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Category: Minimalism

  1. How to easily organise family paperwork at home

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    Not so long ago I felt I was drowning in paperwork, so I took some steps to reduce the amount of paperwork I had to deal with and to organise our important documents more effectively.  I will share how we easily organise our family paperwork at home to stop it being an overwhelming task:

    Noticeboards

    How to easily organise family paperwork at home

    Click here to shop the rainbow combination board

    Noticeboards are the easiest way to keep organised at home.  We use magnets on the side of the fridge for upcoming appointment letters and vouchers.  We also have a noticeboard in the kids playroom which has their current school information pinned to it.  For making lists and noting down reminders quickly, then whiteboards are a great idea.  There are lots of different whiteboards to choose from here at Teacherboards in all sorts of colours to match your home décor.  There are boards that are magnetic or choose a half’n’half with cork or felt to one side for pinning things.

    Synced digital calendars

    Since I stopped writing in my beloved handwritten planner and went digital with our family calendar, I have to begrudgingly admit… it saves so much time!  Ben had been trying to convince me for ages to use the iPhone calendar, but I was just so used to writing everything in a week to view planner.  This was a bit of a pain when Ben wanted to make plans, but he was not with me and didn’t have access to the planner.  He had to constantly call me to check our family plans.  Now we have set up a family calendar and it’s synced between our iPhones.  This means we can both see all our plans wherever we are and can put our own arrangements in without having to confirm with each other first.  It also saves a lot of time as we can set up recurring events each week, month or year, without having to write them out every week as I did before.

    Go paperless

    There’s pretty much no need to be emailed any bills nowadays.  Almost everything can be done online.  We receive our bank statements and energy statements online which saves the hassle of receiving the letters each month and having to file them.  If we ever need a paper copy then we can print one by ourselves from our online accounts.  Going paperless saves time and paper!

    Have a filing system

    Some paperwork isn’t paperless yet and so it does need to be organised at home.  Having a filing system that is organised can prevent this task from being overwhelming.  I have a tray in my office that recently received paperwork I need to keep is put into.  Then every now and then I sort it into our metal filing box.  This is a lockable box that holds suspension files.  These have tabs at the top to write the contents of each one.  They can be quickly located and each on pulled out to access documents quickly.  We have just one large metal box file for the whole family which I’ve divided into Home, Ben, Victoria, Bella and Reuben.  When I put away the paperwork from our tray, I will also take the time to discard anything we no longer need from within the metal file.  For example, for household bills I will only keep the last three.  If we are paid and up to date then I don’t see the need to keep them any longer than this.  Many of our bills can be accessed online or we can request extra copies of previous bills if we need them.  It’s very rare we would need them though!

    Use apps

    Luckily the schools and nurseries are going digital too.  We now get sent school letters via email and also to an app.  This means they are all in one place should we need to reference a newsletter and we no longer have to deal with as much printed paperwork coming our way.  It’s much easier to organise things like this.  Sometimes I will take a photo of a letter and save it to a folder within the Photos section of my phone.  Then I can recycle the letter and not be overwhelmed by so many bits of paper everywhere, bit I can still access the letter if I need to.

    Receipts

    If I buy something that costs a lot of money, like a new TV, or something with a warranty then I will keep the receipt and file it in our metal file.  Otherwise for purchases that might go back soon, like clothing, I will keep the receipt on the fridge and recycle it once I know we are keeping the items.  For all other irrelevant receipts, like food, I will simply take a photo of the receipts as I make money from them on the Shoppix and Receipt Hog apps.  Then I recycle them.  By using these apps to make money from my receipts I am also creating photo evidence of my receipt and purchase, so I don’t always need to keep the physical receipt as proof.  I still do if it’s a large purchase, just in case.  But if I ever need to reference a receipt or purchase number then they are stored within the apps.

    Get rid of the junk

    One thing that really irritates me is the amount of junk mail that Royal Mail delivers.  I know they have to deliver addressed mail, but they now also deliver a stack of leaflets almost every day.  Perhaps you like these leaflets and yes they are harmless, but to me it was just another job to do; something else to pick up and recycle and waste my time.  I really don’t need any more bits of paper to deal with!  To stop flyer distributors from posting things I stuck a ‘no junk mail’ sign on the door, but did you know Royal Mail employees ignore these?  To stop Royal Mail from delivering their junk mail to you there’s a form you must fill in on their website.

