What Intentional Living Means to Me

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You may have seen this term coming from me, or popping up elsewhere on the internet. But what does “intentional living” really mean? Living intentionally is giving thought and care to the things you do day-to-day and making sure they are aligned with your values.

“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”

This William Morris quote really speaks to me as an interior designer and as someone who takes the concept of intentional living pretty seriously. I know that we are deeply effected by the function, comfort and beauty of the spaces we inhabit. I know that — similar to the health of our minds and bodies —when we take care of our home, our home takes care of us. Being intentional about the way we live in our homes looks like taking the time to really consider what we bring into them, how we use it and what we keep. For me, it means simplicity — as much as possible and wherever possible.

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I love stuff. Of course I do, I’m an interior designer! That means my job is to pick out and arrange “stuff” in people’s homes. But I’ve sensed a shift in my own design values over the last couple of years. I’ve talked about it a bit in my Three E’s: Elegant, Eclectic & Essentialist post. I am becoming less and less drawn to rooms with every horizontal surface styled to the nines with decorative objects and tchotchkes. I feel the best in spaces that have some breathing room to allow for the REALNESS of everyday life. Room for that extra layer of everyday clutter that means you actually live in your home (i.e. stacks of mail, book bags, dog food bowls) so that when that layer inevitably gets added you still have a room that feels pretty and polished, not chaotic and overflowing. What’s more important, how a space looks or how you use it? My argument is that they are both equally important, but it seems that with Pinterest, magazines, and yes, even some home design blogs, we are constantly being told to buy more, more, more. You know what I hear in that? More to store, more to organize, more to clean. Not as appealing when you put it that way.

Maybe it’s my introverted nature that’s drawing me towards simplicity and restraint. Or maybe it’s a reaction to an outside world that feels like it’s in a constant state of upheaval lately. Maybe you feel this way too. When I’m at home, I want to feel calm and in control of my domain. Establishing efficient habits, routines and household organization has been a big focus and JOY for me this year. There is a lot of magic in the little everyday moments, if we slow down and allow ourselves to notice them. We don’t need much to be happy.

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I’ve written out a little list of the values that have been most important to Anthony and I in this season in our lives, and what that looks like in terms of our day-to-day habits and routines. Maybe you’ll be inspired to write your own list and think of ways you can live more in alignment with the things that are most important to you! Just a note that we aren’t extreme in any of these measures and while there are some I’m doing better than others, I’m not doing any of this perfectly all the time. For example, I wouldn’t call myself a true minimalist but my goal is to be more and more on that end of the spectrum than I was before. Little changes over time can make a big difference!

Minimalism / Essentialism

Learning to live with less, reducing and donating unused items frequently, creating organizational systems so it’s easier to have just enough of what we need instead of unnecessary extras, investing in better quality items when we can and taking better care of what we own to make it last longer

Sustainability

Eating more vegetarian meals and less meat, moving away from single use products and towards reusable (i.e. cloth diapering), recycling what we can, shopping secondhand, reducing waste, considering our values and priorities when deciding how to spend our limited time and energy

Wellness

Cooking with more whole foods, making nutritious meals from scratch, being active and spending time outdoors as a family, allowing time to rest and reconnect in our weeks and not glorifying the idea of “busy”, making time for hobbies (singing and embroidery for me and soccer for Anthony), furthering our spiritual and emotional growth as active members of our church community

Financial Independence

Spending wisely, avoiding consumer debt, driving two older but paid for cars, cooking at home more than eating out, mostly shopping secondhand for clothing and household items, paying off student loans and eventually our house with the goal of living mortgage-free longterm

Are the things on my list the same or different than the things on yours? What values are most important to you in the season of life you’re in right now? Comment below or join the conversation on Instagram.