This year I was blessed by being able to downsize our home. When Ryan suddenly got a job offer in Nashville, I honestly felt like my world was falling apart. This would be our 6th move in 5 years. I had no idea at the time, but this uncomfortable situation would end up blessing me beyond my wildest dreams. Around the time of the job offer, I began trying to take a more minimalistic approach in our home. I was burnt out, exhausted, and I felt like all I ever did was clean. We had a 3500+ sq ft home and I started to drown in all of the extra stuff we were keeping “just because”. Instead of spending the majority of my days enjoying our girls, I spent it cleaning, organizing and re-organizing stuff. I felt trapped, but I didn’t know what to do. We absolutely loved our neighborhood and our house was only a year and a half old. We just couldn’t picture downsizing locally when we had such a great set up for our family.
I slowly began to notice that all of the women on my street, working outside of the home or not, felt the same way I did. I was one of only three that didn’t hire help. Every mother wanted to spend more time with her family and kids, so in order to manage it all, they had other women come in to clean their homes. Yes, I stay home with my girls, so I know that a big role of mine is to manage our house. I am fine with dishes and bathrooms and laundry. It’s the blinds and baseboards and other random things that kill me. I felt like I would finally make it through my list of chores and then it was time to start the rotation again. I longed for less floorspace to vacuum, less objects to dust and less stress.
I slowly began sorting and purging things in our house, and before I knew it, I was making second and third rounds to each living area. This was the point where I found out we were moving. All of my sorting turned out to be a huge blessing because we would eventually be moving into a 1800 sq ft, 3 bedroom 2.5 bath home in Nashville. We would discover that we had no basement (although we ended up with a small crawlspace!), no garage and no attic to store things in, so we needed to get rid of a lot.
I sold what I could, gave a ton away to local families and then donated the rest. The move to Nashville was by far the easiest in terms of packing/unpacking. We had all of our boxes emptied within the first week. I slowly found a place for each of our belongings and even sorted through and donated more. I can honestly say that I have so much joy and peace in my heart since our move. I no longer spend all off my days being a slave to housework, toys and laundry. Just because we strive for a minimalistic lifestyle and home, that in no way means that our life + home are “cold” or “bare”. My children aren’t deprived – in fact, I have seen unbelievable, positive effects on both girls and their ability to play alone and with each other. I would love to share three of my favorite quotes with you:
Minimalism is not the lack of something. It’s simply the perfect amount of something || Choose time over money and people over stuff || The goal of minimalism, let’s remember, is not just to own less stuff. The goal of minimalism is to unburden our lives so we can accomplish more.
Since our minimalism journey began, I have had an outpouring of comments and emails. People asking if I could share how I sorted everything and what made it through “the purge”. For that reason, I decided to do a room by room house tour so that I could share how I successfully minimized our home (and life!) in a few short months. I have two little girls who are 3.5 and nearly 2, so my perspective will hopefully show that decluttering with kids is possible and that families can live in a simplified home if that’s something they desire.
So without further ado, let’s begin our Minimalist Home Tour! Below are affiliate links for your convenience.
One major thing that happened when we downsized is that we sold our King bedrame + mattress and kept the Queen mattress from our guest room. The King wouldn’t fit in the new house, so we reverted back to the mattress we had when we got married. I have always favored this mattress, so I was excited to use it again, but Ryan is 6’2″ and I’m 5’9″. The reason we got the King in the first place was because we thought we were “cramped”.
The biggest thing I noticed during the first week in the Queen bed was how much I had missed snuggling. Once we got the King, we would always find ourselves on opposite sides of the bed – now, more often than not, we find ourselves snuggled up to each other.
We ended up only keeping one dresser, and after we went through our clothes, we realized that it was more than the two of us even needed! We did have to purchase a new bed frame, as the one we had had already gone through 5 moves and was basically falling apart.
I discovered Decor Steals and was able to snag inexpensive items to add fun touches in each room. They have a ton of awesome deals and every day there are new items.
Even though I purchased things on eBay years ago, I realized that they have a ton of wonderful antiques and decor as well! You can often find things for under $5, and if the seller has multiple items you love, they will usually give you a discount.
My goal was to include personal touches and greenery in every room, but I also kept myself in check by asking “would I want to dust this every week?”. In order for me to cut back on chores, I made a list of what tasks are the most time consuming. Dusting (especially when there are a ton of knick knacks) was one of them.
I know that the right amount of decor will be different for everyone! Again, the goal of minimalism is not to have “nothing”, but to have the perfect amount of items for you.
I love flowers and greenery, but buying fresh can be costly. I used to get the $10 bouquets at Costco almost every week, but one day I realized how much I was really spending. I decided to go to Hobby Lobby and use 50% off coupons to purchase the most realistic fake flowers/greenery I could find. I did that for the next two seasons and now I have plenty of flowers to rotate throughout the year.
