February 11, 2013

Before & After Home Projects

First of all, welcome to new readers who came here from Apartment Therapy or Becoming Minimalist!

I haven't been very good at posting little changes to my home, so it's a good time to catch up!

I finally got some lamps for my living room (yay!). And right when I had decided on which ones I wanted at Ikea, I walked in there and grabbed this new Holmliden lamp instead:

$25 price tag including the shade? Sweet. I immediately imagined them painted a bright color, like these colored wire pics.

Little Green Notebook (LOVE that blog)

Fenton & Fenton (Cool, but $1500!)
Chair image found here, on a post about wirework in homes.

I still love yellow, so I went for it. I used Krylon spray paint for plastic and metal and it worked great. I know this lamp isn't everyone's cup of tea (including my husband's, haha, but he says he "can live with it"). I like the modern touch it adds to my living room, but I'm still deciding. They're sitting on the sideboard I painted last year.

A few months ago, I bought this chair from someone in my city for $10. The best part is that I carried it home strapped on top of my double stroller with my kids underneath. I totally felt like a crazy homeless lady, especially because I laughed to myself the whole way home.

It looks like I darkened the wood, but it's just the lighting. I did cut a new piece of wood for the chair seat before I upholstered it because it was one of those toilet seat style wood rings--not so comfortable. I use this chair when I sew, so I needed something good for sitting a long time.

My sister-in-law gave me some of her leftover fabric (thanks, Kristin!). I'd had my eye on this fabric, Premier Prints Barber Taupe, for a while and I kept wanting to use it somewhere.

I also switched lampshades on my little $14 Walmart jelly jar lamp. I never actually liked the pleated one, but I ignored it out of indecision. I pretty much put every home project off for a long time because I'm not sure what I want yet. Then I make an impulse decision anyway. It's kind of messed up, I know.

I got the new one at Walmart too for $5 and added a black ribbon along the top and bottom. It was a little hasty--not my best work.

What do you think? Especially about the yellow lamps? Do you like or dislike the wire style? Be honest--they're just lamps. They don't have feelings.

February 8, 2013

How I Live: Being a Minimalist (or Minimal-ish)

My favorite thing about reading blogs may be the chance to get insight into the way people live their every day lives. Bloggers are often more comfortable offering their philosophies, ideas, and achievements than people you talk to in person. While I'd love to get all my friends to sit down and share their life tips and suggestions, I'm afraid it would take a good deal of prying on my part to make that happen. So in the meantime, I let bloggers inspire me.

And now, I'm in the mood to share about how I live (whether you asked for it or not) . . .

via Megan Matsuoka on Etsy

I've been very into blogs about minimalism lately, like Becoming Minimalist, The Minimalistas, and others. I'm not so into minimalism in the strictest sense of having only the few items needed to live, but I'm a firm believer in keeping material belongings pared down to a comfortable, manageable amount. In fact, it makes life easier, less stressful, cleaner, and even seems to give you more hours in the day. That may seem like a lot to claim, but it's true for me and many others. Everyone who writes about minimalism shares their own revelations about the good it does in their lives. It's the kind of thing we all want to share because it can have such an impact on your well-being, especially if your home (or your life) feels cluttered and unmanageable.

Here are some rewards I reap from being minimal-ish:

1. My house is usually clean. Now, this doesn't mean I don't have toys strewn across the floor all day, or that my dishes and laundry don't frequently pile up. But it does mean that my house is pretty easy to clean. Even with my two little girls (3 and 1), it's not that hard to bring order back to my home because there's just not that much to pick up. I've also decided to avoid trinkets and lots of accessories in my decor, because I've noticed that they ONLY look attractive in homes that are always spotless (and bright, airy, stylish, usually child-free, and so on). Of course, it becomes tempting when you see pictures of these types of homes all over blogs and in magazines, but it's just not realistic unless your home fits the above criteria.

2. Less time spent cleaning means more time. More time with your family. More time on your hobbies. More time doing what you want. Also, without the clutter around, you can actually focus on your child/book/business, etc. Even breathing seems easier.

3. Buying less = saving money. When you start to view each unnecessary object brought into your house as an added burden, you find yourself not wanting more. It doesn't matter if something is on sale or even if it's free. If you don't truly need it or love it, there's no benefit. I used to take free things more readily because, hey, it was free. I've since been more careful about accepting things.

4. Selling stuff = earning money. Okay, obviously. But really, if you're in a situation where you have a lot of extra stuff going unused, you probably could swap that stuff for something more practical, like cash.

5. Learning to give frees me from material attachment. I've actually been surprised about the way my outlook has changed in this area. I used to hang onto stuff I didn't use much because I liked it and thought I would use it more some time. I suspect most people do. Lately, I've been experimenting with giving things away more freely. I've started to believe that if it doesn't pain me just a little when I go through stuff to give away, then I'm not doing it right. One day, my sister told me she loved the purse I was carrying. Without hesitating, I emptied my stuff out of it and gave it to her, because I simply didn't need it. I had other purses and I felt like she needed it more than I did. I wouldn't have been able to do that a few years ago.

6. I'm content with my life. I know it's human nature, and part of the pursuit of the "American Dream" to always want to move onward and upward, but it actually is a whole lot nicer to just be grateful for what you have. We're a one car family, but having one car is so much easier and cheaper than having two that it's worth the sacrifice for now. I live in a three bedroom condo with no yard or garage, and not a lot of storage, but I'm happy here.  I'm not nearly as impatient in a small space as I would be if my belongings were overflowing and my home felt cluttered. 

There's more I could add to this, but this is what I've experienced the most so far. Just in the past year, I've come to realize the way I feel about "stuff." It's been gradual, but I've come a long way from how I used to be. As a kid, I had a variety of useless collections, trinkets, and decor. My home is almost devoid of that kind of stuff now, and it definitely suits me and my family.

If this post has motivated you at all to look at your environment with a more critical eye, and maybe even give something away, then I'll consider that a success. Don't let your belongings intimidate you. Just take control and send them out the door. I promise you'll be glad!
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