Simple Living

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
— Leonardo da Vinci

We’ve all heard about tiny modern house living and here on Bento Box we’ve written about the economic and environmental benefits of living in smaller more eco-friendly contemporary home. Modern architects will tell you, that economic and environmental responsibility starts with thoughtful design. But, having a more compact and efficient modern design for your home also means living simpler and has its own inherent personal benefits. Reducing and minimizing your possessions can be a fun and self-exploratory exercise and it can help you be free from materialism and debt. Simplicity also declutters your life and helps you to focus on health, hobbies and life goals. But, fitting yourself into that lifestyle, whether you have a tiny home, a modern home or otherwise, has its own set of challenges. Luckily, there are many downsizing techniques that have been developed, shared, and tested. Some methods encourage reducing all of your belongings, some encourage only reducing personal items, and some only focus on wardrobe management. Any or all of these methods would be helpful in organizing and downsizing to your perfect modern house or to freshen up the one you have.

One of the most popular organizing and decluttering techniques is the Marie Kondo method. Marie Kondo has her own Netflix special that will inspire you to clean up your life by only keeping items that bring you joy. If you want to delve even deeper into the method with a step-by-step breakdown, she has a book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up in which she describes all the tips and techniques she uses to reduce, declutter and organize herself and her home. After trying this method personally, I will say that it does work. I am particularly fond of her techniques for folding and storing clothes.

Another technique, called the “100 Things Challenge”, is not as all-encompassing as the Marie Kondo method since it only deals with your own personal belongings instead of the entire house. It challenges you to reduce your personal belongings to only one hundred items. In other words, if you had to pack up your entire life to move into a tiny contemporary house and could only fit one hundred items to bring with you, including clothes, what would you pack? These personal items don’t usually include shared family items (furniture, board games), books, and personal items (dishes, vacuum, tools). You can also count your treasured comic book, geode, or baseball card collection as one item. If the exact number one hundred isn’t right for you, then use your judgement. Maybe your perfect number is ninety-five or one hundred and fifteen; the number one hundred is just a place to start. As long as the end result is that your life has been simplified, the exercise was successful.

Other simplification techniques only focus on the wardrobe since modern tiny homes don’t have a ton of closet space. One such method is the Capsule Wardrobe. It has been around since London boutique owner Suzie Faux coined the term in the 1970’s to describe a curated wardrobe of carefully selected seasonal shoes, accessories, outerwear, and clothing that are used exclusively for a period of time (usually 3 months). Basically, it means you have a wardrobe of staples that can be mixed and matched for each season. This pared down wardrobe allows for two things in particular; a decluttered and organized closet space and the ability to buy fewer high quality items that will last for years instead of months. This has the auxiliary benefit of reducing the amount of clothing that would be disposed of and sent to a landfill. Workout clothes, lounge and sleep wear, undergarments and sentimental jewelry don’t go toward the final count.

The Capsule Wardrobe is similar to and compatible with Project 333, which challenges you to use only 33 wardrobe items (including shoes, accessories, outerwear) for three months. For both challenges you aren’t stuck with all those items for the season no matter what. If your jeans suddenly have a hole, your heel breaks, or if something doesn’t fit, replace it.

Minimalism is not subtraction for the sake of subtraction. Minimalism is subtraction for the sake of focus.”
— Unknown

Whether you are building a space efficient modern home, a contemporary tiny home, or just staying where you are, removing the excess clutter from our lives helps to also remove it from our minds. A simple uncluttered life allows for focus on experiences and relationships. It also allows for us to focus on our life goals. Simplicity gives us the space to fill up our lives with meaning instead of possessions.