Sunday, August 12, 2018

Capacity and Home Curating (Becoming Minimalist)

Okay here I go, into this new blog series about becoming minimalist!  I have an absolute passion for this topic, being that I am seeing first hand, working as a home organizer, the way having too much creates life chaos.  The best way to tackle this subject, (and make it apply in our homes) is one step at a time, so buckle up, I've got about ten more posts on this subject, coming your way over the remainder of summer/early fall!  (In this post, I'm be sharing a few recent overall home photos that reflect a few changes I've been making. (More on that in a sec!) As we continue, I hope to share some of the lesser seen places, like the garage!) I'm so glad you're following along- your thoughtful comments and emails have really helped me figure out what direction to take this!  
 Capacity.  Have you ever given much thought to this word?  Those who know me in real life, are aware that I adore this word.  I often use it when describing that I'm done, full up, had enough, etc, by saying, "Well I am at capacity with this situation." Knowing that I'm there, often guides me to setting proper and protective boundaries for the future.  For example, in a difficult relationship, once I hit what I feel is my own capacity, I set a boundary for what I can do and what I can not do and go from there.  Make sense?


In the same way, our homes have a capacity.  Often, we push past it and burst the seams and then wonder why we feel stress as we come home each night.  In my own journey, becoming minimalist, I have begun to re-set the bar for my own capacity, at a way lower height and I'm thrilled with how it's shaping up and shaping ME.  Over the past month, I have donated or consigned two full carloads of unwanted, unneeded or unused items.

If you go back years through my blog, you'll be shocked at the amount of editing I have done in the past many years to this point... I mean, it's crazy! You can almost tell when I began doing home organizing for others, as the editing process got REAL!  I would say that I'm the most comfortable in this home, the more minimal I go.  In fact, last week, what really spurred me forward in this becoming minimal journey, was a shopping trip with some of my besties.  I didn't bring a lot of shopping cash because I didn't need much of anything, (I did snag that little wood pinch bowl for my sea salt, above, at Crate & Barrel). I just went for the company and inspiration.  We came home with store catalogues from places like Crate & Barrel, Room & Board, Restoration Hardware, etc.  After coming home, I spent the evening pouring over the pages, realizing that what most spoke "restful home" to me, were (shocking- wait for it) the rooms with clean, minimal, almost hotel-like simplicity.  I spent time the next day doing the most serious edit on our home that I have ever done.  I pulled things off walls, removed excess clutter, emptied more drawers, condensed kept items to only what was often used, needed and intentional choices.  In the space of the past month, I believe I actually opened every drawer or cupboard in my home, touched nearly every item, and made a simple keep or go decision on the spot.  It was ridiculously freeing, and most would say that I didn't have a lot of clutter before this.  But it wasn't my capacity yet and deep down I must have known that.
(I let go of cookbooks I absolutely never use, even though they are the cutest ones ever.  Dishes that I use about once a year went because I've switched to solid, quality white ones over the last two years, and I just enjoy those best.  I edited  through things like wooden spoons, cloth napkins, vases, serving pieces, throw pillows, pillow covers... anything that was being stored, or not regularly used pretty much went! )
 (In the process, I also did some furniture re-shuffling, moving this buffet back in here from the office, and tweaking the office space that I had just shared, once again. Don't laugh.  It was all due to that cowhide rug that came home from Adrain's old office space.  It just needed a better home than in my bedroom and the office is used by Adrain a lot so I made the whole space a bit more masculine feeling. More on that at the end of this post.  In the end, I recovered, the chair cushions, hung a lovely photo from Adrain's office above the desk, got rid of the navy lamp and rug, took down small art for the letterboard I love, and painted the wood dresser... You'll see in a moment.) 

We currently have a three bedroom, 1 den, 2 bath, 1500 sq foot home. I have mentioned this before, that in about three years, we hope to sell it and downsize to a one bedroom, 1 bath condo.  Our goal is less space to manage, less home to clean, less weekend to spend doing, and more time playing! That said, we still will need to downsize belongings like crazy in order to fit into a condo that small and that's why I am on the journey, not done with it.  My job isn't chaotic, but I go into chaotic spaces almost daily, and often come home and edit as needed, as a precaution if you will, after seeing what chaos left unattended can do to a home and family.)


