of a truly merry Christmas.
Recently, I was going through Julia's room with her. (I think she likes the company + moral support.) She has repeatedly expressed the desire to have a more minimalist room...one without a lot of useless stuff in it. We go through her room regularly, but she felt like she still had more things than she needed. With visions of Bea + Scott's boys' adolescent bedrooms (pictured above) in her head, Julia was feeling motivated.
As Julia pulled out bins + boxes, there were so many little things that I recognized as gifts + stocking stuffers. These gifts became things she felt obligated to keep...even if she didn't need or use them. Julia recognized them as nice things...potentially useful things...but she just never used them.
As Julia agonized over each special book + pen, I thought about my role in this struggle. It can be hard to know what our children (or any of us really) will connect deeply with...so we gift a number of things in order to give them options.
I went through all the toys in my girls' rooms with them every few months even when they were toddlers in order to let them know that they didn't have to feel obligated to keep things (even the things I gave them). If I want them to keep some things, then I can take responsibility for keeping those things. Realizing that has, at times, allowed me to let go too.
Even with these realizations + actions, excess things remain. And stuff comes with responsibilities...which often translates to just plain burden. With a birthday close to Christmas, Julia has reminded me a few times that she really doesn't want any more stuff. She said it felt like waking up inside a cloud the morning after the big purge. I know how hard she worked to let things go, so I'm honoring her request.
My goal this season is the same as it has ever been...to not gift useless filler...because that is no gift at all.
Some ideas of what we'll be doing instead:
Inspiring photo via Zero Waste Home.
A kitchen containing only useful objects can be quite beautiful without any additional just- for-looks objects. Many of us, however, either intentionally or unintentionally end up with a few things in our kitchens that have no other function than to add some beauty. Raymond's mother's fork + spoon might just be the perfect example of this effort. It's also the perfect example of the fact that we just stop seeing decor after a while. :)
Things have been a little hectic around here the past couple of weeks. We thought that a cross country move might have to be made quickly, and I started to see our house through a prospective buyer's eyes. (yikes!) Nothing like trying to sell a house to help us see our familiar spaces with fresh perspective! Down came the pictures from the fridge...all the personal decor quickly became "excess".
These experiments with less are an exercise meant to help us step back + see with new eyes (no move necessary)...to explore a few unconventional ways of thinking...and to recognize "enough". They are not meant to convince us we have too much or to make us feel that we have to get rid of things...though that might happen. ;)
Let's do an experiment with less involving our kitchen decor this time. Ready? :)
Step 1 :: Let's get all of our kitchen decor into one place. Take each decorative thing off the wall, off the fridge, off the shelves, out of the cupboards + put it onto the table or the floor in one group.
It can be a little tricky to judge whether some things should be considered decor rather than useful items in the kitchen, because we like to use items that could be useful as decor here. I'd encourage seeing things as decor if they are not ever (or very rarely) used for their possible purposes. A collection of salt + pepper shakers is decor (minus the one set that is used for salt + pepper). Those two extra cutting/cheese boards leaning up against the backsplash are decor, if they've only been used once for that one party. Vases + candles are decor even though they have useful purposes.
Step 2 :: Take a look around your kitchen + take a little time to really "see" it in this "decor-less" state. How does it make you feel? There may be a combination of feelings. Can you quantify them? Maybe it feels 100% spacious + light...or maybe it feels 95% serene + calming + 5% clinical + impersonal. This recognition can guide us toward a more accurate "enough".
Step 3 :: Take a moment to think about how you'd like your kitchen to feel. Maybe even write these thoughts down. The process of writing can give us space + time to develop our feelings + thoughts a little bit more deeply. Words like "calm" or "warm" or "cozy" or "nurturing" or "vibrant" or "cheerful" might bring colors or textures to mind. Having words written down might help keep us on track later.
Step 4 :: Consider ways to express this feel in your kitchen. Before we consider our decor items, let's think about how the things already in our "decor-less" kitchens do or could contribute to that feeling.
If I wanted my kitchen to feel clean + serene, I might ensure that each + every thing has a place behind closed doors in a cupboard. A favorite herb might suffice as decor.
If I leaned toward warm + cozy, I might find that the warm colors of spices + bulk ingredients displayed in their glass jars on open shelving provided beautiful, useful decor. My wooden cutting board could stand on the counter at the ready. I might choose to display my wooden bowl, ceramic mugs + a stack of tea towels on open shelving as well.
Choosing basic, useful items that lend themselves to the feel we want in our kitchens may come naturally or it may take some extra intention. This is not an exercise meant to inspire shopping, but this recognition might help inform future tea towel (or other necessary) replacement acquisitions.
Step 5 :: Plan + implement intentional decor choices.
Clear the counters + find places for things...or...take the doors off of a cabinet in order to make room for display. (The doors can always be put back on.)
Step 6 :: Take a look at the collected decor. Be a curator.
This is an experiment, so maybe choose to live with a little less decor for a month.
If you'd like to display one beautiful piece of artwork on the fridge per child, choose a special magnet + let each child pick which one to display. Let them know that you love their artwork + if they want to display a new piece of art, it can replace this one.
You get to choose what you like to have in your kitchen. (You know...to a certain extent.) Every wall doesn't have to have a picture on it. Maybe live without one there for a while + observe how it feels. "Naked" might turn into "spacious" or "calm" in a week. Observe the feels.
Step 7 :: Set aside any extra decor pieces to reassess in a month.
Find our other experiments with less in the kitchen here: 01, 02, 03, 04 + 06.
I feel like I'm constantly walking the line between asking if we need more things + wanting to share a few "good" things. Obviously, we all need some things. Some of the things on offer from Wisdom Supply Co. surely qualify as good things...if one is in the market for such things. Less waste is a clear priority for Wisdom Supply Co. + for me too. :)
All lovely images via Wisdom Supply Co.
Just a little inspiration for simple, holiday decorating. Greenery + candles are simple + festive. I love using natural things that can composted (plants, paper + food) and useful things that can be found around the house (socks, candles, baskets + jars). It doesn't take a whole lot to make the season bright!
All lovely photos via links.
I like to see people wearing clothes in their everyday lives. I like it when brands are able to show their clothes mixed in with an existing wardrobe + on different bodies. This collection of images from Loup does just that. It shows women with lives, loves + personalities wearing clothes rather than making the clothes the focus. Lovely.
Loup makes clothes in a widening range of sizes in New York City.
All lovely images via Loup.
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time