Home Tour: Living Room

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After the mass kitchen purge and the complete master bedroom makeover (You can read about those here and here, respectively), the next room we tackled was the living room. Tim and I started by mounting out TV on the wall, making it possible to sell the TV stand. A few other large pieces of furniture were moved out of the space and decorative “fillers” that neither of us liked were donated. These simple changes immediately made the room feel lighter; however, we weren’t finished just yet.

Majority of the bookcase space was taken up with media, so Tim copied our favorite DVD’s onto an external hard drive. The actual disks were donated,  with two shelves being emptied in the process. At this point we were one more step closer to enjoying a clutter free family space!

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The final step in creating our ideal family space, was to rearrange the remaining furniture, and display the few decorative items we agreed to keep. While our living room is far from sparse, it is now purposefully minimal! A wonderful place to spend time together playing, reading, relaxing, or having the occasional movie night.

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How do you feel in your living space? Cramped, overwhelmed, and stressed? Feeling the constant urge to clean or organize? If so, maybe you can benefit from decluttering down to only the things you use and love!

-Heather

 

 

 

 

Traveling Lightly 

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Last week, my family and I took a trip to Nebraska to visit Tim’s parents. As I started to plan what to pack, I kept in mind that we would be flying, and knew that we didn’t need to be lugging tons of bags through an airport with a toddler and a car seat. So we kept things light.

Prior to this little excursion, the amount of stuff that got packed for trips was equivalent to the spare space in the car. If it fit, we brought it along.  So many times I over packed “just in case” items only to never use them. What a waste! Waste of space, waste of time to pack and unpack, and a burden to carry around.  Until discovering minimalism, it never crossed my mind that there was another way. If you search online for a packing checklist, full-page charts detailing hundreds of items bombard the screen. With materialism being so prevalent, it really is no wonder why  over packing happens.

Packing too much? Not this time! I made it my goal to only bring contents that fit into one carry-on rolling suitcase and a back pack. This was for three people, two adults and a toddler! In the end we did it (with a little room to spare), and still ended up packing one outfit too many per person and slightly overestimating how many quiet activities we needed for Penelope. In traveling so lightly, I realized how little a person actually needs to comfortably travel (or live contentedly, for that matter). We had everything we needed for four days in those two small bags.

Now that we have done it once, there is no going back. Minimal packing is the only way I want to travel!  I practice minimalism in my daily life at home, why not from afar as well! For me, it is all about less stuff, and more adventure!

-Heather

Home Tour: Master Bedroom 

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After I successfully decluttered and minimized our kitchen (you can read more about that here), I started on the bedroom. This was one area in our house that I hated! Our closets were overflowing, flat surfaces became a “catch all”, piling up with everything from change and receipts, to clean laundry that needed to be put away. There was way too much furniture making our good sized room feel small and suffocating.

Too. Much. Stuff. Our bedroom was suppose to be a sanctuary, a little at-home retreat to relax and recharge. Instead, I avoided it as often as possible because the mess and clutter were overwhelming to me.

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“Before” This poor quality photo was taken on a good day.
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“Before” Opposite wall.

 

 

Then I did something drastic. I did a major clothing purge, donating at least 90% of my wardrobe. Things I didn’t like or didn’t fit well were separated from the few things I truly loved. I also sold the desk, chairs, and dresser to further reduce potential clutter magnets.

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It Is amazing how a room can transform with a new bed, a little paint, and a major purge. The negative, anxious feelings from before have been replaced with feelings of peace and calm. I love our bedroom and the feeling of serenity the space brings.

If you are apprehensive about taking the leap and going for a major purge of possessions, don’t be! It is so freeing to get rid of things in order to create a space you want to be in. “Stuff” comes at a price, making it even more important to only own things you love and use. What does your ideal bedroom look like? What do you need to do to make your dream a reality? Don’t wait! Start clearing out the clutter now, and make changes  to love the space you’re in!

