Maintaining A Sense of Calm

Our minimalist dining room from the real estate web site.

Three open homes plus two extra house showings this week have really put a dent in my get-up-and-go. But now that all the mad painting, cleaning, decluttering, weeding and planting is finished, I am really just in maintenance mode. Basically I cannot allow the house to get untidy until it is sold (soon, please God..).

It took a tremendous effort to get the house to this state, but it is surprisingly easy to keep it here. I do a quick survey of every room every morning, and put away everything down to the last bobby pin (or else get the girls to do it), make sure the beds are beautifully made, wipe out the basins and shine them, do the dishes, sweep the floor and head out the door. By picking up bits of fluff and dirt off the floor every time I see them I am not having to vacuum more than usual, and every time someone (mostly Posy) makes a giant creative mess I obsessively get her to clean it up before she starts something else, which keeps everything well under control. She doesn't appreciate this of course, any more than the five year olds in the classroom I work in appreciate it either, but it certainly does provide a constantly refreshed working and living environment, and it doesn't seem to have turned off Posy's creativity switch either. She has an inexhaustible flow of bright ideas, that girl..

I would normally tolerate a much higher level of background clutter, but I must say I am rather drawn to the more minimalist open spaces. We'll see what moving in to a tiny cottage does for those leanings. We will certainly have to learn to live with less, and may have to be quite the minimalists to survive living on top of each other all the time..

Dining room in our new cottage..

..we will be putting in a slightly larger table with less extra furniture. We are more about food than lolling!

Tell me about your optimum 'clutter' range. Are you comfortable with everything you own in view around you, or are you more a 'surfaces, surfaces' person?


Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

I'm enjoying your sales stories. And the Charlie story ended up well too. :-)!

I love minimalism, but am now struggling with so much preserving stuff and bulk food goods. It is overflowing into my office - hope they don't fall onto my desk while I'm busy actually earning some cash... It is only a small house here 175m2 and honestly I'm in total awe at the old timers used to do so much stuff in such small spaces.

Hey, I don't reckon anyone lives in a show house? What do you reckon? When I used to sell the places I'd fixed up, I had to rent a self storage locker to hide all the rubbish bits of furniture that I have sentimental feelings for but other people seem to think they'd be better elsewhere. ;-)! Aren't they mean! The minimal thing is really about making the place look bigger? Bigger isn't necessarily better.

I purchase most furniture second hand nowadays, but Melbourne has a bigger market for such things. It is not unusual for people to be selling like dinner tables which originally cost thousands for only a few hundred bucks just because it doesn't match their couch or has a minor scratch (which I can generally fix). It is a mildly surreal situation.


narf7 said…
Clutter is subjective. I have, at present, a kitchen table (admittedly a huge one) where one third of it appears to have been taken over by some kind of botanical museum. I can handle a degree of clutter and dust but there appears to be some kind of switch inside me that activates once I get to a specific invisible level and that galvanises me into action. The dogs and Steve are always watching for the first signs which generally start with me reaching for the stiff broom...your house is beautiful. The people who buy it will fall instantly in love with it. Your tiny cottage is indeed tiny. Once you shed your excess stuff, you will all tumble into it and learn to move around each other in a smaller space. That's what families do. Remember to let us know when you want that Permablitz :)
gosh it must be exhausting always putting on a perfect sales face to your home! but your dining room looks amazing - all that fresh light. you'll sell in an instant, surely!
I must say as I get older, I like less and less stuff. like displays, and have open shelves in my kitchen, but it has to be neat and pretty minimal. having less 'out' makes me feel calm and rested, and protected from the chaos of the world :-)
Jen's Busy Days said…
Wow, Jo. You have done a lot to that house since I was in Tassie. What I remember as the kitchen and pantry is now a bedroom and WIR. I think the upstairs bathroom at the back of the house was just new, still in final stages of tiling being finished at that stage. And I don't remember a pool, although being a Qlder in cold Tassie a pool was probably not the highest priority to me. lol

I hope your sale goes well. It certainly does look like it is too big for a diminishing family. I am sure you will enjoy settling into your cottage.

Best of wishes,
Jen in Qld
Jo said…
Chris, I believe there is a fine line to walk between minimalism and practicality. I have already had my thinking cap on about how to store maximum amounts of preserved food in my tiny cottage. When I think of traditional simple houses all over the world, there is a minimum of furniture and 'stuff'and a maximum of food - hanging from the rafters, in barrels, boxes, meatsafes, cellars etc. Maybe I will have to dig a root cellar in the new place!

