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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Living with less

"I live in a 420-square-foot studio," writes Graham Hill in a fascinating New York Times article about living with less. "I sleep in a bed that folds down from the wall. I have six dress shirts. I have 10 shallow bowls that I use for salads and main dishes. When people come over for dinner, I pull out my extendable dining room table. I don’t have a single CD or DVD and I have 10 percent of the books I once did."

Hill's happiness grew once he got rid of unnecessary stuff—and the stressors that came with it. We're actually planning a big cleanse this weekend to prepare for the new baby—organizing closets, donating clothes that don't fit well, recycling old magazines—and I'm going to keep his words in mind. Getting rid of things is such a satisfying feeling, don't you think?

P.S. He reminds me of this guy:)

(Illustration by Maxwell Holyoke-Hirsch)

103 comments:

Chloe Moon said...

I live in a one bedroom studio and I'm trying to purge so I can feel that happiness with less! Having more sometimes is so stressful!!

Ergo - Blog

brooklynash said...

no joke, my boyfriend's apartment is NOT EVEN 400 sq ft. can you believe that!? somehow he manages to fit several bicycles and a drafting table into the mix. good thing he's a minimalist architect. :)

Julia said...

such a good message, and i completely agree it feels good to purge and limit purchases of unnecessary STUFF, but i thought this was an interesting response: http://gawker.com/5989989/it-would-be-great-if-millionaires-would-not-lecture-us-on-living-with-less

Lady Grey said...

that' very inspiring (not sure I could go that extreme though)..... but a good house cleanse is always a good idea this time of year. We all own way too much stuff (except maybe this guy!).
xo

The Cyclists Wife said...

Here's an alternative (and funny) take on that article. http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2013/03/its-future-wednesday-and-it-sucks.html

Janika R. said...

I believe in the same principle too. good post.

http://lovelybusybee.blogspot.com/

Sara said...

Thanks for sharing - I love this. One of the things I struggle with in reading all these lovely blogs is the focus on consumerism. Seeing all the latest fashions/home decor makes you want to buy so much stuff. I've actually cut back on my blog reading because I think it influenced my buying habits and made me feel like I needed all this stuff.

Shelley said...

I love getting rid of things! It really is the absolute best feeling. I donate clothes all the time and I still can't believe how much I'm left with.

Mariana said...

Three years ago, my partner and I started a blog with the aim of throwing away one thing every day and document it. We still have to approach the 365th entry (now we're at 305) and it's still a satisfying feeling to get rid of something. I once read that people in western Europe own 10'000 things on average. Our blog is called "calendar of waste disposal" – unfortunately it's only in German: www.entsorgungskalender.wordpress.com/ I highly recommend starting a project like this, it makes you feel better and it's so much fun!

Monica said...

Thanks for sharing! My husband and I have recently decided to live a minimalist lifestyle too. I recently wrote a post about it here: http://mmweissfamily.blogspot.com/2013/02/living-light.html

Such a great way to cleanse from stress and stuff.

thehumblegourmet said...

Two years ago, my husband and I moved in with my parents while we saved to buy a home. This involved a MASSIVE purge of things. When we finally bought our home in July, we did another purge from our storage unit, things we didn't even want to bring into the new home. It felt so great! So while we have bought some new things, our lives just feel so much cleaner and less cluttered. It's great for the mind as well; a clean, relaxing space to live in can so easily transfer to clean, relaxing mental state.

Meredith said...

Bahaha, that's awesome! I have a friend who is always tying to do what this guy is doing. She is kind-of condescending about it (and makes comments about me being too much of a consumer, etc). Right now she's humble bragging about becoming a zero waste household and I'd like to send this to her :)

Leslie said...

I love that feeling too!
It's like those families that live in those tiny homes that can fit onto a parking spot. 300ft I think. Totally fascinating.
I wrote a blog about it here:
http://scrumpybumpy.blogspot.com/2013/01/tiny-homes.html

Mariam said...

Here's the video showing his apartment! It's amazing! http://vimeo.com/55389782#

Laurel Hammond said...

