16 August 2011

On a Quest to Simplify - Mission: Simple Home

This is guest post by Cari of CoquetteBath. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

At the outset, let me state that I do love beautiful things. My only requirement is that they be, for the most part, useful. I'm not into what my mother always termed 'dust collectors' but even so, after more than 50 years on this planet, I have accumulated more than my fair share of gadgets, gizmos and other wonderful things that are just... being honest... clogging up my world.

Stuff is nice. I like stuff, but I have found that I've too much. When you have to buy organizers for your organizers... well I'd say that it is time to take a deeper look at the issue.

Photo: shaza sha

The challenge 
My main problem, if you can call it that, is that I'm a creative. If you are one, too, then you know what I mean. It seems ridiculous to toss a perfectly fine piece of ribbon (that could be a bow for a package or a small child). Or to consign to the landfill a piece of wood that could repair a window sill or become a nice shelf. And you know what? I won't part from items like that. But what I have had to look at, because I do value conservancy, is whether or not the other stuff - the papers, the clippings, the chaff - really needs to be part of my world.

And for much of it, well, it doesn't.
I live in a nicely sized house. I have 2 kids, and each has a pet. We're comfortable and not too crowded, except by furniture. So lately, I've been going through rooms and pulling out furniture pieces. Yes, I probably could sell them, but I've decided to donate them to charity. I'll get more usable space in my house and I'll also help those less fortunate, a true win-win.

Going soon: a bookcase/entertainment unit. A lone chair from a now donated dining table. A china cabinet (that is just too huge), an antique bit of furniture that was designed to be a 'bar' (for lack of a better word) with space for an ice bucket. A desk (a very very large desk) and a few assorted other bits and pieces.

Already the rooms where they were situated seem much larger. I have also taken the time to repaint the walls a light turquoise color. It looks lovely here.

Deciding what you want
Simplification is, to me, the process of deciding. Deciding what you want. Deciding what you need. And deciding what you must have to have the type of life you want. For my daughter, getting rid of the china cabinet is no problem. But my intention of getting a new one, albeit a smaller one, doesn't seem right to her. Well, I love stuff (as already mentioned) and my grandmother's china from the early 1900's is in the cabinet. Along with stuff I do not need (and probably will donate, too) and I want to showcase it. Not only for the link to my ancestors, but also because--well--the china is absolutely freaking gorgeous! And while not absolutely necessary, beauty is important. And showcasing that which makes you smile is always a very good thing.

What we need and what we want, though, are often very different. And most of us, I'll warrant, are able to have both of them. The problem arises when you make too many things as 'necessary' and then want to stuff in the 'wants' on top of it. Then your world gets to crammed closets, boxes under the bed, and worse... a rental storage facility apart from home. Just to store stuff that you do not use. And probably do not need.

Photo: kanelstrand

Here's what I have done, and maybe it will be something that will work for you, too. Go through a room and ask yourself a question:

What do I do in this room?  
If you sleep, then you need a good bed. Probably a table for a lamp and a clock. You may need a spot to store your clothes. You do not need a large piece of exercise equipment that is masquerading as a clothes hanger. You do not need bins and boxes of out of season clothing. If you haven't worn it in 2 years or if you do not really love it, then please donate to less fortunate.

If the room is for eating, well you need a good table and chairs. That's all. Hutch, buffet, china cabinet, etc are all extra 'wants'. If you watch television, work on the computer, do crafts, etc the needs for that room will change. Each time see what you really need and go from there.

After the needs are accomplished, then pick one want per room, if you have space. For my dining space, as already mentioned: china cabinet. For my bedroom, I put in a table (that I built!) for makeup with a wee chair bought from IKEA.

Always make sure to use color that makes you happy. Color/paint is a fabulous way to liven up a space. No money for the paint? Check your home improvement store. Around here, I can get 'oops' paint (where the tint wasn't perfect for the previous customer) marked down to less than 20% of the original price. That's right, a $35 gallon of paint for less than $8 usually.

Photo: another.point.in.time

Simplification can be a bit heart wrenching. I mean, you love those cute little gizmos and things, don't you? But really, will you miss them? I bet you won't. And if you're struggling, get a large box and put them IN the box and put the box elsewhere for a few days or weeks. Still miss them? Well, figure a way to use them. Don't miss them really? Ahhhh, now they're boxed for giving away, so do it.

You might want to read the other posts in the series On a Quest to Simplify:
Wishing you all the best in making your space simple, efficient, warm and cozy... just like you. 

Cari owns Coquette Bath & Home™ and makes fabulous bath and body products (plus the most deliciously scented candles, wax melts and more). She sells on Etsy and Artfire, but you can also visit her main site www.coquettebath.com. And, if you do shop with her, drop her a note and say that you've read this post. She will put something special in the mail with your order!