(I wanted to share the kitchen as it currently is, with minimal counter clutter these days as well as a few different angles of the layout so you can see that it indeed does matter. There is only one thing actually hanging on the wall in the kitchen/dining space- a wooden "B" on the walls.  Everything else is leaning and can be easily switched out as they are all pieces that get fairly regularly used.) 

(On that note I want to talk about large scale, vs. small scale for just a moment.  I find that lots of small items can sometimes feel more cluttery than say, a large scale piece that commands attention.  I love the grouping of the bread boards with the tall vase of fig branches, and the huge candle holder on the table.  I removed a couple of the chairs, placing one at the desk and one in our master closet where they can be easily grabbed with larger gatherings. I love the way that feels and looks.  Adrain loves having a chair in the closet as well so it was a win-win!)


 When it comes to our homes, capacity is a two part process.  The first is through purging because most of us have more than we actually need, use or want, and the second, is carefully shopping in the future with that reached capacity in the front of our minds, and curating the homes we desire because of that forethought. It's a one in/one out mentality. For now, capacity in my own home means for example, that we own one set of sheets for each bed. We wash them once a week, dry and remake the same bed at night.  We don't need more sheet sets, because that means more managing of sheets.  Folding, storing, finding space for more... etc. We don't do that. (If I were to purchase any new ones, it would be to replace the old ones, rather than add to.  Does this make sense?  So I would  bring one in, and take the old set out, thus maintaining my current capacity.)


 (Our entry, with the chair consigned, since nobody was using it like I thought.  I painted the white frames, switched out to black and white prints and painted the plant holder on the table, with chalk paint. White just calms me and feels right, so I went with it. I switched out to all fake plants, throughout for zero maintenance. Everything about the evolution of this entry space felt minimal, because there is a place for everything, yet no maintenance for me to manage.  Does that make sense? The lamp is welcoming and useful, the plants are pretty in any place in the home and can go anywhere as they are fake.  The photos are my favorite part though.  Years ago, I had a sofa to ceiling gallery wall and that was great for where I was at, for that time.  It got to be too much though and eventually came down.  Now, I keep two sweet photos above my tv, from when my kids were small, and I keep these current photos here, that I can trade out each year as they change. I love this so much. I don't actually want a ton more photos everywhere.  Just the ones I love and what is current. It works really well for me to do it like this.)




This mentality of capacity and curating, works in all of life from clothing shopping, food shopping, etc. It has changed my LIFE. For example, I  have a small pantry and two teens who often bring friends over.  Yet I seldom shop at Costco these days, and hope to get rid of my card membership soon.  My thoughts about storing and back stocking have changed as I grocery shop weekly.  It means we have just what we need, carefully chosen weekly, only what we will actually eat, less waste, less food getting lost, and just overall LESS.  (Too many things were getting lost in the freezer, getting wasted or forgotten and I decided I didn't need this massive amount of food and supplies on hand at all times. If it doesn't fit into our pantry, we've pushed past enough in my opinion.  Not everyone would agree with me, and some find security in overflowing shelves in the garage for what they don't have room for in their home.  The nice thing, is that we all have our own personal capacity and can work to curate a home that speaks of that, no matter what our own limit is.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this mentality, as I believe it's been lost in this present culture of more, having more, getting more, keeping more, storing more, saving more for just in case... I also believe that many other countries would laugh because they do the one in, one out thing by nature.

Let me know what you think in comments...and below, I'll share the recent office changes that just happened since my last post, after all that purging, editing and painting! Adrain did tell me that this office is very calming to him now. I love that, and I love that it gets used so much. 













