Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Beautiful, Clutter-Free Home

clean white minimalist kitchen

Google the phrase “minimalist house” and the vast majority of results will show you utterly modern, shiny, white box-like homes.

And that’s lovely.

But it’s such a misunderstanding of the idea of simple, minimalist homes to think that white, shiny boxes are what it’s all about.

Minimalism is not about the absence of personality. Or History. Or uniqueness.

And it doesn’t have to be about the absence of colour. Or mementos. Or quirkiness.

It’s not about stripping out everything that is unnecessary. (Because, strictly speaking, much of what we own is unnecessary. Taking all of that away would leave our homes very empty indeed.)

Now, if shiny, white boxes float your boat, then that’s fabulous. But me? I love a home that has warmth, personality and history. I simply don’t like clutter.

Today you’ll see that creating a beautiful, simple, clutter-free home does not mean creating a boring, sterile, style-less home.

Firstly, some inspiration to get your imagination firing:

Minimalist but Still Warm

So how do you create a personality-filled home without the clutter?

1. Start with White Space

If you don’t already, you need to learn to love white space.

And just so we’re on the same page – white space doesn’t actually have to be white. It needs to be clear, empty, blank, bare. Devoid of stuff. The colour doesn’t matter so much. In fact, as you can see above, colour is one of the most beautiful, simple ways to decorate.

The best way to find white space in the first place is to declutter. When you rid your home of things you don’t love, things you don’t need, things you don’t use – you will find your white space.

This super comprehensive post will help you find (and love) white space in your home.


2. Use What You Already Own.

Chances are you already own things that are beautiful and meaningful. So use them! Do them justice!

Look at things you own that have special memories or meaning attached:

  • a handmade quilt from your grandmother
  • a piece of art gifted to you on your 30th birthday
  • a beautiful piece of furniture that has been handed down to you – a cabinet, hallstand, lounge or table
  • a framed photo from your favourite holiday, your wedding day, your baby’s first birthday
  • a dining table made from recycled timber
  • a lamp you bought from an op-shop one beautiful weekend
  • newspaper clippings from your past
  • artwork from your kids, nieces or nephews

3. Set the Foundation and Highlight the Special

Now that you’ve found your white space and decided what beautiful things you’re going to highlight in your home, you need to strip the room back to its basics (in terms of furniture and decor) to create the foundation.

The foundation is everything that the room needs to function well. For example:

A lounge room requires a lounge, TV, entertainment unit, perhaps an armchair and bookshelves.

A bedroom requires a bed, storage for your clothes, somewhere to sit and perhaps a bedside table.

Once the foundation is in place, you can carefully choose what personal mementos, photos, belongings or keepsakes you want to highlight.

It’s really important to choose wisely. Your aim is that everything remaining is beautiful or useful.

If you follow these guidelines, you’re going to create a home packed with personality, but not packed with clutter. And that’s what we’re after.


10 Tips to Create a Stunning, Personality-Filled Minimalist Home

Using the images above (from top left) as inspiration, start to think about the various ways you can create a stunning, liveable, personality-filled home – without the clutter:

  1. Vibrant, handmade touches. By removing clutter and unnecessary decoration, a gorgeous, personality-filled quilt like this brings the bedroom alive while still allowing it to be the haven you need.
  2. Find beauty in utilitarian items. Just because an item is “useful” rather than “beautiful” does not mean it should be hidden out of sight. By surrounding the bench and hat/coat stand with plenty of white space, suddenly these items become beautiful in their own right.
  3. Make a colourful artwork the centrepiece of your room. You can consider making one yourself, or as a family project. Then it becomes not only simple and beautiful, but also meaningful and something to be proud of. If you’re fortunate enough to own a beautiful piece of artwork already, don’t be afraid to let it stand in its own beauty on an otherwise empty wall.
  4. Use light to decorate. A dramatic colour on the walls and a simple, yet beautiful wall-hung light fitting is all this room needs to pop with personality. And no clutter in sight. You can also use this idea with daylight as decoration. Consider removing your window coverings and let the outside world be your artwork.
  5. Don’t be afraid to use dark colours. When surrounded by plenty of white space, a dark piece of furniture, art or bedding looks refreshing rather than overwhelming. It gives the eye something interesting to rest on in an otherwise neutral room.
  6. Use colour on the walls as decor. Don’t be afraid to do something a little different with the colour on your walls. Adding a simple two-tone colour job plus neutral, utilitarian furniture is enough to make a room warm and inviting. And again, you don’t need to clutter the room with piles of sentimental items to communicate your style.
  7. Use furniture with a built-in past. Second-hand furniture brings warmth and history to a room, even if it’s not necessarily your history. But if you really balk at the idea of buying furniture second-hand, then consider purchasing a piece made from recycled timber. Not only is it a sustainable choice, it brings so much character to the space that additional decor is unnecessary.
  8. Decorate with texture. A simple lace curtain or a neutral coloured, textured blanket is often all you need to break up the sameness of a simply decorated room.
  9. Choose your favourite colour. Or the colour you find most calming, or meditative, or exciting. In a pale/neutral room, use this colour to provide the pop of personality you want. Think a gorgeous blanket in grassy green, or a chair spray-painted yellow. Surround it with white space and be reminded every time you enter the room that you chose that piece and that it is beautiful to you.
  10. Let the room speak for itself. If it is a dining room, then let it be a dining room. Don’t feel the need to fill every empty nook and cranny with stuff, just so the room looks lived-in or utilised. Keep the furniture to the minimum that is required, and simply enjoy using the space for what it’s designed for.