    The biggest way I am managing our family paperwork is simply by not having any.  By going paperless with bills, using apps for school newsletters, storing receipts on my iPhone and using a digital calendar means the amount of paperwork we now receive is drastically reduced.  If we do receive important documents then I have a filing system to quickly put things away and to be able to relocate when needed.  By doing all this I find the family paperwork is no longer so overwhelming.

     

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    How to easily organise family paperwork at home

     

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  2. Autumn style staples for kids – how to have a capsule children’s wardrobe

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    Before even being aware of the minimalist trend and capsule wardrobe trend, I was following it – even for the kids.  I believe my obsession with living with less started when I moved home around ten times in my twenties and also lived for three years in a bedsit.  I lived in one room and simply couldn’t have a lot of stuff.  Moving house so often was also such a pain that it was easier to simply live with less stuff to make for an easier move!  I also have this secret desire to pack everything up and travel the world, so that’s only possible without getting attached to belongings and having only few things!

    In recent years the capsule wardrobe and living minimally has become very mainstream and even a trend.  Many aspire to live like it, but find it difficult.  I think this is because of the emotional attachment people have to objects and also the fault of consumerism where we’ve been made to believe that having lots of things is valuable.  Having children is often an excuse for owning more and more things and having an excuse to go along with it!  Kids come with a lot of stuff.  Yes they do, but you can still live minimally.

    Could you have a capsule wardrobe for your child?

    A friend recently visited and saw my daughter’s wardrobe and exclaimed ‘are all your daughter’s clothes in there?’  Confused, I replied, yes and she explained that she’d never be able to fit her three year olds clothes in such a small space.  I opened it up and she was even more astounded as it’s not even full!  I then proceeded to show her my son’s wardrobe and my wardrobe and she was shocked questioning ‘where’s all your clothes?!’

    My children each have a child sized wardrobe.  Reuben has a draw of shorts and jogging bottoms, a drawer of PJs and underwear, then no more than 10 tops hanging on the rail.  Bella has a drawer with leggings, shorts and skirts, a drawer of nightwear and underwear and then half the hanging rail is school uniform and half the rail is for play clothes – more like a third and a third though as there is lots of space.

    Autumn style staples for kids – how to have a capsule children’s wardrobe

    Bella's wardrobe!

    I honestly don’t see the need for any more.  It would just be a waste of money. We have enough so as we don’t run out of clothes when I get a couple of wash loads behind and that is all.  Plus the kids probably have slightly more than they need to cover sickness and messy play.  At any one time they probably have around 10 tops, 10 bottoms each, a couple of packs of underwear (a bit more for Reuben as he potty trained this year and there’s still the odd accident), 1-2 hoodies or cardigans, a rain coat each and a warm coat each.  That’s all they need!  Bella has a couple of dresses too and often her jersey dresses last for ages as when they are too short to be a dress, she’ll use it as a tunic/long top over her leggings.  They have a pair of wellies each, boots and two play shoes.  Their feet have both grown two sizes this year, so I don’t want to spend a fortune here only for them to outgrow them in a couple of months.  Plus they tend to just stick to one pair of their favourite trainers each and wear them almost every day for play.

    More is just a waste

    Clothes are always getting covered in muck, food, mud, paint, etc, from school, home, the park and nursery, so they often only get worn once or twice and then thrown in the wash basket.  I’ve the washing machine on almost every day, sometimes more than once, so clothes are constantly being washed and re-worn over and over.  Once they are too stained, grown out or worn through then they go in a charity bag (we always have a charity bag on the go, hung up in a cupboard) – our local charity shops can even sell worn out clothes or ruined clothes to the rag trade, so there’s never any waste.  Then we buy clothes as we need to, in replacement. 

    I’m sure many people have far too many clothes than they actually need, especially for their kids.  I’m amazed that my friend has too many clothes to fit in one wardrobe for her three year old.  I can only imagine the clothes don’t get as much wear as my kids’ clothes.  Kids grow out of things so quickly too; we are having to buy new clothes every season!

