Colorful Minimalist Apartment Tour

Welcome to my budget-friendly, minimalist home. For a little bit of background, I moved into this apartment in March 2017. We are almost done furnishing it but still plan to buy a couple of rugs before winter and add a few art pieces that my husband currently has in storage in California. The total cost of furniture/housewares so far is less than 2000 EUR, with the main costs being the sofa, mattress, and washing machine.

Entering the apartment, you walk directly into the living room. We don’t have a genkan (which I believe the western world needs to adopt asap) but we have a mounted shoe closet by the door. On top, we keep an umbrella, sunglasses, keys and any important letters we need to take care of.

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In the center of the room is this HUGE green Ikea sofa. It’s where I read, watch Netflix and cuddle with my husband. It’s also big enough for a guest to sleep comfortably on.

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In front of the sofa is our DIY Club-Mate coffee table. The great thing about using drink crates is that when we move we can just take these back to the supermarket across the road and they will be reused or recycled! The top of the table slides off and stores our tools and cables. To watch movies and documentaries, I simply pop my Lenovo Insta – Share Projector on the table and watch on the large white wall opposite. 

On the right side of the coffee table is my husbands record player, again using drinks crates as furniture! Music is really important to my husband so I wanted to give this a prominent spot.

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To the left of the coffee table is the desk area. This is the least organized area so far, we need to find a storage solution for some of our equipment. We (and when I say ‘we’ I mostly mean my husband) have minimized a lot, but there is still stuff we need for work and play.

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On the other side of the room is the cat corner, where they have a fountain, auto-feeder, and some cat grass. The auto-feeder is great for regulating their food and making sure they get fed and the same time every day. We also have a fire extinguisher mounted on the wall, because SAFETY!

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To the right of the cat corner, you enter our kitchen. The kitchen came pre-installed in this apartment, personally, I would not have chosen white but I don’t really mind it either.

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We also have a little nook in the kitchen that is perfect for a two person table. I got this from IKEA and upgraded it with a poster and some plexiglass to add a little color to the space.

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Moving onto the balcony, you can see the windows that made me fall in love with this place. With a feature like this you really don’t need anything on the walls.

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Our little balcony garden is one of my favorite spaces. We are still learning a lot, but it’s a fun process! So far we have tomatoes, mint, basil, carrots, courgettes, potatoes, Hokkaido squash and lemon thyme. Everything on the balcony can be eaten, and tending to the garden is relaxing. The cats also love hanging out here, taking in all the scents on the breeze!

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Moving into the bedroom, probably our most ‘cluttered’ room of the apartment. On the right wall we have three large green dressers which contain our clothing, bedsheets, towels and anything else we need to store. Jake has a little cardboard bed to the side.

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You might not have noticed but there are NO closets in our home. No secret little rooms to stuff full of unsightly things. Our suitcases and coat rack are behind the door to the left, but that’s about as hidden as it gets!

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Across from the dressers are two metal shelves that I picked up for 10 EUR each. The top shelf houses a bunch of plants (8 to be exact), a poster from one of my favorite Godzilla movies, and a little figure of Mothra. (Side note, we name our plants after people we love. This one is named after Alan Rickman.)

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On the second shelf is my #crew. Well, the only crew I really want to be a part of! Star Trek TNG was a huge part of my childhood and some of the ideas presented there helped me form my own beliefs. Gene Roddenberry didn’t just make a TV show, he told a story about how to be better people. He made the future of humanity look bright and beautiful rather than dark and scary. I wanted to be Deanna Troi, a character who was smart, gorgeous, but most importantly kind (and Marina Sirtis is pretty badass too).

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The other shelves are filled with camera equipment, books that are not available on Kindle, and a blanket that serves as our cat Fionna’s bed. We plan to add some more plants in the near future.

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Our bed is just a memory foam twin size mattress, again from IKEA (delivery is expensive here, so we got the basics from IKEA so that we would only have one delivery charge). Above it hangs the biggest map of Berlin I have ever seen. My husband got this from BVG which runs all the trains and trams in Berlin. We like picking out spots on here for day trips.

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Our bedside tables are (again!) made out of drink crates, and mine has a little Chewbacca who holds my iPad and Kindle, as well as my Natural Cycles thermometer and phone charger.  There is also a little Bowie doll, because Bowie.