I have a great tip for this. We recently did a HUGE house "cleanse" and the hardest part is just starting. My tip - start with the pens and pencils in your house. I was amazed at the seriously hundreds of pens we had collected. I just gave them all the a cafe (waiters always need pens.) We now have two drawers in the whole hose that have pens and we have 10 pens in total.
It seems silly BUT it gets you started!!!

Ellies Wonder said...

YES!! So good! I follow a facebook minimalist page called 'Becoming Minimalist' and it reminds me everyday to live a simple life. Since moving to the Bay Area 3 months ago, my husband and I have started to implement a minimalist lifestyle and we are loving it! I plan on writing a blog post about useful tips that have helped us so far. Thanks for sharing the article!

{ Ellies Wonder }

dot said...

I just bought a house and I move in in a month. I try to plan everything and I see now how many unnecessary things I have...
it's not the easiest thing to do, but I will have to get rid of some of them, wish me luck :)
dot
http://belikedot.blogspot.co.uk/

Lauren said...

I live in a pretty small apartment with my boyfriend and I love it. I've gotten rid of so much clutter and broken my habit of impulse shopping and hoarding knickknacks. It's really amazing how having a small space forces you to only keep things that you need or love, and how much that changes about how you feel about your home.

The only downside is that whenever my boyfriend's mother comes over she can't get over how small our place is (it's small but not shocking) and it's giving me a complex!

Natalia said...

So true! I didn't realise how many things we can stash in our apartment until we had to move to even smaller one. Right now I think twice before I buy something. I always have in mind that I will have to bring it with me to the next apartment - visualising boxes in the moving truck usually helps ;)

Anne [A Squared] said...

I always a keep an open shopping bag in my closet so it's conveniently located for those times that I put on a shirt and realize I don't love it anymore. I can just drop it in the bag to donate and be done! Our dry cleaners downstairs collect donations for their church and there is no greater feeling than filling a bag, getting it out of my place, and dropping it off!

Meadow said...

I can kinda relate. I used to be a big pack rat but I definitely feel happy when I clean my closet out especially. Getting rid of clothes I don't like/don't wear is good, and I try to do it regularly. I'm also more careful about what I buy. I really don't like clutter and I feel calmer when I know that I don't have a lot of unnecessary stuff all over the place. I wouldn't want my apartment to be any smaller, though... I guess I just like to have a place for everything, everything in its place, and nothing around that I totally dislike and/or find useless.

Rachel Weaver said...

I want less so much more. But it's hard for me to balance that desire with my love of beautiful things. What do you do with cherished gifts and meaningful souvenirs? I want minimalism but I also want to be surrounded with memories of people and places that I love.

littlekitchie said...

I have been putting off my spring clean out of my closet for a few days now... this was just the boost I needed! Getting to work now!

Judy said...

I agree! I really need some of this in my life. The clutter in my very small apartment is really getting to me lately. I'm also expecting a baby, my first, and we could really use the extra space and breathing room.

tastesdelicious said...

Thank you for inspiration! the newsletter from goop that i got today was dedicated to spring cleaning and closet reorganizing too. Some really good tips there.

Gabriella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gabriella said...

I have a lot of admiration for this project, though it seems to me there's a danger of becoming obsessive to the other extreme (or at least, I've strayed in that direction) and sort of fetishizing a certain idea of simplicity. There's real pleasure to be had from objects, and the discipline I would like to cultivate is to have things that I like around me (my collection of books, most crucially) but not become overly attached to or fixated by them.

Love me if ya dare said...

It is true that the things you own end up owning you, and I know it's better to get rid of stuff, such a good feeling, but I never want to toss things because I'm thinking I could use it for something, a new diy... though I rarely do :(

katilda said...

I l-o-v-e the sentiment of a more simple lifestyle. I feel like an apartment cleanse and trip to Goodwill is in order!

Bea said...

This is amazing. I love the idea of living with less - in my 20's the only significant things I owned were a bed and a bike and there is something so freeing about that, you can send everything to Goodwill and leave on a new adventure whenever you want! Now I have so much more than what I need - where did all of this stuff in my house come from?!

He reminds me of No Impact Man, love that documentary.
http://www.thegoogleyear.blogspot.com.au/

crushedredvelvet said...

