Minimalist Bedding

One way we’ve pared down over the years is to get rid of excess bedding. You know – the kind that somehow takes over your linen closet and makes you feel overwhelmed on laundry day. Or the kind that drives you mad when a guest comes to visit and you can only find one clean pillowcase of a matching set.

Searching out secondhand, thrifted, and ethical linens and donating or recycling what we don’t truly need or love has allowed us to feel organized and streamlined.

 

Here’s what we’ve done to simplify our bedding:

Get rid of extra sheet sets. Currently we have one set of sheets for our bed; one set for the guest bed; one extra in case either of those first two needs a tight turnaround; and one set for our preschooler’s bed. For the thrifter-on-the-way, I’ve kept 2-3 fitted crib sheets from our first go-around and don’t plan to buy more. (We were gifted/secondhanded 5 with our first kid and never used them all.)

We find that even when factoring in occasional accidents, this is enough, because it motivates us to wash sheets as soon as they become dirty. Knowing we need to put them back on the bed that same night propels us to get them out of the washer and into the dryer ASAP – which means no manky clothes that sat too long in the washing machine. And when they’re dry, it saves us the chore of folding them because they just go right back on the bed. (Because let’s be honest, who wants to fold fitted sheets? No one, that’s who.)

To donate sheets in good condition, drop them off at your nearest thrift store (check first to make sure they take linens). For sheets that have gone hole-y, take them to the nearest textile recycler or cut them into rags.

Nix the top sheet. This was initially controversial at our house, since I could care less about top sheets but the spouse was rather attached to them. When we got a down duvet, however (see below), he was converted, mostly because sleeping with just a down duvet feels like sleeping on a cloud – ahhhhhhh. Our preschooler also loves going without a top sheet because she’s much less likely to get tangled up in a blanket than a sheet.

No top sheet also cuts down on washing/drying/folding. Plus making the bed is 1000% easier – we just shake out the blanket or duvet into a semblance of smoothness and we’re done.

We do put a top sheet on the guest bed because we assume that not everyone who comes to stay will want to go top(sheet)less. And we also keep the top sheet for our bed folded neatly in the linen closet for the hottest part of the summer when a duvet would roast us alive.

Consider secondhand. Unlike mattresses and pillows, which should not be bought secondhand (hi bedbugs and dust mites!), sheets and washable blankets make for great thrift store finds. You get a sense for whether the item wears well; you can feel the goods before purchase; you save money; and it’s an ethical option since you’re not creating demand for new linens that might be made in environmentally or ethically questionable ways.

We got our backup set of sheets at Goodwill; they’re a pleasing blue and are 100% cotton from IKEA. We also got our duvet cover secondhand from a parishioner who thought we could use some extra bedding as we moved into the parsonage. Pattern-wise, it wouldn’t have been our absolute first choice, and we may eventually buy something we like better; but in the meantime it’s actually kind of grown on me:

Consider ethical retail options. If you have access to a Costco membership, they sell quality sheets and down duvets at great prices. (It’s where we got both our duvet and our main sheets.) While you need to check individual brands on offer for their labor/environmental practices, Costco as a company has great labor practices including paying employees a living wage with benefits.

IKEA also offers sheets that are made with sustainably grown cotton and/or lyocell, both of which reduce water, pesticide, and fertilizer usage. (Check the “materials and environment” tab on a particular product on their website to learn more.) If we get a new duvet cover one day, it will be one of these.

Etsy also offers US-made duvet covers but usually for a heftier price. Be sure to check whether the listing explicitly says “Made in US” (or other country with good labor practices). “Ships from US” might mean nothing more than that the US seller imported it from a wholesaler before sending it to you.

And nix microfiber when possible – it feels super comfy but is made with petroleum-based polyester fibers, tiny bits of which break off and pollute the watershed every time you wash. Try cotton sateen or a cotton/lyocell combo for a luxurious-feeling, plant-based alternative.

 

Tips to make life with linens easier:

For that backup set of sheets, learn how to fold a fitted sheet.

Learn how to easily put your duvet cover back on the duvet after washing it.

Speaking of duvet covers – if in doubt, get a duvet cover that is smaller than your duvet. Duvet covers often come in different dimensions than the duvets themselves, which can be a huge headache when trying to find the right size. You might be tempted to size up on the cover for roominess, but a duvet that is the same size or smaller than the cover will use that extra space to move around a lot more, leaving you with flat, empty edges and weird lumps. Our duvet cover is a few inches shorter than our duvet in both dimensions and you can’t tell – it just fills the space instead of looking overstuffed.

 

What’s your sheet situation? Any suggestions for how to slim down your linens and/or creatively source them?