    Kids outgrow clothes constantly

    Right now I’m thinking about buying some autumn clothes for the kids.  As the weather is cooling we need to get some trousers, long sleeved tops, jumpers and a new warm coat for both Bella and Reuben.  Whilst us adults can wear our same clothes from last year, the kids really can’t!  They have shot up so much – Bella is probably a couple of inches taller already, maybe more!  We will find kids designer wear online by checking selling marketplaces such as eBay, have a browse in our local charity shops and also try to source new sustainable pieces from companies like H&M who sell recycled clothes and organic clothes in their conscious ranges.  Sometimes the cheapest brands do not last as long, but there are some surprises like H&M that make really high quality clothes – I’ve had some items of clothing from them for over ten years!

    How to create a kids autumn capsule wardrobe

    I’ll be checking what still fits them firstly, to ensure we aren’t buying things we don’t need.  For example, I do still have Bella’s winter coat from last year and it’s in great condition, so we’ll see if it does fit her still before getting a new one.  Occasionally coats are so large that they do last two year which is a bonus!

    Here are all the items you really need to create a kids capsule autumn wardrobe:

    ·         Warm coat

    ·         Rain coat

    ·         Wellies

    ·         2x Play pumps/trainers

    ·         Boots/hi-tops

    ·         10 bottoms

    ·         10 tops

    ·         2x hoodies/cardigans 

    That’s it!  I even think we are over buying with the tops and bottoms, but like I said, that’s to cover all messy eventualities and backlogs of washing like if we go away for a week and need extra clothes.  Two pairs of trainers are to cover when one pair might get soaked or super muddy.  Bella will have some winter boots, but Reuben will have some hi-top trainers for those cold wet days.

    Obviously this list doesn’t include pyjamas, underwear and socks and so on.  The kids usually have 3-4 packs of socks at any one time, 2-3 packs of underwear and around 4 pairs of pyjamas, though Reuben has been surviving on two pairs of PJs for a while!

    It’s totally possible to have a capsule wardrobe for your kids this autumn.  We make use of t-shirts that still fit from the summer to wear under hoodies and cardigans, until it’s really too cold to do so.  Providing they don’t have a sudden growth spurt then this wardrobe can even see them through the whole winter, saving money and making sure all the clothes get plenty of wear.

    At the moment my kids are six years and three years old, so they are still quite messy, especially the three year old!  I expect as they get older we can even cut down the amount of clothes they need.

     

    Related blog posts

    Why every woman should create a capsule wardrobe

    How to create a warm and welcoming minimal dining room

    Essential items for a minimalist hair care routine

    Why less is more

    How my minimal bedroom décor describes my personality

     Autumn style staples for kids – how to have a capsule children’s wardrobe

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  3. How to create a warm and welcoming dining room

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    Buying a home with a dining area was really important to me when we purchased our first home as a family.  When I was younger we never had a dining table that me, my mum and sister could all sit together at.  My mum was a young single mum and we lived in a small flat with a dinky kitchen.  She managed to squeeze a small blue square table in front of the kitchen cupboard so me and my sister could eat properly at a table.  My mum either stood at the kitchen side or ate in the living room.  At Christmas the table would be pulled out and we’d all somehow manage to squeeze around it for Christmas lunch without being able to move anywhere else in the kitchen at all!  Of course this situation was very different to mine now as we had no money back then and had to make do living in a small space, but it did make buying a home with enough space for eating together more important to me.  In this blog post I will share how to create a warm and welcoming dining area sharing what we’ve done and things I’d like to do.

    HOW TO CREATE A WARM AND WELCOMING DINING ROOM

    Whilst the artex certainly adds texture to our room, I despise it!  It is on our list of things to sort.

    Ideally I would have chosen a house with a kitchen-diner, but we ended up with a living room-diner.  Our home also has a converted garage so that space is the perfect long length for a dining room, but does anyone actually have a separate dining room nowadays?  Instead we use the garage as my office and the kids’ playroom.  It could be used as a dining room though if a future buyer wanted a separate diner.  I did think about this when I titled this blog post and perhaps ‘dining area’ would be more appropriate with modern house layouts!

    Anyway, we ended up with a living room diner which definitely helps to create a warm and welcoming dining area as the living area itself is cosy.  We have a log burner, fabric sofas and a large wool rug.  The walls are white which creates a light and airy space, but the floors, blinds and shelving is all oak so this brings in warmth and cosiness. 

