The Minimalist Dilemma: Utility vs Beauty

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Part of simple living is clearing away the objects in your life, most especially in your home, that are quite literally: just taking up space. 

Things that you are not using... not even noticing anymore, but yet, because of their accumulation you start having thoughts:   

We need a new house, at least an addition... I need to spend a lot of money on organizing bins to fit all my STUFF better into my closet... etc. 
 
...when in fact you really need to say, "Goodbye." to the things that have outgrown their usefulness... or maybe never fulfilled your expectations to begin with.

"Having nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."

--William Morris
 
What to keep? The things that you use daily... even weekly... even seasonally if you do actually use them and need them for a specific purpose. If you host Thanksgiving dinner every year you can’t chuck the turkey platter... just try to think of some other uses for it through out the year.
 
I subscribe to many wonderful minimalist blogs: Loving Simple LivingThe EveryDay MinimalistThe Minimalists to name a few. Their advice, especially having to do with mental clutter, is usually very thought provoking. 
 
But I image their homes having bare white walls and stark Scandinavian furniture. It's a look... but it is not me. (I know they all don’t decorate like this.) 


White Living Room

Image: Martin Mai/TCS via ZUMA Press.

 

This is were William Morris’s ideas come in... keeping things that you believe to be beautiful has a value too... it is not practical. It is aesthetic. 
 
For me Simple Living is about focusing on the most important things in your life: health, family, friends, food and home. Focusing on these things and finding the most pleasure in them.
 
I don’t just eat healthy... I spend time learning about new cuisines and cooking techniques, so I and my family, can enjoy eating healthy food more. 

So, when I decorate my home yes, I don’t over crowd rooms with furniture that I bought cheap at Target or Walmart. No, I keep items that fulfill the needs of my home, but that are also pleasing to the eye and are made well, so I won't have to replace them: 

quality not quantity. 
 
I try also to think about what William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movementpromoted so long ago.. craftsmanship.
 
If you can find and afford something that is made... no not just made: crafted by an individual.. this can both food and furniture... buy it. 
 
Support a person in living a life in which he gets to put love into objects and food... that he gets to spend his days creating art. 
 
I once visited the Shaker Village in Hanover, MA. For Shakers craftsmanship was symbolic of their devotion to God. Everything they made was infused with spirit, they strived for perfection to bring heaven to earth. 

Craftsmanship is so pronounced in their work that when I walked into my first Shaker house my jaw dropped at the site of the door hinge... yes the door hinge screamed craftsmanship. So did the door knobs and the coat hooks... nothing in this home was built without care... nothing mass produced. The soul of the owner echoed in every room, every corner, on every floor of this HOME.
 
I would love to fill my house with objects that I love and were made with so much love that the imprint of the artist’s soul is engraved in the work and emanates through out my home. 
 
Support craftsmanship.
 
http://www.etsy.com/ for furniture and house hold items handmade.
 
Learn about the art of making furniture in New England athttp://vermontfurnituremakers.blogspot.com/
 
 
 
~Diane

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