Did you see this on sweet fine day? I don't know how anyone can even imagine living minimally if they have kids lol, Kids main function is to want. I think I'm a wannabe minimalist but one thing I could never switch over is from books to digital books. I need to hold a paperback or hardcover book in my hands. There is a collection truck coming around my neighborhood tomorrow and I actually have a box of stuff to put out this time though!

jkkjacks said...

While not nearly this extreme, in order to move out of the burbs, we moved from a 2800 sq. ft. home to an 1800 sq. ft. home with one child. And, honestly, we do not miss the extra space! In fact, we love our home so much more now!

karina said...

Take lovely photos. Perhaps with comments from the givers. Or About the givers.

Stephanie said...

Sounds like a good idea to me! I wish I'd done more of it before I'd had my baby, but I'm still hoping to get some seriously spring cleaning done this month, especially when it comes to my closet!!

Erika said...

well- i live in a tiny house by the beach on the california coast - the cost of living here is really expensive in my little beach town - but i love it so we live minimally - i have three kids, a BIG dog, a cat, a husband...and we all fit together like a puzzle in our little beach shack. I was in a fire many years ago and lost all my possessions (every last one) - and so I know what it's like to start over and what it's like to live with a lot less. It's amazing how little you need - I wrote a blog post about how I got rid of ALL of my kids' toys- and they were never happier...

http://urthmama.blogspot.com/2012/11/why-im-not-shopping-black-friday.html

xoxo,
Erika
urthmama.com

Gold Muse said...

Ah the simple life...I definitely agree, clutter can be stressful. I always ask myself, will I use this today? If not, it ends up in my garage for now...I have a bunch of things piled up there that I need to give away and get rid of but even that takes time and effort.

amillionreasonswhy7.blogspot.com

Nina Leung said...

I read this article on Sunday and was so inspired! I liked the part about how Mom's feel most stress when they faced with all the things in the house. I so agree. I've decided to do a major purge of everything in the house. I've already started with the office, next is the boys room. I also plan to be more careful with what we buy and bring into the house.

It's a great way to free oneself, I believe. Feels great! Thanks for the reminder! Great post!

Sarah Clark said...

i love this! one of my favorite oprah episodes was about where happy people live. they interviewed a family from denmark and they said "less space, less things, more life". it really stuck with me! love it!!

Kristian said...

I think this is really interesting idea and have always enjoyed the (many) books and articles on minimalist living, but thought this specific article was a rather odd on on the topic. I could be wrong, but I don't think he is the only person to have ever lived in small, tight spaces (look at dorm rooms for one thing). I think it would have been interesting to hear more about what he did to his apartment because that doesn't look like a typical fold-down bed type space to me.

vicki archer said...

I am going to have a spring clean of my wardrobe next weekend...I think it's good to do every few months...I definitely agree with Graham...I personally find getting rid of unnecessary things liberating...xv

http://vickiarcher.com

Jessica said...

I like this blog a lot, but I feel like there's a bit of a disconnect between recent posts and this one. Much of the content on here is about *stuff* (and much of that is sponsored), and I find it a bit uncomfortable to suddenly be told how "satisfying, don't you think?" it is to clean out your house and live with less, right after what are essentially ads for expensive maternity clothes, the latest nail polish, and canvas shoes that fall apart in one season (cute though they are!).

Jessica said...

I ADORE throwing out unnecessary items! It feels so good and oh so relieving! It's my favorite. Just go with your first instinct and don't second guess yourself. I always second guess myself on clothes that "might fit" or make me feel like I have the "right" wardrobe, but just be honest with yourself. A year after I kept something I should I have thrown out, it always ends up in the donate bin anyway.

LRB said...

Like this, very inspiring. It's good to purge material items to make room for good things to enter.

http://www.littleredbook-thatshaute.blogspot.com

lost in travels said...

i completely agree with this. when we moved to korea, we went from a 700 sq ft apartment (which felt TINY) to a 550 square foot apartment that by the end of it felt spacious to us! it's crazy how we can grow accustomed to smaller spaces and less 'stuff'
lostintravelsblog.blogspot.com

Haley said...

I love reading these stories and marvelling at how lovely it would be to magically get rid of about half of my family's "stuff" - but on the flip side my Dutch blood loves a cozy house with photos and books and a touch of happy, industrious clutter (I have three littles)

Faye Larsen said...

