On the art of living a real simple life

White and wood farmhouse styled table and planked white ceiling with braided tie backs for sheet curtains in a simple photo studio

I’ve adapted a new habit lately. With coffee in hand, I start each day in front of this big picture window, overlooking the mountain view.

No lights need to be turned on. I just walk down the stairs, and allow nature to take its course.

Antique wood windsor chair in a simple photo studio

I wouldn’t regard this room as ‘cozy’. I’d describe it as a rectangle, complete with a cold, hard concrete floor that had seen better days.

With super sparsely placed furniture.

Picture window facing a mountain backyard view with a rustic shed in winter

Picture window facing a mountain backyard view with a rustic shed in winter

However, it goes without saying… that view…

Dried up hydrangea bush in winter

Even in the dead of winter, it’s beautiful in its own right.

White mug on a reclaimed wood topped farm table

One morning, I questioned WHY I gravitate towards this space. Why not the comfy cozy sofa upstairs in front of the fireplace?

The answer came easy.

Lighting the fireplace is an extra complication. It requires kindling, paper and real wood being brought in from the chilly outdoors.

Braided white sheet curtains as tie backs hung from a pipe curtain rod in a photo studio

Not to mention, the sofa faces the rest of the household clutter that needs tending too.

Cat hair, dirty dishes… just normal living things. That ultimately clutter up my mornings with different thoughts creating a sense of urgency.

Braided white sheet curtains as tie backs hung from a pipe curtain rod in a photo studio

When did mornings become so complicated and busy and noisy?

When I wake up, I just want to wake up.

This super simple space has helped my mornings become simpler. Which in turn, has allowed my thoughts for the start of the day wander towards what’s most important.

Wood and white farmhouse styled table with simple branch as a centrepiece with a wooden windsor chair

What I found equally intriguing is, simple also attracted more simple. Hmm… I like this look! It’s so fresh. And easy on the eyes.

I often feel this way after I’ve been busy purging an area. Once the real bones surface again, my focus becomes completely different. I’m not trying to miss stepping on stuff scattered all over the floors. I’m wanting to embrace that simple space with deep breaths,  with nothing but air and light around me.

When did we start layering so much into our lives? With stuff and life in general?

During my most recent health hiatus, I’ve had a LOT of time to mull over what matters, and what was all fluff. I’ve allowed parts of my life to get so complicated. We over thinker types do that, don’t we? We truly envy those that can make quick, good snap decisions and follow through without another thought.

Can you even imagine planning a new vacation and booking it within the same day without 100 condo windows open?

Why did my past blog posts always have to be so involved that they either offered a full blown tutorial or no post at all?

Perfectly arranged homes just so… that certainly doesn’t apply here behind the scenes.

The guilt of selling a new stencil design… why? Isn’t that silly?

I don’t think real living equates structured, layered complicated perfect reasons for everything. I think it’s about living ones simple truth one glorious thought at a time.


Do something.

Don’t like it?

Change it.

The end.

That was easy…


When you get quiet, the good stuff rises to the top pretty quick. Have you tried it lately?

I now know exactly why I come down here.

And I didn’t even need a Hawaiian ocean to figure it out this round.

It’s so I can see nothing so I have a chance to see what’s most important.

I like the way this room thinks…

How do you start your day? Do you think it complicates or simplifies?

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Categories: Junk Drawer

45 thoughts on “On the art of living a real simple life

  1. Donna, I too have been contious of all the “stuff” that is now in my life. I like the idea of simpifying!

    Have to say I really like your window treatment – that braided curtain speaks to me.

    • I snagged the braided window treatment from my most recent trip to Lanai, Hawaii. One of the hotels did that to their very tall windows and I fell in love.

      I need to find those photos and post about that stay! Something still on my to-do list.

  2. I would absolutely struggle with not decorating that space and putting stuff in it. But it is beautiful in its simplicity. Struggling at the moment of having to move house and having to choose between ok with good space, to really lovely with less space. How do I give up my things?!

    Well done for finding some peace in your day.

    • Right before I did this tiny photo shoot of the sparse space, I was inclined to add things to warm it up. It started with the branch. But then I caught myself and what I was doing.

      I was creating the exact opposite of what I wanted the room to do for me. I wanted it to say nothing so my thoughts could do all the talking.

      Purging is no joke. It is HARD. However at the end of the day, I reason it’s just only stuff.

      When I first moved to this house, I required TWO fully loaded moving trucks because I had a hard time relinquishing. I had to get rid of half of it if not more. It took me 10 years and I’m still working on it.

      I vote to keep the essentials, and get rid of the rest. But you’ll soon find a desire to change out the essentials so your new stuff suits your new place.

      Moral? Let it go. Once it’s off your doorstep, you won’t even miss it.

      • Hi,
        I appreciate your simple room..isn’t it wonderful to have a space for almost nothing?
        As far as letting things go, there are quite a few things we left with our daughter, who “bought” our double wide when we moved to Ensenada. And every so often I wish I had this or that back! Especially when I can’t replace it. ?

