Simplifying our home

scalesI find it really interesting how people use the space in their houses, particularly blended families like us.  We have seven children and adults every second week, but every other week it is just my husband and I, rattling around in a very large home.

My husband has recently taken a break from work, and it got us thinking. We wanted to use the time to plan out a more simple home to meet our needs, as well as take care of a few renovation projects that were long overdue – our home is showing age and wear in a number of places (bit like me, really….)

To overcome the feeling of too much space every second week, and to create a cosy simple home, we are renovating our living area and kitchen to create a relaxed living space, that together with a our bedroom will be like a little one bedroom apartment. We have organised the zoning of the heating and cooling to move from large house to small apartment; and we are creating a family living area for the big house and a smaller cosy living area for just the two of us.

So with much excitement you can watch our progress over the coming months. We have started in the living area and have pulled up our slate floor, replacing it with a smaller space gas heater.

Here are some before and after photos:

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This was a rarely used area of our house that seemed to be the room for the front door! We have installed the fire and the television with a sound bar, to remove the need for a large stereo and cabinet. Work to date looks like this:

fire place

The fire is calming and relaxing. The set up will enable us to enjoy many warm nights by the fire and appreciate the space. And my husband as the head space to really think about each piece of the renovation plan, building and modifying the home to meet our needs.  It’s fascinating really – while we were both busy work with a crazy out of control life, the house was where we put our bags and keys and lay our heads at night.  Now, with only one of us working, it feels so luxurious to think about each individual room, it’s purpose, personality and to make our house a home.

Cosmetics shame and empties challenge

So we went to the States in 2013, the AUD was holding up strong and everything was cheap including make-up and I wasn’t considering minimalism back then.

Oh and I am a GWP junkie. At least I was. A Gift With Purchase offer would have me hovering over a David Jones counter, pronto.

Consequently, in a small cupboard in my bathroom, I confronted a shameful fact today:

  1. I have 23 lipsticks
  2. I have over 50 containers (small/medium/large) of various moisturisers, creams, body lotions, shampoos and conditioners, facemasks, exfoliates, toner, makeup remover AND THEY ARE MY SPARE ONES.

It’s funny – simple living and paring back to the essentials is a process and not a project. Six months ago, I would have been proud of myself that I had organised them into neat little zip lock bags into their little categories.

Now, six months on, I am looking at them in horror. So much consumption. No end in sight in terms of getting to the bottom of the storage bin and just having one of everything, like a real minimalist.

Possibly, if I was hard core, I would think about donating them just to clear my clutter immediately. But I’m not hard core. I know I will use these products at some point in the very near future. So I have set myself an empties challenge. The challenge is:

No more makeup or moisturisers until all of the little bottles are used. I am going to set up a little bucket in my wardrobe to put the empties in, to remind myself of the challenge, and I will post on progress.

Here is some shameful before evidence:

all lipsticks

hair products

What is your shameful hoarding secret? (PS I’m sure I will continue to horrify myself as my expectations are reset with this simple living process).

If not consumerism, then what? Post minimalism

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I love the serendipitous way that youtuber or a blogger can post exactly what you need to read/hear at precisely the right time.

It happened last week. Light by Coco posted a youtube video on discovering who are you are post minimalism. If you are not shopping, caring for your things and maintaining your things, and you have done the big clear out, then what do you actually do with all of that down time?

This is exactly what is happening to me right now and its both terrifying and exciting all at once.

Once upon a time, I was a kid who loved music and dreamed of a big job with a big pay. The dream came true, but on the way to a big job with big pay, I lost my music. I became a mother and a professional and a consumer. A consumer who thought that if only I had a ….(insert latest tech gadget, kitchen appliance, item of clothing, bag, house) then things would be better. I would be happier.

Of course on the path to minimalism, I realised that while constantly seeking out, wanting more and living in the future, I was letting my actual life pass me by. I was not paying enough attention to my childrens’ lives. I had neglected my passions.

Yesterday my husband and I had a bit of time to kill in between purchasing some groceries and going to a movie. We wandered around the shops and purchased nothing. Absolutely nothing. Both of us discussed how we are far less inclined to want anything from the shops any more. The mere activity that I once longed for and craved felt empty and misleading.

I’ve also worked out some new work arrangements to reduce workplace pressure.

OK so I am here now. In the middle. In between not wanting to consume, not wanting to indulge, to live simply and appreciate what I have. Work will be less stressful. I get up in the mornings on weekends now and my household jobs don’t take long. I exercise and that’s one hour. I spend a little bit of time in the garden, tending to my veggies and watching their progress. And then there is….

Not much.

So the next couple of months will be about a journey to discovering what else is out there. I will explore and only truly look for those things that I am passionate about. I’ve reduced the meaningless activity out of my life and I don’t want to replace it with new meaningless activity.

Step 1: I’m going to learn to do something new that is consistent with my new slow lifestyle. Not sure what yet – permaculture maybe, or furniture restoration.

Step 2: I am going to reconnect with food. For a long time I have just been going through the motions with food, just cooking what I need to, repeating the same old same old recipes. Food is boring now. So to reconnect, I am going to go through each of my recipe books and cook from them systematically. A qualifier is that the recipes will need to be wholesome and simple – with few exotic ingredients.

What have you done post a consumeristic lifestyle? What has helped you make the transition from consumer to slow?