Simplifying Home | Week 2: Living + Family

Simplifying Home | Week 2: Living + Family Rooms
Let's get on with Week 2 of Simplifying Home!

If you're new: go here >> to see what Simplifying Home is all about and download the free checklist.

Remember: You do not have to complete every item on the list. This is all about jumping in with your best effort, whatever that may be. I promise, the end result will still be worth it even if you can only check off a few items on the list each week. And share your own updates and photos on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with #SimplifyingHome.

Just turn on some fun music and jump in!

Simplifying Home | Week 2: Living + Family

Clean + Declutter

I shared the cleaning and decluttering process in Week 1. This week, continue that process into the living and family rooms in your home. If you're not in a habit of decluttering, then you might start with one or two areas that really need attention. If you declutter regularly, then you might be able to make a quick decluttering sweep through the entire living/family room(s).

Decluttering Questions

I'm gonna break this down real easy for you: Do you love it? Do you need it? Those are the two questions that carry me through most of my decluttering. If we don't need it and we don't love it, then why do we have it? Maybe it's sentimental, maybe there's history, maybe we think we'll need it in the future. Get honest with your answers to those two questions, and use the outbox liberally for any grey areas.

Style Board

Thanks to Pinterest, more and more of us have likely already started this. Setting up a style board for our home is as simple as clipping favorite spaces from magazines, or these days Pinning inspiring spaces to an online board. This is all about guilt-free browsing--no need to worry about how much you pin or if you'll ever do everything you pin. You won't.

The point of this is to see all of your favorite and inspiring spaces together in one place, and get a sense for your preferred style. You don't have to know any technical design terms, just notice commonalities in the images. This will serve as a bit of refocus as you make decisions about what to add or take away from each space in your home. And, it's a fun refresher for when you get overwhelmed and need a break from your work-in-progress to be reminded of what you're aiming for.

See my home style trays >> here.

Browse the following sites to fill your style tray:
A Beautiful Mess
Pinterest (browse the "home decor" category, or search for key terms like "simple home")

Set Timer + Clean

When we're not vacuuming, mopping, and dusting throughout the home, setting the timer is another good way to get things cleaned. With both methods, the idea is that once you get started with the minimum, you'll likely build motivation as you go.

Set the timer for twenty minutes and get as much cleaning done in that time as possible. If you have a family or roommates, get everyone involved involved making the progress exponentially better. A little dividing and conquering helps--someone picks up, another does dishes, another works on vacuuming or laundry.

20 minutes goes a long way. Even if you're working by yourself, choose the room that needs it the most and I'm sure the effort will pay off and progress will spread throughout the home.


Wash Curtains

This is one of those seasonal cleaning tasks that rarely gets done. Curtains still collect dust (and grime if you have kids or fur if you have pets), so it's a good idea to throw them in the wash periodically.

Air-Cleansing Houseplants

Look into and consider making a potted plant or two (or several) a permanent addition to your home. Back in the 1980s NASA provided research on the benefit of several specific air-purifying houseplants. These plants are proven to cleanse a home of many of its common pollutants within 24 hours!

Added bonus: Plants provide an element of life to our decorations. It's worth decluttering our shelves if it makes room for a healthy little thing in a favorite pot.

Learn more about air-cleansing plants:
Air-Purifying Houseplants
Top 10 Air-Filtering Plants
NASA's '89 Study on Indoor Plants
How to Grow Fresh Air (book)
Air-Filtering Plants with Pet Toxicity

Home Shopping/Wish List

You can get my printable home wish list >> here. Before adding anything to the home, put it on the list and think about why you want/need it. We're simplifying here, afterall, and adding things to the home is a little counter productive. If it stays on the list for a couple weeks, and especially if it's replacing something, then go ahead and think through where you'll shop around for it and what your budget is for it.

A reader recently asked how making a room inspiring fits in with simple-living. Especially if we already have a home set up with the basics (furniture, etc.), then how do we justify adding or changing items that aren't really necessary?

My answer: I'm not opposed to buying or updating, as long as I do so intentionally with careful consideration and don't do so on a whim. While it's important to be content when needs are met, I also believe in having an inspiring, calming home. So, with careful planning and some time to be sure my choices will be long lasting, I am not opposed to making updates/changes throughout my home.

