Giving Your Home Space to Breathe Without Necessarily Buying a Bigger One

Giving Your Home Space to Breathe without necessarily buying a bigger one

(my sister’s gorgeous home)

A couple of weeks ago I went to Ontario to visit my family.  My sister just moved into a big beautiful house last year and always loves for me to help her organize when I come to visit.  Unfortunately we didn’t get much organizing accomplished because my sister wasn’t feeling well.  She was just diagnosed with the same autoimmune disease I have, Rheumatoid Arthritis.  She is six years younger than me and yet we were diagnosed only months apart.  So crazy I know!  I was happy that I could spend some time helping her though as she adjusted to her medications.

So even though we didn’t we do any organizing projects, oh wait that’s not entirely true, I did organize her snack cupboard and I didn’t even ask first.  Oops…I just couldn’t help myself!  Thankfully my sister is used to my shenanigans and doesn’t seem to mind 🙂  I worked so fast (I needed a fix what can I say!) that I didn’t take pictures.

This was the first time I have been to my sister’s new home and it’s huge!  Three floors of pure awesomeness, it really is stunning. I loved all the space and I loved that no one was tripping over one another.  My sister and her husband and two kids live on the top two floors and my parents live in the beautifully finished basement.  They really did need the bigger space because two families share it but I’ll admit it was really hard not to compare their big lovely home with my much smaller home waiting for me back in Alberta.  I started dreaming of new furniture and new colorful throw cushions to brighten my place up.  Maybe some new curtains would do the trick to allow more light in and make my home feel more airy. Or even some brand new wood shutters like the beautiful ones my sister has throughout her home.

It’s in our nature I think to start making comparisons this way. I caught myself doing it though and it bothered me.  I wanted to get to the root of the problem.  I’ve lived in a much bigger home and didn’t love it.  More space requires more cleaning after all so I honestly didn’t think that was it. I really don’t mind the size of my current home (although the layout makes me a bit crazy sometimes) but I was still itching to make some changes once I got home from visiting my sister’s house.

That’s when it dawned on me that what I loved most about my sister’s new house wasn’t necessarily all the space they had but rather that they hadn’t filled every nook and cranny with stuff.  Their home had space to breathe and that’s what I was missing in my own home.

Now my sister hasn’t lived in her new home long and I’ve lived in mine for 5 years.  Each year that you live in your home is another year of accumulation of stuff.  We bring more in than we tend to send out and we try to make it work with all the stuff and then it happens, often without realizing it, our homes begin to suck the life right out of us.  That’s when we often get the urge to move, to buy a bigger home and begin the cycle all over again.  And while I don’t think there is anything wrong with buying a bigger home, I do think it’s important to first look at your current home with fresh eyes.  To see the impact all your stuff is having on your spaces and why it’s even all there in the first place.  To look at every piece of furniture and every piece of decor and purposely ask ourselves, is this bringing me joy, do I love it, does anyone use it and most importantly, could I live without it to allow for more breathing room?

Regardless of the size of your home, if your home doesn’t have room to breathe you are going to feel suffocated.

I looked around my living room when I got home and it felt like too much to me.  I was having trouble relaxing and I felt closed in.  I didn’t feel like I could just breathe.  Those thoughts sounded familiar to me and that’s when I remembered a post I’d written last year (it’s a good read!) for the Peaceful Organized Home series.  Would you believe it was about having these exact same feelings…the urge to purge and simplify in order to allow my home to breathe.

Otherwise known as my spring itch to pitch!!.

To help us with this I wanted to share an awesome 105 page ebook called Your Simple Home Handbook by Elsie Callender that I just finished reading.

Your Simple Home Handbook

Elsie’s handbook aims to help you be systematic and ruthless in your quest to simplify.  She has divided up the home into 30 areas, 30 projects, so you can simplify piece by piece and not be overwhelmed.  I love this excerpt from her introduction:

“If you want to see real change in your home, you’ve got to get a little more ruthless.  You’ll see the best results with a full-on, section-by-section purge.  Your mindset going in has to be more radical than it’s ever been before.  If you look in a closet or dig through a box and ask “what can I get rid of?” you’re only scratching the surface.  A few things might jump out at you.  You’ll cart them off to Goodwill and feel like you’ve accomplished something.  But what about the other 90% of that closet or box?  There’s probably a lot more in there that you don’t need!  Take the conversation deeper and reevaluate every item in your home – every book, game, sweater, serving platter, blanket and lipstick you own.”

