Living with LESS
For the past two weeks we have tried a radical experiment chez nous to see how we get along living with less. I'm talking a lot less. This wasn't necessarily by choice. It all started when we refinished the hardwood floors in our apartment. We had to take all of our furniture out. We removed everything from our home save the beds, side tables and dining room table. We even boxed up most of our clothing and saved just a few pieces in a suitcase (more on this interesting observation in a moment).
A while back, I recommended Marie Kondo's book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Ms. Kondo writes about radically getting rid of your possessions to understand the freedom of living with less. I was so happy I had read her book before doing this because I was quite excited to see how we would fare. It turns out (save for a few files and my beloved piano)... We didn't miss anything!
What a surprising verdict! We are quite minimal with our belongings anyway compared to the average family, but over the years with two little ones, we did acquire quite the collection of this and that.
One of the most surprising results is that the children didn't miss their toys! Their little playroom (which was really a play corner) was filled with bins of blocks, legos, dolls and art supplies among many other things. This space frustrated me because I felt it offered too much choice for them. They would play with one thing, get distracted and them move on to the next without putting anything away. Now with the toys all stored away, we bring out one puzzle, or get an art project going or keep out a rotation of around 5 books and they are still as happy as they were with all of their toys. In fact, they have been prompted to use their imagination more and have created things to do (like making a "midnight soup" from old food in the refrigerator). And what about those clutter hot spots and stagnant spaces as discussed in At Home With Madame Chic? With less possessions to begin with, the cleanup of these areas has been dramatically reduced.
The clothing experiment is also quite telling. It has been the ten-item wardrobe on a diet. We are all wearing the same three or four pieces over and over again. There is less laundry, we still look great and there is no question about what to wear in the morning. Now, don't worry, I'm not going down to a three-item wardrobe (!), this is only temporary, but this radical experiment has really opened my eyes to the fact that we can not only live comfortably with less belongings, we can thrive.
Living with less encourages me to only bring items into my home that I adore and to constantly reassess what I have.
Check out this week's video for the full discussion. If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or check out my channel (and subscribe!): www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur **
I am quoted in Bankrate this week in an article called, Living Luxuriously for Less.
Madame Chic Inspiring Thought
Take one room in your home this week and get radical with it. Take out excess furniture, any clutter and all items that don't belong in that room. See what living in that room is like after you remake it. Enjoy its simplicity and use that room as a springboard to enjoy the same process to other rooms in your home.
Comment(s) of the Week
On Life at Home: Get Some Sleep, Alexa writes:
Naps, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee after a good night's sleep. I love thee after a bad night's sleep.
Naps seem to smooth out all the rough edges. Even a short one can be so refreshing. Naps or siestas used to be traditional in many cultures. It's another unfortunate aspect of modern life that schedules and routines no longer accommodate an afternoon rest. After all, who can guarantee a good sleep every night? Even when I was working, I used to nap during my commute on the bus. What does "nap" spell backwards, if you add a few letters? panacea!
I wish everyone a good rest!
Alexa, I have never been able to nap, but people who can swear by it! I'll never forget my time in Spain where the families would leave work for two hours to go home for a siesta. I like your thinking!
in Beethoven's day the average amount of sleep people got was ten hours - TEN hours! No doubt lack of electric lighting and gadgets made this possible. But I think it tells us most of us are probably sleep deprived most of the time. Seven to eight hours is not for me!
I have to admit that the biggest habit I am trying to break this year is that of staying up late because i do just want some time to myself. I'm aiming to reverse the trend by going to bed earlier and doing yoga in the morning - which definitely makes my life a whole lot better.
I am a bedtime reader, but usually cannot stay awake for a full hour!
Great comment Madeleine... modern convenience has surely changed the way we live, particularly with regard to sleep. I would love to know what time Beethoven himself went to bed! :)
On my author website Guestbook, Lise B. writes:
Thank you for your belief and promotion of a quality life style. Your “Lessons from Madame Chic” has had a profound effect on my life.
I have and continue purging, going from 3 full closets to only 1 small one. I have purged everything else in my house and I am constantly thinking about what else I am no longer using which can be sold/donated or simply dumped.
Because of this book, I now only wear my best clothes whether to go to work, to teach or go grocery shopping on the week-end. I have gotten rid of everything that does not promote a quality lifestyle and that includes acquaintances. Thank you!
Thank you Lise and to everyone who has signed the guestbook. I love reading about your evolving journeys!
**This video was shot in my mother-in-law, Jane's Santa Monica flat in front of her lovely painting, "The Dancers" by British artist, Ashley Luff.
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