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As you can see the apartment is mostly minimalist, with a few geeky touches here and there. We would like to add more color, but don’t really want to buy more stuff, so I suspect it will just continue to get greener as we add more plants.

I haven’t included the bathroom because I am planning to do a zero-waste bathroom story soon. Thanks for reading, and let me know if you have any questions in the comments!

 

 

Colorful Minimalist Apartment Tour

Brush Collection – Zero Waste

I apologize for my long absence from blogging! I took a week long camping trip with my husband in the Netherlands and planned to have a ton of beautiful stories and photos to share, but sadly the actions of a few cast an ugly shadow over our trip and I didn’t feel like getting out the camera or writing. Happily, we still met up with some good friends and once again I was amazed by the strength and support my husband gives me. I am almost rested and recovered, and I have a bunch of blog posts planned in the next two weeks!

First up, I would like to share our brush collection. I am kind of a ‘clean freak’ and it was important to me to be able to keep my home tidy and body healthy in a sustainable way.

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  1. Redecker rubber brush. This is fantastic for removing cat fur and dust from my sofa, friction creates a static charge which sticks the hair to the brush. Water breaks this charge, releasing it when you rinse. I love cleaning with science 🙂
  2. Bamboo body brush. I have heard that brushing your skin increases circulation and will naturally moisturize it. I haven’t been using this long enough to recommend it, but I will be sure to post results when I feel ready.
  3. Bamboo comb. I don’t brush my hair but will give it the occasional comb through when dry.
  4. Brush cleaning brush, this is literally just to clean other brushes, but it gets a lot of use!
  5. Dirty brush, we use this in the bathroom to brush away stray litter in between vacuuming. We will also use it in the garden or to brush off camping supplies and boots.
  6. Bamboo comb (2). my husband prefers this size, and I will use it if I have a particularly naughty knot in my hair.
  7. Bamboo toothbrush. I have been using bamboo toothbrushes for about 2 years, and I love them.
  8. Vegetable brush, we use this to clean off veggies. This is useful for store bought veg, but vital if you grow your own. Potatoes and carrots, in particular, come out very muddy!

This is what works for us, and I can think of anything else we would need to add at the moment. I dust with a cloth and use a vacuum to clean the floors. For the kitchen and surfaces, I use a cloth and homemade antibacterial spray. We do have a mop which is plastic, and I am planning to use that until it breaks down.

An important thing to remember is that I moved into a new home with almost nothing. I do not advocate throwing away your plastic items in favor of sustainable ones. Use what you have and replace it with a sustainable option when you need to. Although I find a lineup of bamboo brushes aesthetically pleasing, the real goal is to be kinder to the environment, not to take trendy Instagram photos (that’s just a bonus!).

Brush Collection – Zero Waste

Habits

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Habits really are wonderful things. The habit of brushing your teeth twice a day. The habit of going to the gym. The habit of cleaning your home.

Once an action has become a habit you can do it in a state of flow, your body performs the action but your mind is free to wander. This is why we have so many deep thoughts in the shower. We are engaged in a task that keeps us from other distractions, but we still have room for mental processing without the disturbance of facebook or twitter.

Once an action has become a habit all anxiety disappears. I have a habit of shopping zero waste, a habit of eating vegan, a habit of not over consuming. All of these things were nerve wracking to start, but in time they became a natural part of my life.

Every hard thing you are afraid to try now could be a habit in a few weeks time. You just need to take the first step.

 

 

Habits

A Plastic Ocean (Netflix Documentry)

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There is no away – because plastic is so permanent and so indestructible. When you cast it into the ocean, it does not go away.

Sir David Attenborough

I really appreciate the trend of videographers teaming up with scientists and passionate members of the community to create ‘global movement’ films.

A plastic ocean is another documentary that seeks to give people the tools they need to make better choices. I’m already committed to being plastic free so you would think a film like this is preaching to the choir in my case, but I still found fresh information and inspiration to take away.

I knew that ocean plastic was entering the human food supply, but I did not realize to what extent this was already happening. I might be a vegan, but I still care about the millions of people who rely on fishing for their primary source of protein (not to mention my fish loving kitties!).

