Category Archives: Style

Can You Own a Birkin Bag and Still Be a Minimalist?

{ via SubjectArt }

{ via SubjectArt }

 

This is a post from guest contributor Vanessa Salas of Shed Mom. Enjoy, and learn more about Van at the end of this post.

 

“That’s the thing about needs. Sometimes when you get them met, you don’t need them anymore.”

– Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City

When I first heard about minimalism, I immediately rejected it. The root word is partly to blame: minimal. It gives the impression of having to endure scarcity to the point of deprivation.

Nobody likes feeling deprived. I know I don’t. And it’s certainly not the reason why I’ve become a minimalist.

If it were only all about organizing, spending less money, de-cluttering, or removing objects for the sake of simply owning less stuff, I would never have considered adopting this lifestyle

What made me take a second look is a shift in focus that has allowed me to take pleasure in the things I already have or want to buy.

In an alternate universe, I’d be a proud owner of a $10,000.00 Hermes Birkin bag. Applying a minimalistic view point means that I’d allow myself to be awed by its exquisite craftsmanship, and appreciate the painstaking hours it took to hand-stitch such an magnificent object. If I’ve had to be on the waiting list for years before acquiring this thing of beauty, I’d treat my eagerly-awaited acquisition as a reward for my patience. It is a tangible reminder of how far I would’ve arrived in the eyes of the world.

Imagine yourself in my make-believe Louboutins. If you have a bunch of other stuff lying around, filling up your home, adding to the clutter, how can you value your Birkin when it is surrounded by other things that are vying for your attention, removing your awareness from this object that you adore so much?

The point is to remove all the extraneous stuff so that you can have the space – literally and figuratively – to focus all of your energy on the things that you value the most. 

There’s nothing minimal about this shift. It’s simple, it’s small, but it makes a world of difference. It has the capacity to encourage an expansion, not a contraction, of how you view your surroundings.

This ‘expansion’ inspires you to become more mindful of your acquisitions. You stop moving on auto pilot. You begin to question the endless cycle of consumerism and the value of acquiring more. Are you buying this because it’s what everyone else says you should buy, to fit a certain image? Or are you buying it because it is something you genuinely like, for reasons you’ve figured out for yourself?

After the initial rush of acquiring a much-coveted object fades, being mindful gives you a sense of clarity that will change your perception about stuff. It has a domino effect that extends to other areas of your life. You may find yourself moving on to other things. Things that probably matter more.

Like family. Or relationships. Leaving a legacy. Creating instead of consuming. Staying healthy and alert. Volunteering your time to worthy causes. Or other decidedly less materialistic things.

At some point you might feel the need to voluntarily give up all your other stuff. Even the Hermes Birkin bag / flat-screen TV / whatever item you initially thought you couldn’t live without.

The aim of minimalism is not to leave you wanting, but to remove the clutter that serve as distractions. By doing so, you take stock of what your real priorities are and focus on it to the exclusion of everything else. It allows for a singularity of purpose that frees you from the mindless cycle of consumerism you’ve either knowingly or unconsciously become accustomed to.

You can call yourself a minimalist and still derive pleasure from your most prized possessions. You’re actually encouraged to do so. That doesn’t mean you can’t lead a simpler, more mindful life. The key is in really enjoying and making the most of what you already have without succumbing to the pitfalls of needless excess.

Vanessa is a former corporate trainer in the financial services industry. She is now a full time homemaker, freelance writer, and aspiring minimalist. In shedmom.com, she writes about creating space for what matters most. Find her on twitter @vansalas.

Room Service: Creating a Simple Bedroom

Create a Slow, Simple Bedroom #simpleliving

I’ve stayed in some pretty terrible accommodation over the years.

There was the blood-spotted linen of a bedbug-infested hostel in Rome. The Thai bungalow where our toilet emptied directly onto the ground below the bed. Not to mention the leaky Dodge van named Esme that we slept in for a month in the Floridian summer. Rancid pillows. Mouldy floors. Amorous hostel room-mates. You name it, we’ve seen it. And I haven’t regretted a moment.