    The dining area itself is something we only started focussing on last year.  Originally we had a four seater table from our old smaller home, but we were struggling with space with four of us at the table and especially when we had guests.  We bought a larger second hand upcycled farmhouse table from eBay, used our existing rustic look wooden chairs and bought a matching bench to go along one side.  The natural wood stops our white room from being too stark, giving the room a more homely feel.  The rustic table is also perfect for us as we don’t mind it becoming a little more damaged and worn as it just adds to its charm.

    To add more texture and create an even more snug environment I’d suggest adding some textiles to the dining space.  A rug under the table and chairs upon a hard floor would look great.  A table cloth, fabric place settings or a table runner.  I really did want to add a rug to ours, but with two small children my husband rightly thought it would be a bad idea considering the amount of food and drink that is currently dropped on the floor!  Perhaps when they are older.  We did have chair cushions which is another great recommendation to make wooden seating more comfortable and less bare, but ours just got too ruined with messy children and messy food!

    How to create a warm and welcoming dining room - furnish your home

    If you don’t have children(or they are not as messy as mine) then this dining set from Furnish Your Home will create a super comfortable, warm and welcoming setting with the warmth of the wood and comfy soft fabric seating.

    Lighting is also important to create the right ambience.  We found some white rattan lampshades to keep with the white wall theme and Ben, my husband who is handy with DIY, hung these as two low level pendant lights above the table.  The low lighting directly on the table helps to create a warm atmosphere.  We also installed a dimmer switch so we can change the mood depending on the type of meal – bright with the kids, but romantic if it’s just the two of us.  A tip is to not hang the lighting too low.  Ben and I are both quite tall and we kept hitting our head on the lights when standing.  We’ve had to lift them up a couple of times and I think we’ve finally found the right height for us.  If we had a deeper table then we’d hang them much lower.

    How to create a warm and welcoming dining room - furnish your home rose gol

    Whilst we opted for natural rattan effect lampshades in the end, we spent a long time debating over whether to choose copper or rose gold pendant lighting  such as these from Furnish Your Home which will add reflective colour creating a warm ambiance.

    Décor is of course a personal choice and I like to opt for a minimal style.  I had two large canvases printed with photos of the children taken by Jelly Baby Photography with brown and pink tones which not only add a family feel to the area, but some warmness too.  I have a white star on the wall which reminds me of Christmas decorations, so again another fuzzy feeling inside and also a plant to bring nature into the room as well as purify the air.

    In the day our dining area is filled with natural light from a south facing window so it’s spacious, light and airy, yet still welcoming.  In the evening or on a dark afternoon we turn the lights on and the feeling is totally different as the pendant lighting creates a glow over the table giving a cosier feel.

    Related blog posts

    6 easy ways to decorate a dining room

    The dos and don’ts of dining room decor

    How to create a contemporary kitchen design

    How to create the kitchen of your dreams

    How to place pendant lighting all around the home

    Using a contemporary lamp to create cosiness

    How to create a warm and welcoming dining room

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  4. How to shop more ethically and sustainably for clothing

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    In a previous blog post I looked at 13 ways to get rid of unwanted clothing without sending them to landfill.  I was shocked after reading 300,000 tonnes of clothing went to landfill in 2016 when they all cold have been repurposed, reused or recycled.  So now you know what to do when your clothes are worn out or unwanted, but perhaps you are wondering how to shop more sustainably or ethically for your clothes in the first place.  This is something that is quite new to me too and naturally feels like the next chapter for me to explore in my healthy living and living more sustainably journey.  Over the past few years I have changed all beauty and household products to natural where possible, changed all the food that we can to organic, become more conscious about plastic use and the amount of landfill waste in our home and made several other changes which you can read in my blog post 15 eco-friendly things I do on a regular basis.

    In this blog post I am going to explore some of the ways you can shop more consciously for your clothing:

    Fair Wear Foundation

    The fair Wear Foundation is a non-profit organisation that seeks to improve working conditions in 11 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa.  They keep track of the changes the companies implement to ensure workplace conditions are improved.  They help to ensure there is no child labour, a fair wage is paid, conditions are safe and work hours are reasonable as well as setting many other fair working standards.  They currently have 80 companies signed up which represent over 120 brands including, for example, engelbert strauss who are a German workwear company who also sell amazing all weather protective kids footwear, perfect for outdoor loving families.  Simply go to the FWF website and search the brands that are signed up.  You can check out their reports and be sure that these brands are working with the FWF to improve labour conditions where the clothes are produced.

