Last November my friends Amy Halko, Holly Jordan and I held a Clay Wood Cloth event at MIX Garden in Healdsburg, CA. We donated a percentage of our sales to the Healdsburg Educational Foundation. The money was earmarked for the Construction and Sustainability Academy (CASA) at Healdsburg High School. This past May we attended the Open House for the completed Tumbleweed Tiny House built by the CASA students.
Standing in the 89 ft2 house on wheels, I started imagining what it might be like to live in such a small space. With all the moving I’ve done in the last eighteen months and another move on the horizon, this tiny house was very appealing. I wouldn’t have to pack or move furniture. I could take my house with me.
I quickly realized though that a tiny house isn’t an option for me right now. I’d either need to rent a weaving studio or find a different line of work. Plus my yellow labs would take up most of the living room floor.
But these tiny houses are a call for simplicity and sustainability.
Fitting a life into such a small space requires hard choices. Each item matters in a different way because space is such a premium.
As I started deciding which tea mugs I’d keep in this 4.5’ x 4’ kitchen, I realized that although my house is significantly larger than 89 ft2, I still have choices. I can still simplify.
In 1880 the textile designer and artist William Morris offered one way to make these choices: “If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
Needless to say I agree with Morris’s golden rule, although I would amend it slightly: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful and believe to be beautiful. Whenever possible let the useful items also be beautiful.
Glancing around the kitchen to see how well I’ve integrated this rule, my eyes rest on the black dish drain. It’s useful, but is it beautiful? No, it isn’t. And it takes up valuable counter space.
A few options come to mind:
- Continue using this dish drain, appreciating its usefulness.
- Keep my eyes open for one I do believe to be beautiful and then replace the black one.
- Let it go and do what a friend does – spread a Whimsy & Tea towel on the counter and carefully stack the clean dishes on the towel to dry.
Were I to move into a Tiny House, I would choose the third option. But even in the house I do live in, I could choose it and appreciate the beauty of empty counter space.
Letting the not-so-beautiful dish drain go would mean one less thing in the house. More importantly though, it would be a step towards living by my adaptation of Morris’s golden rule: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful and believe to be beautiful.
My invitation to you: If you were to take one step towards this adapted rule – having nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful and believe to be beautiful – what would it be? I’d love to hear.