Despite the potential pitfalls, people (myself definitely included) still love a getaway. So what makes a night or two in a hotel – a decent, non-bedbug-infested one – such an appealing prospect?

Is it the fact that it’s a break? A little luxury? An escape?

Or is it the fact that a hotel room has:

  • clutter-free surfaces – an alarm clock, a phone, a magazine or two
  • minimal decor – a print or two on the wall and some cushions on the bed
  • everything in its place – even the dinky little mini-kettle
  • storage space – luggage, clothes, toiletries, they all have a spot
  • somewhere to sit and read – other than the bed

The drawcard is probably a combination of the two factors. Yes, it’s a getaway, but it also means we’re entering a space of relative calm, order and peace.

It’s this feeling of calm, order and peace that we need to create in our own homes. Particularly our bedrooms – the supposed haven of the home.

Because, let’s face it, a hotel room is an escape, but it’s also likely to be undistinguishable from hundreds of others, uniformly dull and devoid of life. You wouldn’t want to sleep in one for ever.

 

Your Home is Better Than a Hotel

Your home is better than a hotel, because you can have all these things – the clear surfaces, minimal decor, a place for everything, adequate storage – with added benefits.

In your bedroom in your home, you can:

How to Create a Simple, Slow Bedroom

1. Declutter.

Again with the decluttering? Yes! It’s the single best way to promote calm, clear out dust and give a breath of fresh air.

2. Go Small

The smaller the space, the better your chances of really simplifying. If you have a large bedroom with tonnes of furniture, shelving and wardrobe space, you’re simply likely to fill it with stuff.

If your bedroom is large, consider moving to a smaller room or designating half the space for chilling out. No furniture aside from a couch or chair to encourage reading, quiet time or early-morning meditation.

3. Get Rid of the Gadgets

No TV, no phones, no laptops and no smartphones. No kidding. (I am guilty of the phone-next-to-the-bed sin. But I certainly sleep better and drift off faster with some tech-free time before bed.)

4. Light and Airy

You want good natural light, fresh air, effective window coverings that keep the room private but allow the daylight in, as well a lamp next to the bed. Reading, dressing, loving – you want the room to be comfortable for all its intended purposes.

5. Somewhere to Sit (Other than the bed.)

Aside from the bed, nightstand and wardrobe, the only other furniture to consider is a small bench or chair.

A bench at the end of the bed is a great option as it gives you somewhere to sit while putting on your shoes and somewhere to lay out clothes for the next day. Avoid using it as a dumping ground for laundry, dirty clothes and handbags – this will just return the clutter you’re trying to clear out. And if you don’t think you can avoid that, then consider a small chair instead.

 

An occasional weekend away is a delightful thing, but you may find that your stress levels subside, your sleep quality improves and your need to ‘escape’ lessens if you’re able to create a simple, slow bedroom at home.

Do you think a bedroom haven would help alleviate stress in your life? Or would you still take the weekend away? 

xx

 

Images via: Downtown Hotel, Mexico | Planete-Deco | 79 Ideas

Declutter: Tackling your Wardrobes

Hands up who has too many clothes?

Hands up who has at least one thing in their wardrobe that fits poorly?

That makes you feel less than great? You put it on, wear it around the house and then change it for something else before leaving? (My hands are firmly up for that one.)

As part of the 2012 in 2012 Challenge, I spent a few good hours over the weekend elbow deep in clothes. I tackled the kids wardrobes a few weeks ago, and this time it was mine and Sparky’s turn.

I felt kilograms lighter when we’d finished. Our wardrobes look attractively organised. I can see what clothes I own. And almost everything that hangs in there is something I would happily wear out of the house, because it all makes me feel good.

To get to this point you can follow these steps:

  • clear your bed of any clutter or mess – this will be your workspace
  • pull out everything from your wardrobe, section by section Eg. Start with all the hanging clothes first then work your way through your drawers, accessories and shoes. Pull them out and lay them on your bed, only moving on once you’ve completely dealt with the previous section
  • set up two plastic bags/boxes – one is for donation and one is for things to throw away
  • pick up each piece of clothing and ask yourself:

      • Have I worn this in the last year?
      • Is it in good condition? If not, do I love it enough to have it repaired?
      • Do I feel good wearing this?
      • Does it fit me well?
      • Is there a good reason to keep it?
  • don’t put the item down until you have decided where it goes. If you decide to keep it, then return it to the correct spot in your wardrobe, otherwise put it in your donate or throw away bag.
  • if you’re really torn, you can add things to a third box, which is your keep it…for now box. Put the box away for six months (put a reminder on your phone or in your diary) and if there’s nothing you need/want in it over that time, you can safely donate everything in there, without even opening it.

