By this point I’ve read a couple books on minimalism and a few of them have suggested an interesting exercise: If you could start over again, what would your ideal house look like?
The truth is, I have no idea.
So far my movement toward minimalism has been about taking what I have and paring it down to the essentials. I start with an accumulation of stuff and try to end with only those things that I truly love. I haven’t really thought much about what I’d want if I could start all over and recreate my surroundings with only things that bring me joy.
I like my house well enough. It’s nothing special but it’s home. Over the years I have purchased a few things that bring me joy, in an attempt to make my own home the kind of place I’d want to go to if I could get away. We have a memory foam mattress that I cover in sinfully soft sheets. Sinking down into bed each night is one of my favorite moments of the day.
There have been a few pieces around the house that I’ve had to replace since my minimalism project began and I’ve thought long and hard about the question posed above. If I could start all over in this room, what would I want it to look like?
When it became clear that my son was not going tolerate being changed on his table, I delighted in the prospect of getting rid of it. It had been falling apart for years and the drawers were constantly falling off their runners. I knew I wanted a chest of that matched the blue and brown motif in his room, but after extensive searches online I hadn’t found anything I loved that also fit in our budget.
I ended up making it myself.
I bought a simple five-drawer pine chest from IKEA and two shades of blue paint. The whole project took way longer than I anticipated and in the end I felt I had gotten in over my head, but thankfully I was thrilled with the results.
Now I have one piece in my son’s room that is exactly what I want. It absolutely answers the question above and brings me immense joy.
This project was completed months ago and I’ve had a couple other opportunities to add details to a room that bring my joy. When we replaced our TV stand and added another shelving unit I chose some turquoise highlights in our living room, which had been dominated by black. Now a shelving unit, the storage bins below the TV and the throw on the old glider add some great color to the space.
A couple of weeks ago the cold water handle on our bathroom sink faucet just broke off in my hand. The plumber informed me I’d have to get a whole new faucet. I was annoyed by the cost of the whole project and went to Home Depot hoping to spend as little money as possible. At first I grabbed the lowest priced faucet, but then couple of models in a darker “burnt bronze” caught my eye and I suddenly realized how much the silver faucet in our bathroom had bothered me: it didn’t sit well with the dark accents in the marble counter top or the wood of the mirror above and cabinet below.
The minute I saw the faucet I eventually got I knew I was going to splurge a bit on this purchase. Sure it was an extra $70, but I use the bathroom sink so many times a day, isn’t it worth it for washing my hands to bring me a little extra joy?
It’s not much–I still hate the cheap vanity in there–but I’ve always wanted a faucet like this and it brings a little joy to a room that I spend a lot of time in and that I’ve never loved much. I’m also so glad we got rid of the silver–it did nothing for the small space. The color of this faucet works much better.
There is still much about my house that I don’t love, but as I change these small details I find I take so much more joy in my home. I am constantly asking myself what I would do with a room if I could start all over, and while I rarely have any moments of true inspiration, it’s fun to wonder.
Of course this line of thinking can be extended to the rest of my life. If I could build my life from the ground up, what would I fill my days with? My uncertainty in answering this is paralyzing, but I keep asking myself the question just the same. I know I can’t overhaul everything in my life, but maybe I can change some of the small details to bring more joy to my days.
What would your dream house look like? What small details in your space bring you joy?