Well articulated. I was thinking the same thing but struggling to put it into words.

Nicole Carrington said...

I love this. I want to try it this weekend.

marian rose said...

Where I live in Colorado many people are homesteaders and farmers. The less stuff you have, the more time you have for other things (though I will say that hot running water has increased my efficiency exponentially). Plus, we're all so po' living a simple life is necessary.

Have you ever heard of the Man Who Quit Money- Daniel Suelo?

Monica L. Shulman said...

YES. THIS. good for you! it's so hard to purge.

I've been cleaning out drawers and getting rid of papers too. I'm going to tackle all the closets in a couple of weeks. And don't even get me started on the books. I love our books and I can't bear the thought of storing them, giving them away but they just take up SO MUCH ROOM. And we just don't have the space anymore...especially with another baby on the way:)

jm said...

I had to get rid of lots of stuff once when I moved into a tiny place. I just kept the things I loved and i remember that small spare place with such fondness.

Stella Dobry said...

I read this yesterday too. I love to get rid of stuff, but I know there is still so much crap I hold onto for sentimental reasons... still trying to have the courage to get rid of all of that too!

haylie said...

This made me smile. My husband, cat and I live in 380 square feet, and we're perfectly happy. It doesn't even feel cramped. I'm a little amused by the "ohmygoshcanyoubelieveit?" quality of this article.

Marcia said...

Scanning your replies here I see lots of info for you to read up on.
Apartment Therapy always has good information on organization and living in small spaces.
But have you heard of the blog http://www.theminimalists.com/? They talk about the whole lifestyle of living with less stuff.
I hope the cleanse goes well. Only keep what you love!

Unknown said...

It's true. I gave about 60% of my belongings away during my last move. I'm sure part of it was I was lazy/sick of "stuff," but I don't miss any of it. It just feels lighter.

mle jean said...

Yes, I totally agree. I had a house twice the size that I do now. I cried when I moved, but after thinning everything out and not having the option of buying much else I find that I am so much happier. I have more money to invest in quality. My mind is so much clearer and motivated with out all the fluff!

Sandra Carson said...

I agree with it...It will only give you happiness and relief from tension and worries..simple living..better living...

kiddicare

McKenzie said...

Yes!! I love throwing away things! haha weird but clean-outs feel so good, and it is very true that a clean/clear room means a clear mind too (at least for me! haha) I like the idea of this, don't know if i'd always be able to do it though! x

http://currentlylovingblog.blogspot.com/

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Jen | Our Happy Family said...

I just read this article yesterday too! I loved it especially since we are a family of 6 currently living in a 420 sq ft quest apartment! It took us an entire year to purge our lives of things and it's so much simpler now. For us, downsizing has become such a great experience that even when we eventually move we want to stick to our minimal lifestyle.

bindin Gorgia said...

Very nice post. I like it. Thank you for sharing. It will be helpful to Study and doing Thesis or Research on this topic

Catherine Masi said...

I completely agree. Still in the process here, myself. It feels SO good.

megan said...

Yes. Entering your home should give you a sense of relief and a calmness and for me that only comes with less clutter, fewer things and an inviting space. I can get really aggressive with the purging of unnecessary stuff, but I need to rip it off like a band-aid. I need it out of the house within 24 hours, it can't sit there in the corner because it'll start to taunt me with doubt... you might need that thing! But if it's out the door I forget about it and instantly feel better.

Beauty Fashion Skin Care Blog - Girlie Blog Seattle said...

I like this idea. However, with a toddler and a baby, it's hard to live less. Before kids though, my husband and I shared a tiny space, with most of our stuff in storage. We were certainly happier with a simpler life.
Girlie Blog Seattle | Casual Chic Fashion

Caitlyn said...

It's funny, my fiance and I are doing the same thing this weekend. We just got our small apartment really, really clean and it hit us that if we want to keep it that way - we HAVE to purge. So this weekend we are going nuts getting rid of things - and then finding a "home" for everything we keep. My high-school self would have never believed how happy/excited this makes me :)

My name is Anna said...

