on an every day basis–if even at all. For instance, the stainless canister set once housed colored markers that had long dried out (from age and lack of use). I always loved their sleek modern design. So when finally tossing out those markers I washed them and now store snack food that we eat every day; such as pistachio’s, pumpkin seeds, and cashews. The white ceramic lantern once held a candle that had never been lit. Full of dust, one day I decided instead of throwing it out that I would repurpose it as a container to hold our wooden spoons.
And then there are the things that aren’t necessarily used every day, but in a sense are because they are displayed. I love decor so found myself hoarding piles of old unused picture frames, photos, and signs behind doors and in corners. I reminded myself that those items would be better served in another home. If I can’t use them by hanging them up or setting them out then they did not make the cut to be in our new home. I kept sentimental items, such as the chalk board that my daughter wrote “where troubles melt like lemon drops”.
Let’s talk about the elusive kitchen hand towels for a moment. I had about fifty. I’m not sure why I never threw away old nasty stained kitchen towels. What is worse is that I would wait a month before washing them (thus the set in stains) and had so many that they could not be put away. When moving I kept only my favorites and now they all fit nicely folded in a kitchen drawer–imagine that. I have exactly seven, one for each day. Now I wash them once a week–what a novel idea.
The next time you are cleaning out, de-junking, or moving AND are so frustrated you feel like you want to start a fire…I dare you to do something harder. I dare you to follow the rules I have made for a simpler home. It is absolutely life changing and best of all, it doesn’t require a match.
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