These simple ways to nourish your home are ideal, if you feel that your home is your castle, but you don’t feel comfortable there. We spend a lot of time in our homes and gardens, so make them a haven, even if that’s a bedsit. In fact, sometimes smaller places can be nicer, as you can have more design ideas, and spend a little more on nicer items, in a smaller space. Forget designer magazines or makeover programs, and read these books instead. See Bea & Bloom (an inspiring house tour).
Avoid essential oils for pregnancy/nursing and near pets/children. See a beginner’s guide to houseplants, to know toxic plants to avoid near pets (just brushing a tail against a lily or sago palm can harm). If used, see candle safety tips. And if you use sheepskin rugs, choose ones that do not harm sheep.
Dwelling is packed with simple ways to nourish your home and connect to your soul. Make decisions to simplify your life, and create peace in your day. Use with Melissa’s Dwelling Well journal, using guided prompts.
Melissa’s other book But Where Do I Put The Couch? offers 100 tips including updating homes on a budget. Tips on making homes child-friendly, furniture placement, colour choices and styling rented homes.
Badger & Bobbins makes beautiful sustainable homewares from Sheffield. These are really nice, and you are sure to find something you like to replace single-use items. The founder used some times off work to adapt her lifestyle to be more eco-conscious at home, and now makes items to replace disposable plastic.
The Reusable Kitchen Towels are ideal to replace kitchen paper and wipes, made with premium terry towelling. Use them to mop up spills and wipe dirty faces, then just throw in the machine.
Garden Picnics Essentials Bundle contains all you need for a day out. There is a lightweight bamboo cutlery set with a straw inside, and reusable wipes that can be used wet or dry, in 3 patterns. Each made to order with love and care.
Reusable Makeup Remover Pads are ideal also to use with cleanser or toner, and can be washed.
The Reusable Sandwich Bags have fun designs, like this one ‘what a spectacle!’ There are also smaller reusable snack packs.
Could you live in a tiny home? Tiny homes are all the rage these days, as many people realise that if they downsize their indoor space (often with outdoor gardens), they can often have a nice home that is cheap to run (often with no mortgage), as long as you find some land. Many tiny homes are on wheels, so you can just take it with you, if you move.
Far more common in North America, the typical tiny home costs around £30,000 though there are also ready-made modern prehab homes like Italy’s Madi Home, which comes with all mod-cons and is even earthquake proof. But for most people, it’s more likely to take the philosophy of tiny homes, and the apply it in other ways. If you have no reason to stay local, could you downsize to a nicer properly with more outdoor space? Or perhaps move to a cheaper area?
- A Tiny Home to Call Your Own is the ‘bible of tiny home living’ by a seasoned professional. This covers the lot, from how and why to live in a tiny home, assess what’s right for you, and know whether tiny homes are suitable for newlyweds, empty-nesters or retirees.
- Tiny Homes is a visual look at what’s possible, with gorgeous photographs throughout. Includes floor space of how creatives have maximised comfortable, on limited square footage.
- Why I Live In A Shed is Catrina’s story, who despite working several jobs, was not able to pay the rent. So homesick for her rural Cornish childhood, she turned a tiny dilapidated shed into a home of her own. And with no high rent to worry about, she found the freedom to write, surf and make music.
Making housing affordable for everyone should be a no-brainer, yet still today, our whole economy is one obsessed with making house prices rise up high, so most people who don’t own a home now, never have a chance of doing so in the future. Millions spend their lives working to pay off a mortgage, often on a property worth less than they paid for it.
Blueprint for Greening Affordable Housing looks at solutions for housing stability, safety and financial help, all while reducing environmental impact. Solutions include supportive housing, net-zero coastal apartments and home ownership for people who live in deserts (the book is American).
In his book Mortgage-Free (it’s not that easy, involves building your own house!), Rob Roy writes that no other industry would have a young couple backing out of an office, grateful that they have signed their life away for the next 30 years, for no other reason than to ‘own the place they live’. But we have pressure that renting is ‘throwing money away’ (in Germany and Italy, more people rent, so they have good laws and good landlords). Whether you rent or buy depends on circumstances, but are there ways to make house renting or buying cheaper? You could avoid estate agents and letting agents. But what else?
Sites like Home Hunt have more affordable housing for those on low incomes. Social housing was invented to provide affordable homes, yet a better idea is to use the straw bale (that is presently burned) to easily create 250,000 new cheap affordable warm homes each year.
Right to Buy?
This was set up by Thatcher’s government, who let people buy their council houses. Sounds a good idea in theory, but it resulted in many people buying up council homes and making huge profits, while people without money ended up homeless. Help to Buy can be good, but it’s not very visionary.