I totally agree Sara. It's not healthy to constantly be thinking about what you don't have and the next thing you think you need - that's what a lot of blogs are about. I'm trying to keep this in mind while we're going through the process of buying a house. I see friends who have really big houses and think that it's just way too much (too much space, too much to take care of, too much money). However, society looks at that as success. It's hard not to get sucked into the cycle of consumerism but it's nice to hear other people say that they don't want to be a part of it.

Sydney said...

I like the living with less approach but a studio with a child sounds very trying; however, I'm sure it's been done many times before and they'll figure out how to make it work.

Megan said...

I read the post differently, and I disagree, perhaps because I am a regular reader...

Like everything else you write, Joanna, I feel like this is a little peek into what inspires or interests you, or what you're up to lately. So, maternity clothes makes for an obvious post, as does fun nail polish colors to brighten up a blah winter day. And of course, anyone who is pregnant with their second child, living in an apartment in NYC (as awesome as it might be) is bound to get to the 'oh-my-gosh-what-to-do-with-our-little-nest' reaction, especially if they're not planning on moving anytime soon. Most NYC apartments are not big!

Like many other blogs, we're given the opportunity to read and reflect and make decisions on what we're being presented. We can choose to buy or not buy whatever we want--Joanna is just giving us insights on things she sees/hears/reads/etc. I love that the internet has given me access to inspiring people and places I ordinarily wouldn't have (I live in IL) but I strive to balance what makes sense for me, my family and my budget.

Don't get me wrong, either, the act of living minimally is a constant challenge, it doesn't matter how much money you have or how big your house is. 'Do I really need this' is something I ask myself a lot when shopping. Most of the time the answer is no. When it is not, I have a one-in-one-out rule and donate something to achieve balance.



laurenfoode.com said...

My excuse is always, "I live in New York, I don't have the space to own too much stuff." But truthfully I have a hard time letting go of things. My live-in boyfriend is the complete opposite so I think we have a nice balance: my ancient pine-filled tea cozy that reminds me of the Adirondacks and a cardigan for every color outfit, and his bare-bones dresser drawers only half-filled with wardrobe staples.

Taylor said...

I live in a 450 square foot apartment (with walls) and I have a real bed big enough for two, two big dogs, many books, and plenty of clothes.

I love getting rid of stuff but I feel like I have an average amount of "things" and live quite comfortable in a place this small (I can dance, do yoga, hula hoop, play fetch) so don't pat this guy on the back too much.

Paulina said...

I watched the video of a tour of his apartment which someone posted above. It reminds me of a travel trailer/RV camper. The wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling cabinets, fold out tables and hidden appliances. My parents are avid campers and my mom always says she wishes her house could have the features of a camper because everything has its place and there isn't room to have clutter or dust collecting knickknacks.

Mary Kate said...

My boyfriend and I are moving in together next month, so am just now having to go through everything I've acquired in the past 5 years of NYC single life, and while it can be difficult (Oh, but I bought this shirt in France, I'll never wear it again, but the MEMORIES!!) it does feel really satisfying to look in my closet and see only clothes I wear on a regular basis.

One thing I have to disagree with is getting rid of books. I love books, will never buy a kindle, and in my opinion it's impossible to have too many books.

Chez Denise et Laudalino said...

We use to live in a small studio apartment and really learned how to downsize. Especially when we moved in together, and ran two jobs from there. It is amazing how creative one can get with space, and how you really do not need all the things you think you do. As well I like to know that we only have 8 boxes in storage ... easier to move when we decide to take that overseas plunge!

We bought a live/work loft a year ago - 10 xs more space but we are keeping the same mentality about living small. Last night we actually decided that it was time to purge again, since we hadn't done so since moving in. I find it liberating!

Mary Kate said...

Agreed! Books are good for the soul, and digital ones are not the same.

Boston mama said...

Great post. I grew up with three siblings in tiny little apartments in the city. My mom was extremely good at decluttering and maximizing storage space but as a child and teen I was miserable feeling always cramped and asphyxiated in our small quarters. We couldn’t save anything (i.e. craft projects were tossed, toys were ruthlessly edited out, could not bring friends for a sleep overs, etc). I believe that people need some space to breathe, and decompress from external stress sources… but, finding a balance between the stuff we think we need and buy, and a reasonable living space is important too.

asiajane said...

