Its funny how one seemingly small decision can greatly impact our lives.
While I’ve had some very significant ones in my life — such as getting married, graduating college, having my first child — a small decision that had a big impact on us as a family was the decision to simplify our lives.
We can clearly see a split of before and after we became minimalists. Some of the most obvious before and afters are how our home looked and functioned.
A few months before we came to that decision we purchased our first home. It was nearly twice as big as the small house we had been renting in which we had been really cramped.
I don’t remember getting rid of anything before we moved. We thought with the bigger home everything would be perfect, we would have plenty of space and could breathe. You can probably guess what happened, stuff.
Yes, as those boxes were unpacked the stuff spread and it spread and it spread. Since our HVAC went out a week after moving in, we really didn’t get the chance to buy new furniture or some of the items that had been on our list.
In hindsight, I’m thankful for that. The stuff was from our previous home and it just crowded out the joy, fun and space we were expecting to have in all this new room.
As I turned to Google, Pinterest and minimalist blogs for help, one thing my husband said struck a chord with me as he pleaded for us to get a handle on our stuff. He said he wanted one place he could be in that wasn’t a mess.
At the end of a day of work, or after the kids are in bed, or even with the kids, we crave a safe haven to escape to. We’ve allowed so much stuff into our homes that they are no longer our safe haven.
Maybe this is one of the reasons the amount of digital entertainment we take in is so shockingly high. We are looking for an escape from our own home, the one place we should be safe, comfortable, and at peace.
With that — and the wise words from various minimalist bloggers to focus on one area at a time — I decided to start in our living area. The effect was immediately life changing, and here’s what it looked like for us:
1. A safe haven. Our living area is the first thing you see when you come in. Walking into a calm, beautiful room immediately is so welcoming. Its also relieving after a rough day not to be greeted with cleaning tasks or unfinished projects. It gives you a place to immediately sit down and unwind from the day.
2. Easy to clean. By really being intentional and greatly reducing the items that belonged in this room it has become such a breeze to clean.
3. Welcoming to guests. Gone with the clutter are the chaotic cleanups when you get a five minute warning that some friends are coming over.
4. Creates a standard for the rest of your home. The results of simplifying this room, were so obvious and wonderful it only intensified our desire for the rest of our home to be the same.
5. A canvas for the family. When we get rid of the excess, it is easy for those who enter our home to take note of a few things that are important to us. While possessions are not what is important to us, the pictures of family, or unique travel finds speak of who we are and what we value. It also allows for all types of family time to easily take place, whether its movie night, a round of board games, crafts, or in our case, even an occasional indoor hockey match.
Ready to reclaim your living area? Here’s a few tips before you get started:
1. Remove everything. This is harder when dealing with an entire room. In our case, we had lived here a very short time, so it was good to see that empty room again and remember how much space the room has. This is also the time to follow the “Trash, Treasure, and Transfer” advice. Go through it all.
2. Only keep things that are useful, beautiful or meaningful. This seems easy enough, but can be difficult if you struggle with hanging on to things for sentiment. Not that some things shouldn’t be, but if your aunt gave you a trinket that is not your style, its ok to get rid of it. I’m giving you permission. And if you have ten throws and there are only three of you, you might consider eliminating a few of those.
3. Nothing on the floor but furniture legs. I used to be the queen of piles and I didn’t care to put them straight on the floor. Not so anymore! I love the ease of cleaning when there is NOTHING on the floor. It also makes it easy to see whats out of place, whether it be those socks the husband pulled off or a pile toys from the kids. If there’s nothing on the floor, those things can easily be caught because they don’t disappear into a sea of other things on the floor.
4. A place for everything and everything in its place. For things that do not belong in the living area, like toys, they are completely removed and if they make their way in during a day, the are sent back to their room at night. We have had toys or other items seemingly take up permanent residence because we had grown so accustomed to them sitting there.
Another way this applies, is for the very few things that do belong in the living area, they must have a home and be returned when you’re finished with them.
As with anything in life, there will be times when the day comes to a close and your living area is a mess. It’ then we realize our treasures are our relationships and the pursuit of our dreams. These are the reasons we simplify to begin with.