    How to shop more ethically and sustainably for clothing

    Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 

    Organic cotton

    Chemical pesticides and fertilisers are so destructive to the planet, wildlife, our water supply and our own health.  We are a living experiment for the routine use of these chemicals and I’m sure all their devastating health consequences are not yet fully known.  We know we are suffering from soil erosion which is having an impact on food production and its mineral content is reducing.  The best way to make a stand against chemical farming is to choose organic instead.  Yes you can choose to eat organic food, but you can also choose to buy organic clothing which is made from organic cotton.  This is much kinder to the environment and in my experience the clothes are of a higher standard, softer and last longer.

    Sustainable brands

    Buying sustainably doesn’t always mean giving up the brands you love.  Even popular High Street brands such as ASOS, H&M and Urban Outfitters have green, conscious and upcycled ranges.  You can still shop in some of the stores you love whilst making a more planet friendly choice.  Before shopping with a brand have a look in the footer of their website to see if they have any information on their sustainability efforts.  Just dig a little deeper before choosing a brand to make sure they are taking responsibility for their clothing production and to ensure their vision aligns with yours.

    Buy second hand

    So many people give away perfectly wearable items to charity stores or even sell them on eBay.  Perhaps the fit was not right for them, they’ve not worn as much as intended or they have worn the item but no longer require it.  Either way, there are plenty of second hand clothing items for you to snap up!  Buying second hand is cheaper than buying a brand new item, plus it prevents the planet damaging production of a new item for you.  If you buy from charity shops you are also supporting a worthwhile cause.  It’s also exciting to rummage through rails in thrift stores as you’ll never know what you’ll find.

    Opt for a capsule wardrobe

    Far too many of us have far too many clothes in the first place.  There’s no need for this over consumption and throwaway fashion culture that we have been used to.  I’ve been working on reducing my capsule wardrobe to around 50 pieces of clothing only.  Count your clothes and you may be surprised at how many you own in total.  By starting a capsule wardrobe you will automatically become more conscious when clothes shopping as you’ll need to ensure the piece can mix’n’match with several of your other clothing items, as well as ensuring it’s a staple piece that you’ll wear time and time again.  I saw an article once say to follow the rule of 30 – if you won’t wear it at least 30 times then don’t buy it.  I’d like to disagree.  I think 30 is still too little and you should go for a rule of 100 at least!  I have several items of clothing I have had for several years and work them on a weekly basis, if not a few times per week.  This is what we should all be striving for to drastically reduce the unnecessary clothing production, pollution and waste.  We need to get it out of our heads that we can’t be seen in the same outfit more than once and this is something the celebrity world needs to adopt and encourage.

    Hopefully we can all start to make a change in the way clothing is produced and instead choose recycled, organic and repurposed clothing as our first choice.

    Related blog posts

    7 ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle
    3 Important Reasons to Choose Organic (other than your personal health)
    13 eco-friendly ways to start saving money in the kitchen
    Get 100% renewable energy with Bulb and save lots of money (over £250)

     How to shop more ethically and sustainably for clothing

  5. How my bedroom décor describes my personality

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    My bedroom is still a work in progress, but since moving into my first owned home just over four years ago, I finally feel like it’s starting to come together.  The room is by no means perfect with a window that goes right up to one wall and so is severely off centre (who designs these things?), plus it has no ensuite which is something that I really did want when looking for a home, but nevertheless it is a decent large double with plenty of space for me and Ben, even with a king size bed.  In this blog post I'm going to take a look at my bedroom decor and how they reflect my lifestyle choices and personality.

    How my bedroom décor describes my personality

     

    Minimalism

    The plenty of space is probably helped by the fact I am very minimal.  I’d say ‘we’ are very minimal, but I do fear I have just forced Ben to be this way!  I’ve not just latched on to this minimalism trend that I see everywhere, but for me it has been an obsession of mine for years.  It’s the desire to live with only exactly what I use and need.  Almost every day I am listing items on eBay, popping things in a charity bag and reorganising cupboards whilst ridding them of things we haven’t used in a while.  Ben, my husband, always jokes around saying things like ‘oh look, I haven’t used this for a whole day, better get rid of it!’

