Minimalism and study spaces

For the last wee while I have been pondering what makes a useful study space. This has come about partly because I’m always searching for the ‘perfect’ spot, while at the same time admiring Andrew’s ability to study pretty much anywhere except a library.

I have tried the following, and come up with some pros and cons for each.

Putting the spare bed into the garage, and turning the guest room into a large study with a massive desk.

The good: it was easy to dump all the study stuff in one room and forget about it.
The bad: It was easy to dump all the study stuff in one room and forget about it. It was also a pain to dismantle the desk every time we had a guest come to stay.

Sitting in the car, at the park, eating strawberries and studying.

The good: strawberries are really tasty, and it was good to get out of the house and go study somewhere else that didn’t have internet, so I couldn’t use Facebook.
The bad: Sometimes I needed the internet or my laptop, and I couldn’t use either in the car.

Going to the uni library and hanging out in the silent study space

The good: It was very, very quiet.
The bad: It takes me almost an hour to drive there, and there is no cheap food nearby. It’s also easy to get distracted on Facebook!

Going to my local theological library

The good: this is one of my favourite places on earth. The whole place has an aura of Godliness about it and I’m extremely privileged to be granted a membership to the facility. The study spaces look out over the bush towards Rangitoto Island. They also have big tables so it’s a good place to spread lots of books out!
The bad: I know most of the staff very well and can easily waste an hour having morning tea with them and drinking their tea supplies. It’s also about 40 minutes from home.

Studying at home, on a fold up table.

The good: the table folds away when it’s finished being used, so our house doesn’t always resemble a student library. I can also move it around the house to follow the sunlight, or to give Andrew some space.
The bad: Haven’t thought of any downsides of this so far!

Sitting in the lounge with laptop and notes

The good: The couch is comfy, the kitchen is nearby, and my kitty often joins me for cuddles.
The bad: The kitty has a naughty habit of walking across the laptop keyboard, and it’s easy to leave study stuff lying around which isn’t good for my mental health!

And the winner is…

Overall, I’m liking the ‘fold up table’ option the best. Here’s a photo of my current setup…

Not only is the table easy to pack up and fold away, but I like the idea of only having out what I need for the study session, not a whole pile of other stuff that will distract me. It’s also very nice to be able to pack everything away at the end of the session and enjoy having a guest room again. I don’t need a big desk to accumulate lots of junk – so that’s another thing that’s gone to a new home.

What study solutions work for you?

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The search function on Youtube quite remarkable. It doesn’t matter what search term is put in, it will, within a short period, bring up jet engines. Once there it’s hard to get away but this time I managed, via a jet powered hovercraft, to get to this. Looks like I’m buying a couple of leaf blowers.

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Decluttering v2.0

I’ve found myself with some spare time this weekend, in between going for two runs, putting in some overtime at work and visiting the local farmer’s market.

So, I ended up tackling one of the ‘hot spots’ in our house – the space between the end of the couch and the bookshelf. It’s where things end up being dumped when I realise that the couch needs to be cleared in a hurry.

What is a hot spot? In decluttering terms, it’s one of these…

By hot spots, I mean the areas of the house which are used frequently and require regular attention to keep them under control. (

Clutter naturally gravitates towards hot spots

Mine had all sorts of things in it… the most interesting finds were:

  • a collection of toy guns that I vaguely remembered collecting from the Western-themed work conference earlier this year (kept the best one, op-shopped the rest)
  • an assortment of card-making stock and accessories (given to a friend)
  • a Max dress that I was given that is far too small for me (op-shop)
  • another dress that I was given that is far too big for me (op-shop)
  • something that was knitted, green and fluffy. A UFO maybe? (op-shop… maybe they will know what it is)
  • an assortment of Tupperware containers (back into the kitchen!)
  • a cloth badge celebrating the centenary of GirlGuiding New Zealand (I’ve since arranged to swap it with someone in Birmingham, UK, for a Roald Dahl-themed one)

After about an hour of hard work, I’ve finished that hot spot. Now to tackle some of the others: particularly under the couch and in front of the cupboards in the garage!

What sort of interesting things have you found while decluttering?

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Why blogging is better than studying – #1

After writing 8000 words for 4 assignments in the last 10 days, I have come up with a list of why

blogging is better – and more fun – than studying.

A bit naughty – but true as well!

1. Blogging does not require me to rack my brains thinking about how to expand a perfect 200 words answer into 500 words, all because the marker has deemed that 500 words are necessary to answer the question.

2. Blogging does not require an in-depth understanding of the subtle differences in the phrases ‘explain’, ‘describe’, ‘critically analyse’ and ‘discuss’ – and how these subtle differences affect my final grade!

