Keep in mind this isn’t an ad. I’m not advocating anyone to go out and buy anything after reading this post. I’m hoping instead to inspire you with ideas to minimize and purge and work with what you have on hand to achieve a functional living space that is free of clutter and weight. Maybe your style is completely different than mine. That’s okay! It’s not one size fits all. What works in my space may not work in yours, but maybe one or two ideas will stick and help you save money. That’s my goal.
This room has many functions. It’s probably the most versatile area in our whole house! It’s a play area, office space, entertainment, hosting, and relaxing area. We even have house concerts with live musicians in here sometimes!
Plants and natural light are my main decorative features in my living and dining rooms. We open the shades in the morning and don’t use artificial lights until dark. Plants are great for the air and they’re a little hobby of mine, always changing the look and feel of a room based on where they are placed.
I don’t move or rearrange our furniture often. In this house, there is really only one ideal setup that works, so we keep it that way most of time. My computer is in the corner of the room and it functions as our screen for DVDs. It saves a lot of space and hassle to not have a screen that’s just a tv. Josh and I are fans of having our computers out in the open, not in bedrooms for better sleep, to prevent being a workaholic, and for accountability. Josh has a standing desk with his laptop in the dining room right behind my screen so we can work side-by-side sometimes.
We used to keep a lot of toys in this space, but I finally narrowed it down to just books and instruments. Every night I like to tidy up the living room by putting all the books and stray toys in baskets. It takes about 5 minutes but it really allows me to relax. Picking up doesn’t take long if you don’t have too many belongings to begin with. Our home is far from perfect, but I’m rarely overwhelmed by the mess. A quick tidy-up is usually pretty easy.
Jam sessions and reading are our main forms of entertainment in the living area. We sometimes listen to music and let the kids play along. Or Josh will play piano (which I inherited from my grandmother) and the kids will dance and sing.
Our home is old fashioned but with many modern touches. In decorating, I find that everything goes – from garage sale antiques to a found deer skull to a side table we found in the trash, to a coffee table we found in the shed, to a hand-me-down love seat. The real question is if I like it or not. We were so fortunate to have been given our awesome dining room table from a downsizing friend and the chairs from Josh’s parents and Freecycle. It all matches and fits perfectly in the space – and was free. Even the extra-long tablecloth was handed down to me from a friend! I feel gratitude and a sense of community every time I use the space.
What makes this area minimalist? It just looks like a normal house. It’s not always obvious when a place is owned by a minimalist or not. Parts of our simple lifestyle actually create clutter – our double jogger and two bikes are stored in the landing zone because we use them so often. As much as I’d like the open space, I’m happy we have these items to reduce our car usage. It’s a trade I’m willing to make.
We’ve purged many books and DVDs throughout the years, but our favorites are still found on the living room shelves and in the “sentimental hutch” where I keep all of our -you guessed it- sentimental items I don’t want to part with. I consider many of our collections to be optional. If we ever stopped hosting and downsized to a smaller dwelling, we’d consider parting with them. As for now, I avoid over-purging since we do have the space. But the local library is my real resource for reading and entertainment – I feel little need to own any of it. And think of it this way – if you own a book it might get read once, or at most twice. Mostly it sits on the shelf. If the library owns a book, it gets read hundreds of times – maybe more! It’s actually a much better use of resources, is it not? Oftentimes saving money and taking care of the environment can go hand in hand. It’s wonderful!
I love wood floors because they are easier to keep clean from dust and allergens than carpet. I use area rugs for the zones we play in and to prevent chair marks in the dining room, but mostly wood (or even tile) floors feel a lot cleaner to me. Every now and then I dust and wash the windows with a water / vinegar solution.
When someone comes over for a visit, the focus is usually conversation. If I made a meal we’ll gather in the dining room and chat while we eat. There’s even a couch in there for after-dinner conversation and snuggles. Oftentimes we just hang in the living room and I make tea for everyone. It’s very low-key, but we love it. Some great conversations have taken place in this space.
I’ve said it before, but hosting doesn’t have to be stressful. Just inviting people into your happy space and giving them something to sip is usually all it takes. It isn’t about “entertaining” them as much as it is just “being” with them. Living life together. I love that this area of our home makes that possible.