Office/Guest Room Reveal

My husband is my hero, my best friend and my greatest encourager.  I wish that I could give him the world and so much more – he deserves it all.  What I was able to do was design this room specifically for him.  It’s a place he can relax and rejuvenate or a place where he can hunker down and study through the night.

He has endured more in his life than most can imagine.  Coming from an impoverished country, paralyzed by politics and war, he fought his way to Canada.  Once here it was a long 12 years to finally get his permanent residency.  Those 12 years were full of ups and downs, and through it all he continued to believe that God’s plan for his life was bigger than every obstacle being put in his way.

He’s had a dream for years, to go to school and get a diploma in civil engineering.  I’ve watched him for the last 3 years work harder than anyone I know to get his english up to speed and upgrade his high school courses.  This fall he was accepted into the Civil Engineering program at our local school of technology.  My brief bio of him does not do justice to how incredible that achievement is.

It is simply unbelievable.

When we moved into this house two years ago I imagined the basement to be Carlos’ domain and that I would have an office/craft room on the upstairs floor.  While I was on maternity leave we rented out our two bedrooms in the basement to help with costs. That left one extra room upstairs to serve as an office/craft room/guest room.  I didn’t even really realize that he didn’t have his own space.  We constantly talk of home decor and we agree on what we both like in terms of style and decor but there was no where for him to put his things – mostly his school things.  I was getting frustrated with moving books and bags everywhere (I imagine in a few years I’ll be right back to that feeling!).  One day he said in response to my frustration, “I don’t have a space to put anything.” Just like that I began to brainstorm how to solve the problem.  There were two problems:

  1. I’ve never been satisfied with the office/guest room and because of that I continually let it get overcrowded and cluttered and MESSY.
  2. Carlos didn’t have any space that was quiet, calm, and inspiring to study.

This was the perfect opportunity to solve both of those problems!  It took me two days scouring the Ikea website for inspiration and to find the most cost effective way to design the office.  I kept with what we like best: black, white, gold and plants and of course minimalist – no clutter to be found.   We had a large black desk and a white futon already.  Once I decided what I was going for style wise it came together so fast! I was surprised and excited, I can’t believe how much fun it was to do! It brought me so much joy to design a space that I knew my husband would love.

I spent an afternoon purging and reorganizing, bringing the room to a clean slate before I began my decor brainstorming.  I think that really helped.  It gave me a fresh new perspective to look at the room in a way I hadn’t before. This is what it looked like before, sorry about the poor quality and crappy panorama abilities, but it gives you a good idea of what a mess I had let it get.


Yesterday morning Ezekiel and I went to Ikea and spent 1.5 hrs picking up everything.  It helped that I had saved a shopping list  on the Ikea website and I used the Ikea app to find everything.  Also I have to say one of the ladies that works at Ikea helped me out tremendously by trouble shooting a panel curtain idea I had to hide an awkward cubby/open storage area in the room – you’ll see it in the pics below. In the end I spent $100 more than I would have liked but I absolutely don’t regret it.

I’m not completely 100% done – I need to get large frames for the inspirational posters on the wall (I despise them but Carlos really loves them and it’s his room!).  The painting on the wall of the continent of Africa is a favourite of both of ours.  Although Carlos was driven out of his country, part of his heart will always be there.  For me, Africa has been a love of mine for years and years (how convenient to be married to an African!).  I think it ties the colourful inspirational posters in nicely and adds some nice colour to the black and white.  All of the plants were purchased at Ikea as well. I repotted them into pots I already had at home.  The frames contain pictures of my trip to Europe in 2012 – I will change them out eventually. I have some inspirational prints I want to print out and frame as well.

The closet is still in need of some organizing, but for now it’s nice and neatly placed out of sight.   I’m seriously in love with the outcome of this room and I am elated to be able to almost check that room off my to do list!


  
  
Not only is it a peaceful place to study/work/read/pray it also works so well as a cozy guest room!

Carlos also really loves it, we’ll see if he actually puts it to use. 🙂

Must Have Baby List for the Minimalist

We are coming up on Ezekiel’s first birthday so I thought it would be a great time to make a must have baby list for minimalists.  When I found out we were expecting, I knew that I wasn’t going to find out the sex for a few different reasons.

  1. I knew I would be having a scheduled c-section so I wanted something to be a surprise (little did I know Ezekiel surprised us anyways 4 weeks early).
  2. I knew that if I knew the sex that I would spend a lot of money on unnecessary things simply because I would be so excited.

So we bought very few things before Ezekiel arrived other than the essentials, and we didn’t add much after he was born.  I have always vowed that my house would not be overtaken by a baby.  I didn’t want toys and “things” cluttering up our living space and I’m still adamant about that.  The things we did buy we loved and I would do the same all over again.  Did I want lots of pretty, and expensive things? Yep.  Thankfully our budget was so small that I couldn’t get any of those expensive things and so our house remains baby clutter free.

