It is my pleasure to introduce you to Kendra, who has kindly offered to share some images of her practical and heartwarming home with us:
Kendra Broekhuis lives with her family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is a stay-at-home mom to two of her children by day, and a writer by night. Her first book, Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert’s Reckless Attempt to Love Her Neighbor, was released in February 2017. Her love language is Dove Chocolate.
What square footage do you have in your home?
Our home is 1,675 square feet.
How many people live in your home?
Four: my husband and I have a three-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son.
What was your motivation for embracing simplicity in your life?
Many things have contributed to my desire for embracing simplicity. My husband and I lived overseas in Guatemala for the first three years of our marriage. Many people around us lived with very little, and that really shaped our view of possessions and deciphering between our wants and needs. When we moved back to the United States, we lived in two different apartments before moving into our house. I didn’t want our already small spaces to be overcome with stuff, so I tried to declutter much of what we owned and kept in storage during our time away.
One of the main reasons why I desire to remain clutter-free is so that we can have a space that is open and welcoming to people, rather than crammed with stuff. My husband and I are passionate about getting to know our neighbors and using our home to practice hospitality. We have loved the way the space in our home – including our large table and lots of chairs – can be used to have friends over for dinner and neighbor kids over for popsicles.
While I’m not an expert in decorating, I wanted our spaces to feel warm and welcoming without being overly cluttered with knick-knacks. I tried to focus mostly on wall colors, curtains, and frames to add flavor to our home without cluttering our home. I also like using open shelving in areas like our living room and bedrooms so that I can’t just pile up stuff we don’t use inside of cupboards or closets. Open shelving is my minimalist accountability partner.
How has minimizing your possessions made your life better?
I believe there is a correlation between the amount of stuff we have and the amount of time we spend taking care of our stuff. Minimizing our possessions has decreased the amount of time I spend cleaning our house, which means having more time to spend with my family, friends, and neighbors. As an author, spending less time cleaning also means I get to use my down time (a.k.a. my kids’ nap-time) to do what I enjoy, which is to write. Our home still gets messy because people live and spend time in it, yet it’s easy to maintain and to keep tidy.
I also struggled through a season of postpartum depression after my son was born. I was easily overwhelmed by what used to be ordinary tasks – washing dishes, doing laundry, tidying our home – and while decluttering didn’t take away my depression, it certainly helped me feel less overwhelmed by the daily chores I do as a stay-at-home mom.
What was your biggest challenge in the middle of decluttering?
My biggest challenge in decluttering is deciphering what to do with gifts or giveaways we have been given but don’t necessarily use. I think a common misconception is that if someone else is trying to give us something for free, then we will automatically want to keep it. But to keep our lives simple, we work hard to not only declutter, but to keep an eye on what we bring into our home as well.
Did you involve your family or were you on your own?
Whenever I go declutter toys or books, I try to explain to our three-year-old the reasons why we are getting rid of them. We are trying to instill in her at a young age that while it is good to enjoy the things we have been given, we are not meant to hold too tightly onto things we don’t need or never use. We hope that by keeping our own possessions simple and by being willing to share what we have, that we will model generosity to our children.
While my husband hasn’t been intensely involved in the decluttering process, he also hasn’t been one to hoard things or be overly attached to his stuff. This helps me feel free to keep our home organized and clutter-free without stepping on his toes.
What unexpected reactions did you get from friends or family?
In our house, we converted the (extremely large) master closet into a bedroom for our son. Many people – including the city inspector – thought we were crazy to get rid of storage space, but now we have an extra bedroom that we can use to host out-of-town family, local friends, and anyone else who might need a place to stay. We love it!
Everyone’s way of embracing minimalism is different and that is very important to remember. When you are thinking about becoming minimalist, the whole point of it is to keep true to your authentic self. What is important to you, the things you enjoy and the life you want to live. I’m excited to share some real life examples of what minimalism looks like in different homes around the world. If you would like to share a tour of your home, please contact me here with “HOME TOUR” in the subject line.