We have now been living in our little house for a month. I know that at the end of my hospitality post, I suggested that we would choose a three or four bedroom house with plenty of room for guests. However, as Mike explained in his post, we decided instead on a roughly 830sqft, two bedroom house. Since moving into our new home, I have realized that we have plenty of floor space, sleeping mats and towels to accommodate at least two guests comfortably. I came to this realization by looking to our neighbors, who seem to live happily with less, a whole lot less, than what we have. I know that purging possessions or living in a smaller space sounds overwhelming, maybe even impossible to some. My hope is that hearing our story can make the process feel more feasible to more people.
Here are a few guidelines we are following as we furnish our new home:
1) Evaluate every item you own. This sounds like a daunting task, but the reward of having a beautiful, organized home that breathes life is well worth the effort. We had the unique opportunity of going through each item that we own and literally weighing the value of each item we chose to bring. This did not mean depriving ourselves or our children. We prioritized several unnecessary items, such as meaningful decorations, baby scrapbooks for all the kids, and a tea cup for each person in our family. These all help to make whatever house we live in feel more like home.
2) Choose and use furniture based on your family’s unique habits. Tables are a luxury item here in Thailand. Many of our neighbors eat squatting around their shared dishes of food, and these are families living comfortably with plenty of food, clothing and a well-built home. However, my kids did not grow up eating on the floor, and mealtimes without a table were not a pretty sight. In addition, I found trying to do school at floor level with a toddler way more work than I was willing to do. For us, a table went on the need list. Items that did not go on our need list, however, are a T.V., couch, oven and full-size fridge. We had to choose what was important for our family.
3) Embrace the peace of open space. In previous homes we have lived in, I was keen to fill each wall with decorations and each corner with furniture. Here I have discovered the calming effect of open space. This has meant being more deliberate about what we hang on the walls. I have also been more patient about buying furniture, adding one item at a time to see how the room feels before adding another piece.
4) Stick to a simple color scheme. Our kitchen is several shades of white. We try to keep the counters clear of everything but drying dishes. This leaves the white unbroken, which I would have previously thought was boring. Now, I quite like it. We do have a very pretty white and turquoise rice cooker that frequently graces the counter top, as well as a turquoise and brown vase for our weekly delivery of fresh flowers, and a turquoise and green throw rug for just a few splashes of color. I really enjoy looking into my kitchen now, which is important because I can see it from almost every room in the house.
5) Love the place where you live. As we arranged and decorated, I continued to reevaluate if I was satisfied with the result. If I wasn’t, I reworked the space until I was. This may seem trivial to some. I decided that since we wake up and live much of our life here, it is important to me that the space is as inviting and beautiful as possible.
This last guideline has more to do with letting go of the guilt I feel over focusing on the way my house looks. However, beautifying my environment brings me joy and contributes to my ability to be a loving, kind and patient person. For me, it’s part of the good life.