3. Readers of blogs do not have marking schedules.

4. Readers of blogs are looking for entertainment, not mistakes.

5. Readers of blogs do not require a reference list in APA format. Enough said.

6. Readers of blogs do not have deadlines that interfere with my Facebook time, my Stuff time, my TradeMe time and my blogging time.

What’s your vice while studying? Is it blogging, Facebook, clearing out the linen closet or something different entirely?

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Real Life Minimalism

I have to confess, I like reading blogs, books and forums about minimalism, decluttering and living a simpler life with less stuff.

Anyone who has set foot in our house recently starts laughing when they hear the above statement, as our house is undoubtedly suffering from CHAOS syndrome (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome). There is stuff everywhere at the moment, all of it waiting for me to ‘have time to sort it’. One day I will – just not this semester. I’m doing a full time study load and working three days a week, so the state of our house is a little low on the list of priorities just now.

At least my house isn’t this bad…

But, I do like reading blogs, and is one of my favourites and is updated about four times a week, so there’s often something new to read, and the back catalogue is pretty good too.

One of the best posts I have come across on that blog though, and the subject of this particular blog post I’m writing, is a guest post that caught my eye this morning.

Ashley has written about how minimalists often try and ‘compete’ to be minimal – doing the “one thing in, one thing out challenge”, the “only own 100 things challenge”, the “33 pieces of clothing for 13 weeks challenge” and the “I can live on a futon with a spoon and a bowl and an iPad and be happy” challenge (yes, I did make that last one up!) But true minimalism is not about competing. It’s about finding a particular living arrangement that suits you perfectly and frees you up to spend time on other, more important things.

For me, I’ll be working on clearing out the garage and organising the lounge over this summer. I know that sounds like a long way away, but it’ll probably take me that long to get around to it… and I need to create enough other spaces for all the stuff to go… and maybe even hire a skip bin.

Have you dabbed with minimalism and decluttering in your life? How was it?

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BBQ Work Bench

Every garage needs a workbench. Fortunately the inorganic rubbish collection is on. It’s the time to put your old junk out by the side of the road and bring home someone else’s. I wanted to retrieve a couple of cabinets from down the street. They are big and heavy so I grabbed a BBQ trolley to put them on as I went past. Before putting the trolley back out it occurred to me that it would make a good bench if I added a top.

Take one BBQ trolley.

Add a donor.

Strip the donor for parts. Hmm, spare wheels. Need to find a use for them. Perhaps I could turn the bench into a go kart one day.

Take the wings off the trolley and add a new top.

Hey presto one new work bench with handy storage shelves.

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Home DIY – Cabinet Restoration

Andrew and I didn’t have a huge amount of cash when we got married, so we haven’t actually bought ourselves any brand new furniture. What we do have is a mish-mash of what we were each using before we got married (drawers, bookcases etc) and a few things that we picked up second hand after I moved into what would be our first home together (couches).

We did also have the assistance of an exceedingly generous friend who was moving overseas and passing on most of his possessions. Because of his generosity we were spared the expense of buying a fridge, freezer, washing machine and bed. He has our eternal gratitude for getting us started on this journey!

Probably the best example of the mish-mash of furniture in our house is our bedside cabinets. Andrew’s is a dark brown mdf one with three drawers full of Man Stuff. Tania’s is an mdf box, unvarnished, that houses a motley collection of books, bowls, pens and mugs in a constant state of disarray.

We were talking one night about getting some new bedside cabinets, and thought we’d have a Quick Look on TradeMe. Anyone who lives in New Zealand will know the dangers of that Quick Look on TradeMe – it results in bidding wars, random items arriving at the house a week later, and even once in our case, moving house two weeks later! This time, our Quick Look resulted in us buying two pine bedside cabinets for $30 each.

This is what they looked like when we picked them up:

The condition of cabinet #1 when it arrived

One of them even came complete with the page of a book stuck to it!



Our first job was the strip all the layers of varnish back, and expose the beautiful pine wood underneath.

Lots of paint stripper required for this job!

Finally all the old varnish was stripped off, and Andrew could get onto the most fun part: sanding back the cabinets. This was made much easier with the kind loan of my Dad’s electric sander. Dad’s done some restoration work himself in the past, so he knows what it’s like to be doing it by hand!

Note our cat Fuzz supervising in the background!

We are really stoked at how the finished product came out – now we just have to decide what colour we want to stain them!

Finished – ready for staining!

What experiences have you had restoring furniture? Success or otherwise?


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