New Minimalism + Sunset Magazine

Hello dearest readers,

Kyle, here to share an exciting announcement with you!

New Minimalism has had the pleasure of working with Sunset Magazine in a variety of ways over the past year.  We realize that while we have Instagram'd these events, we never fully explained them to you, our faithful readers.  So here is a little background:

Last fall, we were hired by Sunset Magazine's Creative Director to declutter her home office and art space at her family's adorable bungalow in the East Bay.

A peek at our decluttering project with Sunset's Creative Director

A peek at our decluttering project with Sunset's Creative Director

Soon after, the team at Sunset was gearing up to relocate from their infamous, pastoral Menlo Park headquarters to a new, urban office in Oakland's vibrant Jack London Square.  Their offices in Menlo Park were spacious (think Mid-century modern California campus, surrounded by lush gardens, and towering Redwood trees); most of the employees had private offices with extensive built-in bookcases.  Naturally, over the 60 years that Sunset inhabited the space, items had, well, accumulated.  The future move to an open-concept, shared workspace in Oakland was daunting, to say the least.  

Enter New Minimalism!  During our 3 hour workshop with the editorial staff, we first visioned the future space together and then explained our 5 most-relevant philosophies as applied to Sunset's current situation.  The workshop went amazingly!  The Sunset team was so engaged, thoughtful and inquisitive (I mean, really, a bunch of first-class journalists are the best students anyone could ask for).

After the workshop, Sunset wrote a series of blog posts on the subject!  We were so honored that the content resonated and that Sunset was assimilating our ideas.  If you missed those posts, you can view them here:

Sunset's Great Clutter Challenge

10 Tips for Clutter Control

Overcoming Attachments

And finally, we were mentioned in the print, in the December 2015 issue!  Cary captured it perfectly on Instagram when she wrote,

"This little blurb represents a huge dream come true! Discovering Sunset was one of my favorite things about moving to San Francisco in 2008. It's been my favorite periodical, my ultimate guide, my top source for all dream images and phrases... To see our business mentioned on its pages is just magical."


Which leads me to the present day news that is oh, so exciting...

New Minimalism has been invited to speak at Sunset's annual Celebration Weekend on May 14th & 15th!  

Celebration Weekend is a HUGE event with hundreds of vendors, influential speakers and tastemakers.  The goal of the event is to essentially bring the magazine to life.  What's even more special is that this year marks the debut of Sunset's new Test Gardens in Sonoma, CA!  Historically, the event has been held at the Menlo Park campus.  And since relocating to Oakland, Sunset has opened their new Test Gardens and Test Kitchen in Sonoma.  It will be exciting and new for everyone!

Cary and I will be speaking at 12:15pm on Saturday and Sunday, at the Home Stage.  Our topic: 5 Tools to Create an Inspiring, Minimal Home.  You can view the entire Presentation Schedule here.  

If you live in the Bay Area, and would like to join, you can buy tickets here.  (Some of the tickets are already sold out, so don't delay!  Here is a link describing the different ticket packages.)


And our final announcement - we want to share the love with you guys, and are giving away a complimentary pair of General Admission tickets for Saturday, May 14 to one lucky reader (General Admission tickets for Saturday are already sold out online).  

How to enter?  Simply comment below on this post, describing why you would like to attend!  We will announce the lucky winner on Friday, April 22.  GOOD LUCK ! ! !

BTR: A Growing Family in Cole Valley (Part 2)


Welcome to Part 2 of the Behind the Redesign for a wonderful family in the quaint San Francisco neighborhood of Cole Valley.  New Minimalism was called in to make room for the newest member of the family, and what was standing in the way of this goal was a lot of stuff.  

If you recall from Part 1, during our first session we tackled decluttering the garage to make space for the home office.    On the second session, which we are sharing today, we decluttered the contents of the home office to make room for the nursery.  These photos share the after after, once the nursery furniture had been thoughtfully acquired and decorations installed.  All after after photos are by the talented and all around wonderful Ryan Devisser.

Above you can see that the home-office before (left) had turned into a room not just to hold office items, but also to store things that didn't have a proper home elsewhere in the house.  As the papers started to pile up for these busy working parents, the task of clearing and sorting everything became overwhelming.  

As is so common, once the clutter became overwhelming our clients found it was easier to close the door than to sit down and sort it all.  In the after photo (right) you can see what a stunning transformation this room undertook.  Our client selected a fun teal color for the carpet tiles, and chose the brand FLOR for their commitment to using sustainable materials. The IKEA bookshelf turned on its side was purchased second-hand.

We find that all of our clients are experiencing some type of significant transition when we work with them.  In this case, a second child on the way was the perfect time to prioritize and make room for life's exciting next chapter.

Again, the before and after shots are quite remarkable!  Before the desks were crowded with papers and extraneous office supplies.  We culled a "capsule" version of the office supplies to relocate to the new office in the garage, utilizing the yellow lamp and San Francisco map. After, the room displays playful art and a kid-friendly color palette.

A point of discussion was whether to keep the classic white Parsons desks to possibly be used in the future.  We encouraged our clients to consider the hidden costs of keeping these items "just in case."  The desks would need to be stored in a hard-to-access, already-crowded attic.  They would require time to maintain, energy to keep from being damaged as their growing family's needs changed, and the mental space to remember that the desks are there in the first place in the case that your future self has a need for said desk.  In the end, our clients took our advice and sold the desks on Craigslist.  They reported that we were relieved to send the desks to a new home and used the money towards furnishing the new nursery.

