August 12, 2010

Living with Less

Posted in Children, Home tagged , , , , , , , at 7:35 am by Liliana

Mike and Karen - new apartment

Mike and Karen - new apartment

I read a wonderful article in the New York Times last weekend about simplifying one’s life, downsizing, living with fewer possessions.

I read it right after helping my son Mike and his girlfriend Karen move into a small studio apartment in Boston. Mike is starting law school and this is their first apartment together.

Their apartment is on the first floor of an old brick building on a very steep street of a mostly student neighborhood. The entire studio is about 400 square feet. The main room is large and open, with a separate kitchen, a little hallway with two closets and a small bathroom beyond it.

The ceilings, with old painted beams, are tall and make the room airy. The wooden floors are polished and shiny. The kitchen has a gas stove, a refrigerator and tiny bit of cabinet space. This is the space the kids started with.

Mike and Karen agreed that they wanted to keep their apartment clean and uncluttered, but also homey, warm and functional for their lifestyle.

They placed their bed in an alcove on the far side of the main room with a little table next to it. Karen, who is much more handy of the two, hung up a beautiful silk sari that she bought in Singapore as divider curtains. They had a bedroom.

In the middle of the room they placed a futon couch which opens into a bed, so is practical when they have visitors. Next to it Karen spread a light brown, braided jute rug. They had plenty of room for their yoga mats. A desk for Mike to work on is on the left, a side table on the right. The tall bookshelf (already full of books) was placed across the room against a narrow wall. They had a living room.

Karen loves to cook and when we unpacked her boxes (labeled cocina) it showed. At IKEA we had bought a white table and fold-able wooden chairs; also, a side cabinet with many cubicles that added an entire wall of counter space to the kitchen. Karen placed her books, pots, plates, glasses, linens and other necessities in the shelf cubicles. On the wall above, she placed a hanging shelf and displayed her sea green glass bowl, her blue pitcher, and her copper pots. Everything had a place. They had a kitchen.

I was happy to leave the kids in this spartan, beautifully compact space. I wish them luck and happiness. And hope that their life will never get too cluttered. There is freedom in simplicity.