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The year of less

Recounting an experiment in addition by subtraction

Edited, repurposed and uncluttered space in the Daly home

Ashley Heider Daly

Every December, I name the coming year, as if each year were my very own tiny newborn child. Actually, the names are more like titles, and they point to our family goals and hopes for the next 12 months. 2012 was The Year of Giving, 2013 The Year of Yes and 2014 The Year of Less. I’m looking at 2015 being The Year of Simple Opulence, but I still have a few days to settle on this. Don’t pressure me.

As a kind farewell to this past lovely year, I’d like to recommend the Year of Less to everyone. It was and still is great. We’ll always have a special place in our hearts for it. Less of everything: commitments, body fat, stress, noise, spending and stuff. Wish I could say I am suggesting this from a lofty place of judgment because I’ve achieved a state of minimalist nirvana. But put your defenses down, I’m but a humble stuff-haver who’s felt great relief at the layers I have been able to shed. 

To be true to The Year of Less, I narrowed it down to one really important, home-related thing we learned from our year.

Identify your personal goals and make your house serve your dreams.

My husband Ryan and I keep trying to pinpoint our individual goals; he makes music, writes and cooks. I write, read, want to do yoga and watch TV—mostly the Wheel, Criminal Minds, and Switched at Birth. 

His music equipment is important, so we worked hard to clear out the closet in our third bedroom so he could store it and have plenty of floor space to play his various instruments and host his band, The Fabulous Minx.

Places from which I am most happy to have subtracted things:
I am most pleased to have looked closely in and dwindled down the things in these places: kitchen plate stacks, deep dark shelves, the refrigerator, bedside tables, makeup drawer, sock and t-shirt drawer and sweater basket. Use this list as a guide to get started.

We had a sofa and four chairs in our living room, but the four chairs were mostly because we didn’t want to part with some cool pieces we had acquired. Once both of our writing goals were prioritized, we removed two chairs and rearrange so that we had room for a simple desk to store our computers. Your hobbies and aspirations deserve a purposeful space. Don’t elevate a perfect, vintage chair above activities that give your life beauty and meaning. (I try not to talk about furniture so callously because I love it so much, but your creative soul is more important.)

For my specific goals, I got rid of all the sofa pillows that weren’t ergonomic for my neck while watching television. I also shucked enough shoes that my footwear could fit in my clothes closet without over-spilling, allowing me to use what was the shoe basket by the front door to hold my yoga mat in a clean, easy-access spot. For me, excessive shoe options aren’t worth the calm I get from morning sun salutations.

In summary

I could talk about getting rid of things all day. I’ve become pretentiously in love with my eternal journey toward minimalism, so I really think this is my best advice for the masses after my Year of Less. Think about what matters to you and make adjustments. Let go of things in favor of living the life you envision.

For more from Ashley, check out this tour of a meticulously edited vintage-inspired home, her thoughts on sticking to the wedding registry and some party planning tips.