I was rather impressed the other day when I went to an an apartment of a young lady who, although she has little money, had decorated it beautifully.
It was like a show home.
Because she does not have many things yet, the space looked wonderfully neat and free.
Now this is in stark contrast to our house where years and years of hoarding and keeping stuff "just in case" has led to us using a 3 bedroom house to serve just us two people. One bedroom for us, one for an office and one for a guest room.
The thing is, the guest room is used mainly for clothes storage. And I tend to do paperwork in the lounge where it's warmer and more social, so the "office" is just a dump for paperwork and other stuff we never use.
We had a good tidy up the other day, because we had a business meeting at our house. We removed quite a few pieces of furniture from the lounge so we could get the table away from the wall and the room looked great!
All this stuff had just sneaked in, under the radar, until we barely had room to live and breathe anymore.
This all reminds me of a TED talk I saw some time ago by Graham Hill about the box we all have somewhere at home. We've no idea what's in it. So it could be thrown away and we'd never miss it. But still we keep it!
He tells of how he designed his apartment to do everything he needed it to be in a minimal space and how he got rid of the stuff he'd accumulated. Less space, less stuff, less cost. Very entertaining and less than 6 minutes long........ Watch it here.
And I remember reading about Nancy Gowler who had no belongings apart from what she could carry on her back. Now she has a home and reflects on the stuff she's accumulating and how it makes her feel. She suggests that we tend to collect more stuff to somehow feel more secure, but that it is so much more freeing to have less.
I have a friend whose sister puts out just one ornament. Just one in the whole flat. Then, periodically, she puts it away and brings out another. That way she always notices and appreciates the one thing she has out in view. That's a little too minimalist for me, but I can appreciate the sentiment. The calm feeling that it must bring.
And then there's another friend whose daughter's house caught fire and they lost all their possessions. So horrendous at the time, but now they realise they prefer having so much less and they're keeping it simple.
In the past year I have sorted out and sold or dumped a lot of stuff I was holding on to. Like things people'd bought for me but I didn't really like (which I kept out of some sense of duty or something). Or stuff I'd bought myself and never used.
That was phase one and most of it's gone now. But there's still too much stuff here for me to properly relax. For that sense of calm I felt when I went into that young lady's flat the other day.
I'm not aiming for a stark, modern, minimalist look - I want comfort and natural materials like wood, stone and lots of plants. I want a place of beauty and serenity. A sanctuary. And I know, for me, less will most definitely be more.
So, a phase 2 sort is in order. This time it's going to be a "what do I have to keep, what do I really need?" sort. Quite ruthless. And yes, there may be some regrets later. But for the peace of mind it will give me all day, every day, it will be worth it.
Ron and I went for a walk yesterday and got caught in the rain. Drenched right through and in the middle of Winter! We ran to a farm and took shelter under a lean-to with a corrugated iron roof. It was nothing much, but it kept off the rain and the wind. And it was OK!
As we were waiting for the shower to ease off we talked about how this was really all we needed - shelter, some food and warm clothing. Even in the middle of winter we imagined we could have lived there. Very idealistic, of course, but you get the point. Why do we think we need all this stuff to survive nowadays?
One day, when we get out of rented and buy a place of our own, we will realise our dream of a beautiful, serene home filled with only the things we really need and have chosen ourselves, stored in optimised spaces.
That's the long term plan and I can't wait to get started.
In the meantime I've got a lot of sorting to do.....
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