Families in Small Homes: Brooke from Slow Your Home

This is the third in a series on families living a bit smaller in home size and/or possessions. You can read about Britt and her RV quest for the a new hometown for her family of four here and about Jules’s choice to have only have items with a purpose or memory in her home here. Want to share your story of downsizing or right-sizing with us? Email me at the minimalist mom at gmail dot com.
Today: Brooke from Slow Your Home. In Brooke’s words she’s an: Aspiring Minimalist. Blissful Gardener. Frequent Swearer. Passionate Writer. Inappropriate Laugher. Shit-Hot Dancer. Sometimes Exaggerator. Gin Drinker. On a Mission: To slow the hell down.

Tell us about your home and the people that live there.

I live in the Blue Mountains, just outside of Sydney, Australia. Home is a renovated cottage in the suburbs shared with my husband, Ben, and our two kids – Isla, 3 and Toby, 2. We also have a dog and three chickens.
The house itself is a 4-bedder, with en-suite and main bath, family room and a combined living/dining/kitchen space. It’s by no means small but it allows us to entertain (which we do a lot of) and means the kids have options when the weather is either excessively hot or cold and wet.  Plus, I can still vacuum the majority of the house while using just one power outlet – so it’s definitely not enormous!

I read that you decided to renovate and expand your home when you got pregnant with your second child. Now that you’ve pared down your possessions do you look at that decision differently?

You know, I was terrified of this question when I first read it. I was scared of what my answer may reveal – that we over-capitalised, that we fell for the myth of ‘bigger is better’, that we have more space than we need.
But the truth was the original house was too small for a family of four. It had two tiny bedrooms, no space for the kids to play, was poorly insulated and uncomfortable in both summer and winter. But we bought it because it was in a suburb we loved, close to family, close to good schools and close enough to the railway station that we could avoid buying a second car. So extending was the only option if we wanted to stay in the same place.
If it was up to me now, we would still make the same changes. The only difference is – since paring back and embracing a simpler life – we now have much more white space. Things feel calm, everything has its place and it feels like the haven we had hoped for.
What’s next for your family? I know you have ambitions to do some long term slow travel. 

Ben and I traveled a lot before we were married and we’re in the midst of plotting out our long-term travel plans right now. We definitely would like to live abroad in a few different places – taking time to live like locals and soak up the culture. We’re thinking a six-month stint in a few different places will be the way to go – namely Canada (the Rockies specifically), Thailand and Spain.
But it’s a delicate balance to strike between going while the kids are young and avoiding the complications of school transfers etc, but them being old enough to benefit from it. Plus there’s the issue of, you know, earning a living.
Most likely we will take a few shorter trips over the next year or two and then head off into the world come 2015/16.
Name three things that make you happy.
Just three?! I’ll give it a shot…
Gardening. Having my hands in the soil, coaxing seeds into plants, soaking up the sunshine and showing our kids where their food actually comes from brings me so much pleasure. It’s the ultimate exercise in mindfulness and a wonderful escape.
Snow. Growing up in Australia I didn’t see snow until I was 22 and working in Canada. Even after six months I marveled at it every day.
Curling up at the end of a long day, having a red wine with Ben or reading a good book.
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  • I love the concept of “slow travel.” Of course I’ve heard of the “slow food movement” but “slow travel” is news to me. It really is wonderful to spend time absorbing the culture of a country instead of flitting about from one thing to the next in a whirlwind.

    • Exactly! One of the best parts of travel is being exposed to new cultures and worldviews, why not make the most of it by lingering a while? We’re heading to Thailand at the end of the year and decided to spend the whole time on one small island. We can get to know it, soak it up and not stress ourselves out worrying about connecting flights, juggling accomodation bookings, transfers etc.

  • I really appreciate this post. I live in a relatively small house. Everything is relative, and by mainstream standards I probably have less possessions than most in my income bracket. But I still need to get rid of more, which is why I subscribe to blogs like this for inspiration. However, even if I were to downsize in terms of possessions, I appreciate the benefits of space, and would not consider a smaller house. If anything, I would like more space, particularly for when we entertain. I love reading testimonies of people who strive for minimalism in their own way. It’s great that this blog does not advocate a one-size-fits-all approach.

    • That’s exactly how we felt, Claire. Space is a luxury that we try not to take for granted. Instead of filling it with stuff, we try to relish it just as it is – empty, inviting, calm.

      So glad you enjoyed the post! :)

  • Other Aussies are supporting you. Am in NSW at East Maitland, near Newcastle. Love your posts. Love my new lifestyle.

  • I LOVE your description of yourself! You must be so much fun to be around! We are in the process of downsizing & I love to read about what/how other famili.es have done it. Your home looks beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  • Love these pictures of your home. Everything looks so peaceful.
    I know this is an old post and maybe this won’t be seen, but I thought I would try!
    Do you know what the paint colors are you used in the dinning room and the babies room?
    Thank you!

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