My Closet

Before
After

I paid to have this monstrosity installed to make the most of the space AND I like the look of it. I haven’t hung the doors back up, all the better for you to see the details. I will probably buy a different shape of clothing hamper when this one wears out. And I may, at some point, put a mirror where the artwork is. But for now, I need the inspiration of this particular photo.

The Universe is infinite, the fences are man made.

I may or not put the doors back up.

Winter

Photo by Wes Hicks via Unsplash

It is cold and the light is dim. Everything in my body is saying snuggle under the blanket and rest.

Our culture is telling me to get up and be productive. Get things done. Don’t miss out. Be grateful for the snow and biting temperatures. Learn to ski or ice skate!

I am grateful for winter. I love the stark beauty of the naked trees and grey landscape. I look to nature for the lesson of lying fallow to enrich the earth and decreased activity when conditions are harsh.

We are a “doing culture” but winter reminds me of the magic and strength of being. I will rest. Spring will be here soon enough.

A Minimalist Bedroom

My bedroom

I have been a minimalist for about 25 years and I enjoy interior design. So I play around with what I own and how I set it about more than most people. Here is how my bedroom is minimalist (and why) and how it is not.

First off, this is the smaller of the two bedrooms in the condo. This room is half the size of the other and the closet is half the size as well. I do get the bigger bathroom. Since I have just a few things to put here to be comfortable, it makes sense. Versus taking the bigger room because I am “the elder,” “the owner,” “the parent” or some other ego driven reason. Beloved son has a bed the same size as mine, plus a folding table that houses his programing computer and the guinea pig’s cage. He has a dresser, 2 guitars, and electric bass and a keyboard, plus a bunch of recording equipment. He needs more space than I do.

You might notice that there are only two pillows on the bed. While I can appreciate the look of a bed piled high with coordinating pillows, I do not have interest in moving them about to make room for me to sleep. And then, where would I put them? Toss them on the floor? Buy a bench to carefully stack them at bedtime? Decorative bed pillows are an unnecessary aggravation and I eschew them. While two pillows may seem excessive when I only use one while sleeping, I do use the second one when I am reading in bed.

I have owned this bed for over 10 years and I find it really comfortable. It has never had a headboard and that has allowed for some creative expression over the years. For many years, I had it under a set of windows and loved having the light flooding the room wake me.

The sconces (two of them!) are from Lamps Plus. They are fixed to the wall, but plug into an outlet, so do not require an electrician. Also, the bulbs are LED.

The tiny round thing on the window ledge is an alarm clock. I don’t use it most days, but handy for when I need one.

The stool gets used for putting on socks and shoes and holding the comforter when I am washing the sheets. It is not necessary, but I love the sculptural look of it and it is easily moved to the living area for extra seating.

Before photo, from a very blurry, slightly different angle.

Living Room: North Wall

Before
After
Before the basket’s surgery

Here you can see that the cloth basket was a bit too tall for the snake plant. I found the basket on sale for $10 and figured that I could just trim it to fit.

Close up of His Royal Highness

He is smiling in his new home! Just like me.

Nook by Kitchen

Before: there is room for a small table and chairs. The previous owners had shelving along the beige wall.

I mentioned previously that the kitchen is small, with little storage. I was able to get all my dishes and pots stored there and have been keeping pantry items in the linen closet down the hall. It is a small condo, a short walk down the hall, so this solution was not burdensome. However, I had a vision for a gallery wall.

The cabinet is a configuration of the IKEA Besta shelving. The lichen photo is by my daughter. The acrylic paining is by Joan Milburn. The fish fossil (painted by an unknown artist) was a barter with the previous building manager and the lamp is from Target.

Don’t expect this space to look like this indefinitely. I will change it up on a whim. I have learned that my eye stops “seeing” art if it stays in one place for too long. Changing components here will be a source of play for me.

Still plenty of space, if needed.

Creating New Circumstances

Photo by Max Kleinen of Unsplash
  • Nature abhors a vacuum. If you suck all the air out of your vacuum sealer bag to store your out-of-season clothing and guest pillows and there is a tiny hole, the air will come back in.
  • Air and fluid flow is diverted or obstructed by objects in its path. Think rocks in a stream, a dam or the jet stream encountering a mountain range.
  • Powerful magnets can be created by wrapping wire around a magnetic core (like iron) and running a current through the wire.

