The Spare Essentials

I have an ambivalence about stuff. I blog about stuff, I buy stuff, I like stuff. On the other hand, stuff can sap your energy. How much of our time and money is really about stuff? Paying for stuff, maintaining stuff, cleaning stuff, moving stuff, storing stuff. Storing stuff is really funny because you’re getting more stuff to hold your stuff. Really, pay attention to what you do with a day and you’ll see how much of our lives revolve around stuff. Some stuff like a car might be essential. Other stuff brings pleasure and the net benefit outweighs the costs. But we all might have moments of feeling like, enough stuff already!

What if you went down to the “spare” essentials? Like this room by interior designer Antony Todd:

Room with the Spare Essentials by Antony Todd

Now, when we pare things down to our bare needs, our choices can reflect our values. Like when we have to make limited choices – what to fit in a backpack, or what to take on a camping trip. The above photo really does represent the ideal mix of essentials and sparseness to me. What does that say about me?

  • There’s a soft space to sit and something to put my feet up on. Because I can’t sit with legs parallel to the floor and feet on the floor for too long!
  • I’d like a small table to set a coffee cup, but there is a floor and that could work too. Bare essentials here …
  • There is interesting design and contrast in styles. Yes that is an essential for me.
  • That screen is doing something with the rule of thirds instead of a plain wide wall. And while I wish the screen had a pattern or different color, hey, bare essentials …

There are always trade-offs when we limit ourselves to what “essential” means to us. Now I’m not talking essential choices because of a weather disaster or economic disaster in life. What if we of free will made the choice to live more sparsely? What would you keep? What would you give up?

Here’s the room again with slightly more things:

Room by Antony Todd

I feel a little happier about it. There’s flat-topped cubes now, to set coffee. Because coffee is really important. And one more color. Which is plenty enough. And another chair for someone else to sit.

Where would I go with this stuff discussion? Let’s just say, I will be running another post of great India goods found on Etsy!

Anyone remember George Carlin’s routine about Stuff? While writing the first paragraph, I remembered this. So funny:


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