Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I co-host the Your Home Story podcast and believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!
Mom to Otto born April 2018 and Lucy born August 2020!

Useful or beautiful: what to put in our basically-finished fixer upper home

Now that the Stanley 90's reno is mostly "finished," I've been focusing on feeling happy, settled, and calm here. We've had a few free weekends now that summer is winding down and I've had time to sort and get rid of some things like old fabric and sewing supplies, do some yard work, and cook for fun!

It is a weird and new feeling to live in a home that's almost done--yes, we did that in our townhouse... but we are still recovering emotionally from the 10 months of intense fixer upper projects and internal pressure to get things done around here that it's strange to have that free feeling in this home in particular.

So, I've been thinking about what I should do here now that the bones are done, but we have yet to finish decorating every little spot and almost all of our books are still packed in grocery bags on shelves in the garage. 😳

I found this William Morris quote years ago, I'm pretty sure when reading Gretchen Rubin's Happier at Home. (I highly recommend it and her first in the series, The Happiness Project, if you haven't already read it. You can buy them for a few bucks online including shipping and they are fast, fun, inspiring reads.) Gretchen has some of the same issues I do--a longing for "simplicity" and the urge to get rid of everything, but also sentimental attachment to certain objects and appreciation and happiness for things that I engage with regularly.

I've read the minimalist books and seen the Netflix documentary, but I've never been motivated to get rid of SO much of my stuff, everything that doesn't spark joy. When we decorated this house we were intentional about what we put in each room, which means a lot of our rooms are clean but a little bare, and there's still not much on the walls yet. Unfortunately some of our stuff is still in the garage........ like lots of artwork and of course, books... and the office is still a mess. So we still have opportunities to be really intentional about what we put in our home.

William Morris is probably most known as a textile designer in the Victorian era in England. The quote? Well, it solves all my dilemmas about what to keep and what to toss, not based on bare minimum I need or only things that make me feel joy when I pick them up.

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

That says it all, right?! And we DIYers know we can often make or find things that are both useful and beautiful. Comfortable rugs, pretty-colored lamps, patterned tile!!

This philosophy leaves room for the creative side. I don't need to feel guilty for wanting to decorate my home the way I like, because it makes me feel good in it.

Our functional spaces are functional but also the style I like. Win-win!

Think about it again. “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Coupons you'll never use, a really old throw blanket that you keep in a chest and only use a couple times a year, 10,000 pens in the drawer but half of them don't work anymore... get rid of those things. I've had the opportunity not to unpack those things (now I just need to donate or toss them). If you want, replace them with things you love, like a new throw blanket, that you can display proudly and feel good when you look at.

What do you think? Have you found a philosophy of what to keep and what to minimalist-ly toss? Is living in a beautiful space important to you??

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