        • That pull is all too familiar for me too. I know what I have in my junk stash, and like knowing it’s available for when I need it in my life again.

          The life of a blogger who decorates for a living is a unique one… we have permission to stock too much stuff because… well, it’s our ‘stock’. Which makes going through it every year a must. Or my house would explode… 😀

          Here’s hoping you’ll find even better things to replace those missed things. Being that they’re still in the family, maybe you could exchange them from time to time?

  3. My little spot is in my bedroom where I can look at my little raised garden. Here is the SW USA houses are so close, it is hard to get a view except out of the neighborhood but since I started my little garden at the window I can see the birds come in and the veggies grow. Love the simplicity of the room. I can see you wrapped in your rob and slippers, sipping coffee, as I do, and just drinking in the view. Enjoy.

  4. Oh Donna that view! It’s breath taking! You’re absolutely right – simple is best. I think that’s why I feel so good after I purge unneeded items from my home. Cluttered and cozy works for me during the winter, but during the Spring and Summer, I like simple and sparsely decorated. We’ve been having unseasonably warm weather lately and it has me pining to sit outside…..

  5. All this perfection we see online…. here’s the thing…. it isn’t real and we all know it. There are just the few of us that have the guts to admit it.

    Simple living is the key and it’s the best ever. When we decided to go Tiny it was the best most peaceful feeling ever. Freeing and very liberating to know I’m no longer living like the rest of the world. I absolutely love everything about it.

    My space is the land, I just love the outdoors and find the more time I’m outside the better I feel about everything. Holding onto stuff keeps us from moving forward it’s that simple…

  6. The old saying by Aristotle, “the less you have, the less you have to worry about.” So true. I’m feeling the urge to purge stuff….but not stuff I could use for assemblage pieces! Ha!

    I rise early and sit in the living room with coffee, looking out the window. My view is not beautiful as yours; I sit at the end of a culdesac in a suburb of Chicago. But it’s quiet, and the trees block street views. I’m a tree hugger, so I never tire of watching birds and yes, squirrels too.

    Life is wonderful if we just look! And make art!

  7. Wise, introspective thoughts. Well received on this end. Me, I love to start my morning quietly with my coffee and a puzzle. The coffee hits the spot and I get a real feeling of accomplishment and like I can do anything when a puzzle piece fits. Life has many layers and we just keep piling on. I love to go to my windowless storage closet and sit with my back against the wall and slow my brain down. Nothing to distract my view. Then I will feel calmer and see more clearly – quite the conundrum – but the darkness silences my brain and low and behold I can think and see what matters. If only we could know to do this in our youth. It would surely have been a blessing.

    • Wow, that’s so interesting that an enclosed space is what you need in comparison to my mountain view! Profound how we can make any space work and do basically the same thing.

      Here’s to finding our life’s reset buttons without requiring an expensive flight!

      Although not a need, it’s still a want regardless… 😉

  8. If I had a view like this to wake up to each morning, nothing would get done. What a wonderful spot to sip coffee, slowly wake up, and plan out the day in my head. I spotted the hawk in the tree, too! Gorgeous.

  9. This basement room reminds me of what is considered “Nordic Style.” Simple, light and airy, integrating the outdoors into the room.

    In Sweden they have what is called “death cleaning” where they get rid of absolutely everything but the essentials. The age for death cleaning is fifty, I think. It frees the person of caring for non essentials and makes it easy for those who come in after a death to do the necessary follow up on the life that has passed.

    You sound like a candidate for a tiny house in the country. You love nature and seem to be distancing from lots of “stuff.” Allow yourself to embrace this change, if you need to. It can be more than a basement room. It can be a way of life.

    For me, it is all about cozy. Brenda

    • Yes, I have totally gravitated towards nordic style for while now. They are the images I never tire of looking at.

      The term ‘death cleaning’ is a new one to me! A startling term, but rather effective!

      Looks like I’m 5 years behind the norm. I best get busy… haha

      I love the idea of living tiny, however my entire biz does best fitting under one roof. Playing with a cabin on the river or lake idea as a getaway maybe…

  10. I love this post !! Your table is beautiful and I love the way you braided the curtains. I also have gotten rid of so much stuff in my small apartment to me less better. With such a great view what more could you ask for in that space its like your own art gallery and I’m sure that watching the wild life is just so relaxing. I personally am getting tired of seeing so many posts of the perfect houses that don’t look lived in. THANK YOU !!!

    • Perfect homes that don’t look lived in, I get it. When I prep my home like that for a photo shoot, it’s fun to look at and live in! But it only lasts for about an hour. Then the cats wander in, plunk themselves down and squish my puffed up pillows, cat hair floats in the air… welcome back, real life!

      And honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      I’ll see about showcasing more real life vs. perfectly staged moving forward… interesting challenge!