Here is our single clothing closet for the Master Bedroom. All of the long items in the back right are business suits or “once in a great while” things of Ryans (plus a bridesmaid dress for me). For those of you who are looking for a place to start, start with your own clothes! Let me be clear, I went through my closet 6-7 times to get it where it is today. Here is what I recommend so that you don’t feel overwhelmed:
- Go through your clothes and remove anything that is worn out, stretched out, stained or damaged. I had a few shirts that needed “repairs” for 2-3 years. I just kept keeping them, unworn and hanging in my closet, never actually mending them. Once you’ve done that, also remove any items that you know that you truly don’t like. I had things that I would try on, yet would never actually get worn. They either made me feel unattractive or uncomfortable. Get rid of them! After this, just walk away.
- At a later time, take all of your clothes and throw them on your bed. Try everything on, one by one. If it doesn’t fit or you don’t feel attractive in it, get rid of it. Immediately. Don’t keep it “just in case” you lose those extra ten pounds or if it may come back into style. I realized that I would still buy a few new things every season and those are the things I would wear every single day. Place all of the clothing you plan to keep in one pile and then divide that into “season appropriate” piles. I placed all of our winter clothes in the blue tubs up top and our winter shoes in an under-the-bed bag under our bed. Then take a break.
- The next time you address the clothing that is left, determine whether there are still items you’ve kept that you truly haven’t worn. There were a few sweaters during the winter that I made a mental note about. I said that if spring came and I still hadn’t worn them again I was going to donate them…and I did.
Some of your husbands may not be on board and that is totally fine! You do not need to feel pressure about going through their things. Ryan actually begs me to pick out his clothes and was happy for me to sort through his things, so I did his clothing as well. I think a huge thing that I noticed about my buying habits is that I tended to buy a lot of things in bulk. Instead of buying 1 pack of underwear I would buy 3. I’ve now adjusted to buying one, and if something is worn out, I just get rid of it. I can always drive 5 minutes to buy a new pack of underwear or socks or undershirts. If we have a surplus of “extras” at one time, it ends up creating a ton of additional laundry and also fills our drawers to the brim. I don’t know how I ever got into such a pattern of buying and keeping things “just in case”, but I have slowly let that go.
Another great tip is to buy thin, uniform hangers and only give yourself a set amount. I bought one pack of these inexpensive hangers for each of us, and that is all we get. Ryan actually took some of my pack as well. As far as buying new clothes in the future, I’ve made the decision to only buy myself (and the girls) neutral colored tops. I had a terrible habit of buying random prints and crazy colors that would need specific bottoms to match. Instead I will be sticking to black, white, gray and navy for the most part (with a print or two), which will ensure that they will match any bottoms that we have. If you look at my picture, you’ll notice there are still some random pieces that I have. They were in good condition and fit so I kept them, but since the fall I have stuck to my plan. Old Navy and Gap had a ton of inexpensive, but gorgeous, neutral tops for spring. Since I am always running around with toddlers, it’s not practical for me to spend $50 on most of my pieces. By finding “steals”, I no longer freak out if a shirt gets ruined or stained or just worn out. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a handful of nice pieces, but those aren’t what I wear on a daily basis.
A complete side note: I love our hamper! It’s divided and has a magnetic lid, so any smells stay trapped inside. We workout almost every day, so I was tired of our closet smelling like sweaty gym clothes. I did a bunch of research before purchasing ours and it was such a great buy! Did you know that if you click “used” options on Amazon they will tell you if any “warehouse deals” are available? These items can be used, but they also include items that just have slight packaging damage or a minor flaw. It tells you exactly what is wrong with the item in the description, but you can get items over half off by shopping this way! That’s what I did with the hamper. The original cardboard box was damaged, so Amazon had re-packaged it…that’s it! I saved almost $15.
I was so excited that we had a second closet in our bedroom, as we really needed to store some random things. We keep extra linens, workout gear (I also have a collapsable workout bench that is usually on the floor), paper goods and gift wrap in here. I’m still working on getting rid of a few of those pillows, but now I have a winter + warm weather sheet set for each bed and that’s it. At our old house I had 8 different sheet sets for our King. Why? I have no idea.
Finally, we enter the bathroom. Over half of the drawers you see are empty and it is the same in the girls’ bathroom. We were blessed to have so much built in storage, but I’m glad I sorted through everything before the move. I would have probably filled the drawers with old makeup or toiletries that I never planned on using again. Under Ryan’s side we keep a $1 shower caddy with the bathroom cleaning supplies. I purchased three great brushes (this and this) and natural glass cleaner + foaming bathroom spray. Again, at the last house we had 1,000 cleaning supplies and it was such a waste of space. Our shower door needs special cleaner, which I’ll explain below, and the only other product we have is toilet bowl cleaner.
