Reasonable and right
“…it is reasonable and right that men should strive to make the useful wares which they produce beautiful just as Nature does; and that they should strive to make the making of them pleasant, just as Nature makes pleasant the exercise of the necessary functions of sentient beings. To apply art to useful wares, in short, is not frivolity, but a part of the serious business of life.” — William Morris
One year ago today my post was about my love of romantic Victorian decorating, and how it might seem to be at odds with my growing conviction that simplicity is the answer to many modern dilemmas. As I wrote then, I’ve learned to enjoy such frilly delights without needing to own, dust, or maintain them, especially now that there are abundant online images to enjoy through Pinterest and other social media.
In recent months I’ve been particularly drawn to learning more about the “tiny house movement,” as it is sometimes described. I have no delusion that I am anything close to ready for such radical downsizing, but I still think it’s a fascinating concept worthy of attention. One facet of this lifestyle that I find appealing is the attractive design of many of these tiny abodes. Maybe it’s because, as a child, I dreamed of having my own little playhouse of about the same size and design.
Dee Williams’ 84-square-foot home is an extreme example of the tiny house movement (most are up to 400 square feet) so it’s not truly typical of the small homes many families have chosen. And certainly the cottages of the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association, pictured at the top of this page, are far too large to be considered tiny homes. Yet they are considerably simpler than the homes belonging to us and most of the people we know, while possessing a unique charm that many newer, more ostentatious homes lack.
William Morris, who is quoted above, produced high quality furnishings normally associated with wealthy or upper middle class consumers. But note that Morris (an ardent socialist) said nothing about size, quantity or monetary value; rather, his emphasis was on the marriage of beauty and utility; the combination of aesthetics with practicality. Perhaps his ideal is echoed in the delightful designs of the cottages pictured above, and in the cute coziness of many of the tiny homes springing up across the country and around the world.
For the majority of us who are not ready for such a drastic departure from the norm, there are some helpful lessons to be learned from those who are choosing this path. You’ll find more food for thought in this post, titled “The top 10 tips I’ve learned from minimalists” at Lara’s blog, The Extraordinary Simple Life.
Advertising may have influenced us to associate beauty with excessive spending and prestige brands, but economic and ecological concerns are causing many of us to re-think our ideas about what is necessary and desirable. Contrary to what we may have been told, practicality and beauty are not mutually exclusive, just as material possessions and happiness don’t always go hand in hand.
Since I have enjoyed dividing our time between two “normal” size homes, I would have a long way to go– and lots of belongings to shed– before I could live full time in a tiny house, or even a gingerbread cottage. But I applaud these modern pioneers of a new (old) way of life, who are proving that frugal does not have to be frumpy, and downsizing can be delightful.
One year ago today: