For the past year and some change, my life has shifted dramatically. I’ve made some big adjustments to how I spend my days, I’ve incorporated a major dose of self love into my routine, I’ve become extremely conscious of how I spend my money and how I save, and most importantly – I’ve learned how to be calm and at peace even when the world around me can feel like it’s falling apart. It’s still something I work on daily, but it’s truly the most amazing feeling to realize that more and more it’s become etched into my brain – it’s becoming who I am – and in turn, it’s making me have a real, deep love for myself. Cheesy? Totally. True? 100%.
My upcoming move to Chicago is something I’m beyond excited for. It really does feel like a clean slate – a chance to hit the “refresh” button and apply all that I’ve learned about myself, and to fully live it out with a healthy, encouraging support system. It’s also been an amazing opportunity for me to really practice what I’ve been preaching in light of living with less, and creating a calming environment that I can thrive in every day. I’ve collected my top 5 tips for anyone who may be looking to create a solace in their home without breaking the bank. So here we go!
5 TIPS FOR CREATING A CALM SPACE WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK
1. CREATE A BUDGET
First things first, you’ve got to create a budget. This one isn’t optional ;) In order to enjoy this process and to stay calm and stress-free, you’ve got to be honest with yourself and how much you’re able to spend. For example, lets just go ahead and say I’m going to budget $5k for my cross country move. This includes the movers, my flight, furniture, miscellaneous home things (kitchen supplies, bedding, etc) and will include my first grocery bill. *Keep in mind I’m not taking much of anything back with me – just my camera gear, a floor length mirror, coffee table, arm chair, some pictures and my clothes.
My favorite way to keep track of expenses like this is using the Pages “checklist” program that comes on the Mac. Here’s an example of what a moving checklist could look like:
It’s a super simple way to keep track of things you need, how much you’re spending, and what you can spend less (or more) on. Once you purchase the item, you check the box, and the total adjusts at the bottom. As I’ve collected quotes throughout this process, I’ll enter it into this checklist to make sure I’m staying within my budget.
2. KNOW YOUR STYLE, KNOW YOUR COLORS
What’s calming to some may not be calming to others. For instance, I have friends who thrive off of patterns and bright colors in their home. Having vibrant designs brings them joy, while I prefer neutral palettes all the way. Too much color and pattern makes me feel like my eyes and brain are working overtime, therefore I stick to white, black, navy, gray and copper/gold accents. That’s what soothes me and keeps me grounded throughout my day to day.
In knowing this about myself, it keeps my purchases on track. I don’t feel tempted to buy “one in every color” or to try something that’s not in my wheel house. My intention is to create a space of solace – a space where I’m free to create to the best of my ability and where I want to be majority of the time. If you stick to what you know you love, your space will be a direct reflection of who you are.
3. EMBRACE CANDLES
Candles not only immediately make for a calming space, but the scents you choose can make a huge difference. You know how when you wake up in the morning to the smell of fresh coffee? Or when you would come home from school as a child and your mom had just baked fresh cookies? Create that for yourself by “thrifting” through the aisles at places like Home Goods & Marshall’s where candle are 1/4 the cost (look for soy – they last longer) Personally I love sultry scents and the smell of the outdoors, so I generally fill my home with scents like amber, sandalwood and lavender. Embrace the scents that keep you grounded and fill your home with them. It’s an inexpensive way to change the environment of your space dramatically.
4. GET A GREEN THUMB
By filling your home with plants (or at least a few), you’re immediately bringing the outdoors, in. This is a proven way to not only make a space feel calming, but to filter your air as well. Plants are so healing, and even if you think you can’t keep a plant alive – trust me, you can ;) Search for plants that are low-maintenance and don’t need much watering or light (Mother-in-law Tongue is amazing – as are cacti and succulents) If your great thumb is a work in progress, steer clear of Fiddle Leaf trees for now until you get a better grip on it all. I know they’re trendy right now, but not only do they die quickly – they make a mess with the shedding of their leaves if you don’t pay super close attention to them. There are so many ways you can incorporate plants into your home life – put them in baskets, on your bedside table, build a green wall, purchase a plant hanger, put them in your shower, or grow a little garden on your window sill for fresh herbs.
5. LESS IS DEFINITELY MORE
If you’re doing a re-vamp of your home, this is the time to declutter. You all know my love for decluttering and purging, so I won’t talk your ear off about it anymore. :) Start with your kitchen (usually the most overwhelming area of the home) and rid of any duplicates. You don’t need 5 mixing bowls of all different sizes and you definitely don’t need 3 cutting boards, 6 pots, 5 spatulas and 3 sets of silverware. Really, you don’t ;)
For those of you who are in the same position as me, keep this in mind when shopping for these items. So far I’ve purchased a set of glass coffee mugs (6 each), a set of drinking glasses (4 tall, 4 short) one set of silverware (4 of each), a dish set (4 bowls, 4 large plates, 4 small plates) and a knife set. Aside from a coffee machine and a decent sized pot, pan and baking sheet, I’m set. I’ve lived with multiples in the past, and it’s not something I intend to do ever again – few things frazzle me more than an over crowded kitchen ;)
Here are a few additional tricks to keep things around the home a bit more calm and simple:
- Bedding: One set of sheets will do you just fine – that’s what laundry is for. A load every few days (I wash my sheets often, I love the feeling of climbing into a clean bed) really isn’t that time consuming.
- Towels: 2-4 is plenty. If you run into the rare situation where you’re hosting more than 3 guests, you can always do a Prime order or run to the nearest Home Goods to get a couple of extras – but don’t live by the “just in case” method.
- Pantry Staple Items: Buy less “just to have on hand” ingredients and shop as you need them. With apps like Instacart, Task Rabbit, Google Express and Amazon Grocery – you have no reason to over stock your cabinets. For me, the only things I always have on hand are: coffee and tea, nut butters, coconut oil, salt/pepper, cayenne, brown rice, nuts and hot sauce since I consume them just about every day.
- Spices: Here’s a trick to avoiding the overflowing spice cabinet and cursing the world when they all fall out on top of you: Places like Marianos’ and Whole Foods sell spices in the bulk section. If I know I’m going to be making something that calls for 1/4 tbs of nutmeg but I don’t have nutmeg – I’m definitely not going to spend $5+ on an entire jar that I MIGHT use again in 6 months. Instead, I’ll get a little ziplock and fill it with the amount I need, and pay for that. You save so much money, you don’t waste spices (which do have an expiration date, by the way!) and you save on space in your cabinets. Win/win/win.