Frugality: Paint Thine Walls

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If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: There’s nothing a can of white paint can’t fix. I love white walls, and I’ve fervently written about them, that’s for certain. While there isn’t a foolproof recipe for how a minimalist home shall look, I’ve found that having a clean canvas sure helps me. Any decor is left in the details – minuscule additions that help with frugality, but also, accounts for frequent mood swings. To me, white walls are the basis of a fresh, clean home. In order to avoid sounding redundant, let’s jump right to the topic of this post which is, if you’ve got a hankering to turn your walls white, I would suggest painting thine own.

In our house, there was one room that hasn’t been painted white. Our bathroom, the smallest, most closed off space in the loft, has always been a charcoal gray. It made the space feel cramped, dark, and dingy. All emotions you don’t want in the room that’s meant to be restorative. It didn’t help that there were no windows to let light in. We decided to (finally) paint it to match the rest of the home.

I did consider hiring a painter to do the job in order to save us time and effort, but I am so glad I didn’t. The total cost of the project was $90. We went to Sherman Williams to match the Egret White walls that we already had in a semi-gloss finish. We also bought a single paint roller, some foam, and a few brushes. We had the paper to lay on the ground and blue painters tape already sitting in the garage. My parents brought over the extension rod for the roller and a ladder. It was a whole birthday affair. Having a painter do the job would have probably run us another $300+.

The amount of time it took was 6 hours – including taping the edges, painting the corners, and applying two coats of paint. Mike and I did the majority of the taping the night before. We also prepped by painting the trimmings. My mom and dad swung by the next day and did the majority of the painting. It took them about two and a half hours, while leisurely conversing and taking breaks. It definitely is no more than a two person job. It was a situation of having too many chefs in the kitchen, so Mike and I were pretty much kicked out left to cheer on the sidelines. To be fair, my parents were professionals. Having moved ten times before high school and growing up with a mom who was very into design, I would say that they’ve had their fair share of practice. It may take a newcomer another hour to figure things out.

Regardless, it was surprisingly very easy to do. We had enough time to clean up, put the bathroom together, and have a lovely dinner and cake.

I think that for a room or two, painting thine walls isn’t bad advice. It saves you a decent amount of money, and it’s a fun event when you invite others to join. All you have to do is play live music on the speakers and call it a party.

Now that the bathroom is finally white, there’s more to be considered. For today, it’s enough of a miracle, but I’ve definitely got a wishlist going…

Simple Things: Ikebana

It’s Mother’s Day and while most of the Western world is showering their moms with love in the form of large bouquets and wreaths, I figure I’d share a personally preferred minimalist and intentional flower arrangement – ikebana.

The art of ikebana is a Japanese way of making bouquets. Translated literally, it means “making flowers alive”, which to me is poetry itself. Rather than focusing on gathering as many flowers as possible, the art requires a curation of sorts. Typically, only five to thirteen stems are used, and a flower frog with pins are employed to arrange the flowers in a romantic way.

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Unlike flower bouquets lining groceries and florist shops, these arrangements use stems and leaves, even blades of grass. Whatever is calling to the artist is included. It’s the ultimate proof that beauty can be found in even the simplest of things.

I like the practice of Ikebana because it adds an element of mindfulness to the process. Not needing to drive to a floral shop or pay for flowers, I pick simple buds or greenery that I find on walks around the neighborhood. What captures my attention depends on the day, and sometimes even twigs will appear wondrous in their own right. I collect a handful of treasures and curate them when I get home. Curating is arguably the most difficult part, but also my favorite. I put to use everything I know about creating an intentional home and apply it to ikebana.

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I’ve chosen these beautiful vessels from Notary Ceramics, a hand-thrown pottery located in Oregon dishing out the most beautifully minimalist pieces. There are two that I like – one with a water bowl in the center and only a few spaces for stems, and a smaller one with more opportunity for fronds and the like, but without a water bowl.

The water is another element of ikebana. It is said that one shouldn’t care whether petals or leaves fall into the water, for there is beauty in the imperfections, too. I love when soft petals float over the water’s surface, or when small buds break off from their stems into the pool.

