Creating a home that inspires us

I respect minimalism. I think the ease of online shopping, and comparing our lives to the pretty images of social media is making it too easy for us to bring unnecessary items into the home. And I don't believe that surrounding ourselves with material possessions necessarily makes us happy in the long run. 

I also find having more choice clouds my ability to make decisions easily. 

By removing unnecessary clutter from the home, and making a point of culling back from time-to-time, it frees up our lives. We're better organised. We create space. And we have more time to enjoy the things that really matter.

Minimalists don’t focus on having less, less, less; rather, we focus on making room for more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth, more contribution, more contentment. More freedom. Clearing the clutter from life’s path helps us make that room.
— Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, The Minimalists

While I believe minimising is beneficial to our well-being, I also feel that a home should accommodate life as it is actually lived, imperfections and all. It's a place to relax and recharge. To share experiences with family. And it can be a great source of inspiration.

Being a very visual person I value aesthetics. I like to surround myself with those things that inspire me - indoor plants, Danish inspired furniture, colours that calm my mind. And the little details throughout our home that tell a story of our travels. 

When we moved overseas we moved with nothing but a few boxes. Most of which were our son's toys and things to make his room feel familiar. We moved into a duplex in Berkeley and did a mad dash to get the necessities - a high chair and cot from Ikea for our son, a bed mattress delivered by Amazon Prime (yes they actually deliver a king mattress folded up in a box!), and enough to cook basic meals and have something to plate them up on. 

Slowly over time we gathered pieces and it resembled something of a home. But it lacked warmth. It lacked an expression of our personalities. Natural light was poor. The colours drab. It affected my already homesick mood and it didn't feel like home. 

It made me realise then how my physical environment really does effect my mood and creativity. I longed for those framed pictures we left at home. Those vintage furniture pieces I spent hours sanding back and painting to fit our interior style. Those favourite pieces of crockery that served many meals for family and friends. 

While I think minimalism can be freeing, I don't necessarily think we should feel guilty for taking pleasure in our physical surrounding - and some of our material possessions. It's about having those items in our home that we value, or that help our homes function and flow. 

I wrote previously about the Danish term Hygge. We often feel Hygge in the home. It's lighting a candle, the scent meandering up hallways. It's curling up under a soft blanket in a comfy chair and reading a book. It's walking from room-to-room surrounded by a warm welcoming glow cast from lamps. It's a sense of comfort that those material things can actually help us feel. 

Our home environment is an extension of our personalities. It provides a canvas to express our artistic tastes, and that of our family. We are affected by our surrounding to some extent. 

The environments we inhabit - our living rooms, bedrooms, offices, backyards and gardens - are outer manifestations of our inner minds. Make a commitment to ensure that your environment remains in-line with your ideals.

Doing so will bring you happiness, because you will be in harmony with your environment, because the environment is in harmony with you.
— Anthony Seldon, Beyond Happiness

So I think it's about finding a balance. Creating a space that reflects our personalities and inspires us. One that feels comfortable and safe and like we can be our true selves.

It's about being selective about the items we bring into our homes and assessing whether they align with our values, or serve a purpose. And taking time on a regular basis to free our lives of unnecessary items that restrict flow, both within our homes, and within our minds.