As I have done this throughout the last few years, I have created a home that I am very proud of. And changes and updates have slowed considerably as I've gotten each space closer to what I long for it to be. It's a good feeling to no longer feel uneasy or discontent in our space. And I've found letting go of belongings has helped the most--once you clear out the excess, it becomes clear those one or two items that truly will help complete the space and make it something that's useful AND beautiful.

If you haven't started already, now is a good time to start thinking and dreaming of how you can make your home inspire you. Don't necessarily go on a shopping spree (that comes in Week 7) or get overzealous in your dreaming. Just think about what elements might improve your space. This is especially great to approach as you declutter. Then, you should have some freed space to think about completing it intentionally.

Family Day / Date Night

Make an effort to spend time with those you love. Plan an at-home family or date night. You choose. Make it as simple or detailed as you like. A simple game with the family or dessert with the spouse after the kids are in bed will suffice. But you could also make it special with a theme or a nice meal or some other extra effort if you'd rather.

Just spend a moment with the ones you love--the people we live in daily routine with and sometimes forget to slow down and really enjoy. This is your chance.

Here are few more ideas:
100 Date Night Questions
50 Family Dinner Questions
Simple Date Night Basics

Your Home Projects

Be sure to add your top 1-2 home tasks for this week or the living/family area of your home. This is your list, so get done those things that you really have been wanting to get done!

Simple Home Living + Family Room Products

Simplifying Home: Living Room Comforts, Family Room Practicality

*Affiliate links used. See full note below.

Here are a few of my favorite living + family room products for a simple home...

Living Room Comforts

1. accent chairs |  Amazon has a lot of affordable accent chairs, and Target always seems to have fun accent chairs on clearance online. That's where I got ours and they add a bit of fun to our previously neutral and boring living room. Plus, they offer extra seating without taking up too much space.

2. pillow covers | I love cute pillows and they're a great way to add comfort and color to the room. I don't like the idea of buying all new pillows when I want to update. So, when I've changed my mind about pillows, I keep what we have then just find covers I like. Our current pillow covers are from IKEA.

3. functional blanket | When it comes to blanket, there are lots of pretty options that I love. However, functionality always wins out on this one for me. Our absolute favorite blanket was an accidental buy. It's queen size and I didn't realize how huge it is. But we love it because it's so big that the husband and I can share it on date nights, or it can stretch across everyone on the couch when we're watching a family movie. I realize that's not what everyone looks for in a blanket, but we love ours so much I just had to share the love ;)

4. area rug | We got our area rug on super clearance at Target (from $120 down to $35!). However, after moving we need to update sizes--an area rug should rest under the feet of furniture, not float by itself in the middle of the room like ours currently does. An area rug obviously isn't essential, but we actually like the protection it gives over the carpet, especially with kids and lots of foot traffic in front of the sofa.

5. matching frames | I'm a fan of getting several cheap matching wood frames, usually in 8x10. Then I can add a matting inside or outside the frame to fancy it up, and put them together in a collage. If I buy something larger or nicer, I usually wait for a really good sale and make sure I know exactly what I'm getting, where I plan to hang out, and I plan to put in it. For example, we recently bought a poster board, added our family's handprints in black paint all over it, then framed it in a poster frame I got for 50% off. It makes a big statement over our sofa for really cheap. And if I end up changing my mind (like I sometimes do), I can change it without worrying about wasting money.

Family Room Functionality

1. storage ottomans | these are a great place to stash toys quickly, and they serve mutliple purposes as foot rest, add a tray and use as a side table, or even use for extra seating. Choose something sturdy for most uses. We have 3 matching cubes that we got on clearance at Target.

2. boxes, bins, and baskets | We have IKEA boxes that we store DVDs and Wii games on our TV stand, a basket is great for corralling kids' books, and cubes look neater on our bookshelf to hold books (of course) among other things. It also helps put natural limits on our things (only what fits in a bin can be kept), and it makes clean up easier.

3. houseplants | I already mentioned I'm a big fan of houseplants, especially the air-cleansing varieties that add very practical benefits to the home (see above). Choose a pot that matches to your home's decor and you have functionality meets fun.


also read:
simplifying home: 8-week challenge
week 3: kitchen + dining
the delicate balance of contentment
living room home tour
monthly dose of simple

*Note: Amazon + Target affiliate links used in this post. Any purchases made through these links could earn me a small commission with no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!