The other day I hung two pieces of art that I’d made with a friend. This brings the art in my house to a total of — wait for it — THREE pieces of art! Whoa. Things are getting a little too crazy over here.
Let me explain. My husband and I live in the parsonage of the church where we work part-time. What this means is really amazing, financially speaking — we get to live in a giant, lovingly-maintained, FREE house.
And when I said giant I mean… This is a ranch house built in the ’50s for an imagined pastor and his boisterous family of many children, so we’ve got four(!) bedrooms, a study, and a full basement.
All of this is obviously wonderful, but we moved into this house from a tiny student apartment. And we didn’t have enough furniture to fill THAT place. The move from apartment to house is usually made by someone who has moved into a new income bracket — you know, the not-still-in-grad-school one. But we are still firmly in the we-could-get-food-stamps-if-we-applied bracket. Basically, our discretionary income doesn’t rise to the occasion of this grand home.
For a while I trawled Craigslist, looking for free couches and side chairs and art to fill our miles of square feet, but I found nothing we could afford to be appealing. I pinned cool décor projects, but I work full-time and am not a DIY-er. Then suddenly, I realized I didn’t feel like looking anymore. I’d become happy and content with our “look.”
And our “look” is — little islands of furniture adrift in seas of square feet. If it wasn’t gifted to us at a wedding shower or handed down from family, we don’t have it. Our “couch” is two folding camp chairs next to each other — one lime green, one teal — given to us by my husband’s sister. We have just one tiny rug — it was the only thing in the house when we moved in. There’s one bedroom with only a blow-up mattress, and another with only an ironing board. That’s right — we have an ironing room. How very Downton Abbey of us.
There are lots of benefits to having a furnishing-famished home. We have the youth group over on Saturday nights and they play massive games of sardines and tag through our house — it’s not like they’re going to knock anything over! I can sock-slide around our cavernous living room. There’s nowhere for clutter to collect. And we get to look like trendy minimalists!
But more seriously, you don’t realize how much Wanting Stuff and Acquiring Stuff weighs you down until you just stop doing it. I found that when I shifted from the mindset of “what else do we need” to that of “we’ve got all we need,” I became happier, more at peace, and just generally more chill.
And that contentedness has stretched past my décor and into my closet as well — I probably haven’t set foot in a store (at least, one that doesn’t sell groceries) in almost six months!
Even though it began as a minimalism of necessity, I really am happy living with only the things we have now. Someday we’ll probably spring for an IKEA couch, but I’m in no hurry for that day to come. My mom asked me the other day if we needed anything. My sincerest answer was no.