Sometimes the cost of keeping an item outweighs the cost of potentially having to re-buy that same item in a hypothetical future date.  

The crib was purchased second hand from Golden Gate Mothers Group.  Our client describes this group as a "gold mine" for previously-used, but like-new baby items.  

TIP:  If you are expecting a child, research to see if there is local mother's group in your area.  Not only are Mother's Groups a wonderful community to connect with, they also provide a wealth of information, and hey, you can even furnish your nursery without buying new!

The closet was a big challenge because it was densely filled with many small objects.  We are amazed at the focus of these clients because we were able to sort all this on one day!   While uniform containers give the appearance of order, the contents of the boxes were no longer relevant for our clients' needs. 

By removing some unneeded items from the entry closet (not pictured), we were able to relocate the extra jackets (shown above) that had sneakily made their way into the office closet. After, the closet is 100% dedicated to the new baby.

The dresser was also found second-hand at Golden Gate Mother's Group.  We love that our clients took to heart our design suggestions.  How beautiful is this space?!  And hardly anything in terms of baby furniture was purchased from the store.  It takes a little effort on the back end to find your second-hand resources, but the reduced price tag and earth-friendly satisfaction is well worth it.  

This gorgeous and serene space is a testament to our clients' laser-focus during our sessions.  With the second baby on the way, they were 100% ready to let go of the items that were no longer serving them.  And they have the closets to prove it!

BTR: A Growing Family in Cole Valley (Part 1)

At last - we have another Behind the Redesign (BTR) to share with you!  

(Full disclosure into the BTR process: we love our work and we love sharing it with others.  But sometimes we love our work so much that we get caught up in the moment and forget to properly capture before and/or after photos.  So while we work with clients weekly, we do not write BTRs for every session.  Ok there, I said it.  Phew.  Now with that off my chest, let's dive in!) 

This BTR shares the story of an adorable young family we'll refer to as A & R.  We just can't get enough of A&R.  They have been adamant fans of the New Minimalism philosophy since the very beginning and we were so happy to have an opportunity to work with them.  

 A & R were due to have their second child in June however the third bedroom in their impeccable Craftsman home was dedicated as a home office.  We were approached for a specific job:  turn the home office into a nursery.  This meant we were tasked with moving a condensed version of the home office down to the garage, which meant....decluttering the garage!  I know, scary.  But with a little preparation, and the right mindset, a large project like this is definitely attainable.  

We broke the project into two day-long sessions: 

  • Day 1 declutter the garage to make space in the small basement room for the office; 
  • Day 2 address the contents of the home office, which we will detail in the next BTR.
TIP:  To prepare for a BIG decluttering session, research your local donation center options.  After viewing photos of the garage we knew that we needed a large capacity truck to haul away donations, so we scheduled a FREE pick-up with the Salvation Army.  They arrived on the afternoon of our session and hauled away all our donations.  What would have taken 5 trips to the donation center with the New Minimalism mobile was done in a few minutes by the gracious employees at Salvation Army.

During our session we learned that the garage had several functions:  laundry room, kitchen pantry, tool shed, family memento storage, and now home office.  In order to optimize all of these functions, we had to remove the unnecessary and rarely used items.

   Above is a view of the laundry and pantry corner of the garage.  Before (left) you can see that without a strategy, items became haphazardly mixed together, making it hard to keep track of inventory.  We separated the food and laundry zones by moving all laundry and cleaning supplies to the right side, near the laundry machines.  We kept pantry items on the shelving and designated the "wine cellar" in the back corner.

Yes, above is a before and after shot of the same wall!   As you can tell, with the baby due date looming, A&R were fully focused and extra motivated.  With Cary and I guiding the process, we were able to distill a mountain of family mementos (see cardboard boxes in Before photo) into small, manageable projects (see stacked plastic bins in After photo).  We repurposed the metal drawers to create a workbench for a "tool shed" corner.  

Here is a view of the small room that was to become the office (left).  Most of the items here were donated, with the exception of the baby stroller, which found a new home in another part of the garage.  The after photo (right) is after Day 2, when we brought down the home office equipment.  By hanging decorations, adding a clock and including a bright task lamp we created a rather cozy space.  Add an outdoor rug to further soften things up and A&R will actually look forward to doing their paperwork!

Here, another view of the office room from the second door leading into the small space.  The photo on the left was at the end of Day 1.  And the photo on the right is the finished product, after Day 2.  We distilled the office equipment to just the essentials and archived necessary paperwork into a filing cabinet.

Tip:  paperwork can be a session in itself.  If you are tackling a large room, don't get caught up in paper work, as this can be dense and discouraging.  First, tackle everything in the room that is non-paperwork.  Give paperwork decluttering it's own day, preferably with a paper shredder on-hand.  If you don't have a shredder, borrow one from your neighbor!  Sharing is caring.

Here is a view of the back of the garage after Day 1.  What was before mountains of mementos mixed with household tools is now a calm and collected space that A&R can access and use.

Stay tuned for the next BTR: A Growing Family in Cole Valley (Day 2), where you will see the finished nursery after A&R decluttered and decorated then using New Minimalism principles.