Friday ReBlog: RV Living with 5 People + an Epic Closet Purge and more

It’s been a minute since our last Friday ReBlog, a spotlight on articles/posts/podcasts I’ve recently found interesting. This week I’m sharing some good minimalism-related reads and listens I came across while recharging my enthusiasm for keeping my stuff to a dull roar.

First up, here’s a fun read on the principles of psychological economics behind Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The article puts some words on phenomena we’ve all experienced – like finding it a lot harder to give something away once we’ve let it live in our closet/house/bookshelf for awhile.

Next, here’s a few tips on really paring down in order to live in a smaller space – and some amazing pics of a family of 5 who live in a converted RV: Living simply, going tiny.

These two Brooke Castillo podcast interviews with Shira Gill (episode 216 and episode 217) are short and sweet bursts of inspiration for decluttering. Shira’s approach is basically the opposite of Marie Kondo’s massive tidying spree (while also overlapping in some ways). Some of my favorite parts were the discussion about how much mental space clears up when you don’t have to manage excess stuff; the glory of empty drawers; and consuming as a way to numb our feelings. PS Shira’s blog is full of great decluttering ideas, too.

Last but not least, pop some popcorn for this excess-to-edited account of a closet purge of astounding magnitude. I’d wager most of us have never spent $25,000 on clothes in one year, but if you’ve ever bought something to soothe some unprocessed emotion, you’ll relate.

Happy Friday!

Moving and Minimalism – Part 2: Toys

Although (as we discovered in Part 1) I am not a decor minimalist, as we have moved into our new home I have embraced a completely different aspect of minimalism: keeping my kid’s stuff boxed up because she does not miss it.

This kid is the only grandchild on both sides, and we have very generous neighbors and friends who often give her toys as well (many from Goodwill, yay!), and despite my regular trips back to the Goodwill she has more playthings than she knows what to do with. After we boxed them all up to move, she asked about some items that were put away, but overall she seemed content with the few things we’d kept out.

Once we got to Boston I decided to ride that train and piled unopened boxes of toys (and books – oh, the books!) in her closet. Grandma brought down a box of dinosaur toys, the church left a dozen little animals all around the house for her to find, and we had play-doh and markers for the coloring book pages my sister drew for her. (Yes, both the church and my sister are amazing. I think The Sister should sell custom coloring book pages, yes?)

The kiddo was perfectly content with that initial load for the first week or so, and we have slowly, slowly added things, either by opening an occasional box or by letting her use her birthday money at the thrift store. (8 dollars goes a long way shopping secondhand!) We also found kid-sized hockey sticks at the thrift store and my husband, who played when he was a kid, has had a blast teaching her backhands in the backyard using a ball the church gave us.

With fewer things around, she seems to play longer and more creatively with what she does have, and there’s a lot less to clean up/keep track of. I simultaneously can and can’t believe that it hasn’t occurred to her to wonder where former obsessions like her pop-it beads and code-a-pillar are. I’m hoping to drag out the toy reveal as long as possible, maybe with a rotation where we pack one toy away as we bring out others.

The books, too, are still boxed up apart from the one we initially opened. In the meantime, by George, we have discovered the library! We never took her in Atlanta because she was in daycare (so no need for the daytime programs libraries offer) and the full-size adult bookcase in her room was so full it had books we had never read. But while the kiddo’s at home for the foreseeable future, we tried out the kid-friendly mini-branch in our town, and it’s amazing – you can check out toys while you’re there (great fun without adding to our toy collection at home) AND there’s a kids’ resale shop that benefits the library. You know that’s the first place I went! In the next few weeks I’ll share what I found there to keep her warm during cold Boston winters.

Like lots of parents, I wrestle with how to keep her toys/books at a manageable level – and how to effectively involve her in the process so she learns to do it herself. She’s an enthusiastic kid and once she’s spied something that’s been tucked away, she’ll want to play with it (even if she ends up abandoning it twenty minutes later). Luckily, she’s great at playing with things in the store without needing to take them home; but asking her whether she wants to donate something rarely gets a “yes.” She’ll also randomly ask about X toy she hasn’t played with in weeks, which makes it hard to donate things on the sly – a technique that is starting to feel disingenuous now that she’s a preschooler and old enough to realize what’s happening.

Given all that, moving and keeping everything in boxes is an unexpected boon. I’m planning on having a conversation with her about how much better it can feel to live with less stuff, and as it starts to sink in, maybe she’ll pull the trigger on a few of those donations herself.

 

What have you done re: keeping things in boxes after a move? Dealing with your kids’ stuff in a respectful but practical way?