So if you’re expecting or planning on starting your family and want to keep things simple this list is for you.

  • Bassinet
    • Ezekiel had reflux bad enough that he was choking at night so he slept in our room in his bassinet until he was 4 months old.  My parents bought our bassinet as a baby gift and so we got the one I had my heart set on from Restoration Hardware.  If we were buying it ourselves we probably would have bought something a lot cheaper but I really really love the one we have.  Anyways, I guess if you are co-sleeping you wouldn’t need one (although I’m not a fan of co-sleeping) but the bassinet was essential for us.
  •  Crib
    • Of course you will need a crib – unless you are planning on co-sleeping then disregard this.  I had my heart set on expensive cribs but I knew we couldn’t afford it so I searched Kijiji for weeks waiting for a great deal on a great crib.  I found one I loved for $75 (new it would have been $600) and I painted it to match the crib I actually wanted.
  • Change Table
    • This is something a lot of people will tell you that you don’t need.  I disagree.  To go along with my house being overtaken by baby things, I didn’t want diaper stations all over my house.  I wanted one station, and given that we did cloth diapers it made sense to have one station.  I have never changed Ezekiel anywhere in our house but his room and I love it that way.  I love that the change table is organized and has everything we need.  Our change table also doubles as a dresser, which I think is a smart use of space.  We keep anything that doesn’t hang in the dresser including linens.  Again I bought this on Kijiji for $50 and painted it the same color as the crib.
  • Rocker/Glider
    • Some people will tell you not to waste your money.  Ours was given to us as a gift and it is possibly the most used piece of furniture in our house.  Since we have roommates I have nursed Ezekiel in his room since February and now he resists nursing anywhere but that chair. For me it’s comfortable and convenient, especially in the middle of the night.  I can’t imagine not having our glider.
  • Nursing Pillow
    • If you are planning on nursing, this is a must have.  I still use mine every time Ezekiel nurses and it makes it so much more comfortable for both of us.  I never got the hang of nursing without it.
  • Noise maker/Fan
    • We got a Sleep Sheep as a gift and have used it since day one.  For Ezekiel it’s a cue that it’s time to sleep and it works for him! We also use a fan in his room as white noise to distract from other noise in the house.  Before we had the fan he had a difficult time after moving into his own room to sleep beyond his first sleep cycle.  I’m guessing that it was because I’m really quiet during the day, there’s not a lot of noise in our house so when he was trying to transition between sleep cycles a little noise would wake him up fully.  With the fan it’s a familiar noise for him and it drowns out other noises.  You don’t actually need to buy a noise maker, you could use a radio with light white noise or just a fan.  The downside to the sleep sheep is that it turns off after 45 minutes but we still use it as a cue for him.
  • Swaddle Blankets
    • I am a huge believer in swaddling and for Ezekiel it was essential.  He was so jerky with his movements and it took a long time for him to grow out of it.  We bought 8 swaddle blankets, 4 small ones and 4 larger ones all Summer brand (the cheapest ones we could find) and they served us well.  As he moved on from needing to be swaddled we used them as spit up blanket.  We did have burp cloths but I don’t think we needed them – Ezekiel was a puker not a spitter upper (pretend those are words haha) so we needed more than just a cloth.  I know people rave about the more expensive swaddle blankets but honestly, you use them for a few months and then put them away, I say just buy the cheapest ones and save yourself some cash.
  • Sleep Bag
    • I always planned on using a sleep bag and we have been using them since he stopped being swaddled. Ezekiel is now to the point that when I put him in the bag he knows exactly what’s going on, sometimes he’ll protest but more often he’ll be excited to nurse haha.
  • Bounce Seat
    • Ezekiel spent a lot of time in his seat – when I was showering, when I was making dinner, and anytime I needed to put him down.  He loved it and I loved the convenience of it.  Again we bought the bare minimum and cheapest one we could find (Summer brand again) and it worked so well that I couldn’t imagine spending any more than we did.  I refused to get a swing because they are so bulky and take up an entire room and I didn’t miss it at all!  So I suggest bounce chair over swing for sure!
  • Play Mat
    • We got a play mat as a gift and it was super simple and pretty small and Ezekiel loved playing under it.  Along with the bounce seat, once Ezekiel was about 3 months old we started alternating putting him down in the seat and on the mat.
  • Jolly Jumper
    • I wasn’t sure about getting a jolly jumper but we tried one out at a friends house and Ezekiel loved it so much that we decided to go ahead and get one.  It provided hours of entertainment for Ezekiel! The best part was that it easily folds together and can be stored out of sight when not in use.
  • Baby Walker
    • I was determined to get a baby walker so my parents brought us one from the states.  We got it in April and Ezekiel has been using it daily since then.  At first he was too small to move it but still enjoyed sitting and playing in it.  Once we got the walker we gradually stopped using the bounce seat.  This is one of the bulkier items in our house but we have a perfect parking spot for it in the living room and it doesn’t stick out too much.  Ezekiel LOVES this walker and now that he can move it around he cruises everywhere on our main floor.  He can spend up to an hour in it without ever needing anything from me.  It’s brilliant! He goes from the front entrance to the back entrance, watches the laundry, looks out the kitchen windows, and every so often he’ll do a circle in the kitchen just to come say hello.  Other times he’ll follow me every where and run over my toes, the days that he needs to be around me more the walker is great too! He can be right at my feet and visit while I am cooking or doing dishes or whatever.  This item is an ESSENTIAL for us! Although I must say if you have open stairways it’s not safe in your house, in our case our basement has a door on it so there’s no way for him to fall down them.
  • Good Quality Stroller
    • I wanted a good quality stroller and needed a bassinet with it (we bought a convertible car seat because of my c-section I wasn’t going to be able to take a bucket car seat in and out of the car) but I wasn’t willing or able to pay $500+ dollars.  So of course I took to Kijiji for weeks waiting for the best deal.  I had my mind set on the Bumbleride Indy and did find one second hand for a great price.  I’m not sure if I would go with this brand again, but it has served us well and we do really like it.  I have taken many many walks, and even jogged with this stroller.
  • Baby Monitor
    • We bought the cheapest one we could find and it’s worked for us just fine.  Really, you don’t need to see your child every moment they are asleep, just need to make sure you hear them when they wake up!

