About two years ago I was a regular reader of an unschooling mom who became a minimalist. She went from living in a three-bedroomed double-garaged suburban house with a yard to a two-bedroomed walk-up apartment. She, along with her husband and two kids, radically downsized the volume of their possessions (as in 2 sets of cutlery and crockery each, 2 towels, 4 shirts…), and in the process uncovered the life of their dreams. Originally inspired by Konmari, a decluttering method which suggests keeping only that which brings you joy, they went further, and asked, ‘What can we manage?’ I was intrigued and inspired. I immediately began a decluttering process, which quickly snowballed into our own drastic move. My husband gave up one of his jobs (which had included a four-bedroomed house and yard with staff), and we moved into a one-roomed hut perched on a hillside.
Immersing myself and my family in the philosophy and practice of minimalism has been utterly transforming. In the face of an increasingly consumerist world drowning in accumulation, embracing minimalism has allowed me to let go of everything that no longer serves me, and to guard my energy for only that which is most meaningful to me. I have found this process of decluttering spreads inevitably from the physical to mental to spiritual and back again. It is a lifestyle focused on principles rather than rules, which means it effortlessly expands to cleanse every aspect of your self and life, and thereby make room for growth. On a physical level it’s made my home a place I want to be. I actually like cleaning, tidying, and caring for our home these days, and for the first time in my life I find myself house-proud. Most importantly, household chores no longer overwhelm me, leaving space for deeper endeavors. I am finding myself drawn to clean up my online spaces, creative spaces, work spaces, schedule and life goals in a similar manner. And then my spirit. As my outside world becomes restful and welcoming, and my mind clears, my sensitivity to my emotions and energy field rises. As I now focus on approaching housework with energy, time and enthusiasm, I too seek out a regular balancing and cleansing of my spirit. I practice yoga and meditate every day, even if only for a few minutes. I’ve committed to this tiny practice, and I do it no matter what, whether to the sound of Peppa Pig, with a toddler in my lap, or in workboots and overalls next to the furnace. The slow strengthening and building of this personal daily habit is greatly supported by a larger framework. On the first Monday of every month I clear space for a therapy hour of massage and energy healing. Colleen of the Midlands House of Healing, who sponsored this post, first relaxes my body, clearing away the strain and fatigue nested in my muscles. Then she reaches back to the memories stored there, to release pain that I have no need of carrying forward. She wipes away the energy that others have left behind, that which I had no right to pick up for myself. She keeps me in a place of movement and fresh moments, where every day is a new chance to choose to keep only that which I value.
For a while now I’ve wanted to share how this shift in our hearts and minds has affected our family home space. I was waiting for the perfect moment, when all projects were completed, and every aspect well-disposed. But life is a flow, not a static snapshot. As the months have gone by, I’ve begun to realize that all I’ll ever be able to share is one moment in time. Our 65-square-metre self-built home is many months, possibly years, from complete. Stuff flows like a river through our spaces. This is where we live as two adults and an almost four-year-old with two dogs, one cat, and three fish. We will soon be joined in this space by a tiny babe. Our home is an artwork in progress, a reflection of our innermost selves. Welcome in.
This represents most of our kitchen space. The chicken wire cupboard/open shelf combo holds all our crockery, appliances, empty jars, scale, food jars, tea/coffee supplies and equipment, teaspoons and candles. The very bottom shelf is an adventure snack shelf, with empty boxes and jars of ready-to-go snacks for heading out and about. Next is the kitchen sink with pots and pans stored in the open above. Behind the curtain are our bins, dog food and dustpan. The cupboard by the door holds all our shoes, extra food and vitamins, and an empty shelf where we put things that are destined to leave our home shortly (to be donated or borrowed things etc). Brooms and mop live in the space between the sink and cupboard.
This is our table. I was skeptical at first at the idea of one table, but it works like a dream. There is one place for eating, for placing wet dishes, for creative projects, for chatting over cups of tea, for everything. So it has to be reset regularly. We have other chairs elsewhere in the house, so when we have more people needing to sit down, we pull it away from the wall and add the chairs.
Our extra chairs and Emma's toys are stored here beside a sideboard holding fishing gear on one side and electronics on the other. Fishing rods are stored above the make-shift curtain which will one day be made into a blind.
The basket holds spare blankets for guests and for watching movies. The chest of drawers holds all our underwear, scarves and Seth's clothes. One small drawer holds odds and ends like bits of paper for writing, pens and pencils, rubber bands and clean dish cloths. In the corner waits a small basket with nappies:)
The tall cupboard holds all my clothes (except underwear). It's usually covered by a curtain. My handbag lives in the basket with the few clothes that can't be hung up. Emma's clothes are all stored in the cane drawers, with her deck chair, water wings and kite slid beside.
Our wood stove (which is in daily use at the moment!) has wood stored on the right in crates, with the ax and fire starters (teabags soaked in paraffin). The basket on the left holds kindling and paper recycling destined for burning. Jackets and Seth's bag hang up next to the door.
The middle of the house is split into different sections by our stairs which double as storage. Inside the stairs are kept our cooler bags, yoga mat, Emma's backpack and some more toys. The cat's food and water bowls live on the third step. The chest of drawers under the window holds the baby's things (wet nappy bin beside and cloth wipes on top). Right now tools fill the bottom drawer but we are planning to build another shelf under the sink because I'm quite sure baby things will soon fill this storage space.
The bathroom is the most 'in-progress' aspect of our house. We have a double-chamber compost loo which works beautifully and a tub with a drain and cold water through the hose attached to the wall. Bath toys are hanging into the tub. The shelves on the left hold all our towels, medicines, dirty laundry and toiletries.
This is the other half of the kitchen with our gas stove and oven, a few more pots and pans and foodstuffs stored beside. The main workspace is the table where we also have our food scraps box, cutlery, cooking utensils, salt, and matches. Extra chairs (for inside and outside use) are stored beside this table. Under the table is the gas bottle and a little pony which used to be filled with air and is now slowly gathering our soft plastic recycling for a new lease on life. Our sitting hammock can be seen just beyond.
The lounge area is made up of two sitting hammocks which can be easily clipped down when we need more space, and this couch. A small table in front holds the laptop for movie-watching, and there's a bookshelf on the stairs above. The small chest holds our memorabilia and doubles as a workspace for Emma. The central counter is just made up of boards for now, and we plan to build in a more substantial counter soon, but with similar features.
And that's our house! It's not a true reflection of what we own or have access to, as we keep quite a lot in our workspace (including a book collection and laundry things). Our workspaces are less than a kilometer away on the other side of the farm, and we spend most of our weekdays there. But this is our refuge place, where we withdraw from the world, and recharge. It is dreamy and beautiful and restful and inspiring. Thank you for visiting!
To book distance healing or a massage session outside Howick, contact Colleen on 084 603 0604. Spiritual healing often comes before healing of any other realm, but at the very least must happen alongside it. For support and inspiration, visit this talented healer in her own restful home in the Karkloof.
Hello and welcome:) I am a South African mama who believes in unschooling, mindfulness. and living on purpose. I love traveling, reading, yoga, leading our family business, and eating delicious food in beautiful places. And tea. I love tea. Pour yourself a cup and settle in for a read.