18 comments:

  1. Sasha,
    You have touched upon SO many great points in this post! And the bed sheets! My husband constantly buys sheets lol! i actually have already brought several pairs to donate over the last few weeks! By biggest challenge so far with decluttering is that we are having a yard sale next weekend so I have had to look at the piles all summer. I would suggest to anyone wanting to declutter to NOT have a garage sale! Just let it go right away! I am still feeling stressed because these things are still in my home and it is very distracting! Thank you so much for the inspiration! I have followed your blog from the beginning and it is interesting to see how we are always in the same stage of our lives because we are close in age! XO

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    1. Isn't it hilarious about the sheets? They can just pile up ridiculously... good for you for donating!! And about the garage sale... YES! We actually encourage clients to just donate because the $100 you might make in funds is not worth the price of sanity!! Haha!

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  2. Such a good post Sasha, so encouraging. Do you use chalk paint on your projects? I have a small 3 tier red book case from Crate & Barrel years ago and think it will look better white, any suggestions? You are right this is a journey. I'm learning what I like and what I need. The kitchen seems to be the hardest. I also consider dropping my Costco card, except they have good prices on organic foods and the gas is the cheapest around. With the price of healthcare only going up I'm always looking for ways to cut costs.
    Here's another topic you might consider: purging social media that consumes precious time out of the gift of each day He gives us. We really can apply minimalism to every part of our lives. Be blessed!

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    1. Hi Jeannie, thank you! It actually depends on the material I am painting. Often chalk paint is not the answer, but it also works well on wood since it doesn't require a primer. Spray paint can also be a great option especially for glossy surfaces and things that are smaller.

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  3. I already love this series. I do have a question....we have 4 kids, and out of those 4, the youngest daughter loves to "collect" stuff. It could be notebooks for drawing, some gadget she picked up during the day, a feather from outside....a variety of things. She gets very emotional about "her stuff" so it's hard to help her understand we can't keep everything. We also live in a 3/2 with a den so there's not a lot of space to begin with. Anyway, just looking for advice on how to help the kids learn that less is actually more.

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    1. I have a daughter that similarly LOVES everything she's ever come across. Its so hard because I adore her enthusiasm for life but after doing yet another huge purge in her room while she was at camp we've decided to set some boundaries (for all our sakes!) We're installing two picture ledges and getting a smaller, traditional bookcase and that will be the limit of her collecting space going forward I wont' interfere with what she collects but she'll need to limit it to the space she has rather than cramming it under & in every nook and cranny. The plan is to do a month reset from now on to help her learn the difference between what is really an important treasure and what is an impulsive/emotional save.....we'll see if it helps!

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    2. Oh my gosh I actually have a great (few) answers to this!!
      1.) Kids place a lot of security on those collected things so keep this in mind, and make sure they help as you edit, reminding them of kids who may not have things, or money to buy and lean heavily on the helping others part... most kids are naturally compassionate and love the idea of sharing with other kids who can't afford those things, by donating to a Goodwill type of place.
      2.) Some kids are just HOARDERS no matter what. Give them a trash can in the room, ban snacks, help with clothing washing and putting away, encourage a nightly tidy of the floor to keep up on good habits... but give them spaces for their collections. Do they collect rocks? Give em a rock jar. Sticks? Offer a tall basket (can you tell I've done this before?) Legos? Containers, and stackable bins, etc... and places to spread out since they probably love touching and looking at the collected items.
      3.) keep in mind that as the home around them simplifies, and they grow, they will feel positive in those spaces that have been edited, and my possibly seek out your help to make their own spaces reflect this at some point... so be patient.
      4.) Just let them (within reason) have the space they like in their own room... I honestly learned the hard way again and again, that just closing the door was an answer that made us all very happy.

