We Didn't Buy a House, But We Found Our Home.

Not the house, but man would I love to live there.

I fell in love with a house. 

A cottage really.  Nestled in an adorable neighborhood.  Perfect yard.  A five minute walk to library, groceries, restaurants, bars with live music.  Funky town.  Great public schools (we don't have kids yet, but houses come with a million year mortgage, guys).

It all felt so easy at first.  First house we ever looked at.  Offer accepted (after a mini bid-off).  Inspections are good for the most part.  A few problems, but manageable.  Then there is a lot-line issue.  Then there is an appraisal issue.  Which triggers a bank issue.  And then another.  

It stopped feeling good.  At all.

Over two weeks I was consistently the most stressed out I’ve ever been.  I recognize what a total and complete privilege home ownership is, so it's not that I’m looking for pity but I acknowledge that the most stressful event in my life is one that I had control over, that I chose for myself.

And then there was a fear of having gone too far and having dragged others along with me.  But it couldn't touch the fear of knowing that my gut had started shouting “no” and if I didn't listen I would have to live with that regret.

The American dream is still alive and well.  Just this past week we worked with a crazy talented, smart woman who just paid off her mortgage.  And on the Peninsula nonetheless!  For some people, it's perfect, the undeniably best route.  

But we're all different, and I spend my days preaching from my little soapbox about how we ought to embrace our differences and preferences and make our own version of our perfect life.

In my perfect life, home ownership is about lazy Saturday mornings in bed.  About memorizing the trees on your property, the names of your neighbors pets, about having an open door policy where you just might arrive home to see a gaggle of friends already inside waiting for you.

This home was going to mean a double commute living 35 minutes from our closest friends.  It meant him leaving for work and hour earlier each weekday and me leaving at the crack of dawn on the weekends for clients in Palo Alto.  It meant no lazy mornings or friends.  It also felt really tight, a little lonely, pretty scary.  

Then to top it all off, Kyle and I had a photo shoot of my apartment.  The weather was perfect.  The 75 degree air made the linen sheers dance as the soft breeze came in the window.  The apartment was freshly cleaned, we picked a bowl of lemons of the meyer tree in our yard. 

I looked around our apartment and thought “Shit, I already am home.”

At home in our lovely apartment.  Photo by Ryan.

It was deep and profound and true.  And therefore, just a few hours before removing contingencies, we decided to keep our rental and our life as is.  

I feel: liberated, light, abundant.  I feel like Cam and I received an incredible education in our finances, our shared values, our long term dreams, and how we each handle hard situations...  It brought us together and it rocked us to the core with gratitude for this life that we currently are living.  It just so happens that for Cam and me, that perfect life doesn't include owning a home.  At least not yet.

So we're staying in our apartment. 

Maybe for a just a little, maybe for a long while.  And even though it is “just a rental,” I know now for sure that it is also home, and I'm doubling down on creating my perfect life within these walls.

So I've ordered some fabric to make the shower curtain of my dreams.  I bought a wall mount for my ukulele so I can put it next to my bed.  I found the sweetest print in the world from my favorite Hawaiian artist to close it all out.  I’m in the market for the credenza of my dreams.  I’m going to tend to this space and specify it love it the way I like. 

And then I'll call the landlord when the sink clogs or the disposal breaks, and I'll be eternally thankful for our five years and counting in our current home.


PS- If you're in the Bay Area and looking for a realtor, I could not possibly recommend Matt Hughes more highly.  He went above and beyond for us every step of the way, was always looking out for us, always available to us, an amazing communicator, and, more than anything, he was totally supportive when we decided not to buy (even after he'd put hours upon hours of work into our deal).  Seriously, he's one of the good ones:)

The 11 Decluttering Questions You Should Be Asking Yourself

At the very core of it all, the reason we simplify our things is to increase the quality of our lives.  

As New Minimalists, we believe that less time spent organizing, cleaning, tending to and hunting down our things, the better.  Instead, we use those precious hours every week to practice our art, enjoy our hobbies, give and connect to our communities, savor relationships with those we love and those we've just met.

Then why is it so hard to get rid of the things that are clearly holding us back from living this life?

Most of our clients have attempted to declutter on their own before calling us in.  They're already clear on all the potential benefits to their lives by simplifying their homes and aware of the pain and distraction their clutter is currently causing.  They know they want kitchens with clean counters and have entire pinterest boards of minimalist closets.  But for some reason they can’t release the clutter that is holding them stagnant.

The missing piece of the puzzle is not a matter of willpower or desire -- it's actually far simpler than that.  

It's a matter of semantics.  

Specifically, they're are not asking the right questions to reflect the standards they aspire to.  

We hear clients still asking questions like: 

  • “Could I wear this?” 
  • “Might I need this at some point in the future?” 
  • “Did I spend money acquiring this?” 
  • “Did I get this as a gift or from a neat trip?”
  • “Does this item have value?”  

.... all of which lead to holding onto far more than you want, need, or could ever use.   What you really need to be asking the questions below:

11 questions to ask yourself when you are {really} ready for a New Minimalist life.

For items that are “useful”:

1.  Does this item provide a great benefit to my life on a frequent (daily/weekly) basis?  

2.  Is there anything I own that could do this job just as well but I like more/has more uses?

For personal momentos + sentimental items:

3.  Does this item symbolize or tell the story of my relationship with someone massively important to me OR a life-changing experience? 

4.  Does this item give me a profound feeling of love/joy/adventure when I see it?

For items of beauty or decoration:

5.  Is this item so beautiful that it speaks to me every time I lay my eyes on it? 

6.  Does it fill me with wonder and curiosity or settle and soothe my soul in ways beyond words?

For To-Dos and Projects:  

7.  Do I love this project and excitedly anticipate the time each day when I get to work on it? 

8.  Am I working on this project not because I feel I should or people expect me to or I’ve already put so much time into it, but because working on it makes my heart sing?

For Clothing and Accessories:

9.  Do I feel like a goddess/warrior/the most brilliant person in the room/the best version of me when I have it on? 

10.  Of all the clothing items in the world, would I repurchase this exact one today -- even if it cost 2x as much?

11.  Would I seek out a special tailor or seamstress to fix or tend to this item should something happen to it?


Just listen to the answers that come up for you.  

Some will be wholehearted yes's or simple no's.  There will be times when fear and guilt arise, trying to make you hold onto things that you "might need" or that you spent too much money on or that you should finish.  

And then with great love and desire for all the spaciousness and freedom that arises on the other side, choose to let it go.  Choose this new life.  Choose to have faith that life is not in the having but in the living.