Are you feeling suffocated in your home?  Before you think about buying a bigger space, try first simplifying the home you have now.  Perhaps it’s not a new home you need but simply just less stuff.

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post which means if you purchase through a link on my site, I’ll earn a small commission. This does not increase the amount you are charged at all. It helps pay for the expenses of running this blog. Thank you for supporting my site!

Filed under: Purging, Simplicity


16 Responses to Giving Your Home Space to Breathe Without Necessarily Buying a Bigger One

  1. 1
    Bonnie says

    That is nice that your sister opened her home to your parents. Great post. I am working on clearing out the clutter and it feels great.

    • 1.1
      Laura Wittman says

      Yes they have a great system going and everyone helps each other out. Wish I was there too!

  2. 2
    Whitney @ Come Home For Comfort says

    I love your point that every year you live in your home, you accumulate more stuff. It happens slowly so you don’t notice it! Hmm…what room do I need to pair down?? Thanks for getting me thinking!

  3. 3
    Mridu at Life is Organized says

    I love the idea that you can have “room to breathe” no matter how big or small your house. Thanks for the reminder Laura. 🙂

    • 3.1
      Laura Wittman says

      Yes I needed the reminder myself too!

  4. 4
    pamela wagner says

    This was wonderful. You have a peaceful way of writing, not overly dramatic or full of !!! and it fits the topic. Thank you for reminding me that sometimes less is more…and it really is. When I moved last year, and this year, to what I did not know at the time would be a bigger apartment, I gave away almost all of my books, especially the ones I knew I would never be able to read, i.e. non-picture books as my eyes will not accommodate to reading a book of pure text. I have mostly rejoiced in “getting rid” of instead of regretting what I no longer have. And if you have the pleasure of donating to Freecycle, where people only take what they can use, or to a known “good cause” then that is even better. Even when I do find myself wishing for that “one book” i no longer own (having had to give away my collection of visual dictionaries from Dorling-Kindersley), I am still glad to know that the people who received them will be much better off i.e. a local correctional center, which now has practically a school library due to the number of books I gave them.

    • 4.1
      Laura Wittman says

      So nice, thank you Pamela and great advice you gave too 🙂

  5. 5
    Jennifer says

    I’ve never met you but we think alike! I enjoy reading your blog. It is one of the few I keep reading.

    • 5.1
      Laura Wittman says

      What a lovely comment Jennifer, thank you for that!!!!

  6. 6
    Sinea Pies says

    There have been times that the clutter has bothered ms so much that Icoulnd’t breathe. Had I had this book, I most certainly would have had to go outdoors to read it…the “noise” of the clutter would have been too loud to concentrate LOL

    • 6.1
      Laura Wittman says

      Yes I hear ya, it is very hard to relax with so much going on for sure. 🙂

  7. 7
    Kristin @ The Gold Project says

    Awesome post! I think we are all guilty of comparing our home to others. Thank you for the daily reminder to let my house breath. 🙂

  8. 8
    Michele says

    I’d highly recommend Dr. Fuhrman’s book EAT TO LIVE or his website for your RA. (Sorry to hear about it.)

  9. 9
    Susanne says

    Oh so agree! We’ve been in this home for 22 years now and it’s amazing how stuff creeps up on me. Before that we had moved on the average of every 3 years and had a yard sale before each move. It’s imperative that I keep a handle on the stuff accumlation vs the stuff removal.

  10. 10
    shabnam says

    Hi. I really get inspired to declutter and organise when I read your blog. I m from India .we have very small homes in mumbai. Barely 800 to 1000 sq feet. And these are a good sized houses in mumbai. I really wish you could give us some advice for very small homes


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