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As you’ve probably guessed, for Mother’s Day I gifted my mother one of these flower frogs from Notary Ceramics. I hope that she keeps it by her bedside table, or in the center of the kitchen island for the morning light to shine on. I imagine her finding a few whimsical strands of nature when she walks our family dog with my father. I hope she remembers what it was like to be a child, carrying treasures home from her adventures. May she find a creative moment each week that lends beauty to her home as she carefully chooses her pickings. May more people practice a simpler art, daily, and bring joy to mother’s everyday after Mother’s Day.

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Play Pretend: Hunkering Down

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Hunkering down in our homes isn’t really much of a game of pretend. Hopefully, you’ve settled quite nicely into a rhythm that works for you. Now that you have a routine for the kids, and a feel for separating work from home (if you are so lucky), I guess it’s time to accept the idea that staying at home will become the new norm. Who knows what will happen when this is all over? Perhaps companies will find work-from-home more efficient or productive. Perhaps mothers will decide that home-schooling has its benefits over private school. Perhaps those who are jobless create a niche for themselves as a small business owner. Perhaps we may remain, forevermore, at home.

I’ve been spending my own time reflecting on the functions of my home. I have been put-putting around the house reclaiming our space and making it the zen oasis that my lifestyle needs. A home is more than the house itself. It is a recluse from the outside world, a reflection of our personal self, and as such, should not be neglected or taken lightly. Therefore, my days have been spent remodeling our sustainable couch (more on that in a future post), and clearing the air of clutter and negative energy.

With the realization that parks and beaches may not be accessible to us in the near future, possibly even as far as the summer months, I have also decided to finally focus on our small city balcony. I will be remodeling that into a relaxing outdoor space that we can escape to, when sunlight basking and fresh air are what we need. I am a person who needs to have natural sunlight, be surrounded by nature, and breath in fresh air. Last summer, we religiously parked our bottoms on beach sand every single weekend, and it pains me to hear that beaches and parks are closing in response to COVID-19. In response to the response, I will be creating our own outdoors in this tiny home. I will also share that remodel in the coming months as we document it.

For now though, I traverse the dangerous road of having too much time on my hands. Making our house a home, a thing I haven’t had much time for since we made our measly renovations when we first bought the place, could lead to spending money in excess. I wrote previously about how property ownership does not have to be a dream home at the get-go and I am one who likes to take all things slow, including making purchasing decisions for creating a space dedicated to hunkering down.

I don’t have any rules persay as to the number of hours or days that I have to mull over a potential purchase, but I do prefer to wait. I like to absorb all the feelings, consider all the motives, peruse the alternatives occasionally if space in my heart allows. Sometimes, you just love a thing too much, you know? So in these cases where I feel a burning desire to tackle a project of reformation, I try to simply list my wants and play pretend. Let the fire simmer down, if you will, until my brain has had time to catch up with my heart.

Here, a few finds made to create a space for comfort. These are things that I think would help turn a home into an oasis worth settling in, from companies that I would love to support and see survive past this small-business drought. And with these items, a small anecdote on how I envision them in my own life.

+ A pair of Kygries slippers or these lighter linen alternatives from Fog Linen for walking around cool, clean cement floors while providing a cushion for the feet.

+ Kinto day-off tumbler or Kinto tea pots in the name of staying healthy and hydrated.

+ Fog Linen socks for lounging around on the couch or in bed, whether your space be in home-mode or work-mode.

+ Vitruvi Humidifier for refreshing the air cooped up at home. 

+ The Beauty of Everyday Things for reminding us that maybe we already have all that we need.

+ Citizenry Linen Throw Pillow Covers + Parachute Throw Pillows for sinking deeper into that couch or bed or floor, what-have-ye.

+ Notary Ceramics tray, reminiscent of TV dinners during childhood, to hold teapots and mugs of coffee on preferred soft surfaces. 

+ Cleaning supplies, for a bout of spring cleaning.