How We’re Learning to Live with Less

We’ve touched on the topic of minimalism briefly here on the blog, but we feel like this important subject deserves an entire blog post! We’re both really trying our hardest to only bring items into our homes that we absolutely love. Many of you have been vocal about your desire to do the same, so we wanted to open a discussion and share some of the things we’ve done to make this a reality in our spaces.

familyroom_no_coffee_table-2We’re certainly not experts on the topic, and you definitely won’t be seeing us moving into Tiny Homes with our capsule wardrobes anytime soon! But we both have eliminated plenty of the clutter from our lives, and by doing this have learned a lot about our style along the way! This has made us love our 1,100 square feet homes even more, and has made shopping for new items a heck of a lot easier.

bathroom-hallwaySo let’s get into some of the things we’ve done to take this step, along with tips to make the most out of being more minimalistic.

Walk around your Home

writing-desk-plannerIt may sound elementary, but it is crucial to walk around your home, room by room, and jot down items that you just don’t love. We all have those things that you walk by 10x a day and always think…I need to change that! It could be an accessory, a paint color, a piece of furniture. Whatever it is, write it down on your piece of paper and note WHY you don’t like it. Is it the color? Does it have no meaning to you? Does it take up crucial space? Whatever it is, put it on your piece of paper.

Purge Immediately

how-to-purge-clothingNow look at your list and get rid of any items that you can. We know that it may not be possible to get rid of some of the things on your list (getting rid of the couch you hate might not be an option right now!), but try to get rid of any small items that you really just don’t love. Why keep things in your home that don’t make you happy? Instead wouldn’t you rather get rid of them to make room for items that you do love? Items that are personal to you and help to tell your story!

We both went around and purged so many random accessories from our homes. So many items that we thought were “cute” at Target or were on super clearance, so we just had to bring them home. When buying those items we didn’t stop to think if they were “cute for us.” There are so many adorable home decor accessories out there that you might like, but they’re all not going to be right for you and your home.

built-in-shelves-family-roomWe also got rid of a lot of items that just didn’t really mean anything to us. We try to avoid buying generic decor whenever possible, and instead look to incorporate meaningful pieces that help personalize our homes. Some items we purged included books we never read (or planned to ever read), old picture frames, vases (you certainly don’t need 15!), and colorful accessories that don’t go well with our current decor. We were both pretty ruthless when it came to this step…and it felt so darn good to get rid of items that we never really even liked that much.

Make a List of What you NEED

We all know the feeling of going to Target for a specific item, only to leave an hour later with a full cart and $200 missing from your checking account. #guilty

cell-phone-mobile-siteWe did this quite often in the past, specifically because we would buy items not knowing if we really needed them or not. We suggest keeping a list of items on your phone that you need. It can be as large as furniture or rugs, or as small as specific accessories for your shelves. Walk around your home yet again (this time it should look a little lighter…) and make a list of items that you actually need and want to add to your home. Then when you go out shopping you can only buy items if they’re on the “need” list. This results in less impulse buys and more intentional purchases.casey-mike-finn-fashion-winter

Finn & I did this with our closets and it has been a dramatic change for us both. We purged our closets and made a list of the items we both actually needed. A quality white button down, a black belt, a pair of brown boots…just some of the items on our lists. We’ve slowly crossed off items on this list as we’ve added quality pieces to our wardrobes. But when we go to the stores and see a nice sweater that’s on-sale, we don’t buy it unless it’s something we actually need (& it’s gotta be on the list!). Yes, it takes some willpower! But we promise that it’s much better for you and your bank account in the end!

Be Thoughtful and Intentional – Don’t Buy just to Buy

Speaking of being intentional, that is the key word when it comes to shopping. No more buying just to buy! No more buying items just because they’re “so cute”! No more buying items only because they’re on sale! Being thoughtful with each and every purchase you make for your home will result in fewer items you don’t love coming into your home. This means less design regret, and better purchases for your space.

letterfolk-signs-2We both hit up HomeGoods at least once, every 2 weeks. There’s a store A BLOCK away from Bridget’s house. No joke. Whenever we’re together at B’s house, we always take a blogging break and hit up HomeGoods to see what’s new in store. Often times we’re leaving empty-handed, or at most with 1 item that’s perfect for one of our homes. Of course there are tons of items we want to scoop into our carts, but we only bring home items that we need, items that we love, and items that go with our personal brands.

Which brings us to…

Figure out your Personal Brand

This idea has been a game changer for us both. In the past, we used to try to box our home styles into random words like “boho”, “modern”, or “shabby chic.” But to be perfectly honest, those words don’t mean anything to us. In fact, we’re probably a little bit of everything! So instead of buying items that fit a specific style category, we only buy items that fit our personal brand.

