Even after going through a two year decluttering regime, standing at the back of the removalist truck, I was staggered at the sight of 60 large moving boxes of loose items along with numerous pieces of furniture and large and small portable appliances.
For a single person; it seemed like an awful lot.
In stark contrast, two days after the house was unpacked, I boarded a flight to Bali with one suitcase, smaller than just one of those moving boxes on the back of the truck.
My Bali beach hut was styled beautifully yet simply. I slept on a mattress on a raised floor, cocooned in a single sheet and cotton lace cover. A single pendant light hung for reading and ambient light. The concrete raised floor was my bedside; a place for my phone, book and glass of water.
The simplicity reminded me of the bliss, joy and pleasure of our family holidays growing up, and going to the beach staying in our caravan every summer. Again, we needed just a duffle bag of clothes and personal items, four plates, bowls, cups to eat and drink with, a sleeping bag; maybe our favourite pillow. Good times.
Did we experience more joy with less?
Why live with less?
Americans have triple the space than they did 50 years ago. But that extra space has not been enough, evidenced by a personal storage industry that has grown to massive $12 billion. As Graham Hill says in this short and entertaining Ted talk, this growth in extra space and stuff has not made us happier.
Minimalist living is becoming fashionable, with early adopters claiming more happiness in a fresh, calming space – downsizing by reducing excess objects in their lives and homes.
Naturally, there are green benefits too of living with only what you need. You consume less. You live more lightly on the earth with a smaller CO2 footprint, with the additional benefit of living with things that bring you joy, making things last, by repairing and upcycling, rather than replacing.
In busy and hectic lives, we are seeing growing trends for homeowners to ditch the clutter Marie Kondo style, to be minimal, and more conscious. This is especially true for the millenial market, with this approach being more affordable too.
Three ways to achieve less stress in the home and be green
Reap the positive benefits of interior spaces filled with things you love while at the same time reduce the negative effects of too much stuff on the planet.
Here are three ways to achieve less stress in the home, whilst being green.
1. Clever space planning and storage.
There’s a lot to learn from tiny home interiors and clever use of storage. A couple in Paris converted a parking garage into a family home of 65m2, as a good example, with extensive use of storage built-ins, but built-ins for furniture too. Their kitchen island preparation space can be extended to be a family dining table.
The use of green materials for built-in cupboard doors like recycled timber, eco plywood, or FSC timber, will add sustainable cred.
Organisation planning is key. Top kitchen designers know this. My good friend and kitchen architect Toni Roberts says you need a place for everything down to where the car keys will be kept off the bench, to achieve a de-cluttered, streamlined look.
2. Mindful furniture selection.
An alternative to creating storage with built-ins, is to use statement pieces of furniture. The green principle would be to find and re-use a second hand or antique chest of drawers that can be a statement piece in an interior space, as well as added storage. Or, a recyclable cardboard bed with in-built storage for lines, shoes or even clothes, such as from Karton.
Multifunctional furniture that can have many uses such as a coffee table, side table, or seat, extend the life and usefulness being able to perform many purposes.
3. Decorate with plants that last.
The third way, is to use the glory of living plants for styling and decorating a home. Plants and small indoor trees can not only can fill space, they can be a statement piece in themselves, with colour, space and their sculptural nature. Cared for, plants can last a long time, and can fit into decorate other spaces, when it comes time to move.
Plants also connect us with nature, with studied and researched benefits of making us feel healthier and happier.
Buddha says “My Actions are my Only True Belongings”.
Let’s reduce the stuff in our homes and bring more joy.