Moving and Minimalism (Or Not) – Part I

Moving is a great time to come face to face with your relationship with stuff – whether you want to or not.

With our recent move, I was mostly in the former category. While our move was stressful in some ways and there was a lot of work involved, I relished the chance to go through all our possessions and get rid of what we didn’t need or want. (My spouse willingly halved his t-shirt collection, joy!)

I returned things to those from whom we had borrowed them, passed other things on to friends, and made many, many trips to the Goodwill – not the least of which was to say goodbye to Daniel, the man who worked the donation door at our closest GW and who had become a friend over years of frequent closet-cleanout donation runs.

We decided to stage our condo for selling potential, and as we prepared to do so, I wondered whether I would experience the epiphany some minimalists (for example) describe when staging their homes. You know – It feels so open and light! We should have done this years ago! It’s a popular minimalist concept to stage your house as if to sell, but then just live in it. (See what I did there? Popular concept, pop minimalism!)

But as I sat in our echo-y condo, the majority of our belongings already on their way up Boston, I realized I’m not the stereotypical minimalist who thrills to clean white walls and sparely furnished rooms. Contrary to my relative non-attachment to stuff (see: closet cleanouts above and my willingness to ditch wedding gifts we’ve never used), I missed our things.

I didn’t miss individual pieces, per se, but the feeling that the things we have more or less purposefully accumulated and come to love made our house into our home. Without them (and with the addition of the weird chemical smell of new carpet), our place just seemed… sad.

Obviously, the memories you make, people you love, pets you adore, etc. are more important in making a home than stuff is. But as I follow the aftermath of Harvey and the ongoing reality of Irma and think back on the houses I helped gut and the waterlogged possessions I shoveled into dumpsters after Katrina – man. I ache for the families who, while safe and sound, will come back to houses full of the ruins of familiar pictures they’ve walked past, kitchen utensils they’ve used, couches they’ve curled up on every day for years. The things that made the house theirs, even if the people and pets they love – please, God – made it through.

Even if we don’t let it rule our lives, stuff is important. And I’m grateful that ours is intact and that the stuff we staged with will arrive today so we can keep making our new house feel like home.

 

 

Friday ReBlog: A Month’s Worth of Style Challenges

That title is slightly misleading because this post really includes TWO months’ worth of style challenges.  Or one month’s worth of two challenges per day… either way you look at it, there are LOTS of challenges.

First up, Anuschka at Into Mind has a 30 Day Closet Confidence Challenge meant to help you develop your personal style and love your wardrobe (and yourself!) more.  There’s a different prompt/task for each day of the month; if you’re Type A you can hurry up and do the first 4 today and then follow the rest of the prompts one per day for the rest of November. (Or you could start today with #4 and do #1-3 the first 3 days of December.  Or do them all out of order!! Crazy.)

Some of the ones I find personally most helpful for building my style are: wear an outfit 10% outside your comfort zone; write a list of everything that is NOT your style; analyze what exactly you like about your five most-worn items (or in my case a silhouette from another season).  Which sound appealing to you?

 

If you prefer a little surprise challenge every day, Nicole over at The Spirited Thrifter has adapted a local friend’s minimalism challenge into the Closet Minimalism Game. You need to check her posts on Instagram (no account necessary) to get the prompts, but it’s worth it: her writing is funny and the photos of how she fulfilled each prompt are great inspiration.  Plus, if you need some positive peer pressure, you’ll enjoy knowing there’s a whole community out there, complete with hashtag, playing along.

 

Happy weekend, Thrifters!

 

PS This weekend is your LAST CHANCE to take the ThriftShop Chic Reader Survey and help improve your blog experience!  Under 10 questions in less than 2 minutes.  Many thanks to those who have already taken the survey – y’all have some great post ideas I can’t wait to tackle!

 

A Visit to the Maul, and a Great Use for the Pesky Remaining Balance on Your Gift Card

I had to go to the mall a few weeks ago to get an existing gift card balance updated for a wedding present.

The MAUL
Disorienting much?  Image source

Yes, I am tacky enough to use the balance on gift cards we haven’t touched in years towards a wedding gift; but no, I am not tacky enough to send the self-same card that’s been stuck in a drawer in our house all those same years.

You know the ones…they stare accusingly at you every time you open said drawer, asking why you haven’t used them yet.  Your half-hearted rejoinder goes something like, “Well, the store is so far away,” “There’s not much money on you anyway,” “We never used the last thing we bought from this store,” or “I could use you to buy online but the cost of shipping will use up half your balance!”

