At Vapour we live off the beat, close to the elements and mindful of Earth's precious resources. Our very own Kristen Murphy, Vapour’s Manager of Communications, and Minimalist Maven, reveals the why and how of minimalism. Moving to Taos to escape the distractions of urban life started her on this path. It’s a lifestyle that focuses on “better” not “more.”
What is Minimalism?
I think practicing minimalism can look different for different people. A definition that resonates with me was the process of finding what is essential in your life and letting go of what isn’t.
How did you start your Minimalist Journey?
It wasn’t something that happened overnight and it’s still something I continue working on. It’s been a journey over the last 8 years.
It started with a move to Taos. If you’re not familiar with Taos it’s a small high desert town in northern New Mexico. Coming from a larger city there are naturally less distractions and we were able to focus on things that we loved - mountain biking, hiking, skiing.
Fast forward a couple of years and my husband and I wanted to re-prioritize our lives even more. He started to work less, I left corporate America to do something I enjoyed more. This coincided with becoming more aware of over-consumption in our society and its impact on the environment. We assessed where we were and where we wanted to be and further simplified.
Cayenne, Ryan and Kristen enjoying “better” not “more”
What are Benefits Of Minimalism?
It’s a lifestyle that focuses on removing objects and habits that cause stress and focusing on things that make you feel fulfilled. This can be anything from physical objects, interpersonal relationships, media consumption, etc and the benefits can be mental, emotional and financial..
Sounds completely Freeing! How Can We Get Started?
1. Start slowly.
Do your research. There are so many books, blogs and even documentaries to learn from and get inspired by. There are lots of different approaches to getting started and it is not a one fits all approach. Lean on your learnings.
2. Quality Over Quantity.
Quality over quantity with everything. Physical possessions that are made well are going to last longer and create less waste. Quality time with friends and family or doing things you enjoy are going to be more meaningful. Learn to say no and fill your time with things you want to do.
3. Fine Tune
Most often minimalism is thought of as living with less possessions. I see it as a different mindset. Don’t think about what you may have less of physically, but the potential of what you may gain. Less stress, more time, more financial freedom. It gets easier with practice and I’ve learned to detach feelings from objects. To me, donating or finding a renewed use feels better than holding onto something that doesn’t serve a purpose.
I love anything that is multipurpose. One of my most favorite clothing items is a poncho style shirt that I can wear two different ways, and use as a scarf, a towel and a blanket. I also love multipurpose makeup like Aura Multi Stick.
5. Buying Second Hand
Consider thrifting and consignment shopping rather than buying new. I absolutely love selling and buying consignment online! Nothing new is being produced so it’s better for the environment and I find you can get better quality items at a lower price. My favorite sites are Poshmark and The RealReal.
6. Taking it Home
We had been looking for a home to purchase and couldn’t find anything that fit our needs (one bed, one bath). A friend connected us with a local builder who specializes in building passive solar homes. The idea of building something that both fit our lifestyle, budget and would be more environmentally friendly in the long run sealed the deal.
“Inside Kristen’s passive solar great room”
What is a “passive solar” home?
It’s a design that takes advantage of the site, climate and building materials to reduce energy use. A few classic characteristics are being highly insulated and collecting/storing thermal mass from the sun to heat the home. Our design has Trombe Walls and Pumice crete.
What are Trombe walls?
A Trombe wall (also referred to as a mass, solar or thermal storage wall) is an equator facing wall that absorbs thermal energy from sunlight and releases that energy into the home as heat. The wall is a dark color and covered with glass on the outside with an air gap.
What’s Pumice Crete?
It’s a mix of cement, pumice stones, sand and water. It’s efficient to build with because it’s strong, lightweight and quickly pours into preformed molds to form walls. It provides excellent insulation with good thermal resistance; which means Pumice Crete helps retain a constant temperature in the house that requires less supplemental heating and cooling.