I like to consider these behaviors of the material world when I am making changes to improve my life. I find it is far less work to use the properties of nature than to resist them.

Here is how I put these elements into action:

1) Creating a strong magnet: I need to get clear on what I DO want. If I am vague [I would like to have more fun] but am not real certain of what I find fun these days, that is a weak magnet. If, after reflection, I determine that having a dog to play with in the park would make me happy, then the next action steps are easier to take.

2) Creating a vacuum: Working overtime at my job and the housework to care for my large home are making me too tired to take care of a puppy. I can reduce my work hours or get help with the housework or move to a smaller home. I could quit work, move into a van with my dog and live in a park.

3) Decluttering: Sometimes the obstacles are obvious from the beginning. Sometimes they are not visible until later. Think about not being able to see the magnetic fields until the metal filings are added, revealing the patterns. My new dog needs food and vet services, an added cost. But I have lost weight with all the extra walking, so I cancel my gym membership and Nutrisystem deliveries.

Using these three tools in concert is a powerful change agent. Whether you are seeking big changes in your life, or just wanting to tweak some improvements, keeping these principles in mind will make it less work.

How do you use these principles when creating change?

Reading Nook

Reading Nook: after (there is no “before” shot)

I imagine that it feels like slow-dripping-faucet torture regarding the pace of how I’m posting these reveals. Please know that I am putting these up as soon as the shot is completed.

The staging of this shot required 1) chair and throw and purple book brought over from apartment 2) top two books, lemon drops and middle art piece were all Christmas gifts this year and 3) I loved the art piece so much I went to the artist’s Etsy site (JoanMakesArt) and bought 3 more pieces, two of which you see here.

The art did not arrive until early this week. The frames are from IKEA, as is the lamp.

Plan for next week: the east wall. I have all the components for the sideboard to assemble and all the art stacked in my bedroom, ready to hang. What could go wrong?

Condo Kitchen

Before
Another before

You can see clearly the popular “aughts” color scheme of beige and deep red.

After

Here is the kitchen after a fresh coat of white paint and a couple new bar stools.

Still working my way around the condo and painting and decorating as I go. More next week.

First Photos of Condo

Before
After

This is a view towards the living room French door/balcony from the kitchen.

What is new: fresh coat of paint (Benjamin Moore White Opulence), flooring and privacy film on the windows. The privacy film is my favorite element in this room because it creates this celestial glow, even at night due to the cities’ light pollution.

The furniture and plant were brought from the apartment.

I love that the privacy film solved three separate design problems. These windows face west and there is a terrific amount of solar gain that was overwhelming the HVAC system until the outside temps dropped below 30 degrees F.

As you can see from the before photo, the view is of a parking lot and the neighbors back decks. While one or two neighbors were interesting to watch as they smoked or took phone calls on their porches, the entertainment value did not compensate for the dreary view.

Finally the windows and door are in a foot wide push out of the room. To hang draperies meant cutting that space off of a already long and narrow room.

I’m still painting and moving the furniture around, but am eager to show you all more.

New Home

photo by Harmen Jelle van Mourik via Unsplash

As a life-long minimalist, when life felt overwhelming, I would declutter my objects or my calendar to bring about more balance in my experience. Our culture is one of excess and overconsumption and I found that regular, judicious editing made life more joyful and manageable.

Four years ago, I sold the home that I had raised my children in. I was planning to travel and write in my retirement. God laughed at those plans and I have spent the past four years as caregiver to two family members. I have also moved five times.

As a minimalist, my identity is not tied to the objects I use and own. But in each of the five new spaces I have lived in these past four years, I have done what I could to make the space more functional and beautiful. Solely because it makes me happy to live in a simple and serene space.

Recently, I have felt a strong desire to create a more permanent home, a sanctuary space for myself and my son. I have bought a condo in a beautiful area of the city. It is near public transportation, shops and Forest Park.

I have not given up on my dream of creating a net-zero energy use home, but we will live here while I marshal the resources to create that dream. In the meantime, look to this space for the journey of creating a beautiful and calm space in the new home.