June 11, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I work from home many days and have allocated a rather large space on the main floor just for myself (great, right?!). Today it’s filled with a HUGE desk that has become a magnet for clutter and the whole room has become a junk pit that is neither productive nor inspiring. I’ve decided that I like to work in different spaces depending on what I’m doing — sometimes at my kitchen table, sometimes in bed, sometimes on the couch — so I will sell the HUGE desk and turn this room into what we call the “Starbucks lounge.” I envision this as a room where DD will enjoy doing her homework (she likes natural light) and where a family member can enjoy reading without being distracted by the television or chatting happening in the other rooms.
- The space — it’s bright with wood floors and french doors
- The location — it’s at the front of the house right off the front door and has visibility to the “dining room” and the entry and front staircase
To be beautified:
- Remove the clutter
- Remove the desk
- Add comfy love seat (from living room)
- Add two chairs (existing wing chairs, though would like to recover or replace at some point)
- Add art wall
June 11, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I’ve recently discovered a lovely blog “Pancakes and French Fries” which covers a multitude of topics but my favorite is her William Morris Project … “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.“
And in this theme, I will copy Jules with my own list of rooms and beautification projects, but I will also highlight those things that I already love — either because of their usefulness or their beauty.
To begin … the Living Room:
We currently have just one living room for the four of us — a gathering space where we watch movies, read, nap and where youngest DD does homework.
- Truly comfortable couch and love-seat (great for sleeping, cozying and reading and great for keeping pets off unless wanted — they don’t like the leather unless there’s a blanket or pillow)
- tables with built-in storage
- colorful rug
- squishy pillows
- tv over fireplace (I know it’s not a decorative statement, but we love having it off the floor and centrally located)
- overall coziness (probably due to warm wall color … not chosen by us, but perfectly matched to our own curtains and former chenille furniture)
To be beautified:
- Break it up — love the couch and loveseat and coffee table, but really don’t love the combination of them together — too much brown. Add two comfy red (favorite color) leather (pets) chairs and a kilim-ish ottoman or two. remove the brown coffee table and the brown loveseat.
- Artwork — paintings in small grouping are from DH’s family (father and g-grandfather); would like to create larger grouping with additional paintings that I love and make more of a visual impact.
- Relocate other functions — DD currently does her homework from this awkward corner (in part because older DD has taken over the library as her own) and we have a random guitar over a slipper chair that I love but who’s purpose is questionable …
Next up: My Office
January 5, 2013 § 2 Comments
Because I have teenagers and my nieces and nephew are all in the tween and teen years as well, Christmas gift giving has become a transfer of gift cards in recent years. This year, I decided to give cash. That way my beloved kids can spend — or save — as they choose. They get what they want, and I’m not perpetuating necessary consumption.
In an effort to keep the gift thoughtful and personal, I folded the money using origami techniques.
Older nieces got bow-ties
Nephew and youngest niece got hearts
January 5, 2013 § 1 Comment
Over the past two years, I’ve decluttered more than 60 percent of my holiday decorations (yeah!). On Black Friday this year, instead of shopping as I’ve done in the past, I decorated the inside of the house while DH decorated the outside. I think we were both done in less than an hour. I was very happy with the inside … a (reduced) collection of oldest DDs nutcrackers in the front window; a (reduced) collection of youngest DDs snowglobes in the entry and a (not reduced) collection of Christmas photo frames of DDs each year with Santa on the Kitchen window sill.
Now that the holiday decorations are coming down, I’ll be reducing some more — mostly Christmas dishes and linens that haven’t come out in several years. My dream (for my future little cottage) is to have fresh cut greens for garland and wreath with some flowers for color and very few things that require storage, care or maintenance. I’m down to three small boxes and two large boxes for inside and one large box for outside.
How about you? What were you able to minimize this year? Did it work out for you?
January 5, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I worked on my first Habitat for Humanity build in November. I actually got to work on two houses — the one being newly built and another a mile away that was built 12 years ago and has been bought back by Habitat because the owner could no longer pay the mortgage.
I learned a lot on this build about Habitat homes:
- Habitat owners are not given a “free” home (which is what I thought). They have to be low-income, but have enough income and savings to qualify for the loan. They have a mortgage just like I do.
- Habitat houses have grown to meet the US demand — 12 years ago the standard home was smaller and only had one full bath. Today, the house is about 200 sq ft larger with two full baths.
And about myself:
- I could SO live in that house. The simple Craftsman-style home (that we painted Wedgewood blue with bright white trim!) was just the right size for two or three people and with a few tweaks would fill my requirements with ease.
- The older I get, the more I appreciate simplicity … the straight lines of the Craftsman style allowed for easy trim painting (imagine a Victorian?!) and the low profile made all of the work doable with just a standard ladder.
- The beauty I find in houses these days is as often from the care taken and the flowers planted than from the home design itself. Though I LOVE houses of virtually all types, the ones I’m most drawn to are well-situated small cottage-like houses with flowers and picket fences. I could see this house in loving hands becoming just that.
Lao Tzu said, “In dwelling, live close to the ground.” I can see where he was coming from.
October 31, 2012 § 10 Comments
In every other blog about simplicity or minimalism I read, the blogger has either already achieved his or her goal of quitting his or her job; or aspires to. For the last couple of years, (for as long as I’ve been reading minimalism blogs,) I’ve searched for my own wish to leave my job … what is that special thing that I’m supposed to be pursuing that will inspire me to want to do that full-time instead of what I already get paid to do? I’ve read at least a dozen “finding my passion” types of books including some by Cheryl Richardson, Debbie Ford and Martha Beck and it wasn’t until I read “Strengths Finder 2.0″ by Tom Rath that I started to realize that the reason I wasn’t finding some new “thing” to run to is that the “thing” I already have meets 7 out of 10 on my ideal work wish list (the book includes some combinations of skills plus Meyers-Briggs personality traits to summarize your ideal work/environment).
I then discovered Danielle LaPorte’s new book “The Fire Starter Sessions” and finally read someone who agrees that it’s possible to be passionate about the work you do, even if it’s for a big company. (Not that she works for a big company … but it’s possible …)
So I’ve embraced (for now) the idea of staying where I am … a BIG manufacturing and distribution company where I will be celebrating my 18th anniversary tomorrow. My work is challenging and rewarding; my management is supportive and encouraging and genuine; the people who work for me have opportunities to learn and grow and try new things; and I have a position that lets me help people both at work and at home. And the really semi-minimalist part is that I don’t have to spend my brain power thinking about daily issues like income, medical insurance, and vacation pay.
Maybe someday I’ll be inspired by something that I love doing even more than what I do now and then I’ll think about moving on, but for now, I’ll simply stay put.
What do you think? Do you dream of self-employment or have you found a niche working for “the man?”
October 15, 2012 § 2 Comments
Cheryl Richardson — one of my favorite authors — recently posted an article called “Birthing the New: Make space for what’s next” and it was life-altering for me. When given the choice, I have moved every two years for as long as I can remember. This means that in my adult life, I’ve lived in over a dozen different homes and my teenage girls were already at six plus before starting high school. The economic slump has forced me to stay put and I’ve struggled for three years now with the feeling of being “trapped” by my surroundings.
I’ve gotten through these times by re-arranging rooms and furniture and painting and ripping up carpets, but Cheryl’s article really hit the nail on the head. It’s not about moving things around, it’s about making physical and energetic space. It’s not about organizing or re-organizing, it’s about clearing the clutter.
Understanding that it’s not where I am, but what I have that’s the root of the trapped feeling is more freeing than I can explain.