I LOVE the feeling of getting rid of things. Growing up with parents who kept a lot of clutter (and have suffered for it... too much stuff to move every time they do!) I am of the mind that "less is more." Always.

Laura said...

I am seriously planning to do this exact same thing this weekend! It's the perfect way to start this Spring out..feeling lighter and less "heavy" (though..the winter weight gain is still an issue...)

Jess said...

When I moved overseas selling pretty much everything I owned was an amazing experience. It really, truly does make you feel good.

David Friedlander said...

Hi Joanna,
Thanks for the shout-out. I work with Graham on the LifeEdited project ( http://www.lifeedited.com ) and helped Graham put the Op-Ed together. Glad this was such great fodder for discussion. A big theme here seems to be about the feasibility of families doing this (a subject near and dear to my heart as my wife and I have an 8 month old). I wrote a bit of a response to that, and other, common sentiments about doing more with less here: http://www.lifeedited.com/lets-talk-about-stuff-baby/
And Joanna, drop me a line if you want a tour of the space!
David (@lifeedited)

Elizabeth said...

I'm all for getting rid of unnecessary stuff, but I don't find it satisfying to live without things I find beautiful and/or useful (thank you, William Morris) just because someone else does. We live in a small house with a lovely yard and garden, in a little rural community. Our concept of living simply is clearly very different from this fellow's.

Elizabeth said...

I'm all for getting rid of unnecessary stuff, but I don't find it satisfying to live without things I find beautiful and/or useful (thank you, William Morris) just because someone else does. We live in a small house with a lovely yard and garden, in a little rural community. Our concept of living simply is clearly very different from this fellow's.

lizzie bee said...

Such a great piece! My relationship with things has really changed since moving to New York. Space is really limited in NYC, so I think about every object I bring into my apartment, its usefulness and how much space it takes up. Also, my budget is tight, so my shopping habit pretty much died upon moving here! But in the end I've found it really freeing to live a minimalist lifestyle and its one of the reasons I love city dwelling!

Katie said...

Kristian, Here's the video! It's super cool! http://vimeo.com/55389782#

girlseeksplace said...

I'm a huge fan of living with less. Lately, I've been feeling like there's too much stuff in my space that I simply don't use. The books, the dvds, the craft supplies, etc. The cds went by the wayside a long time ago. That's what Spotify is for and before that itunes and discs from the library. I listen to the same 25 or so songs all the time anyway.

Mandee said...

My studio is about this size and I have everything I need. My bed is a normal bed, I have a couch, tv, and full kitchen with a table and plenty of dishes. I basically have everything I had when I had a one bedroom. I think 420 square feet is bigger than people think. It's like a very large bedroom with a kitchen and bathroom attached. I don't think its strange or like "can you believe it!?" if you think about it, you spend most all your time in your bedroom or the kitchen or in front of the tv anyway.....

Emily said...

here is a little article which does not think so highly of this article. While slightly redundant at times, the sentiment is clear: Hill is a super rich guy and of course it is easy to 'live simply' when you have a padded bank account to fall back on

http://gawker.com/5989989/it-would-be-great-if-millionaires-would-not-lecture-us-on-living-with-less

rêve de l'amérique said...

I totally didn't agree with the article.

Firstly I think there was a thinly veiled judgmental tone to it... a critique of those who choose to live in 4 bedroom houses and possess gadgets.

I don't believe that there is any evidence that someone who possesses a lot of "things" is any less happy than someone who doesn't.

Not having much stuff seems an incredibly easy path to virtue. Has anyone checked to see how many iPods Bin Laden had? How many iPods does Karl Lagerfeld have? HMMM. interesting...

Sometimes our possessions are of great significance to us, and they would not be considered so by others. Since the beginning of human history, people have treasured talismans and relics.

The underlying point of the article is, of course, that one's objects should not determine one's personal happiness. And I don't believe that they do, and I don't think anyone is delusional enough to believe that they do. My husband and I just moved into our first 2 bedroom apartment and we have had to furnish a whole extra room.