What are your favourite tips for creating a home with personality? Do you have any examples? Photos? Websites? Let us know in the comments. 

Let’s Go Tech-Lite. Are You In?

Go Tech-Lite

Today is an exciting and daunting day.

Today I start my month-long “Tech Lite Challenge” with Laney from Crash Test Mummy.

Today I bite the bullet and actually start living and dying by my own advice.

But Before I Begin: An Admission of Guilt.

Many of you loved the recent post on How To Simplify Your Online Life. In fact, it’s been one of the most popular posts.

And many of you also know that as a writer (and a human) I’m a huge proponent of simple living, reducing stress and questioning the value of our actions. Including how much mindless time we spend “connecting” when we really should spend that time doing, being and experiencing.

But here’s the weird thing:

While I understand it, believe it, and will tell other people all about how important it is, this is one area I haven’t been able to make any lasting change in my life. For some reason, I’m coming up empty every time I try to limit my connected time. Five minutes after I declare, “That’s it! I’m going offline!” you can find me checking emails while getting the kids lunches.

I am tired of feeling out of control when it comes to my time. Are you?

If you are, you need to head over to Crash Test Mummy and follow along with the Tech-Lite Challenge running throughout the month of August.

The reasons, rules and objectives of the Tech-Lite Challenge can all be found  here at Crash Test Mummy.


Do you want to go tech-lite in August? Regain control of your time?

Next week, I will report back on week #1 of the Tech-Lite Challenge and Laney will (excitingly) be reporting from New York, where she is currently living the bloggers dream.

If you’re playing along at home, please join in and tell us how you’re finding it.



The Days Are Long…

The days are long, but the years are short.

“The days are long but the years are short.”

Yes indeed they are. The days, at the moment, are very, very long.


Have you ever wished you were older? Only so your kids were older? And wouldn’t need you so much? So urgently? So constantly?

I caught myself thinking that over the weekend. And it made me sad.

Here I am, a bright, blessed, happy woman. I am fully aware that I have thousands of reasons to be grateful, yet I am willfully wishing the time away.


Just because my three-year-old is never, ever, ever quiet? Because she wants my company every waking moment? Because she isn’t keen on sleeping? Because she questions everything?

Just because our one-year-old is a stubborn, funny, energetic handful? Because he is curious to a fault? Because he climbs everything in sight? Because he eats everything else?

What shit reasons to wish my life away. Really.


Are you wishing your life away?

There is no accusation in that question. It really is a question.

Are you wishing your life away?

Why are you wishing your life away?

What is causing that tension between where you currently are in life and where you want to be?


Over the weekend I asked myself exactly those questions. And do you know what I discovered?

I wish my life away when I don’t have my priorities aligned.

When I’m not focused on living a simpler life.
When I let myself play the comparison game.
When I convince myself that I am not enough, so I need to start doing more.

The cracks start to show when am trying to cram too much into life.


Accept that the years are short

We’re in the midst of the crazy baby/toddler/pre-school years. I am taking it on blind faith that they will end, and that one day our kids will be more independent.

You may be in the midst of the newborn baby phase. Or the primary school years. The teenage years. The kids-are-grown-and-having-their-own-babies years.

Regardless, I think you will agree with me – the years ARE short.

Whatever the current inconvenience, stress or struggle – it won’t last forever. Many have come before us, many will come after.


What’s important – right now?

If you want to live in the moment, be mindful, be intentional – you need to understand what’s important. And then focus on that.