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    3. Thanks Ladies! And, Amen to closing the bedroom doors. I'm learning.....:)

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  4. Wow, another wonderful post, Sasha! You have about 10 more coming about this subject? Can't wait to read them all! I am so with you on the sheets and dishes. In a tiny home (1100 sq feet) with 4 people and hardly any storage, we've used only one set of sheets per bed per years. Ditto the white dishes...that's all we use and I love them so much. We have a Costco membership for our business which is great, but sometimes we use it for personal things as well. When we're unloading the car at home all I can think of is where the heck are we going to put all of this stuff and why did we buy it?!! We recently moved into a slightly larger home with more storage, but we purged so much before we moved and it feels so good to have shelves stocked with only the things we use and love every day. And to have some empty shelves! You really hit the nail on the head re: capacity. I think in these times we are all at capacity in various forms but sometimes don't realize it until we are overwhelmed. As you said, in your line of work, you have seen what having too much stuff can do to people...and how freeing it is when you purge and are no longer ruled by your stuff! I REALLY hate wasting food, especially when so many people in the world have so little. My grandma used to tell me stories about growing up during the depression, and how her family lived on pennies. It really puts things into perspective. What I have always loved about your blog is how you make your home so lovely for your family, and use many budget-friendly, creative ways to do it (hello, white paint!). I think many people associate minimalism with being stark and cold. Your home us just the opposite. It is warm and welcoming, and you have the perfect balance of beauty and utility. As always, you are such an inspiration, Sasha! Thank you!!! XO

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    1. I so adore you Michelle!! THank you for this lovely and sweet comment... and I am the exact same way about COSTCO!!! UGH!!! Capacity is just a huge message in my heart right now and I'm excited to share more... so thankful for you!

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  5. I love this and think it hits the nail on the head of something I struggle dearly with - just too much space Our house is far larger than we truly need but won't think about downsizing for another 7-12 years since housing prices are just insane & our kids are still young. I've not yet gotten comfortable with empty spaces. They seem to just attract clutter....I love seeing your process for letting things go but more so your thoughts on not bringing them in in the first place. So many minimizing/organizing posts I've read (and its a bunch!) leave me feeling like I need to buy more (be it different items than what I've got (talking to you artisianal coffee makers & handmade linen tops), storage containers, etc.) when what I really want is less of that buy/purge cycle. I love seeing how your goal of downsizing is driving your actions and not just because a shelter magazine told you to or there in an instagram # challenge. It really is refreshing. Thank for being a restful place in the digital world!

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    1. Oh my gosh Shannon, I'm dying laughing and nodding over your artisanal coffee makers comment... I live in the PNW so YES!!!! Thank you for the encouragement too! I feel like empty spaces are such a blessing but none of us were raised to think about them this way... like the more we have the more successful we are, says our grandparents who had nothing in WWII era... but it's not that at all and I often see empty drawers as blessings to be thankful for. Because I've been provided places and spaces to breathe and live simply (not just have cute handwritten signs that say "Live simply" but actually BE LIVING simply!) Thanks so much for taking time to comment. Loved it!

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  6. I love all of this, totally agree, and am on this path, also. I've never been a personal fan of big box stores because when we buy a huge container of anything, we simply go through it faster than if we'd bought just enough for that pay period. I, also, stopped buying little things in favor of larger better quality decor items. I switch them around, too. I have nice Sugarboo wall art, but, also, flea market wall art. Very nice furniture in some places, flea market in others. I enjoy them equally. Holidays are natural items except Christmas when a little more is enjoyed. I am for sure enjoying my minimal decor home and have scaled back in other areas of my life and am happier.

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    1. Love that and so agree on the holiday items!

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  7. The condo idea is intriguing! I’m just curious what your plan is when the kids come home to visit?

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  8. Oh girl... you have my attention. In the past few months, my parents have downsized homes & purged bunches. Also, we have helped our son move. Again, downsize & purge. Between all of the trips I have made for them, and my inspiration for our own home... Well, let's just say I've gotten to know the volunteer at the Goodwill drop-off in town PRETTY well. The other day (humbling moment), he THANKED me for always bringing nice stuff. So sweet. But things ARE "lightening up" here at home, and it feels so good, I just want to keep purging! What IS it with husbands and SHEETS though - for crying out loud. LOL. Thanks always, Sasha, for your inspiration. Love you always, girl! xo #followingalong

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    1. Yay!! So fun that your kiddos are at this stage. Love you girl too!!

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