Minimalism & Simplicity in Practice
For a while now I’ve been receiving requests to do a house tour. And honestly, I hesitated.
Firstly, if you’ve been with me for some time then you know that we’ve moved over 5 times in the past four years, so the home you may have been interested to see may no longer be where we live. Furthermore, we’ve furnished and adapted in a pretty make-shift way. None of this furniture or decor was chosen for this space. We also won’t be here very long. Due to my hubby’s career we’re unlikely to stay for more than another year or two.
So here’s our current home. Sometimes it looks like this – about once a day – and the rest of the time there are toys, socks, tooth brushes and bits of pear strewn all over the floors. But that’s okay. Because that is how life is. It does not have to be perfect all the time. That simply doesn’t exist.
If our home is in any way inspiring to you (and I have no idea if it will be), there’s really only one takeaway you should apply to yours:
Have less. (i.e. Declutter!)
Even in our current set up, I think we should probably get rid of another 30% of our belongings. Fewer items = more white space, simpler household chores, more room to breath, live and love. (if you want me to hold your hand and help you declutter, check out Present Play, where I go into this in detail).
Here are my top 10 design tips for your home, some of which I’ve been able to apply to my current residence, others that will manifest in future homes.
These ideas are based on my own aesthetic preferences, and in visual themes that I believe support mindfulness and peaceful parenting. BUT they are not right for everyone. Ultimately, the right home design for you is the design that expresses who you are and that serves the functionality of your unique life and needs. So if something here totally doesn’t resonate, it’s because these are not universal.
- Choose a neutral, natural color palette throughout the home. My big preference is for white walls. Most of our furniture and linen are a shade of gray or black & white. I find that all grays go together so that we can easily switch a rug from this room or a chair from that.
- Keep surfaces as clear as possible. Whether it’s your kitchen counter or your child’s dresser, your office desk or your coffee table – the urge to house more items “out” can be the demise of minimalism. A clear, clean surface with just one or two key items is inviting and soothing. On your desk, a computer. On your kitchen counter, a toaster/ bread bin. On your coffee table, a book.
- Set up a GREAT storage system. Having a storage system that is actually accessible and manageable means that you can rotate out “stale” toys (and make them fresh and novel again) and off-season clothes. That way you have only the stuff you love and need right now. (Want to learn how to set up your storage? check out my Present Play membership where we cover this in detail).
- Choose natural materials. Wherever possible choose the raw, natural materials such as wood, steel, glass, stone. Artificial materials tend to create a colder more disconnected feel. Wood, especially, adds a warmth and earthiness to a minimalistic home. But keep the tones light. A dark wooden cabinet or floor can create a heavy feeling in a room. Wicker baskets, wool, cotton… these textures are pleasing and you can still keep your minimalistic feel and neutral color palette.
- Look for functionality. In whatever item you add into your home, choose a no-frills, good old fashioned useful thing. Look for clean lines and straight forward, simple design without any embellishments or superfluous decoration. Have the beauty of the things lie in it’s simplicity and in it’s colors, textures and dimensions, not in additional bedazzlement or pattern.
- Multi-purpose. When allowing new items to enter your life, try to find ones that are multi purpose… things that cater to the core functionality you need, rather than a niche subset. For example, a durable, strong kitchen blender will serve for smoothies, cakes, and sauces, etc. Rather than buying a gadget for each process separately look for the one that answers as many purposes. Same goes for clothes, strollers, toys… everything really.
- Enliven with art and plants. What about a splash of joy and color? Art work and plants can add beauty, spice, and flavor to even the whitest of spaces. Plus, you can easily switch them out when you want a change.
- Create triggers for the life you want. Your home is your safe haven, the space that dictates the atmosphere your family lives in. You can chose some inspiring quotes or images, and purposely position them to serve as triggers to remind you of your goals, values and intentions. For example, in my children’s room, I have a sign that says: “It doesn’t get better than this”. This reminds me, even at the end of a tiring day, that there is infinite joy right here, right now – that we don’t need to go anywhere – we’ve already arrived.
- Re-evaluate from time to time. Things that don’t serve us can easily creep in and re-clutter our lives. Once in a while re-evaluate your spaces and re-declutter.
- Cater to your joy. Ultimately, your home is your castle and it should serve you. Be unyielding in your commitment to give space to (and therefore energy to) only the things that serve your highest good. The purpose of this space is to house the most important thing you’ll ever have: the love you share with your family and the moments of connection with them. Have your home be your servant in that goal, and don’t become a servant to your home.
What are your design tips for simple, minimalistic, joyful design? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.