You simply cannot be focused on everything at once. It’s impossible.

And you can so easily lose sight of what’s important. You can get caught up in the day-to-day inconveniences of your current situation. The little things. The insignificant things. The frustrating things.

And these are not the things we should be focused on. These are not the important things.

Ask yourself:

What’s important right now?

Not tomorrow. Not next week, or next year, or in 10 years time.

What is important right now?

And if you answer that question honestly – and I mean really honestly – then you will have your priorities laid out in front of you with very little trouble.


What is important to you right now? Where does your focus need to be?


There’s no doubt life can be fast. Often too fast. Too much. Too stressful. Too overwhelming. On days like that we will tell ourselves there’s no time to slow down. We’re too busy, too stressed, too over-worked to waste time.

But there’s always time for a little slow, even on the busiest day, and if you don’t think you have time for five minutes of slow, then you really will benefit from it

There’s no doubt life can be fast. Often too fast. Too much. Too stressful. Too overwhelming. On days like that we will tell ourselves there’s no time to slow down.
But there’s always time for a little slow, even on the busiest day. Join us for 365 Days of Slow and commit to a moment of slow, every day for a year. Learn more and sign up right here.


Gorgeous, Clutter Free Dining Tables

Over the weekend I received an email from one of the Slow Home BootCamp tribe. (Hi lovely Kristin!)

The Task #5 email had just gone out, which is all about learning to love empty space and then using that empty space to highlight a thing of beauty or meaning. (If you’re interested to know what it’s all about, you can learn more and sign up to the Slow Home BootCamp here.)

Not long after, Kristin emailed me and asked if I had any suggestions for simple, beautiful or meaningful decor that she could use for her dining table.

So today, a visual feast, for your clutter-free inspiration.

Beautiful, Clutter-Free Dining Tables

Clutter Free Dining Tables

More Clutter Free Dining Tables

The options are, quite literally, endless.

I love the idea of a completely bare dining table, just waiting for you to fill it with food, friends and family. But I know that’s a little too stark for a lot of people.

These gorgeous tables prove, though, that you absolutely don’t need clutter to have warmth and personality in your home. Do you agree? Or do you think they’re still too sparse? Let us know in the comments. x


How do you decorate your dining table?

  1. {via Apartment Therapy}
  2. {via Apartment Therapy}
  3. {via Apartment Therapy}
  4. {via Freshome}
  5. {via Wabi Sabi Style}
  6. {via Apartment Therapy}
  7. {via Apartment Therapy}
  8. {via Apartment Therapy}
  9. {via Apartment Therapy}
  10. {via Apartment Therapy}


Whatever the Challenge, Laugh About It.

be amazing
{via Pinterest – original source unknown}


Let me transport you…

To a different place. A different time.

A place…so familiar that you swear you’d been there before...


SCENE: [Target.]

[A mum and two young children are mid-way through a morning of errands. A toddler is in the pram, warming up for a full-blooded tantrum. He is clearly not loving the shopping experience.]

[A cheeky three-year-old giggles as she sneakily pops something into her mouth, chewing happily.]

[Her mum catches sight and, knowing the pleasure this girl seems to get from sticking foreign objects in her mouth and up her nose*, is immediately concerned.]


MUM: Isla, what’s in your mouth?

ISLA: (Giggles and mumbles.)

MUM: Isla. What’s in your mouth? What are you chewing on?

ISLA: (Giggles) Nothing.

MUM: No, Isla. Can you tell mummy what’s in your mouth right now? Is it chewing gum?

ISLA: (Enjoying this game) Nothing. Heehee!

MUM: Isla, I am serious. Tell me right now. Have you picked something up off the floor and put it in your mouth?

ISLA: (Giggles.) Nooo.

MUM: Well, tell me what’s in your mouth.

ISLA: (Mumbles.)

MUM: What was that?


MUM: …… Uhh…


I tell you this not only to gross you out (although, it is pretty gross) but to remind you:

Whatever your current battle, wherever your life is taking you, whoever you’re struggling with or misunderstanding – others have gone before you. And others will follow.

You are not alone.

Unless you are eating snot. Then… well, you are on your own.


So, remember…


This weekend will be all about rest and recovery. Damn you, flu! (shakes fist.) Well, recovery and writing. (Pumps fist.)

How are you spending your weekend?

(*Before she was 3, Isla had swallowed a 2-inch screw and stuck not one, not two but three pieces of dried apple up her nose, resulting in an operation. So you can understand my concern.)