Fran, yes, clutter is so subjective, which is why it is such an interesting subject. Why is that switch triggered at a particular point, different for everyone. For me, stress sends my 'cluttermeter' to red hot and screaming! Today I was madly decluttering the classroom, and the teacher I work with was laughing at me, because clearly, I cannot turn off the clutter panic button right now:)

e, I like that - 'protected from the chaos of the world'. It is lovely to come home and know that I can have a peaceful place to be with only friendly things around me..

Jen, yes, so much different now. It was pretty slummy back in the day, but that was all to the good with four children to bring up. We had the freedom to paint murals on the walls without it detracting in any way from the overall decor!
Anonymous said…
Love the uncluttered look of your dining room!I'm sure your lovely house will sell quickly, and I really like the new little house (so much less cleaning, bliss). I do like uncluttered, calm, rooms, but need them to be cozy too. Which is a hard balancing act. So I try and keep surfaces clear (when the kids aren't home), and cozy things up with crocheted blankets and quilts and lots of books. Am useless at cut flowers in vases as I just forget about them and yeah, stinky and ugly happens very quickly. I have a high tolerance for dust (am blessed that just don't see it - unless the sun is shining at just the wrong angle!) I do absolutely loathe filthy windows, and have spent the last 6 months feeling highly annoyed with mine, but last week finally dipped some newspapers in vinegar and water and scrubbed furiously and wouldn't you know, they've come up a treat:-)
PS Have been rereading all your housekeeping posts lately. Such a comfort to me
Anonymous said…
Jo, I can't believe how cheap your house is going for. If it was a few years in the future I would defintiely be tempted and escape Dyfney. OK that really no sense to escape the rat race and extreme mortgages of Sydney once I've paid mine off but I'm a rat well and truely caught in the trap.

Your house is so gorgeous.

And so are you. The manner you dealt with the nasty troll - so gentle.

Work is consuming me and then I had a little relationship hick up that side lined me for a bit, so I haven't been blogging or doing much for or with friends, except a few geographically close ones. And you were right about the SS forum addiction. I am on that too much and investing time in people I don't know and don't care about rather that doing things I should or things I could.

Anyway, I know your house will be snaffled up. Sending my love.
Bek said…
Like lucindasans I would love to buy your house, if you were selling it maybe 5 years in the future and I could convince my other half to move to tassie. For me I am all about clear surfaces, I hate tables and benches covered in stuff. I don't care if the cupboard so shelves are packed full of mess, as long as the surfaces are clear. That said I have much more tolerance fo my own clutter than anyone else's. Funny that.
Anonymous said…
The house looks amazing (and if my interwebs stalkage is correct, fingers crossed, yes?). When we bought our house, we were taken aback by the size and the spaciousness of it - we did the opposite to you and went from a wee 9sq cottage to a relatively ginormouse 18sq house. It was funny though, when we went back after we'd bought it but before settlement to measure something or other - the amount of extra furniture they must have had in storage that was back in the house!

I seem to have a point called "critical mess" - where the amount of stuff reaches a level that I find suffocating and distracting. Then I'll do something about it. It's funny though - each of us have different tolerances for things. Himself goes ballistic about the dog hair, but doesn't seem to mind 87 stubby holders dotted about the house. Me? I loathe dust. And stubby holders. But anything else is alright!

I am dabbling with the KonMari at the moment - I am a collector of all the things, and I live with three chaps who, if left to their own devices, would happily star on Hoarders. It's been a bit hit and miss so far, because I can only tidy up my stuff and what crap that belongs to other people that I can ninja out without them seeing.
Pam in Virginia said…
Hi, Jo:

What an exquisite dining room and what a charming new wee house room!

I am not worthy to comment on the clutter issue as my house looks like I am trying to keep everything that I own right at my fingertips. And it has to serve as a greenhouse for hundreds of seedlings at the moment as well. There's always tomorrow . . .

I, too, am dabbling with the KonMari method. A smart lady!

Jo said…
Loretta, yes, that fine line between cosy and cluttered.. that's what I'm aiming for. Well done you for washing windows. I find that there is always a psychological barrier to getting started with washing windows.

Lucinda, hope all working out ok for you.. and yes, see, another reason to move to Tasmania - such reasonably priced real estate:)

Bek, whisper, I shoved a lot of stuff into cupboards in order to manage the open homes. Am now slowly going through cupboards because I can't find anything!

Miss Maudy, as you will see, your interweb stalkage entirely on the ball:)

Here are my seditious thoughts about clutter - if everything I own is something I really like to look at, then it won't be clutter any more, it will be 'nice things'. Hence your stubby holder issue. Your partner in crime sees them as much more benign and attractive than you do:)

Pam, seedlings are not clutter, they are baby food.. what you have is a nursery:)

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