Just because I love the armoire we bought to hold our clothes doesn't mean I love my husband less. Just because I treasure the diamond my mother gave me when I got married, and moved far away, doesn't mean I don't talk to her anymore, or I don't care about my friends. Just because I just bought a pretty dress for a wedding this summer doesn't mean I am not impatiently waiting for our little girl who is to be born in April...

What a lot of bunk that article is!

Natalie - The Senses Five said...

I haven't read the article yet, but I love a good possession purge. With the move and the upcoming babe, we (mostly I) have been filling up bags of junk left and right. I love it. My theory for this move is "take what you love" even if I need a coffee table and don't have a new one yet, I hate my old one, so it's not coming!

Carmella said...

More is not always more. Every yes to one thing is a no to another. Our family decided to say yes to more time, more relationship, more interaction. We chose to say yes to less space (665 sq ft for our family of five!) and far fewer things. We chose to say no to hours of housework, to the stress of debt, to the expense of maintaining an over-full life schedule. Sharing this life isn't a dictate to humankind, but the opening of a view from a different perspective. I'm always grateful that I can see another person's journey, such as this article, and take what inspires.

Patricia O'Shaughnessy said...

Carmella, beautifully said. Very inspiring. Thanks for your perspective.

The Bebebirds said...

Getting rid of stuff is the BEST feeling. We have made it a practice to regularly get rid of things and cycle out stuff. It's very cathartic in some ways. Less is more, baby!

Brooke

natt_ said...

Let my share my experience: even though I live in a developing (and at the moment really struggling) Eastern European country (Baltics) where our DGP per capita is around 12,5 k US dollars and during the autumn-winter-late spring period of the year (about 6 months altogether) for most of people paying for their homes/apartments, utilities bills and heating bills take up sometimes more than 50% of our monthly income and a lot of people have to compromise on food, as our food prices for some reason tend to be higher than in some of the rich Western European countries, and where having a baby (unless one of the parents work as a banker or in some of the top earning spheres) almost automatically puts you between the poorest population, we still somehow manage to live more or less happily.

I personally live in a 42m2 apartment that I inherited from my mother together with my boyfriend and two cats and although we both work as freelancers (I work as a translator and my boyfriend is an IT guy) and don't have steady income, we still have managed to make the most of what we have, renovated our apartment to meet our minimalistic/Scandinavian inspired needs and we have also managed to travel a lot around Europe both for fun and for visiting our friends that have fled our country for better life prospects. We shop at the local markets and tend to avoid bigbox shops, during the summer use our bikes to go around the city.. go out with our friends for delicious beer on weekdays, well nothing out of the ordinary really :)

Anyway what my point with this story was that even though I consider myself among those people for whom this minimalistic way of living (or downshifting or whatever this trend is called) is a necessity not a lifestyle choice, I still love what this guy has done. And I personally from my experience can say that choosing to work less/trading your unearned salary for my free time hasn't made us unhappier and not being able to buy some stuff because of that - I perceive it as a gain, because I can escape these 'cleansing' tours that most of you have mentioned above :)

And, off course, living this way is not always all rainbows and unicorns or whatever, I still think it is so much better for our mental lives and for the planet :)

And thank you Jo, for the post, I am an avid reader of your blog :)

natt_ said...

And one more thing: regarding those criticizing posts in other blogs that some of you mentioned in your comments where some people find it annoying and unfair that his guy is preaching simple living despite being rich..

So what? What difference does it make? He has money to fall back on in case of an emergency - I certainly can agree with that. But other than that, to my mind anyone who has chosen to live small, will have less difficulty coping with many hardships in life (apart from medical emergencies and alike, but these aren't part of this topic anyway).

To my mind it is those people who live small that in a way have the advantage. Like in case of, God forbid, a fire. A person who has used to living in small space with less possessions will recoupe and rebuild his/her previous quality of life much faster and with less efforts than a person who has used to live in a huge house owning piles of stuff and will need much more money, time and needless efforts to rebuild his/her life. Also wouldn't you rather be glad that you had invested your time and money in yourself, your family, having more money to spend on self-education, really good food and alike rather than watch your hard earned money turn into smoke? I certainly would, but as I sad for me this lifestyle is a necessity, not a choice.

Natt

natt_ said...