The biggest concern I hear about using reusable bags, cups, etc is that it’s hard. People are already struggling to juggle work, social commitments, health, kids and a million other little things and they just want to convenience of a plastic bag. Being passionate about a cause removes that mental hurdle, once you incorporate reusables into your life, this ‘new way’ to shop and enjoy your coffee becomes a habit, and it does not feel hard. I compare this to going vegetarian or vegan, the first month is the most difficult, but in time you can’t imagine doing it any other way.

Zero-waste options and alternatives are exploding right now, in my home city of Berlin I have seen two grocery chains introduce a zero waste section in just the past two months. You can’t have missed all the plastic-free July posts on social media. I’m not normally into trends, but this is one that I encourage all people to jump into head first!

You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.

Abraham Lincoln

A Plastic Ocean (Netflix Documentry)

July Favorites – Design, Jeans, and the best Pig.

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Documentary: Objectified – this is a documentary about design, but it strongly relates to minimalism. Some of the world’s leading designers (like Dieter Rams, my favorite!) talk about sustainability and how good design can lead to products you love to use for decades or even generations.

Book: I finally read 10% Happier by Dan Harris and I am putting my skepticism aside to try meditation. I have been extremely hesitant about it and the whole mindfulness trend, but looking at it merely as an exercise for the brain, rather than as a religious practice, has motivated me to give it a go. The most interesting thing about this book for me is that I was about 60% of the way in before I got really interested. I was fully prepared to write this off as hype for the first half and only continued reading out of habit, but I am glad I did.

Clothing: I combined money received for my birthday to get some MUD jeans. This company has an incredible commitment to sustainability. They can be returned after ANY amount of use to be recycled, and you can get a new pair. You can also swap them for a different style or size, or send them back to be repaired by MUD. The goal of this company is to ensure that the clothing they produce never ends up in a landfill.

Film: I watched Okja on Netflix, and it was an incredible film with a powerful message. I can’t praise this enough. The locations and filming were beautiful, the acting was incredible, good CG, and it was a lot more fair and nuanced than many films that deal with animal rights. The only downside is that made me very sad, but only because of how realistic the storyline is. I won’t spoil it, but the ending is neither entirely good nor entirely bad.

Humans: A new set of Maori words has been created to describe mental and physical health. They are beautiful and non-judgemental, which is a positive direction to take in describing issues that have been taboo for most of human history.

YouTube Channel: Journeyman Pictures touches a range of subjects from off grid living, to sustainability, to over-reliance on prescription drugs, to human stories from around the world, always shot and edited in a beautiful way.

 

 

July Favorites – Design, Jeans, and the best Pig.

Chasing Coral (Netflix Documentry)

1. Coral Fever

I’ve seen so many wonderful documentaries this month, and Chasing Coral stands out as one of the best.

A team of filmmakers and scientists race against the clock to capture coral bleaching, a phenomenon that is destroying our coral reefs at an alarming rate. Coral reefs are the start of life for 25% of all marine species. 500 million people get their food and livelihood directly from coral reefs. An event like this is comparable to losing huge portions of our rainforests every year.

What I didn’t realize before watching this documentary is that water actually absorbs 93% of the heat from global warming. In fact, if the ocean didn’t take in so much of our trapped heat the average temperature on earth would be 50 C (122 F) !

The thing that distinguishes us from our rocky dead neighbor planets is water. Water is life and we must protect it.

I highly recommend this documentary for the message, the beautiful (and possibly some of the last) footage of the reefs, and the passion of the team involved. Even in the darkest hours seeing the men and woman passionately working to make the world a better place is heartwarming and inspiring.

Join the campaign here.

Chasing Coral (Netflix Documentry)

Love & Fear

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This week something scary happened to someone I love very much.

It was a harsh reminder of how precious our time is. I am so immensely grateful to have this person in my life, and it reminded me that no matter how tired I am, or what is happening at work, or how much my back hurts, I have to maximize every moment I have with my loved ones.

Time spent grumpy or annoyed is time wasted. There will always be some form of conflict in our lives, but we can choose to address that conflict with only the minimum amount of time and energy required to find a solution. The rest of our time should be spent enjoying the good things rather than spreading our annoyance to others or replaying worst case scenarios in our heads.

 Life is short. Love with all your heart. Choose happiness.

Love & Fear