Here’s another amazing thing I discovered: Amazon wipes. They are the only ones that don’t irritate the girls’ skin, but over the past two years, I realized they will clean ANYTHING. I use some pretty hardcore hairspray that leaves a rough residue on the counters. Neither cleaner, a brush or a magic eraser will get it completely off. Now I wipe the counter down with a wipe and then clean as usual. We use the wipes on baseboards, cabinets, walls, the stove…you name it, these wipes will probably clean it off. Just a fun little fact there.
I found this marble box a few years ago at HomeGoods and I almost didn’t buy it. Our budget was really tight and I didn’t want to spend the $12 they were asking. I am so glad that I walked back to the aisle and purchased it, as it’s now one of the only things I kept for the bathroom. It’s really heavy and holds cotton swabs, and even though it probably sounds silly, I love it! Sorting through our things really made me see how differently I felt towards the objects in our home. I used to buy things because I was bored or because I thought something was cute (even if we didn’t need it). Now I only purchase what we need or items that I am crazy about. For whatever reason, the box and ring dish bring a smile to my face when I look at them, but that’s how I know they were good buys.
We replaced most of the lighting in the house ourselves and it was surprisingly inexpensive! We also switched out certain pieces of hardware, which made a huge difference. Once again, I got rid of all of our worn towels, so we each have a hand towel and a bath towel. If one starts falling apart, I’ll just buy new ones the next time they are on sale and I’m out.
If you ever get the option, totally go for a frame-less shower. A previous builder asked us if we wanted it, and at the time, I didn’t think it was worth the upgrade cost. This house just happened to have one and the maintenance/cleanliness is night and day! I had to research proper techniques to cleaning the door after I made the mistake of rinsing it with a glass of water. The water poured out onto the bathroom tile ::insert eyeroll at my stupidity:: and we spent the next 10 minutes cleaning up the mess.
I found a cheap squeegee that we try to remember to use after we shower, and then once or twice a month, Ryan sprays this glass cleaner on the door and wipes it off. We used to get horrible build up and grossness around our shower door in previous houses, but this one stays almost perfect looking. Little things like this have really cut back on the time it takes to complete cleaning around the house.
I added a removable soap dish to the wall and this cut out holds our four toiletries. Prior to purging, we would have random items all over our shower and it would drive me nuts. Literally, three types of shampoo alone. Ryan and I have similar skin types, so the body scrub and soap work for both of us. I have my face wash and shaver, and any other random shower items are kept under my sink until I need them (i.e., shaving cream, wet skin tanner, loofah, etc). I set out to find haircare that we could share and discovered this combo last Fall. Ryan frequently gets a dry scalp and I had thin hair from terrible postpartum hair loss. This stuff is amazing! A very tiny bit goes a long way, and just as the company claims, there has been no dandruff and a ton of hair regrowth over the past 6 months. Combining products won’t work for everyone, but it has made a huge difference in how clean our shower stays.
Our toilet room faces the shower and it’s actually a huge waste of space. I found these towel hooks a long time ago at HomeGoods and they are still one of my favorite things.
It’s probably hard to tell from the photo, but the toilet room is really wide. Because of this, I ended up using one of our wire baskets to hold extra toilet paper.
The last area in the bathroom are these built ins. I found different pieces on eBay and added in items we already had. The basket has two older towels that are for Marcy’s baths (our boxer).
This antique washboard came as a set of two and it was one of my best eBay deals. I got both of them for under $10 each! The other one is in Rowan’s room.
I truly hope that this series will be helpful and encouraging to families out there. We didn’t make all of these changes overnight and I know a lot of “simplifying” can seem overwhelming. This is exactly why I wanted to share our house, room by room, with tips and tricks we found along the way. I’ve also included links below to items in the two rooms, as I know people often message me questioning where I purchased something. If I couldn’t link to an item, I shared where it was purchased. Come back next to see how I tackled our kitchen!
Master Bedroom Decor
· Bed Frame
· Duvet Cover
· Side Tables
· Mother Teresa Artwork
· Trouble Pendant Lights || Decor Steals
· Small Rugs
· Dresser || Brown-gray color discontinued
· Small Mirror || Similar, ours is discontinued from IKEA
· Floor Mirror || Ours is discontinued from Target
· Hanging Shelf With Baskets || Hobby Lobby
· Cotton Sprigs || Decor Steals
· Covered Divided Hamper
· Slim Hangers
Master Bathroom Decor
· Vanity Lights
· Hand Towel Hooks
· Hand Towels
· Mr. + Mrs. Ring Dish
· Marble Box || Similar boxes available at link
· Coming Home To You Sign || Hobby Lobby
· Chalkboard Window || DIY
· Wire Basket || Michael’s
· Wet Wipe Dispenser
*All other decor is from eBay or antique shops