And sorry for spelling & grammar mistakes, when I'm passionate about something, those things are the last thing that I think about :)

janinejackson said...

I love the idea of living like a monk. I think it's important that we all buy less to begin with rather than accumulating and then having massive chuck outs.That's not good for our planet.

Living Notes from NYC said...

Here are some of my thoughts :

I love the idea and the minimalistic design Graham Hill created from his small NYC apartment. Truly do. I think that this is the ONLY way one can live SANELY in tiny Manhattan apartments. He has everything he needs, yet it is out of the way until he must use it. Everything is awesome.

That being said, I do NOT think that he has a minimalistic life style - just to make this apartment be what it is, he had to spend the minimum of $70,000 - but more likely over $100,000. Plus the high tech appliances , etc. The fact that he has 10 dress shirts, etc - well, I don't find it surprising at all. he is a single guy in a city - I don't think how one would need more? he stores what he wears, and tosses items he does not need. In a city one cannot afford to take up the space by unneeded things. That is from my experience. I was extremely "light" to move when I lived in Manhattan - kind of , comes with the territory. :) I think, and it is my personal opinion only , is that while Graham Hill is a GREAT example of efficiency, he is not necessarily falls under category of "less consumerism", "simple living", etc. Minimalistic life style costs just as much money if not more. :)

As far as books go - I absolutely agree that nothing is like reading a book cover to cover, and e-books will never compare, BUT in a city small space you don't have that luxury of storing them. That is what a LIBRARY is for :) You can read what your soul desires and more and don't have to spend money on it :) ( unless absolutely want to have it in your personal possession :) )

lauralcharles said...

If only this were easy to do... Within the last 2 weeks I have taken 3 bags of *stuff* to the charity shop. But I still have got loads! I'm on a mission to get organised but I know that the real problem is that we have too much *stuff*

Schenck cath said...

I think I should throw away half of my belongings, but I had to clean and to put things away. I'm messy!
However, if less is more, I don't want to overdo it. My father in law threw away all his sons' childhood things and it really made my husband sad when he in turn became a dad. He won't buy books, and I'm sorry, a house without books or a little clutter is more than boring.
The people I know who have few things (well fewer stuff than us) do it because they want to have a CLEAN house. And it just makes me sad.
When people come to my house, I want them to see how full of life it all is. I hate emptiness. I admire lovely homes on magazines, with everything white and few decorations, but I wouldn't live in them.
I like old houses with lots of heavy bookshelves and memories and interesting things to look at.

cass said...

I wish I could call 400 sq ft tiny. For where I live that would be a HUGE apartment. Right now I'm in 100 sqft. 400 sqft is almost the same size of a two bedroom apartment I looked at.
Every time I go home I'm amazed at how large my friends placers are or the size of the houses they're buying. Do you really need a massive, expensive 5 bedroom house?


And a house isn't "full of life" because of all the stuff in it. That's ridiculous. It's full of life because of the people living there.

Kat said...

I admit, getting rid of things feels good. But, getting new things also feels good too. I have gotten rid of an incredible amount of things, after my dad suddenly passed away 2 years ago, when I was 24 years old, and a senior in college. Every room in the house was packed with his things and my things, granted that he was still minimal in his belongings. I am still getting rid of things to this day.

Living minimally doesn't happen over night. I'm still working on selling things on ebay and such, and donating. While I buy less than I used to, things still creep back up. In the end it's not really about getting rid of an x amount of items, it's about what happens on the inside. I live without television, health insurance, an ipad, and am using my 7 yr old computer until it dies (it's getting there!), or until I can pay for it when I get a job making more than $100 a week. Declutting starts on the inside in how we think and behave.

Kat said...

Here is a story on my challenge with clutter
http://ex-scapes.com/2012/02/17/featured-article-on-bemorewithless-the-clutterfat-challenge/

Stephanie Anderson said...

I used to feel like I couldn't get rid of things...what if I need it one day? And then I moved last fall and was amazed at the amount of junk I had accumulated. I sold, donated, and threw away, over 50% of my things as I packed boxes. And then I did the same thing again as I unpacked and got rid of a ton more. It has been incredibly freeing and I have found that not once have I missed all of those "things" that I was holding onto!

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