In Lifestyle, Minimalism

The more space you have, the more you need… or do you?

One thing I have noticed without fail is that everyone expands to fit their space without fail.

Anyone who moves to a bigger house and thinks: OMG I have so much clean space now…. will, in one year’s time, realize that they feel like they need more space.

The space you have is the space you will fill.

If it is small, you will keep it small.

If it is big, you will expand your things to fit the new empty space, mostly because we are just as uncomfortable with emptiness as we are with silence.

I have seen this happen in 99.99% of all new home situations.

 

Every time I talk to someone who buys a new place, and ask them a year later how it is going, they sheepishly tell me it seemed like so much space at the start but now it is crammed to the ceiling with stuff.

The thing is that we all expand to fit our space.

Have a second living room in your new house that is empty?


You probably look at it and feel like something is wrong.

How could a room possibly be EMPTY and feel comfortable?

So you buy a couch to “fill” the void. Then a coffee table, then a rug and before you know it, it has become a second dumping zone for stuff.

Even in my own apartment, when we first got it, it seemed pretty large until we started buying the fridge, laundry machines, and packing our STUFF into it. Soon, my closet overflowed to where it looked like a dump site for expensive clothing (srsly..) and we started looking into buying open racks to store our kitchen stuff.

This is NORMAL. You are living a LIFE.

A real life that requires at least 15 glass lunch boxes (5 for each family member, for 5 days of the week) and that stuff takes up space. Being efficient and organized enough to own 15 glass lunch boxes so that you can meal prep the whole week on Sunday for everyone, takes space.

This pictured below, is halfway through the week. Normally it’s packed to the brim with glassware.

(Parts of my Minimalist Home and Apartment. You can see the rest of my apartment here: Sherry’s Home)

Who can really subsist on one plate and a set of cutlery?

I know I can’t.

I don’t WANT to wash all the dishes everyday so I have slightly more (but not insane) amounts of plates so that I get a bit of a house cleaning break to not be on the hook to clean the ONLY 3 plates in the house.

And yet, the balance between three plates or thirty is a fine line.

I myself can’t help myself when I walk into stores and see different coloured plates or things but then I just remind myself that it is unnecessary for my life and it will become instead of an object of beauty, clutter.

I have to restrain myself from buying pretty mugs because we really only have space for 2 at the most (those do get washed daily).

We are organized and neat as much as we can be but we are also human, not robots who eat out daily to avoid owning plates or cups just so that our place looks neat and clean.

That said, my place looks like this, and this is my living room and kitchen.

https://www.savespendsplurge.com/parts-of-my-minimalist-home-the-living-room-and-kitchen/

To some, it looks EMPTY. Cold and soulless I believe, comes to mind.

But I don’t see that. I see clean and lived in. I see stuff on the desk I should really get rid of and clean up, and I see space.

I see a mental break of a clear open space where I can look at it and visually breathe.

I contrast that to my childhood where my parents cluttered the house (nothing has changed), and I couldn’t breathe looking at the piles of STUFF that no one ever seems to have time or the will to sort through, toss and clean out.

In my house it may not be perfect and it may not look like a spread from Architectural Digest, but every square foot is used on a daily basis, and the home brings calm to my mind rather than stress or anxiety about “getting around to that pile of papers one day”.

Even having minimal decorations is part of that scheme. Seeing decorations and things on display is nice but when it starts to blur into each other, I cannot handle it.

I need that empty, mental breath by way of visual serenity. It helps calm me when I come back from a day of work stresses.

I’d rather have ONE central beautiful piece that means something than a whole array of things just for the sake of having things on display.

For me, it has to mean something. I deliberately choose to to put up a painting my mother did for us, framed in thick heavy gold and displayed proudly in our hallway, rather than a wall of random photos that I like but also don’t really love enough. You know?

I prefer the white walled, empty room to a cluttered one. I just have an itch to start chucking things into a basket to sell or donate.

The odd thing about all of this is that I’m a bit of a Hoarding Packrat Collector. I like to own lots of varieties of things in what I like (clothing, accessories, etc) and feel a pang if I have to let anything go.

I just realize and am consciously limiting myself to the actual space I have. You can only cram so many skirts into a rack before it explodes.

What about you? Where do your tendencies lie?

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have paid my $600K home in cash (my half was $300K), my $180K casr in cash, worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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10 Comments

  1. Hawaii Planner

    We definitely don’t use all of the space in our house. It’s poorly laid out (needs to be remodel, but we are saving up again after making the purchase – bay area), but we have 2700 square feet. About 1/2 of that is usable space. We have visions of making the space more usable. I also am not a “things” or “clutter” person. It makes me crazy. Now, I do have two tween/teen boys, and they do leave things around the house with some regularity. But, we go through their rooms once a quarter, try on all of their clothes, get rid of toys, books, etc that they don’t use.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Or get them to do it! 🙂

      Reply
  2. FullTimeFinance

    In some respects I feel we have a larger home then we need. And yet I do feel we’ve found ways to use all the space. Still I think I’d tend to buy smaller if I did again. (We bought our home because of location more then size)

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Location, location, LOCATION!

      Or sometimes just having space, that is open and clear is best. NO need to fill up every space.

      Reply
  3. yettie

    Ha! Murphy’s law strikes again. One of the corollaries is that “Work expands to fill the time allocated to it”. I guess that applies to homes as well 🙂

    My tendency is definitely for empty spaces. I was a minimalist long before it became a movement/trend and I still try to stick with that in decorating my home. It is a mental health issue for quite frankly. A messy/cluttered environment drives me crazy and sends me on a decluttering binge where anything and everything is up for removal.

    Case in point: most of my decorations for individual rooms is a couple of paintings that hang on the wall because I like to keep the floor space as free as possible.

    Reply
  4. Gail

    You have a beautiful home! If it were more crowded, it would lose its appeal. It attracts and calms.
    Are you perhaps highly sensitive? I am that: cannot stand itchy fabric, clutter, too loud noises (or people), and scents really come on strong to me.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Thank you! I am very sensitive actually. I do not like a lot of noise, constant noise, colours, lots of stimulation unless it is in my clothing or things.

      I cannot stand itchy fabric, tight items…. I guess it all fits. You’re so right.

      Reply
  5. Jessie's Money

    I think we tend to fill the space we have. We’re actually renovating our basement right now – and I thought it would be so difficult to live just on the main floor – and it was at first. As we were doing demo over the summer I just kept purging more and more things and now I’m not sure (other then the new bedrooms) if we really still need a second living room downstairs!

    We’re still going ahead and I’m looking forward for my son to have somewhere to really get all his toys out and play, but It’s shown me that we don’t need as much space as I thought.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      You start realizing (when you are forced to) that you end up not even really needing that space. It is NICE to have, but it isn’t what you really need if you had to prioritize. Isn’t that funny?

      Reply

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