  11. I start my day in my craft room with coffee in hand. I sit at a window that overlooks the front of the house/yard; wooded area, long driveway, rabbits, birds, deer wandering through..still not daylight. I can watch the sun come up if I change my chair position to look more East. Quiet time before my husband gets up. We are both retired and have individual hobbies so we can both have a space to go to. I review my art or craft blogs, watch videos and finally get dressed around 9:30 AM. Decide what gets done for the day, errands that need to be run, etc. Currently I am the caretaker for my husband that just had major back surgery, so things get more involved during the day, helping him.
    He is progressing so quickly, becoming more independant and active every day.

    No sun for us today, 60 degrees in Michigan, heavy rain, flooding possible and lots of big puddles everywhere…fog drifting through the woods. Love it.

  12. Good morning Donna! Simple and Sweet. That’s what I like. Your post this morning reminds me of “Me!”. I do this every morning around 3am with a cup of coffee. Just enjoying the beauty of what Life has to offer “Me”. Sit back and listening to the ‘quiet’ first thing in the early morning hours; before I start off my day. Before the rest of the World wakes up.

    It’s wonderful…
    It’s my “Me Time”.
    A time to reflect and think.

    Donna, your post was very refreshing. Thank you.

      • Haha! It’s a force of habit from the military. I love my “Me Time” and listening to the quiet and especially to the wildlife in the warmer months is inspiring. I live out in the “neck-of-the-woods” in New Hampshire; so we get alot of wildlife out here. I live in North Danville, NH.

  13. I know this is my second post but I found the word for what you quiet spot reminds me of. It is Hygge. Found it on Pinterest of course. But the basic is a quiet place and you have created that.

  14. I love the simplicity, your right it can be very calming not to look at things you know need tending too. It creates much anxiety. If you have a favorite spot I say go for it, the others things in life will always be there, unfortunately.

    Hope your feeling better!!

  15. This post really hit home with me. The title pulled me in, but when I saw “Cat hair, dirty dishes… just normal living things”, I had to laugh and read more. I have comfy places in my home to sit, but I always gravitate to my kitchen table with my coffee cup. We have a panoramic view of valley and mountains. Right now they are covered with snow, but it’s always changing and I can get lost in my thoughts while my eyes rest in the peace of nature.

    I also had a health hiatus this last year which is just resolving, but simplify is how I got through it. It’s not easy when you can see potential in every vintage and found object, but I’ve started in my home and in my thoughts too.

  16. My mornings are always a rush to get to work. On the weekends I like some quiet time in the kitchen with my tea while I read my email and blogs. 🙂 I am certainly glad to have this blog to read.

  17. Donna,
    I hope all your illness woes are over,
    and you are starting to feel like your
    self again, I presevie you to be a happy
    and content person, I hope I am correct..
    I could also, sit in that room and look out,
    but with the add of a wood stove, would make
    me a much happier person, with giving little
    thought, to getting paper, wood and kindling,
    I love the warmth…
    I am in Ontario, and you in BC, great difference,
    Happy Holidaying..
    cheers, Linda

  18. Donna!!
    Loved your comment:
    “Once it’s off your doorstep, you won’t even miss it.”
    So true! So true!
    If only I believed that years ago…..working on getting rid of my “stuff”.

  19. Thank you for the much needed reminder. I never finish a blog post anymore because it’s not “perfect” and there are many good ones. I need to just do it.

    Thanks, again.


    • You know Angie, now that’s just sad. Somewhere we told ourselves less than perfect wouldn’t do. And that just isn’t the case, based on the amount of comments I got from a non Pinterest worthy blog post.

      I think a mix of pretty, educational and real is not a bad thing. Please write that non perfect post of yours… and I will vow to do the same.

      Real life, here we come…

  20. I like the way your room thinks too Donna. Mother Nature teaches us so much about life. She’s never scared to get rid of unnecessary things, although sometimes she does get a little heavy handed. Staying in South Africa we’re very lucky with our weather so each morning I get to sit on our stoep outside, surrounded by our indigenious garne and hear the birds wake up. There’s nothing better than that. Here’s to living a life that’s filled with soul and not material things <3

  21. Your view of the mountains is beautiful!
    I think we all have our own version of simplicity so it looks very different from one person to the next. For me it’s paring back until my mind feels clear, and ensuring that my home is kept tidy (within reason). Coming down in the morning to a calm, peaceful room means the day at least starts off the right way! I’m sure if I had fabulous views there would be fewer flowers and beautiful things indoors but it’s a compromise.

  22. I honestly think the older we get ( I’m 52 and I celebrate that ), the more we crave a simple life. Life is messy, and our over stimulated minds crave quiet. I too, have been purging “stuff” in my life. I think it is one of the reasons, I love creating with my junk, with the hopes, someone loves it and takes it home, because I do not need any more stuff.
    However, I spent my day dealing with a flooded basement, and realized, it needs a good purging. LOL!
    Love your room Donna, and yes…that view 🙂

  23. I love your quiet uncluttered morning space.? very peaceful.
    Life is crazy enough & my mind never rests, as Im sure yours doesnt either. Its good to have a white noise free space.

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