Yikes. It’s been awhile since I’ve shared a post with you. What can I say, life has been good and BUSY. And honestly, I am ready for the busy to s l o w down. I am eager for the leaves to change colors, the calendar to empty, and the cooler temps and added layers to define our days. I am ready for autumn!
One of the biggest things that’s been keeping us busy is house hunting. And I am so happy to finally share that we BOUGHT A HOUSE! We will be in our new home before Halloween. It will be so wonderful to spend the upcoming season and the holidays in our new place.
I’ve had this post drafted for awhile as I intended to write it some time ago, but perhaps it’s more pertinent now that we are moving soon and will want to implement these habits even more. These are habits that we have adopted as a family and we have been very happy with the results. I hope you can use these tips to keep things simple in your home!
So, let’s begin:
This is the first area guests will see upon stepping inside your home. If you don’t have an entryway per se, you can still keep these ideas in mind if you want to create this area in your home.
- Attach key hooks to the wall somewhere near the door. This is a great way to store your keys in one handy spot so that you always know where they are instead of on a table or shelf where little hands might be likely to reach for them.
- If you don’t have a coat closet, especially be sure to keep items to a minimum in baskets or on hooks. There are many types of wooden wall peg racks and hooks available based upon your needs. We love having our rack on the wall to hang items that we use often: a watering can, hats, tote bags, etc.
- If you do have a coat closet, still be mindful of your items, keeping them to minimum and prioritizing by season. Keep current seasonal items on hand and the rest in storage. For example, during summer we have lightweight coats hanging in the closet and sandals and tennis shoes on the floor. We also have a basket containing swimsuits & towels, sunscreen, sunhats, and sidewalk chalk or other small outdoor activity items. We also keep our gardening supplies on the shelf along with a small set of tools (because you never know when you’ll need them) and we always have a box or bag ready to collect items to be donated to Goodwill. As the weather gets colder, I swap out summer items with more appropriate ones: heavier coats, hats, scarves, and gloves, sturdy shoes and boots, outdoor blankets, etc.
The living room, one of the most relaxing spaces in your home: the place where all of your guests will gather together and share food, laughter, and lively discussion; the space where your kids play quietly with each other while you sip your coffee and read a book.
A few ways to keep your living room cozy and functional:
- Limit the number of books on your bookshelf. We used to have two bookshelves in our living room, but it just became too bulky, so we put one in storage. Instead of storing ALL of our books on the shelf, we decided to sort through them and keep visible references & resources, like a dictionary or the Bible, prayer books, small magazines, and our favorite novels or the ones we read often. This was a hard task because we are English majors and have quite a collection of books between the two of us, but once it was completed, I felt lighter and our living room definitely looked lighter!
- If possible, put the TV in another room. As you know, we don’t watch TV during the day with the girls (and even mine & Asa’s usual nighttime routine of watching a movie has faded away a bit), so in our new home we plan to put the TV in the basement. It’s just a sore sight to have it in our living space, so we’re definitely eager to put it away. The living room can then become a calm space where the focus is on everyone gathered together instead of on the giant screen next to the wall. And do I have to mention how awful it is for brain development, especially for young children? Or the fact that it only creates more stress and anxiety in your daily life? (If you wanna learn more, feel free to ask!)
- If you have kids, incorporate some childrens books and toys into decor. This space is obviously a shared common area, so include their favorite items so they have the freedom to play when they want. Their picture books are a great addition to your bookshelf and a basket of blocks underneath the coffee table is an invitation for creative play.
- Chuck that microwave! Save space on the counter and your health! Invest in a cast iron skillet or two, more pots and pans, or enamelware pots, bowls, and mugs for cooking, heating (and reheating) coffee, leftovers, and butter. We’ve been without a microwave for almost two years and I don’t miss it one single bit. Your stove it fully capable to do everything and the quality of food is much better, I think. You just gotta be a little more patient 😉
- If you have dishwasher, use the racks inside for drying your hand-washed dishes instead of using a dish rack set up on your counter. I was so happy when we were able to get rid of our rack. We won’t have a dishwasher at our new home, however, so we will probably invest in a bamboo drying rack, making sure to wash dishes in small loads, and easily folding up the rack when not in use.
- Save money by making your own household cleaners and more homemade meals.
Clothing is a big one, here. I’m always looking for ways to slim down my wardrobe to essentials…and quality ones at that. I donate clothes quite often, especially when I discover more about myself and realize that I have “outgrown” a certain season of life. Sifting through clothes in preparation for each new season (spring, summer, etc.) is also a great opportunity to slim down that wardrobe. Getting dressed for the day is so much easier with fewer options. When you own more practical items, they can easily be used to mix and match different outfits.
- I know a lot of people hold on to clothes for sentimental reasons. It is totally understandable and I have done it before, too! But at some point (if you’re just holding onto it for that reason), you will need to let it go. Take a picture of yourself wearing it before throwing it in the donate bin or see if you can find a more appropriate version of it somewhere. You can still hold on to the essence of the sentiment, but perhaps update it to your current lifestyle. (Does that make sense?)
- You should always ask yourself these questions when considering to slim down your wardrobe: does this currently fit me? when was the last time I wore this? do I feel happy or beautiful when wearing this item? does this item align with my values, style, and aesthetic? If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, then it’s probably time to toss it.
- Display a small amount of toys and books. Having everything displayed becomes too overwhelming for the child. And I can tell you from experience, that even the small amount of toys we do keep in sight aren’t played with as often as you might think. Plus, it’s fun to switch out their toys and books every once in awhile because it’s like having new ones to use!
- As for kids clothes, the same rules apply as with your own clothing. I’ve discussed this topic before, but we don’t purchase new clothing. We like to shop second hand because items are cheaper, and since kids outgrow their clothing so quickly, it doesn’t break the bank when we do shop.
A few other simplifying tips:
- Replace plastic. You may be surprised at how much you will get rid of. Substitute with cloth, paper, wood, metal, enamel, glass.
- Rearrange often. By rearranging setups in rooms, you can discover a more functional space and create an opportunity to reduce clutter.
- Budget: Simply, you can’t make purchases if you don’t have the money for it. We’ve started putting cash into envelopes to use when we make purchases. It really helps to hold us accountable because we can’t spend what isn’t in the envelope. When you do make purchases, consider buying quality over quantity. Sometimes we choose to pay a little more for an item because the quality is better (it will last longer) and it’s also more ethical and aligns with our values.
- Read Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne for ways to simplify your home environment, introduce rhythms into your daily life, and “raise calmer, happier, and more secure kids.” I just started reading this one for this month’s Homesong Book Club and I am enjoying it so much. We already implement/do some of the things Payne discusses, but there is always room for improvement. I hope you can gain some wisdom from his insight and knowledge as well!
What are some ways you simplify your home? What would you like to get better at?