For years, we’ve been working pretty hard behind the scenes to get the ball rolling in the new era of truly customized living. Well, that’s what the press is calling it. We’ve been identifying it as “Intentional Living” for the last 35 years. But it’s been a long slow battle of clarification.
Then the “tiny” house movement happened. Inadvertently, it kind of interrupted the flow. Not that the ideology wasn’t right…it was the timing and application that suffered in their messaging zeal.
Sure, there’s a time and place for (young) adult campers to hit the road in spaces that elves would fine constrictive. Knock yourself out! Nothing wrong with that except for the sobering reality that laws prohibit living in these things in one place after 72 hours. Oops!
So, within two years, pre-owned tiny houses were up for sale and now in the $55k-$95K price range. Any of the “Tiny House Parks” worth living in now come with homeowners fees that rival those associated with mooring one’s yacht at a marina. Seriously?
With it came the “I told you so-ers”. Ugh!
Yet the term “tiny house” survived and was now applied to anything with a footprint smaller than the McMansion. The “Tiny House Nation” TV show made its debut but glossed over the purging process and just made things even less realistic. Bloggers tempted us to the road where the idea of telling our stories and living off the land felt free and even sexy.
If you’ve seen the amazing movie “Nomad” then you get a real peek into a world that’s not at all right for many of us. Romantic-ish, but ummm, at my age, I’m not the traveling circus type. Been there done that after years in the arts. I don’t want to drag everything I own with me. I’m a home base lock and go kinda guy.
So “tiny” was a false branding.
Look, we knew it would be hard enough just to get people even close to purging. And an even harder sell to re-frame downsizing as anything other than something tediously un-fun that felt like our toys were being taken away.
It’s when we started using RightSIZING in combination with “Intentional Living” (as we’d done for years on my show) did people finally get what we meant. What we’d always meant. “Smaller square feet where everything has a true reason for being there.”
Just to be clear…The concept of intentional living through the lens of historical lifestyle forecasters like myself vs. say…social media trend design setters, environmentalist, or off grid escapists, is a very different thing.
For us, how one lives STILL has to pamper. It should STILL heal. It must STILL inspire, be as stress-free as possible with almost no maintenance.
Ummm, that’s a bit tough if everything you own is in tow and you find yourself camping in a Walmart parking lot looking for somewhere to empty your “tiny” septic tank. Just sayin’.
If you’ve been following me, you know I’ve done the purging consistently and try hard to convey what a life-changing, transformative process it is. So, I write you as someone who’s been through it and now knows what my essentials are.
But here’s the deal. I STILL like nice fabrics, rich wall color, great mood lighting and everything in its place. Even if one’s armoire is a contact papered Westinghouse appliance box it doesn’t matter, it’s still “intentional.” As long as you start to prize every square foot and are ready to rethink them beyond what they were originally designed for, that’s huge.
So, if it’s okay with you, I’d rather swap out the term “tiny house” for the term “Jewel Box.”
Anyway, my whole point is that intentional living and RightSIZING, is now finally hitting media the right way. In fact, Nate Berkus is doing a new HGTV series about it.
Several folks sent me a link and were rather upset that he had been on my website and somehow stealing my thunder. Very sweet to be protective, however I was celebrating the fact of the more voices championing intentional living the better! Besides, that’s what my site is there for…to educate, for heaven sake. So, no more indignant links please. It’s a GOOD thing. As for his show? Well, that’s up to him to have a real teaching curriculum this time. Otherwise he hands over his ‘voice’ to novice producers, which never ends well. It just well, ends.
In fact, the more designers who embrace the idea of more intentional living, and bring their creativity to it, the more help and great ideas will be available to you all, right? The more designers you connect with, who give you permission to live like you really want to NOW, then all the better.
All intentional living is, is a highly personal reinvention mechanism. It acknowledges that the age of circa 1950s, traditional, cookie cutter design and social expectation, is OVER!
Ding-dong the lifestyle goblins are finally dead!
This of course means that designers have to work WITH us now, knowing that we’re smart and have YouTube at our disposal and vet EVERYTHING online! We know what things cost now. We know junk when we see it. We’ve been there done that!
See, intentional living is a movement…not a design trend. Think of it like electric cars. Just because it’s less to no gas, doesn’t mean it has to have the aesthetics of a tractor. Trust me, if I ever get there, I want a lux interior, my beverage and USB ports where they’re supposed to be. I want glossy veneers, brushed chrome accents, top stitching, a killer sound system and great suspension. And because I live more intentionally now, I can more easily afford it.
But it’s a timing thing too. I won’t get one until I see more than one occasional charging station here and there or a program that acknowledges those who don’t have garages and live in a third floor walk-up. HELLO?
Like the tiny house evolution, if you actually can’t live in them legally (or you can’t charge your auto), then what’s the frigg’n point? Good idea, questionable timing.
Do we all need to get into electric cars? No question about it. It’s gotta be a good thing as I sit in the shade of my garden in 110-degree heat that was never here before. But it’s got to be a mass supply and demand movement before the image of being at a dead stop in the middle lane of a highway somewhere in the middle of the Colorado mountains, fades.
It’s the same with intentional living. Only the great thing is that it requires no one but you and your own desire to live better that makes it happen and puts you well ahead of tomorrow’s curve.
No one (on my team) has ever suggested you move into a shed, a tent, something on wheels or even move at all. Just be mindful of how you really live, what you actually use, what aesthetically truly feeds your soul, and where you’re really spending your hard-earned money. For me, I’d rather redirect dollars towards things like travel or time spent doing more of what I love and less doing what I have to survive. That’s all. I might even do a tiny house vacay FOR A WEEK!
So, as intentional living continues to track, the social judgments will subside as lifestyle tolerance and class-blurring goes up.
What and where we “buy” will change significantly too. It will send a message that we are not the lazy-ass hoarders or unconscious consumers they think we are. We’re not going to mindlessly purchase your “whatever” just ‘cuz we’re sad or unfulfilled. We already ended up with houses and storage units full of bad or antiquated decisions…thank-you-very-much!
We’re at a pivotal moment in time, where we can actually help to define the new American lifestyle vs. having it dictated to us. We can now reallocate space the way we want to. The more okay we are without the old formalities, home design and what goes in them can finally evolve with clarity and innovation once again. “Custom Design” doesn’t mean you pay more. It means that you curate better – that you’re in control of what’s under your roof based on how you personally want to live not how others think you should.
So, if you, say, live alone, and want to put a fabulous four poster bed in the middle of your living room because it’s got the best views, the best morning light and more space than the dark small bedroom upstairs which would make a better media room? Do it! If you want an old, long, dual-function harvest table in the kitchen, then take down the dining room or living room wall, for heaven sake.
If you want a Kitchen Aid because you’re serious about baking, get it and get rid of the “seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time” appliances and utensils you never use. You know, the ones that choke space and get you red-faced before you even reach for the first ingredient?
If you want to get into arts or crafts, and you’re serious about it, want to start a video blog series, or build a website to seek out your tribe, or fill a new consumer niche, then purge the crap you haven’t cared about forever and start again.
Meanwhile we’ll be here to help you figure out how to integrate your rock polisher, or your flat art cabinet or your cake decorating stuff or your weaving loom into something that still has an aesthetic, celebrates your personal creativity and proudly tells a far more accurate story about the one, the only, the divine spiritual being that makes you, you!
Have a great week!
Bye for now,