So those are the big items that are on my must have list other little things that are needed:

  • Towels – we do fine with 4
  • 1 pack of face cloths – you don’t need any more than that
  • Cloth diapers (go here to read about our experience)
  • Blankets – we bought one before Ezekiel was born and had many gifted to us, so I wouldn’t suggest buying many or any at all.

I think that’s it! Other than clothes (admittedly we like to buy good quality clothes but we make sure to only buy during sales) you really don’t need much else to get by with a baby.  We only have a small basket of toys for Ezekiel and have never actually bought any of them.  He enjoys all his toys, but most of the time would rather play with the kitchen towel, an empty water bottle or plastic container, so don’t waste your money on all those cute toys out there.  Especially for the first year, your baby is going to learn more from your interactions than from playing with the toys.  We do have books and Ezekiel LOVES story time. When I sit down on the floor and take down a book he automatically sits or lays on his belly in front of me all smiles and giggles waiting for the story to start.  It’s probably my favorite thing ever, so if I was going to spend money on entertainment for Ezekiel I would buy him books at this age.

Do you have anything to add to this must have minimalist baby list?

 

Books

Library

In my quest to simplify life, one of the biggest decisions I made was to get rid of my books.

I have always been, and will always be a book lover.

I love reading.  I love losing myself in the story.  I love flipping the pages.  I love calculating how many pages until the end.  I even love the crash at the end of the book when you realize the story is over and you have to come back to reality.

I love it all.

I don’t know how many times I moved my collection of books over the years.  By the time we moved into this house there were 5 large plastic boxes of books.  After 9 months in this house they were still in boxes and I couldn’t envision a bookcase anywhere in my house other than the basement which we rent out and will be renting out for the next 3 years. So my books would have been in boxes for 3 more years, and by then would I even know which books I had?

I don’t know why it bothered me so much. All the boxes were nicely packed away out of sight but they were definitely not out of mind.  So after several weeks of contemplation I decided that I would get rid of all my books.  I went through every box and every book and was ruthless.  I only kept books that had sentimental value or that I would read again – which surprisingly were very very few.  I set them all up for a garage sale and sold about 1/3 of them.  Then I took them to a used book store and sold a handful more.  From what was left I kept a few of my nursing textbooks and donated the rest.

You would not believe how great it felt to clear those out. It was like an instant relief.

I went out and got a library card and I haven’t looked back since.  It’s so convenient! I search for the books I want to read online.  I place a hold and wait for the e-mail telling me the book is ready to be picked up.  Then I go and pick it up which takes less than 5 minutes!

GENIUS!

It’s nearly free (small yearly fee for the library) and it keeps the clutter out of my house, and the thought of where to put a book case no longer lingers in my mind.

Even better is that I still go to chapters and spend time browsing with a coffee.  I take note of the books I want to read and then get them from the library.

Honestly, I love it.

I used to dream of having my own library, full from floor to ceiling with books.  But now?

Right now in life I’m relishing in simplicity and minimalism.

I’m not extreme minimalist, and I do still buy “things” and have daily internal debates on what I should or shouldn’t purchase.

I do still want pretty things in my house, but I want less of them, and nearly 3 months after clearing out my books, I’m still so happy I did.