My philosophy and style for home and life is Essentialism. It's based on the principles in the eye-opening book, Essentialism, by Greg McKeown, that helped change the way I do things at work and in my calendar. And so I adopted the strategies for home as well.
I've always been a simplifier, but I'm not a minimalist - I like the comforts of collections, rugs and pillows, books and plants too much to join the minimalist camp. I admire the principles of minimalism - to own less in order to gain the freedom to do more of the important things in life - but I think sometimes it can become an obsession in and of itself. You can read more about why I'm not a minimalist in this post.
Essentialism appeals to my sense of simplicity + comfort + functionality. Essentialism applied at home is the art of discerning between external (how your home looks) and internal (how your home makes you feel). Your home should always make you feel comforted and supported and at your best!
Being an essentialist means understanding your values, your dreams, your goals, and then making sure that the essentials of your life - the time you spend, the people you spend it with, and the places you spend it in - are essential to realizing those dreams and goals. If they're not, it's time to give them up.
Essentialism and simplicity are what I teach in my courses and in my design coaching work with clients, and it can mean everything from decluttering to making your home and habits more efficient to surrounding yourself with the things that will help you thrive and become your best self.
For my own life, that's committing to a healthy lifestyle, expressing creativity, and spreading peaceful happiness to others as my way of contributing to the world. To be successful in these things, it's helpful to be in a home that encourages mindfulness, serenity, cooking, meditating, reading, writing, and entertaining.
And so all of the stuff that I've accumulated over the years that doesn't lend to these things has gone to the donation bin. I keep things comfortably edited to only the artwork that makes me smile, the lamps and comfy chairs that beckon me to curl up and read at night, the kitchen tools that make it easier for me to cook a healthy supper instead of eating out. I arrange my office for the best possible flow of work - both a sitting and standing desk and room to spread out my colour chips and fabric samples. I set up my entryway so that everything is easy for me to get out the door and start the day on a positive note. These are the essential things that keep me focused on being my best self. Making them work beautifully in my home is the secondary task - still an important one in making me feel great, but secondary after function and essentials.
So how can you create an Essentialist home?
Design it with your goal life in mind. Figure out the things you need help with - perhaps it's exercising regularly, socializing & entertaining more, or leaving work behind and unwinding at night. Then set your home up so that you can more easily do these things. Perhaps that means getting rid of the spare bed in an undersued bedroom in favour of creating an exercise space. Maybe it's rearranging your living room to encourage conversation, not TV watching. Or carving out a corner to set up a meditation and journaling spot that's all your own.
Design your home for function, ease and efficiency, then layer in comforts and beauty, and be careful not to add so much that it distracts you from your essential purpose and goals. As McKeown says “Our whole society has become consumed by the undisciplined pursuit of more. The only way to overcome this problem is to change the way we think—adopt the mindset of only doing the things that are essential—and do it now.”
Practical ideas to get you started:
1. Get rid of any clutter laying around where it doesn't belong. Everything should have a home where you can easily find it. If it doesn't have a home, maybe you don't really need it.
2. Is there space in your home? On your walls? Don't fill up every single space. Allow room for flow. It will ease your mind and allow more space in there too!
3. Organize your rooms for how you use them. Put all the baking supplies together. Create a convenient smoothie station. Designate specific spots at your entry for keys, shoes, and coats. Turn the unused bedroom into a writing room or yoga room or photography space. Hang a valet hook in the bedroom to hang out your workout clothes so it's easier to get up for that run in the morning.
4. Calm your bedroom. This room needs to be a relaxing oasis that encourages rest and rejuvenation. It's an essential for everyone. Clear off your nightstand so it contains only books, a good light, and a bowl or tray to corral your essentials like glasses and lipbalm (not your phone!).
5. Edit, edit and edit some more. I'm always taking things away from displays on shelving or tables and from groupings on the walls. Stand back and look at your vignettes with an essentialist perspective (pro tip: take a photo and look at it) and edit things down a little so only the most important and most meaningful to you shine through.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on creating an essentialist home. What does (or would) yours look like?
If you're interested in beginning the journey toward an Essentialist home and lifestyle, sign up below for the Quickstart Guide, or contact me for 1:1 online coaching.
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