When you move into a new place, you often consider essentials you’ll need — utensils, a couch, a lamp, etc. But what about the hidden essentials? I term ‘hidden essentials’ the little things that create homeliness. I came across this situation after I moved into my new duplex and couldn’t get myself to feel comfortable. I brainstormed, but realized I had everything needed. I had the bare minimum. What was missing? Why was I still stressed out?
These are what make a difference between coming home to a house and truly coming home to your space, all while advocating for simplistic living.
Hidden Essentials to Make House a Home
- Comfy Chair - The place you spend the most time at home should be your coziest, and I don’t mean small in size. How you make your room cozy can be in a variety of ways. For me, I had to add a comfortable chair and a nice, fluffy throw. These were things I formerly considered frivolous to my wannabe-minimalist room, but they made the difference. Sometimes this doesn’t even require adding anything to your space. Consider moving around your furniture many different ways until you can sit somewhere and feel comfortable. For example, if you spend a lot of time at your desk and your chair aches your back, that’s absolutely something that should be fixed, swapped, or replaced instead of tolerated.
- Clean Room – There should be at least one room in your home completely free of clutter. Clutter stresses you out, and does not allow you to visually relax. It also makes finding something specific very difficult. Consider cleaning the room you use the most by moving around in chunks — start with a corner and move clockwise throughout the week until you’ve covered the entire space.
- Mementos - This one is a huge mistake I see a lot of people make. I’ve seen blogs featuring beautiful spaces, but unfortunately many of the decorative pieces were items you see sold all over the place. (Sorry, The Everygirl, but I’m looking at you!) Your space should be beautiful and reflect you, but the best way to do that is to utilize pieces that have special meaning to you. I have a jar of sand from the beach I grew up near, a vase from my special someone, and a German print from my mother. Surround yourself with good memories, not just good items.
- Artwork – While this may be a given, it is sometimes misused. Everything on your wall should speak to you. If you’re displaying a print someone gifted that you don’t actually like, it needs to go down. I also got into the habit of selecting prints that I liked, but that I also thought would be received well by visitors. Another mistake! Be bold, display what strikes you even if it is unliked or controversial to others. To save money, utilize my strategy on printing. Don’t like art on the walls or want to be extra-minimalist? Totally fine, but incorporate creativity in another way.
- Guest Entertainment – This one took me a while. I had essentials, but not all of my friends understand that I value company for discussion over coffee rather than watching TV together or doing something else. Give yourself options without sacrificing looks or space for storing games! A few items that are space savvy are classic cards, Cards Against Humanity, Charades, or even Pictionary Card Game.
What makes your house a home?
Image source: 1
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When it comes time to decorate, I often have a hard time imagining what would go well in a room. I have to see it with my own eyes!
I’ve started making mood boards, inspired by professionals I’ve seen work on some of my favorite TV shows and online blogs. These have helped me figure out what I want. (And just as importantly, what I don’t want!)
Here’s a recent mood board I made for our bedroom. It’s one I’ve just started, with the goal of finding colorful accents. I put in items I already have, and then slowly add in items I need to buy.
As you can see, I still need to add in my colorful accents. Right now, this is my base.
Here is how to start creating your own mood board:
- Choose a medium: Decide which medium — digital or paper?
- Digital tools: If you decided digital, you can use an image editor like Photoshop or a free tool like Picasa. (Here’s a Picasa tutorial for mood boards.)
- Paper tools: If you decided paper, get a blank scrapbook and use it to collect all of your mood boards in one place.
- Decide on a canvas: You can use a white background color, or you can do what I did and put in the color of your floor and walls. It’s up to you! I find putting these in help me with the overall color scheme.
- Use what you have: Begin with what you already own and add it in, but remember you may sometimes not have anything to start with.
- Adding pictures: To add pictures digitally, find them online and use your image editor to remove the background. Then paste them onto the mood board and resize to fit. For adding pictures on paper, simply cut them out of magazines or print photos from your computer.
- Add new items: Now the fun begins… Using the same process, experiment with adding new items into the board. Remember nothing is permanent, you can always change it.
- Annotate carefully: If you get a final vision you can go out and purchase the items that look similar. However, if you want to purchase the exact items you used on your mood board, remember to add the proper annotations so that you can remember where to buy them. Even better, write down the price. Then you’ll know how much you need to invest to create your dream room!
This process helps plan a design, and is incredibly helpful for seeing an overall picture of what something will look like when completed.
I especially have been loving my mood boards, because they keep me from being indecisive and I know exactly what I need to grab the next time I’m shopping for interior decorating supplies.
Don’t like interior design? That’s fine! You can also use mood boards for outfit planning, wardrobe overhauls, and makeup looks.
Have you ever made a mood board? Would you find it useful?
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There’s a gray area between minimalist decor and clutter. I would consider my decorating style somewhere in the middle.
As far as simplifying your life, I think it’s important to bring a room down to the bare minimum you can handle. Some people can get rid of everything, others need more to stay happy.
The easiest way to figure out what works for you is starting with a bare room and gradually decorating until satisfied. It’s much easier to do things this way rather than take away from what already exists, because you’re likely attached to many items.
Why is this important? Walking into a room with just the right amount of objects for decor can provide various benefits:
- It relaxes you. The view eases stress, rather than immediately overwhelming you with eye-candy overload.
- You focus on art. Having only a few items allows focus on special pieces or artwork, rather than having too much competing for attention. Quality versus quantity!
- You’re inspired. Until I decorated my area of the office, I wasn’t inspired to blog. The right amount of decoration will neither overwhelm or underwhelm you, which allows room for inspiration and ideas to flow.
- It centers your mind. You should have functional pieces and decorations, but not too much of each. You should feel comfortable and happy walking into the room to focus on why you walked in there in the first place.
After unpacking from my move to a bigger place, I found it too minimalist for my taste. I’m still adding quality pieces that make me happy, and I hope soon that I can experience the points above in every room!
If you’re having trouble limiting the amount of decoration you have, look out for a post on handling collections and holding onto items for decor.
Where is your line between minimalist and clutter? Do you need to do some organizing?
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I grew up in Germany for the first couple of years of my life and I love seeing pictures where I’m hip deep in snow wearing a ridiculous parka during the winter. Right now I’m in Florida for the holidays and it just isn’t the same…
Fall and winter are my favorite seasons. Nature starts showing off my favorite neutral shades and the weather allows for layering fun with clothes and my favorite boots. It’s also easy to take winter colors and use it for interior design inspiration.
Here are a few examples of how to take your favorite season and decorate your place to make you feel happy all year round!
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