Thursday, August 5, 2010

EMBRACE A SIMPLE HOME

If you want to live simply, don't try to fit your home life into a pre-molded floor plan - even the one that you now have as determined by your outside walls. Instead try to make sense of the way you want to live. Think outside the blueprint and search your heart to create the simple home that you’ve always longed to enjoy. A simplified home will allow you to focus on what's important and relax more when you need to with the added bonus of cleaning less and consuming less - what with lowered energy use and need for fewer material things. (And, as I keep harping in this blog, the best way to help our planet is by consuming less.)

You can begin your adventure of embracing a simple home by making a mission statement - a few lines of text that cover what's true about your home life and minus all that's false. You probably should pass on this statement of purpose to other members of your household to see if there's some basic agreement regarding a common mission. Reflect on how you truly live or hope to live in the not-so-distant future. Don't let other people's purposes or rules guide you choices. Don't try to plan for what your life may look like in 10 or more years.

Look for ideas to create a master plan for simplifying your home - in magazines, catalogues, on the Internet, and in showcases. Most people simplify by downsizing - choosing to live in a smaller space - and using that opportunity to find greater organization. You can easily make this choice the next time you move. But even if you plan to stay in the same house for several more years - or forever - there are ways to down-size and organize - by cleaning out and closing off rooms that serve little purpose for your current lifestyle. Remember a simple home includes only the basics and doesn't need part-time use rooms - like guest rooms and even a separate dining room or living room often is not necessary. Many times, outdoor spaces can be a good substitute for additional or little used rooms. (Putting the hype for McMansions aside, we often can fully live our home lives in one, two or three rooms and be just as well off or better when it comes to some really important things in our lives - like time for family, creature comfort, and spiritual growth.)

To create your simple home, assess your real needs and eliminate any excess. When you have a plan for the spaces you need for your lifestyle, then organize and declutter all areas. Minimize furnishings and decorative pieces in your plan. Use your walls wisely for extra vertical storage. Color can be part of a simple scheme - make use of it on walls, floors, curtains, cushions, etc.

As a place to start, here are the functions and basic spaces that just about all of us need:
- Calm place for individual relaxing, sleeping, meditation and prayer (bedrooms);
- Area for eating, preparing meals, and socializing (kitchen or great-room);
- Area for work at home, including office, laundry, gardening, and crafts (may be separate spaces or just  work areas in the already mentioned rooms).

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