Real Life Minimalists: Kendra

Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details.

Today, Kendra gives us a glimpse of her version of minimalism: one that includes two children and a lovely renovated house. Surf on over to her blog to read more.

Kendra writes:

My parents gave me a taste of minimalist life when they packed us into a 35-foot camper and lived up and down the west coast for a few years. While I liked some aspects, I daydreamed of normalcy and putting down roots, you know, having classmates who weren’t my sisters. Then we did all that and I grew up. 

I grew up and married and had two babies simultaneously and renovated a beautiful old house. When the dust cleared, literally from the renovation, I emerged from survival mode and began reading about intentional living. It occurred to me that there were options, and possibly better ways to spend a life. I read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and realized my life was a story and I wanted it to be a good one. With my husband supporting me, we ventured into uncharted waters and started fashioning our family into more. More peace, more free time, more understanding about what makes us happy.

Our initial purge of stuff was a year ago now. Our minimalism looks a bit different because we do love our 2500 sq ft renovated 1920s house. But I’m comfortable with empty cupboards, empty storage rooms, empty drawers. It also looks different because I love interior decorating, so it isn’t very sparse that way either. But the definition of minimalism that gave me hope that I could fit into it was, “Having only things you use and love.” I love my art, so it stays, but I’ve let so much else go. I love being free from the “rules” that “made” me keep things I didn’t want. I love being able to admit I made a mistake when I bought something and give it away or sell it, rather than trying to make it work for three years. Because I’ve quit denying that I made those mistakes, I’m learning from them and when I do buy something, I make a better choice.

I think the most gratifying moment was putting stacks of totes and containers I’d used to organize my stuff out to sell. Knowing I’d emptied them was exquisite. The success of minimalism in stuff has spurred two No Spend months, a more experience-based Christmas celebration and now, I’m facing down the giant that is time-management with the principles of less. It’s amazing how hopeful I feel for the future, after seeing how much thoughtful changes improve life’s quality. I believe our family’s story can be epic in love-sharing, since we’re learning to dial down anything that competes.

Kendra’s living room

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

19 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Kendra

  • DeAnna

    My kind of minimalist! Loving your blog so far, Kendra, and seriously coveting your dish cabinet.

  • Floella

    I love your lounge, Kendra – but it makes me think mine is totally bare!

  • Heather

    Love Love love!!! I like to see pics. Sounds like you are enjoying your life.

  • Angie Hall

    Kendra, I loved your story. It really spoke to me. I’ve been struggling, too, with how to fashion my home in a way that honors my need to have beautiful things around me and yet remain minimal in the acquisition of those things. Seems it is possible. Your home is beautiful!

  • Hi Kendra,

    I was drawn into your story; it is well written and inspiring. It’s funny how the things we experience as a child felt like torture then but as we look back on it the experiences held a wealth of treasures. Weekends bobbing around in the Pacific ocean on my family’s 20′ sailboat was a day wasted as a child, but a fond memory now.

    I blog about money behaviors and how what we do with our money affects our lives. Minimalism is a form of money management — we spend less on “stuff”, pay less to store “stuff” and become more prosperous as we define a life we really want and then focus on spending to support that life. I can’t wait to visit your blog and learn more about how you’ve transformed yours!

    Ree ~ I blog at

  • Love the choices you are making and your homey house. So good to see that a minimalist house doesn’t have to be sterile. :)

  • I love you story, Kendra and I LOVE your living room. It’s the look I’m always going for–just enough to be cozy, but just little enough to be calming. Sounds like we have the same philosophy–there can be empty space and there can be less functional items, but we have to LOVE everything that is there!

  • Babz

    Love seeing the photos! Thanks for adding them. I love that her minimalism isn’t stark or cold. I love that it isn’t extreme, but that it is do-able. I have a 1920’s style Tudor, so this gives me fuel to accomplish my goals too! <3

  • Kendra,

    I love the way you defined minimalism to fit you and how much more peace and joy it’s bringing into your life. Love the look of your home too.

  • Elizabeth

    Great post that really resonated with me — I want my home to be charming, beautiful, welcoming, comfortable, attractive — in other words, full of beautiful things I love and not one thing more. To me, that’s the perfect definition of minimalism.

  • I’ve also moved around a good bit internationally, and have found that there are pros and cons to this somewhat nomadic lifestyle. Fascinating how it pertains to minimalism–you make great points.

  • Whilst I didn’t always follow all of ‘society’s rules’, it has been great to let all of them go, and to start walking my own path. Also, learning the lesson of admitting mistakes about purchasing decisions has been tough, but freeing at the same time.

    I too am fighting the time management dragon, but I must say that at the moment I feel like I am winning, and loving it. Minimalism has really taught me to appreciate my time.

    Thanks for sharing your insights and your story.

  • Your home is lovely and fits your family so well. That is what all this is about, living an authentic life. Some folks live fine in a 400 square foot loft, some in a big home. Both are right for the ones living there. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story and pictures of your home. I love it.

  • Meredith

    A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is an amazing, inspiring book. Love that you’re incorporating it into your life!

  • Thank you all, SO much! You are all so kind and I’m so happy for all of your journeys. Sharing this experience with people like you makes it so special. :)

  • Tina

    Minimalism is different things to different people. As long as you love it and/or need it then you should have it. Not all of us would be happy in 400 sq. ft. but living intentionally vs. mindless shopping and consuming is the goal. Good for you.

  • Tina

    We live in 1600 square feet and could live smaller. We have a den and a guest room and 2 full baths. I am fascinated by the coupon shows where the people have a room of their house filled with pop, cookies, cereal, deodorant or whatever. We use so little that sample sizes last about a month. For the last 40 years, I’ve been using 1/2 the recommended amount of most things–detergent, shampoo, toothpaste,fabric softener with no difference in results.

  • Tina

    Once again someone admired what I was wearing. I had on a pair of fall themed earrings. My earring collection doesn’t take much room.

  • My neighbors give me catalogs when they are through with them. I seldom buy anything but I like to look at new color combinations and new ways to wear things I already have. I gave gifts of silver and gold color dollar coins for Passover, so all the children got the same thing. It worked out to $5 per child. My son likes to cook so he was our host.

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