Cultivating Casual Simplicity

Cultivating Casual Simplicity

Leah Moss
May 24, 2010

As I go about my spring cleaning, mentally chanting my "simplify, simplify" mantra, I'm reminded that simplicity is an art form. It's not as easy as purging everything and living stark asceticism. It's paring down until you're living with only the things that bring beauty, meaning, and ease to your day. These house tours are my inspiration!

Although these house tours differ greatly in style and location, there are a few key commonalities:
1. Signs of life. My favorite house tours are the ones where the personalities, interests, or way of life of the dwellers come through in the styling of their homes. This doesn't mean piles of dirty dishes or overflowing garbage cans, but it often involves less than pristine collections and a few imperfect touches like a slouchy chair or a threadbare rug— the kind of inviting human details that put you at ease by making you feel like you can sit down without disrupting with the room's perfection.

2. Balance rather than perfect symmetry. Classically, symmetry is said to be one of the universal signs of beauty when it comes to the human face. However, when it comes to the human home, balance seems to be more appealing than strict symmetry. Balance manifests itself in different ways according to the home: in some it's a large graphic image poised next to a simple classic form, or two different style lamps of similar proportions, or a grouping of different stylistically but similarly-themed objects. Regardless of the particulars, objects in the same setting are complimentary contrasts rather than perfect reflections of each other.

3. Neutral resting spots. While some of these homes have spots of more saturated vibrant color, there is at least one area with a limited neutral palette and loungable seating that invites relaxation and seems free from distractions— spots designated for pure rest whether it be a corner of the living room or a whole bedroom.

4. Easy-maintenance materials. Perhaps this is the greatest appeal of all in a simple home — the worry-free attitude elicited by the materials within in it. Elements like worn leather, slubby linen, and raw wood that look all the cooler for their creases, wrinkles, and dings put the mind at ease.

5. A mix of sturdy and airy. Although I have a special respect and love for delicate rooms, they are not often the most practical or inviting. These homes are mostly comprised by furniture that looks like it can withstand a beating balanced by light or minimal window treatments that maximize natural light and distracts from the weightiness of some of the more substantial furnishings.

There have been many homes featured on Apartment Therapy that exude this comfortable, inviting, and interesting simplicity, but these are a few of my all time favorites:

• 1. This sunroom is from an upcoming tour of the home of my close family friends, Dana & Guy. To me, walking into their home is the equivalent of taking a long, deep breath. It's the kind of place where nothing matches, but everything goes together. This sunroom is particularly inviting with its casual sprawl of potted plants, and bare stone floors.
• 2. Pete & Sandy's Minimal Farmhouse.
• 3. Brian's Serenely Styled Sanctuary
• 4., 9. Stephen & Todd's Fantastic Mr. Farmhouse
• 5. Nicole & Colin's Streamlined Salvage
• 6.Tyler and Sarah's Primitve Modern
• 7. Catherine's Cozy Equestrian Condo
• 8. Mara & Michael's Spanish Transformation
• 10. Jeanine's Sun-filled Home

Image: 1: Leah Moss, 2: Wes & Kayla Schwartz, 3: Brian H. Andriola, 4, 9: Stephen Ellwood, 5, 7: Leah Moss, 6: Tanya Lacourse , 8: Laure Joliet, 10: Jeanine Brennan

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