Once you’ve finished going through your clothes, accessories and shoes, you can quickly look over your “keep it…for now” pile and weed out anything you’ve kept in a weak moment. I find that once I’m in the zone, decisions come much more easily.

Something to keep in mind about simplifying your wardrobe…

Doing this is a pain in the butt. You will feel infinitely better after you’ve finished, but seriously…

You’d prefer to be sitting in a hammock reading a book, wouldn’t you?

So keep that in mind when you next go shopping. You may see $3 T-shirts in all the colours of the rainbow, or cheap jeans or black sandals – whatever. But do you want to be sorting through them in three months time, thinking, “You know, I just would have preferred to keep the $3. This T-shirt sucks,” as you toss it in the donate pile?

Simplifying, decluttering and living with less isn’t about being plain or boring. It’s about enjoying what we do have by weeding out those things we don’t care for. All they do is dilute our happiness, clutter our homes and complicate our lives.

So when faced with a bargain, or a coupon for buy one get one free – whatever – just ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”

That one question, answered honestly, should mean less shopping – saving you time and money.
It should help you decide to buy less, but the best quality you can afford – saving you time.
It should mean that your quality clothes last longer – saving you time and money.
Which means less shopping – saving you time and money.

Which means more hammock time.

Organise Your Home: Get a Calendar

{via design*sponge}

Getting organised is a key part of creating a slow home.

You know that feeling when you have everything sorted, you know what’s happening tomorrow, you’re packed and prepared, your budget’s up to date, you’re just generally rocking life? Yeah, that. That’s what I’m aiming to have going on in our home.

In light of that I have been searching for the right type of wall calendar for weeks. I need one that is attractive, preferably handmade and most importantly, has enough room to write events or reminders next to each date. I don’t want anything overly complicated, but to be able to glance at the calender and immediately know what’s coming up this week, or this month, will help with budgeting, scheduling, meal planning etc.

I was beginning to think that all the calendar designers on Etsy had lost their minds, because there are so many beautiful calendars out there that are so not functional. Do you think I could find one that suited my needs? Not until I spied this pretty one on design*sponge a few weeks ago.

{via design*sponge}

{via design*sponge}

It’s from Amy Marcella and you can buy it from her Etsy store. Which is exactly what I’ve just done!

Now here’s hoping we get our shelf desk up this weekend, so I can get organised and get this beauty on the wall. ASAP.

Happy weekending, friends!! xx

An Extra-Special Handcrafted Gift

So I took a few extra days over the long weekend to catch up after a ridiculously busy few weeks. And let me tell you, serious lounge + blanket time was just the cure for my weary bones.

Sparky’s 30th party was a fun, enormous, crazy success. And I judge the success of a party on the following criteria:

  • divets in the floorboards from dancing? CHECK
  • blue face paint everywhere? CHECK
  • Chewbacca fur in our bed? CHECK
  • two days to clean up the house? CHECK
  • dancing-induced feet injuries? CHECK

It was a good’un.

And in keeping with my handmade/homemade/vintage/recycled gift challenge this year, the kids and I gifted Sparky with this incredible handmade (locally made!) dining table. It was crafted from 100-year-old oregon timbers that were found in a Masonic hall on the South Coast.

A dining table represents so much of where we are heading together – family, good friends, entertaining, laughter, memory-making, great food – and this piece is certain to remain in our home for a very, very long time. It’s heirloom furniture, and we love it.

And on that note, it is the weekend again! Off to celebrate Sparky’s (actual) birthday with sparkling burgundy, dinner with the in-laws and tapas tomorrow night!

Life is, indeed, spectacular!

 

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – STEVE JOBS.

 

 

 

 

 

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