    I’m not that extreme, but my way of living probably is a little extreme to people who value things, treasure items for their memories and like a house filled with stuff.  I’m the opposite.  I like my home to be filled with only what I really need and mostly things I use.  I have minimal décor, mostly plants, mirrors and some family photos.  This theme extends through the whole house and not just the bedroom. 

    Art work

    There’s a large canvas in our bedroom and a large canvas above our fireplace downstairs.  I also have a couple of fabric wall hangings; one in the bedroom and one in the living room.  That’s pretty much it for wall art in my home.  I love having just one central piece that the eyes have to be drawn to.  I like it to be a beautiful powerful piece that reflects something of myself.  The large canvas in the bedroom has a very boho feel and is calming.  Though I’m not always calm with the daily stresses of motherhood and running a business full time, I aspire to be.  One day I will be at peace and calm.  I think this is also a part of the minimalistic life for me.  I always feel once all the clutter and junk has gone from my life it will also go from my head.  As there are less things to think about there will be more space for calm and happiness.

    Handmade reclaimed wood wardrobe

    The wardrobe is handmade by my husband from reclaimed pallet wood.  He’s a keen DIYer and woodworker who has just started making his own pieces of furniture.  The wardrobe was a work in progress for around a year and is nearly finished.  It’s not that it took one year to create, but rather he made the frame and then didn’t finish it for ages, despite my constant nagging!  Now it’s almost complete and totally useable.  The left hand side of the wardrobe is a rugged mix of unfinished pallet wood.  The doors have been sanded, smoothed and stained.  It’s a work of art to me and is the perfect representation of my husband’s love for wood and a new chapter in his life of getting to create things he is passionate about.  It utilises the space so well going from floor to ceiling and we have half the wardrobe each.  I don’t even fill up half the wardrobe as you’ll not be surprised to hear my wardrobe is minimal too, sort of a capsule wardrobe.  I probably take up a quarter to a third of the wardrobe with hanging clothes and I’m certain I can reduce this even more.  Another personal mission!

    Bed covers

    Our current bed covers are a light greyish purple colour and were just something cheap to replace some greyed white covers.  At first I fully embraced the white walls and white bed covers theme, but as we wash our laundry using very eco-friendly methods with no detergent, it just wasn’t powerful enough to keep our whites so white and so I decided to go back to a coloured cover.   I love white walls for the simplicity, cleanliness and feeling of space.  I’m certainly a clean and tidy person.  I like to have space and hate to be surrounded with things, whether that’s things in my home or too many people at a busy event.  I like to have space in all situations.  One thing that drives me insane is when people are too close in queues or too close to my car in theirs.  I feel like I can’t breathe.  Personal space is important to me.

    Another benefit of having white walls is being able to change the accent colour in a room so easily.  I was able to easily switch my bed covers from white to a light colour instead.  I am also tempted to go bold with the bed covers.  I just love the Paradise duvet cover set from Julian Charles.  It would look amazing against our white walls with the natural wood and plants.

    Plant love

    My item of choice for décor nowadays is plants.  It never used to be, but over the past few years I’ve found them to create such a calming environment by bringing nature indoors as well as purifying the air.  I have a hanging plant in the corner which is called Devil’s Ivy.  It’s a snip I took from a much larger one I have in the living room and this one is slowly growing and sprouting new leaves all the time, particularly when I remember to water it!  On the opposite wall (not photographed) we have a smallish rubber plant which should grow tall eventually. 

    The colours

    White, green, blue (teal and turquoise) and natural wood are the ultimate theme in my bedroom and throughout the rest of the home, aside from the children’s bedrooms.  These colours represent my love for a clean and tidy home, a love of spaciousness, my passion for natural living and following a wholefood plant based diet and they allow me to grow and develop without being stuck to one bold colourway.  That’s exactly how I feel my life and personality are too.  They are evolving, growing and developing every day especially as I have a thirst for learning more about healthy living and strive to become a better person.

    Related blog posts:

    Why every woman should create a capsule wardrobe
    Home: Why Less Is More
    7 Ways to Achieve a Modern, Minimalist Look For Your Living Room
    My minimal inspiring blogging workspace corner

    How my bedroom décor describes my personality