Beauty in Less - Arranging the Cubes

My dad made me these wooden cubes.  The fit perfectly on this wall.  At first they were just a catch-all of stuff.  After an afternoon of work they are now a practical pretty. 

In my new found minimalism, I have examined the idea that only useful things are necessary.  However, the logical end of this statement is that beauty is unnecessary because it isn't useful.  I don't believe that.  I believe beauty serves a purpose. 

I'm a horticulturist, I specialize in pretty plants.  I believe that ornamental plants are only pretty if they bring joy to people.  I hope my gardens and outdoor areas are appreciated.  I feel the same way about my home.  If I own something that is beautiful but it isn't enjoyed than it isn't useful.  For example, if I own a beautiful bowl but it is stashed in a cupboard and never gets used than it isn't adding beauty, I shouldn't have it.

In our 550 square foot apartment there is limited display area.  I had to choose to make the most of it.  First I cleared the six cubes of all the junk.  Than I put back the things I need to store, such as large books and hanging files.  I took all the pretty things I own and spread them out of the floor. Then I put the things I enjoy most back onto the shelves.  I arranged them to show off their beauty. I chose things for their story, like the cayman skull we found hiking in Panama; for their color like a yellow glass vase Jeff made when he did glass blowing; and for their form like the set of circling fish Jeff made at an iron pour in South Carolina.  The things that couldn't fit nicely on to the shelves have been sorted through and many of them in a pile to be donated. 

A new rule has been put in place.  I will only keep beautiful items if they are functional or if they can be enjoyed for their beauty.

When I sit at our table in the bay window I can see right into these wooden cubes.  I enjoy them.  They make me smile.  They have value.


  1. Foy, you really really make me want to take everything out of the cabinets and closets with your before and after pictures!!
    It is a nice, calming feeling when everything is in place. I was reading a book by Peter Reinhart and first step in his 12 steps of break making is Mise En Place...everything in its place... It says it makes the cooking/baking experience more enjoyable, peaceful and organized.You are applying it to your life. Love it!

  2. Because of you we are now working on our fourth load of stuff to bring to donate. We even have a system. We put it all in the laundry room as we find things we want to donate and once we get a carfull we donate. Thanks foy!

  3. I know what you mean about the importance of including beautiful things in your life.

  4. I'm not motivated as much by beauty when it comes to what I keep or toss, but I sure can share the idea that having too much stuff can be bad for health and wellneess.

    The before and after photo idea does sound fun!


  5. I wish I could remember the quote exactly but it is by a Victorian writer, "In your home you should only have that which is useful and that which you know to be beautiful."

    I love the cubes, with kids it feels like every space is a catch-all for random stuff you don't need and I'm always purging or trying to organize our small living space.

  6. I also love when I have the ability to sit back and admire something so gratifying. I hope you never tire of the view.

  7. I admire you for your minimalist project, but I'm not ready to part with my stuff just yet. First we have to work on the basement:)

  8. It is so special that your dad made the cubes and you only want to display beautiful things in them.

    I agree that now is the time for making things simpler - clearer, prettier. Why live with things that are ugly OR unnecessary? I also must declutter at some point. We have way too much stuff. I admit to being a packrat. I try and declutter here-and-there. I have to do more of it this year. How inspiring!