-Heather

Voluntary Simplicity 

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Minimalism is not a lifestyle of comparisons. There is no one formula or right way of living as a minimalist, but simply deciding to live more purposefully. Not allowing possessions to overtake your home and own you. It is, however, living with the perfect amount to fit your specific needs. For some, this will look like a mere few hundred possessions in a tiny house, some choose to keep everything they own in a backpack and live a nomadic lifestyle, and for others, like me, minimalism is a little more camouflaged. My family lives in a moderately sized, 1200 sq. ft. 3 bedroom 2.5 bath home. While my husband and I agree that it’s more space than we need, it makes sense for us to remain here while living a life of purposeful simplicity, for now.  No matter your end goals, the key to becoming a minimalist is deciding your purpose- no one else can tell you what that is.

I love the phrase “voluntary simplicity”. These two words describe a conscious decision to reject materialism and consumerism, while allowing yourself to own things without them owning you. Living a life of simplicity.

Possessions often “own” people in different ways, here are just a few examples:

-Sheer volume: Do you have drawers, closets, and cabinets overflowing? Is this causing you to spends copious amounts of free time cleaning or organizing the clutter? This is time that could be spent doing something more meaningful.

-Debt accumulation: Do you feel the need to “keep up with the Joneses”? Will Rogers said it best with, “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” Don’t let other people dictate what goes into your home. What’s the point of trying to impress them if you are spiraling further into debt to buy unneeded things?  I, for one, choose sanity, simplicity, and financial peace over opinions that don’t matter! Real friends don’t care about your “stuff” anyway!

-Discontentment: when is enough, enough? That feeling of elated excitement when you make a new purchase eventually fades,  giving discontentment the opportunity to creep back in. This cycle will continue unless you make the decision to stop it. To realize that whatever void you are experiencing will never be filled with things. Make an effort to discover contentment through gratitude, breaking the cycle of consumerism.

Every day I make the decision to live a life of voluntary simplicity. Although it has been a process and will continue to evolve with each season of life, I have never felt a greater sense of joy! Will you join me in living a life of purpose?

-Heather

Keeping the Toy Clutter at Bay

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Recently, a friend asked me how I handled toys. Specifically, how to avoid buying excessively , and how to decide what and how much should be kept.

It is so easy for toys to overtake your home. Whether you are the one buying them, well meaning relatives and friends send them, or it is a combination of both,  they add up quickly! My husband and I decided early on that we would not buy toys (or anything for that matter)  impulsively. Our daughter’s birthday is in December, right before Christmas, so she ends up with A LOT all at once.

In the months leading up to her birthday this past year, I purged the clothes and toys that she had outgrown or wasn’t interested in playing with, making room for the new things coming her way. This method worked really well for us, so I plan to continue it this year and the years following.

Since December, we have bought a handful of consumable items (bubbles, crayons, chalk, etc..), some outdoor play things (sandbox, water table, gardening tools), and a membership to our local Science Center. I have found that Penelope plays longer and is more interested in a toy/book/activity if choices are limited, so I rotate her things to keep them fresh and to reduce the amount available at one time. She has one basket in the living room and three small bins in her room. This seems to work for our needs (and hers)!

If impulse buying when you’re out is a problem, I would suggest carrying cash and making a list. I am much more disciplined to avoid impulse purchases when sticking to a list. In addition, paying in cash is another strategy I use to prevent myself from overspending or buying things I don’t need.  Once that money is gone, it’s gone, making me more mindful of what I choose to spend it on.

Ultimately,  how much you chose to allow your child to have is your decision. There is no right or wrong in this instance. Once you find an amount your comfortable with, keep the toys that get played with the most, while allowing the others to be donated.  If your child is older, let them help! I am amazed by how candid and honest children are and more often than not, they are capable and willing to help- especially if they know their unused or unwanted toys will go to other children!

If you consistently implement these tips, controlling the toy clutter in your home will be a breeze!

-Heather