So what’s a personal brand? Well, we have a four part series that walks you through this process and provides exercises to help you identify yours! You can catch up on this popular series right here:

  • Finding your Personal Style: STEP 1
  • Finding your Personal Style: STEP 2
  • Finding your Personal Style: STEP 3
  • Finding your Personal Style: STEP 4

Going through that process and identifying our personal styles has been a total game changer when it comes to living with less. chicago_bridget_fashion_fall-sweater-coffee-river-walk

Figuring out what we like and naturally gravitate towards took a bit of time, and keen observation out while shopping. But we now have a much better sense of our personal brands and this has been so much easier when it comes time to shop for clothes or home decor.Living_with_less

As two girls living in homes that are about 1,200 square feet we know a thing or two about living with less. But we still have lots to learn and are excited to continue this journey towards minimalism. Okay, not super minimal. We still like our throw pillows, and blankets, and vases, and pictures frames, and…. <— see told you we still have a lot to learn!Casey_bridget_Sig


  • Erin

    love this!!! it’s definitely a challenge to not succumb to anything that you love but may just not fit in your homes!

    I do walk around target every now and then and heart eyes at a lot of stuff (a lot of nate berkus stuff) but generally always leave empty handed. there have been some stuff that I’m like OH i love this! but i know it’s not gonna work in my home! tough but it keeps the home free of clutter. I hate clutter so much!

    • You’re so right Erin! We do the exact same thing at Target….heart eyes for everything, but usually we leave empty-handed! Good for the bank account and to keep things less cluttered!

  • shawnna griffin

    Hey girls- love the post! Great tips!

  • I have a list of clothing items I need (and mostly stick to it…) but haven’t thought about doing it for decor, even small items! I know the big things I need – rugs, lamps, etc. but sometimes you just need the perfect small thing too. Great idea!

    • Thanks Diana! Sometimes it’s hard to plan but the more intentional shopping the better, right?!

  • Brie

    Loved reading your perspective, ladies!
    One of the things that helps me is that if I go to those stores (Target, HomeGoods) to browse, I won’t get a cart. If I like something and get the “I want to take this home with me” vibe, I’ll make a mental note and continue my rounds. If I still feel that way before I leave the store, i.e. “this item fits me and my home and could work in multiple rooms,” then I may get it. If I’m doubting it at all, it’s not right for me. I often leave empty-handed but I still feel fulfilled by having had a quiet opportunity to look at all the pretty things. 🙂

    • LOVE, love, love this tip!! Thanks so much for sharing, Brie!

    • That is a good tip! If you have a cart, it’s so easy to toss things in on impulse!

  • I read a post written by a fashion blogger I follow, and she was talking about how there used to be 4 seasons of fashion but now it seems like retailers turn things around way quicker. And because of this the trend cycle has been sped way up. That coupled with all the cheap clothing available at places like Target and Forever 21, we are buying more but wearing this stuff less and either throwing it away or donating it. It’s almost like clothes have become disposable, which is very bad for the environment, a definite argument for quality over quantity. It then got me to thinking that I feel like the same thing applies to home decor. Accessories like lamps, throw pillows and tchotchkes (I love that word but had to look up the spelling!), like clothing, can be trendy and really inexpensive, which makes it easy to take them home with you. And then the trend changes and you are “over” the item and want to move on. I know myself if something costs a considerable amount, which probably differs from person to person, then I really think it through and find it easy to say “no” or “not today”. Something that helps me with my impulse control is if something’s on sale (my Achilles’ tendon) I look at the original price and ask myself “would I buy this if it wasn’t on sale?” If the answer is no, then I leave it at the store!

    • Great insight Kerri! We had no idea about the fashion cycles, but it makes complete sense. So sad to think that cheap items are scooped up and then disposed of so quickly. Just goes to show that following trends isn’t the way to go. Instead choose items that you love and they’ll never go out of style!

      Love your tip to always ask yourself if you would still buy it if it was full price! genius.

    • Devika Chandra

      Kerri, I’ve been doggedly trying to pare down my wardrobe.One of the many reasons for owning too many clothes was the Diedrot effect(I hope I spelt that correctly:).
      My Mom had an adage for that: First you go buy a perfect pair of horseshoes then go looking to buy the perfect horse to shod.I did that ever to often. Pretty top/shoes/scarf… now go buy the perfect dress/jeans etc to go with it…I am learning….. have culled my wearbles by 20% but still a long way to go….

    • Great job, your progress is inspiring!! Keep up the amazing work!

  • Jenna Cordova

    I love the color of your walls! What paint colors did you use?

    • Hey Jenna…the posts features a few different paint colors. Which room were you referencing?

    • Jenna Cordova

      All of them really. I love the living room and bathroom grays. I’ve been trying to find the right gray and have been having the hardest time.

    • Thanks Jenna! The living room in Casey’s House is Benjamin Moore’s Gray Owl and Bridget’s living room is Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter (more of a greige). The bathroom is Behr’s Creek Bend. For more gray paint suggestions, check out this post of our reader’s all-time favorite gray paint colors:

    • Jenna Cordova

      Awesome! Thank you so much! I’ll check it out.

    • Jenna Cordova

      Thanks to inspiration from you ladies and your help I finally pulled the trigger and bought the
      paint and painted my living/dining/hallway in my house after 4 years of living with a color I hated! Love the Creek Bend and Gray Owl colors! I feel so much calmer in my space now. Thanks again!❤️

    • That’s awesome! So happy you love the colors as much as we do 🙂