My solution?
Continue reading “A Visit to the Maul, and a Great Use for the Pesky Remaining Balance on Your Gift Card”

Friday ReBlog: Zero Waste Wardrobes

I mentioned Ariana at Paris-to-Go in my spring wardrobe cleanout post last week, offering up her pared down wardrobe as a beautiful example of sartorial simplicity.  Her style grows so organically out of her values that it doesn’t feel like some minimalist imposition: “You should own __ number of garments!”

Instead, her commitment to simplicity, sustainability, and generating zero waste, combined with her love of well-made clothes and her superb sense of style, has produced a lovingly curated closet stocked with gorgeous secondhand finds (we’re talking Céline, Dior, Louis Vuitton et al) and handknit items made by local artisans.  Check out posts on her wardrobe to discover the contents for yourself—click “older posts” several times on the lower right to find the good stuff.

I have to say, even though her pants-light, dressily feminine style is quite different from my own, looking at Ariana’s pared down wardrobe makes me happy.  You can tell that she LOVES the items she has; there’s a sense of calm and contentment that comes from a limited number of beautiful possessions and the space freed up by owning less.

She certainly has more…concise…taste than I do—I think owning so little in the way of clothing would be a stretch for me in terms of variety.  But maybe I just haven’t found pieces I love enough to wear significantly fewer clothes more often!

 

Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home is another zero waste blogger—arguably the one who really put zero waste on the map, and did it with a husband and two boys in tow.  (She’s one of Ariana’s sources of inspiration and she’s definitely gotten me thinking about ways to reduce my waste footprint.)

Her blog is a goldmine of zero waste ideas and it’s easy to spend hours digging through it in alternating states of awe and intimidation.  (My advice for the overwhelmed: pick one thing to try and see how it goes!  Then choose another. Repeat at your own speed.)

She, too, has an entirely secondhand wardrobe and keeps her clothes very pared down.  Check out her wardrobe posts for some ideas on a very different style wavelength. Think “French girl” (since she is French, after all): monochrome, stripes, a few bold patterns/pops of color, and very few embellishments.  This post in particular talks about translating her love of fashion into responsible consumption while still providing variety.

 

What are your thoughts on zero waste wardrobes? (We might call these specific examples “super minimalist”!)  Do you find freedom in very few garments and a very focused wardrobe, or do you need a little more room to play?  And isn’t it fascinating to see people populate entire wardrobes of such a variety of styles using non-retail alternatives?

 

Happy weekend, Thrifters—and for those of you who celebrate, Holy Week and Easter blessings.

 

Friday ReBlog: Reconciling Your Thrifting Habit with Minimalism

Dina over at Dina’s Days has a great post on how to embrace minimalism when you’re a thrift addict (or maybe how to live with your thrifting habit if you’re an aspiring minimalist?).

I consider myself minimalist-in-the-making and loved her tips. I find getting rid of the unwanted excess in my life helps hone my thrifting skills; it’s so much easier to identify perfect fits and say no to everything else when you’ve pared down your belongings enough for a clear vision to emerge.

My favorite insight from her post? “Give yourself the chance to miss something” instead of fretfully imagining that you could never live without it. What a paradigm shift.

Dina’s got great thrifted style and her own thrift boutique up in Akron, Ohio; if you live in the area, go check her out.

 

Happy weekend, Thrifters!

 

Friday ReBlog: Baby Essentials and More Registry Advice

Minimalist Mom is one of my go-to blogs for minimalist inspiration and a voice of sanity in our  culture of buy-your-kids-everything-to-make-them-happy/healthy/safe/smart. She posted several years back about the essentials she and her first baby needed; it’s a great starting point for any parents-to-be out there. Now with three boys she’s also a great resource for parents trying to keep at bay the avalanche of stuff and activities that seem to come with modern kids.

 

Next week, we return to thrifted style with an update on my winter capsule wardrobe; don’t miss it!

 

Happy weekend, Thrifters!

The Ambivalent Consumer’s Guide to Creating a Gift Registry

While writing Tuesday’s post about thrifting gifts for a baby shower (tacky or not? Weigh in!), I got to thinking y’all might be curious about how someone who thrifts a LOT of her life purchases (that’d be me) does a gift registry.

If you’re committed to lowering your consumer impact and/or addicted to repurposing another person’s discards into your own amazingness, or if you already have most of what you need, signing up for a whole slew of brand new possessions feels… well… weird.

So what if, for any number of reasons, you don’t need ALL THE THINGS for your newly married life or your newly acquired baby or your new digs?  Today I’m sharing how we did our two registries (so far) and tips on how to make a gift registry work for YOU.

The Ambivalent Consumer’s Guide to Creating a Gift Registry
Continue reading “The Ambivalent Consumer’s Guide to Creating a Gift Registry”