One idea that is could be Sweden’s JAK Members Bank. This is a co-op that pays staff, but the rest of people’s money is used to give out mortgages. The difference is that at the end of the term, you pay off your mortgage, then get most of the interest back (unlike here, where it all goes to the banks). At least, that looks like how it works. It’s approved by many new alternative economists, as there is a ‘meaning to it’.
Other countries in Europe have higher ownership, but less mortgages. How so? Because countries like Italy tend be more family-orientated. It’s not unusual for a couple to be engaged for 10 years to save up a big deposit, with the family chipping in the rest, then they often live in the same apartment building. No Italian market for dodgy brokers.
The Affordable City
The Affordable City is a book about making housing affordable for everyone. Although written for US readers, it’s relevant everywhere, and offers 50 policy recommendations on housing policy. Author Shane Phillips is an urban planner and policy expert whose solutions include:
- Adapt solutions to community needs
- Plan for the most vulnerable
- Pick one (rising house prices or affordability)
- Don’t reward ‘idle money’
- Encourage mixed-use zoning
- Speed up renter approvals
- Offer free help for those at risk of eviction
- Enforce housing & building codes
- Don’t sell public land (lease it)
Music Break: Our House
Would you like to know how to move home, without going insane. Moving home is one of the top life stressors, but it should not be that way. Whether you rent or buy, moving home should be a simple case of packing up belongings, and moving on. Of course, much of the stress is often due to estate agents and letting agents.
The obvious way to make moving less stressful, is to have less stuff. Simple living is not about living in a white box, but about going through your house, garden, garage, shed, loft, basement, car and storage – and gradually streaming down anything you no longer use, love or need. This leaves time to do the stuff you love (walks in the park, reading in the garden, strolls by the beach, quality time with loved ones, more sleep etc). Then you’ll find moving quicker and more relaxing – as you won’t get into a muddle.
Read The Art of Happy Moving (the author has moved 10 times in 11 years). This upbeat guide covers finding the best place to live, home staging and moving with with children or pets.
Moving Home Checklists
The simpler your life, the easier moving is. It also means less chance of forgetting something important:
- Confirm the date of move, and give notice
- Buy removal boxes, and order removal vans.
- Cancel utility supplies (take photos of meters)
- Arrange donation/collection of unused furniture
- Sell, donate or recycle stuff you are not taking
- Cancel newspapers, milk etc.
- Send out new address cards
- Learn quickest relaxing route to new property
- Pack essentials like a kettle and mugs for arrival
- Arrange to collect new keys, and drop off old keys
- Register with a doctor, dentist & vet.
- Set up home, broadband & home insurance
- Confirm new schools registration
- Get car serviced, check breakdown cover
- Redirect your mail
- Register with local council
- Charge mobile before leaving
If Moving with Pets
- Use familiar beds & toys, to help settle them in
- Keep food and bowls nearby, for arrival.
- Ensure new ID is up-to-date on day of move.
- Look up best local dog walks, near new property.
- A familiar friend may wish to pet-sit, while you move
It’s easier to find pet-friendly homes by giving references from previous landlords, paying a higher deposit and offering to replace carpets at end of tenancy (often many ‘non-pet-friendly landlords’ change their mind:
- Let’s With Pets is a site run by Dog’s Trust. It also has info for landlords, on why pet-friendly rentals find more tenants.
- Pets Lets (London) finds pet-friendly properties in good locations, and can also insert pet clauses. Run by Russell (who sorts legal stuff) and his sidekick beagle (who sniffs out places to eat!)
- OpenRent charges low fees, to cover legal checks & deposits.
- Monday to Friday offers mid-week rooms, for Rent-a-Room income.
- Movebubble (London, Manchester) filters for pets, disabled, gardens (Movebubble One include bills or zero deposit).
- Reposit lets renters pay one week’s rent (covered by insurance).
- Marks Out of Tenancy is a landlord review site. Obviously it must be used responsibly (landlords can reply).
- Yorkshire’s My Landlord Cares supports tenants with paperwork, local parenting and has lower fees. New View Residential (Cambridge) donates profits to animal shelters and hospices. Homes for Good (nationwide) offers fair rents and handypeople.
- Property Guardians rent empty offices or warehouses, for lower rents (usually for a few months). Ideal for basic cheap accommodation.
- On benefits? Shelter & Citizens Advice have tips. Find social housing at HomeHunt & Sanctuary Housing.
- Share & Care matches (vetted) people who need rent-free accommodation, in return for company and chores.
- Trusted Housesitters vets people to look after homes while owners are away (to look after house and plants, and sometimes pets). See toxic houseplants to avoid near pets, avoid foliage near windows to stop birds flying into windows and how to make your garden safe for pets.