Sunday, September 23, 2012

Practicing Simplicity in Our Humble Abode.

Some fish grow to the size of their tank. In a goldfish bowl, they remain petite; in an aquarium, their length stretches to take up more ripples of the vacant water.

I've noticed that humans are similar. In close quarters, we limit our possessions, ration space. We utilize organization and practice simplicity. In larger spaces, we fill corners with custom furniture, pack closets with old items that we replace with new ones, litter spacious shelves with trinkets we can't remember buying.

Philosopher/author Kahlil Gibran asks in "The Prophet" (I highly recommend), "What have you in these houses? What is it that you guard with fastened doors?"

"Have you, that leads the heart from things of wood and stone, to the holy mountain?"

"Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort; which enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host, then a master?"

Not only do we humans tend to fill our houses with stuff, but we often OVER-fill them. A statistic from 2005 says one in 11 American households own self-storage space (the industry out-earns Hollywood).

When I got divorced and moved in with Chris, I jettisoned boxes and boxes of stuff I used to think I needed. It took a lot of practiced detachment to part with not only meaningless Home Goods decor, but also mementos and old homework projects that I realized no longer served me. When we were looking for our first apartment, we settled on a 900 square-foot place that had barely had enough space to fit our bare-bones belongings; exactly what we were going for.

We started talking about buying a house. We applied for a loan. We were approved for enough to buy a sizable house in a decent neighborhood. But we reasoned that just because we could, doesn't mean we should. We started looking in a price range at least $60,000 less than our approved amount, which meant fewer square feet. And soon, our house found us.

Our new home inspires us to live simply.
Again, just enough room for our belongings. There's a space for everything. Like, even though the washer/dryer is technically in the dining room, it fits. We use virtually every square foot. It all has a purpose. Even the empty wall space, we put to use with shelves. And we've been diligent in not buying furniture and decor that we don't really need.

Mr. Jones utilizing the 'dining room' table, which sits near the w/d nook.
For example, we wanted to get a bar for the house, but after seeing prices upwards of $500, we decided to take shelves we already had (that typically hang in the living room), and hang them over our waste-sorting corner for a free, instant booze display.

Every inch of our little bathroom is an opportunity for efficiency.

In our old homes, my new husband and I let whole rooms go to waste. Here, in our cozy house, we find ourselves using even the chaise lounge in our reading nook, and sitting at our dining room table. And the space holds this circuit-like energy that makes every area feel connected to the other.

The reading nook, not so far from the couch. Both areas see frequent use.
We both have grown to appreciate Khalil Gibran's message, that a house can become "a tomb" of possessions, or be a simple space made beautiful by memories, peace and love.

Just some more photos:

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